Learning to Develop for the Mac – Historically

Going back to the beginning, and learning Project Builder, Interface Builder and ObjectiveC on NextStep. Can you believe this is the technology that NeXT had the same year Windows 3.1 came out? And its the same stuff that’s used to build Mac and iPhone apps today…

Click for a bigger picture.
In fact, the technology is so close that I used a tutorial for developing a sample Mac app, to develop a sample NextStep app. The notion of “FAT Binaries” that work on multiple hardware architectures came from NeXT as well, since it ran on any number of platforms by the end.

Installing NextStep 3.3 on VMWare 6

I’ve been hankering to learn more about the origins of OS X, so I figured the best place to start would be the OS at its core — NextStep (later named OpenStep.)
When Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple, he set out to create a new company that would deliver elite hardware, and a revolutionary operating system. NeXT was started to build powerful hardware and software that would leapfrog the Mac (and everyone else on the market.) They eventually had to kill off the hardware line (after making some very nice, uber-high-end machines) but the software they made changed the industry. It was on a NextStation computer, using the NextStep OS that Tim Berners Lee would invent the World Wide Web, and its the true Object Oriented approach of the OS that many companies have imitated or borrowed.
By the mid-90s Apple was in truly rough shape. Their archaic OS, once the greatest thing on the market, was showing its age, and Apple had tried, and failed (mostly due to mismanagement) to replace it. It was determined that they should buy an existing next-gen OS, and re-build on top of it. After flirting with IBM and BeOS, they settled on a deal with NeXT. A deal that grew until Apple acquired the company, re-acquiring Steve Jobs in the process. He became the iCEO (interim CEO) and the de-facto leader of the company. Existing ideas were rapidly brought over from the Mac onto NextStep/OpenStep, layered on top of its rock-solid BSD Mach microkernel, Object Oriented underpinnings, and a re-vamped version of its graphics layer, was a new Interface, and a Classic emulator to allow old Mac apps to run.
The end product, after many variations, pre-releases, betas, and one or two fairly ugly general releases, was what we know today as Mac OS X. Much of NextStep is still intact, including low-level OS APIs, visual and development concepts, and culture.
If you’re interested in getting NextStep up and running in VMWare (I’m using a Windows Vista 64-Bit Host OS, but these steps should work with most versions of VMWare — including Fusion) you’ll need to find an ISO of the NextStep OS somewhere, and maybe these steps will help you…
Continue reading “Installing NextStep 3.3 on VMWare 6”

Restaurant Idea

They should make a restaurant for adults with young kids.
Maybe you think such a thing already exists, but you’d be wrong. Maybe you’re thinking “Just go to McDonald’s” or “Friendly’s is for kids.” But both of those miss the point.
What we really want — what we would have paid good money for tonite — is a restaurant that serves adult food, and provides a place for our toddler to run around and leave us alone while we eat.
In my mind, its a normal restaurant except for the middle. The middle is a gated, rubberized area, with various things to play with (fake steering wheels, building blocks, little chairs are all good.) Surrounding that middle area are real grown-up tables and chairs.
Parents can put their little monsters in the play area while they eat an uninterrupted meal. And since there would only be parents with children there, no one would mind if the kids screeched like a baby pterodactyl during the meal.
You could pass food over the gate to your kid, who would shove it in his mouth before running off to play. And since there would only be parents with children there, no one would mind if you took the food back from them and ate it, after they’d put it in their mouth, tasted it and decided they didn’t like it.
And at the end of the night (and realistically, they could close the place down at 9pm, because no one with kids can be out any later than that anyway) they could just hose the play area down.
I’m pretty sure that if anyone opened a restaurant like this — one that made room for kids, but served good food for adults — they would make a fortune.
The closest thing we’ve been able to find is a sports bar. Its so noisy there that no one seems to mind when our son screeches for his dinner, or if we have to let him down to run around a bit before the food comes out. Too bad the food sucks.

Cars are an expensive pain in the butt!

So here’s some videos that make me smile…
Abi’s first swim
See how daddy rescues his girls from the evil bug?
Ben’s Bell-Bum
Someone stuck one of Abi’s rattles onto the back of Ben’s pants. Cuteness ensued.
Papa’s Lawn Tractor
Do you know how to drive a tractor? Cause Ben sure does…

Don't Watch the Zohan

I’m not usually an Adam Sandler fan, but occasionally I can be in the mood for his silly-talking low-brow humor. Tonite I thought I’d enjoy a laugh with my old friend, Mark.
Unfortunately, not only is “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan” the worst Adam Sandler movie since “Little Nicky,” it may also be the worst movie ever made. It was crass and gross and totally unfunny.
Also, since I’m rolling back into the house at midnight (something I’ve not done for a long time) I’m getting to bear witness to a little bit of night life next to a University (something I’ve not done for an even longer time.) Curiously, the experience is somewhat like an Adam Sandler movie…

Making Progress

As infuriating as bad customer service is, when you do finally find someone who is good at their job, the contrast between the incompetence that passes for normal, and how wonderful this person suddenly seems is astounding.
Two people, in particular, have been little glimpses of joy in the stress and complications that have arisen from moving home.
Lynn at KW Insurance Brokers is a beacon of competence and clarity, who’s taken each of our rather unique requests in stride and responded promptly to make sure we get a fair price for the right insurance for our needs.
And Angela in Bell Canada’s Corporate Support Department is an angel, sent to save me from the hell of poorly-synced DSL. Angela’s number is a hard one to get, and I’m not even sure how I ended up with it. One of the two-dozen off-shore tech-support people I’ve had to talk to, who could be replaced by monkeys without lowering the quality of their work, must have accidentally transferred me to someone who knows the difference between KB and MB, and although things didn’t immediately get better, she’s had a solution to every problem we’ve hit.
On top of that, I finally figured out how to get our Primus VoIP telephone working well via QoS (I hope!) Nicole had an hour long conversation with her sister last night, and didn’t once hear any static, or have her called randomly connected to a stranger in Connecticut.
A little aside about Primus: when it works right, its the coolest phone service ever. For $30 a month we get every imaginable calling feature, plus some features normal phone users can’t even dream about (like checking your voice mail online, or directing your calls to a different number depending on time of day) AND we get unlimited long distance to anywhere in the US and Canada. Its a pain in the butt when its not working right, but once you get it nailed down, it awesome.
And finally, tomorrow we wrap up 1/3rd of our vehicle dilemma. So far its level of difficulty has been almost on par with buying a house, but easily the biggest hurdle is now done, and lent itself nicely to solving problem #2: Old Squeaky (our SUV.)
To celebrate resolving all our issues (at least for now), Nicole wants to go appliance shopping. Not my idea of a good time, but seeing as how we’re 28 this year, I guess its time to break down and buy our first fridge…

Gotta take it on the otherside

I don’t get sick very often, but when I do, it always hits me when I relax. And it always hits me harder than everyone else I know. Nicole gets sick too, but usually she’s over it in a day, and back to calling me a wimp for the next week while I recuperate.
She’s not wrong, of course. I’m a total wimp. And I hate getting sick.
Ben’s had a cold for the past week or so, so I should have seen it coming. For some reason, though, I thought I was impervious. Saturday I finished my last major transition-back-to-Ontario task until we get the house. Or my part of it anyway. And as I drove home, and realised that I had nothing to now but sit back and wait while the things I had set into motion worked themselves out, I could feel myself unwinding…
I’d been more than a little stressed that week — there was just so much to do, and only so fast we could move. I was snappy with Nicole over the OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) even though it wasn’t really her fault. On top of all the things we were juggling, to have Benjamin sick, and not know how to get him help, was so worrisome that it bordered on fear.
So now that everything was, at least, kicked off, it felt good to just relax. To feel my back and my brain unclench.
By the time I got home, though, I knew I was in trouble. I took a long nap in the afternoon, and started popping the vitamins right away, hoping to head it off. To no avail…
Four days later, this bug has gone through every symptom imaginable. One day I had Benjamin’s never-ending flow of snot. The next was intense body aches. The next my ears felt like they were exploding from the inside. For the past two its been my throat, swollen and raw. Today I have no voice.
The scariest part is Abi. She’s been a little snotty for the past couple days, but no fever like Ben had, and no other symptoms. We’re just praying that I don’t get her really sick. Nicole did finally prevail over the beaurocracy that is the Ontario government, and was able to secure our “waiting for OHIP” status for herself and the kids. They’ll be covered by mid-July. I’ll have to wait longer. We don’t really want any of us to have to get medical help any time soon, though.
Nic did get “sick.” And by that I mean, she had a sore throat for half a day, and had to blow her nose a couple times. I know women have a higher pain-tolerance then men, but I still think she got off easy. Ben is mostly better, although still something of a snot machine — I think some of that comes with being 1 1/2 though. And me? I’ll be busy feeling miserable and sorry for myself the next couple days, while I do my best to stay away from the kids.
Hopefully I’ll be feeling better by Saturday, for the big Wise Family Reunion, where my parents, brother and sister, and I are gathering from our various corners of the globe for the first time since shortly after Benjamin was born.

Can't stop. Addicted to the shindig.

I feel like there are pieces of us stretched across the map. Like we’re spread so thin, that we aren’t really anywhere, or effective at anything.
I’ve been home for a month now, and I’ve barely seen anyone. And when I do, its always in passing — like I’m in the area, solving some problem, or putting out some fire, or dealing with some issue we have to resolve, so I can spend 5-15 minutes with people, but nothing real. Nothing significant.
Ben’s sick right now. Its tough to feel safe, or like we’re doing the right thing for our family, when we don’t even have health care. He had a temperature of 103.5 last night, and rather then taking him to the hospital, we stayed up to see if it got better or worse after another round of tylenol. Any normal parents would just head to emerg, but for us, the magnitude of such a task made us think twice — forced us to wait and see.
We could get medical help if we had to — we’re not totally without. But we’d have to pay for it up front, and Ontario hospitals aren’t really set-up for that. Then we’d have to submit it to our New York health insurance company, and hope that they’d agree to pay for some of it. And of course if you go to a hospital here, you’re looking at at least a 3 hour wait in the ER — and that’s assuming you have Ontario healthcare with all your paperwork in order. So that means we’d have to get Abi to a babysitter — and of course we know almost no one in the area at the moment.
A little over two months living like this left, and then things should get easier.
Then we’ll have a home, in a quiet little neighbourhood, where we can find a nice babysitter.
Then the government will accept our children as citizens and let them have healthcare.
Then we’ll be able to invest our time and energy into ministry and our friends and family again, without being distracted by the million things that we still need to get done before life can return to normal.
Then my paycheck will get deposited into an account in the same country as us, and we won’t have to worry about trying to get money into the right country at the right times, so that none of the balls we’re juggling fall and knock us out…
Of course, it’ll be a lot more boring when all of those things come together. But I think I could be OK with that for a little while.

Coping – Part 2

Just like our son did, Abi has a “fussy time.” Some doctors call it colic. Other doctors say there’s no such thing as colic. Those doctors should visit our house between 7:30 and 9:00 in the evening.
Anyway, I was on the computer, just after we’d put Ben to bed, and it occurred to me that Abi wasn’t screaming bloody murder, like she usually does at this time of night. I went out to make sure everything was OK, and this is what I saw:

It reminded me of this picture, from not that long ago: Nic doing her thing (this time it was dishes) and keeping the baby bouncing so it wouldn’t cry.