Ben Scheirman


The Effect of Primetime Media Coverage

In my last post I talked about how I helped launch the 5 Calls iOS app.

Shortly after this hit the store, Michael Moore (yes, that Michael Moore) posted on Facebook, and his website, a 10 Point Plan to stop Trump. In the article, he mentioned 5 Calls specifically as an easy way to get in touch with your representatives.

Here’s some great news: Someone has created an app to make this very easy: Go to the App Store and get “5 Calls”. The app will dial the friggin’ phone for you and give you talking points for when you speak to your reps!

Later on that week, he was invited to Chris Hayes’ show on MSNBC. Sure enough, he ended up giving an enthusiastic overview of the app on national TV during prime time.

5 Calls

5 Calls

I have become much more political in the last year than I ever have before. Like many, completely dumbstruck by the outcome of the election, I have been struggling with how best to channel my frustration and anger.

I decided to do something about it, and channel this energy into something I do think will have a positive impact on our democracy.

Arguing on Twitter, Facebook, etc is unlikely to affect real change (shocker). Our networks are largely echo chambers and it is difficult to influence those outside your network. Retweets won’t save us.

An Affordable Dynamic Mic Recommendation

I often get asked what mic people should use when getting started screencasting.

My Screencasting setup

Since screencasting is a significant part of my business, I am comfortable spending a little more than a hobbyist to get good quality sound. Pictured above you can see my microphone and audio interface.

I use (and recommend) the Heil PR-40 microphone. But this is an expensive mic that is really only useful next to somewhat expensive accessories. It’s not a compelling proposition to tell a hobbyist screencaster to fork out nearly $800 on a good mic setup.

The Heil PR-40 I use to record NSScreencast

I often see people using USB Condenser microphones, like the Blue Yeti or Audio Technica AT2020. I actually started recording NSScreencast with the AT2020. But I don’t think these mics are ideal for recording screencasts.

The ATR2100

I keep this mic around for travel reasons, but I really don’t recommend it because it picks up so much room noise. When traveling I usually have pretty awful recording conditions, so it doesn’t work well there either. What I’d really like is a portable dynamic mic…

Background Downloads

In the previous post, I wrote about how I designed the download system for the NSScreencast iOS app.

There’s no need to have the user be forced to keep our app in the foreground while the download is in progress, we naturally want to support background downloads.

Resume Data Broken in iOS 10

Downloading files on iOS is fairly straight forward. You configure a URLSession with a URLSessionConfiguration, create a URLSessionDownloadTask with the URL that you want to download, and then call .resume() on it.

Later on, during the transfer, if you want to pause this request (or cancel it), you call cancel(byProducingResumeData:) and pass a block to it. This block yields to you what is called “resume data”. The docs describe it like this:

A data object that provides the data necessary to resume a download.

Nibs Are Cool Again

I’m working on a client project that has a pretty large legacy codebase. For some new features I’m working inside of an existing architecture, so I’m using a when-in-rome strategy for implementing new features. In other words, how I implement something may be different than if this were a greenfield project.

For instance, the existing application is written in Objective-C. While I would likely write the application in Swift if I were starting over, it makes total sense to continue the application in Objective-C for the short term.

Exporting Devices With Spaceship

One of my clients is submitting an app to the store under a different Apple Developer account than it was developed with.

This left us with about 50 devices in the old portal that they were using for development & beta testing. I needed to quickly get these over to the new portal.

Enter spaceship.

Spaceship is a gem developed by Felix Krause and Stefan Natchev as part of the fastlane project.

SteelSeries Nimbus Controller

If you’ve tried playing any games with the Siri Remote, you’ve probably noticed how awkward the situation is. There are some games that lend themselves to such an input device (such as Canabalt or Alto’s Adventure) but most games just don’t work well with the remote.

Alto's adventure is playable with a single button, and works great with the Siri Remote

But other games are really awkward. Almost Impossible, for instance, is actually impossible to play with the remote. It’s clearly not a gamepad.

So I bought one.

Painless Authentication on Apple TV

The primary input mechanism for Apple TV text entry is a single thumb on a tiny trackpad. Needless to say, entering text is a nuissance. Entering complex passwords is downright painful.

So painful, in fact, that I’d expect most people to just drop out and never come back if you present them with a log in screen.