TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Aug 98 Viewpoint

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 8
Column Tag: Viewpoint

August 1998 Viewpoint

by Nicholas C. "nick.c" DeMello, editor@mactech.com

Each year in June, two hundred Mac programmers converge on a single hotel in Dearborn Michigan for four days of intense coding, coffee drinking, and discussion. We call it MacHack.

The World Wide Developer Conference is Apple's show, where Apple presents their new technologies and opens a dialog with developers. The Macworld conventions are where vendors show us their new software and similarly touch base with their users. But, MacHack is something different. Suits are not worn, and no one has a briefcase. This is strictly a T-shirt and daypack crowd, and no one is trying to broadcast a message. Instead, it's simply one long party where Mac programmers the world over gather to share their opinions, experiences, and simply enjoy some time with their peers.

MacHack started twelve years ago when the University of Michigan hosted a gathering of Macintosh programmers. That was the first and last MacHack hosted by U of M. Ever since, MacHack has been run by an independent management company and organized by a committee of volunteers from the programming community.

The 1998 keynote speaker was Chris Espinosa -- Apple employee number eight (and once a MacTech columnist). Hired as the eighth employee of Apple, and then working in just about every Apple department, Chris has the longest uninterrupted tenure with Apple on record. At least, until recently. It seems that when Apple acquires another company, their policy is to award its employees seniority based on their start date at the acquired company. So, when Apple acquired NeXT, all the NeXT folks were recorded on the Apple books as having started work at Apple on the dates they began with NeXT. That means, (according to Chris) the books say Steve Jobs never left Apple. That's just one of the stories we were treated to as Chris walked us through the history of Apple, from the perspective of someone who literally grew up inside the company.

MacHack is scheduled one month after WWDC. After four weeks of digesting Apple's newest strategies most programmers have some opinions, questions, and feedback on what was presented at WWDC. That makes the Apple MacHackers targets for a lot of questions and feedback. For example, Tim Holmes, Pete Gontier, and Andy Bachorski ended up in the middle of packs of folks trying to make sense out of Carbon, the Mac OS X schedule, and all the new technologies we're looking forward to in Allegro. Jordan Dea-Mattson was the first Apple employee to experience this phenomena way back at MacHack II, so he scheduled an impromptu Q&A session back then to try and field as many questions as possible. The forum was a huge success (running four hours) with folks asking Jordan about the various decisions and policies made by Apple "Why did you do .....?". Because Jordan was the only Apple representative,. everything that didn't work was, de facto, his fault. Ever since then, Apple has sent one or more Jordan-stand-ins to host an Apple feedback session (commonly referred to as the "Thank Apple Session" :-).

This year, Apple sent their VP of Software Development, Steven Glass, to host the session, and he did a great job of fielding what questions he could and taking the rest of the feedback home with him. As always, it was a great opportunity for developers to share their concerns on Apple's directions and decisions with the folks driving the bus (as well as listing the things that we need to blame Jordan for this year :-).

Apple supplied computers for the Machine room this year (which Peter N Lewis, Steve Sisak, and others put together and maintained for us). The machine room is a conference hall outfitted with computers, ethernet connections, compilers, and reference material placed at the disposal of the convention attendees. Lot's of folks were toting laptops (even a few of the extremely kool new PB G3's were around), but many of us don't have the resources to bring our own development environments with us -- and programmers need to program. Or, to be more precise: they need to hack.

Hacks abound at MacHack. You can't put this many talented programmers in one place and not expect them to show off their wizardry. Some of the best hacks included Andy Bachorski and Nat McCully's MacsBug extension "BrickPoint" that let's you play BreakOut in the debugger. Ed Wynne and Matt Slot wrote a Hack that runs screen savers on your desktop (under your icons and windows). Marcus Jager and Quinn "The Eskimo!" connected two machines by a serial cable and accessed the Open Firmware bootstrap compiler on one from the other. They wrote a version of Pong that runs on a Mac before it boots up. All these hacks are entered into a contest at the end of the show (hosted by the MacHax group and run by Greg Marriot and Scott Boyd) that is the highlight of MacHack. This years winner was the asciiMac by Alexandra Ellwood and Miro Jurisic, which caused a Macintosh to render all it's graphics in colored ASCII characters -- in real time!

But MacHack isn't just for the wizards among us -- it's also a chance for new programmers to tap into the powerful minds and rich history of the Mac programming community. For example, Cal Simone (my personal AppleScript Guru) hosted a wonderful session exclusively for the youngest among us: "Programming for Kids". No one who attended that session was even born when MacHack I took place, but the kids loved it. Having never programmed before, the kids were fascinated by Cal's patient and step by step introduction. The half hour session turned into a 4 hour learning experience. All the kids at the session entered hacks in the juniors competition, and my guess is that these will be the future wizards of our platform.

The Mac programming community is diffuse. We need to come together periodically to share experiences and ideas, and that's really what MacHack is really about. It's a a gathering and a kind of family reunion. If you haven't been to a Hack yet, take a look at http://www.machack.com/ and think about making your reservation for next year. See you there.

 
AAPL
$108.00
Apple Inc.
+1.02
MSFT
$46.95
Microsoft Corpora
+0.90
GOOG
$559.08
Google Inc.
+8.77

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Vitamin-R 2.20b1 - Personal productivity...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
Dropbox 2.10.44 - Cloud synchronization...
Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keep them up-to-date between systems... Read more
Sandvox 2.9.2 - Easily build eye-catchin...
Sandvox is for Mac users who want to create a professional looking website quickly and easily. With Sandvox, you don't need to be a Web genius to build a stylish, feature-rich, standards-compliant... Read more
Cocktail 8.0.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.3.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
VMware Fusion 7.0.1 - Run Windows apps a...
VMware Fusion allows you to create a Virtual Machine on your Mac and run Windows (including Windows 8.1) and Windows software on your Mac. Run your favorite Windows applications alongside Mac... Read more
OneNote 15.3.2 - Free digital notebook f...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.4 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.0.0 beta 3 - Powerf...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
TextWrangler 4.5.11 - Free general purpo...
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator's tool. Oh, and also, like the best things in life, it's free. TextWrangler is the "little brother" to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Monster Flash Review
Monster Flash Review By Jordan Minor on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: ALONE IN THE DARKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Solid shooting and a surprising amount of spooky tension make Monster Flash a great portable... | Read more »
Retry Review
Retry Review By Rob Thomas on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: SOARING HIGHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Flappy who? Let Retry wash all those bad bird-related memories away on a cool retro-flavored flight… right... | Read more »
Dementia: Book of the Dead Review
Dementia: Book of the Dead Review By Lee Hamlet on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: A TOUGH READUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A witch hunter is sent after a demonic book in the spooky but short-lived Dementia: Book... | Read more »
Card Dungeon, the Semi-Board Game Roguel...
Card Dungeon, the Semi-Board Game Roguelike, Has Been Renovated Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Logitech Protection + Power iPhone5/5S C...
Made by: Logitech Price: $99.99 Hardware/iOS Integration Rating: 3 out of 5 stars Usability Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars Reuse Value Rating: 0.75 out of 5 stars Build Quality Rating: 0.75 out of 5 stars Overall Rating: 1.25 out of 5 stars | Read more »
This Is Not a Test Goes Free, Permanentl...
This Is Not a Test Goes Free, Permanently Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Swap Heroes Review
Swap Heroes Review By Campbell Bird on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: STRATEGIC SWAPPINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rotate a cast of heroes to fend of waves of monsters in this difficult, puzzle rpg.   | Read more »
Night Sky Pro™ (Reference)
Night Sky Pro™ 3.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Reference Price: $2.99, Version: 3.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Night Sky Pro™Wonder No More™ Night Sky Pro™ is the ultimate stargazing experience. From the creators of the original... | Read more »
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena (Games)
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A zombie shooter audio game. Made from gut-wrenching 3D binaural sound, for a new kind of weird immersion. You... | Read more »
RPG Asdivine Hearts (Games)
RPG Asdivine Hearts 1.1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1.0 (iTunes) Description: SPECIAL PRICE50% OFF (USD 7.99 -> USD 3.99)!!! Travel alongside four companions and a cat in the adventure of a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple now offering refurbished 2014 13-inch R...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple Regains Momentum As Windows Stutters An...
The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for the three months to March 2014, shows Apple performing strongly in the first quarter of the year, with sales bouncing back in... Read more
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Increase 25.2%...
New smartphone releases and an increased emphasis on emerging markets drove global smartphone shipments above 300 million units for the second consecutive quarter, according to preliminary data from... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2014 15-inch M...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple drops prices on refurbished 2013 Retina...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on 2013 Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros, with Retina models now available starting at $999. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and... Read more
New 2.8GHz Mac mini on sale for $949, save $5...
Abt Electronics has the new 2.8GHz Mac mini in stock and on sale for $949.05 including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any reseller... Read more
Sale! 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro available for...
 B&H Photo has the 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro on sale for $2649 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $350 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from any... Read more
Mujjo Steps Up The Game With Refined Touchscr...
Netherlands based Mujjo have just launched their Refined Touchscreen Gloves, stepping up their game. The gloves feature a updated elegant design that takes these knitted gloves to the next level. A... Read more
Sale! Preorder the new 27-inch 5K iMac for $2...
 Abt Electronics has the new 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale and available for preorder for $2374.05 including free shipping. Their price is $125 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more
Simplex Solutions Inc. Brings Secure Web Surf...
New York based Simplex Solutions Inc. has announced the release and immediate availability of Private Browser 1.0, its revolutionary new secure web browser developed for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch... Read more

Jobs Board

Solutions Specialist with *Apple* Knowledge...
Company Description: We are an Apple Authorized Sales and Service Provider. We have been selling and servicing Apple computers in the Fairfield County area for over Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Every day, business customers come to the Apple Store to discover what powerful, easy-to-use Apple products can do for them. As a Business Leader, Read more
Sr. Manager, *Apple* Deployment Programs fo...
**Job Summary** Apple is seeking candidates for a new position on the Education Content and Technology team. iPad and Mac is in the hands of millions of teachers and Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple I...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.