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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Airmail 3.3.2 - Powerful, minimal email...
Airmail is an mail client with fast performance and intuitive interaction. Support for iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP3, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.com, Live.com. Airmail was designed... Read more
Numi 3.15.1 - Menu-bar calculator suppor...
Numi is a calculator that magically combines calculations with text, and allows you to freely share your computations. Numi combines text editor and calculator Support plain English. For example, '5... Read more
Airmail 3.3.2 - Powerful, minimal email...
Airmail is an mail client with fast performance and intuitive interaction. Support for iCloud, MS Exchange, Gmail, Google Apps, IMAP, POP3, Yahoo!, AOL, Outlook.com, Live.com. Airmail was designed... Read more
Numi 3.15.1 - Menu-bar calculator suppor...
Numi is a calculator that magically combines calculations with text, and allows you to freely share your computations. Numi combines text editor and calculator Support plain English. For example, '5... Read more
TextSoap 8.4.1 - Automate tedious text d...
TextSoap can automatically remove unwanted characters, fix up messed up carriage returns, and do pretty much anything else that we can think of to text. Save time and effort. Be more productive. Stop... Read more
TextSoap 8.4.1 - Automate tedious text d...
TextSoap can automatically remove unwanted characters, fix up messed up carriage returns, and do pretty much anything else that we can think of to text. Save time and effort. Be more productive. Stop... Read more
Backblaze 4.3.0.44 - Online backup servi...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Numi 3.15 - Menu-bar calculator supports...
Numi is a calculator that magically combines calculations with text, and allows you to freely share your computations. Numi combines text editor and calculator Support plain English. For example, '5... Read more
EtreCheck 3.3.3 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
BusyContacts 1.1.8 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

The best new games we played this week
We were quite busy this week. A bunch of big mobile games launched over the past few days, alongside a few teeny surprises. There're lots of quality games to load your phone with. We've gone and picked out five of our favorites for the week. [... | Read more »
Magikarp Jump beginner's guide
Magikarp Jump is a mystifying little game. Part Tamagotchi, part idle clicker, there's not a whole lot of video game there, per se, but for some reason we can't help coming back to it again and again. Your goal is to train up a little Magikarp to... | Read more »
Goat Simulator PAYDAY (Games)
Goat Simulator PAYDAY 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICES **iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better Goat Simulator: Payday is the most... | Read more »
GRID Autosport delayed until autumn
Sorry mobile racing fans -- GRID Autosport has been delayed a few months. The game is now expected to launch this fall on iOS. Feral Interactive announced that they wanted more time to work on the game's UI and overall performance before launching... | Read more »
Zombie Gunship Survival Beginner's...
The much anticipated Zombie Gunship Survival is here. In this latest entry in the Zombie Gunship franchise, you're tasked with supporting ground troops and protecting your base from the zombie horde. There's a lot of rich base building fun, and... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish (Games)
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish 1.2.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.2.2 (iTunes) Description: Explore the ruins of the City of Mordheim, clash with other scavenging warbands and collect Wyrdstone -... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish brings tablet...
Legendary Games has just launched Mordheim: Warband Skirmish, a new turn-based action game for iOS and Android. | Read more »
Magikarp Jump splashes onto Android worl...
If you're tired ofPokémon GObut still want something to satisfy your mobilePokémon fix,Magikarp Jumpmay just do the trick. It's out now on Android devices the world over. While it looks like a simple arcade jumper, there's quite a bit more to it... | Read more »
Purrfectly charming open-world RPG Cat Q...
Cat Quest, an expansive open-world RPG from former Koei-Tecmo developers, got a new gameplay trailer today. The video showcases the combat and exploration features of this feline-themed RPG. Cat puns abound as you travel across a large map in a... | Read more »
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels (Games)
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** WARNING: iPad 2, iPad Mini 1 & iPhone 4S are NOT compatible. ** *** Special Launch Price for a limited... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Memorial Day savings: 13-inch Touch Bar MacBo...
B&H Photo has the 2016 Apple 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air: $... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 11-inch MacBook Ai...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models recently discontinued by Apple), available for up to $170 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up...
B&H has 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1449.99 $150 off... Read more
15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro o...
MacMall has the 15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLW82LL/A) on sale for $2569 as part of their Memorial Day sale. Shipping is free. Their price is $230 off MSRP. Read more
Free Tread Wisely Mobile App Endorsed By Fath...
Just in time for the summer driving season, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company has announced the launch of a new Tread Wisely mobile app. Designed to promote tire and vehicle safety among teens and... Read more
Commercial Notebooks And Detachable Tablets W...
Worldwide shipments of personal computing devices (PCDs), comprised of traditional PCs (a combination of desktop, notebook, and workstations) and tablets (slates and detachables), are forecast to... Read more
Best value this Memorial Day weekend: Touch B...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros available for $230 to $420 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2.6GHz... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 o...
Overstock.com has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $869.99 $130 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (sku... Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973 with free...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973, $16 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.