TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacTech Spotlight: Jonathan "Wolf" Rentzsch

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 04
Column Tag: MacTech Spotlight

MacTech Spotlight: Jonathan "Wolf" Rentzsch

http://rentzsch.com


So, who are you?

I founded Red Shed Software Company: a Mac & Web software boutique in Illinois. I work for a madman (I'm self-employed). The company's name stems from a small red shed on the family farmhouse in Wisconsin, where I grew up. You can see its picture on the masthead of my personal and company websites.

What is it, exactly, that you do?

I write software for companies. Mostly Mac. I have dozens of clients, some Fortune 500, some Mom & Pop. So it's always an interesting dynamic.

I'm the President/Janitor. For a while my title was "embodiment", but my lawyer told me to cut that out. Red Shed Software is a one-man band, but I have a bunch of talented friends who help me shoulder the workload.

How long have you been doing what you do?

I've been programming Macs for fourteen years now. My brother-in-law gave me his old Mac 128K a few years before I started programming them, so I had the pleasure of being able to run every version of the System (starting with System 0.9, which came with the 128K).

Remember your first computer:

Radio Shack TRS-80. 16K, I believe. Cassette drive. Fun-time was just a CLOAD away. I wrote my first BASIC program when I was eight, culminating with programming the machine to play "Camptown Races" from its speaker.

Are you Mac-only, or a multi-platform person?

Multi-platform. I use Linux, FreeBSD and OpenBSD for server platforms. I primarily use Windows for console development where the tools aren't always ripe on the Mac side. Oh, I also run Windows to understand Windows programs that I'm porting to the Mac. I'd also call the Web an application platform nowadays. I started coding CGIs in Perl, and then picked up WebObjects and Rails.

What attracts you to working on the Mac?

The people. The Mac seems to attract people who share a specific ethos.

If I weren't on the production side, I'd probably label it, as "things should be easy and pretty".

But since I am on the production side, I see it more as a pervasive, fundamental discontentment among Mac developers. We're not satisfied. Ever. The app could always be made better. A missing feature is added in a way that doesn't interfere with the usability of the rest of the application. It's the attempt to add ability while holding -- or reducing! -- complexity.

I'm even a worse case. Not only do I share the external discontentment with how software should work, I have an additional, internal discontentment with development languages and tools. We're rather behind the curve in development of state-of-the-art -- what we know works is years ahead of what we're using. In addition, we ignore past proven successes in the vain perception that we're more "modern" now.

What's the coolest thing about the Mac?

User interface. There're glaring exceptions (hello, Finder X!) but without question, of all the platforms, the Macintosh takes great user interface design the most seriously.

I'm not just talking about how things look (although I really like 10.4's subtle Unified look), I also mean the pains of designing for efficient & pleasurable user interaction.

The current generation of Mac developers understand it's no longer about what you can put into your app, it's about streamlining and honing what you offer the user. I'm tempted to call it a minimalism, but really it's merely a de-cluttering of the UI cruft that's built up over the years as software became larger.

Another strike against the minimalism label is the "Delicious Generation" (to borrow Paul Kafasis' term) trend of flashy apps. Mac users want apps that look great. I personally think Unified looks great on its own, but readily concede the little touches (such as ignoring Interface Builder's "Aqua Guidelines" margins to Push The Edge, or the gradient backgrounds on the selection in source lists) make a world of difference.

So the minimalism label is wanting. A better label comes to mind when I mentally contrast Mac software to Windows software: taste. Most Mac software developers have taste, and most Windows developers do not. Wow, that's inflammatory.

If there's a "platform" that competes with Mac OS X in terms of tasteful apps, it isn't Windows or (heh) Linux. It's the Web. There's a certain breed of web apps that share the same ethos. Maybe that's why it's not surprising that Macs dominate Rails get-togethers.

If I could change one thing about Apple/OS X, I'd:

Make Apple-external Radar reports optionally publicly accessible. Radar is Apple's internal bug tracking system. Developers outside of Apple can file bugs against Apple's software using RadarWeb, a semi-public front-end to Radar (you need to have an ADC account to access it).

Ideally, the bugs filed against publicly-released software could be made available to other developers. This would help immensely in certain cases, and done right could even help satiate the other desire expressed by developers for a NDA'd mailing list.

Apple hasn't (and probably won't) make reports publicly accessible since it's a nightmare to handle all the privacy angles. Also, it would take resources to create and maintain it, and the bottom-line ROI is quite foggy. It's hard to put a price tag on it for mere external developer happiness.

What's the coolest tech thing you've done using OS X?

Publicly, mach_inject and mach_override are up there. While it was fun writing a preemptive threading engine for the Classic Mac OS as well (Red Shed Threads), them's days are past. mach_* is still relevant in today's world.

Ever?

Ever? Uhm, I think I fought an Emu once.

Where can we see a sample of your work?

I post most things I think people may care about to my blog. I also dump the open source code I write into a SourceForge project. The project's name is "redshed" if you care to look it up. There're some hidden goodies in there that I haven't gotten around to blogging about.

The next way I'm going to impact IT/OS X/the Mac universe is:

Probably C4[1], the 2007 edition of my Indie Mac developer conference. C4[0] was a big success, so I'm going to do it again.

I have another stunt in the planning phase, but I don't know if I'll go through with it. I'm waiting to see if the scheduling planets align.

And of course I'll push out more open source code. mach_* in particular is overdue for a significant rev.

Any other detail you'd like us to feature?

I write "articles" for http://developer.apple.com, but lately they've been more "screencasts with accompanying text" than normal articles. I also have written a few articles for IBM's developerworks, and am working on another one, if I haven't scared them away with my high latency.

If you're in the Chicagoland area and want to hang out with fellow Mac geeks, consider attending PSIG or CAWUG. PSIG meets in the northwest suburbs while CAWUG meets downtown. Check out http://rentzsch.com/psig or http://cawug.org for upcoming meeting details.


Think you or someone you know deserves to be in the MacTech Spotlight? Please contact us at exec-editor@mactech.com!

 
AAPL
$102.99
Apple Inc.
+0.52
MSFT
$44.38
Microsoft Corpora
-0.50
GOOG
$532.71
Google Inc.
+6.17

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

OmniOutliner 4.1.3 - Organize your ideas...
OmniOutliner is a flexible program for creating, collecting, and organizing information. Give your creativity a kick start by using an application that's actually designed to help you think. It's... Read more
BBEdit 11.0 - Powerful text and HTML edi...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
Apple Security Update 2014-005 - For OS...
Apple Security Update is recommended for all users and improves the security of Mac OS X. For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website: http://support.apple.com/... Read more
EyeTV 3.6.6 - Watch and record TV on you...
EyeTV brings a rich TV experience to your Mac. Watch live TV on your Mac. Pause, rewind, and record whenever you want. EyeTV gives you powerful control over what you watch and how you watch it. Put... Read more
RapidWeaver 6.0 - Create template-based...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
NTFS 12.0.39 - Provides full read and wr...
Paragon NTFS breaks down the barriers between Windows and OS X. Paragon NTFS effectively solves the communication problems between the Mac system and NTFS, providing full read and write access to... Read more
RestoreMeNot 2.0.3 - Disable window rest...
RestoreMeNot provides a simple way to disable the window restoration for individual applications so that you can fine-tune this behavior to suit your needs. Please note that RestoreMeNot is designed... Read more
Command-C 1.1.5 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Macgo Blu-ray Player 2.10.9.1750 - Blu-r...
Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can bring you the most unforgettable Blu-ray experience on your Mac. Overview Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can satisfy just about every need you could possibly have in a Blu-ray... Read more
Apple iOS 8.1 - The latest version of Ap...
The latest version of iOS can be downloaded through iTunes. Apple iOS 8 comes with big updates to apps you use every day, like Messages and Photos. A whole new way to share content with your family.... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Wi...
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Travel to Northern Allansia’s perilous Icefinger Mountains to defeat the wicked Snow Witch in this... | Read more »
TinType by Hipstamatic (Photography)
TinType by Hipstamatic 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Create hauntingly beautiful, soul capturing portraits with TinType by Hipstamatic. Inspired by daguerreotypes,... | Read more »
The Latest Update for Heroes of Dragon A...
The Latest Update for Heroes of Dragon Age Introduces Daily PvE Challenges Posted by Ellis Spice on October 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
A New Trailer has Been Revealed for Epic...
A New Trailer has Been Revealed for Epic of Kings Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] Dead Mage Inc. has released a new, action-packed trailer for the upcoming Epic of Kings. | Read more »
Find the Line Review
Find the Line Review By Campbell Bird on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: INSLIDE THE LINESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Tease out beautiful line drawings in this unique, free-to-play puzzle game.   | Read more »
The Silent Age Episode 2 Review
The Silent Age Episode 2 Review By Jennifer Allen on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: ROUNDING THINGS OFF NICELYUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rounding off a great point and click adventure comes The Silent Age... | Read more »
Craft Your Own Mini-Games with Papercade
Craft Your Own Mini-Games with Papercade Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Scrapbookers move over, Scrapgaming is the new thing. | Read more »
Reshape Review
Reshape Review By Jennifer Allen on October 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE SHAPESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Match triangles together to form cubes in this fast-paced and twitchy game.   | Read more »
Miika (Games)
Miika 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Miika is a beautiful 3D puzzle game based on camera perspectives combined with the use of optical illusions. Miika challenges... | Read more »
Infuse Pro (Photography)
Infuse Pro 3.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $9.99, Version: 3.0 (iTunes) Description: ** All-new version 3 includes fully licensed and certified DTS® and DTS-HD® audio! ** | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save with Best Buy’s College Student Deals
Take an additional $50 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through November 1st. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take advantage... Read more
iPad Air 2 & iPad mini 3 Best Tablets Yet...
The new iPads turned out to be pretty much everything I’d been hoping for and more than I’d expected.”More” particularly in terms of a drinking-from-a-firehose choice of models and configurations,... Read more
Drafts 4 Reinvents iOS Productivity App
N Richland Hills, Texas based Agile Tortoise has announced the release of Drafts 4 for iPhone and iPad. Drafts is a quick capture note taking app with flexible output actions. Drafts 4 scales from... Read more
AT&T accepting preorders for new iPads fo...
AT&T Wireless is accepting preorders for the new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, cellular models, for $100 off MSRP with a 2-year service agreement: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi + Cellular: $529.99 - 64GB... Read more
Apple offering refurbished Mac Pros for up to...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2013 Mac Pros for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more
Select MacBook Airs $100 off MSRP, free shipp...
B&H Photo has 2014 a couple of MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Strong iPhone, Mac And App Store Sales Drive...
Apple on Monday announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 fourth quarter ended September 27, 2014. The Company posted quarterly revenue of $42.1 billion and quarterly net profit of $8.5 billion... Read more
Apple Posts How-To For OS X Recovery
OS X 10.7 Lion and later include OS X Recovery. This feature includes all of the tools you need to reinstall OS X, repair your disk, and even restore from a Time Machine backup. OS X Recovery... Read more
Mac OS X Versions (Builds) Supported By Vario...
Apple Support has posted a handy resource explaining which Mac OS X versions (builds) originally shipped with or are available for your computer via retail discs, downloads, or Software Update. Apple... Read more

Jobs Board

Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.