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
$98.38
Apple Inc.
+0.71
MSFT
$44.30
Microsoft Corpora
-0.21
GOOG
$590.83
Google Inc.
+1.81

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Bartender 1.2.20 - Organize your menu ba...
Bartender lets you organize your menu bar apps. Features: Lets you tidy your menu bar apps how you want. See your menu bar apps when you want. Hide the apps you need to run, but do not need to... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.2 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
Vienna 3.0.0 RC 2 :be5265e: - RSS and At...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
VLC Media Player 2.1.5 - Popular multime...
VLC Media Player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, OGG, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It... Read more
Default Folder X 4.6.7 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click... Read more
TinkerTool 5.3 - Expanded preference set...
TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.0 - 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
Intermission 1.1.1 - Pause and rewind li...
Intermission allows you to pause and rewind live audio from any application on your Mac. Intermission will buffer up to 3 hours of audio, allowing users to skip through any assortment of audio... Read more
Autopano Giga 3.6 - Stitch multiple imag...
Autopano Giga allows you to stitch 2, 20, or 2,000 images. Version 3.0 integrates impressive new features that will definitely make you adopt Autopano Pro or Autopano Giga: Choose between 9... Read more
Airfoil 4.8.7 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Marvel Contest of Champions Announced at...
Marvel Contest of Champions Announced at Comic-Con Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014 [ permalink ] Announced over the weekend at San Diego Comic-Con was the fairly exciting looking Marvel Contest of Champions. | Read more »
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review By Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: DULL SWIPINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad The pizza power is weak when it comes to this Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game.   | Read more »
Exploration Focused Puzzle Game Beatbudd...
Exploration Focused Puzzle Game Beatbuddy Set to Make Transition from PC to iOS this September Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
PlanetHD
PlanetHD By Nadia Oxford on July 28th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SPACE MADNESSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad PlanetHD will keep players busy for a while, though its unpredictable physics are a handful to deal with.   | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: July 21-25, 2014
Another Week of Expert App Reviews   At 148Apps, we help you sort through the great ocean of apps to find the ones we think you’ll like and the ones you’ll need. Our top picks become Editor’s Choice, our stamp of approval for apps with that little... | Read more »
Reddme for iPhone - The Reddit Client (...
Reddme for iPhone - The Reddit Client 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: News Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Reddme for iPhone is an iOS 7-optimized Reddit client that offers a refreshing new way to experience Reddit... | Read more »
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery : Ep...
Jacob Jones and the Bigfoot Mystery : Episode 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Jacob Jones is back in Episode 2 of one of Apples 'Best of 2013' games and an App Store... | Read more »
New Trailer For Outcast Odyssey, A New K...
New Trailer For Outcast Odyssey, A New Kind of Card Battler Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 25th, 2014 [ permalink ] Out this Fall is a new kind of card battle game: Outcast Odyssey. | Read more »
Hay Day – Tip, Tricks, Strategies, and C...
Recently got into Supercell’s other huge hit, Hay Day and could do with some advice on what to do? We’ve got you covered with some helpful trips and tricks to bear in mind! Ticking Along One of the key things to keep in mind while building up that... | Read more »
Monster Head Review
Monster Head Review By Nadia Oxford on July 25th, 2014 Our Rating: :: FEEDING TIMEUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Racking up a high score with Monster Head is trickier than it first appears. The appeal wears out fairly... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $1099,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $1099.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $100 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Roundup of Apple refurbished MacBook Pros, th...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ MacBook Pros available for up to $400 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. Their prices... Read more
Record Mac Shipments In Q2/14 Confound Analys...
A Seeking Alpha Trefis commentary notes that Apple’s fiscal Q3 2014 results released July 22, beat market predictions on earnings, although revenues were slightly lower than anticipated. Apple’s Mac’... Read more
Intel To Launch Core M Silicon For Use In Not...
Digitimes’ Monica Chen and Joseph Tsai, report that Intel will launch 14nm-based Core M series processors specifically for use in fanless notebook/tablet 2-in-1 models in Q4 2014, with many models to... Read more
Apple’s 2014 Back to School promotion: $100 g...
 Apple’s 2014 Back to School promotion includes a free $100 App Store Gift Card with the purchase of any new Mac (Mac mini excluded), or a $50 Gift Card with the purchase of an iPad or iPhone,... Read more
iMacs on sale for $150 off MSRP, $250 off for...
Best Buy has iMacs on sale for up to $160 off MSRP for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Prices are valid for online orders only, in-store... Read more
Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP, starting...
Best Buy has Mac minis on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup. Prices are for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: 2.5GHz Mac mini: $499.99 2.3GHz... Read more
Global Tablet Market Grows 11% in Q2/14 Notwi...
Worldwide tablet sales grew 11.0 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2014, with shipments reaching 49.3 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation... Read more
New iPhone 6 Models to Have Staggered Release...
Digitimes’ Cage Chao and Steve Shen report that according to unnamed sources in Apple’s upstream iPhone supply chain, the new 5.5-inch iPhone will be released several months later than the new 4.7-... Read more
New iOS App Helps People Feel Good About thei...
Mobile shoppers looking for big savings at their favorite stores can turn to the Goodshop app, a new iOS app with the latest coupons and deals at more than 5,000 online stores. In addition to being a... Read more

Jobs Board

*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
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring 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
*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
WW Sales Program Manager, *Apple* Online St...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.