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
$119.00
Apple Inc.
+1.40
MSFT
$47.75
Microsoft Corpora
+0.28
GOOG
$540.37
Google Inc.
-0.71

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Skype 7.2.0.412 - Voice-over-internet ph...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
HoudahSpot 3.9.6 - Advanced file search...
HoudahSpot is a powerful file search tool built upon MacOS X Spotlight. Spotlight unleashed Create detailed queries to locate the exact file you need Narrow down searches. Zero in on files Save... Read more
RapidWeaver 6.0.3 - Create template-base...
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
iPhoto Library Manager 4.1.10 - Manage m...
iPhoto Library Manager lets you organize your photos into multiple iPhoto libraries. Separate your high school and college photos from your latest summer vacation pictures. Or keep some photo... Read more
iExplorer 3.5.1.9 - View and transfer al...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
MacUpdate Desktop 6.0.3 - Discover and i...
MacUpdate Desktop 6 brings seamless 1-click installs and version updates to your Mac. With a free MacUpdate account and MacUpdate Desktop 6, Mac users can now install almost any Mac app on macupdate.... Read more
SteerMouse 4.2.2 - Powerful third-party...
SteerMouse is an advanced driver for USB and Bluetooth mice. It also supports Apple Mighty Mouse very well. SteerMouse can assign various functions to buttons that Apple's software does not allow,... Read more
iMazing 1.1 - Complete iOS device manage...
iMazing (was DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and from... Read more
PopChar X 7.0 - Floating window shows av...
PopChar X helps you get the most out of your font collection. With its crystal-clear interface, PopChar X provides a frustration-free way to access any font's special characters. Expanded... Read more
OneNote 15.4 - Free digital notebook fro...
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

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Raby (Games)
Raby 1.0.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.3 (iTunes) Description: ***WARNING - Raby runs on: iPhone 5, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPad Mini Retina, iPad Mini 3, iPad 4, iPad Air,... | Read more »
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath (Games)
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** PLEASE NOTE: Oddworld Stranger's Wrath requires at least an iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPad Mini or iPod Touch 5th gen... | Read more »
Bounce On Back (Games)
Bounce On Back 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Dwelp (Games)
Dwelp 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: === 50% off for a limited time, to celebrate release === Dwelp is an elegant little puzzler with a brand new game mechanic. To complete a... | Read more »
Make Way for Fat Chicken, from the Maker...
Make Way for Fat Chicken, from the Makers of Scrap Squad Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 26th, 2014 [ permalink ] Relevant Games has announced they will be releasing their reverse tower defense game, | Read more »
Tripnary Review
Tripnary Review By Jennifer Allen on November 26th, 2014 Our Rating: :: TRAVEL BUCKET LISTiPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad Want to create a travel bucket list? Tripnary is a fun way to do exactly that... | Read more »
Ossian Studios’ RPG, The Shadow Sun, is...
Ossian Studios’ RPG, The Shadow Sun, is Now Available for $4.99 Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 26th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Mmmm, Tasty – Having the Angry Birds for...
The very first Angry Birds debuted on iOS back in 2009. When you sit back and tally up the number of Angry Birds games out there and the impact they’ve had on pop culture as a whole, you just need to ask yourself: “How would the birds taste... | Read more »
Rescue Quest Review
Rescue Quest Review By Jennifer Allen on November 26th, 2014 Our Rating: :: PATH BASED MATCH-3Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Guide a wizard to safety by matching gems. Rescue Quest might not be an entirely original... | Read more »
You Can Play the Final Chapter of Lone W...
You Can Play the Final Chapter of Lone Wolf: Dawn Over V’taag Right Now Posted by Jessica Fisher on November 26th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Black Friday: $300 off 15-inch Retina MacBook...
 B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $300 off MSRP as part of their Black Friday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina... Read more
2014 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449, save $...
 B&H Photo has the new 1.4GHz Mac mini on sale for $449.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this new model. Adorama... Read more
Early Black Friday pricing on 27-inch 5K iMac...
 B&H Photo continues to offer Black Friday sale prices on the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac, in stock today and on sale for $2299 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP... Read more
Early Black Friday sale prices on iPad Air 2,...
 MacMall is discounting iPad Air 2s by up to $75 off MSRP as part of their Black Friday sale. Shipping is free: - 16GB iPad Air WiFi: $459 $40 off - 64GB iPad Air WiFi: $559 $40 off - 128GB iPad Air... Read more
Early Black Friday MacBook Air sale prices, $...
 MacMall has posted early Black Friday MacBook Air sale prices. Save $101 on all models for a limited time: - 11″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air: $798 - 11″ 1.4GHz/256GB MacBook Air: $998 - 13″ 1.4GHz/... Read more
Why iPhone 6 Tablet/Laptop Cannibalization Is...
247wallst.com blogger Douglas A. McIntyre noted last week that according to research posted on the Applovin blog site the iPhone 6 is outselling the iPhone 6 Plus by a wide margin . Hardly a surprise... Read more
Worldwide Tablet Growth Expected to Slow to 7...
The global tablet market is expected to record massive deceleration in 2014 with year-over-year growth slowing to 7.2%, down from 52.5% in 2013, according to a new forecast from International Data... Read more
Touchscreen Glove Company Announces New Produ...
Surrey, United Kingdom based TouchAbility specializes in design and manufacture of a wide variety of products compatible with touchscreen devices including smartphones, tablets and computers. Their... Read more
OtterBox Alpha Glass Screen Protectors for iP...
To complement the bigger, sharper displays on the latest Apple devices, OtterBox has introduced Alpha Glass screen protectors to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The fortified glass screen protectors... Read more
Early Black Friday Mac Pro sale, 6-Core 3.5GH...
 B&H Photo has the 6-Core 3.5GHz Mac Pro on sale today for $3499 including free shipping plus NY sales tax. Their price is $500 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from... 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
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* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the 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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.