TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacTech Spotlight: Dr. Michael Watson, Scientist, Freeverse, Inc.

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 12
Column Tag: MacTech Spotlight

MacTech Spotlight: Dr. Michael Watson, Scientist

Freeverse, Inc.

What do you do?

My official title is "Software Designer", I think. What does that mean? I never have a typical day--one week I might be staring at source code, the next I might spend entirely inside Creative Suite. If this were a job interview, I'd say that I develop Mac OS X software in C, C++, and Objective-C, as well as manage the QA aspects of other software. That's the Resume_Skills_Section answer.

What do I really do? I'm responsible for everything related to our software updates (we use both custom-built install systems and Sparkle, a kickass open-source software update framework), so if you've ever had a problem updating one of our games or applications, I'm the guy who broke something. Sorry.

Every now and then I'll get involved in our games. I created sound effects as well as recorded cut most of the dialogue for WingNuts 2, and that was an absolute blast. Bruce [Morrison] had a pretty good grasp on what he needed, which made my job pretty easy. I was heavily involved with our port of Marathon: Durandal to the Xbox 360, but let's keep moving. I'll rattle on about that later, I'm sure.

How long have you been doing what you do?

I've been at Freeverse for almost two years now. November is my cotton anniversary.

What was your first computer:

Don't laugh: Performa 6200. 75 MHz of RAW POWER, complete with an untold amount of RAM and disk space. I could've run Google on that thing.

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

I only own Macs, and I mostly only use Macs at work. We do Xbox 360 development, and some PC ports, so I've got a Windows box near me as well. I've built BSD boxes in the past, but I just don't have the time to tinker these days.

What do I prefer? Mac OS X, hands down. I was just about ready to jump ship to Linux until I got my hands on Mac OS X back in 2001, actually. This was before my developer days, so I was mostly interested in the lack of Type 11 errors. The command-line appealed to the nerd side of me, so it was a no-brainer from that point.

What attracts you to working on the Mac?

The Finder. But seriously, the Mac really has one of the nicest development environments out there. Xcode, Interface Builder, Quartz Composer, all the way down to the great debugging tools--it's easy dive in and Get Things Done. Visual Studio always seems determined to get in my way or make me hunt for things in a sea of toolbar buttons, window sections and sub-panes. The Mac development community is also top-notch, and the third-party applications that I use to do my job are polished and highly functional. Total package.

It may sound a little strange, but I also enjoy working on the Mac because my co-workers and most of my friends use Macs as well. It's not so much that we're all somehow more enlightened or any crap like that, but that we have tons of little things in common that we can talk about during the course of the day. We're all keeping up with Gruber and company, we use the same software, and we make fun of the same bugs. It's a community thing, just like a Web forum or an automobile club.

What's the coolest thing about the Mac?

I have to be honest, I really don't think about it in those terms. I use Mac OS X because it's well-designed, has a lot of powerful APIs to leverage, and doesn't frustrate me. It's a computer, not a religion.

That having been said, Mac OS X ships with the best selection of typefaces of any platform. The typography nerd in me loves that we get Helvetica in the box. Arial's a punk.

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

From a consumer standpoint, I'd give QuickTime Pro to people to buy brand-new computers. Apple recently "gave" full-screen support to the non-paid version of QuickTime Player, which is a step in the right direction. Maybe it'll happen at some point.

As far as being a developer goes, I'd refine and open some additional parts of the Cocoa APIs that people have been wanting to leverage in their apps. But really, everyone wants to do that. It's just an issue of time--you can't just open up your API without fixing its bugs, cleaning up its interface, documenting it all, and testing it. That takes time and manpower that may need to be focused elsewhere. It's a balance.

The day Apple gives us NSGradient, however, is the day I send Steve Jobs a box of candy. [Ed. Note -- I'm going to hold you to that, Michael!]

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

In my previous job, I ran servers that were used to apply software distribution images to machines. One summer, I configured and administered servers that we then used to blast 25,000+ machines consisting of 22 different images over the course of three weeks, no overtime. This was before the days of multicast ASR, so it was both a technical challenge and a process management challenge. How do you coordinate something like that?

Where can we see examples of your work?

I designed and wrote a couple of small applications that have been released, Think and Sandbox. Think is a Get-Things-Done gadget for eliminating distractions while you're working with applications, while still encouraging a flexible workflow. Sandbox is an access control list editor for non-server Macs.



By the time this article runs, we will have shipped version 1.5 of our webcam software Periscope, which I headed up with the help of two amazing engineers, Dennis Piatkowski and Steven Cento. We totally revamped the interface and improved the application in almost every conceivable way. The rest of the team and I are extremely proud of the work.

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

I've been trying to figure out how to answer this question, and to be honest, I can't say I know. At some point, you'll point to something in the Mac world and say, "Hey, this is pretty nice," but you won't know it was me. Like I said earlier, I really prefer to be behind the scenes.

I write articles for my personal site now and then, and I often wonder if they ever make an impact on anyone. Perhaps it's better that I don't know.

Anything else we should know about you?

It's not strictly Mac-related, but I gotta come back to Marathon: Durandal for the Xbox 360. We spent around a year bringing Bungie's legendary Mac game to Xbox Live Arcade, and we're all very, very proud of it. Three of us--Bruce Morrison, Mark Levin, and I--are old-time Bungie community people, and working on that game was a dream in every sense of the word. We'd contributed to the Marathon universe in the past, but to be a part of the game officially wasn't something we thought would happen seven years ago as we sat in our bedrooms making maps with Forge.

It was very important to us to do Bungie's game justice, so we took our time to get it right. Full 720p widescreen support, a complete multiplayer experience that exceeds that of many triple-A DVD titles, really great high-res graphics, 60 frames per second, and even a brand new game mode with four new maps. (MARKETING DEPARTMENT BUZZWORDS.) We hope the Marathon community approves of the translation. We partly did it for them, because we are them.

I was the QA lead for Marathon, designed the multiplayer lobby, oversaw the development of the new game mode, and built three of the four new maps for it. I really hope people dig the work we did.


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Adobe Acrobat Reader 15.009.20069 - View...
Adobe Acrobat Reader allows users to view PDF documents. You may not know what a PDF file is, but you've probably come across one at some point. PDF files are used by companies and even the IRS to... Read more
Adobe Acrobat Pro 15.009.20069 - Powerfu...
Acrobat Pro DC is available only as a part of Adobe Creative Cloud, and can only be installed and/or updated through Adobe's Creative Cloud app. Adobe Acrobat Pro DC with Adobe Document Cloud... Read more
Path Finder 7.2 - Powerful, award-winnin...
Become a master of file management with Path Finder. Take full control over your file system. Save your time: compare and synchronize folders, view hidden files, use Dual Pane and full keyboard... Read more
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Ea...
Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth is a new science-fiction-themed entry into the award-winning Civilization series. Set in the future, global events have destabilized the world leading to a... Read more
ForkLift 2.6.6 - Powerful file manager:...
ForkLift is a powerful file manager and ferociously fast FTP client clothed in a clean and versatile UI that offers the combination of absolute simplicity and raw power expected from a well-executed... Read more
Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.21 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
OnyX 3.1.0 - Maintenance and optimizatio...
OnyX is a multifunctional utility for OS X. It allows you to verify the startup disk and the structure of its System files, to run miscellaneous tasks of system maintenance, to configure the hidden... Read more
Spotify - Stream music, crea...
Spotify is a streaming music service that gives you on-demand access to millions of songs. Whether you like driving rock, silky R&B, or grandiose classical music, Spotify's massive catalogue puts... Read more
ExpanDrive - Access cloud storag...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Markly 1.5.3 - Create measurement and de...
Markly is a measurement and design-spec plugin/extension for Photoshop and Sketch. It is made for modern Web designers and app front-end developers. You can add specification marks simply by clicking... Read more

Max Ammo - Tricks and tips to help you l...
Max Ammo is a smart cover shooter in which you have to fight back against the Reptor Empire, a race of alien lizards who have invaded your home. You'll have to tap to shoot, swipe to get into cover, and upgrade your gear if you plan on surviving... | Read more »
Balls & Holes - Tips and tricks to h...
Balls & Holes is a gorgeous new endless runner that challenges you to make it as far up a mountain as possible before inevitably being sliced into a load of gooey bits. Making this task more difficult are both the wide variety of balls that... | Read more »
Balloony Land offers a fresh twist on th...
Balloony Land by Palringo offers a fresh twist on the match three genre and is out now on iOS and Android. First-off, you'll be popping balloons instead of crushing candy and the balloons will float up and fill the empty spaces instead of dropping... | Read more »
Graphic - vector illustration and design...
Graphic - vector illustration and design 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Autodesk Graphic is a powerful full-featured vector drawing and illustration application right in... | Read more »
Sago Mini Babies (Education)
Sago Mini Babies 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Introducing the Sago Mini babies. Boys and girls love caring for these adorable characters. Feed Robin her favorite mush... | Read more »
PAUSE - Relaxation at your fingertip (H...
PAUSE - Relaxation at your fingertip 1.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Healthcare & Fitness Price: $1.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Super Sharp (Games)
Super Sharp 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Your finger has never been so sharp! Cut with skill to complete the 120 ingenious physics levels of Super Sharp and become a cut... | Read more »
Assembly - Graphic design for everyone...
Assembly - Graphic design for everyone 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Assembly is the easiest most powerful design tool on the App Store. Create anything you can... | Read more »
Dub Dash (Games)
Dub Dash 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ARE YOU READY FOR THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE? UNIQUE SYMBIOSIS OF MUSIC AND GRAPHICS | Read more »
Leave Me Alone (Games)
Leave Me Alone 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: 33% off launch sale!!! Somewhere between the 1980s and 1990s there exists a world that never was. A world of skatepunks,... | Read more »

Price Scanner via

Adobe and Dropbox Partner to Streamline Work...
Adobe and Dropbox Inc. have announced a partnership to enable people and organizations greater flexibility to work the way they want with documents at home, in the office or on-the-go. The companies... Read more
DriveSavers Offers Data Recovery Relief to Vi...
DriveSavers, specialists in data recovery, eDiscovery and digital forensic services have announced assistance to victims of the recent storm and historically unprecedented flooding in South Carolina... Read more
Apple Products Four Of 2015′s Top Ten Most Wa..., Future’s global technology brand and the UK’s biggest technology website, has unveiled results from extensive research that show • The Smart Home is what excites the public most about... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sa...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1174.99 for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-... Read more
App Tamer 2.1 Makes El Capitan Cooler, Quiete...
St. Clair Software has announced the availability of a free update to its App Tamer utility for Mac OS X. App Tamer 2.1 delivers compatibility with Yosemite and improves its support for a number of... Read more
15-inch Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 2015 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $160 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1849.99 $150 off - 15″ 2.5GHz Retina... Read more
12-inch Retina MacBooks on sale for $100 off...
Best Buy has 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $100 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Discounted prices available for online orders only... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
Save up to $100 on the purchase of a new 2015 13″ or 11″ 1.6GHz MacBook Air at the following resellers. Shipping is free with each model: 11" 128GB MSRP $899 11" 256GB... Read more
Save 15% with Apple refurbished Mac Pros
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available 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
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis for up t...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2014 Mac minis, with models available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Desktop Analyst - KDS Staffing (Unit...
…work with some of the brightest engineers. Job Description Title: Apple Desktop AnalystPosition Type: Full-time PermanentLocation: White Plains, NYHot Points:Depth of Read more
*Apple* Systems Engineer (Mclean, VA and NYC...
Title: Apple Systems Engineer (Mclean, VA and NYC) Location: United States-New York-New York-NYC 200 Park Avenue (22005) Other Locations: United Read more
Partner Business Development Manager - *Appl...
…exceptional individuals to join our Sales Solutions team as Business Development Manager- Apple . This position focuses on the overall management of and achievement of Read more
Project Manager: *Apple* Pay - Apple (Unite...
…The iOS Systems team is looking for a project manager who will manage Apple Pay server side integration project resources in a matrix organization, track tasks, prepare Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.