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.

http://www.freeverse.com

http://www.mikey-san.net/damage/

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.

Think: http://www.freeverse.com/think/

Sandbox: http://www.mikey-san.net/sandbox/

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.

http://www.freeverse.com/periscope/

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

NTFS 14.3.318 - $19.95
This latest version supports the new macOS 10.12 Sierra! NTFS breaks down the barriers between Windows and OS X. Paragon NTFS effectively solves the communication problems between the Mac system and... Read more
iFFmpeg 6.2.2 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a comprehensive media tool to convert movie, audio and media files between formats. The FFmpeg command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does all the hard... Read more
ForeverSave 2.1.6 - Universal auto-save...
ForeverSave auto-saves all documents you're working on while simultaneously doing backup versioning in the background. Lost data can be quickly restored at any time. Define your preferred time... Read more
BetterTouchTool 1.961 - Customize Multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
EtreCheck 3.1.4 - 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
Together 3.7 - Store and organize all of...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Features Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop... Read more
Together 3.7 - Store and organize all of...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Features Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop... Read more
EtreCheck 3.1.4 - 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
Postbox 5.0.9 - Powerful and flexible em...
Postbox is a new email application that helps you organize your work life and get stuff done. It has all the elegance and simplicity of Apple Mail, but with more power and flexibility to manage even... Read more
DiskCatalogMaker 6.5.16 - Catalog your d...
DiskCatalogMaker is a simple disk management tool which catalogs disks. Simple, light-weight, and fast. Finder-like intuitive look and feel. Super-fast search algorithm. Can compress catalog data... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Enneas Saga lets you lead your own demon...
Defend the land of Enneas Continent from the forces of evil in the new fantasy MMORPG from Lyto Mobi: Enneas Saga. Can’t wait? No problem. It’s available to download now on Android devices. | Read more »
Great zombie games in the spirit of Dead...
Dead Rising 4 arrives tomorrow, giving enthusiasts a fresh chance to take selfies with zombies and get up to other ridiculous end-of-the-world shenanigans. To really get into the spirit of things, we've gone and gathered the best zombie games that... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon 4 Guide: Advanced tips a...
Amateur Surgeon 4 is still tackling the competition at the top of the App Store charts, so if you haven't tried it out yet, you should probably do that right away. If you've been at it for a while, though, perhaps you're ready to start expanding... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon 4 Guide: Become the worl...
It's time to wield your trusty pizza cutter again, as Amateur Surgeon has returned with a whole fresh set of challenges (and some old, familiar ones, too). Starting anew isn't easy, especially when all you have at your disposal is a lighter, the... | Read more »
Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire (Ga...
Le Parker: Sous Chef Extraordinaire 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Telltale Games really is working on a Gu...
Telltale Games' next episodic adventure is indeed Guardians of the Galaxy. A document tied to the voice actors strike suggested that the project was in the work, but now we have direct confirmation following an announcement at the Game Awards that... | Read more »
Amateur Surgeon returns to iOS and Andro...
Amateur Surgeon and its two sequels disappeared from the App Store some time and it was sad days for all. But now, just in time for the holidays, the Adult Swim favorite makes its joyous return in the shape of Amateur Surgeon 4, a remake with... | Read more »
The best board games on mobile
Sometimes you need to ditch all of the high speed, high action games in favor of something a little more traditional. If you don't feel like parting ways from your mobile device, though, there are still plenty of ways to get that old-school fix.... | Read more »
The best Facebook Messenger Instant Game...
Facebook's new Instant Games is now here, meaning you can play games with your friends directly via Facebook. It's a fun new way to connect with friends, of course, but it's also proving to be a solid gaming experience in its own right, with a... | Read more »
You can now play game's on Facebook...
Facebook launched its new Instant Games platform in an exciting new attempt to engage its user base. As a result, you can now play a number of different games directly through Facebook Messenger. All of these games run with HTML5, meaning you play... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

New 2016 13-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pros in stock...
Overstock.com has the non-Touch Bar 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today for $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MLL42LL/A): $1349.99 $150 off MSRP - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook... Read more
15-inch 2.6GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro o...
Adorama has the new 2016 15″ 2.6GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLW72LL/A) in stock and available for $2349 including free shipping. Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ only. Their price is $... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for up to $180 o...
Overstock.com has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $180 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MMGF2LL/A): $869.99 $130 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (sku... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (Apple refurbished...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros (MD101LL/A) available for $829, or $270 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook... Read more
Monday roundup of Holiday Mac sales: Up to $3...
Take up to $300 off MSRP on the price of a new Apple Mac at B&H Photo today as part of their Holiday sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Touch Bar MacBook Pros are in... Read more
12-inch WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up t...
B&H Photo has 12″ WiFi Apple iPad Pros on sale for up to $50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 12″ Space Gray 32GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749 $50 off MSRP... Read more
9-inch Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $20-$...
B&H Photo has 9.7″ Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for $20-$50 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 9″ Space Gray 256GB WiFi iPad Pro: $779.95 $20 off MSRP... Read more
Holiday sale: Apple MacBook Airs available fo...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MMGF2LL/A): $899 $100 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/... Read more
13-inch Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro in stock...
Amazon has the new 2016 13″ 2.9GHz/256GB Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLVP2LL/A) in stock today and on sale for $1749 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price... Read more
Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac Offers 25 Singl...
Parallels has launched Parallels Toolbox 1.3 for Mac, an upgrade that adds five new utilities to the stand-alone application which was released in August and is available exclusively online at http... Read more

Jobs Board

Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (...
# Lead Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 53586123 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States Posted: Nov. 28, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Lead ASC Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Plano,...
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* Retail - Multiple Positions- Kansas...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Chicago...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Hardware Design Validation Engineer - *Apple...
The Apple Watch team is looking for a Hardware Design Validation Engineer. This person will be part of the Apple Watch hardware team with responsibilities for Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.