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.

 
AAPL
$100.96
Apple Inc.
-0.83
MSFT
$47.52
Microsoft Corpora
+0.84
GOOG
$596.08
Google Inc.
+6.81

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.3 - 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
Airfoil 4.8.9 - 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
WhatRoute 1.13.0 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the... Read more
Chromium 37.0.2062.122 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. FreeSMUG-Free OpenSource Mac User Group build is... Read more
Attachment Tamer 3.1.14b9 - Take control...
Attachment Tamer gives you control over attachment handling in Apple Mail. It fixes the most annoying Apple Mail flaws, ensures compatibility with other email software, and allows you to set up how... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.0 - Find and del...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator detects... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.2 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more
jAlbum 12.2 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Quicken 2015 2.0.4 - Complete personal f...
Quicken 2015 helps you manage all your personal finances in one place, so you can see where you're spending and where you can save. Quicken automatically categorizes your financial transactions,... Read more
iMazing 1.0 - Complete iOS device manage...
iMazing (formerly 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... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

View Source – HTML, JavaScript and CSS...
View Source – HTML, JavaScript and CSS 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: View Source is an app plus an iOS 8 Safari extension that makes it easy to do one key web developer... | Read more »
Avenged Sevenfold’s Hail To The King: De...
Avenged Sevenfold’s Hail To The King: Deathbat is Coming to iOS on October 16th Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Just in time for Halloween, on October 16 Avenged Sevenfold will be launching | Read more »
Talisman Has Gone Universal – Can Now be...
Talisman Has Gone Universal – Can Now be Played on the iPhone Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Tap Army Review
Tap Army Review By Jennifer Allen on September 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: SHOOT EM ALLUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Mindless but fun, Tap Army is a lane-based shooter that should help you relieve some stress.   | Read more »
Monsters! Volcanoes! Loot! Epic Island f...
Monsters! Volcanoes! Loot! | Read more »
Plunder Pirates: Tips, Tricks, Strategie...
Ahoy There, Seadogs: Interested in knowing our thoughts on all this plundering and pirating? Check out our Plunder Pirates Review! Have you just downloaded the rather enjoyable pirate-em-up Plunder Pirates and are in need of some assistance? Never... | Read more »
Goat Simulator Review
Goat Simulator Review By Lee Hamlet on September 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: THE GRUFFEST OF BILLY GOATSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Unleash chaos as a grumpy goat in this humorous but short-lived casual game.   | Read more »
A New and Improved Wunderlist is Here fo...
A New and Improved Wunderlist is Here for iOS 8 Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Evernote Update for iOS 8 Adds Web Clipp...
Evernote Update for iOS 8 Adds Web Clipping, Quick Notes, and More Posted by Ellis Spice on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Apple Names Ultimate Productivity Bundl...
Apple Names Ultimate Productivity Bundle by Readdle as the Essential Bundle on the App Store Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 19th, 2014 [ permalink | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iFixIt Tears Down iPhone 6; Awards Respectabl...
iFixit notes that even the smaller 4.7″ iPhone 6 is a giant among iPhones; so big that Apple couldn’t fit it into the familiar iPhone form factor. In a welcome reversal of a recent trend to more or... Read more
Phone 6 Guide – Tips Book For Both iPhone 6...
iOS Guides has announced its latest eBook: iPhone 6 Guide. Brought to you by the expert team at iOS Guides, and written by best-selling technology author Tom Rudderham, iPhone 6 Guide is packed with... Read more
How to Upgrade iPhone iPad to iOS 8 without D...
PhoneClean, a iPhone cleaner utility offered by iMobie Inc., reveals a solution for upgrading iPhone and iPad to iOS 8 without deleting photos, apps, the new U2 album or anything. Thanks to more than... Read more
Inpaint 6 – Photo Retouching Tool Gets Faster...
TeoreX has announced Inpaint 6, a simple retouching tool for end users that helps remove scratches, watermarks, and timestamps as well as more complex objects like strangers, unwanted elements and... Read more
Worldwide PC Monitor Market Sees Growth in To...
Worldwide PC monitor shipments totaled 32.5 million units in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14), a year-over-year decline of -2.9%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide... Read more
Updated Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more
Mac Pros available for up to $260 off MSRP
Adorama has Mac Pros on sale for up to $260 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: - 4-core Mac Pro: $2839.99, $160 off MSRP - 6-core Mac Pro: $3739.99, $260... Read more
13-inch 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pros avai...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.6GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1379 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $120 off MSRP. Read more
Previous-generation 15-inch 2.0GHz Retina Mac...
B&H Photo has leftover previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros now available for $1599 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $400 off original MSRP. B&H... Read more
21″ 2.7GHz iMac available for $1179, save $12...
Adorama has 21″ 2.7GHz Hawell iMacs on sale for $1179.99 including free shipping. Their price is $120 off MSRP. NY and NJ sales tax only. Read more

Jobs Board

*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
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** At the Apple Store, you connect business professionals and entrepreneurs with the tools they need in order to put Apple solutions to work in their Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other - uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences. As an Expert, you introduce people Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As businesses discover the power of Apple computers and mobile devices, it's your job - as a Solutions Engineer - to show them how to introduce these Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.