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

Vienna 3.0.6 :5eaf312: - RSS and Atom ne...
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
Kodi 15.1.rc1 - Powerful media center to...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
Bookends 12.5.8 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Access the power of Bookends directly from Mellel, Nisus Writer Pro, or MS Word (... Read more
Chromium 44.0.2403.125 - 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. Version 44.0.2403.125: This release contains a number... Read more
iMazing 1.2.2 - Complete iOS device mana...
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
Audio Hijack 3.2.0 - Record and enhance...
Audio Hijack (was 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... Read more
FontExplorer X Pro 5.0.1 - Font manageme...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more
Calcbot 1.0.2 - Intelligent calculator a...
Calcbot is an intelligent calculator and unit converter for the rest of us. Featuring an easy-to-read history tape, expression view, intuitive conversion, and much more! Features History Tape -... Read more
MTR 5.0.0.1 - The Mac's oldest and...
MTR (was MacTheRipper)--the Mac's oldest and smartest DVD-backup app--is now updated to version 5.001 MTR -- the complete toolbox, not a one-trick, point-and-click extractor. MTR is intended for... Read more
LibreOffice 4.4.5.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more

Card King: Dragon Wars - Tips, Tricks an...
[Read more] | Read more »
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX has brou...
Bandai Namco has released Pac-Man Championship Edition DX on iOS and Android, which features the classic arcade gameplay that we've all grown to love. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX can be enjoyed in much shorter bursts than the arcade versions... | Read more »
Cosmonautica (Games)
Cosmonautica 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Cast off! Are you ready for some hilarious adventures in outer space? | Read more »
Rescue humanity from a Demon horde in An...
Angel Stone is Fincon's follow up to the massively successful Hello Hero and is out now on iOS and Android. You play as a member of The Resistance, a group of mighty human warriors who have risen up in defiance of the Demon horde threatening to... | Read more »
Gallery Doctor (Photography)
Gallery Doctor 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Free up valuable iCloud and iPhone storage with Gallery Doctor, the only iPhone cleaner that automatically identifies the... | Read more »
You Against Me (Games)
You Against Me 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A simple game… You. Me. Claim, steal, lock, score, win! | Read more »
Yep, it's True - Angry Birds 2 is O...
The not exactly rumors were true and the birds are back. Angry Birds 2 has come to the App Store and the world will... well I suppose it'll still be the same, but now we have more bird-flinging options! [Read more] | Read more »
You Could Design Your Own Card for Chain...
If you've ever wanted to create your own item, weapon, trap, or even monster for Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night, this is your chance. Auroch Digital is currently holding a contest so that fans can fight to the death (not really) to see which... | Read more »
Bitcoin Billionaire is Going Back in Tim...
If you thought you managed to buy everything there is to buy in Bitcoin Billionaire and make all the money, well you though wrong. Those of you who made it far enough might remember investing in time travel - and it looks like that investment is... | Read more »
Domino Drop (Games)
Domino Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Domino Drop is a delightful new puzzle game with dominos and gravity!Learn how to play it in a minute, master it day by day.Your... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSR...
Best Buy has 11-inch MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: - 11″ 1.6GHz... Read more
iPad Air 2 on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
Best Buy has iPad Air 2s on sale for up to $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices available for online... Read more
Sale! 13-inch MacBook Pros on sale for $100 o...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.5GHz/500GB MacBook Pro: $999.99 save $100 - 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina... Read more
Sale! Save $100 on 13-inch MacBook Airs this...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model.... Read more
Worldwide Tablet Market Decline Continues, Ap...
The worldwide tablet market declined -7.0% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2015 (2Q15) with shipments totaling 44.7 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data... Read more
TP-LINK TL-PA8030P KIT Powerline Featuring Ho...
Consumer and business networking products provider TP-LINK is now shipping its TL-PA8030P KIT AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Starter Kit that expands your home’s network over its... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Air 2s available for u...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iPad Air 2s available for up to $140 off the price of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 128GB... Read more
Updated Apple iPad Price Trackers
We’ve updated our iPad Air Price Tracker and our iPad mini Price Tracker with the latest information on prices and availability from Apple and other resellers. Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 13-inch 128GB MacBook...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $759. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... 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
Infrastructure Engineer - *Apple* /Mac - Hil...
Infrastructure Engineer - Apple /Mac Job Code: 1608 # of openings: 1 Description Our fortune 500 client is looking to hire an experienced Infrastructure Engineer to join Read more
Executive Administrative Assistant, *Apple*...
…supporting presentation development for senior leadership. * User experience with Apple hardware and software is preferred. Additional Requirements The following list Read more
*Apple* Bus Company is now hirin - Apple Bus...
Apple Bus Company is now hiring school bus drivers in the Pettis County area. Class B CDL preferred. Free training provided. No nights or weekends required. Flexible Read more
*Apple* Certified Mac Technician - Updated 6...
…and friendly, hands-on technical support to customers troubleshooting and repairing Apple /Mac products with courtesy, speed and skill. Use your problem-solving skills Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.