TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The MacTech Spotlight: Andy Kim,

Volume Number: 26
Issue Number: 02
Column Tag: MacTech Spotlight

The MacTech Spotlight: Andy Kim, The Potion Factory

Tell us about your company:

Potion Factory. It's my own company now. It started out as a partnership back in 2005, but I've been running it solo as a LLC since 2007.

What do you do?

My official title goes back and forth between Owner and Programmer. I write code, design user interfaces, and make pretty graphics. I also work on the non-fun stuff such as running the company when I have spare time.

How long have you been doing what you do?

In April it'll be 5 years since I started Potion Factory. I can't believe that it's been 5 years already. I know that it's not long compared to some other veterans in the industry, but I've learned a lot during this time. It's been quite a ride so far. I never knew that there were so many people as enthusiastic about software as some of my customers out there.

What was your first computer?

The first computer I learned to program on was an Apple II, but the first computer I can call my own was an IBM clone with a 66 MHz 486 processor. It was a high-specced machine at the time with 8 MB of RAM, a hard drive, a CD-ROM drive, and even a sound card, but the iPhone in my pocket can kick its ass now without breaking a sweat.

My first Mac, though, was a 17" PowerBook with a 1 GHz G4 processor. She's almost 7 years old now, but she's still going strong as a file server on my home network.

Today I use a 17" MacBook Pro, as I'm still a "one laptop" guy. This way I never have to deal with syncing multiple Macs and I can just take off whenever I feel like doing so.

What's the coolest thing about the Mac?

The spirit of innovation. To borrow a well-known phrase, Macs are insanely great. They are that way because Apple has been leading the push for innovation for decades. They're not only consistent in churning out revolutionary technology, but more importantly, they make the technology accessible and hassle-free. It's no wonder that there's a cult following of Apple products.

That said, the way they are running the application approvals for the iPhone is discouraging. I'm glad that their process enforces a minimum requirement, but rejecting or endlessly delaying an app because it competes with Apple's software really puts the dampers on 3rd party innovation. People like myself don't go in thinking about the best possible software one can write. You start by thinking of the best you can do within the legal—not technical—limits put up by Apple and choose a project that has the least chance of getting blocked. What if I want to make a better calendaring or email application? The rules say that I can't.

If they ever put in place the same procedure for Mac OS X applications, I can see a lot of developers leaving the platform, perhaps even myself included.

What is the advice you'd give to someone trying to get into this line of work today?

The way I've done it is to just come up with a project and work on it. It's easy to motivate yourself if you're making something that you personally need and the chances are that other people will need it too. If you're a programmer, don't worry too much about making money at first. Just work on something to get practice. Now, this is pretty much cookie cutter advice given by a lot of independent Mac developers, but it's an advice I wish I had taken 5 years sooner.

On the flip side though, running your own business is not for everyone. It's risky; you have to put a ton of hours into it; and you have to have that entrepreneurial drive to succeed.

Also, don't make crappy crap.

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

Every product that I've done has cool bits of computer sciencey technology in there. I've written a music tempo analyzer and a voice modulator. I've reverse engineered a few Apple APIs, including figuring out how to get audio samples from FairPlay protected songs. These tend to be the most fun stuff to work on from a programmer's perspective.

But the coolest thing I've developed on OS X is actually not included in any of my projects. For my most recent project, The Hit List, I wrote a Bayesian classifier that lets the application learn your tagging system. Once it has sufficient knowledge of how you tag stuff, it'll start suggesting tags to you. This was a lot of fun to work on and it took me about a week to polish, but in the end I abandoned it because it turns out that Mac OS X already comes with technology to do the same thing. So now I use the same technology that uses to filter junk mail in order to predict which tag should get applied to new data.


Hmm... Coolest tech thing ever? That's probably a joke program I wrote when I was in middle school. It made it look like it was formatting your hard drive. My friends didn't think that it was funny at all.

Where can we see a sample of your work? You can check out all of our commercial products as well as a free one. For developers I also make available the code that runs our online store.

The next way I'm going to impact the Mac universe is:

By writing more kick ass software.

If you or someone you know belongs in the MacTech Spotlight, let us know! Send details to


Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

World of Tanks Generals guide - Tips and...
World of Tanks Generals is a brand new card game by the developer behind the World of Tanks shooter franchise. It plays like a cross between chess and your typical card game. You have to keep in consideration where you place your tanks on the board... | Read more »
TruckSimulation 16 guide: How to succeed...
Remember those strangely enjoyable truck missions in Grand Theft Auto V whereit was a disturbing amount of fun to deliver cargo? TruckSimulation 16 is reminiscent of that, and has you play the role of a truck driver who has to deliver various... | Read more »
The best GIF making apps
Animated GIFs have exploded in popularity recently which is likely thanks to a combination of Tumblr, our shorter attention spans, and the simple fact they’re a lot of fun. [Read more] | Read more »
The best remote desktop apps for iOS
We've been sifting through the App Store to find the best ways to do computer tasks on a tablet. That gave us a thought - what if we could just do computer tasks from our tablets? Here's a list of the best remote desktop apps to help you use your... | Read more »
Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade guide - How...
Warhammer 40,000: Freebladejust launched in the App Store and it lets you live your childhood dream of blowing up and slashing a bunch of enemies as a massive, hulking Space Marine. It's not easy being a Space Marine though - and particularly if... | Read more »
Gopogo guide - How to bounce like the be...
Nitrome just launched a new game and, as to be expected, it's a lot of addictive fun. It's called Gopogo, and it challenges you to hoparound a bunch of platforms, avoiding enemies and picking up shiny stuff. It's not easy though - just like the... | Read more »
Sago Mini Superhero (Education)
Sago Mini Superhero 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: KAPOW! Jack the rabbit bursts into the sky as the Sago Mini Superhero! Fly with Jack as he lifts impossible weights,... | Read more »
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes guide - How...
Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes is all about collecting heroes, powering them up, and using them together to defeat your foes. It's pretty straightforward stuff for the most part, but increasing your characters' stats can be a bit confusing because it... | Read more »
The best cooking apps (just in time for...
It’s that time of year again, where you’ll be gathering around the dinner table with your family and a huge feast in front of you. [Read more] | Read more »
Square Rave guide - How to grab those te...
Square Rave is an awesome little music-oriented puzzle game that smacks of games like Lumines, but with its own unique sense of gameplay. To help wrap your head around the game, keep the following tips and tricks in mind. [Read more] | Read more »

Price Scanner via

13-inch 128GB MacBook Air now on sale for $79...
Best Buy has just lowered their price on the 2015 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air to $799.99 on their online store for Cyber Monday. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale... Read more
Best Buy lowers 13-inch MacBook Pro prices, n...
Best Buy has lowered prices on select 13″ MacBook Pros this afternoon. Now save up to $200 off MSRP for Cyber Monday on the following models. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if... Read more
Cyber Monday: Apple MacBooks on sale for up t...
Apple resellers have MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, and MacBooks on sale for up to $250 off MSRP for Cyber Monday 2015. The following is a roundup of the lowest prices available for new models from any... Read more
Cyber Monday: Apple Watch on sale for up to $...
B&H Photo has the Apple Watch on sale for Cyber Monday for $50-$100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - Apple Watch Sport: $50 off - Apple Watch: $50-$100 off B... Read more
Cyber Monday: 15% off Apple products, and sto...
Use code CYBER15 on Cyber Monday only to take 15% on Apple products at Target, and store-wide. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-... Read more
iPad Air 2 And iPad mini Among Top Five Black...
Adobe has released its 2015 online shopping data for Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day. The five best selling electronic products on Black Friday were Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPad Air 2, Microsoft Xbox... Read more
All-in-one PC Shipments Projected To Drop Ove...
Digitimes’ Aaron Lee and Joseph Tsai report that all-in-one (AIO) PC shipments may drop a double-digit percentage on-year in 2015 due to weaker-than-expected demand, although second-largest AIO make... Read more
Sprint Offers iPad Pro
Sprint now offers Apple’s new iPad Pro with Wi-Fi + Cellular, featuring a 12.9-inch Retina display with 5.6 million pixels. Customers can pick up iPad Pro at select Sprint retail locations. It can... Read more
Cyber Monday: Target offers 15% discount on A...
Target has discounted Apple Watches by 15% for Cyber Monday. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary: - Apple... Read more
Sunday roundup of Holiday weekend Mac sales:...
Take up to $500 off MSRP on the price of a new Mac at B&H Photo today as part of their Black Friday/Holiday weekend sale. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY tax only. These prices are... Read more

Jobs Board

Software Engineer, *Apple* Watch - Apple (U...
# Software Engineer, Apple Watch Job Number: 33362459 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Jul. 28, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Join the Read more
SW Engineer - *Apple* Music - Apple (United...
# SW Engineer - Apple Music Job Number: 40899104 San Francisco, Califo ia, United States Posted: Aug. 18, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Join the Android Read more
Sr Software Engineer *Apple* Pay - Apple (U...
# Sr Software Engineer Apple Pay Job Number: 44003019 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 13, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Apple Read more
*Apple* Site Security Manager - Apple (Unite...
# Apple Site Security Manager Job Number: 42975010 Culver City, Califo ia, United States Posted: Oct. 2, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Apple Site Read more
iOS Wallet & *Apple* Pay Engineer - App...
# iOS Wallet & Apple Pay Engineer Job Number: 40586801 Santa Clara Valley, Califo ia, United States Posted: Nov. 16, 2015 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The iOS Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.