Austin proved to be more pleasant than Dallas, with interesting museums and green hills and canyons outside the city.
Then we drove southward to San Antonio, stopping off in New Braunfels along the way. The latter is a German immigrant town, and on our visit to the local museum we were tipped off to a Gartenkonzert scheduled at the Beethoven Männerchor in San Antonio, a local Gesangsverein (singing society). It was interesting though somewhat surreal – German beer and specialties and all the old music I vaguely remember from my childhood.
After an interesting day in downtown San Antonio the heat drove us northwards to the small town of Fredericksburg, also built by German immigrants, where we’ve now stayed a couple of days. The weather reports on our originally planned route were extremely discouraging, so we’re now planning to return to Austin tomorrow where we’ll decide on where to go.
We got in at the monumental DFW airport and promptly went off to a hotel to get rid of the jetlag and check attractions in and around Dallas.
I can report that Dallas is a maze of straight-ahead multi-lane freeways, all alike, and it’s all flat. Every place looks quite like every other place, and it’s quite confusing to someone who grew up in the Brazilian highlands. I’m really glad that I rented a car with GPS, and that GPS is gradually getting better – the voice generation part still deserves upgrades, however.
That said, we visited the Dallas Arboretum, which is quite impressive, and the JFK Sixth Floor Museum on Elm Street, as well as the nearby Holocaust Museum; small but chilling. Also, of course, the requisite shopping malls and grocery stores. Yesterday we had an excellent time visiting friends in Denton.
Today we drove down to Austin, where we plan to stay a couple of days. After that, the idea is to drive clockwise along the Southern border, then North in the direction of Taos and the New Mexico Canyons, stopping off at Carlsbad Caverns along the way.
As usual, my hope is to get some work done in the evening. Stay tuned.
While we’re setting out on our vacation in the Central USA, I’ve been thinking about what I should write in a WWDC wrap-up post – and it’s been surprisingly difficult. Update: also read John Gruber’s excellent wrap-up.
As usual, most of the juicy details are under NDA, and I try to be careful with that. Some details about Xcode 4 and LLDB have been published, others have been leaked, and this is indeed the parts I liked most; and I don’t doubt more will be made public Real Soon Now.
I can say some general things about the sessions. While there were relatively few Mac OS X-only sessions – Damien Sorresso’s excellent launchd talk was the one I found most enlightening – to my surprise, there were many sessions that applied both to iPhone OS/iOS 4 and to the Mac. I did audit some non-Mac sessions and most of them were informative and well-presented, and I find myself quite interested in doing an iPad app.
While over 2/3rds of the developers present, supposedly, were doing only iPhone/iPad development and were new to that platform, quite a lot of Mac old-timers were present and I had great fun meeting most of them. I was also gratified to, again, being told several dozen times that someone likes and is using my RBSplitView framework.
As usual, I found San Francisco is a great place to visit – and to eat! Special thanks to Russell of the San Francisco Apple Store for helping me buy my iPad and a brace of accessories, and to all of you – you know who you are – who helped me commemorate my birthday.
I just found out that an errant script is messing up the automatic version checker in Quay and Klicko – a consequence of the server migration which happened several days ago. Please hold on while our trained server gnomes return from their burrows and fix it (it might be one or two more days, I’m really stretched thin here). My apologies.
Update: fixed. Again, sorry about the delay.
Looking back over my WWDC predictions here, I was struck by how boring they were. The same sort of expectations every year, only everything was twice as fast, or large, or whatnot, than the year before. And this year, coming into a conference which is almost completely not about my main platform – the Mac – I noticed I didn’t even have enough information or interest to do the obligatory prediction post.
I was told that over 60% of the developers this year were newbies both to WWDC and to developing for Apple. This seemed, even, a low estimate; I did meet friends from years past, some of them real old-timers, but there weren’t as many as I’d expected – and almost none of the people I didn’t know, that I talked with, were doing anything on the Mac, although some said they’d try to do so sometime in the future.
Indeed, the Mac OS was conspicuous by its almost total absence in the session list, and it was mentioned only offhandedly by Steve Jobs during the keynote – only once, I think. Another, more unexpected, absence from the keynote was the iPad: this, too, was mentioned mainly regarding sales figures, and the rest of the keynote was all about the iPhone 4 and the newly christened iOS 4.
On consideration, however, it makes sense not to talk about the iPad in the keynote: Jobs is notorious for presenting exactly what he wants the press to publish, and distracting them with too many topics is counterproductive. The iPad has had its presentation a few months ago and is selling so well that they’re probably scared that more people will want one; the factories are at max, and cases and other accessories are back-ordered for days or weeks.
Also, an upgrade for the iPad might be a little premature at this point. Any new version would raise protests from those zillions of people that just bought one; the Flash RAM industry is barely keeping up; a faster CPU would need to be dual-core. Regarding the new fancy Retina screen technology, an iPad screen at about 300 dpi would be 2400 by 1800 pixels! I don’t think any mobile video chip can handle that today. iOS 4 is about the only upgrade that’s reasonable to expect to come out quickly.
The iPhone 4 looks good indeed. I don’t need a cellphone myself but the dual cameras and other goodies are tempting; I find myself wishing that Apple would go into digital cameras again. Still, to me, the real star of this WWDC is Xcode 4, the existence of which was also released to the public today; it’s a major step forward, and – as I said several times in the past – many of its features seem to have been enabled by LLVM and its various side projects. One of them, the lldb debugger, is the one I’m particularly interested in; I never liked gdb much.
Many people asked me if I, too, am afraid that Apple will drop the Mac and Mac OS X entirely in the future. Well, I certainly am not! After all, what else would you use to develop for iOS? Xcode 4, for one, seems positively need a 27″ screen for best use – I’m glad I bought a 27″ iMac not too long ago. While the iOS devices might eventually be the tool of choice for consumers to do most of what they on laptops today, laptops will still be useful, and powerful desktops will always be necessary for anything that needs more CPU or graphics power. That said, I can see the laptop line compressing to, say, two models next year, and the Mac Pro going away entirely, or at least replaced by a model seriously more powerful than the high-end iMac.
To close for today, it is safe to say that – without violating any NDA in the process – is that, at least during the next 4 days, whenever any demo hits a glitch, the presenter will ask the audience to turn off its WiFi devices. I saw it happen already, in fact.