April 12, 2013
Code Dependency, a piece I wrote about the Kryptos sculpture at CIA headquarters, was published this week in The Magazine.
Since they ran Fits You to a T three months ago, The Magazine has expanded beyond the iOS app to allow web subscriptions — my personal favorite — as well as Kindle subscriptions. Anybody can also read one free article each month, which is great for sharing links among family and friends.
A handful of pieces are freely available without counting toward the monthly limit, such as this Editor’s Note describing my latest article:
Nestled on the CIA campus sits a remarkable sculpture that contains a cryptographic cipher so fiendish that decades after its dedication only part of it has been decoded. Visitors outside of government are rarely allowed within the CIA’s confines, and few have seen the sculpture in person. Mark Siegal has been doing his modest part to crack the remaining encrypted text since 2005, and he takes us into the world of Kryptos and explores why it continues to fascinate.
In addition, they’ve posted details on how to submit article pitches. If you’re someone who loves writing, I highly recommend sending in a pitch yourself.
My thanks again to Glenn and Marco for publishing both of these pieces. And thank you for reading.
January 29, 2013
For a tech nerd, I joined Twitter relatively late. It’s been less than three years since my first tweet. And it’s just within the past year or so that Twitter has become a central part of my online workflow.
Because I am unapologetically meta, this is my contribution toward identifying, labeling, and celebrating some of Twitter’s more interesting usage patterns.1 If only it could all fit in a single tweet.
Conversation-ending favorite: Favoriting a tweet as a way to acknowledge that you’ve run out of clever responses.
Passive-aggressive mention: Mentioning someone to express disdain for that person’s app, blog, tweets, etc.
Profile photo fatigue: Mental tiredness caused by another person changing their profile photo.
Retweet fishing: Mentioning someone in the hope that they’ll retweet you.
Retweet nibble: A failed attempt at retweet fishing that only gets your tweet favorited.
Self-deprecating retweet: Retweeting a passive-aggressive mention.
Timeline leveling: The game-like improvement of your timeline as you follow more people, partly by revealing conversations that had been hidden.
Triple crown: A tweet so good that it prompts someone to retweet it, favorite it, and reply to it.
Typographic shibboleth: Using smart quotes or em-dashes to signal that you’re tweeting from an app like Instapaper or Tweetbot, whether or not you really are.
January 16, 2013
Fits You to a T has just been published in the latest issue of The Magazine.
I’m thrilled to be a contributor. My thanks to Marco Arment and Glenn Fleishman for publishing this piece, and I hope you enjoy it.
January 14, 2013
Nobody tells you that adulthood is all about taking punches with grace.
This idea has really sunk in lately, as I’ve reached an age that puts me undeniably into my mid-thirties.1 The past two years also dealt more punches than expected for our family and far too many friends.
Adulthood will always commingle its joys and sorrows. The birth of your son may get poignantly juxtaposed with the sudden death of your mother. Or a writing credit you’ve long awaited might be published mere days after an internet activist you’ve long admired passed away prematurely.
Becoming an adult brings added freedoms, but they’re tempered with increased responsibilities. Adulthood means being the person who handles life’s inevitable setbacks and challenges. It means finding a way to remain happy, or at least functional, no matter what hits the proverbial fan.
This path to happiness can feel impossibly out of reach. If so, you could be suffering from depression. Please find the strength to discuss these feelings with a doctor, loved one, or crisis hotline.
January 6, 2013
Ideas for an app you want to make are like ideas for a novel or blog post. If you take too long, somebody else will probably go ahead and do it for you.
Often that person will do a better job than you would have. Maybe they’re more experienced, or they just took a different angle that you hadn’t considered and in hindsight prefer.
Here are three apps that implement similar ideas I tried to make and have since abandoned. These replacements aren’t precisely what I had in mind, of course, but they’re excellent apps that I’m glad exist. I suggest you try them yourself.
Tweet Keeper: Search, browse, and export tweets from up to eight Twitter accounts. It’s especially good for checking out replies from your friends to people you don’t follow. However, I wish it also grabbed your favorites. (Made by Ganter Ludwig.)
Watermark: Search and browse tweets from you and your friends, mentions, and favorites. Some exporting is possible via Dropbox. It’s mostly a web app, with searching available in the iOS app. The price feels a little steep at $5/month, but it’s quite handy. (Made by Manton Reece.)
Pinbook: The best in a recent string of Pinboard apps. The emphasis is on searching. While the features are limited so far, the app has been evolving rapidly. (Made by Collin Donnell.)
September 27, 2012
After a three-month struggle, I recently converted my iOS Developer Program enrollment from my own name to an LLC. Here are some lessons learned for anyone trying to distribute iOS apps under a company name, whether you’re enrolling from scratch or converting your individual account to a company account.1
For more background, listen to Marco Arment’s experience with this on Build and Analyze episode 93 (from about 21:00 to 39:00).
Step 1: Make sure you actually want a company account
To distribute iOS apps through the App Store, you need a $99/year iOS Developer Program account in one of two flavors:
Individual. For individuals or sole proprietor/single person companies. Your own name appears as the “seller” for your apps in the App Store.
Company. For companies (including LLCs), non-profit organizations, joint ventures, partnerships, and government organizations. Your legal entity name appears as the “seller” for your apps in the App Store.
There are other Apple Developer Programs meant for distributing apps elsewhere, such as enterprise iOS apps solely within your company or Mac apps via the Mac App Store. Much of this should apply to those situations, but I’m focusing on the iOS Developer Program and specifically how to enroll for a company account.2
Step 2: Have a company and legal authority to sign for it
I assume you already have a company, as well as the legal authority to bind it to Apple Developer Program legal agreements. If not, consult an expert for advice on the appropriate legal structure and procedures for creating your company.
In my case, I went with a single-member LLC. I used LegalZoom to help with the paperwork and was generally happy with that decision. Their Economy LLC package costs $99, plus any additional state fees (about $200 for me). You can save a little money by using LegalZoom’s own discount code “LZSAVE” at checkout. Registering my LLC took one month.
Step 3: Obtain a DUNS number for your company, if you don’t have one
To get a company account, you need a DUNS number assigned to your company as a legal entity.3 DUNS numbers used to only be required for the iOS Developer Enterprise Program, but now every company account needs one.
DUNS numbers are free to obtain from Dun & Bradstreet (D&B), and it normally takes about one month. If you like, you can pay for an expedited DUNS number or other services, and D&B might try to sell you these optional add-ons by phone before they process your request. They aren’t necessary if you simply want a DUNS number to enroll your company in the iOS Developer Program.
Once you receive your DUNS number, it may take up to 14 business days — yes, business days — for Apple to receive this data from D&B.
Step 4: Sign up for a company account or ask Apple to convert your individual account to a company account
If you don’t have an individual account, enroll for an iOS Developer Program company account from scratch. (Consider yourself lucky.)
But if you do have an individual account, you’ll need to contact Apple Developer Program support either online or by phone. Tell them you want to convert your individual account to a company account. Apple support will send you the link to a web page where you can try converting your account.
Warning: Once you ask Apple to start the conversion process, your individual account is put in a limbo state where you can’t use iTunes Connect or the iOS Provisioning Portal, submit updates to your apps, download iOS betas, browse the beta section of the developer forums, etc. Don’t attempt this conversion during a crucial time for your apps. Also, be sure you have a DUNS number before requesting the conversion.
Step 5: Convince Apple that your company is a legal entity, if your DUNS number record seems to be incomplete
Many people, including me, hit a problem when Apple attempts to pull in DUNS numbers from the D&B database. You get a DUNS number and you wait 14 business days, but Apple says the data is incomplete. My missing data field, which seems most common, was my LLC’s legal entity status. The enrollment stalled at the following error:
This organization could not be verified as a legal entity.
This organization is either listed in the D&B database with a different legal status
(e.g., sole proprietorship), or its legal status has not been verified.
If you are a sole proprietorship/single person company, please enroll as an individual.
If you believe your business should be listed as a legal entity, have your business
registration documents ready and contact D&B. Please mention that you are an Apple developer.
As instructed by this error message, contact D&B and ask them to add the missing information to your DUNS record. For me, this didn’t accomplish anything. D&B simply confirmed that my company was an LLC and told me to call Apple support again. However, much like every tech support call begins by asking you to “unplug it and plug it back in,” contact D&B just in case.
If and when you talk to Apple support again, they will either:
Push their magic button to override the missing DUNS number information and let you finish enrolling your company account.
Ask you to fax documents to Apple verifying the missing information, such as your company’s legal entity status. Be sure that you fax them a certified copy (and notarized if requested). They may also consult with a support team that specializes in these DUNS number problems. You may have to wait up to 14 business days again. In the end, they’ll probably still have to push their magic button.
I had to fax my LLC documents twice, because I am extremely clever and didn’t think to provide the certified copy of my documents the first time.
It took me another two months from getting my DUNS number until Apple let me convert my enrollment to a company account. I hope things go more smoothly for you.
August 5, 2012
With the recent launch of Mountain Lion, we were once again treated to a novella-sized OS X review from John Siracusa.1 Many of us anticipate these Siracusian epics more than we do the software upgrade itself.
This year, Marco Arment joined in with an awesome meta-review2, which inevitably led Will Hains to post his own meta-meta-review.
You see where I’m going with this.
Will’s meta-meta-review is either one, two, or six words long. This ambiguity stems from the five distinct yet adjacent ★ characters of its quantitative portion. While automated word counting puts the total at six words, common sense dictates no more than two.
Ambiguity notwithstanding, Will’s post is about 1% as long as Marco’s meta-review. This is in line with the 2% precedent set by Marco, who wrote 586 words compared to Siracusa’s 25,935.
My own meta-meta-meta-review, extrapolating these ratios to increasingly self-referential depths, should have been limited to a single character. But I would never leave a one-star review.
In accordance with the Daring Fireball Edict of 2004, this linked-list post has its URL pointing directly to Marco’s meta-review.
The canonical permalink ends with a partial word (“mounta”). However, this blemish is only noteworthy compared to the elegant permalink for his last meta post.
Several weeks ago, Will gave his blog a beautiful new design. The understated style meshes nicely with such a concise post, making it among the most visually stunning meta-meta-reviews I’ve seen.
These nested reviews from Will, Marco, and Siracusa exemplify the web at its delightful and geeky best. Whether I have enhanced or muddied the delight is a judgment for any meta-meta-meta-meta-reviews that I pray are never written.