MyCndwn - TestFlight

This past weekend, MyCntdwn took a step forward. I sent a new build of it to Apple’s TestFlight. It’s the first time a MyCntdwn build has been uploaded to TestFlight in years.

This doesn’t really mean anything is going to happen with it. I just wanted to upload a new build so that I can test things on multiple devices in a (more) real world environment.

Once I downloaded the TestFlight build, I immediately found 5 or 6 bugs. My iCloud syncing also didn’t work. But at least that gives me some important information. It gives me plenty of things to look into.

I haven’t had a lot of time to invest in MyCntdwn so far this month. I’ve got another app (through work) which is shipping very soon and has captured most (if not all) of my attention. I hope things change soon. Either that, or I’ll be totally burnt out on dev work and need to just sit and stare at the wall for a while.

Either way, I’m happy with this latest step. It’s a step. It means that I’m moving forward and continuing with the process.

2021: Goals / Focus

It’s a new year.

I am trying something a little different this year. Instead of setting goals for myself, I am going to set a few areas of my life (outside of family and work) that I am going to focus on. Family and work will come first, but I need something to do outside of those things.

I honestly don’t remember if I set any goals last year. I never posted about it, so it’s hard to say.

I’ve got a few broad areas that I want to focus on this year. Since I’m not setting many concrete goals, this may blow up in my face later. But it’s something I want to try out.

Fitness

Fitness has been a focus area of mine for the last year or two. I’ve made some great strides in this area, but I want to get even better. I am slowly getting stronger and more fit.

I’ve slowly built up a decent home gym over the last year and half and have been using it almost daily. I want to continue this trend. However, I don’t want to move too far, too fast, because I’m not interested in getting injured. I’ve spent a few years dealing with injuries and pain, and I’m not doing that again.

I haven’t written much about fitness and my progress in the past. Maybe it’s something I can do this year.

Learning

I need to continue learning and growing as a developer. Sometimes I can get stagnant with the learning process.

Some layoffs late last year at my company have made me step back and realize that I need to continue to learn all the time. It’s how I’ll stay relevant where I am now and may help me in the future, if more layoffs come around.

This should be an easy thing to focus on. I just need to be more disciplined about it. I enjoy learning new things in my trade. I also like when I can show new ideas and concepts to other developers on my team.

I would like to continue applying new ideas like SwiftUI and Combine in both my personal apps and hopefully at work.

Reading

Last year I didn’t read as many books as I usually do. I managed to read 34 books, but have a long backlog of books I want to read. And that list is continually growing.

This is one area where I did set a specific reading goal. I want to read 35 books this year. I will be starting my first book of the year later today.

My first book will be Kenobi. It’s a Star Wars novel, and not even canon. Despite it not being canon, I’ve heard so many good things about it, I’m going to give it a shot.

Writing

I want to write more. Specifically, I want to write more to the blog this year. Last year I didn’t write much at all on here. Towards the end of the year, things picked up a bit. But I’m hoping to make this a more consistent thing. I enjoy writing, but I’m not great at it. I’m hoping that the more I write, the better I’ll get.

This is another place where I have a concrete goal. I’d like to write a post here every other week. This is the first of those.

Video Games

I used to play a lot of video games. I enjoyed doing so. In recent years that’s gotten away from me a bit. For me, video games are a great way to escape from the troubles of the day.

I have a Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS and an Xbox Series S.

Recently, I’ve been playing a bit of The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order.

I’ve missed the entire Xbox One generation, there are a lot of games from that generation that I’m excited to play.

2021 - Let’s Do This!

That’s a lot of things to focus on. I may be spreading myself a bit thin here. Even if I do, I hope that I can at least find some things that I really enjoy.

In the coming weeks, I may go further in depth with each of these areas of focus. At least that’s the plan. We’ll see if I can stick to my “goals” here.

2020 wasn’t the best year. I’m hoping (like so many others) that 2021 is better.

2020: A Look Back

2020 has been quite a ride. I’m glad that it’s over. It hasn’t been all bad, but the bad has really overshadowed almost everything else. It’s made this year a tough year for almost everyone.

Home

This year has been a busy one at home. Luckily, everyone here has remained safe and healthy.

Our 12 year old dog passed away in April. She was a Golden Retriever and she was the best. But she also lived a little longer than we thought she would. I’m not sure we’ll ever had another dog as awesome as she was.

We bought a new puppy. This happened the night before things in our area really shutdown. We decided to stick with Golden Retriever. They have great temperaments and are a breed that we enjoy. The first few weeks with the new puppy were really rough while she got used to us and (eventually) sleeping through the night. Now she’s just another member of the family.

Family life has cycled from very busy to periods with nothing to do. It’s very strange compared to other years (where we are just busy). I won’t lie, I’ve enjoyed the down time from the usual fire hose of events.

The last few years, we’ve been taking trips to Europe to explore new countries. This year, our new tradition of European vacations was put on hold. I’m hoping we can get back over to Europe (and some new countries) sometime next year. We did get away on a single vacation to the Outer Banks over July 4th week. That was a nice escape from reality for a bit.

Work

Work has been busy the entire time. I’ve been a remote employee for a few years now. When lockdown hit us, we didn’t miss a beat. While everyone else was trying to figure remote work out, we just kept chugging along.

In January, I took over as the iOS Tech Lead for DC Universe. I’ve been keeping that position since then. That role has been transitioning into the iOS tech lead for DC Universe Infinite, which is expected to launch in January.

DC Universe: App of the Day

Earlier this year, DC Universe was featured in the iOS App Store. It’s happened a few times before, but it never gets old to see.

Later in this year, I also became the iOS Tech Lead on Boomerang. I had worked on Boomerang a few years ago prior to its initial launch. It’s been nice to come back to this property and work on it again.

Boomerang has also been featured multiple times in the iOS App Store this year. I’ll be honest, it never gets old seeing this. And it’s always a pleasant surprise to see.

Boomerang: Featured

With leading up two different properties at work, it’s made for a super busy year. Sometimes too busy. I’m currently on a well earned vacation for the remainder of 2020. I have a feeling that next year will be another busy year, so I’m getting some rest while I can.

2021?

I have a number of goals for 2021, but I’m going to save those for another post. Posting more here happens to be one of those goals, so we’ll see how well I stick to that goal.

MyCntdwn Lives?

Over a year ago, I removed MyCntdwn from the App Store. But I’m not sure that’s the end of the story for MyCntdwn.

I’ve been working on an update to MyCntdwn for a long time now. I’ve had multiple starts and stops. This could just be another false start in the lifecycle of MyCntdwn. I’m not really sure just yet.

Why am I doing this?

Working on MyCntdwn is a mechanism for learning new things. In my normal day job, I don’t usually get to play with the latest and greatest technologies. The apps I’m working on currently support iOS 12+. We do get some time set aside to learn new tech, but we rarely ever get to apply it. This gives me the chance to do that.

I’ve started this latest iteration/update of MyCntdwn with a brand new Xcode project. I started from scratch. Nothing has transferred directly over. I’ve been using old code as a reference, but nothing has been directly copied over.

I’ve been using a lot of things I just can’t use in my day job. SwiftUI, Combine, CloudKit (cloud sync, finally!), etc. The learning curve for these technologies has been steep, but it’s exactly what I have been looking for. This has given me a chance to learn new technologies, and apply them in a real-world app.

The template that I chose for this project may allow me to release a native macOS app too. Not Catalyst, but built with native SwiftUI code. I haven’t actually tried this yet, I’ve been focused on the iOS experience, but I plan to at some point.

I may even try to include one or more widgets for the app using WidgetKit.

Why am I doing this with MyCntdwn?

I’m not really sure. I have had other app ideas, but nothing has really taken root in my brain. MyCntdwn was my first (shipping) app in the App Store (shortly after the App Store launched) and continues to be my baby (app-wise).

MyCntdwn also gives me a comfortable app to play in. I know how it should work. I know the feature list. I’m not trying to solidify a new idea while also learn new technologies. So far, It’s been working out nicely.

What’s next?

I’m just going to keep at it. Learning new things and applying them to MyCntdwn. I’m not sure if these changes will ever go anywhere. But I’ve had a lot of fun learning. Who knows, I may even be able to use them in my day job in a year or two.

Or I may get distracted with video games (currently playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds again) and abandon this entirely.

Pokémon Sword

Photo by Jie

This past weekend, I finished Pokémon Sword. It was a good game. I bought the game at launch and haven’t really gotten into it until a few weeks ago.

The storyline was interesting and being able to take another Pokémon trainer from nothing to champion is always fun. Plus collecting all of those Pokémon along the way is a nice challenge. I’m glad that I finally played through the game. If you’ve played a Pokémon game before, you’ve got the general idea of what this game is about.

I have purchased both of the DLC expansion packs (The Isle of Armor & The Crown Tundra). The Isle of Armor is out now, but I haven’t started the content yet. The Crown Tundra doesn’t come out until later this year.

The game has had quite a bit of backlash against it because the developers did not include all of the prior Pokémon in the game (like other games have done). This wasn’t a huge issue for me. I’ve only ever tried to complete a Pokédex once and it just wasn’t worth it to me. It would be nice for them to have included all of the prior Pokémon, only so that I can transfer them to the game from Pokémon Home/Bank.

My Pokemon Sword Trainer Card

I’m relatively new to Pokemon games. I’ve only been playing them the last few years. I’m not some diehard fan who’s been playing since the first game. I do enjoy playing them. Besides this game, other Pokémon games I’ve played through include: Pokémon Black, Pokémon Black 2, Pokémon X, and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. It’s really not a lot.

I skipped both Pokémon Moon and Pokémon Ultra Moon. I own them both, but for some reason, I never played through them. I do need to go back and play them. I think I need a short break from Pokémon games before I do so.

I’m not sure if I’ll play the first Pokémon Sword expansion or Moon/Ultra Moon next. Like I said, I think I need a short break before diving back in.