Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Apple developer

These days, if somebody were to ask me what I do to while away the time in my mountain abode, I have a new and prestigious answer: I'm an Apple developer! This doesn't mean a great deal. In my personal case, it's hardly a professional activity, and certainly not a regular paid job (because I'm officially retired). It's more like a pastime… which might or might not give rise to pecuniary benefits, depending on how I go about things. Only one thing is certain: It's hard work to master the art of Apple software development! But I love this kind of intellectual challenge, because it keeps my neurons in good shape… and it's more fun (to my mind) than playing games.

In more precise terms, I've become a paid-up member of the Apple Developers group (more satisfying and worthwhile, after all, than joining the Australian Labor Party or even the French Socialist Party) in the hope of creating applications for the iPad.

The first and last time I envisaged Macintosh development was in 1987, when I was out in Western Australia working as a lecturer in computing at the Curtin University of Technology. I used the Pascal language to dash off a small software tool, which I named AC-DC [America's Cup, Data for Challengers], designed to help me predict the foreign yacht that would win the right to challenge Australia's famous Kookaburra for the America's Cup. I programmed my Macintosh program (running on the primitive box-shaped machine I had brought with me from France) to print out, for each of the twelve contenders, a scenario of the following kind:

Using these scenarios (which had simply "digested" the results of all the earlier match races), I quickly figured out that the victorious contender would be Dennis Conner on Stars and Stripes. The media center had organized a competition among journalists for the best predictions of the outcome of the challenger rounds. There were prizes (champagne and Louis Vuitton bags) for the top three results. Thanks to my Mac tool, I was awarded all three prizes! This meant that, for the remainder of my stay in Fremantle, I guzzled the finest French champagne like lemonade. As for the ugly Louis Vuitton bags, in red plastic, they're still stuck away, almost untouched, in a wardrobe at Gamone. But I'm becoming waylaid by nostalgia…

Today, what are my iPad projects? There are three zones of activity:

1 -- I've imagined a kind of "business card" concept for succinct identity apps (applications) declined for individuals, urban entities (French villages) and firms. I would like to make it so simple for me to design and build such a card that I could offer them dirt cheap.

2 -- An unfinished French version of my Tarot fortune-telling thing at

lets you find answers to all your questions about human existence. Maybe I'll produce an English-language version of this gadget for the iPhone/iPad.

3 -- I'm envisaging an iPhone/iPad version of my Accessor tool at

designed to enable easy access to the archives of my Antipodes blog.

For the moment, I'm printing out the various relevant manuals, and I've bought a big plastic box to house them.

Little by little, of course, I'll need to get around to actually reading and mastering all this documentation.

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