Tag Archives: iphone

In Love With Your iPhone

Martin Lindstrom, writing for the NYT:

But most striking of all was the flurry of activation in the insular cortex of the brain, which is associated with feelings of love and compassion. The subjects’ brains responded to the sound of their phones as they would respond to the presence or proximity of a girlfriend, boyfriend or family member.

In short, the subjects didn’t demonstrate the classic brain-based signs of addiction. Instead, they loved their iPhones.

Now, keep in mind that the way this op-ed interprets the neuroscience evidence is rather unfounded (take a look here to see why).

But that doesn’t really matter as far as fiction is concerned. This is exactly the kind of over-interpretation that can make good sci-fi (remember, while scientific rigor can make for good sci-fi, it’s not required. Much sci-fi is really fantasy).

I actually wrote a story based on this premise almost a decade ago, before the iPhone even existed. Alas, that story never sold, otherwise I’d appear pretty good as a prognosticator.

I do not think this is in anyway a new phenomenon though, nor would I consider it somehow purely negative. I’m sure you can find a caveman whose feelings for his favorite hunting knife could be described as love.

We have always humanized our tools and endowed them with emotional qualities. It’s one of the most puzzling as well as endearing qualities of our species.

Programming iOS 4

Matt Neuburg’s Programming iOS 4 is among the best programming books I’ve ever read. I’d rank it right up there with Programming Perl.

I’ve tried several Cocoa / Cocoa Touch books before, and generally found them wanting. Many of them share a common problem: they take a breezy tone and try to get you to put up your first “Hello World” application as soon as possible, without sufficient explanation of the fundamentals. After a few chapters of cutting-and-pasting code, I usually gave up because I’m the sort of person that needs a solid foundation in the low-level details before we jump off into putting up pretty pictures.

Neuburg, on the other hand, takes an approach that I favor. He explicitly states near the beginning that he’s seen many iOS programmers leap into development via copy-and-paste coding without understanding the fundamentals. His aim is to remedy that. Without a good foundation, it’s impossible to develop the necessary intuition for the system that is critical for good design and assured debugging.

To that end, Neuburg spends more than a hundred pages going over the foundations of Objective-C before even telling you to open Xcode, and when he does, he does so methodically, explaining to you the philosophy behind Xcode’s design, how its makers envision a project workflow, and exactly what the various buttons do. (This is also one of the only good guides to the radically new interface of Xcode 4 I’ve found.) By the time you put up your “Hello World” app, you actually feel that you have a good intuition of the system as a whole.

Neuburg’s book covers the fundamentals of iOS programming as well as some advanced topics, so intermediate coders and beginners alike will find the book useful. I really think there’s something in here for programmers of every level of skill and experience.

(If you buy it through the Amazon link above, I get some kickback.)