inessential by Brent Simmons

My odd video habit

On my laptop I have a small handful of Doctor Who episodes — and just about all the WWDC videos from 2009 and 2010. (Plus a few from 2008.)

I play them in the background while I’m writing software. I’m sure I’ve played each one a dozen times at least.

I don’t discriminate — I play the videos on things like Core Data which are very relevant to me, but I also play the videos on things like game design which, going by title alone, don’t seem to apply to me.

(I even play the videos on Opens CL and GL. If you know me, you may be in shock at hearing this news.)

Here’s why I play all the videos, over and over, even so long past WWDC:

  • The tone of them keeps me in the right world.

  • Things catch my ear, and I end up doing more research and learning about them, even if I don’t have immediate plans to use them.

  • Sometimes things catch my ear which I can use pretty much right away. This usually comes as a surprise — a happy, sunny surprise.

  • Having broad awareness, if not deep knowledge, of the entire platform is a very good thing. Sticking to a purely pragmatic approach to learning — learning only what you think you need to know — is an error.

  • Some of the videos are inspiring. This morning’s highlight was WWDC 2009 Session 125: Matt Drance’s talk on “Effective iPhone App Architecture.” Another inspiring video is WWDC 2010 Session 103: “iPad and iPhone User Interface Design.” (There are plenty more, and your list will be different from mine.)

Reminder: the videos are free to Apple developers. If you’re a Mac or iOS developer, you should get them. All of them. And play them.

PS I also listen to three podcasts: Core Intuition, Build and Analyze, and The Talk Show.