iPhone Apps on The Big Bang Theory

Last month I was asked to be a technical consultant on an upcoming episode of the hit comedy series The Big Bang Theory (TBBT). This episode, entitled The Bus Pants Utilization, airs tomorrow, January 6, at 8:00 PM on CBS. The reason I was asked for my expertise is that I live, breathe, and sleep iPhone app development— and while the main characters in TBBT are theoretical physicists and engineers, in this particular episode they decide to write their own iPhone app. One of the things that makes TBBT unique is that the show’s creators insist that the science discussed in the series be plausible (unless the characters are actually discussing science fiction, which they do a lot.) Whiteboards are often in the scene containing the geniuses’ mad, yet completely accurate scribblings. In this case, they needed the scribblings of an iPhone app developer, and through good fortune that turned out to be me.

Prof. David Saltzman is the regular science consultant for TBBT, and publishes a blog on the science mentioned in the series: The Big Blog Theory. He has graciously offered to link people interested in learning more about the iPhone app aspect of things here to my blog, and I would be happy to field any questions in the comments. Click here for Prof. Saltzman’s article about this episode.

Professionally, I am Senior iOS Engineer for eHarmony.com (and by the way, nothing in this post or web site represents the views of my employer.) If you’d like to see the apps I’ve made on my own, click here. My current bestseller is Harp. If you’d like to find out more about my professional background, click here.

Update: Now that the episode has aired, I can mention that I designed the same app twice (once for Leonard’s version, and once for Sheldon’s take on it), including class diagrams and code snippets for both of them, and also designed another set of mockups for Penny’s “Project Shoe” app at the end. Unfortunately, my favorite board, which was a more developed version of the “Shoe” mockup, did not get a good angle in the last scene.

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Honeycut: Exodus Honey

If you’re a Mac person who’s upgraded Mac OS X 10.5 (“Leopard”), you’ve encountered this snazzy opening video after you rebooted:

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Turns out the equally snazzy grooves are by the bay area band, Honeycut, who Apple tapped for a cut down version of their song, Exodus Honey. Here it is in full:

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How does the brain
Connect with the body
How does it wake from a dream
Go book another show
I don’t want to know what’s happening

I’m not here with you
I see your lips are moving too
And they can talk and talk
I think we might be having a blast

Presently I’m gone
Somewhere on a long celestial sleepwalk
How do you make
A life out of nothing
And make nothing out of your life

Blink
I don’t want to wake
I just want to take siestas all day

I say stop the war
I’m glad I still wanna have my car
So I can drink and drive
I can’t believe I’m still alive

Talking on the phone
Asking if we had a good time last night

How does the brain
Connect with the body
How does it wake from a dream

And we will hurt nobody for the love of money
We can find our way without so much pain
Take me there
Take me honey
Let me love you again

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I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!

The iPhone— But Will It Blend?

Well, I got my iPhone, and yes, I’m one of those nuts who went to stand in line for it. And yes, it’s as good as the hype…

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…and yes, I’ve really been enjoying it, although it still has a few rough edges that Apple needs to release a software update to smooth out.

But speaking of smoothies, there has still been one nagging question about the iPhone. A question that has been keeping me up nights. A question that even Apple can’t answer… Will it blend?

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OMGWTFROFLOL! Apple Announces iPhone

Apple Computer Inc. has announced the iPhone. I always hated the look of so-called smart phones with their million tiny keys, and now I know why: Apple hadn’t done it right yet. Among other jaw-droppers, the device includes a multi-touch display as its primary input. The must-watch Steve Jobs keynote at Macworld is here.

Ships in June for $499 w/2-year Cingular contract. Good information in the iPhone Wikipedia entry too.

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I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!

Why I won’t be getting a Mighty Mouse

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m a Mac die-hard. I use them, program them, and evangelize them to others. At first glance, I thought Apple’s new Mighty Mouse was a great idea: now Apple has it’s own two-button mouse and Windows people have even less excuse to avoid Mac. (Although in truth, Macs have supported two-button mice since, like, forever.) Apple has again proven they’re an industrial design leader in providing a very slick package with very innovative features.

Unfortunately, the Mighty Mouse has a little flaw.

I’m acutally quite used to using a two-button mouse. I use a generic two-button mouse with a scroll wheel all day in my office. I also love the trackpad on my PowerBook. In fact the newest trackpads have a very cool feature that allows them to double as a two-dimensional scroll wheel simply by sliding two fingers at a time over the pad. Apple’s mistake with the Mighty Mouse is in trying to have the induction-based trackpad technology stand in for both mouse buttons. You see, the Mighty Mouse doesn’t actually have two buttons– it has a single internal switch and it determines whether you’ve left- or right-clicked by which part of the touch-sensitive shell you’re touching when you click. But what if both fingers are touching when you click? Then it’s a left-click. Unfortunately, in just the few minutes I played with the Mighty Mouse in the Apple Store I could tell this would never work for me, because I naturally rest both my index and middle fingers on the mouse as I work. This means that to right-click I must lift my left finger off the mouse. While this might seem like a small thing to some, and while I don’t doubt this is a skill I could eventually learn to do without thinking, it seems quite unnatural to me at the moment. And I’m not so unhappy with the mouse I currently use that adapting to a Mighty Mouse seems like it would carry much of a net benefit.

So, I’m hoping Apple can do better. No doubt they already have a Bluetooth version of MM in the works. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask that they can also improve the click-recognition mechanism to determine which finger is pressed down harder when the internal switch gets tripped. Failing that, they really ought to just use two buttons– sometimes the tried-and-true really is better.

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I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!