I've got a few tutorials that have been simmering, but finding time to write them down has been hard. Programming is a feast-or-famine business, and thanks to the crazy success of the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, things seem to be very much in feast mode lately. Not that I'm complaining - it's far better than the alternative - but when you spend twelve or more hours at your desk writing code most every day, it's hard to motivate yourself to write a tutorial about writing code in your spare time. I think I might be getting a breather here pretty soon, so I'll try and get some new iPad related tutorials out and hopefully another OpenGL ES one at some point.
Let's see, what else is going on in the world? There was a rumor that Apple's looking at buying ARM, ARM shares soared, then ARM came out and said flat out it wasn't true, and their stock stopped soaring. Call me cynical, but I still think it's a possibility. It'd be a great match and a great strategic move for Apple. Apple has the cash. If they bought ARM and a graphics chip maker like NVidia, they'd have total control of the entire A4 SOC except for the mass production side of things, and I'm sure that would be desirable to Apple. They love control.
ARM is a mobile and embedded powerhouse. Apple would get control and a big sledgehammer over many of their competitors. At first blush it seems like it might hurt Apple's relationship with Intel but, actually, it would be great for Intel, because it would drive a lot of Apple's mobile competitors exclusively to Intel's Atom chipset.
I have no idea if it'll happen, or if there was ever any validity to the rumor in the first place, but it "feels" like a good move for Apple if they could pull it off and it "feels" like something they would do. They've got to have plans for some of that cash they're stockpiling. If not, well, feel free to call me, Steve… I'll be glad to hold onto some of it for you.
I have a number of friends and acquaintances who are game designers, and there's been quite a buzz lately over Roger Ebert's recent statement that games can never be art. I, of course, disagree with his statement. In fact, I find it almost laughable. Of course games can be art. I mean, I'm not a big gamer, but I've played enough for that to be obvious to me. Roger Ebert, by his own admission, hasn't. He's judging based on YouTube videos, screenshots, and people's descriptions.
But it's hard to see how many games wouldn't qualify as art. Saying otherwise is saying that the whole is somehow less than the sum of the parts. Sculpting (digital modeling is just another form of sculpting), painting (digital is just another medium), writing narrative and dialogue - these are all things that are widely considered art. How can you put those things together into a package and have something that can never be art?
Now, I like Roger Ebert's writing. I don't agree with his tastes in movies all that often, but I like the way he writes. When I read his reviews of movies, I generally know enough to know if I'm going to like it or not even when I disagree with his assessment. He generally communicates well. This post isn't like that. It's rambling and self-contradictory. It's post-hoc rationalization for an opinion he already held. There is no exploration. Most of his "logic" could just as easily be applied to any commercial artistic endeavor, like movies. The rest of his logic is basically nonsense.
But here's the thing: So what? The question of "what is art" is completely unanswerable in any way other than a completely subjective and personal one. To Roger Ebert games aren't art. To me and especially to people who love games, they clearly can be and often are. It's okay for us not to all agree on this particular subject. It really is. It clearly wasn't meant as an insult, just as a statement of opinion on an inherently subjective topic.
There are many things that are widely considered art that I, personally, don't consider art. To me, a lot of 20th century art simply isn't. Most of the work by, for example, Jackson Pollock and Isamu Noguchi simply do not match my personal, subjective definition of art. To me, they're silly, but not in a Monty Python, intentionally silly way. It's silly stuff that takes itself way too seriously. These works don't convey or communicate or show us anything. They evoke no emotion, recall no events, inspire nothing. In my mind, they take no talent¹ to produce and the world is no better for their creation.
Yet, the vast, vast majority of people (very possibly including you), and nearly all soi-disant experts on art disagree with my assessment in these cases, and that fact doesn't influence my opinion in the slightest. I suspect Roger Ebert is no more likely to be swayed on the subject of games as art than I am about a lot of 20th century art, no matter how impassioned or well-reasoned the response.
Or, in other words: Get over it. Don't waste your time arguing with someone who isn't going to be swayed and probably won't even bother to argue back. Saying something isn't art isn't saying it has no value. That's the way we often interpret it, but we're being too sensitive when we do. If you create, and people like what you create, who cares if there's somebody out there that doesn't like or care about it? You can't please everybody. Most books on Amazon with five-star ratings also have some one-star ratings (including mine). What appeals to one person will revolt another. Such is life, and you'll be happier if you don't rely too much on external validation of your work.
Well, Apple is clearly on its death bed once again. The iPad, as many pundits predicted, has been a miserable failure, and sales of iPhones and iPod Touches have stalled as they fail to compete with the flood of innovative new Android and Palm phones that have come out this year.
Okay, maybe that's not entirely true.
Whatever your personal feelings about Apple, they're on quite a roll. It's a great time to be a programmer with iPhone SDK experience. We've got to be getting close to a hundred million iPhone OS devices sold - last I knew, there were over 85 million. That's a huge potential market. We've now exceeded or, at least, are getting very close to the installed base of Mac OS computers, even taking the phenomenal recent growth in Mac sales into account.
Well, that's all I have for now. I'll hopefully be back to technical posts in the not-too-distant future.
1- That's not to say these men didn't have talent, just that much of their work product didn't require it. Isamu Noguch's earlier works, such as his Undine, are absolutely phenomenal.