Monthly Archives: June 2013

Travelling to WWDC (San Francisco) – My Thoughts


First, let me introduce myself.  I’m Sam, and I’m going to be blogging from WWDC over the coming week.  I’m a first year Computer Science student at the University of York.  In my spare time I write iOS apps, usually where I feel I can make a positive impact on the world wide community.  My main suite of apps, the Branon Anonymous Browsers, have just passed been used 10,000,000 times, and have been downloaded over 250,000 times.  I built this suite to free the internet to millions of people worldwide who are live in countries where internet access has been restricted.  Along with other things, I’ve also made a couple of simple but successful games.

For the last 23 years, Apple have organised and run the Apple World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). For one week, Apple development basically closes down and the entire engineering team moves to San Francisco.  On the Monday, Apple host a keynote, where new products are announced, and then follow it up with further information on these products and software during the afternoon.  For the rest of the week, engineers are made available to help you make better software / hardware.

As an Apple Developer, this is something I’ve always wanted to go to – partly when Steve Jobs was still here, so I could see one of his presentations, but now more so because of the opportunity to further my knowledge in Objective-C, new frameworks and new mobile technologies from a week of lectures, seminars and one-on-one session with Apple engineers.

So, as you could imagine, when in late April I received an email from Apple inviting me to purchase a ticket for WWDC the next day, and I realised I had no commitments during that time, I was pretty happy to say the least.  I immediately went to see my supervisor (Simon O’Keefe) to ask him about the possibility of attending after exams, and the possibility of my department supporting such a trip.  After a couple of hours, I got the OK, and it turned into a waiting game for 6PM the next day.  Bearing in mind that the previous year, when Apple gave no pre-warning to tickets going on sale, tickets sold out in 2 hours, I knew they’d go quickly.

Unfortunately, I was in a lecture from 5:15 until 6:15.  Not to be deterred (it was been recorded anyway, so I could catch up later in the evening), I started pressing refresh on the WWDC page from about 5:55.  At 6PM on the dot, tickets became available and I started going through the checkout process.  I got right up to ‘Confirm’ button, before I was told tickets were unavailable – after less than two minutes!  I felt awful – my opportunity to fulfill a dream had been stomped on.  Luckily, things changed.

Branon Pro for Mac Desktop sells very well.  Which has led me to be fairly high up the App Store rankings.  The next morning, I got a phone call from Apple Developer Connection, who had been contacting what they called important developers, for whom it was important were able to attend.  The long and the short of it is that I was offered a ticket though a separate part of the Apple Website.

Now I am flying to San Francisco to get there a couple of days before the start.  The excitement is incredible – first, because of the opportunity, but also to literally be in the first group of people to see what Apple have got in store for us to develop with/on in the future.  I’ve now got to decide whether I am going to queue the night before to get near in the front in the presentation hall, or if I’m going to get sleep (to prepare for the week’s lectures after Monday).

TTL RISC CPU Project – Building a Programmable Program Counter

The latest episode of our project to build a CPU is now online.  It’s likely to be the last for a couple of months because of the summer holidays (and my internship – more to follow on this shortly).  The series (‘Mum, I am Building a CPU’) has now passed 1500 video views, so that’s fantastic.

In this episode (embedded below), I talk about constructing a program counter with support for Jump instructions.  We built this over two bread boards, and I go through first the logic and diagrams, then the actual circuitry.