Help Us Picard – Spockcast podcast

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Timothy A. Mitra

iOS engineer, engineering manager, podcaster, x Evangelist, technical consultant, artist, lecturer, web developer, and technical writer.

I spoke at the first SwiftTO conference on August 13, 2019. Here’s a link to my talk. 5 Ways to Level Up Your Mobile Development. I gave a preview of the talk at TACOW on July 9, 2019.

For fifteen months starting in 2020, I was an Apple Evangelist writing articles for the Developer app. I wrote and edited technical articles  about engineering for iOS, macOS, tvOS and watchOS. That was a dream come true to actually have the title Evangelist. I’ve been evangelizing for Apple indirectly since the late 80’s.

In 2016, I was pleased to join TD Bank as a Senior iOS Developer  and subject matter expert, working on their mobile banking platform. I was promoted in 2017 to manager. I am currently a IT Development Manager (iOS) at TD. I got my first TD account in 1979 and I have been a TD Canada Trust client since the early 90’s. So it’s really cool to be working on the apps in at the TD Centre, which was created by one of my favorite architects, Mies Van Der Rohe.

I also host and produce the More Than Just Code podcast, which focuses on iOS development. It is a round table format including developers across North America. My current co-hosts are Jaime Lopez Jr, Mark Rubin,  sometimes Greg Heo and Tammy Coron. I also guest host on the RoundaboutFM podcast.  Aaron Vegh left the show in 2016.

Jaime Lopez Jr, Jonathan Kuehlien and I have been hosting a pop culture sci-fi podcast, Spockcast, centered around Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek Prodigy. We also cover sci-fi movies, TV shows, books and comic books.

I am still working on iOS apps. This involves updating apps that I have produced for 2 For Life Media, Son House Productions and my own company, iT Guy Technologies. These are some pretty diverse apps in life style, entertainment, productivity and of course games. Apps you can check out are 2life, 2life Baby2life Ultimate Wedding Plannerthe Strombo ShowDevice Tracker and Geese Squad to name a few.

Under the hood, for those who are interested, I work primarily in Xcode with Swift, SwiftUI and Objective-C. I spend a lot of time with UIKit, CoreData, NSURLSession, AVToolKit as well as Sprite Kit and the requisite frameworks needed to manage content in apps. I can also be found wielding design tools to create artwork  and wire frames. Soup to nuts I wrangle all parts to iOS and OS X app development. I also do a fair amount of web development, mostly custom WordPress and app APIs that support the mobile apps.

For more than five years, I have been a member of the RayWenderlich.com tutorial team. I have written a couple of tutorials but lately I have been part of the Articles Team. I recently was involved as Developmental Editor on The Swift Apprentice book which was published in October 2015. I am working on another new project headed up my Ray Wenderlich himself. Stay tuned.

2019 marked my 30th year of using Apple Macintosh computers. It was true turning point for me using Macs and computers in general. I started as one of a few people who worked full-time on a computer and now 30 years later we carry them in our pockets and wear them on our wrists. Access to information is taken for granted.

I am no longer able to teach iOS development outside of TD. My latest course is Swift 101, for persons interested in learning Swift for iOS and OS X. Ongoing courses are on iOS development introduction and advanced. I have also trained users on Objective-C, WordPress, and various Adobe titles for print & web.

During the week of Dec 14, 2015, I taught “Advanced iOS Development” online. We covered some advanced topics on iOS development and Swift.

I continue to provide consulting services in iOS development & IT and I am available for contract work.

Printrboard LCD

Posted on July 26, 2014 by Rick_S

Recently I purchased a Printrbot Simple Metal and have been learning the art of 3D printing.  One thing I realized up front was the benefit of having an LCD display on the printer to show status and allow for menu driven printer control w/o using a computer host.

At the time I purchased my printer, the Printrbot store was out of stock of the official LCD.  So I set off on my own to determine the pinout’s of the Printrboard (The official printer control board for a Printrbot) to find out where the LCD connected and what signals were available.

My 1st thought was to use one of the many inexpensive “Smart LCD Controllers” that are all over eBay for reprap machines.  At about $16 for the complete setup, this seemed like a good place to start.

After looking at the Printrbot installation instructions for the official LCD, I could see that their LCD assembly connected to the EXP2 connector on the Printrboard.  A few web searches later and I found the pinout for that connector to be as such:

shows EXP2 pinouts of Printerboard
Pinout of EXP2 on Printrboard

In the photo, you can see that Pin 1 is at the lower left of the connector as shown.

The pinout is as follows:

PrintrBoard 14 Pin EXP2
PIN3 – N/CPIN4 – N/C
PIN5 – D7PIN6 – D6
PIN7 – D5PIN8 – D4
PIN9 – N/CPIN10 – E

The pinout on the RepRap Smart LCD Controller is broken out in two 10 pin connectors.

Pin 1 of each connector is lower left in the photo

The pinout for connection to the Printrboard is as follows:

Smart LCD Controller 10 Pin EXP1
PIN-5 D4PIN-6 D5
PIN-7 D6PIN-8 D7
Smart LCD Controller 10 Pin EXP2
PIN-1 Not UsedPIN-2 Not Used
PIN-7 Not UsedPIN-8 Not Used
PIN-9 Not UsedPIN-10 Not Used

After making the appropriate connections with a custom cable I made…

Voila — Success.

Smart LCD Controller for RepRap


The next step is creating my own board…

Adapter Board for Smart LCD Controller to Printrboard

Posted on July 27, 2014 by Rick_S

I did a quick design of an adapter board to take the 14 pin connector from the Printrboard to connect to the two 10 pin connectors on the RepRap Smart LCD Controller. This will give you the display and encoder functionality like in the official Printrbot LCD. The reset, buzzer, and SD Card will not function as those signals are not broken out on the Printrboard’s 14 Pin EXP2 Header.

The adapter board measures 3cm x 5cm and looks like this.

The Schematic is pretty simple, just three connectors and some mounting holes.

As with the Full controller, I’ve bundled the files needed for construction into a ZIP file for download.

You can get the files HERE

EDIT 5-29-2016:  The download file has been updated to include the board perimeter in a GKO file.  Hope that will help possible builders.

Homemade Face Masks – How To Make

I have modified slightly the original instructions from Michael Garron Hospital mask challenge. #1000masks
The inside pocket is to allow for a filter to be added. They suggest: Vacuum cleaner filters, coffee filters, paper towel or Kleenex.
They recommend that the masks be washed daily in hot water and detergent.


Fabric: for the outside use dark coloured polyester, cotton/polyester blend or 100% cotton for the inside use light coloured 100% cotton

Elastic: 3cm flat elastic (1/8”), elastic hair ties, ribbon or fabric strips

Wire: MGH suggested a twist tie, but I used a 4” piece of pipe cleaner and turned the sharp ends under.

Cutting instructions:

Child – 1 piece of outside fabric 22cm x 15cm (8 3/4” x 6)
1 piece of inside fabric 20cm x 13cm (8” x 5 1/4”)
2 pieces of 3cm wide elastic 15cm (5”) or 2 hair elastics cut open

Woman – 1 piece of outside fabric 23cm x 16cm (9” x 6 1/4”)
1 piece of inside fabric 22cm x 15cm (8 1/4” x 5 1/2”)
2 pieces of 3cm wide elastic 16cm (6”) or 2 hair elastics cut open

Man – 1 piece of outside fabric 24cm x 17cm (9 1/2” x 6 3/4”
1 piece of inside fabric 20cm x 13cm (8 3/4” x 6”)
2 pieces of 3cm wide elastic 17cm (6 1/2”) or 2 hair elastics cut open


1. Cut 1 outside piece, 1 inside piece and 2 pieces of elastic for each mask

2. Mark 1/4” on 2 short sides of inside and outside.

3. Make a narrow hem by folding on the line, ironing and turning under again. Sew hem down.

4. Mark three pleats on both sides on the front of the outside fabric. See charts.

5. Bring marks together and pin. There are 3 pleats of each side. Pleats should point down.

6. Stitch pleats in place.

7. Mark centre of inside fabric and make 1/4” pleat on each side. Pin and stitch in place.

8. Put outside and inside fabric right sides together and pin the top and bottom.

9. Sew 1/4” seam along top and bottom edges.

10. Zigzag pipe cleaner to the centre of the top edge seam allowance.

11. Turn right side out.

12. Place elastic in the seam allowance along the top and bottom of the short sides.

13. Top stitch around all four sides, backstitching at the elastic to secure

14. Fold the top edge at the centre to make nose

A case for the Subscription App Price Model

App development, like art, is an expense of creative energy and effort. Once published, maintenance and upkeep takes a considerable amount of time and skill. Keeping up with changes in technology that Apple and Android add complicate a developers life. Imagine having to update a painting or redo a sculpture in a new medium because the galleries change how your work is to be consumed.

In 2014, the kids decided to drive app prices down to the free model to generate downloads – commoditizing the app business and frankly taking the fun out of this creative outlet.

As a result, People just won’t pay what an app is truly worth. They expect apps to be free. Adding ads to apps is a futile effort as it requires tens of thousands of downloads and repeated use to make even a meager income. Pizza money is what most developers get.

Lately, developers and publishers have landed on the subscription model. If you’re app is compelling enough you can derive a better sustainable, recurring income over time. However, It takes a long time to reach an equilibrium.

You also have to factor in the market you are creating an app for. If the market is small, Eg. the Go life or death scenario app, then you need to charge more per month. The app you mentioned wants $13 per month and that may in fact be steep. How many people do you suppose would even download that app in the first place (Boomer)?

Photoshop on iPad can be had for around $20 per month minimum. Adobe is making a killing on their subscriptions. It used to cost $1,500 to upgrade annually. Subscription for the full adobe packed is around $49 – $50 per month – comes out to the same over a couple of years. Adobe also has a lot of mouths to feed. It’s a necessary evil and you’re hooked in. Imagine if your oil paints, canvases and brushes locked at the end of the month if you stopped paying?

Even successful app developers have gone out of business with the subscription model. It’s not a simple hobby and the work: code and design has value.

Bottom line: if you like an app and want to to be improved and maintained then pay your developers. Like any creative pursuit, funds are needed for the long haul.

Maybe $13/mo is too much. The developer may lower the price when no one subscribes. If they’re a smart marketer, they will try other ways to make an income. He’s bringing an incredible domain knowledge to the world of wannabe Go players.

Subscriptions are the model for the foreseeable future. Don’t be to hasty to deny the dev a living.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. Pay your developers.

Error Previewing a Child Theme

This one took me a minute to figure out. I had worked on a child theme in WordPress, but ran into the following error when I tried to use Live Preview:

Twenty Seventeen requires at least WordPress version 4.7. You are running version 4.5.20. Please upgrade and try again.

The strange thing is the version of WordPress version 5.x not 4.5.20. Obviously there was a version conflict somewhere. Googling around produced no hits, that made sense.

The cause was that the version of WordPress on the production site was behind the version on the development site. Who knew? So, I updated the production site to the latest version and the problem went away.

I’m posting this so that it can help others.

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