mb

A photo of mb bischoff in a red lip and leather jacket.

mb bischoff (they/them) makes  apps,  posts, and  podcasts. under construction

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Talks

Apps for All: Making Software Accessible

What does it take to build software that’s truly usable for as many people as possible?

This morning, I’m giving a talk on this topic at App Builders 2020. The presentation focuses on improving the accessibility of the software we build. Drawing on examples from the fields of architecture and design, as well as my experience, it explores the how and why of iOS accessibility in the broader contexts of ability and inclusion. You’ll learn how to audit your application for accessibility and get started making changes that will open it up to new customers.

Slides

This talk relies a lot on audio, video, and demos, but here are the slides in case you missed something while watching. Download a PDF version here.

Sketchnotes

Felizia Bernutz also posted these incredible sketchnotes from the talk.

Apps for All Sketchnotes

Resources

If you’ve seen the talk and are looking for additional information, here are some of the sources I consulted when writing it.

#accessibility #app builders #design #ios #universal design

App Builders CH 2020 

I’m super excited that I’ll be speaking this May at the App Builders CH conference in Lugano, Switzerland. App Builders is one of the biggest European conferences about mobile technologies, and I’ll be presenting alongside a bunch of incredibly smart folks. It’s sure to be a great time, and I hope to see you there! 🇨🇭

#conferences #ios #me #talks #tech

NSNorth

NSNorth Pormotional Image

Last March, I gave a 7-minute speech at a reading series that scratched my persistent itch to be in front of a crowd. But in 2019 I want to get back into my usual schtick of giving longer, prepared presentations with slides. I love attending conferences, and I especially enjoy having the opportunity to hone a talk and share it with a group of my peers.

Later this month, I’ll be heading north to speak at (the appropriately named) NSNorth 2019. NSNorth is Canada’s premier independent Apple developer and designer conference, and like Çingleton in years past, it’s taking place in beautiful Montréal, Québec. I’ve never been to this conference before, but I’ve met the organizers at other events, and I’ve heard great things.

My talk is called Growing Pains and it’s about the things that break as your software team or company gets bigger and what you can do to make that a less painful process. If you’d like to hear more about the conference and my experience on the topic, Dan and Phil interviewed me on the NSNorth Podcast. Give it a listen below or wherever you get your podcasts:

NSNorth #57: Matthew Bischoff

Finally, the organizers have announced that this is the last year for NSNorth for the foreseeable future, so if you’ve always wanted to attend, now’s your chance. If you need help convincing your boss to cover the cost, they’ve got you covered. Tickets are on sale until this Friday, April 12, so act fast. Je vais te voir là-bas!

#canada #conferences #nsnorth #speaking

Write Your Way Out

mb speaking at Release Notes 2016
Photo courtesy of Ben McCarthy

In September 2016, I was honored to be invited to speak at Joe and Charles’s incredible Release Notes conference in Indianapolis. Release Notes, an outgrowth of their podcast of the same name, approaches the software business as a business first and foremost. Their guiding principle is to discuss “everything but the code”.

Here’s the audio and slides from my talk. It’s called Write Your Way Out (yes, it’s a Hamilton reference). I spoke about writing and the importance of writing well as a software engineer, a product manager, and especially the owner of a software company. Watch it below and let me know what you think on Twitter.


The dates for Release 2019 in sunny Playa Mujeres, Mexico have just been announced (Oct 3—5). If you’re in the software business, I can’t recommend it more strongly. Get on the mailing list so you don’t miss tickets!

#release notes #talks #tech #writing

Culture Rot

This weekend, I spoke to the audience of the Difficult to Name reading series at Study Hall in Brooklyn. My talk was about the internet, my fears about building and sustaining culture there, and what we might be able to do about it. Watch the talk or read my prepared remarks below. And let me know what you think on Twitter. I’m @mb there.


I want to tell you about a number that scares me: 404. That infamous code you see when that internet thing you meant to visit is gone or it moved and no one bothered to add a redirect or maybe it never existed at all.

I’m curious though: how many of you have ever made something you’re proud of on the Web?

So many of us have written, recorded, photographed, or created important works in our personal and professional worlds that live online. Maybe they’re your bylines at that fancy publication about tiny houses, or your YouTube seltzer reviews, or your graduate thesis about the history of pizza ovens. It’s not really important what they are, just that they exist and they’re online.

Well, until…they don’t. 404: Page Not found. 410: Gone. 500: Internal Server Error. These numbers, or status codes, tell us what went wrong but not really why. This problem, the problem of the disappearing internet, of “link rot”, is no joke. Researchers have found that over 50% of URLs cited in Supreme Court opinions no longer point to the intended content. Roughly 70% of links in academic legal journals are broken, and 20% of all science, technology and medicine articles suffer from link rot. The average life of a webpage hovers right around 100 days.

People often patly state that “the internet never forgets,” that once something is online, it will be forever. In a certain light that’s true. It’s nearly impossible to permanently remove something from the internet, on purpose. But, by the same token, the web also disappears at an alarming rate. 5% of the entire internet is lost every year, and we barely notice.

Making something on the web is not a one-time investment. Someone has to spend money every year on the domain, hosting, and maintenance. But what happens when the financial incentives to do that change? Right now the massive data centers that house all this information use 3% of all the electricity in the United States. What happens when that power gets too expensive? Or when we’ve been online for centuries and we start deleting dead people’s pages? Unlike a film, or a play, or a book, the costs of keeping art and science on the web are never-ending. We’re building one of our most important shared cultural resources on land that we rent rather than own, on borrowed time from a parking meter that’s all but guaranteed to run out.

We even saw a large-scale example of this recently when a capricious billionaire hastily took down years of content from Gothamist and DNAInfo, leaving reporters to scramble for saved and aggregated clippings of their work just to build a portfolio to get an new job.

Before you say, “Wait Matt, there’s this One Weird Trick. What about the Wayback Machine, what about the Internet Archive, what about Google’s cache?” Let me quote the web developer Maciej Cegłowski in his talk Web Design - The First 100 Years:

We have heroic efforts like the Internet Archive to preserve stuff, but that's like burning down houses and then cheering on the fire department when it comes to save what's left inside. It's no way to run a culture. We take better care of scrap paper than we do of the early internet, because at least we look at scrap paper before we throw it away.

He’s right. It is no way to run a culture. We’re experiencing quantitative losses of data on par with the burning of Alexandria every year, and we’re barely blinking an eye as the stuff we’re making vanishes in a puff of smoke.

The truth is: there is no easy fix. But as writers and makers and inhabitants of the internet, we need to demand better of the platforms and services and publications we entrust with our work. It might seem safer to trust the big guys (Facebook, Twitter, Medium) with this content because they have the funding and incentives to maintain it. That’s true today, but large platforms like them have failed before, taking terabytes of data with them. Remember Friendster, TwitPic, Geocities?

There are academic efforts like Perma.cc out of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab that will solve this problem for the most important legal and scholarly works. But we can and must to do better than that.

Starting in 2014, a small group of programmers became obsessed with building what is called “content addressable” version of the internet called IPFS. IPFS stands for “InterPlanetary File System”. And “content addressable” means that files are stored and located by their content instead of an arbitrary and therefore brittle address. As I’m sure some of you have guessed by now, it’s built on top the blockchain. Insert eye roll emoji 🙄. But before you write them off, I think these nerds might be on to something. Their system, which is entirely peer to peer, and inherently resistant to the rot I’m talking about is already being used to build a mirrored version of Wikipedia that will be accessible from countries with oppressive regimes, and was used by those in Catalan seeking independence when the government blocked their pages from being accessible on the web. The IPFS team is building a system by which the websites and apps of tomorrow might be able to defend against this failing foundation, but who knows if it’ll get adopted.

The next time you make something and put it online: think about where it’s going to live, how long it’ll be around, and what you can do to preserve it, even if that means making an extra local backup, or printing it out on a dead tree. The culture we’re building together is increasingly digital, hyperlinked, and accessible from anywhere. But it’s not accessible from any when. We’re losing more and more of it every day. If we’re going to continue making things online, we need to deal with this problem systematically and soon. How? I’m not sure. Maybe IPFS, or something like it that hasn’t been invented yet. Until then, I’ll keep my printer.

#404 #internet #talks #tech

Barely Managing

A talk I gave last year at the CocoaLove conference in Philadelphia about why you might want to step away from the keyboard and into leadership, and what happens when you do. It’s about the difference between managing programs and managing people.

Tickets are now on sale for CocoaLove 2016. Don’t miss it if you’re an iOS or Mac nerd on the east coast.

#cocoalove #management #philadelphia #talks

RTFM: Things You Missed in the HIG

I gave a talk about iOS interface design at SecondConf today, and I think it went pretty well.

#HIG #design #ios #me