360|iDev 2017 Conference Highlights
- Keynote – Finding Your Place on the Internet – Soroush Khanlou
- I Wish They Had That In My School – Jessi Chartier
- Fun With iOS 11 Workshop – Sam Davies
- Practical Security – Rob Napier
- Deep Learning on iOS – Shuichi Tsutsumi
- TensorFlow on iOS – Taylan Pince
- Playing Nice with Design – Ellen Shapiro
- iOS with Continuous Delivery – Cassie Shum
- Fun & Games
- Stump 360 Episode IV: A New Hope – Hosted by Tom Harrington
- Game Dev Jam – Hosted by Ryan Polos
- Other Interesting Talks
- Day Three Keynote – John Wilker
- Where to Go From Here?
270 attendees and 59 speakers recently descended upon Denver, Colorado to take part in the annual 360iDev conference.
360iDev 2017 had much to choose from; with seven workshops on Sunday and a whopping 58 sessions over the next three days to choose from, it was easy to find find a mix of sessions tailored to your interests — yet hard to narrow down the field of amazing talks and workshops!
In this article, I’ll share my thoughts on the conference and help you sort through all the great presentations to highlight the “can’t-miss” moments from the conference. Let’s dive in!
Keynote – Finding Your Place on the Internet – Soroush Khanlou
The conference opened with a keynote by Soroush Khanlou, a New York-based iOS developer and host of the FatalError podcast. Sourosh spoke about how you could go about making a name for yourself in the mobile app development industry with the many tools available to you, such as social networks, blogging, and podcasting. Like many worthwhile pursuits, there are no shortcuts to success; many hours of consistent effort are what it takes to make an impact. Sourosh’s own success came from many years of blogging and staying active in the community.
He suggests to look at what your idols have done and learn how they attained their success — which more likely than not took a long time. Simply copying their work and their approach is not enough. One example Sourosh gave was of a copycat’s efforts to mimic a successful Instagrammer — even to the point of flying around the world to reproduce styles and poses. But compare the number of likes between the two, and the comparison is nonexistent.
Find your own “thing”. Take inspiration from your idols, but use your own voice. The internet is huge, and there is room for everybody and everything. Keep at it — be consistent and your audience will find you.
I Wish They Had That In My School – Jessi Chartier
Jessi Chartier is focused on what’s going on — or rather, going wrong — in the classroom. According to a recent study, she says that a million jobs in computer science will go unfilled by 2020. Less than 25% of high schools participate in Advanced Placement computer science courses, and many of those AP programs put theory before practice. Misguided information about what businesses require leads the curriculum to cover things such as Java development, instead of real-world needs like iOS development and mobile app development in general.
One of the main problems, she continues, is the lack of instructors. To teach at a high school level, teachers need a CS degree. Jessi is all about turning teachers into developers so they can instruct the next generation. “It’s easier to teach a teacher to develop than it is to teach a developer to teach,” she says. Her efforts also focus on helping school administrators realize that the world of coding is diversified. Meeting with administrators to help them understand the field is important, as is the fact that you don’t really need a CS degree to be viable in the mobile app development industry.
Her organization, Mobile Makers, treats learning to code like an apprenticeship and starts with coding before the theory. Otherwise, “It’s like trying to teach piano, by listening to Mozart, without giving them a piano to play with.” Jessi is also an organizer of App Camp for Girls, which aims to get girls and those who identify as girls to see coding as a career path. Organizations like these focus on getting coders to work in Xcode right away. Playgrounds are great as a digital sketchbook, but actually building real apps in Xcode goes a long way. Of course, Jessi goes into more detail than this short article can cover, and you should definitely check out the video of this talk.
Fun With iOS 11 Workshop – Sam Davies
If you were fortunate enough to attend the Sunday workshop, you would have seen fellow team member Sam Davies’ workshop on new things in coming in iOS. Sam delved into the abilities of the Encode and Decode protocols to create and parse some JSON data. He then went on to show how these come together under the Codable protocol.
Next, Sam had us working in the Drag and Drop framework, taking us slowly through adding draggability to the selected objects, and then through the ins and outs of accepting a dragged object and dropping it into place. He took time to explain properly updating the views accounting for the existing items and updating the data after the drop.
Personally, I think the coolest part of the workshop was adding CoreML to a table’s search function. In the example in the workshop, we added a CoreML model along with Natural Language Processing to search the data for words in similar context. For instance, “dance” also successfully includes “dancing” in the result. Using a sentiment-based model, the app could look at the rating of movie in the sample data and apply the appropriate emoticon. Very cool.
Practical Security – Rob Napier
Rob Napier is a builder of tree houses, hiker, proud father, and sometimes developer. His talk on security starts from the realization that it’s hard to know if you are doing security right, as security seems to be a moving target with exploits and evil-doers all around.
His talk explained Apple’s approach to security and its reliance on improved encryption and cyphers in upcoming requirements. App Transport Security (ATS) was introduced in iOS 9. Unfortunately, many developers turn that feature off in order to work around the encryption requirements and focus on the coding of their apps.
Rob explained that if you do nothing else, you should encrypt traffic to and from your apps with HTTPS. Also, you should stop turning off ATS — leave it alone! If your server host can’t accommodate encryption, get a new server host.
Another technique Rob suggests is certificate pinning. He demystified this concept with some tips for validating and rotating your certificates over future years. He also explained the versions and advantages of data encryption built into iOS. The most interesting section of the talk was on handling user passwords. You don’t ever want to see your user’s passwords, nor do you want anyone else to see them, so hash them into a string. Then simply deal with the hashed string. The only good cryptographic hash he says is SHA-2, known by many names, and the SHA-256 to SHA-512 digests under SHA-2 are suitable for most uses.
Salting and stretching are additional techniques for hardening passwords. This entails salting the password by adding some unique prefix or suffix, such as a reverse domain name, to lengthen the string. Simply adding 80ms per brute-force guess attempt adds an additional 15 million years to crack the string. For best results, start with a good password, salt it, stretch it and bake at 350° heat for 30 minutes. Well maybe not the last part!
Rob also shared some great resources for beefing up your security. It’s definitely worth checking out this talk.