Last Day of the Year

It’s December 31st 2015 and the so-called last day of the year. It sounds so final. 2015 is over and done with. If I had anything that had to be done in 2015 and didn’t get done, well, It’s game over.

But really it’s not the last day of anything important. Sure, it’s the last day of the 2015 tax year. And I’m sure there are some other legal entities that officially expire at midnight today. But these are just temporary rules we set up to police ourselves and not laws of Nature.

Nature has cycles and repetition and patterns but not calendars or tax schedules. And Nature’s cycles are much more sophisticated than our rules and regulations can model. None of our human calendar systems really fit the orbit of the Earth around the Sun or the revolutions of the Earth around its axis or even the orbit of the Moon around the earth. The tradition of ending and starting the year in the middle of Winter is an cultural one. It pre-dates the Romans but for our culture the Romans were the core influence. In celebrating New Year’s Eve we’re celebrating a Roman tradition that includes a tribute to Julius Ceaser and the two-faced god Janus. The Romans felt remorse about killing Ceaser so they kept his calendar and voted him into a god on January 1st.

So what does the last day of the year really mean for you and I? Is it something we should take seriously? Is it just an excuse to have a party at midnight? Probably.

Personally I believe the last day of anything (years, sprints, baseball seasons) is good for two important functions: First, for better or worse, it forces us to pause. Take a break. Spend time with friends and family and ourselves. Taking a breather is a great idea in a 24/7 society. When I was a kid TV networks shut down overnight. Even if you wanted to watch TV all night you could not. You have to take a break. We don’t have that tradition any more. Cable TV and the Internet never go offline (on purpose).

Second, for very good reasons, the last day of anything forces us to reflect. Did we get done everything we wanted to accomplish? I hoped to lose 100 pounds in 2015. That didn’t happen. Maybe I need to change my strategy? Maybe I need to change the goal? These are all good questions.

If I could share some advice for a happy and healthy 2016, this is what I would advise: Take frequent breaks. Spend more time alone. Reflect on the impact of your actions and your enthusiasms on others. Don’t take things too seriously. Before you hit submit on that blog post, tweet or facebook message pause and reflect.

Happy New Year!

Identity used to sign executable no longer valid

The last thing I wanted to do on a Sunday morning is write a blog post about an an Xcode executable problem. What I had planned to do is test my most recent Swift 2.0 SpriteKit game on my iPad and iPhone. Last night I got a “Identity used to sign the executable is no longer valid” error when attempting to run my code on a real device. Since it was around midnight I took the message a notification that bedtime had arrived. Besides, a quick search on StackOverflow would surely solve the problem and if I got on SO now I would be up all night nosing around.

This morning I got the same message and found a post on SO that started  four years ago with two pages of answers: The identity used to sign the executable is no longer valid. It’s been viewed 66K times and covers many ancient versions of Xcode. The top answer simply said to restart Xcode. Indeed, restarting, rebooting, or re-installing is always a great answer! So I tried the first two (restarting Xcode and rebooting all my devices) but no joy. And it’s a cheap answer. 99% of computer problems are temporarily solved by powering down and up the server or device but the root cause sits like a malignant elf in the machine, biding it’s time, ready to strike again.

So I figured it out. My problem, in any case.

Last week I was giving a talk at SUNY Buffalo (shout out to Prof. Hartloff). It’s just far enough away from NYC that I had to stay overnight. I took a MacBook Pro that I don’t ordinarily use for development. When I was working on my new game and testing it my iPad and iPhone (to get actual frame rates and the feel of touching the screen) Xcode discovered that I didn’t have an iOS development certificate on that MacBook and asked me if I wanted to revoke my current cert or copy it over from another machine. Since I didn’t have it I said revoke. Xcode did what ever it does and created me a new iOS dev cert associated with that particular MacBook Pro.

Note to Apple: There has to be a better way for Apple certified developers to manage their certificates in this age of clouds and connectivity. Can’t these certs reside on Infinite Loop server?

Enough backstory!

If you get the dreaded “Identity used to sign executable no longer valid” error and restarting your Xcode doesn’t work here are the steps that should fix it for good.

Go to your Apple developer account certificate overview and read carefully and completely about how to manually manage certs and provision devices. Once you understand what you need to do it’s relatively simple.

  1. Revoke and delete all the could certs and profiles of devices you no longer own that have build up over the years. Clean it all up.
  2. Then, following the instructions from Apple recreate your iOS development and distribution certificates.
  3. Re-provision your iOS devices.
  4. Download your certs and provisioning files and reinstall them into your Mac’s keychain.
  5. Clean and build your app.
  6. Now it should run on the iOS devices you’ve provisioned nicely.

Note to You: Xcode is no longer managing your certs and profiles. But that’s OK. It was doing a bad job anyway.

Post Script

Why didn’t I post this info to Stack Overflow? Because this is a pretty radical solution, not without risk. SO, for better or worse, has been come the place for copy and paste solutions that have not aged gracefully over time. Don’t get me wrong–I love Stack Overflow, recommend it, and use it all the time. But sometimes it’s not safe to post an answer to a problem that requires reading comprehension.

Lucky for you and me, my unpopular blog post will probably be the last item in your search for solutions to apple certification problems.

Quick Thoughts Apple Watch Sport, AppleTV, Magic Trackpad 2, iPad Pro

This year I had a lot of Apple product to buy. Other than buying a new iPhone every couple of years the rest of my Apple gear didn’t need updating. iMac, MacBooks, and iPads got a little faster, a little thinner, and a little more expensive but not so much that I really needed break down and acquire new ones. Being an Apple fan is an expensive hobby so it was kind of nice to have nothing new to buy. But then came 2015 and all these new toys!

Apple Watch Sport

Positives: I wear it and use it every day! I like the calendar, messaging, and fitness notifications. The iPhone and Apple Watch are very well integrated. It’s great to respond to messages and phone calls without taking out my phone. (I feel a little silly talking like Dick Tracy to my wrist.) I did like the game LifeLine (which is well integrated as a text adventure game) for a little while. I have a nice collection of wrist bands.

Negatives: I’ve turned off 90% of app notifications. None of the 3rd party apps, expect HipChat, have been useful. There is a lag when accessing some apps that makes me impatient. Charging the watch with the disk is a little weird. The sport wristbands bothered my skin so I’ve switched to an inexpensive leather band. I’d like to see more games like LifeLine.


Positives: The whole family loves it. Crossy Road was a big hit and the first time we’ve gathered in front of the TV to play a game since before the kids graduated from High School. The user experience is excellent. Apple Music and Photo on the big screen are awesome. AppleTV is our go to Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Go tool. I want to write an a game for it!

Negatives: I don’t have a 4K TV but I’m worried that AppleTV doesn’t support 4K. (Is that irrational FOMO?) Most of the AppleTV apps are not exciting us. The remote is hard to deal with except when playing a game.

Magic Trackpad 2

Positives: No more environment killing batteries required. The force touch feature is cool for previewing web pages from links. It bigger and more comfortable for gestures.

Negatives: I keep forgetting to use force touch.

iPad Pro

Positives: For me the iPad Pro is the break out hit of Apple’s current product line. The Smart Keyboard is not terrible and the Apple Pencil is amazing. I like to draw and it’s the best drawing experience I have experienced (and I have tried just about every tablet and stylus, including the Cintiq). For work the iPad Pro is 75% of a laptop replacement. It turns out for email, word process, presentations, spread sheets, messaging, and web browsing, I don’t need a complete desktop operating system in my lap–Spit View is enough. The screen is as book as my MacBook Air with higher resolution. Reading ebooks and PDFs is a pleasure. And watching movies and TV is like having a personal cinematic experience with surround sound at my hand. It’s simpler and feels faster than the Surface Pro or Chromebook. The Apple and Microsoft App for the iPad Pro work well. Byword, Coda, Procreate, Graphic, and Assembly are creative iPad Pro apps I recommend. I’ve never wanted to develop an iPad app before (iPhone was all that mattered to me as a dev).

Negatives: It’s big (but not heavy). I wish I could fold it in half. I want the keyboard to light up. I want a place to put the pen when I’ve not using it. Old iPad apps look ridiculous on the iPad Pro. Not all app support the split view feature. The Smart Keyboard doesn’t work well with developer websites like Cloud9 and CodePen. The Facebook iPad is stale. I’m afraid that charging the pencil in the iPad Pro’s power port will break it’s lightning connector off!

It’s a great time to be an Apple fan and an Apple developer. There are still plenty of problems with the Apple ecosystem. Apple News is slow and poorly designed. The App store has discovery, spam, and monetization problems. The Safari browser needs to catch up to Chrome. But Swift is the best programming language since SmallTalk and now opened source. So there’s that. It all evens out.