API Design is a Contact Sport

Posted by steve | Apple Software and Hardware | Tuesday 8 July 2014 2:31 pm

I was listening to one of the Apple World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) 2014 videos recently. The topic was designing good APIs and frameworks. The presenter used the phrase “API Design is a Contact Sport” and I loved it.

What the presenter was talking about is that during the API development stage the internal email lists discussed in minute details all portions of the API before it gets locked down and published. The idea that the right time to express passion about method names and even argument names for proposed APIs in an all out push back and forth between team members is excellent. Once the API gets published you will need to support it for possibly years to come. Even as you enhance APIs in the future the whole need for backwards compatibility, or at least ensuring the user’s apps do not “explode and crash” is critical.

I love the notion of thinking of API design as wrestling the details out.


Obsessed by the idea of owning a Porsche again

Posted by steve | General Commentary | Monday 7 July 2014 7:56 pm


I’ve been a long time Porsche enthusiast. I’ve been fortunate enough to have owned 4 Porsches in my life. The engineering and little details that are in these sports cars have always impressed me. Some folks own Porsches for other reasons, but for me it was always about the engineering and driving experience.

The last Porsche I owned was a 1991 Porsche 911 Carrera 4 Targa. Here are a few pictures I still have from that car.



That was by far the most amazing Porsche I’d ever driven and owned. The Carrera 4 means it has 4 wheel drive. You could literally feel the front wheels pulling you through the curves when you stepped on the accelerator. It had acceleration on tap, seemingly, at any speed. In fact that was one of the challenges when driving the car. It just seemed to feel most happy when doing 85 MPH or more. Always watching the speed with that car. Other driving features that amazed where the cornering, of course, and how steadily and quickly it could stop. Awesome car.

I had this car back when I met my future wife and she loved to borrow and drive that car often. With the extra seats in the back, which of course could barely support an adult, it was a simple matter to attach a child seat. We often heard “Kick it mom.” from the back seat when she was driving. I also learned the hard way that kids can be distracting and sometimes you can forget to complete a task because of interruptions. I once forgot to fasten that Targa top down when we had the three of us in the car. Just as I began to accelerate onto the freeway the top flew off and away from the car. Fortunately it did not hit anyone but it did get damaged and I had to have it replace. We still talk about that time the roof flew off the car.

The thing about that 911 was that it was “a house payment on wheels”. We eventually sold it and later that year had enough money for a downpayment on our own home. Looking back, especially considering how much trouble that house became and the enormous loss we had to take when selling it, we probably would have been better off keeping the Porsche.

Here I am 16 years later and I’m thinking I’d like to own a Porsche once again. I’ve been really fascinated with the new Porsche Cayman models. Porsche made a pretty significant update to the car design in 2013 with the 981 model series of Cayman. Here are some photos I’ve found around the Internet.



I’m even grooving on the interesting interior options available (like this grey and orange combination).


There are currently 3 models of Cayman available. The base Cayman, Cayman S & Cayman GTS. The auto press is all excited about the Cayman S and GTS. They are pretty cool cars. Goodness I’ve spent hours on YouTube watching Cayman auto reviews. It’s pretty easy to get all tangled up in the emotion and conclude the Cayman S is the right car to choose. And if money were no object (when does that ever happen?) it would be. Or even the GTS, since it’s the most expensive of the three but comes standard with all the interesting performance options you would add to a Cayman S plus a little more horsepower.

But I find myself thinking about the base Cayman and I realized a couple interesting facts.

The 911 Carrera 4 I had (also known as a model 964) came with a 3.6 liter flat 6 engine producing 247 HP. I’ve already mentioned that it seemed to have horsepower to spare at any speed. It had a curb weight of over 3,300 lbs because of the 4 wheel drive and that extra large rear glass that’s part of the Targa design. It could do 0-60 MPH in 5.5 seconds.

When I evaluate the base Cayman, the engine is a 2.7 liter flat 6 producing 275 HP. Acceleration from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds. So you can see performance in engines and efficiency have come a long way. The car is lighter, coming in at 2,888 lbs. So really, it would be a nearly equivalent performer, perhaps even better since it’s a mid-engine design.

The base price of a Cayman is $52,600 and the Cayman S, with an impressive 325 HP, is $63,800. Pushing over $50K on a car is a bit much for me. But it gets worse. One you start to add options, and there are many very cool performance and driving experience options, the price starts going up fast. Porsche has a reputation for making a lot of options available but at quite a cost. It’s not unusual to add $15,000 or even $25,000 in options.

You can get totally absorbed for hours using Porsche’s automobile configurator found here:
Porsche Car Configurator

The 3D mode on that tool is addicting.

If you want to find a used Porsche, and for Caymans (and it’s convertible brother the Boxster) I’d not consider any before 2009. The reliability just went up quite a bit since then. For me the 981 model series of Cayman is the best and those began in 2013. The good news is now that 2015 cars are starting to arrive at the dealers, they are motivated to provide better discounts on their existing 2014 inventory on the lot. Porsche provides a really cool search tool to find the used Porsche you seek here:
Porsche Pre-Owned Vehicle Search

New cars that were demo models show up on this list too and you’d end up owning a car with a new title as the first owner if you find one of those.

From that link you can search the inventory at all the US Porsche dealers and see pictures and descriptions as well as prices. The smart choice is to select a car that has what Porsche calls “Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle”, aka CPO. This means the dealer has done an extensive inspection on the vehicle and in some cases brought it up to spec, so that Porsche can offer a 100,000 mile, 6 year warranty on the car. That’s pretty cool. You’d still have to pay for maintenance service but that warrants the car as if it were new. Actually, even better than the new car warranty does. Amazing.

So I’m currently dreaming about owning a Porsche again. It might be a while before I have the economic ability to “pull the trigger” but I’m learning a lot about the cars and studying reports and reviews. Unless I have some changes to my economics (like maybe adding $20K per year) it is only a fantasy right now. But I’ve got my eyes open and working to one day maybe make this possible and purchase my last Porsche before too long. I figure whatever Porsche I select I’ll probably hang onto it for a long time. The VW I’m driving right now, which I actually enjoy quite a bit, is 13 years old and has almost 140K miles on it.