AppForce1: news and info for iOS app developers

Daniel Jalkut, podcast host and business owner.

March 04, 2021
AppForce1: news and info for iOS app developers
Daniel Jalkut, podcast host and business owner.
Show Notes Transcript

Daniel Jalkut owns and runs Red Sweater Software. He also hosts the Core Intuition podcast together with Manton Reece.

Daniel was an Apple employee at some point during his career. In this episode we go through his experience starting and growing as a software developer.

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Jeroen Leenarts:

Hi, and welcome to another special edition with Daniel Jacobs. He is someone that I know from quite a few years back already, he was the keynote speaker of the first conference that I organized many, many years ago. And the reason that I want to have him as a keynote speaker back then, is because he has a very interesting backstory. And he does very cool stuff as a software developer, actually. And we'll definitely take into that. So hi, Daniel.

Daniel Jalkut:

Hi. Nice to be here. Thanks for having me.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So how are you doing today?

Daniel Jalkut:

We're recording this on December, December. What where's my sense of time on January 20 2021. So for probably just about everybody in the world will remember that date if you hear this recently. So the date of the presidential inauguration in the United States, so we've had a transition of power. And if that makes me sound a little bit more upbeat in my tone of voice, then maybe some of you at least will understand why

Jeroen Leenarts:

that's probably something that you're gonna dig into. With a lot of detail in in your own podcast, I reckon.

Daniel Jalkut:

Yeah, more, you know, probably not because we, amazingly enough, we managed to steer pretty clear of political issues. Sometimes we just can't help it, you know, when he was elected. Four years ago, we just sort of had like, a moment of like, What the heck just happened, and then and then move on. But, you know, even though Mantan lease, my co host on Korean tuition is also very active and interested in political issues. We just sort of, generally just, we assume that even though a lot of our audience might be interested in it, it's not really what they came for. And, you know, try to respect that, you know, similarly, like, I just, if I'm hanging out with my friends, I might use a lot of profanity. I don't use a lot of profanity on my podcast, I kind of try to meet people in the middle there, where they want to be communicated with, you know,

Jeroen Leenarts:

being sensible never hurt anybody. Right. Yeah, I

Daniel Jalkut:

hope so. Well,

Jeroen Leenarts:

okay. Um, yeah, you mentioned Manson already. That's your co host on the core intuition podcast. And also that he's somewhat politically and other areas that are relevant to that engaged, it shows in some of the work that he does, for instance, microdot blog. But how did you imagine actually get started with core intuition? It's funny, I

Daniel Jalkut:

can't really remember why he and I chose to do a podcast together. I can't remember whether it was his idea or my idea. I knew at the time, I'm pretty sure we got to know each other. Like so many people back then did it was around 2007 or so that we started the podcast? No, 2008, I think. And at that time, folks who are old enough, or were in the scene long enough to remember, will know, and remember that we basically all got together and chatted on IRC, that was like one of the most popular ways for technophiles, nerds, programmers, whatever to get together and chat. So I knew Manton somehow, I think through one of these, like, there was a Mac software business IRC channel as I recall. And I don't know why we ended up. It's, it's funny because I'm good friends with Manton after all this time, but I can't remember how close friends we were at the time we started. It's just been too long. It has been now 12 years since we started that show. Kind of an amazing run. But I remember even though I don't remember exactly how we started it, I remember, I remember why we started it. And it was at that time, believe it or not, it's so normal now. In fact, some would say to normal for two white guys to chat online about computers. At that time, we felt there really wasn't any podcast going that was just talking about, like the business of you know, trying to get your Indie software business going. And so the name of our podcast core intuition was sort of a play on the Apple documentation of that era was all based on different frameworks called core this or core that they still do that obviously to some extent, but back then, you know, there was Core Data Core animation. The one of the frameworks I worked out on when I worked at Apple was core services. And so we just thought we would start a podcast that was not about it was overtly not about the technical aspects. And that's where the word intuition seemed to fit because, you know, intuition is not a scientifically provable, kind of, you know, measurable thing like, you can measure the lines of code you have, you can measure the, you know, computational order of your algorithms, but you can't really measure your intuition. And we kind of liked the idea of there being kind of a reference for this a morphus idea of going out in the world and trying to make your own software company.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay, so, you mentioned that core intuition was started, because of the indie mindset that menten. And you shared, everything that the both of you do is based somewhat on Apple technologies, I think. So what actually led you to that point in time that you mentioned, decided, okay, we're going to start this a lot must have happened before that. So I'd like to like take you back. Like, I don't know how many years, the Wayback Machine. That's press rewind. So how old were you when you grew an interest in stuff with computers?

Daniel Jalkut:

Well, so my I was born in 1975, just to set the frame of reference for the age I was when, you know, you start thinking about these things. And I was also born to a father who was a computer programmer. So I credit him with getting exposed to stuff. You know, actually, in the very earliest years, that I can remember, my parents were separated, and I wasn't living with him. But one time, he came and visited us, and he brought me a Timex Sinclair 1000. Which, for folks who know what the what the Speak and Spell toy is like, this is an American toy, at least I don't know how, how worldwide it became. It's kind of like a little toy where you press pressure activated buttons, the keypad is all pressure based. And Timex and the Sinclair company in the UK, I think, kind of came out with this ultra simple computer that you could plug into a TV, and you could record your files onto a tape player, you just plugged in with the audio cable into the into the Timex and my dad gave me this computer and a couple basic magazines, and like so many people at that time, the way you learned, you know, for younger folks who might be listening, you probably know there wasn't internet. At this point, there really wasn't even things like online services like CompuServe, or things like that. And there really wasn't there, you know, to no significant way was there any big BBs culture, either yet this was like, say 1981 82, or something. And so you so what many of us from that era, remember, growing up as little kids with very rudimentary computers is you would get these magazines that would have printed printouts of BASIC programs that you would type in line by line, and inevitably make a mistake, and it wouldn't work. And unfortunately, we didn't have the skills to actually solve it. Or at least I didn't have the skills most of the time. But it was the what, you know, it was my introduction to computers. And the idea that my dad sat me down and talk me through the idea of flow control, basically, I didn't know it was called that then. But when I think back to it, I think, Oh, well, my dad actually taught me the basics of flow control as like a six year old. And then what's funny is for many, many years after that he didn't teach me anything about computers. He was just kind of like, you know, do your own thing go off? And do you want to play games, play games, do whatever you want. He wasn't managing me to become a programmer. But I think having that very early exposure kind of made me comfortable in a way that some people aren't.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And I still remember that myself as well, because I got started on a Sinclair aesthetic spectrum. So yeah, that was like my, my dad had this small black box with these nice colors on the corner, and these rubbery keyboards, and at some point, he upgraded the machine, which basically involved screwing the thing apart, taking logic boards out putting it in a in a bigger enclosure, which had a proper keyboard, and apparently it could do more than and what I also remember that was that at night, radio programs would be available that actually broadcasted computer programs over the airwaves at night. So if you knew a specific time and date that there was a program that you wanted to have there was like short lead in with some instructions on what it was. And then you could would like, record it with a tape recorder. And then you could the next day, once it was recorded, you could put it in the tape deck of your set expectrum and play it back and then actually program the machine.

Daniel Jalkut:

Wow, that's something I didn't know about. I don't know, if they were doing that anywhere in the United States, they, they definitely, were not doing that. Where I was. The funny thing too, though, was I was in a very rural part of California where there weren't many computers, the only computers anybody had were in the, in the elementary school, you know, so they had like, maybe, maybe one computer for the whole school. But that's so cool. You know, and that's another thing that I think people who didn't grow up in that era don't realize how kind of simple so many of these things were, you know, what you're describing, you know, for folks who don't know or remember, like, you'll see on an old fashioned movie when they have a modem, it's literally like a phone handset, the you pop onto what was called a coupler, an acoustic coupler. And yeah, it probably was the same kind of sound that you heard over the radio when they're transmitting this stuff. But that's really, that's really fun, you know, so I'm really, it's really fun to think about. But I'm so glad now that I can just go Google for answers, you know, or StackOverflow, or go to GitHub and search everybody's source code, I mean, the things we have access to now, you know, if you're, if you're growing up in this environment, you're just so much better prepared to, to be able to absorb everything.

Jeroen Leenarts:

I agree. That's, it's, it's a game changer, that we actually, were able to create this global internet thing. Just actually, if you dig into it a little bit, it's a miracle that it actually works if you ask me. But, um, so yeah, you you, your dad's, he basically planted the seeds, when you were really young, then you went off to do all kinds of other things that young kids do play, play video games, go to high school, probably at some point. So when did the computer book come back again, to you?

Daniel Jalkut:

Yeah, I just had, I really always loved using my computers, but I didn't program them substantially, all the way, at least until I was 16 or so. So I spent a lot of those years I like to, I like to say this too, because, you know, it's, it's kind of like, so many different, so many different endeavors that people associate with practice. And like early exposure, like, you look like, you know, somebody who's played plays piano really well, or a gymnast or something, people often or you know, ballet dance, ice skating people associate, you know, this sort of, kind of almost necessity to be exposed to at a very young age in order to excel to really excel at it. So I like to point out that I even though I had that luck of the early exposure, it's not like I was spending my childhood programming. It was really an you mentioned High School, it's, I have a kind of a funny history, because, you know, I was kind of a little bit of an oddball kid, as a lot of us were and I made it to high school, but I only made it through one full year of high school. So in the United States, we have ninth grade is the first year of high school. It goes 910 1112. And I quit after the first couple months of 10th grade. So I was 15 years old. And the law said, you know, you can't go to junior college. Community College is kind of like a alternative to going straight to university. You can't go there until you're 16. But anyway, I won't I won't go too deep into that story. But I ended up kind of getting into a college track. I did go to community college, and I got into a college track where I went, by the time I was 16 or so I really I was taking computer programming classes. And so that's what finally got me back into it was really being like, Okay, I'm kind of dropping out of high school here. Do I want to be do I want and I wanted to prove to my parents that I wasn't just going to be a high school dropout. So I wanted to I wanted I wanted to get away from high school, but I wanted to get a college degree. So I started working towards that. And when it came down to it, I thought you know what, I've always had an easy time with computers. So to me going with computers was the easy way out, even though I didn't know what challenges I was going to face as a as a real programmer. So I started learning I think my first programming class was Pascal in when I was about 16. And I was funny at that time, I wasn't into Apple things at all I had. My dad worked on compilers, and he wasn't really hooked into the PC world either. But he really wasn't hooked into Macs. He was into all these different machines. Like when I was growing up, we had a Kaypro. We had a megas Commodore Amiga has. And then at one point, I got really into Unix because this now by the time I was 14 1516, internet was available to me, it was I grew up in Santa Cruz, California, and the UC there, the University of California has a pretty strong internet kind of culture. And I got hooked up with folks there. So I was on the internet really young. And where was I going with this? I lost my train of thought, but oh, the reason? You know, I sort of got like, I had reasons to learn to program suddenly that were like, Hey, I'm hooked up with the Internet. I've got all these friends who are going to UC Santa Cruz. And oh, yeah, but Right, I was saying I didn't use a Mac. I didn't use anything apple. And it was actually a friend of mine through that scene, who worked at Apple. And he worked on the QuickTime team at Apple. And he introduced me to the Mac. And as soon as I saw it, I was like, oh, man, I got to get one of these things. And I think I was still actually about 17 or so. And I got my parents to, to buy me a power book duo 210, which, for people who don't remember was an Apple Mac, that was designed to be able to dock into a larger case, kind of funny, it's kind of like you're describing with the Zed x the upgrading it by putting it into a bigger case or something. But this was just a laptop that you could push into like a toaster oven. A case that gave it a you know, all the stuff all the accessories and the monitor and all that. I couldn't afford that. So I just got the duo 210 without all the other stuff in the hopes that I would one day be able to plug it into something. And I started programming the Mac on this duo that had grayscale only. And I wrote and shipped my first game for the Mac with colored graphics that I had never seen. Because I painted them in like the paint program. Based on you know, you could set the color. And so it said blue, but I didn't know what it looked like. And I programmed this game. And then I remember the first time I got to play it on another person's color Mac. I was like, oh, that's what my game looks like.

Jeroen Leenarts:

That was a good one. So but that's actually what got you interested in developing software for the for the Apple ecosystem? Because you spent quite a number of years at Apple itself if I am correct, yeah. Did that like happen after you finished your work on getting a college degree or so what what happened? Yeah, because those points in time,

Daniel Jalkut:

I guess the, I guess the consistent theme in my life is always being a little anxious to move on to the next thing. So I did end up finishing my degree. I went to a community college in Santa Cruz called Cabrillo College. And then I went transferred from there to UC Santa Cruz. But as I was working at UC Santa Cruz, or not working as I was going to school, towards the end, I was maybe about a year away from graduating, I started looking into Apple. And a friend of mine, another friend of mine worked at Apple, but she worked at Apple through a contract agency. And she said, you know, they're they're looking for quality assurance testers. And I said, Well, I don't really know anything I actually had just gotten my Mac was like, I don't really know much about this thing. And she said just go and interview and, and we'll see how it goes. And I went and interviewed at this place. And they were like so How much experience do you have with the Mac? And I was like, Oh, well enough. Just don't answer anything directly. I wasn't going to tell them I had my Mac for two months, you know already. But they asked me a few questions. And now I remember because the one of the questions they asked me was how do you debug? If you have a bug that's crashing a Mac? How do you find out what's causing it and I knew enough at the time to know that they had this system on the classic Mac's called extensions, system extensions. And I knew enough from my computer science training to know about like binary search. And so I explained to them how I would, you know, basically do a binary search, disabling half of the extensions, rebooting, disabling half again, half again. And apparently they were so impressed with that idea that they thought I must be a very experienced computer, you know, a quality assurance tester. And they gave me a job. So I worked at Apple as a as a contract tester for a year or two, before I ended up getting a job there full time.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So but how did you make the switch from quality assurance to software development, and

Daniel Jalkut:

it was great, because I, so at Apple at the time, they had this. It's funny, it sounds like something straight out of authoritarian film, it sounds like something from Brazil or, you know, the movie Brazil or something. They had a huge department that was called, I think it was called Central quality.

Jeroen Leenarts:

That's like the 9084 commercial.

Daniel Jalkut:

Right? Exactly, I think it was, I'm Hope I'm not miss remembering that I think it was called Central quality. And that's where most of the testing happened. And there was like a giant testing organization in Cupertino, and a giant testing organization in Cork, Ireland. And, and then there were these rare testing opportunities, which is what I ended up chancing into, which was an embedded QA tester on an engineering team. And so I ended up working in the system seven engineering team. So separate, I was completely separate from the quality assurance, you know, infrastructure, and I learned later that people would start in quality assurance, something like Central quality, and, and just, you know, work for years trying to figure out how to get over to the engineering department, which is where I had luckily landed. So once I was there, doing this QA job, I just put on the full force, you know, trying to impress people. I was really young, I was only 20 years old at the time. And I ended up trying, um, you know, what, when I started the QA stuff, I was actually 18 Still, and so I actually got hired as an engineer when I was 20. But from 18 to 20, I basically laid it on thick, just like, you know, if you can imagine a young kid just trying to show off as much as possible. I was, you know, trying to figure out bugs and like, disassemble the code to figure out where the bug was. And they got the message, I don't know, they luckily, they didn't think it was too annoying. They got the message and great managers in that area, decided to give me like an informal kind of mentor within the group. And so this mentor basically gave me really challenging exercises to do. And after a few months of that, an opening came up on the on the team and I applied for it. And I mean, I have to assume that my familiarity with the job helped, you know, I knew some of the people I was going to be working with, it was kind of like an inside hire in that sense, even though officially, I didn't work for Apple at that point.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So then, you worked at at Apple for quite a while. Can you tell us a little bit about the general topics that you worked on? Or is that still covered by?

Daniel Jalkut:

No, yeah, I can talk generally about it. And it's funny, because I did feel like I had worked at Apple for quite a while when I left Apple, but I left Apple in 2002. So now I'm 18 years old, I guess, coming up on 19 years out of working at Apple. And I was officially hired in 1996. So I really worked for Apple and another era. Nowadays. It's cool, because, you know, there are a good number of people still at Apple who worked there when I did. It's a company that retains people sometimes for 20 3040 years. But that was one of the reasons when in 2002 I guess I was about 27 I decided I just wanted to make sure I didn't spend my whole life at Apple. I know it sounds like a dream to some people, but when you're lucky enough to end up at Apple when you're, you know 18 to 20 then by the time almost 10 years pass sort of wonder like what else is out there? Yeah. And yeah, so um Even though it did, I did work there for a long time, by now being 45 Now, it just feels like the beginning of my career, you know, and I forgot what you were asking originally, but I kind of

Jeroen Leenarts:

know, just general topics that you work on within apple.

Daniel Jalkut:

Oh, right. Right. Right. Right. So yeah, I started off. I went off on the tangent there about the timing. But yeah, I started off, like I said, in the system, seven teams. So actually, the team I was working on was responsible for system updates. And anybody who was a Mac user back then in the 90s, you might remember, there was a system folder on the Mac. And it came with a system file was a little cute little Mac, happy Mac icon, it said system file. And updates came in the form of this other file called a system enabler. And that was the kind of stuff I worked on was the system enabler, it was it was all mostly bug fixes. So to give you some perspective back, the reason there's this thing called a system file, is back then, when they made a new computer, they put as much of the OS as they could, on a ROM chip. That was the system file, basically. And over time, they sort of stopped doing that, I guess, it just became like, the advantages were, you know, so like, way back when they would ship the system file in this thing called the system or they ship the ROM. And this thing called the system enabler, would add features, patch out functions, augment the built in OSS with code that was loaded from disk, but everything else was still in ROM. And so basically, there was this whole team there whose job it was to make updates to the ROM, and we even called it the ROM, after Apple stopped shipping it on ROM chips after. So at some point, they just shipped the system file as a file. And I saw this tower, remember it, and we call that the wrong, even though it wasn't, and then our stuff was, you know, patches. At that time, I also worked on the memory Control Panel, which was this little program, you'd run to tweak your RAM and virtual memory settings. And then about half hour about how halfway through my career at Apple, I, you know, I was there when very shortly after I got hired full time. Next, Apple acquired next, and Steve Jobs came back to become CEO. So I saw what I thought was the writing on the wall as far as Mac OS 10 was going to be coming. And at that time, if you took a random person at Apple, who anybody really, and you ask them, what's the future of the Mac, probably half of them would say, Mac OS eight, Mac OS nine, whatever is going to come next. And half of them would say mac os 10, there wasn't an agreement, it took a long time for this agreement to happen. And but at that time, I saw mac os 10. And I thought this is definitely the future coming from somebody who was so interested in the Mac and loved the Mac and wanted to work on the system, work on you know, system 789. As soon as I saw Mac OS 10 It was kind of perfect for me, because I had spent all those years I forgot to mention one of my computers along the way was a I bought myself a son three workstation for home. So I was very steeped in Unix and internet II stuff. So then when I when I made the switch to Apple, I loved it, but I kind of missed all that geeky command line stuff. So then to see Mac OS 10 was like everything I loved about the Mac, almost everything. And then really everything I loved about Unix all in one package. So I really lobbied hard to my management to get me transferred. And I had to I had to try to fight to get transferred. Particularly because the divisions were so separate, that it was like a different vice president of the company. And there was a little bit of territorial ism at that time, like one vice president didn't want to lose their developer to another vice president is kind of like a kingdom. But I managed to get get my way ultimately. And that switched over to the iOS 10 team. And I worked for a few years there on on what's called core services. And this is really all this stuff that's like File Manager Event Manager meaning of the event. Yeah, the event manager was maybe a little bit more in the AI toolbox. File Manager I worked on for a long time that I worked on the stuff that specifically supported older Mac apps from OS nine running natively on iOS 10. So we accommodated that with

Jeroen Leenarts:

the initial Rosetta. Yeah. All right. Well,

Daniel Jalkut:

it wasn't that. So there was that was different. So no, no, that was carbon. Well, well, I'll lay it out a little bit. So you're, you're reminding me Yes. This is not what I worked on. But something that was very valuable that did let older apps run on Mac OS 10 was called the blue box. And it was it was a it was basically the whole classic Mac iOS in an app. And when you double clicked an app for Mac OS classic, it would actually launch this app. That was the blue box. So he's what we call it internally. And that would host the Mac App natively, essentially. But then, separately from that, there was like he said, there was this. So yeah, the blue box was good for running apps that were not carbon. And carbon was a library, that was basically taking all of the old stuff from the Mac MacOS classic, that could be adapted to Mac OS 10. And porting it over, and then maybe filling in the gaps where things needed to be changed. So basically, though, to make a library that would let you run a loop that would let you recompile. So it wasn't like Rosetta, the blue box was more like Rosetta, the carbon library was more like, you know, having a now like an in one version of the same frameworks we already use. But then separately from that, there was a different shared library technology on Mac OS 10. We all use it now. It's called dy LD. And back in the day of classic Mac, we use something called CFM, which is the code fragment manager. And anyway, long story short, one of the things I worked on early on Mac OS 10 was CFM. ported to Mac OS 10. So that you could have one library, one app, say you had Photoshop, you could have one app compiled to run with carbon libraries. On Mac OS nine, classic CI, since it's a CFM library, it runs there. And then on Mac OS 10, with the stuff I was working on, was would load the CFM libraries from the classic app and run it natively on Mac OS 10. I'm getting getting off the deep end. So these are things I don't talk about on my own podcast because they too technical.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, but what is interesting is that it seems to you and probably a lot of other engineers that were working at Apple at the time, were part of the transition from classic to Yes, oh, it's 10 I guess, and actually should say OS X. And we

Daniel Jalkut:

say, Oh, it's 10. Okay, we never we never say X. Okay, not insight. Well, when I say we I mean apple, but it's been a long time. 18 years, like I said, But no, we never said x inside.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay, so that's so that's marketing for you. Yeah. So at some points, you transitioned out of Apple. What's that? Like? As you already mentioned, it was a decision because you started wondering, what else is out there? Besides working at Apple for my entire life? How did you get to the point to actually jump ship? Because right, right now the office is pretty much like a big ship. Spaceship. Right? So how did you come to the conclusion? To to leave apple and what did you transition yourself into when you left Apple?

Daniel Jalkut:

Well, you know, I loved being an Apple employee I loved I really loved the place at the time, I was working at the big campus before the current one called infinite loop and I just loved walking around. It felt like, you know, when you get hired at Apple, you get a badge that if you hold it up to a door, it just opens. I know this is common in most workplaces now. But it just felt like such a cool place to be able to go and walk around. And so I was really, like, really felt associated with my identity to work there. But I think a couple things were starting to build up on me. One is as I've kind of come to learn, I'm not really a great like long term employee, I think, because I just want to go do something else. And in the little things that people who are good at working in companies, I think learn to sort of just accept, I have a harder time accepting, like this little things like just the hierarchical nature of most companies. You know, and I'm not saying this to like to, to speak down about Apple, I think all companies are like this more or less. It's just, you know, you have that aspect of it, where it's like, you're trying to please your manager, and they're trying to please their manager, and everybody's framing everything in a certain way to make their stuff look good. And I didn't, I was starting to get annoyed by that. And at the same time, I like I said, I sort of, I sort of felt like, I wonder what else is out there. And I just didn't, I didn't know if I would spend another, you know, 20 years there, and then feel like whoops, I made a mistake. Um, now, to be honest with you, there have been times over the years where of course, I look back, and I wonder, did I make a mistake by leaving? Because, you know, if I would have stayed at Apple for the past 20 years, there's no, there's no saying what I might have been able to do. I left before the iPhone existed. You know, so many cool things that they work on. Now. It's funny, when I left, I sort of thought, Well, now's a good time to leave. This is 2002, I thought now's a good time to leave, because apples basically finished mac os 10. So that was my perspective, seeing it from such an early state, you know, I was like, this is basically done. So there was that. And then there was the fact that I had a lingering fear that in college, I had studied the wrong thing. And like I said, earlier, I picked computers because I thought they'd be easy. And they were easier for me than some things would be. But I always sort of wondered, should I have taken music or something that I maybe had a little bit maybe maybe that would be harder for me, but but also maybe than that way more fulfilling. And I realized I was in this lucky position, I didn't have you know, any kids, I had saved up a good amount of money from working at Apple. I had a pretty cheap apartment, in that saying something for, you know, living in San Francisco at the time. And I just thought, you know what, I can try this, I can try just going back to school. So I went back to school to get a music degree. And I was really unsure whether I would go back to Apple after that I in fact, I kind of thought I would go back to Apple so much that at the Apple fitness center, they have this really cool perk, which is you can get a locker and this was back then I don't know if they're still doing this or not. But back then you could get a locker. And part of the deal was if he got a locker, when you're done working out at the gym, you put all of your dirty laundry in a little mesh bag. And then when you come back the next day, your laundry is clean, and it's in your locker. So this is a really cool perk, but because it was so cool, you had to get on a waiting list if you wanted to get it. So I had this I had to go cancel my locker when I was leaving the company. I said, Is there anything against getting on the waiting list? If you're not an employee? They said I don't know. I don't think so. So I said okay, well, here's my locker key. And I want to get back on the waiting list. Because I thought if I came back in two years, that would be just about perfect timing that I could get. Get back into my locker at the fitness center.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So, but then at some point you did your music degree. Successful, I imagine yet. Any specific topics that you studied on with this degree?

Daniel Jalkut:

Yeah, well, it's funny. I kind of credit a lot of my interesting things I've done in my life with not really knowing I wasn't supposed to do that thing. And I say that because I didn't really have a musical aptitude but I went to music school anyway. I actually hit hit some roadblocks because to go to this music program. I went to San Francisco State. You were supposed to be capable with an instrument and Even though I played some guitar as like a hobby, I wasn't really capable with anything in a music school way. So I sort of just like, really just studied and tried really hard to teach myself piano. And I ended up getting into this this music program. It took me about three years to finish because I had to do, I had to, I had to catch up on some stuff. But yeah, I got in, and I successfully got through this program. And then by the time I was done, I had met the woman who's now my wife, and was a time in San Francisco, where it was just starting to feel like, I don't know, the culture of the tech companies and everything was not not making us happy anymore. So we decided to make a big move from San Francisco to Boston, where we now live. And that was now almost, you know, that was 15 years ago. So I've been out here for a while. But that point, that's when I knew I wasn't just going to go back and get my get my locker at the Apple fitness center.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Did you ever take yourself off of the waiting list?

Daniel Jalkut:

Or? No, I think they probably just got to it eventually realized, you know, I think there was the risk all along that if I wasn't there, when my name came up, that I would just get dropped. So I'm sure I'm sure I'm off of the list for many years now. And I don't even know if they still do that service. I should ask some people at Apple if they do, because it was really a deluxe service for, you know, a work. Work fitness center.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay. So yeah, you mentioned that you moved to Boston. But what did you do? workwise, then because, obviously, you were when you move to Boston, you were together with your now wife? Mm hmm. And you had to generate some sort of income, I guess. Because,

Daniel Jalkut:

yeah, I mean, the lucky thing was, we had no kids yet. And we ended up stumbling into a fairly low rent apartment. So it wasn't very high pressure to make a lot of money. But I did have to make some money. And I ended up doing, that's when I ended up well, actually, towards the tail end of my second degree, the music degree, I started working as a consultant as a, as a contractor, I opened my own business, that's when actually I officially opened red sweater software. I've got my first bank account with the business name. Because I had gotten this contract job that was like a big upfront payment. And I was like, wow, I got to put this in somewhere, this should go into a bank, and I made my business account. And then that was kind of the start of thinking about the possibility of running my own business. So I did contract work for several companies, both in San Francisco and then actually kept one, one of my biggest clients I kept when we moved to Boston. So there was a little bit of a bridge there. I got some new clients in Boston, and did that for a couple years. That was you know, starting in 2005, in Boston, and then around 2007 is when I decided to quit all the contracting. And I started working full time on on apps. So that was when I acquired Mars edit, and black ink, two of my Mac apps. And I've been working on them now ever since. So that's a long stint, too. It's been 13 years on those apps. And over those years, I've had highs and lows. been, you know, mostly successful, like I said, back at the beginning, it was really a lot easier because I didn't have kids or mortgage or anything. And then over the years, we had a couple kids ended up moving a couple times. So our rent wasn't as as low and then we ended up buying a house. And now between kids and the house and all these other things, you know, here in the United States, of course, it's it's embarrassing, and it's it's pathetic, really as a country, but we have to if you don't have a regular job, you have to pay a substantial amount of money for health care. So just to blow people's minds, I usually am open with the fact that these days I probably pay about $20,000 US per per year and In health care premiums. So that's the kind of thing where you start thinking, I got to make some more money. And so I was doing pretty well at the contracting. But then, actually, just a few years ago, or just now a couple years ago, I started working kind of on, I don't know, contracting for years and years and years. And then a couple years ago, I started working at a company, four days a week. Now I'm working for another company, sort of not sure where this is going. But it's kind of like a chance to catch my breath and have some stable income. And it was especially nice to have this job when the pandemic hit, because I think a lot of us were wondering, like, what's going to happen. And even within this job, I wondered what would happen, but you know, that their business stayed consistent. So they're able to keep me. And it's been nice over the past year to have regular money coming in, because for the last 18 years, except for these past two years, I have always wondered from day to day, week to week and month to month how much money I'm going to make. And it's mostly been based on, you know, how many sponsorships we sell for the, for the core intuition podcast, and how many copies of my apps people buy.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Now, because your apps are still one time purchase, right? That's right. So whenever you do like big upgrades. And that happens quite infrequently, I think, yes, especially for me. Yeah. And it's that then people can, can throw more money at your

Daniel Jalkut:

product. Yeah, I should do more paid upgrade.

Jeroen Leenarts:

What is interesting is that you actually got into the Indie development, lifestyle, so to speak, by building up a cash reserve as a contract worker, and then actually buying a product that's already available out there that somebody else actually developed. To some extent, or actually, it was a successful product already.

Daniel Jalkut:

It was, it was pretty well known, even though it was an AI speaking of Mars at it here, because it's far more well known and established app, black ink the app, the other app was actually also an acquisition, it was an app that wasn't as well known, but it was, it was still liked by its user base was called Mac X word at the time. But Mars that it really was like, I was kind of going all in on Mars at it. And I did have some savings from my contract work. But you know, the way that that deal was structured, I think I only had to give them something like 5000 to $10,000. upfront, and then there was a kind of a profit sharing, revenue sharing deal for a few years. So that's a really nice way when you have when you have a company like in that case, the company that sold it to me, was big enough, they had already acquired it, because there was a company that acquired net newswire, also from Brent Simmons of ranchero, software and Mars that it was just a little tiny thing, they didn't care about it, it was just like, you know, so let's just sell it. And it didn't matter to them, whether they got all the money at once or not. So it's a nice arrangement, when you have a company that doesn't really need the money. And a buyer like me, it's just an indie solo developer. It's a fair deal for both sides.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Because it sounds it sounds like the company that sold to Mars edits. They were better off by freeing up the engineering resources that was working on his products, and utilizing those people on other ventures.

Daniel Jalkut:

But I don't think in fact, I don't think they even really had anybody on engineering, they did have somebody doing quality, or, you know, customer support for it. But yeah, they were better off and they also weren't going to sell much more of it, because they weren't putting any work into it. And so by selling it to me for fairly low amount up front, they did end up making quite a bit of money. You know, not maybe probably not that significant on their scale, but it was significant to me. Yeah, because I was sending them I think it was I forget and I don't want to like I'm not like, you know, divulging exact terms, but it was something like maybe half, half and half for a period of time. So when that period of time was over, I was really psyched because, you know, it was it was nice. It was basically doubling my money from Mars at it when Got all the revenue, but they made a lot of money off of it in the long run from from those time periods when, because I put all this new work into it and it did better sales then, you know, at least ever done on their on their time.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And you mentioned that after having, I think quite a successful run with marsedit and black ink that you've decided, I think you said two years ago to pick up being an employee, again.

Daniel Jalkut:

Yeah, more or less. I'm an independent contractor, but it's a fixed time commitment. Okay, so it's pretty good. It's a pretty good arrangement for me, because it, I mean, that the the downside of being a contract is that, like I mentioned, I still have to pay for my own health care. But the, the nice thing is, it still gives me a lot of room to work on my own stuff. And you know, I still have a lot of flexibility in my schedule, even though I have a time commitment to them. So it's a good compromise. I don't really think I want to do this for the same thing. Same reason I didn't want to do Apple for the rest of my life. I don't think I want to do this for the rest of my life. But it's nice to have a sort of safe resting place. Yeah,

Jeroen Leenarts:

it allows you to, first of all, by a stroke of luck, maybe to get yourself and your family through this whole pandemic year without too much financial hassle, which is, which is very fortunate. Yes. I've heard stories for people who have who have been off waivers. And it allows you to, to refocus yourself on what's next. Maybe so what do you want to do at maybe, maybe it's one month, maybe it's one year? Maybe it's like five years out? Still? But yeah, so actually have those discussions with Manson, because I think you probably also talk to him a lot about these topics offline. And just find your way with what you want to do next with red sweater software.

Daniel Jalkut:

Yeah, I mean, that's funny, that's exact topic that came up on the last episode of core intuition. I think because I've been thinking, because it's coming up on an anniversary of this two years working for this company. And I always start thinking on anniversaries, you know, like, Well, how long do I want to do this? But yeah, and I had to admit to him, I don't really know what I want to do. And so I kind of have to be on in this mode, where I have to be ready, like, keep your ears tuned, keep your eyes open, to recognize when the thing that you know, I think we all have this, this experience at some point in our lives, where you notice that something is actually the thing you really want to do, at least right now. And it's unfortunate when that happens to people, and they don't have any choice in the matter. Like they have to keep working at their job, or they, you know, they can't quit school, or they, you know, whatever, they would need to move to another country or state and they can't do that. So I feel very fortunate now that I kind of feel annoyed that I don't know what that thing is. But I feel fortunate that if that thing becomes obvious to me, there's nothing to stop me from from doing it, you know, because

Jeroen Leenarts:

Because listening to you for well, it's already close to an hour. What I noticed is that what happens a lot in your professional life is that you stumble, sometimes you keep going. That's I think one of your character traits that really helps you out. But then once there's something that passes by that grabs your attention, and that you think like hey, that's something that I can can latch on to and and, and chase and really go deep, so to speak. Yeah, it's it does like this, it seems that there's this laser focus appears in your work ethic and the way that you pursue this goal that you then set for yourself.

Daniel Jalkut:

Yes, yeah. I think that that's, um, you know, a lot of us programmers have either diagnosed or undiagnosed elements of sort of attention disorders. And I'm not diagnosed with any of those things, but I sort of, I feel like I understand and maybe have some of the same kinds of behaviors. And especially when it comes to this phenomenon of either being, like 100% distracted or 100% focused And I think a lot of us have that experience. And when I'm in the distracted mode, it's like, well, I'll work on 100 different things in a day, I thrive on the diversity of things I work on, you know, want to work on? Well, I want to learn Flexbox in HTML, no, I'm done with that. Now, let me learn, you know, Swift UI and done with that, no, let me learn how to, I always wanted to know how to, you know, repair a fence. So I'm gonna go watch some YouTube videos. And then, and then like you say, then you get the one thing you want to work on. And maybe it'll be like a new feature in an app or something, but then I'll work on that for six days straight. And until it's done, and it is a kind of a blessing and a curse to have that. Some moments, you just want to work on everything and nothing at once. And then other moments is just one thing.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So and what is your family notice? When you're like, completely laser focused on one topic? Is that something that they noticed when you're in this kind of state when working?

Daniel Jalkut:

Well, it's funny, because for many years now, I've been very lucky to have my own office. And I mostly don't encounter my family when I'm working. And so the compromise is, mostly they don't come to see me in my office, unless there's something really important. And, you know, I see them when I go out and get a coffee or something, but and then the other compromise is, when I was younger, I would work whenever I wanted, day or night, and I still, you know, I still work quite a bit outside of business hours. But the time that I'm in my office is pretty, it's pretty strictly sadness. I have, you know, ever since we had kids, you know, even in this pandemic, timeframe, my kids have school hours. And so we're waking up with them, get them going for the day. And then I basically stopped working in my office at about 6pm every day. And so they don't see as much of the of the focus, but I'm sure if you asked them, I still bring my laptop. And I'm sure if you ask them they would say that I'm but I think they would just say I'm always in my in another world when I'm like tapped into the computer, I think, probably a lot of us that way, even if you're not laser focused on something, even if you're just browsing the web, you have that look of a zombie as you're, as you're fixed on the screen.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. But you're still figuring out what you want to do like, in the next decade. By the sound of it, when I listen to core intuition, I think you'll figure it out. Because I've been a longtime listener of your podcast, and it do show what's going on with you yourself as a person throughout the years. So what what issues you're facing what things you were dealing with, what challenges you actually have, what successes you actually had. And I really liked that part of your podcast with Manson.

Daniel Jalkut:

Thank you. Yeah, that's one of the things about our show that from the beginning, we thought was going to make it unique. I think it does make it unique. And I think a lot of times people just don't know what to expect about it. Because it's not that easy to me, you summarized it very well. But it's not that easy to say, you know, it's a show or we get emotional about any software. Now, maybe that's a good summary.

Jeroen Leenarts:

It's true that you do show that something is challenging, but you never end up listening to your podcast with Manson and then feel weepy at the end yourself so to speak, which is I think, a good thing because most people that listen to a podcast for a longer duration so that's a lot of episodes. They're really I think they they grow attached in some way to the characters that are part of the podcast, basically, like any good television television show, really. But I do want to like start closing things down a bit. In hindsight, looking back, if you would be able to talk to your younger self at any point during these decades that you've been working what was the advice that you wish you could have given yourself?

Daniel Jalkut:

Oh, geez, I don't know. I don't I don't know if I have the right mindset to to to evaluate, like, what did I do? You're basically saying like, what did I do? That I would do differently? I think. And like I said, I've had misgivings about it over the years. But I think, I think maybe there's a little bit about. Well, there's a couple things if you thought this was going to be an easy question.

Jeroen Leenarts:

It's one of the harder ones actually. Yeah. So Well,

Daniel Jalkut:

here's the thing. You know, about this whole thing about what is it called? When you when you succeed at something, it's a bias when you? Yeah, we survivorship bias, I think, a bias that's a winner bias or survivorship bias. And it leads people to think that whatever choices they made, if they're in a relatively good, comfortable situation, now, they are happy with their life and glad that things turned out the way they did, then you just assumed all the decisions you made must have been the right ones. And so I don't want to fall victim to that. But I also don't know that there were, you know, I could have stayed at Apple, I could have chosen to go back to a regular job after. After my degree, I could have chosen not to get a second degree, I could have done all these things. I could have stayed in high school had a normal high school career. And I don't want to look at all those decisions through the bias, necessarily, but I also don't know that I would have been any better off to do it differently. So I you know, maybe it'll be easier. I think I think I have better I think I do have an easier answer to the question. With respect to just being a person and how to, like get through the world. Over I think I haven't had the best self esteem always in my life. And so even to this day, sometimes I'll catch myself at a low, a low point, and I have to kind of remind myself, you know, you're doing fine. And just, you know, keep doing what you're doing. And it's fine. And you're doing good enough. I guess, even though I feel like over the years, I did end up doing pretty bold things like asking to go work at Apple and quitting apple and going to music school, I would my advice for myself might be just to be even that much more willing to ask for what you want, you know, and just try it. And don't be afraid of other people saying, you know, it's not appropriate for you to do that. And I think that would be good advice to hear. Even though I think to a good extent I ended up doing that. Anyway, I think that if I had heard the advice more Am I do even might have done it even more.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay, well, that's a really good one, actually. Because I was asked this same question a while back as well. And I had to think about it really hard. And for me, the one thing that I came upon was that I stuck with my first job after getting my education for nine years. And and in hindsight, I would have told myself to trust my gut instinct more, just, you know, go with what your what your gut says. And basically, in my case, I should have stepped out of my first job a few years earlier, I think. But that's always in hindsight, quite easy to do, actually. Yeah. So I would that I wanted to wrap things up, Daniel, it was it was a blast actually listening to you, because I have an easy time as an interviewer.

Daniel Jalkut:

I know you get me going. I don't stop very easily.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So and I just wanted to say thanks for your time. And I'll make sure to link up all the stuff that we talked about, to the best of my abilities. Probably going to miss a few here and there. But the most important one, so I'll make sure to have my show notes. And definitely say hi to Manson for me, of course. Yeah. And best wishes to you and your family in the new United States.

Daniel Jalkut:

I know. Right? All right. Seriously, that's best of everything to you as well. I know. You know, nobody's having a super easy time of it. Through all of this and just just hope that hopefully we see more positive changes in leadership and in science and in you know, mask wearing vaccine administration. Oh boy, hopefully we'll all see each other again at a conference again, I'd love to get back to the Netherlands and hang out so hopefully I'll see you again in person before too

Jeroen Leenarts:

long. Yeah, not not like after like seven you So no update Daniel thanks for your time and hope to see you sometime in the future

Daniel Jalkut:

all right take care bye bye bye