Thinning


Last week I was in Amsterdam teaching a four day class on introduction to iOS 9.

I had a great time for three reasons.

First, Amsterdam is a great city. It is walkable and filled with friendly people, fantastic museums, beautiful views, and great food.

Second, the students in my class were a lot of fun. I prodded them to speak up - they were very quiet - but they were very smart as well. As I walked around a student here or there would show me something interesting they had done to extend what I was teaching.

Third, this particular client wanted the class taught in Objective-C. Most of my clients are asking for my Swift class. I love both languages and enjoyed spending the week back in the land of Objective-C.

Unfortunately, this meant that I would be away from home on the day the new iPhone 6s and 6s + shipped. I still get excited by the yearly releases. It's not just a phone - it's the home for the world I live in. It's the vessel for the apps my students will write.

One of the concepts I showed my students this year is how to prepare your app to look its best on different devices without requiring that their customers download huge files. Some devices use standard displays, some use retina displays with twice the resolution of the old displays, and the 6 + and 6s + use displays with three times the resolution. Apple now makes it easier for customers to just download the images they need for the device the app will run on.

In other words, it is easier for us to eliminate elements that our customers will never use.

I was thinking about that on the last leg of my journey home.

As we took off, United showed a safety video. Their CEO had been forced to resign recently and I was amazed at how quickly they had removed him from the safety video. He'd been removed from the video by the time I took off for Amsterdam a week ago.

I imagine that took a lot of work, coordination, and expense to edit and redistribute the video to the entire fleet.

I dozed off for the hour and fifteen minute flight from Newark to Cleveland and was jolted awake as we touched down.

The guy in the seat next to me asked, "are you from here?"

"Yes," I smiled, "it's great to be home." I nodded at him and asked, "you?"

"Just south of here, but this is home."

A simple sincere greeting.

We were interrupted by the flight attendant who announced, "We would like to be the first to welcome you to Cleveland where the local time is four-oh-seven."

What an awkward phrase.

Why "the first"? The guy next to me was the first and why does it even matter.

That would leave "We would like to welcome you to Cleveland where the local time is four-oh-seven."

Of course you're giving us the local time. Why not say this instead?

"We would like to welcome you to Cleveland. It's four-oh-seven."

Hmmm. Maybe that's too terse. Maybe it's not clear what "four-oh-seven" means in that context. OK. Try this.

"We would like to welcome you to Cleveland. It's seven minutes after four in the afternoon."

I still don't care for the long wind-up. Why do we need "We would like to"? Why not just say this?

"Welcome to Cleveland. It's seven minutes after four in the afternoon."

Thin your prose the same way you would thin an app. Trim out the words that folks don't need. Add words back in that clarify your meaning.