A Multi-Switch Family Is Rarely A Happy One

I’ve been a Nintendo guy for a long time. From the iconic Mario games to the charming world of Animal Crossing, Nintendo has always held a special place in my gaming heart. The reasons why I don’t venture much into other consoles are pretty typical – I just don’t have a lot of room in my life for multiple systems at the moment, so the Switch wins due to it’s unique blend of portability and docked play, and a great catalog of games my entire family loves to play.

As my children grew older, they naturally wanted their own Switch consoles, especially when traveling. That’s when the Switch Lite came into the picture, and I must say, it’s a great little console that strikes the right balance of cost and features. They removed a lot of the multiplayer functions (removable joy-cons, docking ability, etc) but kept the core mobile experience intact. However, as much as I adore Nintendo for many things, there’s one area where they consistently falter: their online strategy.

Allow me to explain. When you purchase a digital game with a Nintendo account (in my case, the primary account for our household), it becomes tied to that specific account. This means that if I buy a game on the primary console and my kids want to play it on their own consoles, they can only do so by adding my user to their Switch and playing the games under my account. As a result, cloud saves and other sync services don’t work reliably since they are linked to individual Nintendo account profiles.

Unlike the convenient family sharing feature found on platforms like iOS, Nintendo lacks a similar concept. While I understand the reasoning behind limiting simultaneous online play for a single purchased game, such as Splatoon 3, across multiple consoles. They have to make money, after all. However, the current setup poses a significant hurdle for families who wish to play together. To enjoy multiplayer experiences, each person requires their own console and their own copy of the game. This limitation significantly restricts the range of experiences that people can have, both in terms of gameplay and financial investment. If my entire family wanted to play one another we would need 4 consoles (average cost: $250) and 4 copies of the game ($60/each).

I’m not sure my family’s enjoyment of Splatoon 3 is worth ~$1250.

It forces us to make a decision early on – do we buy games online, enjoying the convenience of not having to keep track of tiny cartridges, or do we opt for physical copies, enabling easy gameplay on multiple consoles? I have tended to opt for physical cartridges to mitigate this, but a lot of games are digital only, or have DLC add-ons that are tied to one account, so there are still many limitations that essentially require you to buy the same game multiple times to ensure a fairly seamless multi-console family.

Personally, I wish Nintendo would, at the very least, allow Nintendo accounts within a family to download games purchased online, granting us the freedom to enjoy these games on any console of our choice. Even if they were to add controls to restrict each downloaded game to one active session at a time across family accounts, as they already do, it would be a significant improvement.

Nintendo’s prowess in creating enjoyable and memorable gaming experiences is unquestionable. However, their missteps in the online realm, particularly when it comes to family gaming, cannot be overlooked. By loosening the restrictions and embracing the concept of family sharing, Nintendo could unlock a world of possibilities for countless families, ensuring that the joy of gaming extends beyond the confines of a single console and copy of the game.

We’ll be thinking twice before buying more than one console from Nintendo whenever their next-gen console is released, as teaching my kids to share one console might be easier than dealing with the draconian online/family limitations of Nintendo’s software at the moment.

WWDC 2023 Follow Up

Last week, I had jotted down a quick list of things I hoped to see at WWDC on the consumer side. Let’s see how I did.


Maybe Next Year…

  • iPadOS battery management (charge to 80% and hold)
  • 4-box for everything on Apple TV, not just blessed MLS or other sports content
  • Selective sync on iCloud Drive. I don’t want to sync everything in iCloud to my work computer, but I also don’t want to turn it off completely.
  • Extensions for 3rd party browsers. I’d love to be able to use ad blockers and 1Password in other iOS browsers.
  • Spotlight “extensions” that allow developers to build functionality into it.

Jury Is Still Out

For these, I either don’t have enough info or it’s too soon to really tell.

  • Show link previews for SMS messages without having to tap on the link first.
  • A general theme on speed and reliability at the OS and app level. Especially Mail and Music.

Overall Impressions

  • Standby mode looks awesome, and you can imagine a not-too-distant future where this is possible on an iPad with some sort of custom dock. Or possibly a HomePod Video?
  • I think the way Apple positioned the Vision Pro was smart. Based on the early impressions I’ve read, it seems very impressive. At that price point, I think we’re a few generations away from any sort of mass adoption, but that’s okay – Apple had to start somewhere.
  • In general, I am loving the theme of pushing widgets everywhere. Consistent, glanceable, bite-sized content represents a big chunk of what I need from most of the apps I use daily. Creating a world where those can be on my desktop, watch, phone and tablet means less time spent mindlessly poking around.
  • The AirPods Pro updates seem interesting, if they work as well as advertised. Adaptive Audio claims to blend noise cancellation and transparency mode, and if it works, it’ll save me dozens of earbud “press and hold” moments every day.
  • Most of the updates Apple announced as a separate “Services” post sound pretty nice. Offline maps!
  • Lots of great updates to Messages, which is easily my most-used app.

WWDC 2023 Wish Lists

Michael Tsai has posted his annual roundup of WWDC 2023 Wish Lists. As always, it’s a good mix of consumer facing and developer-centric asks.

The one common theme seems to be around quality and stability. iOS and iPadOS are nearly 2 decades old, MacOS is closing in on 25 years, and even WatchOS and tvOS are nearly a decade old. These are mature platforms that can stand to have a year of spit and polish applied while Apple (likely) rolls out a new OS. Let’s hope that’s the case.

WWDC 2023 Wishlist

A few things I hope to see this year at WWDC:

  • A general theme on speed and reliability at the OS and app level. Especially Mail and Music.
  • iPadOS battery management (charge to 80% and hold)
  • Siri audiobook integration. My kids have Alexa devices in their rooms and I’d love to upgrade them to HomePod Minis but they are big audiobook listeners.
  • 4-box for everything on Apple TV, not just blessed MLS or other sports content
  • Shared playlists on Apple Music. Shocking this still isn’t a thing.
  • Shortcuts on the Lock Screen
  • Interactive widgets
  • Selective sync on iCloud Drive. I don’t want to sync everything in iCloud to my work computer, but I also don’t want to turn it off completely.
  • Extensions for 3rd party browsers. I’d love to be able to use ad blockers and 1Password in other iOS browsers.
  • Spotlight “extensions” that allow developers to build functionality into it.
  • Show link previews for SMS messages without having to tap on the link first.

I’m indifferent on all of the VR stuff. I think it’ll be exciting but also something I know I won’t buy or use for a long time.

Just Show Up

Something I’ve struggled with lately is a conflict between the desire to write more, but not knowing exactly what to write about. This in turn creates more and more pressure to come up with good topics to write about, which then amps up the pressure on any given post. Round and round we go.

The way I’ve stared to solve this, both in my Day One writing as well as here, is to treat it much like I do exercise. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but having a routine and ensuring you keep “showing up” is just as important as the actual writing. Sometimes the posts are short, and like this one, not very good. But like any exercise, building up the muscle is crucial for the those moments where you want to push yourself.

So here I am, showing up to write. See you again soon.

The Taylor Swiftification of The National

From Spencer Kornhaber at The Atlantic:

The National and Taylor Swift have become one of the unlikeliest and most productive synergies in contemporary music—the cross-pollination of a gloomy indie-rock fraternity and proudly sentimental, stadium-charming pop.

This relationship has been fascinating over the past few years. Swift and The National (and Big Red Machine) have all been cross-pollinating and I think it’s made all parties better as a result.

Arc Will Change the Way You Work on the Web

From Adam Engst at Tidbits:

Why does Arc deserve this spot? Arc’s designers have taken the Chromium engine and created a Mac-native app that improves on the standard Web browser interface in four conceptual areas: context, persistence, visibility, and refinement. Each plays a vital role in why I describe Arc as transformative. In the sections below, I’ll explain how its unique features—or at least unique combinations of features—make it stand out.

Adam covers a ton of ground here, and provides a solid overview of what makes Arc a really compelling browser. I’ve been using it on and off for about 6 months now and it’s the first non-Safari browser I really like.

Arc tries to be your hub for the web and it does quite a good job of being a beautiful app that happens to also be great tool for power users. It’s rare to see something so customizable have the level of detail and whimsy that Arc brings to the table. Power users expect to have multiple profiles, keyboard shortcuts and tools for screencaps, notes and more. The command palette is super powerful, so you really can accomplish nearly everything with a few keystrokes. What you often don’t get when you try something with those features is the polish, beauty and attention to detail that you seem in Arc.

Still, I’d say that Arc is trying to do a bit too much – Easels and Notes are cool but not something I even remember exist most of the time. In addition, the power user features add a bit of cognitive load to doing basics. In an effort to make the most of the tab Spaces feature, I’m constantly making sure pages I’m viewing are in the correct location instead of just using the browser. There are also some small UI glitches, but for a beta, it’s quite impressive.

I likely need a little more time to figure out how to make things work perfectly for me, but the fact that it’s been about 6 months and I still feel that way says that it’s too complex in some ways.

If you’re on the lookout for an invite, ping me on Mastodon and I’ll get you set up.

Electricity generated from renewables surpasses coal for first time in US

From AP News:

Electricity generated from renewables surpassed coal in the United States for the first time in 2022, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced Monday.

Renewables also surpassed nuclear generation in 2022 after first doing so last year.

Growth in wind and solar significantly drove the increase in renewable energy and contributed 14% of the electricity produced domestically in 2022.

A huge milestone, but a long ways to go. The part that stuck out to me the most was the economic argument:

Over the past decade, the levelized cost of wind energy declined by 70 percent, while the levelized cost of solar power has declined by an even more impressive 90 percent.

That’s a remarkable drop in just 10 years. As it becomes more affordable than coal, we should see even wider adoption.

ActivityPub for WordPress Joins the Automattic Family

From WordPress.com:

We’re excited to announce that Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, has acquired the popular WordPress plugin ActivityPub.

This innovative plugin brings a whole new level of social networking to your website by integrating it with the wider federated social web. When installed, the plugin allows you to easily share your content and interact with users on Mastodon and other platforms that also support the ActivityPub protocol.

Just as Automattic aims to do with all of our products, this plugin helps to decentralize the web, break down silos, and foster a more connected online ecosystem.

This is a great start and I love the idea of allowing you to not only publish easily to ActivityPub networks like Mastodon, but also allow comments to your posts to show on your site. I hope that eventually we could see more bidirectional sync. I had mentioned this a while back on Mastodon, and would love this plugin to eventually evolve into a space where I could do the following:

  1. All blog posts are pushed to Mastodon
  2. Comments on the post are brought into my site
  3. Non-reply posts made on Mastdon are brought in as a WordPress ‘Post Type’

Fingers crossed we see continued innovation in this space.

Maybe Zoom Parties Weren’t So Bad

From Clive Thompson:

But during COVID, while my socializing was purely online, it was broader. I spent time hanging out with far-flung peers, like my friends in Canada who I don’t see nearly often enough. Or, after my mother passed away in the summer of 2020, her side of the family held a 2021 memorial online, and it was amazing to see all my oodles of cousins, many of whom I haven’t been in the same room with for years and years.

I can relate to this. My social network was briefly much broader and had more frequent interactions than it does now that things are back to normal. Almost nightly I’d play games online with friends, hop on zoom parties to watch movies we’ve seen a hundred times, or simply happy hours.

If I’m being honest, the part I don’t miss is the work-mandated ones. I feel like tons of leaders did the bare minimum to set up something “fun” to check the box and it was nothing more than a distraction.