Jurgen Klopp to Leave Liverpool

This morning I woke up and scanned my RSS feeds as I normally do. I didn’t anticipate watching a 30 minute video while getting my kids ready for school, but the news that Jurgen Klopp is stepping down at the end of the season became my focus. I wrote about my love for Liverpool in 2020, but it’s worth restating how much Klopp means to the city and the club. He completely transformed a massive club that had been underachieving for decades. His man-management, technical ability and leadership are all superpowers that make Liverpool one of the toughest clubs to play against and one that nearly anyone would want to play for.

Soccer has quickly become of those most important, least important things in my life, and I credit Klopp for a lot of that. Not sure any manager can step in and do what he did for the club, but I’m grateful that I got to experience it over the past decade. I just hope they can write the perfect ending to this story over the next few months. They’re currently first in the Premier League, in the Carabao Cup Final and still alive in both the Europa League and FA Cup. What an amazing opportunity.

Because I can’t write so good, I’ll leave you with these words from the great Roger Bennett:

Apple announces changes to iOS, Safari, and the App Store in the European Union – Apple

From The Apple Newsroom:

Apple today announced changes to iOS, Safari, and the App Store impacting developers’ apps in the European Union (EU) to comply with the Digital Markets Act (DMA). The changes include more than 600 new APIs, expanded app analytics, functionality for alternative browser engines, and options for processing app payments and distributing iOS apps. Across every change, Apple is introducing new safeguards that reduce — but don’t eliminate — new risks the DMA poses to EU users. With these steps, Apple will continue to deliver the best, most secure experience possible for EU users.

I love how Apple frames these changes as introducing risks to users. A few other items of note:

An Update On Personal Requests & Siri Media Intents

So, I feel kind of silly.

In a previous post, I called out an issue I was seeing where Siri was unable to play from non-Apple Music/Podcasts sources. This was something I was hoping that my kids could use to play audiobooks in their rooms, but it wasn’t working and the feedback was pretty sparse from Siri.

The primary cause had something to do with “Voice recognition not available” status I was seeing on my Siri devices in my home.

I did some reading and didn’t turn up much. That led me to believe that this isn’t widespread and is likely just some sort of misconfigured state that I can blow up and start over with. Turns out, that worked! The steps to getting this to work correctly were pretty straightforward:

  • Disable Siri on all relevant iOS devices
  • Disable Personal Requests in the Home app for relevant HomePod
  • Re-enable Siri on iOS devices, re-train it on your voice
  • Re-enable Personal Requests for HomePods, etc in the Home app

After doing this, I tried to ask a HomePod to play something from my Audible library. It worked! I also was able to play audiobooks from Apple Books & Audible from my son’s iPad.

Crisis averted.

Shared Journals for Day One

From Day One:

Shared Journals are a private space for your closest friends and family to shared life updates and memories. Shared Journals introduce a new dimension to journaling, offering a unique way to share your personal stories and experiences with up to 30 selected individuals, while keeping your individual entries private and secure.

I’ve tried to track most of the milestones in the lives of my kids in Day One, and knowing I can now share that with my partner is pretty awesome. I’ve been using tags to group these posts but now I can break them into their own journal that I can share and collaborate on. Day One is one of the best apps out there due to their constant iteration on an already outstanding product. I’m really glad to see they continue to thrive as part of Automattic, as I was a bit concerned when that acquisition went down a few years back.

Corporations Are Not To Be Loved

From Brent Simmons:

Apple doesn’t care about you personally in the least tiny bit, and if you were in their way somehow, they would do whatever their might — effectively infinite compared to your own — enables them to deal with you.

Companies like Apple love to fashion themselves as a lifestyle or an identity brand, because they know that if people watch their specific actions too closely they’ll be reminded they’re simply a business that needs to keep growing to keep their shareholders happy. I think it’s great to admire a company and certainly to have strong preferences about where you spend your money, but go into it with your eyes open.

I think Apple’s struggles with bringing 3rd party developers on board to build apps for the Vision Pro have a lot of causes but it certainly appears that the App Store chickens have come home to roost a bit. Gruber covered this a bit as well, but it just feels like we’ve hit an inflection point where Apple’s behavior is getting almost no support because there’s really no logical defense aside from the fact that Apple wants to make as much money as possible. Good for them.

What Happened To Homepod’s Media App Integration?

Last year, I was really excited to see Apple’s plans to allow HomePod to essentially set up streaming from any app on your iOS device with a media intent.

Fast forward to early 2024, and this functionality doesn’t appear to be anywhere to be found. My kids both have HomePods in their room and I was really excited to let them play some of the audiobooks that they own on their iPads to their rooms automagically. Not only does that not seem to work, I can’t seem to get any apps to do this. What confuses me is that this line:

Any app supporting SiriKit Media Intents today will be able to use this capability with no additional changes.

makes it pretty clear that many apps should be supported out of the box, but I can’t seem to fine even one that works.

I’ve tried this with a HomePod tied to my account as the primary as well as with my kids’ HomePods tied to their accounts (and to iPads, which I thought might have been the culprit). Very strange.

Edit (1/22/24): This likely has something to do with the fact that my home’s Siri devices now are all saying that “Voice recognition Not Available”, which would explain why it isn’t able to play media from an associated iOS device. Stay tuned for the conclusion of this gripping saga once I troubleshoot further.

Edit (1/23/24): So, updating everything to 17.3, turning off Siri and Personal Requests and re-enabling and re-training Siri on my iPhone seems to have done the trick. I was able to play an audiobook from Audible via a HomePod. Now to try to same process with my kid’s iPads.

Tesla reduces range estimations for Model Y, S, and X by up to 37 miles

From Jess Weatherbed at The Verge:

Several popular models are now showing lower range estimates in the US. The move comes after the DOJ opened a probe into inflated claims, but Tesla doesn’t give a reason.

I own the Tesla Model 3 Long Range and I can confirm that while the range on my car is great, it rarely lives up to the estimated range even if I am driving fairly conservatively. Glad to see the estimates being advertised is a bit closer to reality now.

2024 Social Media Vibe Check

About a year ago, I wrote about the state of things at Twitter. It’s gone worse than I could have imagined, although I won’t cover that here. There are a zillion think pieces on that Musk has done to that company and what it means for Twitter, social media, and our overall discourse. I’ll leave that to the experts. Turns out, I deleted my account completely and spent a lot of time on Mastodon and Threads, once it was released. Both have that “old Twitter” vibe, in different ways.

Still, I think I’m going to keep my distance from both as we head into 2024.

As part of my annual review of subscriptions, I came across my upcoming renewal for the excellent Mastodon client, Ivory. It got me thinking about why I even bother with these sorts of public sites to begin with. Reading a bunch of strangers’ thoughts on tech, sports, politics and whatever else is going on really doesn’t make me feel any better or more informed. Mastodon is great because there is no algorithm and the overall vibes are way better, but it’s still a general waste of my time. Same goes for Threads, which so far has been a big improvement over Twitter but that’s not saying much.

Just like I said last year: I don’t really need any of these sites in my life. It’s not worth it.

For 2024, I’m just going to delete Threads and Ivory off of my phone and I won’t be renewing my subscription to Ivory, despite it being a wonderful app by one of the best developers out there. I want to remove temptation to waste time mindlessly scrolling through those sorts of sites with such little payoff. I’ll continue to use the services via the web, but would rather keep things at arm’s length.

I’ll possibly write more often here when I want to ramble about things. But maybe not.

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.