From HomePod to Sonos
October 5, 2021 | 2 min read

Photo by Alex Ghizila

I was a pretty early adopter of Apple’s HomePod. I got one as soon as they were available (to me) in early 2018.

I really enjoyed the HomePod for a while. I had it on my desk and used it while I worked every day. In the last year or so, I started to want a stereo (left and right speakers) setup. However, I didn’t want to spend another $500 on a HomePod.

When the HomePod Mini was announced, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get a set of stereo speakers for my desk. I also thought that I would use the (big) HomePod as sort of a subwoofer. This way, I wouldn’t lose out on the lower frequency sounds (meaning bass) in songs. I preordered two HomePod Minis.

Trying to use two HomePod Minis and a HomePod in a “group” was kind of a pain. I would have to say something like “Hey Siri, play [x] in my office.” Alternatively, I could use AirPlay, but I would have to pick the stereo pair (minis) and then the (big) HomePod.

In this setup, with three mixed HomePods, sometimes one of the speakers wouldn’t play. It was usually one of the HomePod Minis. So I’d have the left mini and the (big) HomePod playing a song. It was frustrating to use.

Siri was also frustrating to use. I don’t know if the service has gotten worse, or I’ve become more picky about it. Siri would often misunderstand what I say, wouldn’t respond, or say that there was an issue with Apple Music. However, seconds later playing the same song through AirPlay would work just fine.

I just got frustrated with it all.

So what did I do? Well, if you ready the title of this post, you already know I’ve moved to Sonos. We have Google Minis throughout our house and the work well, but I want something that sounds great. I spend a lot of time working in my office and listen to music for most of that time. I want it to sound great.

I ended up buying a pair of Sonos One SLs and a Sonos Sub. If I’m being honest, this is overkill for my office. But, wow, it sounds great.

I got the One SLs, which don’t have a voice assistant, and I’m perfectly happy with that choice. I use AirPlay to play music. The Sonos app let me set up the One SLs and the Sub as a group called “Office”, I don’t need to do any weird AirPlay dance like I had to do with the HomePods. This approach (playing via AirPlay) always works (at least so far).

I’ve been incredibly happy with the move from HomePod to Sonos. The speakers sound great and are easy to use. I am so glad I’ve made the change.

Time For a Change
August 23, 2021 | 1 min read

Photo by Chris Lawton

I’ve changed employers.

I’ve been working for Warner Bros. Digital Labs (which used to be DramaFever) essentially for 5 years. I took a small break there a few years ago, but almost immediately came back.

I’ve worked on a variety of projects over the last few years which have included DramaFever, Boomerang and DC Universe. The later two have both been featured on the app stores multiple times. These have all been on iOS and tvOS. I’ve been very proud of the work I’ve done.

The work environment at WBLD was also great. I enjoyed everyone that I worked with. But now, it’s time for a change.

I just started working for a new company. I’m now a Staff iOS Engineer for Slice. I started last Monday and I’m pretty excited about it.

This is going to present a new set of challenges for me. I’m moving away from entertainment based apps to an app that provides food to people. I hope to learn a lot while in my new role.

This is going to be exciting.

New iPad Air
August 4, 2021 | 2 min read

Photo by Sanjeev Mohindra

I recently bought a 2020 iPad Air. This new iPad Air is an upgraded from my (2016) iPad Pro 9.7”. That old iPad Pro was probably my favorite iOS device. I used it all the time. In the last few months, the iPad Pro was starting to slow down a bit. It was time for an upgrade.

I love the design of the this iPad Air. I think it looks great. It’s a much ‘flatter’ design compared to my old iPad Pro.

The home button is also gone, which means the bezel around the screen is smaller. There’s still a Touch ID sensor, but it’s now on the power button. I would probably prefer the Face ID capabilities of the new iPad Pros.

Why didn’t I get a new iPad Pro?

I use iPads a lot. I use them for most of my personal computing. The only thing I don’t use them for is writing code. Xcode is not on the iPad (yet?), so I still need to use my Mac writing code. The new iPad Pros were a bit outside of my price range and I’m not sure if I would need or use all of the features on the iPad Pro. I may regret all of this if/when Apple announces iOS development on the iPad Pros.

In the future I may go back to an iPad Pro. That decision will be for “future Ryan.” That new screen on the iPad Pro 12.9” looks amazing. But for now I am really happy with my choice.

Accessories

Along with the iPad Air, I also bought the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil.

The price of the Magic Keyboard was a bit steep, but I’ve been very happy with it so far. I’m using the Magic Keyboard to write this blog post. I think an external keyboard of some sort is a necessity for the larger iPads.

I’m still torn on the Apple Pencil. I had one with my old iPad and rarely used it. I think it will end up being something I use from time to time. I’m not sure it’s a necessity for me.

Moving Forward

I’ve been thinking with ways to use my iPad as a development machine. I haven’t figured it out yet.

I have Screens installed and am using that as a VNC client to my Mac. I’ve been trying that so that I can use Xcode. Yeah, I know that I could just use my MacBook Pro. I’ve been thinking of getting an M1 Mac Mini and using my iPad when I am not in my office.

I’ve tried a handful of editors for web development and just haven’t found one that I like yet. I would like it to do both text editing and git management, but haven’t been happy with any of the options.

I’m going to keep looking. I really want to make it work, I just don’t know if I can. Yet.

So far I am really happy with the new iPad Air.

Site Updates (Jul 2021)
July 16, 2021 | 1 min read

Photo by Daniel McCullough

I’ve just wrapped up a handful of changes to the site. The site mostly looks the same, but there have been pretty large changes under the hood.

This site runs on Jekyll. It’s a platform that takes Markdown and converts it to HTML. Previously, I was using a pre-built theme called Lanyon.

The theme looks great, but there were a few things that I didn’t quite like about it. The navigation was an issue for me. I am not a fan of hamburger menus on websites. I never liked the navigation, but I didn’t have much interested in changing it, until now.

I also wanted to take some time to add both a portfolio page and my resume.

Over the last week, I took the time to make these changes. I decided to remove the Lanyon theme entirely and roll my own “theme” using Tailwind CSS. What I have now isn’t much of a theme that can be packaged and distributed, but I built this myself. It still looks a lot like the Lanyon theme, but I know how it works and won’t have much issue adding and tweaking things in the future.

Now, the navigation is across the top of the site. And I’ve also added the portfolio and resume pages. I’ve made a handful of other minor changes throughout the site. Most of the changes were under the hood and will hopefully go unnoticed.

This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I finally got around to it and I am happy that I did.

Vacationing️
May 31, 2021 | 1 min read

I spent the last few days on vacation. We didn’t go anywhere (other than a soccer tournament - in the rain), the kids had school and my wife was working. So, what did I spend my time doing? Writing code. Obviously…

I’ve been working a big update to Beer Style Guidelines. The updates include a lot of “new” iOS features. These include:

All of this and I’m still trying to learn (and use) Combine and SwiftUI. I was very excited when those technologies were announced (almost) 2 years ago. I just haven’t had the ability to use Combine or SwiftUI at work. I’ve used them here and there in my side-projects, but not enough to feel proficient in them.

So, why am I spending my vacation time learning about these features and implementing them? Honestly, I don’t get an opportunity to learn and work on this during my day job. At work, we need to support iOS 11/12+ (depending on the app). That means that I don’t get to use the new hotness at work. So I need to do this learning and implementing using my side-projects.

Using my vacation time to learn “new” (well, almost 1 and 2-year old) technologies isn’t ideal. But I feel like this is something I need to do. It’s either this or continue to feel like I’m always behind in iOS development.

I’ve made a lot of progress on my update to Beer Style Guidelines. I hope that I can get this latest update out into the App Store before WWDC. That will give me the opportunity to start learning the next set of iOS features I want to implement over the Summer.

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