On coding, tech, privacy and whatever else comes to mind.

  • Second public beta for the upcoming Mac version of Longplay is ready.

    • 🆕 Track list in the Mini Player
    • 🆕 Control AirPlay from the Mini Player
    • 🐛 Better handling of albums where some tracks are playable and others are DRM-protected

    Any feedback is highlight appreciated.

  • Tech Note: Using Tree-sitter for syntax highlighting in Jekyll
  • One of my favourite uses of Maparoni is visualising live data and analysing it with the various formulas. Over on the Maparoni blog, I’ve written up a post about improvements that the latest beta brings to that. Turns out, writing formula autocompletion that feels right, is tricky!

  • Submitted the iOS 15 update for Longplay. I really like how the dynamic sizing of albums by different metrics turned out. See what else is new in 1.2 in the changelog.

  • Always concerning when you google a crash and get zero results. Let’s make this a 1: If you hit an exception in [NSURL URLByAppendingPathExtension:] coming from [UIDocument saveToURL:forSaveOperation:completionHandler:], double check that you’re exporting or importing the UTI of the file you’re saving.

  • Tech Note: Using CoreData in a SPM executable
  • Updated my “Carthage and Catalyst” post from last year with further instructions to get it working on Xcode 12. Shame that this is still such a pain with Carthage. (Works so well with SPM.)

  • Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale of Longplay – it’s $1.99 until the end of November.

  • Tech giants and Nintendo

    In one short link post John Gruber indirectly makes an excellent case for breaking up tech giants:

    Really good quarter for Nintendo — converting yen to USD, about $4 billion in revenue, $1.4 billion in profit. That’s great for them, but peanuts by U.S. tech giant standards. Fascinating how outsized Nintendo’s influence is on both the gaming industry and pop culture at large compared to their financial size.

    Yuo can flip the last sentence the other way around: Isn’t Nintendo’s success, influence and financial success a great indicator that this is an excellent size for a tech company? What similar heart-warming tech companies didn’t make it this far because they got crushed by the giants?

  • The essence of an app

    Horace Dediu has a way of putting things into an insightful perspective that makes you look at things differently. In the latest Critical Path episode, he points out that what people enjoyed about the iPod (and the Walkman before) wasn’t just that it let’s you take your music with you, but that it gives you privacy in a public space. Similarly, the product of a gym is not just exercise, but delivering a feeling of guilt. It’s a way of looking at a thing beyond it’s features and immediate use case.

    Look at the current success of Widgetsmith. Apple touted widgets as a way to get glanceable information on your home screen, but that’s not why they took off - they took off because to many people their phone’s home screen is their virtual home and letting them decorate it their way means something to them.

    On a much smaller scale, when I released my album-focussed music player Longplay, I received a good amount of feedback and praise. Interestingly, a theme emerged after a while from people expressing that they love the app not because of any specific features but because it let’s them reconnect with their album library in a way that reminded them of their old vinyl or CD collections. It’s a wall of their favourite albums that has been with them for many years or decades. It’s something personal.

    While I developed and used the app myself, I had a vague sense of that, but soaking in that feedback from users and getting those different perspectives, revealed the the “heart” or the “essence” of the app. That in turn helps digest and prioritise other feedback, suggestions and wishes. When you have an understanding of what that essence of your app is, it becomes much clearer what to say “no” and what to say “hell yeah” to.

    What I’m taking away from this is that it’s important to look beyond the features, and try to get a feeling of what’s underneath and what’s the defining principle. It’s hard to find that yourself and you might need quite a bit of user feedback to get to that. But if you find it, it can be inherently rewarding, and might reveal aspects of directions to take your app that you did not consider before.

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