Constant Siri voice loss

Posted on 2023-10-20 13:04 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with Apple, iPhone, Siri • 1 min read

This seems to have started with iOS 17, and I can't narrow down the how and the when of it happening, but over the last week or so I've found that every couple of days Siri seems to lose their voice. By this I mean the high quality voice that's used when they speak seems to disappear. I notice this when I ask my phone or headphones a question or to do something, and I get a really low-quality voice that speaks back to me.

The voice itself seems to be a version of the voice I normally use, but like it's using an on-device much-cut-down version. If I go into the settings to check what voice is selected, it's the one I normally use, but it wants to download it again.

Downloading the voice all over again

Sure enough, once the download is complete all is good again. I've not kept track of when it happens -- and I think I should from now on -- but it feels like it happens every couple of days; I almost always notice it first thing in the morning, the first time I ask the phone or the headphones something.

I hope it is some sort of iOS 17 weirdness and is gone when 17.1 turns up.

LinkedIn is useless

Posted on 2023-10-16 14:16 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with LinkedIn • 2 min read

I have a LinkedIn profile more by accident than on purpose. For most of that site's early days I just ignored it, even needing to go to the trouble of aggressively marking emails from it as spam as it seemed to want to turn itself into some sort of online networking cult, encouraging folk to send invites to their contacts, or worse. But after job-seeking in late 2017 the recruiter who found me the position I took up asked if I might join up and endorse him or some such nonsense and, at the time, I thought what the hell.

Since then though I've mostly found it useless, and at times straight up horrific. Don't even get me started on how a previous employer's push to make everyone use their profiles as more company branding created a perfect pool for people to go phishing in, while at the same time IT were on a phishing-awareness push; a perfect illustration of how some people lose their minds when it comes to that site.

The last year though, while working in a more FOSSy world, I've started to dip my toe back in when it comes to linking to what we're building with Textual. As such, I drop into the app once or twice a week and look to see what other folk might be talking about too.

During a recent dip in I saw this:

A suggestion from LinkedIn

Huh! Okay! That... that's actually kind of sensible! While I'm nowhere near looking for anything else to do, showing off the public projects you care about seems like a good idea. GitHub repos can be a good CV, I believe.

So I click through...

The project add form

And that's where it all falls apart. Pretty typical for LinkedIn I'd say. Name, description, obsession with skills, obsession with building up a social graph. But...

No link to the repo.





Repo. O_o


I can't even.

Going full Apple search

Posted on 2023-10-14 08:39 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with Apple • 2 min read

For as long as I've had a smartphone -- so ever since the HTC Magic was released -- I've used whatever search tool Google have had available as my way of searching for stuff from my phone. Even when I made the switch to the iPhone, back when the iPhone 11 was around, I still installed and used the Google Search app.

Since jumping ship from Android to iPhone, I've followed the usual track that some do of "embracing the ecosystem", and it generally has paid off. The more I lean into "the Apple way", the more stuff actually does work together and work together well (I won't say "it just works", because that can sometimes so very not be true, but really I do find that Apple's ecosystem is more coherent and more stable than the one Google provided). But searching for stuff... that stuck with the Google search app.

So, more as an experiment than anything else, starting this morning I've removed the Google search app from the home screens of my iPhone and my iPad and I'm going to force myself to use Spotlight to do all my searching, and see how I get on with it.

Searching with Apple

Of course, when it comes to searching for stuff on the web, it's not going to make a whole heap of difference; it's sill going to end up searching with Google, but I do like the idea of search leaning into what Spotlight knows about my stuff too.

Also, on my phone at least, it has the added benefit of freeing up a slot in the dock at the bottom of the home screen.

Apple Design

Posted on 2023-09-23 08:10 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with Apple, iOS, iPhone, design • 2 min read

As someone who started out in the Android ecosystem when it came to smart phones -- starting out with a HTC Magic and going through a few different phones before settling on Pixels (until I finally jumped ship to iOS in 2020) -- I have to admit that there's always been something nice about the design of iPhones. iOS, less so... My first exposure to iOS was back in 2015 when I got an iPod, and I wasn't terribly impressed. It looked okay, but it felt so far behind Android in terms of functionality.

Much has changed and improved since then. These days, 3 years into being totally consumed by the Apple ecosystem (one day I should write a post about how comprehensively I've moved over), I'm won over and I like how iOS works now.

Except this...

Bad design

That thing where, when you're in one app, it will show the most useless link "back" to another app, and in doing so bump the time up and out of the way a little. Like, seriously, compare it to when the app link thing isn't there:

Good design

Once you see it, you can't unsee it.

Toggle of the two images

After all this time you'd think they would have found a less janky way of doing this; perhaps even simply removed it (I can't remember the last time I needed or wanted the ability to go "back" an app like this, especially not with the bottom-of-screen swipe gesture being a thing). If nothing else you'd think that, by now, they'd have found a way of doing it that doesn't look so terrible.

The "eh, let's just shove it here" approach that seems to be on display here almost reminds me of the "time wiggle" that used to mildly annoy me back on my iMac.

The HomePod fixed itself

Posted on 2023-08-12 07:46 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with Apple • 2 min read

A couple of weeks back I mentioned home my main HomePod had got stuck installing 16.6 of the software that runs it. This situation persisted for days after writing that post and I kept promising myself that I was going to see if I could unstick it by removing it from the Home, doing a factory reset and adding it back again.

Of course, during the week that followed, I never got round to that. You can imagine what it's like: no time in the morning, and by the time I get home in the evening I want to watch TV and use the HomePod as the speaker for the Apple TV, I don't want to be doing tech support shit.

The following weekend... yeah, I kinda forgot.

So, here I am, a couple of Saturdays on, it's early morning, I've had breakfast and I'm having coffee and I think it's the perfect time to do this. I hope the Home app my on iPad and... it's sorted!

HomePod all good again

So, yeah, it looks like it somehow managed to unstick itself in the end. A quick test of some of the issues I was seeing suggested there was still an issue, for example asking for the temperature in the bedroom would still result in a "working on it" reply followed by it telling me it wasn't responding. A quick reset seems to have fixed that.

I guess it's good to know: if it happens again, it'll keep on working as the speaker for my Apple TV, and it'll eventually sort itself out even if I don't muck about with a hard reset.

I turned it off and on again

Posted on 2023-08-10 18:17 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with Obsidian, Apple, iCloud, iPhone, Mac • 1 min read

Following on from the previous entry, where I outlined a weird problem I'd started having with syncing Obsidian via iCloud, I finally decided to sit down and try and work out the exact flow of the problem. Today, for example, I'd created an entry in two different vaults on my phone while on the bus into work, and when I got to my desk the vault I use on my work machine had updated.

However, when I got home this evening, the vault for my personal stuff hadn't updated on my home Mac Mini. I tried a few edits, in both vaults, on the iPhone, and nothing came through to the Mac.

So... before I started really diving into things I decided to "turn it off and on again" -- the iPhone that is -- and when it came back I ran up Obsidian, which told me it wasn't allowed to access my iCloud drive!

I took a moment to go into the settings to try and figure it out, didn't find what I wanted right away, then got to thinking that perhaps some of the phone's services were still spinning up, so I ran Obsidian up again (after killing it).

Sure enough, this time, it saw my vaults. With both vaults open on my Mac I made edits to open entries and the edits started to flow.

So, yup, looks like it was a simple case of "turn it off and on again".

Apple: #ItJustWorks.

Strange Obsidian sync issue

Posted on 2023-08-08 20:55 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with Obsidian, Apple, iCloud, iPhone, Mac • 2 min read

Since October last year I've been getting into using Obsidian. Not that heavily, not to the extent some people do, but just as a way to keep a daily journal of work-related things. Each day at Textual HQ we finish off with a chat about how our day has gone, stuff we're wondering about, etc, etc... So I don't lose tack of what I've been up to I keep notes and Obsidian is how I do that.

One of the things I really like about it is how I can have iPhone, iPad and macOS versions on the go and have it all sync via iCloud. It generally works well.

But in the last couple of days I've noted the oddest problem, and I've yet to pin down the exact flow. But it seems to be this:

  • If I create or edit a note on my iPhone, it doesn't turn up on my Mac.
  • If I create or edit a note on my Mac, it turns up on my iPhone.

I think I might have seen variations on that theme but I've not made careful note -- normally I'm made aware of it when I'm trying to get something done.

What's super weird is this: on the iPhone, if I create a note, and then go into the Files app and look at the iCloud folders for Obsidian, the file isn't there! It's there in Obsidian itself, I can move it about, edit it, etc, etc... but it's not in the "vault" as seen from the Files app.

It's the last part that has be really puzzled.

If I get to the bottom of this I'll try and remember to write up what I find. I suspect I'm going to need some proper clear time, without other distractions, and experiment with all the edit and sync options and see what works and what fails.

HomePod Stuck Installing Update

Posted on 2023-07-29 07:56 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with Apple • 2 min read

I have three HomePods. I have a Mini in the kitchen and one in the bedroom. I then have one of the newer-gen "big" HomePods in the living room, which amongst other things is the speaker for my Apple TV device (yeah, I'm kinda Apple all over the place these days).

This week there was an update to the software, updating to 16.6. The two Minis updated just fine. The big one, however, days later...

HomePod stuck installing the update

It's been like this all the time since the update turned up. I've tried a reboot from the Home app. I've tried pulling the plug and plugging it in again. Nope. It just keeps sitting there like this.

Meanwhile... it's working (more or less) fine. It's still playing music. It's still being the speaker for the Apple TV. It still answers most questions and performs most commands (most of the commands I give it are to add stuff to my Reminders).

On occasion if I ask it questions about other devices in the apartment ("hey siri, what's the temperature in the bedroom?") it'll do the "working on it" thing and then give up saying the thing wasn't responding. That seems to be about the worst of it.

Having checked this online it looks like, annoyingly, the one option I have left is to do a full reset, removing it from my Home, doing a factory reset, and then setting it up again. I'm sure it's something that'll take 10 minutes or so; but it's an annoyance.

Apple: #ItJustWorks.

Quiche Reader

Posted on 2023-07-27 08:42 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with software, reading, recommendation, iOS, macOS, iCloud • 2 min read

I can't quite remember where I found this this week, I think it might have been via a comment on some article on the orange site1, but I stumbled on a really handy bit of free (as in beer) software called Quiche Reader.

It's really simple and I feel exactly the sort of thing I need. Over the years I've tried all sorts of "save to read later" tools and systems; be it things like Pocket, or tools now built into the browser these days, even adding URLs to Remember the Milk (back when I used that) or (these days) Apple Reminders.

Nothing ever quite stuck. Normally I'd end up slapping stuff to read into these systems and then never reading them.

Quiche Reader, so far, feels like the perfect approach.

Quiche Reader in action

It's quite simple: if I see something I want to read a bit later I save it into the application (which will sync to my other devices via iCloud). Then, when I go to Quiche Reader, I have to read the article or delete it and move on. This is sort of what I'd do anyway, saving stuff up for months on end until one day I'd declare saved reading bankruptcy and then start the whole cycle again.

Now I can look at the saved article stack and I'm forced to either read the thing, or be honest with myself that if I'm not gonna read it now, I'm probably never going to.

It does have a "pause" facility (or something like that, I forget the name) where you can throw an article to the back of the queue; but even then that means it'll keep popping back to the top again.

I'll see how it goes; but so far I feel like this is the best "I'll save this to read later" tool I've found yet.

  1. I know, I KNOW! But there's so few places left to aimlessly scroll on the bus now! 

Failed successfully

Posted on 2022-06-03 09:05 +0100 in Tech • Tagged with UI, UX • 2 min read

A couple of days back (for vague values of "couple", of course), first of the month, having my morning coffee, I go and open my bank's mobile app to move a bit of money about and pay a couple of things. This happens every month. This is so routine I do it almost on autopilot.

Yeah, yeah, I know, it's banking, pay attention! But still... morning, coffee, routine.

I get to the final movement/payment and then notice something:

Useless error message

That.... that text! WTF? So then I look back at my payment history and notice that all but one payment hadn't gone through! O_o

This alone is fine. Stuff happens. Things fail. I'm okay with that. It's an inconvenience for sure but doubtless whatever the problem is will be fixed and I can make the payments again later. But...

That result. There's a tick. A GREEN tick. And a "Thank you". It's natural to see that image, know that it's always meant "shit worked" and just carry on.

In one of my systems at work there's a tool I wrote for checking a repository of code to make sure it conforms to a certain standard. When folk use it they get a night big, bold and bright green thumb-up above the text that says everything is cool. If there's a problem, any sort of problem at all, then the display is red and there's no jolly icon and it's obvious that things are different and you likely want to pay attention to the explanation of what isn't right.

This isn't news, of course. This isn't some revelation about UI design or anything. We know this stuff. I think what boggles my mind a little bit about this is that something as important -- and hopefully by this point as mature -- as a mobile banking app should get something as obvious as this right.

But here we are, with a nice friendly green icon showing a tick and a friendly big "Thank you" followed by smaller text going "aye shit didn't work pal".