Goodbye Adobe

Since 2006, I’ve enjoyed utilizing Adobe Lightroom to organize and post-process my images. Adobe’s software has since gone from a one-time purchase to a subscription plan for photographers. Earlier today I received an email stating it was to time to resubscribe and it got me thinking, “Do I need this anymore?”

Utilizing their photography software has been a joy but after much consideration, I decided to remove my images from their cloud servers, delete their programs and not renew.

These past few months I have been looking for ways to simplify my photography and not get hung up on the technical side of it. Other software alternatives have developed so well that I took another look at them and decided they will do just fine in comparison.

With the capability to capture raw images on my Canon DSLR and the iPhone, the ability to process them on my Apple devices, and then publish them on the go it made sense to me to give this simpler workflow a try.

San Jose mission, San Antonio Texas captured on Canon, processed in Darkroom

Connectile Dysfunction

All my home and mobile connectivity goes through one provider, T-Mobile. So when the closest tower has maintenance issues, it is crucial to have it resolved quickly.

For a communications provider they really haven’t been communicative which adds more frustration.

The technical issues are getting better slowly but the support is as intermittent as the signals.

iPad Upgrades

Just grabbed a new Apple Smart Keyboard for the iPad as well as a SIM card to make it truly mobile this week.

The Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Pro and iPad Air is a full-size keyboard when I need one, and provides elegant front and back protection when I don’t. With two viewing angles and no charging or pairing required, it’s simple to just attach the magnetic keyboard and start typing. My only gripes are the stiff keys and no backlit keys. There is no need to connect wires or Bluetooth. Smart!

I also decided to grab some unlimited mobile data with a SIM card from T-Mobile and take it on the road. The idea being to upload images and text from the upcoming road trip planned for next month.

RSS, Read It Later and Newsletters

This is the sixteenth year I have had the internet deliver me updates using the website feed aggregation protocol and it just keeps getting better. RDF Site Summary, or Real Simple Syndication, helps me stay up to date with my favorite websites, blogs, podcasts and some social media channels. Instead of visiting a hundred different websites to find new articles, or posts, I subscribe to their RSS feed which is then aggregated into an RSS reader.

This is old school internet technology, much like the e-mail client. They’re still around because they are the best, most secure way of getting information (the internet’s first function.)

I am in control of the content I want to see, not a publisher force feeding me anything I don’t want. I choose topics of my interests and nothing more. Unless, I am forced to go to a website for a news piece or weather, sports etc, I can’t be bothered.

Throughout the years, I’ve tried most of the RSS feed aggregators and currently I have settled on Reeder. Yes, it was $10 for the Mac and another $5 for iOS, but I am getting what I am paying for- features, privacy, security and the convenience. Thanks to the iCloud, all my feeds and articles are synchronized across all my devices. There is also a built-in read-it-later service that allows you to save an article for future reading or reference. No more web clippings or bookmarks on your desktop all over the place. For me, I’ll save the articles and then have the option to share outside the reader with a share extension. In my world, it’s either being shared via text or to my stand alone read-it-later app, Goodlinks. More on that one later.

For a clutter-free reading experience, I’ll usually have the web article render in Reader View. No advertisements bombarding your screen, no privacy violating trackers watching your every move. Gone. It’s just you and your text and images. I have never, ever clicked on an advertisement from the web. I do not want Google or Facebook or 40 other trackers knowing my interests. They don’t get to do that anymore. I don’t care if that is how they get paid. I won’t pay it anymore and you don’t have to either. (please tell me you use content blockers and reader view on all your websites you visit.)

Back to the RSS reader. Some websites will generate their feeds in truncated mode, which means they’ll give you a snippet of the article, then force you to press “More” which promptly takes you to their website and to the aforementioned ads, trackers and sponsorship links. Well, thanks to the built in Reader View, 95% of the articles are pulled up in the app instead, again with only text, photos and no bullshit. That’s a win.

YouTube

I like the idea, hate the advertisements and trackers. I’ve left Google awhile back and it has been such a relief to be out of that evil ecosystem. I digress. Thanks to a recent update, I can watch YT videos from creator’s channels. No advertisements, no algorithms, no suggested videos. Just content I want and no more all inside the feed reader. Brilliant.

Read-It-Later

Again, I can save the articles I want to keep for future reference inside the app, but I always like to have a dedicated RIL app. For years I used Instapaper, but they moved to a subscription service. No thanks. I went with GoodLinks as a one time purchase of $5 instead.

Using the share extension tool in Reeder, I’ll just pass my saved article to Goodlinks, ideally tagging it under a category for organized reference and it’ll be there waiting for me when needed. I say ideally tagged because saving articles can stack up quickly. It started off organized but…yeah, I haven’t kept up. Goodlinks is also accessing iCloud so I can enjoy my articles on all devices.

Requested feature

I tried another RSS reader called FeedBin and I loved it because it gave you a generic e-mail address where you can subscribe to newsletters. Newsletters are created by bloggers, thinkers that will create articles of interest all in one letter and push it out to your e-mail inbox. I like my inbox uncluttered and am very protective of it. My subscriptions would be redirected into the FeedBin app alongside the other blog posts, articles and YT videos. A perfect all-in-one solution but at $50 annually, I balked because those same subscriptions were delivered to my inbox for $0. I’ve already invested one time purchases equalling $20 for Reeder and Goodlinks and I am pretty pleased with this setup. I’d like to see more feed readers incorporate this feature and make it standard as opposed to an add-on.

Finally, do yourself a favor and get an RSS reader. Subscribe to all your favorite news sources and make them come to you instead of scrolling through their websites. Say no to advertisements, cross-website trackers and privacy invasion. Say yes instead to a more pleasant reading experience that you control.

When you do, be sure to add this humble little website’s RSS feed and enjoy

@ https://chrisdenbow.com/feed/

13th Annual Groundhog Resolutions Day!

It’s that time of year again! This is my 13th attempt at creating life-long habits for myself for the whole year. I realize that after the end-of-year holidays I am not mentally or physically capable of sticking with resolutions for the upcoming new year. No new year day resolutions for me. I need a break so I will take off November through January and enjoy.

My resolutions, goals, best intentions, and life-changing habits are listed below. I will check in every month and then review my progress next on March 3 (3/3). After that will be 4/4, 5/5 and so on. Here we go!

Physical

The immediate goal is to drop 25 pounds quick. Last year I had a brief flirtation with the keto diet and was pleased with the results. But this was costly during a pandemic due to meat processing factories shutting down. I’m leaning toward this again and again, only for the quick results and then maybe switch it up to a low carb, more protein diet.

In addition to being more deliberate with my nutrition (I’m no longer calling it a diet) I will combine this with training (no longer calling it “working out”.) The phrase “Eat clean, train mean, get lean” comes to mind. I’ve registered in two obstacle course races this year. The Rugged Maniac course is in June followed by my third Tough Mudder course which is in November.

I’ve been on a 2 month perfect streak with my daily fitness goals using my Apple Watch. Combined with the Apple Fitness service, I think I’ll have my indoor cardio training set. Rounding out the training-from-home goals will be free weights and resistance bands with yoga. I’m eager to get back into the gym for some strength training and considering the risks/benefits thanks to the pandemic.

Throw in some fun activities like hiking, trail running, photo walks, geocaching and disc golf, I’d say this is going to be a great year.

Creative

Music

My fat fingers plucking tiny plastic strings on the ukulele at awkward angles? Stay tuned.

Photography

Sorting and organizing thirty years worth of photography has been a major pain in the ass, but worth it and about 95% complete.

I’ve been enjoying film photography lately and probably need to set up it’s own budget because film and development is a costly but rewarding endeavor to me. In addition, I want to finally frame some prints and be surrounded by my images. A few photo books will be on order too.

Writing

More short stories, micro fiction, One hundred word stories.

Work on that novel. Its been ten plus years and I still can’t get all of this out of my head.

Journaling my thoughts and experiences in addition with collages and white-out poetry.

Finally

Maybe I’ll throw in more fun stuff I’ve been thinking about like short podcasts, and exploring ham radio. Just because.

Knowing myself all too well, I could end up adding or subtracting this or that. Either way, I’ll check back in here on 3/3 for the first review of how I do!

Apple Annoyed Me Today

There were two incidents today that was a bit of surprise coming from Apple. The free trial period for the Apple One services bundle expired yesterday and the $30 payment was processed. This is fine and expected because I fully intend to use these services including Apple Fitness+. However, Fitness has yet to be released and with no specific release date but decided to charge the full amount. When asking Apple Support they simply said they could cancel the services but no refund. So…thanks for stealing my money by not providing the full advertised services in the bundle!

The second annoyance was inside the Apple News service. This is included in the aforementioned bundle as a paid service. So why then, does Apple include advertising? What other service can you think of where they put banner ads in your face? They don’t. Again, when asked, “The subscriptions do not cancel the advertisements.”

The Apple Platform Pt. 1

The moment you buy an iDevice, you become part of the Apple ecosystem, and more products and services are waiting for you. Some benefits that have solidified my decision to switch from Android to Apple a few years ago are better now than it used to be.

iCloud

The glue that holds the entire Apple eco-system together is the iCloud service. Apps, files, photos, videos, accounts, settings synchronized across all your devices dependably. Example; I am typing this on the laptop but if I need to go out and come up with something I want to add, I can do so from my mobile device. Neat. Buy a new device? Sign in to your one account and everything transfers over automagically. Within a few minutes you can pick up where you left off.

AirDrop

This feature allows you to transfer files in between all your Apple devices. You can even transfer files to a friend’s nearby Apple device. No Bluetooth connection, no need to be on the same wireless network, it just works.

iMessage

I now can send text messages over the internet using either the phone, laptop or tablet.

FaceTime

Want to make a video call instead of the traditional voice call? Exclusive to Apple device users, video calls are no hassle and a great way to see your friends.

Find My

Wonder where your phone or AirPods are? Using this handy feature will help locate with a map or pinging your device. If you are so trusting and so inclined, you can share your location to keep tabs on where your friends are.

Privacy

One of the reasons I switched from the Google Android platform was a lack of privacy. I do not trust Google, however, based on several initiatives, I do place my trust with Apple. Apple will not sell your information, they do not need to thanks to the hardware and software sales. They’re doing just fine thank you. When the FBI asked for Apple’s help in unlocking a suspect’s iPhone, the request was refused out of the owner’s privacy rights.

Data used for facial recognition is encrypted and protected.

Apple Maps is not married to your Apple ID so your location data and tracking info is not shared or used by anyone else.

Thanks to the new iOS operating systems, your device will alert you when either the microphone or camera is in use with light indicators on screen.

There is a web safety option called “Sign-in with Apple” which generates unique, encrypted email addresses to apps so you get to keep your authentic email id private.

Text messages sent with iMessage are end to end encrypted, and any data stored in the server is inaccessible to any third party.

Apps have no permission to access user data outside its directory and you can choose which apps have access to location data, camera, microphone etc.

The search history in Safari is end to end encrypted.

Two-Factor authentication options are beneficial.

No bloatware. Apple does supply their apps but you now have the option to remove them from your devices. Not so in the past, so I am glad to see that change.

Apple Pay

One of the most surprising features that I enjoy is the contactless, encrypted Apple Pay system. Using your device you can wave it over a pay terminal and confirm transaction. Great for avoiding payment card swipes that can gather your personal information, fast and secure.

Finally

Concluding for now, Apple’s brilliant hardware and software ecosystem is designed for compatibility, privacy and security in a system that just works. Now that I am connected I do not believe there is a turning back, captured by the system and finally content with that.

MacOS Big Sur

After a few downloading issues, Apple finally got it together, so I could install the new operating system. The user interface is slick and responsive.