Goodbye Microsoft

Once again I have made the cleansing act of deleting another web service, this time it is Microsoft.

Microsoft is the latest service that follows Google, Amazon, Facebook and more.

This means that I am all-in for Apple hardware and it’s software.

Ahhh.

Migration Update

Eight days ago I began the process of switching from a self-hosted WordPress setup for my website to becoming hosted on WordPress’ own servers. The process was understandably delayed due to the chrisdenbow.com domain name switching over. That process has been completed and just about everything has been smooth.

My only concern has been my personal email records (MX) still being available. They were and still are going through my old server but will they still be available when I choose to renew it next month? As of now, I am still able to send/receive emails through the hello@chrisdenbow.com email account.

Readers and users should not see anything different except a new coat of paint when viewing the website. I’ve also added a comments section on each post as well as an RSS feed so you can subscribe and get these posts through your favorite RSS client. I personally recommend NetNewsWire. If anything looks off or is broken, please let me know in the comments.

The whole point of this migration was, as a friend is fond of saying, was “to de-bullshit my life.” With this switch to a hosted version of the WordPress platform was to take advantage of both their desktop and mobile apps. These integrate well with my writing software, Ulysses, and iA Writer (which I am writing this draft in now.)

With all of this behind me, I can focus on creating more content efficiently.

The Web Log

The site ChrisDenbow.com has been published in several iterations over the past twenty years. The domain name has been changed a few times in failed attempts to “rebrand” briefly but the heart and soul has remained true.

Twenty years.

Social media (web 2.0), in its infancy was new, exciting and we were teased by the next best website or service. What made these services valuable were the users. Contribute meaningful ideas, engage in eloquent discussions. Ignore the rest. Share. Share. Share.

One of the original opportunities that sprung out of all that was the personal weblog (web log). A weblog or blog is a listing of text, images, or other objects that are arranged in a chronological order that first started appearing in the late nineties. Blogs contain personal remarks about a topic, a personal ramble, or an update on the person’s life. Weblogs are also a personal journal.

My personal experience goes back to 1999. Back then I posted in plain text format through an FTP to a URL provided by my first ISP. I have missed all those acronyms. We were so technical and cool back then. Then converted to the new WordPress platform back in 2003.

Side note: I personally dislike the term “blog” preferring “web site” because of the negative connotations of others. “Oh, you’re a blogger then?”

Nowadays, like-minded people agree that the personal website is even more crucial than ever. Social media has morphed into corporate agendas, marketing, no personal control and privacy concerns.

We’ve rediscovered the old ways are the best ways if we want to avoid all those corporate agendas, marketing, privacy concerns and to take back control. Your own website, your own web address, your own email address, RSS, newsletters, text messaging. These tools are yours to use, not to be used against you. I’ve been doing that through this website. Fine, call it a web log if you want.

Self-publishing is what the World Wide Web used to be and the world wide web is worse without it. Can you appreciate the power and responsibilities we have to take advantage of these opportunities?

For most of its existence, chrisdenbow.com has been a public journal of experiences and insights for an audience of one. For myself. Then in the mid-2000’s it branched off and became moderately successful with local and regional audiences. And this was extremely beneficial in that I would post something and receive immediate feedback from peers. We talked, networked, shared and grew together as a result. But now, most have neglected this thanks to social media. First Twitter, then Facebook. No thanks. The internet has become worse once blogging declined and social media platforms increased their numbers.

This is a great time to rebuild the web in our image and to it’s maximized potential. It is time to embrace the idea again that everyone with access can share their ideas with the world.

Migration

After some frustrating technical issues with software, I have decided to transfer from a self-hosted server website to being fully hosted and supported by the WordPress platform.

I have exported all previous posts from old server and imported to the new server beautifully. Now I am just waiting for the domain name to be transferred over (up to seven days.)

chrisdenbowcom.wordpress.com to chrisdenbow.com coming soon
chrisdenbowcom.wordpress.com to chrisdenbow.com coming soon

Oops

11:30am- While searching for a way to export this blog to plain and markdown text files (future-proofing), I installed a script that my webserver did not like. The memory usage spiked real high real fast. I logged into the back end, removed the offensive script, and hoped for the best. This may be the last post for a few days in hopes that things get restored properly.

7:35pm **Update** I’m back!

Bad Apple

Overall I am enjoying the full conversion to the Apple ecosystem but have been noticing some frustrations lately. These are minor issues, certainly not deal breakers but I do wish they played nice with others.

Apple Music

The ability to stream and control music on all my devices is fantastic but what if I wanted to share a mixtape (playlist) here on my website? No, Apple does not permit this. Why then, do they give me the option to share via embed or link? (see below)

Apple Books

There may be a hint of regret at deleting the Amazon Kindle account. Amazon plays nice with public libraries, allows highlighted text, bookmarks and notes to be exported to various sources for further research. Apple’s tight grip disallows any of these options. Yes, there are some work arounds but they are not convenient and are close to being rendered moot by Apple.

Example 1- If I want to export multiple notes and highlights, then my only option is to email them to myself. Not practical.

Example 2- If I choose just one note or highlight then the options open up…but only to the stock Apple apps. Which is fine I suppose but that is not where I want them. Fail.

The fact that Apple is protecting the copyright holders and their Digital Rights is not lost on me. But then again, how am I able to do embed music on my website with Spotify? Why does Amazon have a more open system and plays well with others?

Your move, Apple.

Breathe App- Apple Watch

Included with the Apple Watch is the Breathe app. As Apple itself describes it:

The Breathe app guides you through a series of deep breaths, and it reminds you to take time to breathe every day. Choose how long you want to breathe, then let the animation and gentle taps help you focus.
The Watch app on the iPhone lets you set the length of your sessions, and how many times throughout the day you want to be reminded to pause and breathe, and minutes are totaled in the health app.

Meditation and focused breathing for relaxation is more difficult than you think it would be. Every hour the app prompts me to take a moment and relax. I can do it at the desk, in traffic (where it is most needed!) or anywhere else.

An Apple Watch app won’t cure everything but it can help you get through the day. And these days are getting crazier.

Goodbye Amazon

As an Amazon.com charter member since it was created in 1994, it pains me to have been so frustrated and ultimately close the account. Too many missed deliveries and botched orders lately.

After downloading and converting my e-books so I can use them on any device I want instead of Amazon-specific formats, I have closed my 26 year old account.

Apple Books vs Amazon Kindle

I have never owned a dedicated reading tablet such as a Kindle. Thankfully, Amazon has created the Kindle app that can be used on every device. Using this app for years on both the Android and iOS platforms has been great because my purchases have followed me around regardless.

While practicing my social distancing, I’ve been reading more than usual and have been looking at some book purchases. Well, the process of buying a book from Amazon while using an iPad is a no-go. Some BS competition and licensing thing apparently. I have to log on to the Amazon website and order there as opposed to doing this in-app.Then it hit me like a stack of digital books over the head: why not purchase through Apple’s Books app instead? I have gone all in on everything else Apple, why not books?

Amazon started out as an online book distributor. As a charter member myself, I remember receiving books in the mail that even included free bookmarks and magnets. Amazon has innovated the books industry ever since. They are the best and the Kindle software follows.

Having said that, I reinstalled Apple Books to the iPad and looked around at all the redesigned changes. It is pretty and sports the usual customization standards for individual needs.

Both Amazon and Apple have this feature, both have a big store to shop your books. Both can be synchronized and read on multiple devices. I don’t listen to audiobooks but they are available. Apple’s is built in. I am even allowed to listen via my watch if I desire. May have to give audio books another glance soon. Even though Amazon bought Audible, I am surprised they don’t build that into their app. Both can read the PDF format. But from here they go their separate ways.

I have said it before and I will say it again. When paying for digital content, we do not own it. We are only buying the license to use it in the walled-off gardens we bought them from. My Kindle purchases stay with Amazon and that’s it. I learned this the hard way when I killed off my Google account. Goodbye purchased music, books, videos. It has’t changed and it will not change. When and if I decide to use Books over Kindle exclusively, I will not have access to my titles unless I re-install Kindle.

And I just remembered that Kindle has a $10 monthly reading program called Kindle Unlimited. These titles are not on anyone’s bestseller list but they are a great way to read a lot of books. Apple does not have this yet. Apple does make use of the ePub format however. With the wonderful people at the Project Gutenberg website digitizing and archiving the world’s literary classics, I download a lot of titles at no cost. Why pay a publisher money when these titles are now in the public domain? Kindle must have some partnership with local libraries too because I can borrow bestselling titles through the library/Kindle. Apple doesn’t have this yet. Grr.

Both platforms are amazing and I am glad to see that book lovers are getting the best of both worlds. It is a shame that everything has to be proprietary and profit-driven so I suppose I will find a healthy balance between. But for now, I will take some time and see how well Apple Books can be for my reading needs.


Laptops For The Win

Almost a year ago I purchased a refurbished Macbook Air for 1/2 the cost of the original price and ditched the Windows platform altogether. This was the last piece of the Apple eco system of connected machines I needed to perform my best work.

Lately I’ve come to rely on this laptop than my iPhone and iPad. Each device has their functions but the laptop is where most of my work is done. Surprisingly, the phone is my least productive device. Yes, it makes phone calls and I even take photos with it but even that is being reduced. On all my devices I have the capability to send/receive text messages. More and more I will reply on the laptop rather than pick up the phone and do it. This year’s new iPhone release will probably be the last one for a long time. Buying a smartphone for the camera doesn’t seem to make sense to me now because I will be using my film cameras more.

The laptop is most beneficial for me because this is where I do most of my research, write and process images. Here, I am literally the master of my own domain. I built my website through a laptop and host files with it, manage it with my own FTP server. The laptop can help me quickly organize, edit, export photos, video and text. Typing is ten times faster for me on the laptop over a phone or tablet. I can philosophize, journal, share my images with the world if they so chose to partake.

I’ll journal the benefits and usage of my iPad soon.

More JOMO

Yesterday I wrote about the Joy Of Missing Out and technology so I wanted to follow up with how technology can enhance this joy of missing out. These are super beneficial to me:

  • Airplane mode
  • Noise cancelling headphones
  • Call screening
  • Pop up and ad blockers
  • Password managers
  • Two Factor Authentication

I am always on the look out for technology that helps eliminate BS and helps enhance my experience at the same time.

JOMO

If you were anyway plugged into social media and internet culture the past few years you are familiar with the acronym phrase “Fear Of Missing Out” or FOMO. Wherein people are constantly plugged in and engaged with what every one else is doing or posting so they won’t miss out on what they think is important right NOW.

I recently came across a book titled JOMO or, “The Joy Of Missing Out”, which implies what the rest of us are already thinking- We don’t care what is going on, we’re too busy enjoying ourselves to be bothered with such nonsense!

My love/hate relationship with technology is an example. Social media is an example bad technology. The networking with others is good but it could also screw with your self-esteem and distract you from what is important.

What is better are real connections with people through technology. E-mail has been around a long time as has text messaging. These are still the best, most secure forms of communication. Owning and growing your own domain and website is better technology and more beneficial than working on a billion dollar social media ad farm.

Before I settled on a specific operating system and ecosystem (Apple for the win), I bounced back and forth between Android and Apple devices every six months thanks to my carrier’s mobile plan. Because with each hardware and software iteration there were small improvements that I didn’t want to miss out on. I agreed with the slogan “It just works.” Which was perfect for me because I was finally getting tired of the phone FOMO. I don’t want to think about it anymore, damn it, I just want it to work.

The Apple ecosystem to me are a combination of function and beauty. Powerful and minimal. I don’t want the FOMO distraction and want maximum focus on productivity. With this technology, the simpler the better.

My beloved Nikon D200 was eleven years old before she was replaced. I’ll hold on to my current Canon Rebel which will hopefully stick around just as long. I don’t need the latest or the greatest and I don’t ever think I am missing out by not upgrading these every few years. In fact, I’ve also gone back in time. Back to simpler designs and functions with film cameras. They’ve lasted for decades and will continue to do so. And I am missing out on nothing.

How much more can I keep subtracting bad technology and adding value and joy to beneficial technology? For now, I have worked hard to trim down and can honestly I am missing out and it doesn’t bother me one bit.