Photography Is Meant To Be Fun

The best part of iPhoneography is the convenience. An iPhone is lightweight, easy to use and you’re most likely to have it with you wherever you go. Take it out and shoot with it whenever the mood strikes. You don’t need to worry if you forgot to bring a card drive, aperture settings, or anything else. Just shoot from the hip and adjust on the go. Photography rules go bye-bye.

The more you photograph, the more you train your eyes to see composition, lighting, what’s worthy or what is not. Everyday objects now become interesting where in the past, you’d walk by without noticing. Once your photographic eye and brain are turned on, it is hard to turn off. Do you want this photo? Then yes, take that photo.

Joshua Tree National Park shot with Tic Tac 4 film and McMinville lens
Hipstamatic Pisty film

IA Writer vs. Ulysses

So one of my favorite writing apps, Ulysses, is up for the annual subscription renewal. At $50 a year, it is one of the pricier apps and I am not keen to renew as a result. Yes, it organizes my novel writing workflow better than anything else. But is this enough?

Compare that to IA Writer- similar features and a one-time purchase. It does lack the organization tools but can I find a work around or a new workflow?

I’ll test this for a week, in fact, I am writing in IA Writer and publishing from the app to this website now.

 

Ulysses vs IA Writer- can you tell which one is better?
Yeah, yeah

Brainiac

A web of linked notes all in one location and designed to connect my thoughts — this is my personal database and second brain.

Apple’s Privacy Initiative

Apple’s focus on privacy in keeping customer’s data safe has increased and I am loving it. I believe that data privacy should be every digital citizen’s right. It’s exhausting that other companies, websites and software apps attempt to get as much of my personal information to line their pockets.

New features are coming to the Apple ecosystem such as Apple Mail, Siri, iCloud and app tracking this year. When we receive an email there is almost always a 1×1 size pixel hidden in the footer that can track IP addresses, when you open to read, location and other identifying info. In Mail, Apple is getting a feature called Mail Privacy Protection. With this I can hide my IP address, block read receipts and more.

ICloud+ , the new VPN-like Private Relay that will encrypt all data. Goodbye cookies and trackers. iCloud+ users will continue to enjoy the Hide My Email feature that generates a random email address to help prevent tracking and companies selling your data. Example: hello@chrisdenbow.com will read as WiUf31DV339FXX@privaterelay.appleid.com. The next website will use a different random address that Apple will generate for me. Neat. Reader mode in Safari means no more ads or annoying pop-ups blocking your reading or viewing.

App tracking ruffled a lot of feathers in the advertising community, especially Facebook. With App tracking, Apple gives us the option to block a telltale device ID that cookies and trackers can grab and identify you and your browsing habits. No thank you, I’ll just activate App tracking and deny them every time. This denies data abusers like Facebook, Google, Amazon most of your browsing habits so they won’t track you.

Access denied
First image, no ads displayed. Second image in Reader mode.
Signing in to an account with my Apple ID

Mail Privacy Protection, iCloud+, are coming soon to iOS 15 while others like App tracking, Hide My Email, Reader, Sign In with Apple ID are all available now. I downloaded the beta version of iOS 15 on my devices because I wanted those features as soon as possible and I am loving them.

Apple’s privacy initiative is a great benefit to anyone who values their data and browsing history.

Lost & Found

Of course the Apple Pencil can not be tracked with AirTags or the Find My app. I lost and recovered it once before but now it isn’t looking too good the second time.

Update: I found it in the front yard after mowing over it. It was still intact, and once cleaned off it was still charged up to 84%.

Damn!

The iPad Pro

Again, thanks to a very generous trade-in offer for my 2018 iPad and a discount program provided by my company, I have upgraded to this year’s iPad Pro. I even chipped in a little extra for the magic keyboard, pencil and Magic Mouse.

After adding a SIM card from my wireless carrier, this device is truly the best portable computer out there. During a recent trip to the mountains I could plan my hikes, geocaching and places to eat. After a long day of shooting during my hikes, all my images were uploaded to the iPad and ready for post-processing. Articles were published here while I was out and about and yes, Netflix was playing on it because hotel rooms have shitty cable tv service.

After the iPhone 12, and MacBook Pro, this makes the third significant upgrade in my tech devices that are future-proofed. That is to say, with their industry-leading specs and beautiful design, they will last me for a minimum of five years. And I cannot wait to put them all to the test.

The MacBook Pro M1

About two years ago I was fed up with my Microsoft Windows and finally purchased a refurbished MacBook Air. What a relief it was to have all my personal devices synchronized in the Apple ecosystem as opposed to finding workarounds. Now, thanks to a very generous trade-in offer and a discount program provided by my company, I have upgraded to this year’s MacBook Pro.

This laptop features Apple’s first foray into using its own microchip instead of relying on Intel and WOW, what a difference. With this new M1 chip, the system is faster, stays cooler and has an all day battery life. In a press release, the company said:

Apple today updated the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the new Magic Keyboard for the best typing experience ever on a Mac notebook and doubled the storage across all standard configurations, delivering even more value to the most popular MacBook Pro. The new lineup also offers 10th-generation processors for up to 80 percent faster graphics performance and makes 16GB of faster 3733MHz memory standard on select configurations. With powerful quad-core processors, the brilliant 13-inch Retina display, Touch Bar and Touch ID, immersive stereo speakers, all-day battery life, and the power of macOS, all in an incredibly portable design.

So of course I tested it as heavily as I could by opening up Adobe Lightroom & Photoshop in batch-processing my images. I then opened up iMovie to edit some videos. And of course I had to open Ulysses writer, Reeder, Mail, and Safari. Zoom, zoom. This machine hasn’t skipped a beat and now I am at 94% battery life and is completely silent. There is no built in fan to keep things cool. New-to-me features included the Touch Bar which allows me to push a button to perform actions at my fingers instead of relying on my upgraded Magic Mouse. Throw in a Touch ID button at my fingers to authorize passcodes and purchases and I am in love.

My Own Publishing House

Assembling the proper tools for creative writing has been a tiresome but crucial process And after all these years of experimenting with various programs and platforms I think I am there. I’ve been searching for ways to increase my productivity and also more efficient, organized. I wanted a means to self-publish quickly and from all my devices no matter where in the world I am at the time. With this setup, I can focus on the content and process as opposed to wondering if the tools I had would do the job. And I think I am there. Finally.

When I want to write for myself, I use this website, which is hosted by WordPress servers. The fact that you are reading this and following along with me is appreciated. When I want to expand and share thoughts on other topics, I will publish to Medium, a website that is designed to connect writers and readers alike.

Self-Publishing With

Ulysses

Before 2019 I was using either Windows or Linux operating systems and this meant my word processors were either Microsoft Word or Google Docs. These writing apps were focused on design and both very cumbersome. Sporadically the text was preserved with autosave, mostly not. No thanks. After migrating everything to the Apple ecosystem in 2019 I began to explore alternatives out there and found a few. The one application that kept coming up was Ulysses.

Ulysses has a minimalist interface and stores your text in iCloud, instantly retrievable on all my Apple devices. I am currently writing this using Ulysses on my new M1 MacBook Pro and the experience is an amazingly refreshing breath of fresh air. Another benefit of Ulysses is the capability to push the Publish button and have my words posted immediately to my website and Medium.

Minimal but brilliant

WordPress

Prior to Ulysses, I would be forced to cut/paste my text from the word processor into the file transfer protocol, upload to my web server and hope the text formatting was screwed up once it arrived, ready for me to publish.

Exporting my text through Ulysses is amazingly effective and one of the best this author has experienced. Every word, link, category, tag, and image is right there as intended.

Medium

The same efficiency of self-publishing from Ulysses to my website is there again when publishing from Ulysses to Medium. There are some minor tweaks that I’ll go back in and correct, but it is still more efficient than the past experiences.

This is the final step in the self-publishing process and again, Ulysses comes through brilliantly. As brilliant as it is, some people may balk at the cost, others may find the price to be reasonable but at $40 annually it has been worth the chance for me to write on my phone, tablet, or laptop flawlessly.

Honorable Mentions

iA Writer

Scrivener

Ugh. How is this a favorite of some writers? Too bulky and right out of the early 2000’s