I just started trying out Apple Music (Preview) from the Microsoft Store on Windows 11. First impression: it works!

Logged into my Apple Music sub and my whole library appeared. The app itself is good. 🎵

Unclouding The Benefits Of Local Data Storage

It’s great when you find something that resonates, like this article I just read. It brings to boil core points about digital well-being that have been simmering in me lately. The Verge author, David Pierce, talks about journaling in Day One and note taking in Obsidian - just like I do. But more important are points about trust, convenience, and the trade-offs of cloud computing.

Pierce writes,

As more of life moves online, we’re being asked to give more and more of our time, attention, and information to digital services. In return, we get a wealth of convenience…

I wrote recently that the biggest benefit of cloud computing is really nothing more than convenience.

In this digital world, are there any spaces left that are just mine?


Local storage

I’ve thought more and more about storing things only locally (like we all did before cloud computing). It’s still a feasible option today. Just because a device is connected to the internet doesn’t mean you must store all your personal or private data in “the cloud” on someone else’s hard drive.

Can I have all of those modern conveniences without constantly being asked to share, to socialize, to upgrade to the enterprise plan?

One thing I’ve had to accept when moving data out of iCloud, going local, is that my digital life may be a little less convenient. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s worth the trade off. I gain more direct control over my own data and reduce dependence on a for-profit business. Bonus: it can also mean one less subscription fee.

This minimizes the excessive trust I’ve placed in a single corporation, which can change for the worse or cease to exist altogether. This is partly why I’ve been decoupling from Apple lately. And speaking of a company suddenly ending, look at DPReview, which after a quarter century is being deleted from the internet by its owner, Amazon.

Personal apps

We too often underestimate the true cost of convenience.

We take risks with our data, entrusting it to others who only have our best interest in mind in so far as it profits the company’s bottom line. So while your personal and private data is precious to you - like irreplaceable photos - that data will never be as precious to a capitalistic corporation that has zero personal connection to said photos. Your images and memories only matter to a company if they somehow align to its revenue stream.

The internet is useful for sharing public information, but it doesn’t need to store all your private data. It’s safest to assume that any data you upload is public - even when it’s meant to be private. The most sensitive data - passwords - can be hacked, like with LastPass.

Day One

Journaling with Day One, which has been known for being serious about security and privacy by way of data encryption, has finally broached using a web app in a browser to record your most private thoughts. That’s certainly convenient, especially if you use a PC. But Day One lists several caveats to consider, which clearly shows one must trade off or risk security and privacy for the sake of gaining some convenience.

Keep in mind that some browsers and browser extensions can compromise security in a number of ways.

- Day One

Day One then lists several things to consider - risk assessment. Are you willing to potentially compromise security and privacy for a little convenience?

I used to keep my journal entries in my notes app. Then I moved them to Day One. But now that I’ve switched to Obsidian for my notes, I’ve been considering also moving my journal entries into their own vault there. I would need to give up some nice features from Day One. But I would gain the benefit of all my journals being simple text files in a simple folder system - no export ever needed.

Like the author of the Verge article said, I need “to decide which compromises you can live with.


The note-taking app Obsidian, another Personal App I’ve come to like, tackles the problem a bit differently…when you first install it, it’s really just a simple text editor on top of a folder of files on your device.

-David Pierce

This is exactly why I switched from Apple Notes to Obsidian. I’ll never need to export my notes from Obsidian. By default, they’re just text files on my local hard drive; they’re not kept in a proprietary data silo or app container. Obsidian references the files and doesn’t copy them into its own library.

Optionally, I can sync notes to my phone via Obsidian’s own solution, or I can use one from “Big Tech” like OneDrive, iCloud, or Google Drive. There’s also DropBox, Syncthing, or whatever cloud service I choose. Or I can trade off that bit of convenience and only keep my notes on my local device. Plain and simple.

No app is forever, and my journal entries and notes need to outlast Day One and Obsidian.


Being wary of “the cloud” overshadowing your digital life can help you avoid unecessary risks. Trading away the convenience of cloud computing and relying on local storage brings a highly valuable virtue besides safety or privacy: simplicity. It’s simple to keep local files in a local folder system. They’re easily accesible, directly tangible, and always available - even offline!

While default cloud sync solutions have become easier to use these days, the general framework is still complex as it uses multiple energy-hungry servers in data centers with your files and info zooming across the web, always in need of a wi-fi signal.

In contrast, old-school local storage is simple: no internet required. The most cumbersome example I have is still easy enough: moving all my Nintendo Switch media to my Mac. The Finder on Mac won’t/can’t recognize the Switch. So first, I connect my Switch to my PC via cable and transfer the media files to a folder. Next, I move that media onto a flash drive that works on both PC and Mac. Then I move the files from the flash drive onto my Mac.

Getting my photos from either my iPhone or my Canon camera onto either my Mac or PC is likewise simple, using a cable or USB card adapter.

These old-school workflows are easy. I have the benefit of all my data staying local for full and private access. I don’t need to pay for cloud storage. And cloning or backing up is as simple as a copy/paste onto another local drive.

If I really want all my files on all my devices, I can do that. The only real trade-off is that doing so isn’t automatic, and the files are not always in sync. But that’s easy enough to manage.

We relied on local storage; it was fine. Then cloud computing took over. The convenience of it made the cloud seem indispensable. But its benefits clouded the fact that we must trade off a level of security and privacy. Yet we don’t have to.

A mixed approach, relying more on local storage and less on the cloud, is the best practice moving forward.

What do you think?

And for more on this topic, check out this related article.

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This article about getting photos from iPhone to computer outside of using iCloud has good timing. This week, I turned off iCloud Photos on my phone and Mac and now rely on cable transfer. It simply works on both Mac and PC, and the workflow is like using a “real” camera.

Apple is great at integrating apps and services together. Prime example: iCloud Keychain to manage passwords across devices and make logins effortless. I agree; a stand alone app would be nice. That said, Bitwarden already has such an app, the service works great and - bonus - it’s cross-platform.

Yesterday, I dusted off my old Canon S5 IS point-n-shoot. After all these years, it can still snap shots that my iPhone 11 can’t. This Bluebonnet is straight from camera, no edits or crop. 📷

Today’s Tears of the Kingdom gameplay demo from Nintendo did for me what none of the previous trailers did; made me excited for the next Zelda. Seeing the new mechanics was enough to convince me the Big N has developed another great one. 🎮

As if I have much free time, I’ve been trying Affinity Photo lately, looking for a cross-platform photo solution unlocked from Apple’s iCloud/Photos. So far, so good. I may also try ON1. Another aim is to avoid subscriptions (sorry, Adobe Lightroom). 📷

I finished Xenoblade Chronicles 3 last night, beating the final boss and rolling credits! Final playtime: 112h:56m.

But I’m still playing! There’s more world to explore, side quests, and time to spend with the main characters. I’m still immersed; the game is that great. Plus: there’s DLC. 🎮

A little Quincula Lobata, I think. On a Texas farm. 📷

This tiny Rubik’s Cube is fully functional. 📷

Here’s some nice new color in an otherwise dry Texas field. 📷

Decoupling From One Computing Platform

Being the tech geek that I am, one of my quirks is that I go all-in on a single computing platform. Until I don’t. As I wrote earlier this month, the pendulum swung from Apple to a smorgasbord of apps and services from various developers. And of course, ones from Big Tech are hard to avoid. The trick is to not end up all-in anywhere, be it Google, Apple, or Microsoft; it’s paramount to prevent platform lock-in.

Dull, meet shiny

Sometimes, I change my tech setup because I get bored. Though apps and services I’m using are tried and true, they feel stale. Then I’ll see a fresh tech tool and find testing it to be tempting. While this happens with software, it’s most obvious with hardware, like when I sell or trade a perfectly working smartphone for…a newer perfectly working smartphone.

Do I need a new laptop? Nope. Do I want a new laptop? Yep.

Problem, meet solution

Other times, I switch because of some nagging issue with a current solution and finally discover a better option. Example: this month I ditched Apple Notes for Obsidian to solve the long-standing discomfort of all my notes being kind of stuck inside Apple’s special app. Obsidian gave me what I wanted and also what I think is needed, notes that are discreet files in folders, simply referenced by the app.

I’m also aiming to apply this same basic principle to all my photos, like I did years ago. Instead of letting iCloud and Apple Photos (or Google Photos) keep my pictures within their special libraries, I want my photos to be free in the computer’s file system. They can be either on Mac or PC, and any image editing app can edit or reference them. That’s file freedom and flexibility.

Fantasy, meet reality

The biggest reason why I’ve been personally decoupling from Apple’s ecosystem lately is because it’s not so practical; it’s better to be flexible. There are just too many other people using other platforms. Sticking to only one platform kind of segregates me from others. Sometimes there’s compatibility issues.

One example of this is the fragmentation, and friction, people feel when communicating via text messaging services. I don’t think that mess will ever be cleaned up. Some folks are on iPhone, some are on Android. Yeah. Just the way it is.

A better example is in my own home; no walled-gardens at all. Our house is open to all the tech. My wife is not swayed by fancy new gear, and she’s never been all-in with any one computing ecosystem. Her mail, calendar, and office apps have been spread across Microsoft, Apple, and Google for years. Likewise, her phone is from one company while her laptop is from another. My kids are in the same disparate boat too. My family uses Chromebooks and Windows PCs while I’m the odd man out, using a MacBook.

Though I can be an Apple fanboy, I must still troublshoot Windows when Microsoft changes a setting or if my kids' homework isn’t being backed up. And though I’ve relied on Apple Photos to manage my pix, my family doesn’t use the same luxury. As I.T. man of the house, I get to ensure that the iCloud for Windows utility is working so they can access all their iPhone snaps without a hassle.

I think instead of saying “fragmented,” it’s better to say computing setups are varied. One must diversify, be flexible. It’s easier to do that by using cross-platform apps and services, accepting the fact that one will sometimes need to rely on multiple providers or solutions. This may feel less synergistic, but it’s simple in a way because it removes bells and whistles and focuses on the basics.

For me, it feels freeing to be released from the confines of only-Apple software. I’m afraid to admit that I had limited myself from some apps, even if they were superior, simply because they were not “Designed by Apple in California.” For example, I now enjoy Microsoft’s To Do app instead of Apple’s Reminders, preferring how it handles daily tasking.

But I must be careful. By opening myself up to things outside of Apple’s walled-garden, I’ve already felt temptation to go too far in the other direction. Once I start using one app, like Google Docs, I find myself gravitating towards Gmail because of how it integrates in some ways. And Google Calendar is made nicer with the omnipresent sidebar that puts Google Tasks and Keep at the ready.

Or with Microsoft’s To Do, the vortex of Outlook tugs on me. I now juggle both iCloud Drive and Google Drive, but it sure would make sense for me to start using a Windows PC and just OneDrive…and then Office…and then I’ll be all-in with Microsoft.

Going all-in with any single computing platform is not the best, or most practical, answer. The bubble it creates will inevitibly burst. Someone will always compute differently. Even with social media, despite “everyone” being on Facebook, not everyone is actually on Facebook, especially these days.

Come to think of it, the most ubiquitous, cross-platform communication platform today is…email. No matter the email provider, everyone can email anyone. Likewise, the internet itself is the social network (Hi, Fediverse). It’s also the most ubiquitous computing platform for developers; web-apps are truly cross-platform, albeit not natively. The sticky part about the web is that, though it’s “everywhere”, it’s not local. Your stuff is in the nebulous cloud, not actually on your device.

Then again, it’s easier to decouple from one computing platform when you’re coupled to the all-pervasive web. Maybe there is a future for the so-called “Metaverse” after all?

What do you think?

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Good piece about browser password managers; they’re convenient but not as secure, feature-rich, or ubiquitous as dedicated ones.

Quoting Michael Crandell, Bitwarden CEO, from PC Mag writer Neil J. Rubenking:

“The limitation of browser-based password managers is that they work only within a walled garden. If you ever need to operate in another browser, or some environment where that browser doesn’t reach, you’re out of luck.”

Be careful about locking yourself into any single big company’s walled garden,” warned Crandell.

Avoiding platform lock-in is tricky but necessary.

As of last night, I’ve logged over 100 hours of playtime in Xenoblade Chronicles 3. It’s an exceptional RPG. Still plenty more to experience in its world while closing in on the main quest. 🎮

A road to somewhere. 📷

From long-time Windows expert, Paul Thurrott, talking about the default PC broswer:

Let me be very clear. No one—no one—should use or trust Microsoft Edge, it is to Microsoft what Chrome is to Google.

He promotes Brave. I’m enjoying Firefox from Mozilla.

Each year, I like to record when the first Texas Bluebonnets bloom in my yard. I noticed today that several budded this week. 📷

Loooong ago, I used LastPass. But over time I came to depend on default password managers from Apple or Google. Then I tried Bitwarden. Much good to say about it, especially that it’s cross-platform, outside of any particular computing ecosystem. Also this:

We believe that being open source is one of the most important features of Bitwarden. Source code transparency is an absolute requirement for security solutions like Bitwarden.

- Bitwarden

No time for patience. 📷

Testing iCloud Photos on Windows (PC). Learned:

  1. iCloud for Windows app works flawlessly, showing all my files and photos (over 16,000) in the Windows File Explorer - I can sort by “Date Taken” (unlike in Finder)!
  2. Windows Photos app integrates iCloud Photos flawlessly.
  3. Can edit .heic; save as jpeg.

Horizon 📷

Enjoyed an article today relating to Minimalism (something I lean into more when life feels overwhelming). I think this piece overall is about contentment. Here’s a line I liked:

…happiness is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.

- Attributed to Socrates

So as the adage goes, “Less is more.

Cal’s episode on reading hits me as I’ve spent most of my free time playing JRPGs lately. I’m also reminded of the simplicity and ease of reading a good book on my kindle. pca.st 🎙️📚

Internet connection. 📷

Some early spring wildflowers in Texas. 📷