Just learned: GIMP has an Apple Silicon version (gimp-2.10.34-arm64.dmg) and GIMP (FOSS/FLOSS) is on Mastodon, which means I can follow on Micro.blog. 🤓

Hello World!GIMP project now gets a new official Mastodon account! 🥳We can see the info leaked somehow (we had not announced it and already got 150+ followers in 2 days) 😂.GIMP news will be coming here too, from now on!Note: illustration by Aryeom (edited from her original video "What ... floss.social

Yesterday, my wife added the shiny pillow covers I had bought her for Christmas. 📷

Leaning into cross-platform workflows, I’ve switched from MarsEdit to Obsidian for Micro.blog. This “notes” app works on both Windows and Mac, supporting Markdown. It’s great to draft blog posts then copy/paste into browser post field. I keep an archived note with link to the post.

Cloud Computing Is About Convenience

I’m thinking about cloud computing versus the quaint old way we all used to just keep files in folders on our local drive. Do we really need to sync gigs of data in the cloud between devices? Is there a necessary utility to cloud computing, or is it merely about convenience?

I think in most cases, it’s the latter. In the past, our music, files, or photos lived on a desktop computer hard drive; we’d sync certain files (over a cable) to our PDAs, iPods, or phones as needed for being on the go. Or we’d copy the files we wanted onto a disk or thumb drive to use on another computer. Nowadays, cloud sync services basically do the same thing without the cable or the portable medium.

Three inconvenient cloud storage things

I like the convenience of the cloud, but there are things about it I don’t like. I’ll mention three.

One is the misconception that if my data is in the cloud, then it’s backed up. But that’s often not the case. Typically, files are stored “in the cloud” on a data server somewhere — and that’s it. My data is not on my local storage. Instead, I just see a reference (placeholder icon) to it. So all my data has one copy — the original — and no backup copies anywhere. Not good. If anything happens to that one copy, too bad.

Another complaint about relying solely on cloud storage is not having direct access to my data. It’s on someone else’s hard drive somewhere else. Unless I toggle an option to also keep a copy of my data on my local drive too, it’s beyond my reach without a persistent internet connection. So I must ensure that toggle is on because I can’t always guarantee the internet will be on. And unfortunately, many people don’t realize this.

The last problem is the tendency of companies to offer paltry amounts of base storage inside devices, forcing people to rely on cloud storage services — with subscription fees — in order to keep all files and photos somewhere. Why do many laptops today ship with a meager 256GB of internal storage? By now, the minimum base storage configuration on any laptop should be 1TB.

Local storage is underrated

I’m not advocating for everyone to quit using cloud storage; I still use it a lot. But I’m trying to be more mindful of how much I rely on “the cloud.” For-profit companies love for people to totally depend on cloud storage for everything. It’s like renting a remote hard drive and entrusting your entire digital life to a corporation’s server farm in an undisclosed location. Putting all your data-eggs in one basket seems unwise. It also incurs a pesky monthly subscription fee. Bleh.

Back in the day, you paid up-front one time for a physical hard drive (or computer) and simply put all your digital files on it. And if you were ever bit by data loss — drive failure — like me, then you also bought a backup drive “just in case.” So no monthly fees, and all your data was in at least two baskets, not one.

While computing companies may want to prioritize cloud storage, I think the best overall use case today is to make sure you primarily rely on local storage. Keep your data on your own device/drive. That’s the surest way to “own your content.” Then, as needed, sync a copy of your stuff via cable or to a cloud solution for easy access on your mobile device. Local storage should be the default while cloud storage is one option among others.

Your data should not live in the nebulous cloud behind a subscription payment and an internet connection. It should live on your own computer. And living in both places at the same time might be a good option too.

What do you think?

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As many will turn clocks forward one hour tonight, please let this be the last time this outdated practice exists. Abolish Daylight Saving Time. I don’t mind which way time lands – either sprung forward or fallen back – just stop changing it! Thanks🙏🏻

I think this gimcrack is a paperweight. 📷

Today, I got my first order from GuineaDad!

Morning ritual coffee. 📷

These pair well together. 📷 Yellow iPhone 11 + AirPods.

Much rain made a muddy walk today. 📷

Great article from The Atlantic on RSS solving algorithmic feed problem. I agree with the other problem, though, of making RSS more accessible:

“But though RSS is remarkably useful, it can be daunting to the uninitiated, and it lacks the slick marketing and cultural footprint of the social-media giants."

Solution: all browsers need a prominent built-in RSS button.

I recall Safari had one. When I searched for it, I learned MarsEdit dev @danielpunkass made a replacement after Apple removed it in Safari 6.

It’s time; bring back the RSS browser button.

It’s a whole world. 📷

Recent tech setup switch up:

  • Safari -> Firefox
  • Safari Reading List -> Pocket
  • iCloud Keychain -> Bitwarden
  • Apple Notes -> Obsidian
  • NetNewsWire -> Feedly

Leaning more toward cross-platform solutions. 🔀

Finished reading: Guinea Pig by Audrey Pavia 📚

I learned things. Plan to get two Guinea Pigs in the not too distant future.

Engineering Lego Technic. Differential gears. 📷

Tile 📷

I tried Bitwarden out a while back and rediscovered it this weekend; I’m a fan!

Check these out, they’re nice and handy:

I’m learning Obsidian, moving out of Apple Notes. I can’t get over this fundamental point:

In our age when cloud services can shut down, get bought, or change privacy policy any day, the last thing you want is proprietary format and data lock-in.

With Obsidian, your data sits in a local folder. Never leave your life’s work held hostage in the cloud again.

I had been wanting something like this for a long time, a simple way to use plain text files as notes. I’ll likely write a long blog post about Obsidian.

Zip ties. 📷

From @matt@isfeeling.social of A Better Computer, This is Obsidian! 🤩

Started learning about Obsidian for notes. First impression: whoa! 😮

  • notes are simply plain text files in the file system! Yes!
  • markdown!
  • sync via existing setup (iCloud, OneDrive, etc)
  • cross-platform native apps
  • free!

The app(s) itself has a learning curve.

Taking Apps Out Of The Apple Basket

Somewhere in the universe, a cosmic pendulum must have swung. I’m tilting away from my Apple-centric app focus toward cross-platform apps. For all the benefits of living nigh exclusively within Apple software, I’m reawakening to the wisdom and flexibility of not putting all my apps in one basket.

Big Tech Baskets

Apple’s walled-garden is nice: it gets the job done well, but does it always offer the best tools for every job? Fair question. And while the wall is “a feature, not a bug,” acting like a hedge of protection, what exactly am I protected from? And what sort of adventure might I discover outside the walls? Maybe there’s risk, but what if there’s a pot o’gold at the end of a rainbow?

There are other castles surrounded by moats. I was once all-in with Google, toting just an Android phone and a Chromebook. It was nice, especially when you consider the entry price. I got my tech fix for a fraction of the cost of Apple’s wares, using all the Google things.

Similar can be said of Microsoft with its line of Surface devices, Office suite, and OneDrive, for example. That said, without Windows Phone, one must rely on others.

Whatever tech giant you choose, it’s nice being able to dive in deep with as many apps and services as they make because their offerings look and work better together by design. Your computing is streamlined since your one account grants access to a whole family of apps/services.

But when you look past each tech giants’ synergistic advantages, you’ll see that there are many great third-party apps that deserve a chance. Indie developers, though relatively small, are no less creative and productive. In fact, since such devs can focus on one or a few apps, they tend to be better options with more robust feature sets or expert implementation.

Cross-platform Options

So I started looking over Apple’s wall. This year, I quit using Apple Notes for my journals and reverted back to Day One. The third-party developer was exclusive to Apple for years but went cross-platform with an Android app and now – in beta – a web app. For recording daily life, a dedicated journaling app far surpasses the capability of a general purpose notes app.

Last week, I stopped using Apple Podcasts and switched to Pocket Casts, also third-party and cross-platform. I just find the app better overall. It reminds me that, though Apple is great at software and hardware, it’s not the best in all cases.

Default or built-in apps typically have a low bar to pass, meeting basic functionality. In contrast, dedicated third-party apps typically offer more, better, or both in terms of features.

These moves were a crack in the Apple dam. What other non-Apple programs might I enjoy more? I’m reminded of the benefits of being less entrenched in a single tech giant’s ecosystem. It’s like mitigating risk and maximizing profit by diversifying your financial portfolio.

The Best Tools

For more examples, I’ve tried to use only Apple Books and an iPad for all my eReading in the past. Apple’s tablet is great, its Books app is very nice, and its eBook service is good enough. But despite my sincere efforts, I always run back to my beloved Kindle eInk screen and Amazon’s eBook market; I love it.

When it comes to gaming, I used to play iOS games and have enjoyed Apple Arcade exclusives like JRPG Fantasian from acclaimed Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. But gaming on Apple devices simply doesn’t compare to console gaming. Nintendo with its Switch is much better. Sony’s PS5 must also be greater since it flies off store shelves like the way people used to line up around the block to buy the new iPhones.

A few other moves I’ve made or am making to be less siloed:

  • I stopped using Apple News and now only use a third-party RSS reader, NetNewsWire (and formerly used cross-platform app Feedly).
  • I’m testing Firefox over Safari
  • I may use BitWarden versus iCloud Keychain
  • For reading later, Pocket instead of Safari reading list
  • I might also consider – gasp – a cross-platform alternative to Apple Notes like Simple Note (Markdown!).

Caveat: if I use Simple Note in addition to Day One and Pocket Casts, one might say I’m entering the Automattic silo. But Automattic, parent of WordPress, is open-minded and cross platform.

Apple makes quality hardware, very good software, and has the distinct advantage of the most holistic and cohesive computing ecosystem. But the problem of being all-in with Apple (or others) is having a closed mindset that misses out on potentially better apps.

Why rob oneself of the best tool for the job just because it doesn’t have a Big Tech logo on it?

Part of why I tend to switch up my tech setup is due to boredom. But this cross-platform push is more than a mere thought experiment or a geek seeking new tech toys. For me, a key advantage is the ability to compute on my family’s Windows computers, not just my MacBook, when the need arises. Or maybe I’ll someday revert to a PC for Steam gaming (that said, RPGMaker MZ runs great on my M1 MacBook Air).

If for no other reason, being locked into one computing platform seems unwise and feels restrictive. Though I plan to keep enjoying my MacBook and iPhone with much of Apple’s software, at least now I won’t have all my apps in one basket.

What do you think?

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Look how cute! Currently reading: Guinea Pig by Audrey Pavia 📚

Remote work from home today in solitude. 📷

Excited to be the 2,903rd 😎 on @BackerKit for SacriFire. Thanks @pixelated_milk and @BackerKit

This retro JRPG is looking really good. 🎮