Why I’m Going Back to iOS

I used the iPhone 3, 4, and 5 before jumping to Android. I had the Nexus 4 and 6P, the Pixel XL, and the OnePlus 7Pro. But now I have jumped back over to iOS and the iPhone 13. This was not a light decision, but rather one that I struggled with for several weeks of research and weighing pros and cons.

As I have gotten older, I realized that for all the convenience of big brother Google watching me…I just didn’t want to be surveilled by an advertising company every minute of every day. I became far less enamored with the conveniences as I came to better understand how Google was making billions in profit on everyone’s data and giving them a pittance of services. Services, I might add, that they are notorious for discontinuing at the drop of a hat. I’ve had a number of conversations with people that tell me I’m getting email/calendar/maps/etc for free, so I am being compensated for my data. And if it were anywhere near equitable, they wouldn’t be clearing the amount of profit they do every year.

Which led me to my decision a few weeks ago. I decided that there was not an Android-based phone out there that would meet my personal and professional needs without sacrificing my every movement and interaction to the Great Google Data Machine ready to be sold off to every random advertiser with a few cents to spare. This left me with the only other viable choice of iOS. I know, there are options like the PinePhone and Librem 5, but I cannot install my company’s required security software on anything but Android and iOS. So if Android is out, iOS it is.

I have been running the iPhone 13 since the launch day and it has been pretty good. The widget options are not quite as robust as the ones on Android, but they also have not been available nearly as long. I really do like the Focus feature. And as much as I wanted to dislike Face ID, it is much faster and more reliable than my OnePlus’s in-screen fingerprint reader.

I am also planning on pickup up the Apple Watch to replace my Samsung Gear Fit 2. Not that I can complain about the Gear, it has served me well for several years. But it does not integrate well into the Apple ecosystem and the battery has gotten very flaky in the past 8-12 months. The Apple Watch does a lot more than the Gear, though it is also bulkier. So I will have to give it a try and hope that I find it at least as useful and convenient as I have found the Gear to be.

This, again, feeds into my desire to get away from technology that is tightly coupled with a massive machine solely designed to gather as much data about me as possible so it can conduct more effective psychological warfare against me. Yes, this is a dramatic way of saying I do not like advertising and I do not want to help an advertising company market to me more effectively. If I decide there is something that I want or need, I will do my own research at that time and make my own informed decision of which one to get, if any.

And honestly, that is the crux of the entire decision. I have spent the last 15 years diligently removing as many forms of advertising from my life as I could reasonably accomplish. I started by getting rid of cable television and going with streaming services and purchasing seasons of shows that I want to watch. I use ad blockers in my browsers. I have a pi-hole at my house to prevent my computers from being able to reach known tracking and advertising systems. I have also been moving into services that I pay for up front or host myself such as email hosting with MXroute or file hosting on my personal server with Nextcloud. So while I know the iPhone is also keeping up with where I go and what I do, I have opted to go with what I feel is the lesser of two evils. I am not foolish enough to believe that Apple truly values every customer’s personal privacy over profit. But I think they care about it more than Google as their entire business model is not solely based on being an advertiser. Apple would rather see how many of my dollars they can get from me up front, and I am okay with this arrangement. I know who all is involved in the transaction before I make it. And that matters to me.

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Rack em up

server rack

So after years of running various iterations of a home server and more than a year in a rack style case sitting on the floor…I finally have my server where it belongs.

It’s not a slippery slope, it’s a water slide!

No really, having a real home server is not a slippery slope. Just because it started as my Plex and Nextcloud server and is now running 14 docker images and a VM hosting multiple services…just because I now host my own email, password manager, music streaming, movie streaming, TV show streaming, eBook reading, Minecraft, and network monitoring and management services on said server does not mean I have a problem. Really. I can stop whenever I want. Oh, and this blog is hosted on said server. I suppose I should have that in the list as well. My daughter’s blog is hosted on this server, too. I should not forget that one either.

My latest addition is the music management and streaming (based on this image). So I have Headphones in a docker for music management. It is connected with a local Musicbrainz mirror in another docker for artist, album, and track info. All of that ultimately puts my music in a file share that Plex and Airsonic can see. The latter I am now using to stream (Spotify style) to my phone when driving. Oh, and if for some reason Headphones is unable to identify an album, I have beets in another docker as a secondary identification system. Right now using beets is a manual process but I am currently working on a script that will monitor my ‘incoming’ folder for ‘[Unprocessed]’ at the end of a folder name. This indicates that Headphones was unable to match it. Those will be moved to a folder that beets will run against on a schedule. See? Totally not a slippery slope.

On an unrelated note, I’m probably about 2-3 months away from needing more RAM for that server.

And it’s not even the final form

I’ve taken my time off to make a few upgrades to my home network. I’ve gone from an Asus AC68P that has been dying a slow death to a much more capable system. The Asus has served me well with the Merlin ROM on it but as time has gone on, it has started requiring a reboot every week or so to stay functional. Given that I run a number of web services myself, this is not acceptable. So I splurged.

I am now running a Ubiquiti Unifi setup. My modem feeds into a UniFi USG gateway that then feeds a UniFi Switch 8 POE-150W. The POE is needed because I’m currently installing two UniFi UAP-AC-PROs to cover the entire house with glorious high speed wifi. All of this is controlled by the UniFi Controller software. I did not bother with the Cloud Key which is basically a POE computer running the controller software. Instead I just installed the Docker image of the software on my home server.

So right now I have a single UAP-AC-PRO connected and sitting under my television in the living room while I run the cabling to what will be my new wiring “closet” (which is more of a corner in the bonus room). One AP will be in the living room near the side where the kids’ rooms are. The other will be in the hallway just outside the master bedroom, which is on the other side of the house.

I like the UniFi setup since the APs are meshed and because both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz networks can use the same SSID. So now I have a single SSID for all WiFi connectivity in my house. Each device will negotiate whatever speed and frequency it needs for optimal performance. Moving through the house will also allow devices to seamlessly switch between the APs as needed.

I managed all of this with only a 20 minute downtime of the network. It could have been less but I wanted to configure the gateway to use the old Asus IP address so I had to give it a temporary configuration for the initial switch then change it once I pulled the Asus from the network. That took a bit of finagling with a laptop connected via patch cord to the switch to pull off.

My next step is to pull the cabling through the attic to my patch panel then move the equipment to its final location in the bonus room. This will also allow me to put the server up there and get that noise maker out of the living room. Once everything is set, I will be ready to move to the next phase which will be getting some POE security cameras for the house.