I have been an Apple fan for many years. Most recently using a lovely MacBook Air (M1), a beautiful blue iPhone 12, and an iPad Air. But no more. This post was written on my Dell 3080 micro desktop running Linux Mint. My new Android Pixel 6 is lying by its side.

I’ve stripped all communications software, contacts, and photographs from my iPad, and use it only for media playback and browsing. The MacBook and the iPhone are gone. Making this move was a difficult decision because the finely crafted Apple stuff worked really well and worked really well together, automatically. That’s not always the case in the Linux or cross-platform worlds. It took days to get calendar syncing working between Apple (family members), Android, and Linux devices, and to do that I ultimately had to move all my calendars to a third party cross-platform system, Cozi, which works very well.

There is a lot more “grit” in my new setup and a lot less “honey”. But, in the IT world grit can be good. By that I mean that there are defined open interoperability standards governing exchanges between functional apps. Those standards increase our security and privacy. We get addicted to information technology “honey”, you know. We forget about what we are giving up to get the smooth, sweet interoperability that comes with broad closed systems like Apple’s. Or Google’s. Or Microsoft’s. Tight integration through webs of almost impenetrable code can create security and privacy problems. It can hide things. It is complicated and exclusionary. Interoperability should come through open standards.

So what happened to make me go to all this trouble and expense? Not just the grit vs honey thing. My concerns began to rise with Jeffrey Paul’s November 2020 blog article, “Your Computer Isn’t Yours” (1). Apple’s honey pot was starting to overflow. It was becoming clear that my Mac really wasn’t my Mac anymore. It was increasingly just a hardware device connected to Apple’s iThing universe. I was losing control as to what software ran on it.

Then, in 2021, Apple announced decision to install a CSAM (child sexual abuse material) scanner on Apple devices (2, 3, 4, 5). Now, there is no CSAM on any device I own, so this was not a practical concern for me, and I didn’t care much what they did in THEIR iCloud because I could always (and did) encrypt important stuff (not CSAM) with my own tools before I put it there. But, philosophically, I cared a lot what they did to MY computers. A line had been crossed.

I also cared about the practical safety and even the lives of Apple device users who live under repressive regimes like those in Russia, Belarus, Syria, Iran, China, and even Texas (with its new take on Red Guard-like vigilantes) or Florida (with the Governor’s proposed new private volunteer army) (5). That’s the hot-flowing-blood-real problem. What happens when one of these governments says to Tim Cook, “You already look for CSAM, it should not be difficult to find who is saying bad things about our glorious leader. Here is a new law requiring you to do that.” Well, we already know the answer to that question because, for all practical purposes (China’s requirement for government controlled local servers), it has happened (6).

What might nation-state hackers do with Apple’s new “backdoor” code? We don’t know, but Apple is on a steep slippery slope and I choose to let them take the slide by themselves. I’ll not help them make a big mistake, and I’ll accept the pain required find new ways to get things done even if they are not quite so pretty. I’ll gain standards grit while I’m at it. Grit that can protect me from lazy information systems practices and the security and privacy weaknesses that come come with them.

So, the iPhone had to go. I chose my new Pixel 6 Pro phone because Android is more open to scrutiny than IOS. I don’t know that there is no “big brother” scanning going on on this device, but I find no evidence to suggest that there is. Certainly not an open admission. I chose to use Linux Mint Cinnamon on a Dell Optiplex 3080 micro-desktop that replaced my MacBook Air M1 (8) because Linux is as open as presently possible, and Linux Mint Cinnamon is about as refined as Linux comes (a lot like Windows XP). My existing ARM Pinebook Pro laptop (9) fills in for the Air when I have to be on the move. I use Manjaro/KDE Linux on the Pinebook.

There are thousands of eyes pouring over Linux Mint and Manjaro code every day. I have virtually total control of data management with a high degree of trust under these operating systems. It’s taken me a week to make the switch, mostly time required for moving and cleaning up data, and while there is more to do, I think I’m fairly well settled in. Linux Mint has come a long way since I last saw it. It found my Brother printer/scanner all by itself, just like Windows, and both functions work perfectly out of the box. Signal serves as my cross-platform messenger. Thunderbird does the mail. LibreOffice is all I need for writing, spreadsheets, presntations, and the like.

Today, even though I may have to shift gears manually sometimes, I have really good control of MY machines. Not the other way around. iPrivacy.


  1. https://sneak.berlin/20201112/your-computer-isnt-yours/
  2. https://gizmodo.com/critics-say-apple-built-a-backdoor-into-your-iphone-wit-1847438624
  3. https://gizmodo.com/apple-reportedly-working-on-problematic-ios-tool-to-sca-1847427745
  4. https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2021/08/apples-plan-think-different-about-encryption-opens-backdoor-your-private-life
  5. https://nordvpn.com/blog/apple-backdoor-iphone/
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/dec/03/ron-desantis-plans-florida-paramilitary-force-outside-federal-control
  7. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/17/technology/apple-china-censorship-data.html
  8. https://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/desktops-all-in-one-pcs/optiplex-3080-micro-desktop/spd/optiplex-3080-micro (Very good Linux box)
  9. https://www.pine64.org/pinebook-pro/ (Very light duty machine, but works)

Sol or Plaid

I have been watching Tesla’s Plaid release video’s for the last few days. They were hard to miss, really very interesting, and I’m fine with what I’ve seen, in context.  I own a Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor LR. Love it. But, we really don’t need many Plaid Model S cars, and, fact is, we won’t get many. I’ll never have one.

The Plaid Model S is a magnificent technology development project for Tesla. Good for business. Importantly, it projects leadership and power. It is a poster child (1), and that’s its context. However, in service the Plaid S is just a 390 mile range toy that gets to 60 mph in about 2 seconds. It is very expensive, and for that reason alone cannot urgently and directly help us solve our number one contemporary human survival problem, global warming.

Climate-wise, we need practical long-range carbon-free vehicles that we can afford to buy. Sadly, they are not here yet. But, there is hope.

Oddly enough, there was a fledgling company called Aptera Motors (2) putting on a show at about the same time as Tesla’s Plaid reveal. I suspect very few people watched Aptera’s webinar. Their car, the 1000 mile range (show me) Sol (current alpha version name), is a total departure from contemporary automotive design. The minimalist Sol could bring costs down to where common folk can participate in the greening of private transportation, even if it takes a lethargic 3.5 seconds to get to 60 mph. My Model 3, by the way, takes about 1 second longer, and it can be quite scary.

Aptera Sol (3)

I’ve placed my deposit on a Sol-like production car, and hope I live long enough to complete the purchase. Aptera plans to start production this year, maybe next. We’ll see. The general simplicity of the vehicle and its composite fuselage may make that possible, may make it possible to avoid Elon Musk’s Model 3 manufacturing hell.

But, one thing for certain, while I am sure the Plaid is an absolute blast to drive, it cannot help solve the big problem. It’s at the wrong end of the solution spectrum. Aptera is at the correct end, maybe too close to the end for some, but at the correct end.


  1. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-25/tesla-s-model-s-plaid-has-more-power-than-anyone-really-needs
  2. https://www.aptera.us/
  3. https://static.wixstatic.com/media/312682_8d65c9d08f8e457a934101e8c9523410~mv2.png/v1/fill/w_742,h_446,al_c,q_85,usm_0.66_1.00_0.01/SupremelySafe.webp

Global Cooling Prize

Each of these air-conditions is about 18% efficient (or less).

Eight Global Cooling Prize finalists have been announced. (1) The prize was initiated by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI); the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India; and Mission Innovation, and is administered by RMI, Conservation X Labs, the Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE), and CEPT University. This is probably news to you. After all, we in the USA are being asked by our leaders to burn more coal, oil, and gas.

In other parts of the world where some degree of environmental rationality still exists, things are different. The Cooling Project goal is to to develop technology that will provide equivalent residential cooling for one fifth of the present power requirement. That improved efficiency can save up to 5,900 TWh/year in avoided demand in 2050, equal to 2X the annual generation of electricity within the EU, and it has the potential to potential to mitigate up to 0.5˚C of global warming by 2100.

Because our Legacy House is largely solar powered, our air-conditioning CO2 contribution is very low. We are probably doing better than the Cooling Project’s 2050 goals even today. Many people, particularly those in crowded urban environments or those lacking sufficient financial resources cannot go out and build solar houses. But if they can buy a window or house air-conditioner that is five times more efficient to run, that’s a winner from personal economic and global environmental perspectives.


  1. https://globalcoolingprize.org/about-the-global-cooling-prize/the-solution/#

Bicycle Tires

We have bicycles in our garage, and in our New Urbanism community we think we will have an opportunity to make more use of them than we used to do. They won’t be just for recreation. We can ride to local shops, get the mail, or visit a neighbor a few blocks away. Good for the body and less car use — even if ours is largely solar powered.

But there is a problem with bicycles that complicates the situation, and that is keeping air in the darned tires. If one does not ride often, the first thing that has to happen before each run is to pump up the tires. That’s particularly true if the bike is one with 700×35 high pressure tires that leak down like helium balloons. Like ours did. It’s often easier, cleaner, and faster just to jump into the car. Having a bike that can’t be ridden when it’s needed just takes up garage space.

For other reasons we recently replaced one of our bikes with a low-maintenace Specialized Alibi. (1) It came with airless tires made by Tannus. The riding experience is good. This bike is ready to go at a moment’s notice without the need for a pit stop to get under way. So, after a little thought and research we decided to change out the pneumatic tires on the perfectly good second machine (Trek) with Tannus tires. A lot cheaper and more ecologically responsible than replacing the whole bike.

We did not take pictures of the replacement process and did not plan to write about bike tires as we were doing the job. Sorry. The replacement task is tedius and somewhat difficult. There are several Tannus and Youtube videos on the process. If you decide to do this, watch them all. Pay attention. Take notes. Do what they say to do. Have a helper. Have cold drinks at the ready. Don’t waste money on the special installation pliers. They don’t work well and the standard tool that comes with each tire will get the job done if you use it correctly. An important point is to push the standard tool into the center area of the tire as the retainer clips are being pressed down. That makes things go much easier. If you watch the videos, you’ll see what this meaningless important point is all about. Don’t forget it.

Anyway, we got it done. We have two emission-free vehicles that are ready to go when we are and can’t have flats. How cool is that?

  1. https://www.specialized.com/us/en/alibi-c–2018/p/157831
  2. https://tannus.com/tires/

Electricity Use

We have four months’ data to give us some idea how the Legacy House solar plant, seen above just after installation, is working.

May 2019 — $46.48, 731 kWh delivered, 416 kWh to grid, 315 kWh net.
June 2019 — $20.40, 617 kWh delivered, 544 kWh to grid, 73 kWh net.
July 2019 — $9.50, 488 kWh delivered, 536 kWh to grid, -48 kWh net.
August 2019 — $16.48, 619 kWh delivered, 577 kWh to grid, 41 kWh net. 

It appears that we are getting a bit less than 85% of our power from the garage roof panels. That’s great, but a bit more than we really want. Unless one builds off-grid, AEP Ohio expects net-metering users like us to buy some power to pay for grid maintenance. That’s fine.

Keep in mind that the numbers above relate to the house and the electric car in the garage.

Drip Irrigation

At the Legacy House we are trying to be responsible about the use of energy and water. We have started installation of a drip irrigation system (1) for the lawn-free landscaping.

The drip lines in the image above will be covered by two to three inches of mulch. They are uncovered now until we are sure everything is working properly, as it seems to be.

There are long lists of advantages and disadvantages to drip irrigation. For us low water usage, low initial cost, and better weed control were the principle considerations.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drip_irrigation