At Home with Tech

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Tag: photos

How a Digital Photo Frame Helps Me Remember my Dad

I’ve set up a photo gallery of my father’s life on this digital photo frame. It’s powered up next to me at my desk and rotates through his images across the years.

My father is gone. I knew this day would eventually come, but I was still entirely unprepared for the terrible moment when it arrived.

He passed away on December 15th. While he wasn’t in the best of shape, his death was sudden and a surprise. He was in rehab at the time and was medically stable. The nurse had just been in to see him. When she came back, he wasn’t there anymore.

That was it.

My dad always liked to play by his own rules. So, it feels appropriate that he left this world on his own terms. He had always told me that he wanted to die in his sleep. This seemed pretty close. He wasn’t in pain, and it was quick.

He was 89. (Here’s his obituary.)

My father had a full life, and throughout his 80s he often told me that he didn’t expect that he would be sticking around that long. He also said in recent years that he was okay with passing on, because he had enjoyed his life.

Donald Lester had “lived.”

One Last Present
A week before he died, I ordered a digital photo frame to give him for the holidays. My plan was to set it up in his rehab room to share some family photos with him.

After my success placing an Amazon Echo Dot Wi-Fi speaker next to his bedside so his could listen to his favorite tunes from the ‘40s and ‘50s, this was to be my next step. I wanted to provide a little more personal tech support to help make his time away from home more comfortable.

Plus, my father loved technology. (I got that from him.) I knew he’d get a kick out of the digital photo frame.

But I never got the chance to give it to my dad.

A Different Use
So, the Nixplay frame sat in its unopened box on the floor of my home office. I’ve been wondering what to do it with. Of course, I knew I could send it back.

Instead, I’ve decided to hold onto it.

I would finish what I had set out to do… but with a modified purpose. I would still load it with family photos, but with pictures of him… for me.

His Pictures Tell his Story
I powered up the digital frame, and it’s now in place on a shelf by my desk.

It glows warmly with images of my father and cycles through his photos across the years. It’s one way to keep his story alive.

He was a born-and-bred New Yorker. He traveled the world including Africa and into the Amazon rain forest. He had his suits tailored from Hong Kong, and he loved to wear his bowlers and straw hats. And he was a life-long Yankees fan.

He was a real character.

A Digital Candle
I think setting up this digital frame near me is also a way to help me process all of this.

As you might imagine, there’s been a lot ‘to do’ over these past weeks. I haven’t had much time to truly feel the impact. The loss. As that happens in the months ahead, this frame will serve as a comforting support for me and my family.

It’s a little candle for me.

Holding onto the Memories
Over the past months, I’ve been slowly digitizing some of the photos that my mother had placed in thick albums decades ago when I was growing up. She was the family archivist. (I can’t believe it’s already been 16 years since she passed.)

Moving forward, of course I’ll continue my family-photo archiving project. And I’ll keep feeding the frame with images of my father throughout his life… and mine.

It’s one way to honor his memory and to help me remember the good times.

I miss you, Dad.

How iCloud Photos Saved my Family’s iPhones

If your iPhone is running out of storage, it may be because it’s housing too many photos and videos. Here’s why iCloud Photos can help.

My wife and I have been happily shooting and collecting thousands of photos and videos on our iPhones over the years. But there’s a problem. We’re running out of storage on our devices.
(As we upgraded from one iPhone to the next, the digital files simply ported over, and our huge visual libraries kept on growing.)

On one level, it’s nice to have access to every photo and video you’ve ever taken on a smartphone. But it’s entirely impractical. It’s way too many files, and more importantly, any iPhone probably can’t handle that much content without being overwhelmed with the storage need.

Sooner or later, your iPhone will become hobbled. And when you find yourself deleting apps to try to free up precious memory, you really know you’ve got a problem.

Yes, I’ve been there. You need a better solution.

Fortunately, Apple’s got one.

iCloud Photos
To access more storage, you have to look to the cloud. You simply activate Apple’s iCloud Photos, and all of your photos and videos will sync to your iCloud account and across all of your other Apple devices.

How does this help your iPhone? Well, just be sure that “Optimize iPhone Storage” is checked in the settings for your iCloud Photos. That’s the magic step.

When you activate this setting, your iPhone will generate and hold onto smaller versions of your photos and videos while the full-resolution versions live in iCloud.

With just the compressed versions of your photos and videos on your iPhone, you’ll suddenly have a whole lot more available local storage.

Plus, you’ll have all of your media backed up in iCloud.

There is a Cost
Of course, there’s a price for this iCloud ‘upgrade.’ (The measly 5GB you get for free will barely cover a week’s worth of content.)

50GB costs 99 cents/month, and 200GB is $2.99/month.
(2TB goes for $9.99/month, but that’s much more data than your iPhone can generate.)

Before your turn on iCloud Photos, you’ve got to upgrade to an iCloud plan that will cover your needs.

I decided to go with the 200GB plan and share it with my wife’s iPhone through Apple’s Family Sharing feature.

No Finish Line
iCloud Photos is a simple solution to solve for the problem of your ever expanding library of photos. Paying a few bucks a month to activate this capability is definitely worth it.

But simply maintaining a disorganized library of imagery over the years isn’t going to do you any favors. You’ve got to eventually go through your photos… choose the best ones, organize them and then delete the rest.

You need to do the work and curate your best images. Otherwise, they’ll get lost in your sea of countless photos.

Sure, they’ll be safely stored in iCloud. And your iPhone will have more storage.

But that shouldn’t be the end of the story.

Good luck as you continue this life-long photo and video project!

How to Really See your Home for the First Time


It’s been difficult to maintain a sense of structure and control. I’ve often used the phrase ‘new normal’ during COVID-19, but that assumes a comfortable level of stability. And I expect there’s plenty of flux ahead.

All we really have is where we are.  And for many of us, that’s spending most of our time at home. And while there are worse scenarios, it can feel like an extended space voyage. Sure, Zoom chats can help with the isolation, but only to a point.

For me, I’ve certainly begun to experience our home differently. Some of the patterns I’ve been able to hold onto have taken on new meaning. And I’ve even noticed things for the first time that have been in front of my eyes for years.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that we’re forced to be more present. Here’s my take on this new normal…

  • Welcome to the jungle
  • Find the beauty in the mundane
  • See your reality

Now, slow down. Pull out your smartphone. And take the picture…

Morning Lawn Sprinkler Storm
Survival of the Fittest on our Patio
Breakfast Surprise
Summerlong Seltzer Party
A Bee Visits our Flower
Time to Sweep the Deck
Backyard Movie Night
Being Present for Piano Time


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