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De-Google Your Life

De-Google Your Life

I've been consciously been trying to de-google my life for quite some time, with various levels of success. I really don't like the idea of having my personal information owned by some other company. It is extremely difficult to not have personal information gathered by various companies, sometimes even stolen. Lately, I've been more aware of such things and I see cameras everywhere, and by everywhere I mean everywhere. Last night at Wal-mart, I found my daughter in the makeup aisle, where there were two cameras monitoring each aisle for my safety. I guess they don't care so much about safety elsewhere in the store. We stopped by the drive through at McDonald's1, there was a camera staring me in the eye. sheez

It's just not google, it's everywhere. My major medical insurance company offers a benefit where they supply diabetic meters and testing supplies for free. Guess what it's not free, you pay in kind with personal data. My wife has one of these gizmos. She hasn't checked her blood sugar in a while; They send her a card in the mail saying if she checks her sugar within the next 7 days they will send her a $20 Amazon gift card. I would venture to guess that the insurance company gets more than $20 from Amazon to offset the cost of the card. Wonder who else the insurance company sells personal information to? But I digress, this is about controlling what information medical insurance companies have and what they do with it, it's about Google and what information they collect.

So I've decided not to use Google anymore, how am I doing this? Well not as well as I would like. Let's start with services for which I no longer depend on Google.

Email

That was a big one. Fortunately, I've been using email in my jamestechnotes.com domain for a very long time. I initially was just forwarding it to my gmail account. Google still gets to see, read, analyze, and whatever else they wished to do with my email.

I've went through a couple of paid hosting providers, the latest one was rackspace. I don't think rackspace was reading my emails, but it was on their servers. I also found it very limiting. I could only have 5 emails and only in a single domain without paying more. I now self host my email on a linode vps, for the same price I was paying rackspace. For my out of band email I use riseup.net.

As of I consider my email to be de-googled.

Calendar

I've stopped using Google calendar, even without a good replacement. I have exchange at $WORK, don't have choice, and just use emacs' org-mode for non work things. I know there are other things out there.

Google+

I've setup a GNU Social site which suffices for my uses. I've long since left facebook, twitter, and their ilk.

I've long since left blogger and wordpress and self host by blogs on the same linode vps mentioned earlier. The software used is ikiwiki, since you asked.

Hangouts

I just stopped using it. Irc works quite well. SMS works but the carriers have the potential to eavesdrop. I suspect at some point I will setup a jabber service and use on the IM clients that perform end-to-end encryption.

Voice

This is another service ingrained into my life. I've haven't really left it, I just treat my google number as a spam number. I give it to people and businesses who I don't want to know my real number.

Android

Well, I guess I can't get rid of this one. I would switch back to a flip phone, but I frequently need google maps especially when going to some high school several hours away to watch Austin's ?band competitions.

However, I use F-Droid as my primary app store. I even logged out of the play store and the phone still seems to mostly work.

Others

I probably haven't touch on everything. But I guess this is a start to protecting my privacy. I do believe the nothing to hide argument is irrelevant. It's not really that I nothing to hide, apparently like most Americans I commit three felonies a day.


  1. Not that I like McDonald's, but the wife wanted a Diet Coke or apple pie or some such thing. ↩

On Blogging

It seems having a technical blog with no recent updates is not boring enough. Now I have 2. Instead of not writing technical bits and personal bits in my technical blog, I will now probably not write technical bits in my technical blog and personal/non technical bits here.

Apparently, blogging is not exactly trivial, or else everyone would be doing it.1 I've tried maintaining blogs over the years, unsuccessfully. Will this time be different? I don't know, maybe, or maybe not. Time will tell.

I certainly have better tools now than I have had previously. I can edit and post offline as I have a webserver on my laptop and utilize git hooks to facilitate publishing locally and online. A more technical description can be found ?tdb.

Still maintaining a blog is rather time consuming. While I'm driving around, working, or doing other things, I have many ideas on subject matter to write about. Seems that when I get near a computer with actual free time, I get distracted with other things, like helping out with homework, or even watching some show on Netflix.

So why do I wish to do all this anyway? Now, that's a fine question! Originally (many, many years ago), I had imaged keeping notes and information on the web to supplement my long term memory ;) and to hopefully help out others happen across postings while sorting out their own problems. I suspect that's still a valid reason, although it apparently still isn't sufficient (it probably is necessary). Why do I still wish to engage in this blogging nonsense? I want to build my personal brand, improve writing skills2, and just get my name out where people (e.g. hiring managers ;) ) can find me. I'm also very introverted, specifically INTP here or here. Not that I take it at face value what some silly test on the internet says, I've actually studied some literature on Myers–Briggs Type Indicator.


  1. Oh wait, everyone does seem to be blogging. ↩

  2. The type of writing for blogs doesn't seem to be quite the same writing for technical papers or even normal business communications, but still it should help with organizing thoughts. ↩

Posted
New Personal Blog

Well, I've decided to publish (or not publish as the case may be) a personal blog along side my technical one. I had a domain name I wasn't using, so why not.

Ideally this blog will contain things about my non technical interests1 and happenings of my family. We'll see what happens.

I will eventually move personal entries from my technical blog here, mabye.


  1. I like to think I have non technical interests anyway ;) ↩

Posted

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