13 Years of living with less Google

Posted on 03/14/2024 in misc

‚ÄčI made my first attempt at a de-Googed life in 2011, and wrote this final update in 2013. Long time noted online citizen Tim Bray is writing about de-Googling in 2024, which caused me to think about my post, and that led to this update 13 years later.

I still use Duck Duck Go as my primary search engine, and also as my browser on an Android phone. I use Chrome with the DDG extension on my Linux desktop. I'd prefer to use Firefox, but it got very crashy and I got tired of dealing with it.

In 2018 I did a PHP cleanse and converted my web site to a flat file format. I have completed zero security patches on my website since 2018. When I did that I stopped using TT-RSS and experimented with a number of RSS solutions before settling on simply using Thunderbird as an RSS client and not worrying about having access to my feeds from any device. Today, I'm using a browser extension called FeedBro, which is a fine RSS reader, but a terrible name for software.

Also around 2018, my web host sold out to Go Daddy, so it was time to make a change there too. I ended up putting the website at NearlyFreeSpeech.net, and email is with PolarisMail out of Canada. I do still have my Gmail address from 2004, it simply forwards to my domain account. I still use it when providing an email address verbally because it is so much easier than insuring odonnellweb gets spelled correctly.

Calendar services are also provided by PolarisMail, as my $24/year email plan gets me CalDav services.

Photo sharing is one thing I still kind of struggle with. It doesn't make sense to pay for Flickr for my use case. I've tried NextCloud several times and something always turns me off that solution. The Photo sharing kind of sucks and it's very basic. I do let my phone sync to Google Photos, but that is mostly for backup. When I want to share a photo album I create it off line with a Perl script called FGallery and then upload to this website. I am thinking about going back to NextCloud though, as Dropbox is all-in on the AI bullshit.

File sync and general backup is via a paid Dropbox account. I also archive MP3 and photos on an AWS S3 account. Having typed that out I realize that I don't need to back up to Google Photos at all.

I have tried to move away from Google Maps but the reality is that on Android, none of the other options measure up. I've tried several OSM powered flavors and also HereWeGo. HereWeGo maps as well as Google, but does not have the POI and business database that Google does. I also tried Copilot, which is paid and includes RV routing, but didn't like it either.

Premium YouTube did not exist in 2011, and we watch a lot of YouTube videos these days. If we count that as "using Google" then I'm using more Google than I was in 2011. If we ignore YouTube, then it's about the same.

So I'm going with using Google about the same as I did 13 years ago.

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