The slow and painful act of ungoogling yourself

With Google’s questionable treatment of privacy, you might want to gain some distance from that company.

I’ve done that myself a couple of steps at a time, and now I’m at the point where only one or two unhappy circumstances keep me nailed to the crucifix of Google systems and services.

Here’s what worked well:

  • Replacing Google Reader with my own TinyTinyRSS instance.
  • Replacing Picasa with my own Gallery instance.

Here’s what didn’t work so well:

  • Finding a new mobile operating system. I’ll be trying out Firefox OS and Sailfish on the Galaxy Nexus as soon as both have images available. I’m tied to WhatsApp and I think Sailfish is more likely to get a WhatsApp port, so my money’s on that. But ZTE has recently announced that they’ll be making off-the-shelf phones running Firefox OS this year, and Samsung is reviving Tizen, so I’ll be looking at those as well.

    I don’t know how much cross-pollination there will be between TIzen and Sailfish (as they’re both based on a Meego fork), but if there is any, it could be important for the market.

  • Replacing Google Docs. There seems to be no direct competition for the realtime collaboration aspect, except if you’re content with very basic formatting and using PiratePad.

    I know no reasonably easy to maintain Free Software browser-based office suite I could install. For more structured text editing with less of a realtime requirement, an instance of DokuWiki will do just fine.

  • Finding a good search engine. Sure, there is DuckDuckGo, but even though I love that thing and all its features, the results sometimes lag behind Google’s.

    I remember one episode where I asked something about a recent bug in some piece of software on a developer IRC channel and was asked, “why didn’t you Google it? It’s the second result on Google!” Of course I’m not a stupid arsehole, I always research existing solutions before bothering people on IRC. But DuckDuckGo simply didn’t find any information about that issue, even days later. Google really did have it on the first page (not as the second result, due to the way the search bubble works, but on the first page anyhow).

    How could we let it get so far that only one single company can provide good search results anymore?

So for me, it’s mostly WhatsApp keeping me with Google’s products. I realize WhatsApp is its own privacy nightmare. The main reasons I use it is that I refuse to pay € 0.08 per 160 characters of text when sending text messages on my phone, and the fact that it does group communication and attachments, whereas SMS is stuck in 1989. What are the telcos thinking?

Telcos are working on rolling out a replacement for SMS, and I hope it will at least dethrone WhatsApp. Of course it would be even better if people just used networks of interconnected XMPP servers, but I don’t think the average user can be arsed to do that.

Yay, degoogling!


0 thoughts on “The slow and painful act of ungoogling yourself”

  1. Last time I did that, I used Mozilla Lightning over WebDAV. With Apache serving the files. Worked nicely, but if you need to support entire groups of people, you need a server with CalDAV support. Haven’t tried any of those yet!

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