Saying goodbye to the cloud

My friend Michael Wheeler has written an excellent article on the whys and hows of removing your data from the cloud. This post is basically just to point you all towards it.

Over the last few years I’ve been in a similar process, getting rid of my Google account and hosting my own email. I’ve attempted to get rid of Facebook, and learned a lot about myself, my friends, and Facebook in the process. I now no longer have twitter (again) and I’m just generally being a lot more careful with my data.

I think everybody will benefit from thinking just a little more about where their information goes, so I highly recommend you read this article.

How to Study

In theory:

  1. Start up laptop.
  2. Make a cup of tea.
  3. Open a textbook.
  4. Read the textbook. Write notes.
  5. Google the **** out of anything that doesn’t make sense.
  6. After an hour or so, go to step 2. After 2 or 3 repetitions, go do something fun for a while.

Note how simple this seems.

In practise:

  1. Start up laptop.
  2. Make a cup of tea.
  3. Open a few textbooks and arrange them neatly on desk.
  4. Check email.
  5. Check Facebook.
  6. Check blog statistics.
  7. Go get another cup of tea, because the last one has gone cold.
  8. Go and sit on the deck for a bit.
  9. Water the garden.
  10. Unload the dishwasher.
  11. Take out the garbage.
  12. Check Facebook again.
  13. Clean bedroom floor.
  14. Go grocery shopping.
  15. Read Hack-a-Day.
  16. Read Wikipedia articles on things like DIN41612 connectors and VMEbus.
  17. Read the VMEbus specification. In full. Get bored.
  18. Go outside and sit in the sun again.
  19. Parents are home, go inside and look busy at your desk for a while.
  20. Write a blog post.
  21. Polish the dress shoes you haven’t worn in years.
  22. Make a catalogue of every single computer part you own.
  23. Consider building a new alarm clock for a while, then decide not to.
  24. Watch a season or two of Daria and/or Coupling.
  25. Watch every Star Wars movie in order to decide which is best.
  26. Purchase and install a new ADSL modem.
  27. Plant some chilli plants.
  28. Plan a holiday. Spend an annoyingly large sum of money on airfares.
  29. Realise the first exam is only a day away now.
  30. Study.

Facebook Pages ARE NOT Websites

There’s something I need to get off my chest. You may have guessed what it is by now.

I’m getting really sick of news outlets calling Facebook pages ‘websites’. It’s really demoralising to the people who actually own websites and put effort into maintaining them. I mean, it even costs money! I bet you don’t get the people who create pages spending money on them.

So, Southern Cross News, WIN News, and even ABC News (this one, I admit, surprised me), please just stop confusing pages and websites. If you really want to get pedantic, a Facebook page is indeed a webpage, but it’s not a website. Facebook as a whole is a website.

It also alarms me that the easier it gets to create content on the web, the stupider the content gets (I’m talking about this and this). Which makes me wonder: were the book publishers and the newspaper publishers right? Has the quality of published work suffered because of the Internet? The fact that they might just be right… well, that scares me.

Going without Google

This article on Zen Habits caught my eye today. Basically it’s about going without Google. Having done basically the same thing about a week ago, I thought I’d share how I went through the process.

The reason I decided to close my Google account was for the same reason as Leo (from Zen Habits). I don’t like the idea of a single corporation having access to all our personal data, no matter how “Don’t Be Evil” they are.

Gmail: I hadn’t been using Gmail for a few months anyway. I use the mail server on my web host, and download it via POP to Outlook on my desktop. I don’t care much about IMAP; if I’m on the move I don’t care about my email.

Calendar/Reader: For these I also use Outlook. For calendar, Outlook is second to none (basically, it was designed for corporate scheduling). For RSS, it’s less than ideal, but it’s decent. It’s nice to have it all in one program. If you don’t have Outlook, Thunderbird will do the same thing for free (and has better support for GPG to boot).

Search: Unfortunately I’m still a sucker for Google search. Along with all the sites Leo tried, I also used Dogpile. None of them even come close. Without an account however, Google only really can store my IP. Since I have a dynamic IP address and I’m behind a NAT router, that isn’t very useful.

Maps: Another hard one. There isn’t really an alternative (Microsoft’s solution within Bing is awful). I just use it without an account. Same functionality, less data stored by Google.

Other Google services: I never used them. I use Firefox, not Chrome. I use Word and Excel, not Google Docs. I use Facebook to share my photos.

You’ll notice in that last sentence there I mentioned Facebook. You may have read my essay Why I no longer use Facebook…, and in which case are wondering why I went back. The answer is simple. Within my circle of contacts, no Facebook equals no social life. Let’s hope the same doesn’t happen with Google.

Why I No Longer Use Facebook…

…and why you probably haven’t noticed.

Facebook, along with its partner in crime MySpace, were touted as the all-singing, all-dancing duo of social networking in the Web 2.0 age. For a long time I didn’t catch on, until about March/April in 2008. It was at that point in time that I decided to open an account on Facebook, to see what friends of mine were up to. And that’s when the trouble started.

Continue reading Why I No Longer Use Facebook…