The Status of My De-Google-ing

I decided a while ago to move off of Google for a wide variety of reasons. How am I doing? Percentages are all how far I am migrating away from Google.

Search – 95%

Duck Duck Go is my default on all the things. There is an odd search where I need something else. When I do, it’s in a private browsing session with as much content blocking as possible.

Calendar – 75%

I moved a lot off. Weekend activities in Tokyo might end up in a shared calendar so my friends can see options where we can meet up.

GMail – 75%

I continue editing my profile in different places to get my email moved to something in my control.

Google Voice & Hangouts- 0%

There is no replacement for Voice short of porting the number to a device. So I will maintain this. Apple’s Handoff is almost a replacement. The big piece they can’t do is the number porting. Hangouts for me is inextricably tied to Voice.

Google fi – 0%

I can move this to another service, but I needed it to be one with a good international rate for calls and data. Maybe I can move this to T-Mobile? Or do I ditch my US number completely?

Google Docs – 100%

Done. After PVC Security shut down there was no need for it.

Google Drive & Photos – 75%

Done, at least for the paid service. The free photo backup service is compelling, but I am working to replace it.

Google Chrome – 100%

I stopped using it everywhere. It was not a hard thing to leave behind since it’s a performance hog. If I need it here and there, Opera does the same thing.

Google Android – 75%

My Nexus 6P is only able to run a few hours without recharge. Project fi requires it. Maybe I will get a new (to me) device to replace it.

Google Pay, Wallet, and the other financial stuff – 100%

I got rid of it all a while back when they couldn’t get the physical card working properly. I still have a $0.90 US credit!

Google Maps – 90%

It only comes up for the little bit I use Google Calendar with location. They are not the best map service in Japan, so it’s not hard to leave.

Google Translate – 75%

I want to ditch this so badly much! My Emacs use requires no account, so I just need an iOS replacement.

Google Play – 90%

I have a credit here I need to spend somehow. I think I picked up some free movies and books.

Other Google Properties – 100%

I am totally off of all other Google stuff.

Conclusion

How are you doing with your migration away from the Google? What advice do you have for me in my journey? Comment in social media and link back here.

p.s. – Google Plus

I forgot about this like you probably did. It will go.

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Privacy Badger Now Fights More Sneaky Google Tracking | Electronic Frontier Foundation

With its latest update, Privacy Badger now fights “link tracking” in a number of Google products.

Link tracking allows a company to follow you whenever you click on a link to leave its website. Earlier this year, EFF rolled out a Privacy Badger update targeting Facebook’s use of this practice. As it turns out, Google performs the same style of tracking, both in web search and, more concerning, in spaces for private conversation like Hangouts and comments on Google Docs. From now on, Privacy Badger will protect you from Google’s use of link tracking in all of these domains.

— Read on www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/10/privacy-badger-now-fights-more-sneaky-google-tracking

Yikes!

More reason to move off of Google properties and when you have no choice but use them, protect yourself.

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hW fAiLz: Nexus 6P & iPod Touch 6gen & Mac Mini

I lost two gadgets in short order. I will miss them both, but they are just things.

The Google Nexus 6P declined recently. It terminally reached a point a few weeks ago where it wouldn’t power up past the boot screen. It’s my personal phone, my Project fi phone, and my main connection to the US.

My backup was my iPod Touch. Today, in a fit of me eating lunch, it landed on concrete. It would not power on after.

This weekend my Mac Mini started overheating for no clear reason. There’s no malware AFAICT but the bearings in the CPU fan might be failing on this replacement. While again just a thing, this one would cause significant inconvenience should it fail.

I don’t believe in coincidence, yet Murphy’s Law cannot be ignored.

There’s risk running hardware past the manufacturer’s shelf life. Components degrade. Bits and bobs fail eventually. Maybe they are replaceable and maybe they are not.

Bitrot, the loss of data because of time in one way or another, is the real enemy. Going analog is no panacea. Fire, neglect, and nature degrade analog systems.

Backups are key. Analog data can be scanned. Digital data can be printed.

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Mobile Websites Can Tap Into Your Phone’s Sensors Without Asking

Mobile Websites Can Tap Into Your Phone’s Sensors Without Asking:

When an app wants to access data from your smartphone’s motion or light sensors, iOS and Android require them to get your permission first. That keeps a fitness app, say, from counting your steps without your knowledge. But a team of researchers has discovered that those rules don’t apply to websites loaded in mobile browsers, which can often often access an array of device sensors without any notifications or permissions whatsoever.

That mobile browsers offer developers access to sensors isn’t necessarily problematic on its own. It’s what helps those services automatically adjust their layout, for example, when you switch your phone’s orientation. And the World Wide Web Consortium standards body has codified how web applications can access sensor data. But the researchers—Anupam Das of North Carolina State University, Gunes Acar of Princeton University, Nikita Borisov of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Amogh Pradeep of Northeastern University—found that the standards allow for unfettered access to certain sensors. And sites are using it.

(Via Security Latest)

Clearly this is a gap in vendor protection and user informed consent. When paired with the amount of bandwidth and other resources consumed by scripts, trackers, ads and the like, this news reinforces my opinion on ad-blockers that also deal with javascript.

Before we all panic, please note that the study only found 3.7% of the top 100,000 sites make use of this. And bear the following in mind:

That unapproved access to motion, orientation, proximity, or light sensor data alone probably wouldn’t compromise a user’s identity or device. And a web page can only access sensors as long as a user is actively browsing the page, not in the background.

Regardless, there is clearly an attack surface here that will be exploited. I can imagine something targeted using watering hole attacks being particularly successful.

“There’s a difference between the access from the web scripts compared to say mobile apps,” Acar says. “And a lot of this is legitimate. But the fact that access can be granted without prompting the user is surprising. It’s currently up to the vendors, and vendors tend to choose the side of more usability.”

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iPhone X NFC debacle a golden opportunity for Pixel 3 in Japan

iPhone X NFC debacle a golden opportunity for Pixel 3 in Japan:

Apple pre-order weekend for iPhone XS/XS Max and Apple Watch Series 4 is winding down. There was far less excitement this year in Japan than before. Ming-Chi Kuo is already trimming his iPhone XS exceptions. Reading Japanese reactions on Twitter it’s easy to see that many are waiting to see what Japanese market support Google announces at the Pixel 3 October 9 event. If Pixel 3 comes with Global FeliCa support like iPhone does, the Google Pay Japan flop withstanding, Japanese iPhone X users disgusted by the iPhone X NFC debacle will gladly take switch.

A lot of Japanese in the blog sphere are saying Apple iPhone has peaked out in Japan. If that turns out to be true in the months ahead, Apple has nobody to blame but themselves.

(Via Ata Distance)

Hmmm. My personal Google Nexus 6P is on its last legs. If a new Pixel 3 could deliver a transit experience near to par of the iPhone … 

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In killing Inbox, Google takes another swipe at its most passionate users | Computerworld

In killing Inbox, Google takes another swipe at its most passionate users | Computerworld:

For all its skill and dominance in artificial intelligence, Google can be surprisingly lacking in the natural kind.

In move after move, Google snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. And all because the company’s culture is blind to the value of passionate users.

I’m quite certain that Google watches user numbers and applies analytics to everything it can measure. A radically analytical approach is powerful, but it can blind you to the factors that cannot be measured. Factors such as user passion.

Google is the poster child of both embracing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and avoiding SaaS like the plague. SaaS can remove short-term uncertainty while introducing long-term uncertainty. Unless you represent a giant multinational corporation with strong contractual language you cannot dictate what a SaaS provider does with their product, even so far as discontinuing it.

What is your Business Continuity Plan (BCP), professional and personal?

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First Mover Disadvantage

First Mover Disadvantage – AVC:

The Apple identity management and app store systems feel like they were built for a different era. Because they were.

Comparing those experiences to Google, which is not a new company either, is eye-opening.

I operate in both ecosystems. I don’t know what Google is doing different or doing better in Identity and Access Management (IAM) compared to Apple in Fred Wilson’s estimation, but to me they both have their advantages and areas of improvement.

If we talk about App Store ecosystems, I’m not sure how Google’s Play Store competes with Apple’s. Maybe Mr. Wilson can provide some reference.

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Beware the Subscription Model

Apple is secretly encouraging paid app developers to switch to subscription – ldstephens

I’m disappointed to hear that Apple is encouraging developers to move to a subscription model. As I’ve written before, I think this will be the demise of many small developers.

Many users dislike subscriptions. If you don’t believe me just read the App Store reviews for some of the developers that have switched their app to a subscription. A good place to start would be Ulysses or Drafts 5.

Personally, I’m experiencing subscription fatigue. My subscriptions add up to around $1500 per year. Yes, this includes my Netflix, Hulu and Sling subscriptions. It also includes my internet subscription, the subscription for all that’s needed to operate this website, my email subscription at Fastmail, and the subscription to a few apps. I’m not interested in adding more subscriptions.

I love trying new apps. If all apps went to a subscription I would no longer be able to continue trying and writing about them.

For example, I have several writing apps. If they all went subscription I would have to select one and abandon the others. In this scenario, there will be one winner and several losers.

(Via ldstephens.net)

I already try to avoid any app that uses a subscription model. An app that solves specific problems in a way that works well for me and where I maintain control of my data is one for possible exception – but they are rare.

As mentioned I am pruning my subscriptions of all types. Drafts 5 will soon be another as I don’t use it enough to justify the expense. Google Drive, 1Password, The Atlantic (sadly, but I’m reconsidering), Audible (for DRM reasons), and Netflix (for timesuck reasons) all went on my financial chopping block. The two (!) Amazon Primes (Japan & US), Apple Music, LastPass, and the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers are up for review.

I don’t think I’ll ever want to get to a zero subscription point, but I will definitely keep them in check. As Google, Amazon, and Microsoft (among others, and to a lesser extent Apple) continue to push hard on the “digital assistant” front – something that interests me very little – jumping back into a F/OSS lifestyle seems not only wise but prudent.

To be clear, I want developers to be paid for their work. Even F/OSS developers will ask for donations of one kind or another. As I wrote I think commercial developers, independent or in the Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) space, can work well without embracing the subscription model.

I’m no Luddite or neophyte, mind you. I simply value my freedom more than the ability to dim the house lights when I fire up a streamed movie from my couch.

On another tack, the rise of subscriptions should trigger more thought about data portability. Locking one’s data in a proprietary app requiring a subscription to access said data lacks foresight. However, application developers don’t often list how the data is stored or how one can get their data out if they chose to move.

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Amazon Echo Data Leaks, Shows Poor Engagement

Amazon Echo Data Leaks, Shows Poor Engagement:

First, Alexa and the Echo speakers came to market for a single reason only: To provide Amazon’s customers with yet another way to easily make purchases from its online store.

Second, while Amazon does currently lead in the market for smart speakers, Google is very quickly catching up. And I still expect Google to surpass Amazon, perhaps as soon as by the end of 2018.

Not being able to monetize Echo and Alexa is a problem. And it’s going to be a problem for Google, too. In that case, the online search giant will attempt to leverage its own Google Home/Google Assistant user base with, yep, you guessed it, advertising. Something that Google has publicly stated is coming to the platform.

(Via Thurrott.com)

I’ve seen this first hand at my sister’s — she & her husband add items to the shopping list only to shop at an actual brick-and-mortar store (the horror!). Even when they buy from Amazon they fire up a web browser on their laptop and don’t use their Echo at all. Mostly, they use it for music and for the occasional trivia question.

This cannot be what Amazon hoped for when they released this beast.

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The Bullshit Web

◉ The Bullshit Web:

An actual solution recognizes that this bullshit is inexcusable. It is making the web a cumulatively awful place to be. Behind closed doors, those in the advertising and marketing industry can be pretty lucid about how much they also hate surveillance scripts and how awful they find these methods, while simultaneously encouraging their use. Meanwhile, users are increasingly taking matters into their own hands — the use of ad blockers is rising across the board, many of which also block tracking scripts and other disrespectful behaviours. Users are making that choice.

They shouldn’t have to. Better choices should be made by web developers to not ship this bullshit in the first place. We wouldn’t tolerate such intrusive behaviour more generally; why are we expected to find it acceptable on the web?

An honest web is one in which the overwhelming majority of the code and assets downloaded to a user’s computer are used in a page’s visual presentation, with nearly all the remainder used to define the semantic structure and associated metadata on the page. Bullshit — in the form of CPU-sucking surveillance, unnecessarily-interruptive elements, and behaviours that nobody responsible for a website would themselves find appealing as a visitor — is unwelcome and intolerable.

Death to the bullshit web.

(Via Pixel Envy)

Great write-up. I encourage all to read this. I’m interested in reading a counter point.

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