Google-free for 30 days

Our dear benevolent overlords have seen fit to throw the switch on Google Reader by July 1st, 2013.  That leaves me with 257 potentially homeless rss feeds.  Right now, if you were here, you’d see my Grr Face in all its wrinkled glory.  The tech news sites are lit up with all manner of suggestions for replacement services, only one of which, Feedly, currently has the bandwidth and BogoMips to handle the mass exodus.  Digg has announced that they are starting to work on their own aggregator.  Google Plus and Twitter are both aflame, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  #reader, #savereader, #upyoursinthebuttgoogle are common hash tags.  Ok, so maybe the last one isn’t all that common.

A few weeks back Christie and I were discussing just how much the big G knows about us.  It’s probably a lot.  But we came to an interesting conclusion.  We’re OK with it because we get to use some really cool services.  There are very few companies that do this.  Many seem to be all about taking, taking, taking and selling, selling, selling, with no regard for us.  Google, unlike the rest of them, is actually useful.  Right now we’re using the following Google services:

  • Gmail
  • Google Apps (the mail server for twosixteen)
  • Calendar
  • Picasa
  • Google Plus
  • Reader
  • Drive
  • Play (Android apps and music streaming)

We have invested in all of those services.  Not necessarily money, but time, effort, creativity, more time.  If Google decides to pull the plug, like they just did with Reader, we’re kinda in the lurch.  That’s a lot of data, photos, archived e-mail, a calendar we share, social connections, books and music, all lost.  At Google’s whim.  Now, I don’t expect them to do that, especially if they’ve managed to monetize a service, but they could.  We would have no control over it.  None.

When they announced the death date for Reader, I think my initial reaction was a lot like everyone else’s.  ”WTF?” and then “I have to find a new feed aggregator service.”  I tried out Feedly.  The early indicators are that they are winning the war of Reader’s attrition.  They do seem to have their shit together.  Log in with your Google account.  That’s it.  It currently uses Google Reader as the back end, so all your rss feeds are there.  Some time between now and then they’ll migrate everything over to Normandy.  Seamless, they say.  If you’re cool with moving to another service, Feedly looks like one you should really consider.

The title of this entry is “Google-free for 30 days”.  I had decided on that title before I started working on the details.  I was going to spend a month using other services as much as possible.  But there’s that whole software-as-a-service thing, rearing its ugly head again.  What if Feedly goes out of business?  Or decides to do something else?  We’re back to where we are right now, with no control over our own stuff.  All that time and effort would be wasted.   So I’m not going to use Feedly or any other service I don’t control.

Now I need to find a replacement for each Google service I use and figure out how to implement it such that no one else can shut it off.  Christie and I pay for a shared hosting plan.  Twosixteen runs on this.  And soon, hopefully, so will everything else.  Over the next couple of weeks I’ll try to document the process of finding a replacement for each Google web service I use, installing it, and putting it to use.  Once I get everything set up, I’ll attempt to use no Google applications for at least a month.

A few rules/guidelines:

  1.  I’m not willing to implement a Microsoft solution.  A web-based Google service is, by far, the lesser of the two evils.
  2. Everything I do implement must be accessible from anywhere I have an Internet connection.  e.g. A locally installed feed reader doesn’t count.
  3. Android apps are icing on the cake.
  4. Strong preference for Free and open source software.
  5. Web pages that don’t require a log-in are OK.  I can still use Maps, Search, Youtube and Translate.  I’ll try to find alternatives, but these are still on the table.
  6. Play is almost a requirement for the Android phone.  I’ll still use it for phone apps, but that’s it.  All the books and music will go elsewhere.  (Yes, I know I could use Amazon’s app store, or side load everything, but those options both suck.  I’d rather go back to a dumb phone.)

First up is e-mail.  Updating the MX record to point to our web hosting provider is easy.  They offer web mail, along with IMAP and SMTP.  I’ll use K9 on the Android devices and I might install a local mail reader, too.  I’ve always wanted to try Mutt.

A Reader replacement is second.  I have no idea what to use, yet.

The Drive replacement will likely be third.  I’m leaning toward OwnCloud at the moment for web-based storage.  It’s open source and there are Linux and Android applications.  Local office-like applications on each device will take the place of Google’s Document and Spreadsheet applications.  Those are the only two I use.

Stay tuned!

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5 Responses to Google-free for 30 days

  1. Bone says:

    I’m in the same boat, but even worse, because I have a chromebook. My plan so far is to find php/mysql replacements for all the googley stuff, and host it along side my blog. So far, I’m having some luck replacing reader with tt-rss

    • the sloth says:

      tt-rss looks good. I’ll start with that one. It even has an Android app!

      Most of the aggregators I came across appeared to be abandon-ware. They were probably put out to pasture when everyone switched to Google Reader. o_O

  2. Didn’t know you had a blog. Added you to my Google Reader feeds. 🙂

    Don’t do it man! You really gonna dis the G?

  3. Oh, and I’m all about Feedly as my reader. Been using it for months to read my Google feeds and am happy to say it appears they’re going to support a seemless conversion once Reader dies.

  4. Bone says:

    I’m gonna try out some of the freedombox stuff. Possibly Friendica, too.