March 25, 2012
On Email & Laziness

Holy engorged monkey bottoms, Batman! This “experiment” is almost over. Which is to say March is drawing to a close, so I can soon stop using the world’s worst phone. But this isn’t a post about the world’s worst phone (which is surprisingly not a Droid Razr, a hybrid of two of the most fickle phones ever made.) Phones will be another post, assuming I ever get around to making one.

As intrepid readers of this blog might note, I didn’t fully engage with this experiment the way I had planned. I did register two new email accounts (AOL and Yahoo) to use for my personal correspondence. I did email my friends and family to let them know to contact me using those for the foreseeable future. I did change my social networking accounts and others I use regularly (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, NYPL, Amazon, Drugstore.com, Seamless-don’t-you-judge-me) to logins/contact details associated with the new email addresses. And that’s about it. I didn’t switch over accounts that I haven’t used this month, which means there’s a bunch of unread stuff waiting for me over at GMail. Including a bunch of emails from forgetful friends, and some Irene Adler-esque dinner invitations from Barack Obama. I’m not hungry, Barry. Why would I have dinner if I’m not hungry?

This has driven home how little actual (i.e. personal) email I get. Fully 90% of my email is nonsense from mailing lists I’ve ended up on over the years. A further 7% is relevant, but not personal (i.e. purchase receipts, credit card statements), leaving only 3% or so that is personal correspondence. FYI these numbers are unscientific, in that they were fished from the aforementioned protuberant buttocks of a libidinous bonobo*. 

It’s very freeing, considering the amount of email I have to wade through at work, to only get a couple of messages a day. Actually it’s not a huge change, considering I usually ignore most of my email unless GMail marks it as being of high importance. That’s a feature I wouldn’t mind seeing from AOL or Yahoo. It’s also further proof that Google products are ideal for lazy people such as yours truly. It’s like having a really incompetent robot PA to pre-screen your messages. How did you know that I don’t care about my Sallie Mae statement this month, but I really need to get this 10% off deal on all P&G products from Drugstore.com? Thanks incompetent robot PA! You’re the best generally OKish!

In addition to convenient modifications for lazy people (+ Gchat right in your email!), GMail also has the least obtrusive ads of the three services I’ve used. AOL and Yahoo both have much larger, more obnoxious ads. Colors! Moving images! After you send an email, AOL even re-routes you to a page featuring ads and their news stories. Neither service takes you directly to your mailbox upon login, but rather to their news sites. GMail takes you right to your mailbox (or your Google account main page) and all their ads are text based. That’s swell. They also generally trust that you’re a person, or at least they don’t discriminate against you if you’re a robot. Yahoo will sometimes make you fill out a Captcha before you can send your email, which is very annoying.

Now that I have so many email accounts I will have to decide where to route my messages in the future. Should I make my AOL account exclusively for financial stuff? Should my Yahoo account be linked to all my social networking profiles? Should I register a Hotmail account to sign petitions with and give to probable spammers? I like not having to look at that stuff. Then I can use my Gmail account (note how I’m not planning to continue this past April 1st) for real mail, and only real mail. What a thrill!

*I’m currently reading The Fry Chronicles. You know who to blame for the word choices in this sentence. 

March 9, 2012
Commitment! Hard Work! Motivation!

I’ve been “living without Google,” but in the laziest way possible. I haven’t changed over the contact email addresses on any of my important (banking, healthcare etc) accounts, I’ve just switched off my phone and changed email addresses.

It hasn’t been difficult or anything, save the undisputed challenges of texting using T9. Remember that? Yeah, I didn’t either. It took me ages to re-learn and still I’ve become one of those horrible people who would rather call than send a quick text. Those people are the worst.

The other challenge is feeling out of the loop without GChat. One of my co-workers told me I can use AIM for this, but I haven’t looked into it. Too busy with other, non-digital stuff. Work! (So much work.) Speed writing shitty “art”! (So shitty.) Crying while feeling overwhelmed by the other stuff!

IN CONCLUSION: This seems easy, but I think that’s just because I’m not really doing it.

12:03pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/Z65x1wHitoH-
Filed under: technology tech Google 
March 2, 2012
FAQs, of a sort.

The responses yesterday’s email to family and friends has garnered fall under a few distinct headings. I guess I’ll address them now. Think of them as FRRs, or Frequently Reacted Reactions.

"I’m so glad you’re doing this so that I don’t have to! Can’t wait to read the blog!"

Thanks for your support, but anyone can make elaborate plans to do something, not really follow through, and then blog about it! I mean, you don’t have to but… Oh wait you were just expecting my flailing to be instructional? Fair enough. Happy to help.

"Wow, you’re really giving up Google for a whole month? Sounds hard."

I don’t know if it’s hard because I haven’t done it yet. I love Google because I’m so lazy, and having one login for so much of the internet appeals to my inner sloth and her preference for inertia. So yeah, maybe it is hard. I guess we’ll find out.

"You are so paranoid/crazy."

Really? The idea that all it might not be great for links to all of your digital information (and for my generation this is actually everything, from healthcare to banking to deodorant preferences) to be stored on the servers of a single company is crazy? I’m hardly stockpiling gold for when our Kenyan Muslim socialist president brings about the End Times. I’m not even making blanket statements and saying Google is evil. I am pointing out that it is problematic and potentially not secure to entrust all your information to one company (especially one that is not overly concerned with privacy), and I’m experimenting to see if there’s a workaround. I didn’t realize seeking solutions was certifiable behavior.

"Wait, what’s happening with Google? I haven’t been following this." / "I have no idea what this is, but when we hang out you can tell me all about it!"

I’m sure I’ll talk about this when we hang out, but I’m probably not the best person to explain Google’s new privacy policy, or internet privacy/security concerns in general. I did my best in the written medium I linked to in the body of my email (aka this blog), but I don’t doubt that you’ll find better and more complete information elsewhere. Why don’t you Google it? Badum-cha!

March 1, 2012
Email To Friends and Family: DISPATCHED

February 29, 2012
Less than an hour to go.

Full disclosure: I just got home and I haven’t looked at or thought about March on Google stuff all day. (Aside from telling my drinking buddies about it and comparing burner phones with my friend.) That’s right: I will not be Google free at midnight on March 1st. Maybe later in the day on March 1st! But probably not.

Here’s the lazy slacker game plan:

  • 2/29: Register some new email addresses tonight. (I have an AOL, so I’ll register a Hotmail and a Yahoo, and look into a .mac, which I might still have.)
  • 2/29: Charge and switch over to the burner phone.
  • 3/1: Email my friends and family with the new number sometime tomorrow, before switching over to a different email account for correspondence.
  • 3/1: Put an auto reply on my Gmail account.
  • 3/1-3/2: Transfer phone contacts (tomorrow?).
  • 3/2: THEN transfer all my assorted logins to new email addresses.

I have such long to-do lists at work that I don’t want to look at to-do lists when I come home. Which yes, is an excuse. But talking extensively about my plans and falling behind schedule is a pastime of mine! Plus I’m not doing this because of some vendetta against Google, I’m doing it to prove it can be done in case a vendetta against Google proves to be essential. It isn’t quite yet, so the sense of urgency just isn’t there.

tl;dr - Stay tuned.

February 29, 2012
whineandbeer:paxmachina:


Enjoy your evening

whineandbeer:paxmachina:

Enjoy your evening

February 27, 2012
A To-Do List, Mostly For My Own Benefit:

  • Register new email accounts
  • Switch over various e-accounts to the new email accounts
  • (Related: change car insurance stuff)
  • Copy down/transfer phone contacts
  • Copy down/transfer email contacts
  • Let people know my new contact details
  • Set up new phone VM on Droid (to redirect callers) and new Vacation Reply on Gmail (to redirect emailers)
  • Begin backing up info from my Google accounts (chats, emails, docs etc)
  • Seek alternatives to Google products, docs and chat in particular.

To be edited with additions as needed.

February 26, 2012
Burner phone acquired! It’s just some dinky $14.99 AT&T piece o’ poo (left), but it should get me through the month, at least in terms of phone calls and text messages. I admit I’m a little concerned about things like “maps” and “directions.” I use my phone to find stuff (and myself) all the time!
In fact, I used it yesterday while on my way to Best Buy to purchase the “Go Phone.” Because I just returned from sunny, 86°F Florida I didn’t exactly dress for the weather, and was caught out in yesterday afternoon’s random burst of snow with a bare head, no gloves, and no socks. I had walked about 15 blocks and was sure I should have already passed the Best Buy. I was freezing and didn’t want to keep going in the wrong direction, so I ducked into a bank lobby and looked up the store location. It was one block further, so maybe the story here is that I’m a dingus and not that I can’t live without apps for a month.

Burner phone acquired! It’s just some dinky $14.99 AT&T piece o’ poo (left), but it should get me through the month, at least in terms of phone calls and text messages. I admit I’m a little concerned about things like “maps” and “directions.” I use my phone to find stuff (and myself) all the time!

In fact, I used it yesterday while on my way to Best Buy to purchase the “Go Phone.” Because I just returned from sunny, 86°F Florida I didn’t exactly dress for the weather, and was caught out in yesterday afternoon’s random burst of snow with a bare head, no gloves, and no socks. I had walked about 15 blocks and was sure I should have already passed the Best Buy. I was freezing and didn’t want to keep going in the wrong direction, so I ducked into a bank lobby and looked up the store location. It was one block further, so maybe the story here is that I’m a dingus and not that I can’t live without apps for a month.

February 25, 2012
Name Change and Other Updates

Googleholics Anonymous is now March on Google. My pun-loving roommate pointed out that any other name for a blog about giving up Google for the month of March was just silly. She is correct. I am duly ashamed.

But not as ashamed as Google ought to be. (Transitions!) I have been away, enjoying the sunshine of a much warmer clime, and have therefore been a) remiss in blogging, and b) out of the loop. Thankfully parts of the Internet are always there to keep me informed about the happenings in other parts of the Internet.

Apparently Google has been circumventing Safari privacy settings on both computers and iPhones. Part of the March on Google plan involves getting rid of my Droid and getting an iPhone (eventually. Burner phone first), so this is disturbing. From a practical standpoint it only tracks your Safari usage if you have a Google account, and if you aren’t logged into a Google account this problem should go away. But the fact remains that Google is writing code to override the security settings of other products. Not exactly a great example of “Don’t Be Evil.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has some good resources and information, like how to remove your Google search history and a link to this article about How to Opt Out of Google’s New Privacy Policy (Sort Of). The “sort of” is key there, but the article does provide more context than the EFF’s step-by-step instructions.

Thanks to the EFF I also saw that Google’s circumventing of Safari’s privacy settings caused an outcry. Google has since agreed to add Do Not Track technology to its Chrome browser. This is a small thing, but it demonstrates that web privacy advocates (and regular consumers) can neither relax their vigilance nor shut up and uncritically take whatever tech companies dish out.

I have a huge to-do list for this blog and am also making a bunch of other life changes in March (MARCH MADNESS!), so stay tuned and watch me flail.

February 3, 2012
I’ve started making my list of logins I’ll need to change (and assorted other to-do list items). It’s pretty revealing. And I did it in my own handwriting on notepaper that is also pretty revealing. Internet transparency! I’m really not opposed to sharing information online I just like choosing which information I share on which platforms.

I’ve started making my list of logins I’ll need to change (and assorted other to-do list items). It’s pretty revealing. And I did it in my own handwriting on notepaper that is also pretty revealing. Internet transparency! I’m really not opposed to sharing information online I just like choosing which information I share on which platforms.

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