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"99 second hand smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps.Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route to avoid being stuck in traffic. "
(via Matt Levine's Money Stuff Newsletter)

Adam Bliss boosted
Adam Bliss boosted

A law of software quality 

In the genre of pithy maxims of general life advice, I have seen remarkably few worthwhile entries. The vast majority are either too obvious to be useful, too vague to be actionable, or flat-out wrongheaded. But there's one that stands out, which I only encountered quite late in my life, and it changed me forever:

"Whenever you are hugging a child, never be the first one to let go."

Search engine spam has gotten really sophisticated. I landed on this page for one of my queries and was almost taken in.

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So I was recently asked why I prefer to use free and open source software over more conventional and popular proprietary software and services.

A few years ago I was an avid Google user. I was deeply embedded in the Google ecosystem and used their products everywhere. I used Gmail for email, Google Calendar and Contacts for PIM, YouTube for entertainment, Google Newsstand for news, Android for mobile, and Chrome as my web browser.

I would upload all of my family photos to Google Photos and all of my personal documents to Google Drive (which were all in Google Docs format). I used Google Domains to register my domain names for websites where I would keep track of my users using Google Analytics and monetize them using Google AdSense.

I used Google Hangouts (one of Google’s previous messaging plays) to communicate with friends and family and Google Wallet (with debit card) to buy things online and in-store.

My home is covered with Google Homes (1 in my office, 1 in my bedroom, 1 in the main living area) which I would use to play music on my Google Play Music subscription and podcasts from Google Podcasts.

I have easily invested thousands of dollars into my Google account to buy movies, TV shows, apps, and Google hardware devices. This was truly the Google life.

Then one day, I received an email from Google that changed everything.

“Your account has been suspended”

Just the thing you want to wake up to in the morning. An email from Google saying that your account has been suspended due to a perceived Terms of Use violation. No prior warning. No appeals process. No number to call. Trying to sign in to your Google account yields an error and all of your connected devices are signed out. All of your Google data, your photos, emails, contacts, calendars, purchased movies and TV shows. All gone.

I nearly had a heart attack, until I saw that the Google account that had been suspended was in fact not my main personal Google account, but a throwaway Gmail account that I created years prior for a project. I hadn’t touched the other account since creation and forgot it existed. Apparently my personal Gmail was listed as the recovery address for the throwaway account and that’s why I received the termination email.

Although I was able to breathe a sigh of relief this time, the email was wake up call. I was forced to critically reevaluate my dependence on a single company for all the tech products and services in my life.

I found myself to be a frog in a heating pot of water and I made the decision that I was going to jump out.

Leaving Google

Today there are plenty of lists on the internet providing alternatives to Google services such as this and this. Although the “DeGoogle” movement was still in its infancy when I was making the move.

The first Google service I decided to drop was Gmail, the heart of my online identity. I migrated to Fastmail with my own domain in case I needed to move again (hint: glad I did, now I self host my email). Fastmail also provided calendar and contacts solutions so that took care of leaving Google Calendar and Contacts.

Here are some other alternatives that I moved to:

Gmail → Fastmail → Self-hosted (via Cloudron)
Google Contacts → FastmailNextcloud Contacts
Google Calendar → FastmailNextcloud Calendar
Google Search → BingDuckDuckGo
Google Maps → Bing MapsOpenStreetMaps and OsmAnd
Google Analytics → Matomo Analytics
Google Drive → Nextcloud Files
Google Photos → Nextcloud Files/Gallery
Google Docs → Collabora Office (Nextcloud integration) and LibreOffice
Google Play Music → Spotify / PlexSpotify / Jellyfin
Google Play Movies/TV → PlexJellyfin
Google Play Audiobooks/Books → Audible/Kindle
Google Play Store (apps) → F-Droid / Aurora Store
Google Android → Lineage OSUbuntu Touch on PinePhone (coming soon?)
Google’s Android Apps → Simple Mobile Tools
Google Chrome → Mozilla Firefox
Google Domains → Hover
Google Hangouts → Matrix and Nextcloud Talk
Google Allo → Signal
Google Podcasts → PocketCastsAntennaPod
Google Newsstand → RSS
Google Wallet → PayPal and Cash App
Google Voice →Ting Mobile

Migrating away from Google was not a fast or easy process. It took years to get where I am now and there are still several Google services that I depend on: YouTube and Google Home.

Eventually, my Google Home’s will grow old and become unsupported at which point hopefully the Mycroft devices have matured and become available for purchase. YouTube may never be replaced (although I do hope for projects like PeerTube to succeed) but I find the compromise of using only one or two Google services to be acceptable.

At this point losing my Google account due to a mistake in their machine learning would largely be inconsequential and my focus has shifted to leaving Amazon which I use for most of my shopping and cloud services.

The reason that I moved to mostly FOSS applications is that it seems to be the only software ecosystem where everything works seamlessly together and I don’t have to cede control to any single company. Alternatively I could have simply split my service usage up evenly across Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple but I don’t feel that they would have worked as nicely together.

Overall I’m very happy with the open source ecosystem. I use Ubuntu with KDE on all of my computers and Android (no GApps) on my mobile phone. I’ve ordered the PinePhone “Brave Heart” and hope to one day be able to use it or one of its successors as a daily driver with Ubuntu Touch or Plasma Mobile.

I don’t want to give the impression that I exclusively use open source software either, I do use a number of proprietary apps including: Sublime Text, Typora, and Cloudron.

Adam Bliss boosted

this looks really cool; a programming language where all code is published in a global append-only database of functions; when you call a function you are just invoking the local name you've assigned to a content-based hash of its code.

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Removing the Linux /dev/random blocking pool

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Recreating the hard-copy TTY experience on a more modern dot-matrix printer 

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What's your favorite self-hosted issue tracking software?

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it didn’t happen until java was long dead, but the bytecode verifier has now been trivially bypassed:

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2020 is the year of Linux on the Desktop because only GNU/Linux users run desktop machines anymore

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Adam Bliss boosted
Adam Bliss boosted

Join me Saturday afternoon at #36c3 for hacking Ikea Tradfri devices and replacing their firmware with MicroPython:

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i have to admit that i've never understood why dbus exists, except that it was probably fun for someone to write a message bus.

the golden rule of message buses, as true now as it was in 2000, is that you don't actually need a message bus.

Adam Bliss boosted
Adam Bliss boosted

MicroPython on the Ikea Tradfri ZigBee Gecko board says hello world from its external spi flash storage.

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Weekend achievements: 1) spin a private #matrix instance on Synapse, 2) get Telegram bot working, 3) get WhatsApp bot workig. This way I can get rid of both #telegram and #whatsapp [*] apps from my #android device.

On the screenshot - Matrix chat client with a number of private WhatsApp chats open and a number of Telegram groups I'm subscribed to.

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