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Might be good in a KotH CTF where you have to leave the vulnerable service running, but can patch it.

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Unless your company is emailing me to tell me how youโ€™re paying your employees and contractors during this time, I do not care for your coronavirus marketing email one bit.

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worm race!

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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 Googleโ€™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.

โ€œYour account has been suspendedโ€

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 hadnโ€™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 thatโ€™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 โ€œDeGoogleโ€ 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 โ†’ Fastmail โ†’ Self-hosted (via Cloudron)
Google Contacts โ†’ Fastmail โ†’ Nextcloud Contacts
Google Calendar โ†’ Fastmail โ†’ Nextcloud Calendar
Google Search โ†’ Bing โ†’ DuckDuckGo
Google Maps โ†’ Bing Maps โ†’ OpenStreetMaps and OsmAnd
Google Analytics โ†’ Matomo Analytics
Google Drive โ†’ Nextcloud Files
Google Photos โ†’ Nextcloud Files/Gallery
Google Docs โ†’ Collabora Office (Nextcloud integration) and LibreOffice
Google Play Music โ†’ Spotify / Plex โ†’ Spotify / Jellyfin
Google Play Movies/TV โ†’ Plex โ†’ Jellyfin
Google Play Audiobooks/Books โ†’ Audible/Kindle
Google Play Store (apps) โ†’ F-Droid / Aurora Store
Google Android โ†’ Lineage OS โ†’ Ubuntu Touch on PinePhone (coming soon?)
Googleโ€™s Android Apps โ†’ Simple Mobile Tools
Google Chrome โ†’ Mozilla Firefox
Google Domains โ†’ Hover
Google Hangouts โ†’ Matrix and Nextcloud Talk
Google Allo โ†’ Signal
Google Podcasts โ†’ PocketCasts โ†’ AntennaPod
Google Newsstand โ†’ RSS
Google Wallet โ†’ PayPal and Cash App

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 Homeโ€™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 donโ€™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 donโ€™t feel that they would have worked as nicely together.

Overall Iโ€™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. Iโ€™ve ordered the PinePhone โ€œBrave Heartโ€ 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 donโ€™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.


Finally got round to finishing Linkโ€™s Awakening over the break. Had forgotten how sad the ending is ๐Ÿ˜ข

Gift shopping โœ…
Food shopping โœ…
Wrapping โœ…
Now one more day at work and then tome for a few days blissful relaxation.

That moment when you're scouring your Kindle library for a book ... which you've pre ordered and isn't released until 2020 ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™‚๏ธ

podcast, shameless self promotion 

So I make a podcast with a friend of mine where we get a bit drunk and talk about all sorts of topics, and the latest episode is out:


Be warned, this is not serious, is rather rude and is generally quite inane. But we have won 3 awards so there's that.

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#Janayugom, the South Indian daily newspaper, has migrated all its infrastructure to Free Software, using #Scribus for layout, @Kubuntu as the operating system, and KDE Plasma for the desktop.


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50 years ago today the first message was sent over the (precursor to the) Internet, but the computer crashed after two letters: cr4.globalspec.com/blogentry/4

Gaming SNES Switch 

If you own a Nintendo Switch (or one of the many other platforms itโ€™s available on) and have ever played Out Run or the SNES classic, Top Gear then grab a copy of Horizon Chase Turbo. A modern take on a classic engine, it feels like a 90s arcade racer! And Top Gear fans will recognise the music, Barry Leitch composer of the original sound track returns with updated but recognisable tunes. Just amazing!

sport rugby 

Amazing result from Wales against a French team that gave their all. Just gutted England now have to face the All Blacks on route to the final. Fingers crossed!!!

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RT @Foone@twitter.com
Start the new year by finding a way to create a little joy, no matter how small or fleeting

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Had my first group of French tourists stop me and ask for directions today. Quite impressed that they were looking for the LampLighter (solid local ale pub) rather than the usual tourist drivel.

Twitter x posting 

Didnโ€™t get the email from @Gargron but have disabled Twitter to Mastodon cross posting. I donโ€™t really agree with the tone of the email (read from screenshot) but totally understand the disfunction of Twitter content in a Mastodon context. Sorry if previous cross posts caused any issues and hopefully Iโ€™ll remember to actually post useful stuff here as well.

Bit more overcast today (and windy as hell) but despite that enjoyed a lovely 18 at the rather challenging Windermere Golf Club. Very distracting to have these kind of views from the tee!

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๐Ÿ”– PyPI as a Service - Dustin Ingram dustingram.com/articles/2019/0
โ€œIn the wake of recent layoffs at #NPM, I noticed some folks talking about the two extremes that are NPM and #PyPI. To compare: โ€ฆโ€
#python #nodejs #opensource #vc #business #floss

RT @MarinaHyde@twitter.com
Incredible to think that in about a fortnight, we'll be BEGGING to go back to Drugs Week in the Tory leadership contest, and marvelling that we imagined it had to be rock bottom twitter.com/hzeffman/status/11

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