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Dans la pratique — les révolutionnaires se trompent toujours, parce qu’ils croient toujours la vérité trop simple, ont trop confiance en eux-mêmes et s’imaginent qu’ils ont trouvé et déterminé le terme du progrès humain; tandis que le propre du progrès, c’est de n’avoir pas de terme, de n’atteindre ceux qu’on lui propose qu’en les transformant, de ne résoudre les problèmes qu’en en changeant les données.

— J-M Guyau, Esquisse d’une morale sans obligation ni sanction 1885

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In practical matters the revolutionary spirits always make mistakes, because they always believe truth to be too simple, because they are too confident of themselves, and imagine that they have found and fixed the end and aim of human progress. Whereas real progress is to have no end; is to reach those ends which one has put before one’s self, only to transform them; to solve problems only by changing their data.

— J-M Guyau, 1885

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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.

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I was asked to help conduct this research & write a report on 'Privacy in the EU and US: Consumer experiences across three global platforms' reviewing Amazon, Netflix & Spotify. It's only scratched the surface I've mainly used Twitter to comment on it but intend to use Mastodon more

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There are recently several fake e-mails out including to mailing lists which appear to come from myself. To clarify: I am not using protonmail e-mail aliases nor will I send out e-cards.

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Mise en perspective des impacts écologiques du #numérique

"Laissez vos emails tranquilles, la grosse bonne action en numérique est de faire durer le plus longtemps possible les appareils et d’éviter d’acheter des gadgets. Ensuite on peut réduire son usage de vidéo ou réduire la résolution."

#énergiegrise #énergie

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The #Twidere maintainer stopped their work on this great app and closed all API accounts :(

Since I don't like the alternatives, I created my own Twitter app to continue using it. But in the long run, I hope that existing or new apps will come up with the same or better usability

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Job offer: I am looking for an enthusiastic English and German-speaking privacy expert to work as a parliamentary assistant in Brussels. Support my work defending our right to privacy and apply now:
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There are people claiming we need more "internet for people rather than corporate agendas" - to just end up with a bunch of complex, low-level pieces of infrastructure few "people" are even able to understand, let alone use. And so we repeatedly get lost in wasting effort and resources in too many unsustainable projects that, at the end, aren't usable by "people" but just "experts". Maybe the first important thing would be stepping out of the bubble and actually see who "people" are.

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The @fsfe asks for sessions for "about:freedom" during #36C3:
Thanks to @3rik for organising that part again! #nt

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I just noticed the @fsfe's tag line and really love it: "empowering users to control technology"


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Interested in hosting a #36c3 session? FSFE is looking forward to sessions about Free Software, privacy, data protection, encryption, the commons and internet policies

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Your #router is important equipment because it connects your devices to the internet. However, many Internet Service Providers in Europe are imposing their specific routers to customers. The #FSFE helps you to become active for #RouterFreedom!

Read more:

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Honoured to have been elected unanimously by @fsfe 's members to serve another two-year term as president.

Looking forward to work together with Heiki, Patrick and all the other @fsfe contributors for #softwarefreedom !

#freesoftware #fsfe #opensource

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At this year's General Assembly, which took place in Essen, Germany, on 12 October, the members of the re-elected as the president, Heiki Lõhmus as the vice president, and as the financial officer for another two-year term.

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Which browser is consuming much more power than competitive ones? @3rik presenting interesting numbers and thoughts on #digital #sustainability in connection with #FreeSoftware at the @fsfe GA.

So, what's your guess?

Making IT security a strategic topic for @fsfe - thanks to @mxmehl for taking this issue forward! Following up from last year's definition of priorities

And Patrick Ohnewein -on the left above- will be @fsfe Financial Officer for the next 2 years, as he is re-elected unanimously

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