An update on the De-Google

So a few months ago, I got a bug to get off Google, so I want to talk a little about how that’s gone! Lots of progress, not done yet.

Table of Contents:

First of all, the very positive. FastMail has been an absolute and complete delight. I was very skeptical that I would love an email client more than Gmail, because its search and its apps are great, and I’ve been using them since…. 2002 or 2003 or 2004? Since it was in beta, which was a long time and I don’t really care to log in to find out! THAT SAID. FastMail is great. It is absolutely instant in its snappiness and customizability, its support is fantastic, their docs are great, and the product is just a pleasure.

One of the most wonderful parts about it, aside from how gosh darn FAST it is, are the auto expire settings you can create for a folder. For example, and I know everybody has emails like these, I have a Twitch folder, into which all messages announcing that so-and-so has gone live on their channel, get filtered (better than on gmail but I can’t quite discern in what way, it may be my imagination), so I see them, and then I never look at them again. If I’m available, I’ll go check on the stream. But regardless, after I’ve seen practically even just the SUBJECT of the email, I never, ever need to look at this email again. So I’ve set a 30 day deletion rule on that folder! I have one for Twitch, one for Github emails, and I’m going to set one up for Meetup too. This basically means that the email that doesn’t get deleted is stuff I generally want to keep, and that the spammier (but still desired) stuff will never contribute demonstrably to the space I’m paying for.

The aliases are great. I know folks who have either never gone to google or run their own email is familiar with this, but aside from adding +whatever to the end of my regular email, I’d never gotten to experience this before, since I am using my actual domain to receive email through. So I have name@fastmail dot com, but I also have:
* “rachel@”, which I can put for personal things and give to people individually
* “subs@,” for comic subscriptions, newsletters, and other things that are not going to be personal to me,
* “business@”, replacing my former dedicated gmail address which was for all business things, amazon orders, transactional emails of all kinds, and finally
* “junk@”, for true junk mail. Hilton gets this, anyone that claims to HAVE TO have an email in order to proceed gets junk, etc.

What the aliases have meant, then, is that I don’t need to maintain multiple accounts. Things get filtered really beautifully and immediately. Everything I need is right there.

Which brings me to the next item. Calendar! FastMail also has a calendar included, because I think Outlook and Google have made it so that just has to be standard in an email offering. The calendar.. is fine. It is just ok. It, like.. mostly integrates with Google Calendar. I think it resends a given invite to everybody if you add anyone to the list. Its defaults seem weird, sometimes it’s 12am and sometimes it’s the time you click on. However, it is usable and a perfectly fine replacement for Google Calendar, so it’s enough and I have moved completely off of GCal. However, GCal is just so… invested-in, and it shows, and I miss its UI.

And so is Google Maps. I have tried to switch over to OSMAnd, a mobile app based on Open Street Maps, which, let’s be very honest about how hard these problems are, does an admirable job. But GMaps is also incredibly heavily invested-in, and this is one where I really do feel like it is not quite usable enough for me. This is fine around town, I do know where I’m going and am happy to find info in other ways, but if I need complete directions, I still pull out Google Maps, because it’s incredibly reliable. I know this is an important one to stop using, too, so if anyone has any tips on other open street map apps I could use, even happy to pay for things, please hmu in the comments.

Ah, and Google Drive. It’s funny, I never even felt terribly reliant on GDrive, and yet it is the one thing I’ve almost entirely put off doing. It’s just going to be such a slog, to pull it all down and set up all the Stuff to put it all elsewhere. But I need to do this, so I’m literally going to set a reminder right now to take the following steps:
* Set my Linux machine up on a job to pull it all down. I imagine this will be a zip file, god help me if I have to do it one by one. (if this is the case I will look for a third party tool)
* ADDITIONALLY get all my wedding photos onto… oh shoot. My Windows desktop. Ah well, this will be a good opportunity to interact with the AWS CLI from Powershell, something it would be great to get to know a bit better (for fun).
* Create an S3 bucket on my Amazon account, and then probably just make a job to push it all up and lock it tf down.
I can see all of this becoming an Automation Project, which sounds fun but which also makes me nervous, because there’s nothing that makes me put a project off like “gotta do it the RIGHT way,” so I’ll probably just roll through the gui and, other than creating the for loop to upload all the stuff, it will all be pretty manual and nonrepeatable. I think that’s, basically fine.

Google Photos is GREAT. GRRRRREEAT. I really wish it weren’t quite so good. Here’s a note to go check out auto sync to Flickr, as I’ve been pretty pleased with their open source support and ethic, these last few years, and it just seems high quality and workable. I think transferring those photos over will be a challenge, and not one I’m super likely to prioritize at the moment. But if you’ve done this specifically, please let me know how that has gone!

Now we get to the truly difficult stuff. I’m probably never getting off Android, and I rely too much on so many apps (read: the google play store) that are unlikely to ever be supported in smaller open source mobile OSs. Ultimately I don’t want to be an iconoclast in this stuff! I’m willing to make many changes, but just kissing goodbye to everything I know in my phone… is just going to be too far, for me. I spend all day in Twitter, my email, some games, Authy, and Podcast Addict (a fabulous podcast app maintained by ONE PERSON who takes bug reports and has a Patreon which is highly deserving of your bucks, if you like to listen to podcasts on Android!

This is getting rather long, but I think that’s more or less what I wanted to say! Just like last time I’d love to hear from you if you’ve done this too. Cheers!