The open source movement’s motto has long been “Free as in speech, not as in beer.” Of course, I go for both as I am poor 🙂
After reading Features vs Freedom, I realized that I use mostly non-free software. I had thought myself big on free software, but had not considered the fact that web apps aren’t really free. I use a lot of Google’s web apps. Nearly all of them, in fact. I am trying to change that.
I am still using GMail because my web host’s POP and IMAP servers don’t seem to work. However, I have weaned myself from my favorite Google app, Reader, for Vienna, a desktop aggregator. I am also using the bookmarks built into my browser (Camino), instead of Google’s bookmarks.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love the way Google makes their stuff, I just want to have as much freedom as possible. This is my computer, after all. Shouldn’t I be able to control the stuff on it?
Bonus tip: If you use Privoxy (which you should) try enabling
Privoxy/config then paste these two lines in it:
FILTER: noscripts Kill all <script> tags
Combine that with the build in filter for JS events and you can disable JS on a site by site basis. Comes in handy.
I use Google products religiously. There. I said it.
Any mail I am receive is procmail-ed to GMail. I read everyone’s blog through Google Reader. I manage my bookmarks through Google Bookmarks. I even have a recipe or two saved on Google Base.
Why do I use Google? Simplicity. With a broadband connection, even with my slow computer, Google’s apps are faster than something running locally more often than not. And since my information is saved to Google’s computers, I don’t have anything to back up other than my music.
I do have a couple of issues with these products. Reader needs a “Mark all read” button, though this can be hacked around with Greasemonkey (and Geekmonkey) Calendar seems to have problems keeping the event bars lined up with the times in the grid, which I can forgive for now since it is three days old. Bookmarks should be exportable.
But other than these couple of issues, I love Google’s services. I could use another reader, but then I would have another site to remember to visit, another password to remember, my personal information on some other company’s computers. It just isn’t worth it for small quibbles.
As for privacy, I am not worried. Google refused a government order to turn over search results that didn’t even ask for user names. They use my search history to give me ads I will want to click. So? I found ThinkGeek from a banner ad and it is now my favorite shopping site online. Privacy nuts should be more worried about their ISPs who have ALL your information pass through their pipes.
Lay off Google.