Change of Scenery
It has come to pass that I am nearly pried free of primary engagement in the Google Privacy Invasion Machine. PRISM1 and subsequent revelations pushed me out of Gmail, where I am now on an alternative host while I set up private mail handling.
Instead of Google, I’ve been using DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine.
Reading about Google Play Services and how closely it tracks to the behaviour of a rootkit2 pushed me to finally format my phone and install CyanogenMod, an open source Android ROM for my Nexus 4.
The difference being, this time I left out the Google ecosystem.
What’s It Like?
It’s a new kind of different. Not having the Google apps means I lack the Market. That I can no longer download what I’ve paid for has been among the hardest aspect of this process.
Do I install the Amazon market instead? Do I trust them any more than Google? So far, my answer has been “no.” I installed F-Droid, and most of what I need is actually available as free, open source software.
A rather nice email client exists as K-9 mail, and the Firefox browser is up to date and obviously excellent. Newsblur, the RSS reader I use, surprisingly(!) has an open source client as well.
I don’t use my Android phone for gaming, but have purchased both the Humble Bundles should I ever actively begin to.
The stock experience is far from perfect, of course.
Since I’m primarily on App.net, I’d love to be able to have a client for that. There isn’t one. ADNLib exists, but I lack the free time to make something with it.
My bank offered a rather nice mobile app, but the website is rather awful to use on a handset.
SoundHound/Shazam-like services used closed-source clients, so they’re no longer accessible.
Dropbox doesn’t have a client.
To my knowledge, there’s no two-way open source sync clients for CardDAV. Previously I was using CalDAV-Sync and CardDAV-sync, which are paid options on the Play store and Amazon store. There’s now a two-way CalDAV sync, called CalDAV Sync Adapter which seems to work great.
App.net and Dropbox are quite fixable holes; I have the technical chops to write a basic App.net client, built on ADNLib.
I’m intending to switch to a sort of Dropbox+Evernote-ish replacement called Seafile; the server and client are both free, open source software, and a client exists in the F-Droid repo. Whether that client does the automated uploading of new photographs remains to be seen.
Alternatively, I might set up my own ownCloud instance, though my dislike of PHP could prove problematic.
There has been, however, development towards two-way sync of CalDAV as an Android sync adapter; I will hopefully be able to adapt that for CardDAV as well as use it for CalDAV.
I’m surprised how usable the entire system remains running fully open source software. None of the pieces I truly relied on have vanished, and losing access to music matching I can live without. I suspect it won’t be long before someone uses WebRTC to provide the same services.
It feels good to move away from the toxicity of Google, seeing that one can live well indeed without their hulking omniscience.
The Most Annoying Bit
Not having an App.net client. I spent so much time on social media on my handset that not having it has been deeply frustrating.
And there’re no push notifications.
And I can’t use my Pebble watch anymore. Yet.
Really? Check it out↩
Background updates through a different mechanism, can grant itself new permissions on demand without oversight, hides that it exists and is running unless you know precisely where to look.↩