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Finally got my hands on a Dumang keyboard with Box Whites. You no longer need to buy them from Taobao. Mine came from

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.

Sad reminder that #ProjectGutenberg is still blocked in Germany. But there seem to be mirrors, from which you can get at least the index file and all the books too, but sadly not the website.
#OpenCulture #ProjectGutenberg #ebooks

is it possible to have hashtags integrated into my personal timeline automatically? So, in addition to showing me everything from the people I follow, it would show me all the public toots with my favourite tags , , ... without me having to search for them?

That would be a nice way to find new people in here.

I was excited to see this paper from 2018 on using to compliment collections. Similar, and a little more thought-out, than the way we started using iNaturalist this past summer.

Working on a plan to set a couple students to evaluating iNat records in our area this summer, to get a better handle on what exactly the citizens are, and are not, documenting.

Intuitively it seems to me that using a VPS/droplet/cloud server should be more efficient, in terms of electricity use, than running computer in my home. Is that true?

Reading about the carbon footprint of server farms is making me question things I haven't thought about much before.

This is my favourite picture from 2019. It was the first time I prepared myself especially for a subject. I checked the weather forecast and sun position in advance and climbed up the mountain in the middle of the night. I hope I can do this more often this year.

#photography #hiking #austria

I've got an outline for my talk on the Fediverse I'm giving tomorrow

the talk will probably largely be winging it and ranting, but this is a rough sketch of the topics to cover

am I missing anything important?


Same here!

Just sharing this in case anyone’s interested: these extensions in Firefox browser ensure good safety from online tracking:

1. Disconnect
2. Decentraleyes
3. uBlock Origin
4. Privacy Badger
5. HTTPS Everywhere

Also check out Firefox Containers extension. It lets you keep different types of browsing activity separated like online banking, shopping, email, etc. walled off from each other.

@toocleverbyhalf @KayKap @Iwalkalone @Vishsai @VivekT @music @cosullivan

80 Euros is rather a lot for *submitting* an abstract to a conference. I'd feel better paying after you accepted it, but up front, for a conference I've never attended? Yikes.

In 1998, a programmer who had been working on Y2K fixes started to get anxious because he couldn't believe how pervasive the problem was. He switched from company to company trying to get away from it, but everywhere he went he became regarded as the Y2K expert and immediately became the team lead for that company's Y2K contingencies. He finally had a nervous breakdown, quit his job, and decided he wanted to be knocked unconscious when the Y2K actually came about.

A month before Y2K he was put into an artificial coma and cooled down to a near cryogenic easily sustained long term life support.

Unfortunately the life support notification system had a Y2K bug, and no one revived him for 8000 years.

Finally he was found and revived. He woke up, and saw himself surrounded by lots of glass, light, stainless steel, and tall beautiful people in white robes. He asked if he was in Heaven.

They replied, "No, this is Chicago. Actually but it's a lot like Heaven to someone like you."

"Someone like me?"

"You are from the 20th century. Many of the problems that existed in your lifetime have been solved for thousands of years. There is no hunger and no disease. There is no scarcity, or strife between races and creeds."

"What year is it now?"

"Yeah, about that - it's the year 9,998. You see, the year 10,000 is coming up, and we understand you know something called COBOL?"

What's the difference between a catalogue and a collection in gThumb ?


“If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.” - Jay Maisel

An ordinary image of an attractive bird, the Wallcreeper. A milestone image, in a manner of speaking, as it marks (roughly) the midway point of my collection of Indian birds photograph. This was my 650th Indian bird - out of a possible 1300-ish that can be seen and photographed. Has taken 6 years to get here

#birds #birdphotography #wildlife #photography #photo #nikon

Two lovely quotes that define this image that I shot at #Bharatpur

Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph." - Matt Hardy

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. – Dorothea Lange

The story behind the nice piece of luck is here :


Shitty weather outside and I was as ALWAYS to lazy to clean the lens. The tiny black figure on the stairs is @anhdres. #elbtunnel #hamburg

When you create a black and white photograph, you create something that is abstract and strikingly real at the same time. B&W photography is strange that way. It is perhaps this abstract quality that makes black and white images so intriguing and enduring.

This one is an extreme close-up of an Indian Cormorant snagging a cat-fish and protecting it from being snatched /stolen by the other cormorants nearby.

#photo #photography #wildlife #birds #birdphotography #bharatpur #India

I sure hope the rest of the lab enjoys working with Jethro Tull blaring when they get back from holiday, because after this glorious day I'm not sure I can go back to earbuds 🔊 🎶

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Scholar Social

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