Bender

scooching away from Google

While I think they're probably still the least evil of the bunch (I even know people who, bizarrely, think it's crazy to keep anything on Google, yet have active Facebook accounts), I've decided it's probably a good idea to move out of centralized data. There's just too much crazy these days in general, and Google's recent move to integrate all their data is a bit bothersome as well.

While not part of Google, the big one is, of course, Facebook, which is the biggest privacy fail around short of just posting every personal detail on a billboard on main street. Easy enough there, I never exposed significant data to them and I am essentially completely inactive there.

Email is relatively painless. I simply switched my email address with Dreamhost from "forward to GMail" to "fully hosted" which gives me Squirrelmail access from the web when I'm away, and spent a few hours getting Thunderbird set up with the few dozen folders and matching filters that I use. I picked up a couple of 16GB thumb drives that are cheap ($13), fast and small enough to be keychain fobs (they're thumbnail sized), and made them one big TrueCrypt volume (with about 1GB left as unencrypted space since frequently I'll want to grab something from someone else's machine).

I use Thunderbird Portable - local copy on my hard drive, synced to the TC volume on the thumb drive with Robocopy.

I also am playing with RSS feed systems since I also use Google Reader - it looks like the Brief add-on for Firefox will work for me.

I'm using LastPass for passwords, which is online but supposedly even if their data is compromised, it's stored encrypted and even they can't decrypt it without cracking your password. I'm also using XMarks from the same place, which is the best bookmark syncing I've found so far. I don't really know if they encrypt but I'm not so concerned with bookmarks.

Google Docs is a bit of a problem - there's simply no real substitute. I guess I will continue to use Google Docs for shared content such as reimbursable convention expenses where I want to keep open books, but go back to ODF on the thumb drive for most everything else.

I'm not sure how to replace Calendar either. I run my life out of Google Calendar. I do have a web-based calendar that I can put onto my own website and lock it down. I've used it in the past and it works pretty well (once I fixed some bugs in it). I've looked at a few other systems like Remember The Milk and Toodledoo, but ISTM that either I trust free shared systems or I don't, so it doesn't make much sense to give up one system that's working to go to another of questionable utility when there's no way to know whether one is better than the other for privacy.

I'm probably going to continue to post public stuff to G+. I never really did any limited posting there, and certainly all of my private journaling has been restricted to LJ, sometimes even posted encrypted, so no real change there.

I may install GPG on Thunderbird, but there's really hardly any point since nobody that I ever email will put up with it anyway. I've installed it a dozen times over 20 years and have yet to exchange a single encrypted email with anybody. I do know people who have PGP installed but nobody that I ever actually talk to anyway.
I've been having a heck of a time moving my email from google hosting it to Dreamhost hosting it. For one thing, I've got 2 years worth of correspondence there, and I don't want to screw this up.

I should give you a call about this sometime soon.
I didn't move my mail. I'm removing it from both places and pulling it in locally. Dreamhost is just becoming the place that the mail comes into before I grab it.

I don't know if Dreamhost has a built-in solution for mail pickup. If not there are other ways to do it. It wouldn't hurt to configure Thunderbird and pick up that mail to there as a backup just in case something goes wrong before trying to move anything.
I had this dream the other night where I had heads-up-display glasses, and a button to click. I was walking down the street, looking at people, and clicking the button. Their name then appeared in a word bubble above their head, along with their name, age, FB info, and last ten Tweets. I thought, Wow, This will revolutionize dating! And pursuit of criminals! And TSA! ... and then I realized every element was already in place, and if the CIA, FBI, NSA and TSA *don't* have this technology, they're screwing up. It's just not widely deployed. They make you think they need to see your ID - yeah, right.

The TSA should already have all of your info up on the screen before you get to the booth - hell, they shouldn't need the booth. Still asking for ID is part of making us feel like they're doing something.

I hate it when good possibilities for SF stories don't survive waking up, because they're already out there, and not SF at all.
Sadly true...
The camera network is already pretty widespread in urban areas, Facebook and Google(Flickr) have the face recognition database to better than a 50% hit level, and of course cellphones already serve as locators.

Unfortunately, the information economy currently views privacy as a trade barrier, and is trying to eliminate it. We need a legal framework change so that privacy is instead treated as a commodity to be valued and sold. The newly proposed European regulations are a start, but I don't see them getting much traction here.
I don't see Facebook able to crossref your email, contacts and web traffic. </p>

Facebook is the guy with a gun evil. Google is the Men In Black evil.

Really? They sure as heck do it. I've seen people who log into Facebook for the first time and they immediately see lists of 100 of their friends as suggested friends. It happened to me.

There was a guy on Reddit a few weeks ago that had an abusive ex-girlfriend pop up as one of his top 10 suggested friends the first time he created his account, even though he hadn't had any contact with her in 10 years. Apparently FB made the connection via friends of friends, people who upload their entire contact list.

They really push hard for people to upload their contact lists. Clearly when people do, they keep that info forever.

FB may not see all your web traffic, but given how many people use FB as their central spot for launching into other content, chatting (replacement for email) and sending messages, they have plenty of data already even if they don't partner with one of the many web tracking companies, which I'd be amazed if they didn't also.