Arquivo Eletrônico


2011, Sep-05

Replacing Google Services With Free Alternatives

I’ve been considering moving away from all of the Google services I use: Gmail, Reader, Search, Analytics, and Maps. I never used Docs, Picassa and Calendar so those services are not contemplated here. Why replace all of those fine Google services? They are free after all! First of all, nothing is free, Google offers you free services that you can use so that they can gather information about you. There are so many examples where Google’s knowledge about one can prove creepy. And to top it off there is Google’s Schiller declaration:

”With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches. We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

All this power Google has about me is the main reason why I’m moving away from their free services.

Another reason why I’m banning Google is that I value my anonymity. If I choose to divulge information about me I’ll do it on my own terms and to the people/companies I choose to. I have a problem with being tagged and tracked like a FedEx parcel. I don’t want anyone eavesdropping on my emails or looking over my shoulder and reading the articles I’m reading. I know they are on the business of targeted advertising and such but there is a clear line that I won't allow them to cross anymore.

So, here is what I’ve come up to liberate myself from Google’s tracking grip:

Search

Scroogle is a free anonymizer search engine that forwards your search words to google on your behalf, then receive the results, strip the identifying cookie and ads and forward the results back to you. The search results and any activity are then cleared from Scroogle’s servers within 48 hrs.

Google cannot set a cookie, doesn’t see your IP address, cannot tell which searches are from the same person.

If you use Safari you can change your search engine settings to Scroogle using Glims. Just add a new Search Engine entry, name it Scroogle and in the Query box type:

http://www.scroogle.org/cgi-bin/nbbw.cgi?Gw=#query#

Let’s face it: Google still delivers the best search results of any search engine.

Maps

Maybe Bing Maps? Still evaluating…

Gmail

There are many freely available email services out there, so this one should be a no-brainer. Fastmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, etc. Still the difficult part is not in having a different email provider, it is in updating all of your contacts, services, subscriptions and newsletters about the change. Of all go Google services this is the one that may take the longer to complete. If only there was something like number-portability but for email addresses.

Analytics

Mint? but it’s not free.

Reader

This is has been the most difficult service to replace. I read my RSS feeds on several devices and need a way to keep them in sync. Before using Google Reader I was a subscriber of NewsGator which allowed me to read my feeds on the web, on Windows on in Mac. But after NewsGator discontinued their subscription service I was forced to move to Reader. I’ve been looking for a free service that allows me to replace Reader but to no avail, so I’ve decided to code my own solution. I was inspired by Feeds on Feeder solution but I wanted a sleeker UI and the ability to access my feeds from my iPhone. I’ll be posting my progress here.

Conclusion

Replacing Google may not be 100% possible, still have to find a way to use Maps on my iPhone Google free and make easier to integrate Scroogle in to my search flow. The services presented here are only a fraction of what Google offers. The services that are taking the longer to migrate are Gmail as all of my contacts and subscription services have to be updated and there are the old account/service that I might forget about and Reader. If you want to read another experience and how to replace some other services like Picassa, Docs and Calendar, read this article at IEEE Spectrum Magazine.


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