I made a post just over 2 years ago about checking out alternatives to Google’s services. I still continue to explore offerings from different companies and just recently I’ve made the leap away from Google for some of the main apps/services I use.
Deezer instead of Google Music
The main reason for this one was my disappointment in Google’s family plan for Google Music. It’s not being offered to Google Apps for Domains users which myself and my family are. My wife has always used Deezer for music streaming and it’s much easier to share a single account on Deezer than it is on Google Play Music. Deezer also allow you to upload your own MP3s and they say they will be bringing their new Family plan to North America soon.
Simplenote instead of Google Keep
I’ve found Keep a little clunky recently and I find Evernote to be way too much than what I need for a simple note keeping app. Simplenote delivers and offers an Android app and web based solution. The only criticism I have is that they don’t yet support images in notes. Not a huge deal but something I’d welcome in later releases.
Telegram instead of Hangouts
This is a huge one for me. Hangouts has been very glitchy lately both on web and Android versions. I really like some of the fun features in Telegram such as stickers and bots for gifs. I’ve managed to convince almost every one of my contacts who use Hangouts to switch over to contact me. They have an excellent web based version and desktop apps for Windows, Apple and Linux. The Android app is feature rich and regularly updated.
SMS instead of Google Authenticator
There might be some very valid security reasons not to use SMS for 2FA but I don’t care. Any 2FA is better than none. I figure why bother with an app on my phone when I can just use SMS on my phone. All but 2 services are now flipped over to SMS for my 2 Factor needs and it’s much easier to access the codes on my Pebble watch using SMS than to use a separate 2FA app.
As usual in all cases above I’ve switched not just to get away from Google but because I’ve found better solutions for me for certain tasks. I’ve also stopped using Google Plus. These days the only Google apps/services I use are Gmail, Drive/Docs, Calendar and Photos.
Aside from logging into Facebook to view a couple of pictures I’m not using it. My feeling on FB at almost mid-month of not using it is that I don’t really miss it. I don’t miss posting but there are 1 or 2 people I do miss seeing posts from. Maybe I’ll go back at some point but go on an Unfollow frenzy. As for Twitter, I’ve gone back. There’s just too many interesting news sites and figures I follow. I hardly ever post there almost none of my friends use it. I look at it the same way I do my RSS reader.
We’ve been getting all artsy up in here. Last night my wife and I followed along to a Bob Ross video. we were using acrylics instead of oils so it didn’t go all according to plan. We had fun, though. Her’s is the one on the right. I got frustrated at one point and decided to round it all of with a volcano in the background.
Then this evening I accepted my wife’s challenge of drawing her.
In other news I broke my social media ban by logging into both Instagram and Facebook because I needed to see a picture. It didn’t last long and I logged out. Still on track for a month with no active participation and I think I’m over withdrawals of wanting to go back in to kill time. I’d much prefer to draw or paint. Side not: my Reddit use has increased…
I’m somewhat embarrassed and ashamed to say that the symptoms of withdrawal from social media are not unlike when I quit smoking. They’re no way near as intense at all but they take a similar form. The main similarities are me having to train myself to “throw away” the idea of popping over to Facebook which has frequently entered my head. That was always a problem when I quit smoking. The thought would pop into my head again and again to have a cigarette so much so that it drove me bonkers to keep shoving the thought away. Again, not as severe this time around, though.
The second similarity is me trying to reason myself into looking at Facebook or Instagram. “Oh I could read it but just not post or Like anything…” I know this is just a silly abstinence project but that kind of bargaining has made me more determined to prove to myself that I don’t need social media.
While we’re on the topic this story was featured on the BBC news site today. I’m not social media famous but I found it interesting. I’m not familiar with the girl in the story and I don’t think I’d be a fan of her videos or writing but I do admire her courage for leaving behind what must have been a very lucrative business.
One day down and the only impulses I’ve had to share things on social media have been news that there’s going to be a new Star Trek TV series in 2017 and I also felt like sharing a photo of my beer and pizza. I think the world can live without that.
I have no idea if anyone reads this anymore. It’s a space on the internet that I have and I will continue to maintain should I ever need anywhere to dump anything I think might be of interest.
There might be more of that soon as I’ve decided to not use FB, Twitter, G+, Instagram or any other social network for the month of November. I didn’t make any kind of emo “I’m not using FB anymore” type status before leaving. No cryptic tweets left for the tiny amount of people who read my tweets to see. As far as my output onto the web goes, this blog is it for the next little while. If anyone out there is reading this and wants to comment or get in touch then feel free to comment below or use the “Contact Me” form above.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about streaming content on services like Netflix vs buying content on services like iTunes and Google Play. Up until now I’ve relied solely upon Netflix for my TV and movie needs. As a reformed pirate, I find I’m more inclined to pay for content wherever I possibly can these days or search out free offerings on YouTube and Vimeo. This also goes for other media, too. I sponsor a couple of podcasts via Patreon, I use Comixology for my comics and my local library for eBooks and Audio Books.
The release of the movie “The Interview” was a bit of turning point for me. I decided to purchase it rather than pirate or even rent it and invited a friend over for a viewing. It was one of the first times a major motion picture had been released for home viewing in place of the planned theatrical release so I kind of felt like I was buying a piece of history so to speak. While visiting Google Play I noticed several free offerings had been added to my library over the years such as Ice Age, Big, Gravity and, unfortunately, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. I’ve since gone on to expand my collection with some of my all time favorite movies and recently added Interstellar and Mad Max: Fury Road. Before now I was on the fence about buying content rather than streaming it because I wasn’t sure about simply “owning the license to view” as opposed to owning the physical media. What if Google Play and/or iTunes go away one day? What happens to that media I “own”. I now rationalise it the following way: Years ago we all had VHS collections. Eventually those old tapes got worn out and unplayable, VCRs eventually stopped being sold and people would go on to buy a DVD collection. DVD discs aren’t built to last either and do have a shelf life before they become unplayable. I like to think of Google Play as the VCR or DVD player in this model. I will own that movie for as long as Google Play is around and I would like to hope/think that Google Play will last longer than VCRs did. So going forward I’m a Netflix user and purchaser of my all time favourites on Google Play. How do you consume your content? Cable TV, streaming, online purchasing, piracy? Some combination of the above or mostly just one of those methods?
I seem to be plagued by comment spam recently. I took to setting comments to be moderated but that just means people won’t see the spam and I still get notified and have to deal with it. From now on comments won’t need moderation but will be subjected to a captcha. I’m giving the SI CAPTCHA plugin a go. I suppose if I want legitimate, non-spammy comments then I should start writing some decent content once in a while, eh?
Those who know me know that I enjoy reading comics now and then. Just recently I started to see some Marvel titles drop off my pull list because either the series had ended (She-Hulk, Amazing X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man)or I didn’t find the series that interesting anymore (Ant-Man, Uncanny X-Men, All-New X-Men).
Marvel has decided to shake things up with an event called Secret Wars which will see the end to of the 616 and Ultimate universes. Usually these events require the reading of multiple different tie-in books along with the main event book itself. As usual I’ve decided to sit this one out but I’m starting to realise this event is going to be bigger than your average Marvel event. Instead, I’ve taken a bolder approach. I’m down to just 3 Marvel titles on my pull list: Hulk, Ms Marvel and, my favourite, Daredevil. I think Hulk may be done for now anyway because of Secret Wars. That leaves me with just 2. Instead of adding more Marvel I’ve decided to branch out a bit and look at other publishers. I’m not a DC fan and they seem to be having some huge event going on right now, too. I like Image and read Saga in trade paperback. If you’re over 18, read comics and you’re not reading Saga then you need to rectify that now! I was subscribed to the amazing Alex and Ada from Image but I’m sad to say that series is coming to an end with the next issue. As for other Image titles, I’ve found them to be very hit and miss plus I’m looking for some books that inhabit the same universe.
Valiant appeared on my radar recently with their Divinity mini series. I read up on their background and they have their own very manageable universe with only 7 or so ongoing titles. Better yet they launched the current universe as recently as 2012 so it’s not too daunting to catch up. I started with Archer and Armstrong and loved it! It was everything a comic should be: great stories, fantastic characters, amazing art and damn good fun. The series ended at issue 25 and I’m all caught up. I’m now reading Ivar – Timewalker, Ninjak and Bloodshot Reborn while I catch up on Harbinger and X-O Manowar. The thing I like about Valiant Comics is that it’s a young universe with only a few titles and the odd miniseries. The mini series stories are only 4 or 5 books long and pull in character combos from the other titles. Plus they’ve gone on record as saying when someone dies in a Valiant comic they stay dead. No Lazarus Pit or crazy retcon to save them. It also doesn’t hurt then when you buy their books digitally through Comixology you can also download a DRM free cbz copy to keep on your hard drive so all your books are backed up. So now my pull list contains 2 Marvel titles and 3 Valiant titles with more to be added soon I’m sure*. If you’re tired of the Big Two comics companies and want to try something new then I highly recommend Valiant Comics.
*I also subscribe to the outstanding Bandette from Monkey Brain Comics. It’s only $0.99 and comes out every few months but it’s still a delight.