My Dearest Mad-readers,
Google has become omnipresent in our society, like several other Tech Giants, such as Amazon, Facebook and Apple. They are so powerful but also so viciously helpful that most people would not even consider getting rid of them. They would not even imagine how dangerous it can be to let them rule the market as they please. As I tend to encourage people to have a sharp critical mind, I thought I would offer you a few alternatives to Google.
I recently published an article about ads and how to protect from them. If you read it, you will learn there are many programs similar to Google and which deserve to gain in popularity. These programs are for everyone to use and their developers have made them most accessible.
This giant is certainly the one I am struggling the most with. I love YouTube, since it allows you not only to watch videos, but also to learn everything you want. Generally, that is what the Internet does, but YouTube does it in such a brilliant way… that I find it disappointing to know Google has been behind it for many years and it has mostly become a platform for young entrepreneurs who want to earn money displaying ads. Of course, they need some way to earn money living from their passions, but I wish there were some other way which does not affect viewers so much. I find it annoying to be interrupted by ads all the time, don’t you ? Plus, aren’t you tired of trackers following your every click ?
If you are, there are several rapidly-growing alternatives for you :
- Brave is the first one, since it is a web browser with an ad-blocker that is integrated by default. It’s not an alternative but a way to make your YouTube experience more enjoyable.
- Lbry describes itself as an “open, free, and community-controlled content wonderland”. It is similar to YouTube, at least in regards to its concept, but it is entirely different when it comes to managing its content. You should check it out, just to broaden your horizons.
- PeerTube looks a lot like YouTube, except you are much more free to publish whatever you wish than on YouTube. If you are one of those people who want to self-host their videos because you are fed up of YouTube’s policy (how they delete creators’ content and so forth…), then check it out. It may be more costly, but your independence should thank you!
Since I have been there and know perfectly how Google Chrome’s user-friendliness can be misleadingly appealing to a lot of users (and it is installed by default on a lot of smartphones and computers), I will not judge you if you are using such an awful browser (who am I to judge anyway?)
Despite my being non-judgmental, I will still advise you to migrate to another browser. Zoom may not work as well, but you don’t want to have anything to do with Zoom anyway… (except if you don’t have a choice, don’t worry, I’ve been there too)
- Brave : it keeps coming up, and this is because I believe it actually serves your privacy better than other browsers. The fact that it is free and open-source is proof enough (to me) that it is trustworthy. Of course, there are other great browsers : qutebrowser, surf… but their focus tends to be more minimalist. Hence I don’t expect you will be very interested.
- Chromium : Its interface is very similar to Chrome, except it is open-source. I tend to recommend open-source programs, don’t I ?
- Ungoogled-chromium : There actually is such a browser, I swear! Google without Google, init awesome ?!
- Firefox : How about good old Firefox ?
- Opera : Since it comes with a builtin VPN, and it is as fresh and good-looking as Vivaldi, I figured I’d mention it.
- Vivaldi : If you want to look cool, this one’s for you. It is very customizable, and they won’t be tracking you like Google…
Google Docs & Google Drive Alternatives
It may sound difficult to find better than Google Docs / Drive (or Dropbox, who knows ?) and I must agree (to a certain extent). It is. Git requires a certain investment but it is so much more satisfying to use Git than Google Drive… The learning curve is far from the one you would face learning vim or Emacs. It is neither too steep nor too easy. Once you wrap your head around it, you just cannot let it go. I intend to write an article about Git & GitHub and perhaps even shoot a video.
NextCloud is a self-hosted cloud. It may sound like Chinese for some of you but it really means that you have your own server (with root access, or admin access in proper English) and you host your own Cloud on it. I expect most of you won’t be interested, since it means investing money into a VPS (such as Linode, AWS, Vultr…) or some other type of servers. I’m afraid freedom doesn’t come for free, and you have to fight for it if you want to keep it…
Perhaps the best alternative to a Cloud is no Cloud at all. Have you never considered having an external hard disk? Or a second computer you connect to with SSH (for those of you who know what SSH is)?
Chrome Book VS Every Other Computer
I would never advise you to buy a Mac or a Chrome Book. There are so many other brands to consider buying from, I am surprised people even keep looking at such low-quality products like Macs or Chrome Books. Macs look awesome, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that they only look good. As for Chrome Books… Well, this article is all about removing Google from our lives so… Moving on!
You can purchase Lenovo Thinkpads* for pennies on Amazon* or Ebay, or even BackMarket. They are generally small and lightweight enough to actually be portable (for fellow travelers…); they are cheap; and they are long-lasting. Not only when it comes to battery-power but also in terms of durability.
Like YouTube, I am no expert with its alternatives, since I use Maps myself. For developers, there’s Leaflet & Mapbox (the first one being entirely Open-source). Regarding Android apps, I heard great comments about maps.me but I have never used it myself. There are many others, such as Waze, OpenStreetMap, MapQuest… but I cannot guarantee their quality since I am not a user of those apps.
How about you stop looking at your phone or your computer from time to time ? Do you really need Google Maps ? How about looking at an actual map ? There are no trackers on those, you know ? Perhaps you may also consider taking a break from electronic devices from time to time. It’d do you a lot of good, you can trust my word on that!
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Take care of yourselves,
* This is is an Amazon affiliate link