Completely Disgusted With Google

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my reliance on Google for just about everything: email, instant messaging and analytics reporting for my blog, just to name a few. To some degree it scares me the amount of information I'm giving one company access to and I've been looking for a way to drop my reliance on putting all of my eggs in one basket.

One of the main reasons for me to off-load my data from Google is that I want more control over it.  Currently, when I move information from Google Analytics, it's locked in their system and there's no way for me to export it out.  I may have access to it for as long as I keep my account info current, but it's essentially lost from my control.  I can't export it into another analytics system and I can't feasibly incorporate the data into year-to-date reporting of measurements.  It's an impossible situation, since I can't leverage something I own - because in reality, I don't own it, Google does.

Instant messaging is pretty extensible already.  I do have a Google Talk account, which is essentially XMPP and moveable between any one of a hundred different Jabber clients.  It couldn't be any easier, and since XMPP is an open protocol, I can run my own server (eventually) to power my own service.

Email was a big one for me.  For the longest time I've preached the benefits of Google Apps.  Now don't get me wrong: GApps is still a great solution to a unified communication service nightmare.  However, for me, it's outgrowing its extensibility.  I want to be able to control the services that my credentials power, and I don't want to be forced to use the services that Google provides to me simply for the sake of the 'single sign-on' (SSO) benefit.  I'm also not crazy about having Google scanning my email for keywords so they can push me advertising on their free services.  I've done pretty well with limiting the amount of advertising influence in my everyday life and I'd like to keep that practice up. Having to make service sacrifices you're not happy with just for ease of use is anything but.  To this end, I'm now powering my domain email using my hosting providers offering.  It's basic enough that I just get email with no frills.  It's an inbox and nothing more.  I don't need instant messaging tied to it - I already have a separate IM account through an old gmail account.

The other Google feature I am using is Reader.  I loathe reader, not just for the ads but for the interface as well.  It's horrid.  I feel like God is killing kittens somewhere every time I log into Google Reader or using one of the many third-party applications that interface with it.  I also want to be able to use the hosting that I'm currently paying for to maximize the bang I'm getting for my buck.

To this end, I've determined that Fever will be a suitable replacement.  Shaun Inman has created something so brilliant with Fever that it's hard to ignore if you're anyone who cares about consuming timely, important content.  I'm looking at you professional bloggers and freelance journalists everywhere.  There is a one-time $30 fee to download it.  The reason there's a seemingly high cost is because when you are given the files to upload to your hosting provider or in-house server, you're getting un-obfuscated copyrighted source code.  There's a price to pay for good, clean code.

In looking for a replacement for Google Analytics, I noticed that Inman created Mint.  It's clean interface reminds me that my current choice of Piwik leaves a lot to be desired.  Again, the fee here is $30, charged per-site since each site will need its own installation of Mint to record analytics.  Mint also offers something called Peppers (pepper, mint… get it?) which are plugins for the current system, most of which were developed by Inman himself.  You may say that Piwik also offers plugins, but from what I've noticed between open-source projects and those that are controlled by their developer, it's that the one's controlled more tightly usually offer a better experience when you start integrating things that don't natively belong in that environment (like plugins).  That and I've been having a painful problem when I go to upgrade the installation of Piwik that will "eat" my current SQL database so that my previous meta is rendered useless and my install is junked.  I can't have that kind of nonsense going on with a production system.

After installing both Mint and Fever, I'll have to do some extensive 'playing around' with both and give some of my thoughts on the blog.

I think that pretty much covers the extent to which I use Google in my everyday life.  I don't plan on stopping use of Google.com for searches.  It's too useful for that purpose, but for everything else, I'm not comfortable with giving them more access to information about my life than I absolutely need to.