Antisocial

My continuing struggle to get the almighty Google at arms length…

Maps has been one of those applications that just seemed impossible to replace. The investment required to pull together and maintain all that map data… never going to happen. And then:

OpenStreetMap.org, which has a bunch of alternative map providers, and can be updated (to what extent, i’m not really sure) by users. The UI is using the tiled ‘drag to scroll’ metaphor that seems to be the current state of the art for mapping. It’s probably not yet the answer if you’re in Japan (the maps are there, but the search doesn’t seem to cope with kanji input), but maybe someone will take an interest and tidy things up.

The other recent experiment is ixQuick. A European search engine, that has a proper privacy policy, and offers some interesting proxying options. The last time i played with it, several years ago, it’s search results weren’t up to much. Looking at them now, it would appear to be better than DuckDuckGo, and maybe as useful as Google when they were focused on general search. As with every alternative, it’s not as fast as Google but it’s bearable. Sub-second search just isn’t worth that much to me i guess…

Finally, Glims gives me a way to change the default search provider, and configure other search providers as needs. The install is also rather nice as it gives you an option that installs only the bits you might be interested it. This is good as Glims seems to be one of those ‘do *everything*!!’ plugins.

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11 thoughts on “Antisocial

  1. The sun’s been out for days and you’re at home looking for Google alternatives?!? The problem with Google is Android running on quite a few tablets and mobile phones. So if you’re looking for a place or need navigation [and you’re unlikely to this running around the streets with a MacBook], the device will nearly always resort back to consulting Google Maps. Especially with Google’s built in voice input it just seems so much easier to look for something on the web or find a place on the map but this, of course, always opens the corresponding Google application. Then again, “bearable” is not good enuff. Oops, is this me being antisocial?

    • Just back from a hike down to walk on the stadtpark lake – have to get in these new experiences while we can. Yesterday we made it out to Finkenwerder and walked back into the city… i’m getting out there!

      Android? Nah, that is the unicorn shit! Don’t know if you’ve heard but it’s open, and therefore awesome. Open, that is, unless you want to change one of the myriad things that either Google, the handset manf, or the carrier don’t want changed.

      Not that i’m part of it anymore, but that’s one of the issues that “we” as an industry are getting further and further away from resolving. The business related models just turn the devices into ever present life monitors with close to zero thought given to the ramifications.

      (Not that i’m all “buys hut in the woods and stocks up on tinned goods”, but i wish we’d think about this stuff instead of being all ‘ohhh! shiny new thing… tits, etc’)

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with all that… Been trying to escape google myself, for the moment calendar and gmail are my last ties. I replaced reader (app on my website server rss-lounge), do not use docs anymore except when forced by “collaborators”, do not do g+ (nor facebook although I secured a minimal account with my name on it, drunk grad students can do mischiefs and I do not want a “fake” one with me as a kitten-photographer out there πŸ˜‰ ), etc. Gmail is because I guess I do not have the means to escape these (and yes calendar just cause I’m lazy, but it’ll change soon…) I got away from twitter and use shaarli on my website server instead, a bunch of (probably useless) stuff I try to do to make myself (live according to what I) believe is, er, OK. You loose some “sharing” but who cares about what I think anyhow?

    Also use DuckDuckGo and I’m quite please with it, but I’ll try your suggestion about Ixquick…

    Oh and no smartphone either…
    Do you want to come and have tea in my hut in the woods sometime? πŸ™‚

    • Why, yes, i’d love a cuppa!

      GMail is the main source of my junk mail, not the bulk spam stuff, that they are presumably filtering out, but misdirected stuff from people looking for others with my name… Don’t think i’ve had any legitimate mail from it in months. If i could log on without getting six shades of authentication / verification kicked out of me, i’d go ahead and delete it.

      DuckDuckGo really isn’t terrible, but ixQuick seems to be better. If i remember i’ll report back in a few weeks. The nice thing about DDG is the bang syntax for directing search and macros.

      Never heard of shaarli. Will look into it.

  3. Finkenwerder back into town on foot? R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – that’s a bit of a walk. As for Google, Android seems open to an extent if you care to learn how to root [let’s say a smartphone] and know what you’re doing. Not everyone works in the “industry”, some of us are quite happy to just use these devices πŸ˜‰ Like myself.

    You’re right though, Google can be quite a pain when it comes to collecting personal data, but I think everyone is given a choice here. You can try lesser known search engines and social networking sites, but It’s just like a good new band. You share the music with your friends and they do the same, it then goes mainstream and people either simply won’t listen to it anymore or become sick of it.

    • yep, that’s exactly the argument that i’ve given for not wanting a replacement for G, but a community owned / operated index of the web. there is no doubt that G started out wanting to do the right thing, but the pressure of having to be continually bigger, means that it’s almost impossible for the cycle not to repeat if the change is simply to another operator.

      YaCY is a step in the right direction, but i doubt that the time has yet come. people need to realise that search is too important to be at whims of commercial interests, and we’re not there yet. more needs to go wrong.

    • and yes, android seems open, but if you talk to the people involved in releasing devices, it becomes pretty obvious that isn’t the case. although, truth be told, my information is now ~5 years out of date. they may well have changed the way they run the business by this point. (ed. they haven’t.)

      it’s possible to make the claim that the openness is more important for the application eco-system. but there you end up having to make some tough decisions, if you run an ‘anything goes’ kind of application market the quality *can* suffer. i’m far enough out of such things now that i really don’t know if that is the case in android land.

  4. I like the idea of a community based and commercial free web index, but at the same time I think it might slow down development of new devices and technology as such, as this is heavily dependent on cash generated by commerce [at least at the moment]. Bit of a vicious circle that one. You’re asking for a Sir Thomas More type of internet…

    • not really… it’s just that there appears to be a cycle. as what was once the new innovation (web search) becomes critical infrastructure for other services that build over it, it becomes necessary to make it more commonly owned. if this doesn’t happen it is a choke point, and open to abuse.

      or, as i asked in an earlier post, do you believe that G has a monopoly on finding interesting uses for an index of the web?

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