• Breaking the Google Addiction one step at a time

    Google isn't your friend. Google isn't my friend. Google is, and always has been, a data-whore.

    But, still we use them and allow them to slurp up more and more data about us.

    They're a bit like Amazon in that respect - you know they're an increasingly terrible company, but they're just so convenient and you keep on using them whilst ignoring the power they're amassing over the market.

    But, it is something that's been concerning me more and more over the years.

    We install adblockers, no-script and other extensions to add a fig-leaf to our privacy, or to try and avoid Google's user-hostile changes, yet we keep on using the same services. Even when they completely change the UI around on us, for no good reason, we still keep using their services.

    I decided, quite a while ago, it was time I made a change, but then did very little, at least until recently.

    As great as a "clean-break" might sound, going cold turkey off Google's services is never going to work - no model of user behaviour supports making massive jarring changes.

    So I decided to start with the most obvious interaction with Google - their search engine. I don't have Google Home or similar, so my most frequent interaction with Google is search.

  • Google, Cloudflare and GDPR - my quandry

    Just like most of the internet, I've been working hard making sure my site and services are GDPR compliant. For the most part, on the technical front I already was, and it's mostly been a case of making sure the documentation is up to scratch.

    However, in one area, I've had to revisit a  decision that I've gone over and over after the past few years - having ads on (some) of the sites, compared to the alternatives.

    I decided I'd create this post for a couple of reasons - partially because I suspect others may be in a similar situation, and also to try and help lay it out so I can spot alternatives to those I've already considered.

     

  • Virtualisation: Google Play Music Manager cannot identify your computer

    Although there seem to be an increasing number of things which irritate me about Google's Play Music, there's no denying that it's an incredibly convenient way to listen to music when not at home. Whether using the Android App, or playing in a browser, it makes your library available wherever you are.

    It's a pity then, that Google have decided to make it such a royal PITA to upload music (I'm also not too happy about the requirement to have card details on file, even if you plan on using the free version - you should only ever need to provide card details when the plan is to actually use them, it reduces the likelihood of them being compromised).

    As Google's Play Music Manager now won't run on my desktop (something I need more introduces a conflicting dependency , I figured I'd run Music Manager in a virtual machine and just point it at the right NFS share.

    Turns out it wasn't quite so simple, as Music Manager returns the error 'Login failed. Could not identify your computer'.

    After some digging, it's incredibly easy to resolve though.