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BLOG: How I divorced Google

Tom Henderson | March 21, 2012
I sat recently at the Grand Opening Ceremony at CeBIT 2012 in Hannover. There was a huge crowd of dignitaries, business people, and captains of German industry. They were waiting to hear from the President of Brazil, the Chancellor of Germany, and the Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt. Each gave a keynote. As the event's them was Managing Trust, it seemed salient for me to listen specifically to Schmidt, perhaps one last time. It's not that I don't respect the German Chancellor or the President of Brazil, but I wasn't trying to divorce myself from the organizations they represent.

Google TV: See alternativeTo for other choices

The alternatives to Google are available. Sometimes these products are under the umbrella of another site, like Bing or Yahoo. Other times, they're a bit of a mixture of applications, each with their own user agreement and privacy principles. The problem is that each legal term must be read and evaluated. Applications originating in the EU, and especially Germany, have a stronger privacy legal principle behind their use.

Finding the applications has been both painful, and a moveable feast-- some of them can be a joy to use, like Oovoo- for its video qualities.

Day seven: A few withdrawal pains, but otherwise good

The search engine is the first part of my use that needed getting used to. I'm not sure that I wanted to use an engine called duckduckgo, but after a while, it's not bad. It lacks some sophistication. It has sponsored results, but leaves no cookies if desired. It doesn't seem to be twigged from prior searches that I can tell -- so far. Its results aren't as complete as Google's, but in truth, I rarely look beyond the first two pages of results anyway. I generally refine or alter a search if I don't find what I'm looking for.

I miss Google+, but not much. Some of my friends might read this and believe that I've abandoned them. I'm still on Linked-In, Twitter, and Facebook. So far, I'm ok with the privacy policies of each of these, although I have to watch them like a hawk and make seemingly weekly adjustments to privacy settings somehow. The user-base seems to be sensitive to this and gives explicit instructions on how to maximize privacy and personal information conservation.

The biggest loss so far is YouTube. I'm going to have to figure out how to watch YouTube videos by proxy. How do I use Youtube? I'm considering a proxy. Anonymous proxy use may satisfy the need for privacy, but at the price of latency and principle. After all, my son posts his music videos there, and they're fun (if deafening) to watch.

This article, "How I divorced Google," was originally published at ITworld. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

Now read this: 7 days using only keyboard shortcuts: No mouse, no trackpad, no problem?


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