Cognito is our 2005 Ford Escape. We call him that so that when we go somewhere, we can go there “In Cognito”. He’s an AWD V6 XLT with just over 75,000 miles on him. We got him a few weeks ago as a replacement for our 1994 Saab 900s named “Garrincha”: a great car, but we’re feeling more outdoorsy than before.
Speaking of which, we have big plans for Cognito: brush bar, some under-car armor, roof rack, and some better tires. Then, of course, we’ll need rally lights, some stronger suspension, and some welded support for the struts, sway bars, and whatnot. That kind of thing will happen much later, if at all. Heck, I’m even thinking of installing a snorkel and CB radio!
The end goal? To tote around hiking and fishing gear, explore unknown places, and just generally tool around places we weren’t able to reach with the Saab.
Specifically, I’m looking forward to driving up to and around Vermont in a couple of weeks. There are some gravel pits in my hometown I’m dying to tool around in, and it seems that an old friend of mine is up for the adventure.
See, a week ago I was out in the park with my son and his friends. They’re all 10 and all kinds of energetic and everything. The snow had just melted and I was playing Aerobie with the three of them. A particularly accurate and — if I may say so — brilliant throw from my son sent me running after the neon green flying ring with as much speed as I could muster. It’s not much. However, since my weekend shoes are losing their tread and since the ground was mostly soggy from melting snow, my mustered speed was too much.
I slipped and fell. Flat on my ass. Tailbone. Thud and ouch. It’s hurt ever since.
Why am I writing this to my blog? Because I feel old. My hair is thinning. Falling on my ass hurts for a week. I’m only 34-years old, so I’m not griping. But it does feel like I’m kind of old.
If your looking for a good solution for recording a podcast — mac or windows — don’t go any further than audacity, an open source tool for recording and editing audio. You can export into mp3 format using the lame encoder. I tried about a million tools over the weekend, and even ended up using a trial of Adobe’s Audition. Nothing recorded better than audacity, though they all had significant more resources devoted to podcasts.
My advice? Use audacity for recording, editing, and saving. Use a sound folder structure on your PC/Mac for keeping track of your files, and keep it simple.
As I do this little experiment, I’m making some finds and reconfirmations of things that are viable replacements for google-based technology. Here’s my list so far:
- Jabber is a great, free, open source IM protocol. Keep all of your contacts from GTalk, too. I’m using the chrome.pl server.
- Free office software such as openoffice.org, AbiWord, etc. should serve all your writing needs. I’m still looking for a remote solution with collaboration, which is a really important feature.
- Ask.com has been working very well for me: mobile, images, video, maps, etc.
- I realize I don’t need iGoogle with Firefox’s built-in RSS feeds. Netvibes is a fair alternative, though.
- Still looking for a Feedburner replacement, but systematic use of RSS feeds using Firefox should cover it.
- WordPress for blogging. I can host it on my own server, and it beats blogger hands-down.
- Still looking for photo management/hosting, though both Windows and Apple have system-based solutions for management.
- Web-based email solution is pending, as well.
That’s my list so far. Of course, I’m not paying much attention to webmaster tools such as AdSense or Analytics because I don’t use those in my daily life, anyhow. If you’re a webmaster or just interested in analytics, what do you use instead of Google?
I guess what I’m really doing is working to wrest back control of my life. It’s not an easy path, though. My wife and I are often working to simplify our daily interactions with the world, except that in order to do so one often has to do some up front work.
While google certainly simplified my life, I began to feel as though the trade-off — not actually being in control of my own stuff — was too expensive.
I will continue to share the results of my experiment here.
Yeah! Turns out WordPress has built-in import tools, so all I had to do was figure out how to get it to work with blogger.com (hint: the secret is to transform your blogger.com blog into one hosted at blogspot).
Now, to explain a bit about what I’m doing. I’ve been watching Google for a number of years. I first heard of and started using Google when I was a reporter about 9 years ago. At that time, the search engine was the best one to use for the kind of research I had to do for news articles and I supported it fully. Over the course of the past five years, however, the company has begun to slowly reach further and further into the information space to an extent I am no longer personally comfortable with. To that end, I am removing the company from my life.
I’ve been able to accomplish the following:
- Switched from GTalk to Jabber (all of my GTalk contacts are still available to me)
- Switched from blogger to WordPress
- Deleted my iGoogle page
- Removed Picasa and all images from my Picasa account
- Deleted Chrome from my PC
- Disconnected from Feedburner
- Deleted my AdSense account
- Removed Google Analytics from my website
-  Removed Google Notebook
I have a few things I’ve yet to do, but as you can tell I’m working pretty hard at getting out. The response to my announcement on Facebook that I’m going through this has been varied which is what I expected. My reasons are my own, and I’ve no intention of encouraging others to do the same nor do I believe anyone will.
So that’s about it for now. Thoughts?