Quick Question

I have two more posts before I will probably take a break for Dragon*Con

I would love having guest posts, but I can’t promise them.

So what do you want covered before a break?  I was thinking email and contacts.


Falling off the Blog – Writing Off Blogger

This whole project has resulted in a new identity for me, a daily blogger.  I don’t know if I can sustain it, but blogging often has made me more sensitive to the needs of the regular blogger, but I am not an experienced voice or a high volume blogger.    I am also not popular so changing my URL instead of remapping was something I could do.

Let me start by explaining what I did not need.  I have an account on Dreamwidth that I use for very personal posts.  I like the community, the philosophy and I feel comfortable there.  So I didn’t need a place to share personal stuff.. well sort of.

I use blogs for things I want to share publicly,  and I have wanted to share with some privacy.  I have reconciled myself to some loss of personal privacy in this endeavor, but  I am still embarrassed to admit that my other blog is about manners.   Yea, sorry about that.

I decided to share because I want to show what my two options actually looked like before and after. This is the before.  The afters are coming.

But before that these were my requirements:

  • Easy to use- that means a rich text editor and set up that doesn’t take long.
  • Custom URL- yea I don’t need it but I want it
  • Post from phone
  • Post from email

As you can see this is not a huge list of requirements, so I had a lot of options.  I did not consider Tunblr because danah boyd had a really bad experience with them not respecting her namespace.  I did consider posterous and wordpress.

Posterous- the import of the posts was handled automatically but took almost 24 hours, the about pages did not import.  I was able to pick a theme and apply a custom stylesheet to remove authorship information.  They have an andriod app and email posting works well.  I have not tested it but I believe images import with local storage as well.  Overall this is a clean, modern site with a lot of options and support.  It was pretty easy to get the sort of clean look I like.  You can see the results here

Overall posterous might be the better option but the long import time was a huge drawback.  I decided to not use it for reasons that mostly have to do with convenience.  I did not buy a custom URL but that interface looks clean, a year is $25 but there are reductions for making a longer commitment and it includes 10 email addresses.

WordPress- This is where goodbye google lives so it had a huge advantage in that I did not have to learn something new.  The import was much faster with wordpress, but like Posterous it did not import the pages.  I was not able to remove authorship information and could not use a different name without having an additional account, a headache I do not want.  This normally would have been enough for me to not use wordpress, but I knew I was coming out of the manners closet anyway so I decided to live with it.  The look could use more work, but it was easy to get a basic clean look.  You can see the results here.

I did buy a URL though wordpress.  The URL was reasonable at $4 a year, the mapping was $12 and I would have had to pay that even if I had owned the domain.  If I wanted private registration, something most companies offer by default, it was an additional $8 so it would come to about $26, comperable with posterious but without email addresses.

So while posterous was more modern and seemed like a better value I decided to go with wordpress because having all my eggs in once basket is just more convenient.  If I do decide to do hosting later I might move things, but this works for me now.




Recapturing the Moment- Ditching Picasa

Let me start by explaining I am not in any way a photographer.   I do not even have a camera other then my cell phone, and I take snapshots once or twice a week most of the time.

Still Dragon*Con is coming up and that means that pictures will happen.  So I figured I would try to get something sorted out with that this morning.

I use Picasa for pictures, I take them with my phone, upload them to picasa and occasionally edit them with the built in software.

The thing I wanted to try was cubbi.es which is connected to diaspora, but authentication failed me.  Given my imminent need for photo goodness it seems just as well not to be relying on something new.

So what I did was go back to something old.  Flickr is what I used before picasa and meets all my basic needs.  It also means that for once, I don’t have to use a new system. It is yahoo, but I am willing to make an exception this time 🙂

Getting photos from picasa to flicker was a little bit of a process, but wasn’t bad thanks to a plugin.  Basically you open picasa on your computer download everything from web albums, install the Flickr uploader and a button on picasa.  It is explained well here.  Then you go though an select picasa albums and click on the upload to flicker button, this loads those pictures in the Flickr uploader.  Once you have your pictures there you click on upload to flickr.

Now I have all of my pictures in Flickr, but I also need an andriod app.  I am looking at Flickroid and Flickr Companion Free but both were not stable on my Droid2, so I went to Flicker Uploader  which runs in the background and just sends my pictures to flickr.  Not as fancy, but this was the functionality I actually liked about instant upload.

So far it looks like this is gonna work.  I hope so, because I am going to need it.

My Approach

I just thought I would leave you a note this morning about what I am doing here.

I want to move away from using most if not all of the google products in my life.

I have this blog because I want to

  1. Share How I am doing that AND
  2. Help others do the same

Talking about what I am doing is easy for me, I know what I need.  Helping others is trickier, we wont all have the same needs or uses for a product.

I could try to cover everything, but honestly, I would do a bad job.  Trying to guess at what others might want is not something I have ever been good at.

What I would like to do instead is get more diversity.  If you are disconnecting let me either link to you on the “other disconnectors”  page, or if you really want to make my day share a short post from you about a product you have replaced a google product with.

If you are interested in that leave a comment or email me.

Going my own way- Leaving Google Maps

This is the product that I was most nervous about and most pleased with the result.

I should start by saying that maps are my business, so my uses for Maps include some unusual needs, I have figured out how to replace those  so here I am just going to be focusing on what I use maps for in my personal life.

There were basically two- Dots on a Map and GPS replacement

Putting dots on a map- You have a spreadsheet with addresses or even lats and longs and you want to see them on a map and maybe even see some data under it.

In the past the options would have been limited.  There is Bing which is just going to Microsoft.  There is the very virtuous Open Street Map which has great ethics but a clunker of an interface.

Luckily there is a fairly new option that does what I want much better ArcGis online is the public webmapping platform created by the worlds largest professional map software company.  The depth shows in the data available, but the interface is easy to use.   To get that spreadsheet up you just pick your basemap and then drag and drop your spreadsheet on to the screen.  This is a good product for this application.

GPS Replacement- I found a product with ethics I can get behind, an interface that is more fun and that meets my requirements for turn by turn navigation from an android app Waze is, so far, all win for me on the GPS replacement front, and it makes just driving around a lot of fun because I can up my score by improving their maps!

I can’t get rid of Google Maps on my phone until I root it, and I am not doing that until after Dragon*Con, but I deleted all my data and downgraded it.   I am ready to get it off my phone now thanks to Waze. 🙂

Tune Time – Google Music

Yea this one is still in beta but I have gotten dependent already.

I listen to music when I am editing data at work, books on tape during road trips and sometimes I walk and listen to one or both of these.

My needs are

  • Cloud storage for a largeish collection that includes a fair number of mash ups.
  • Android app
  • Online app that doesn’t suck
  • Uploading that is not terriable

Looking at it I found two services that might work

  • Amazon Cloud Player- 5GB free, more if I buy space for them.  Upload and webapp.
  • MP3Tunes- 2GB free, uploader and webapp

I am uploading to MP3Tunes right now.  They suit my preference for smaller companies and more importantly for me they were the ones who stood up in court against record labels to allow for this kind of service.  Standing up to restrictive IP regimes makes me want to do business with them.

So far I have been pleased but I will update later after using.

After a day of use I am still pleased, this will probably work for me

Quick Warning for Android Users

Think hard before you delete the GMail account associated with your android market account

B. Nadri found that:

  1. Your gmail address in use with the Android market holds your purchase history for all items purchased/downloaded from the Android Market.
  2. If you leave, those purchases are lost to you.

Follow the link to her blog for more information

Moving Time- Finding a New Calendar

One of the things that I really need is a calendar.  I can bop along fine without it when life is going soothly, but in stressful circumstances I lose track of time.

What I have to have

  • Support for following my derby teams calendar which is still google
  • Being able to share with the other members of my family
  • Being able to integrate with Outlook for work
  • Being able to use it on my phone

What I looked at

  • Yahoo!– This is actually pretty slick and capable, it supports imports and sharing and will text to my phone.  All the same I don’t want to just move from being Google dependent to being yahoo dependent and it doesn’t seem to have a phone app.
  • Zoho– This is capable of everything I need except having a mobile phone app, so it is high on the list.  The design is ok, but really looks like office furniture on your screen.
  • 30 boxes– One of the first social calendering platforms, it is beautiful and clean as a design, and the life stream intergration with other services is nice, but if doesn’t work on my phone like I want.  If the phone thing isn’t important to you this is a good choice with a solid privacy policy.
  • Cozi– This is what I ended up using.  It has everything I had to have and a privacy policy I don’t hate.  The outlook add in is a little flaky, but it works, the phone app works and the sharing works.  Event notices leave something to be desired, but that isn’t a huge complaint.  The biggest problem for me is that this is so obviously mommy wear that I am scared I might be forced to be adorable and crisp (or whatever the adjectives or the moment are) just for using it

Things on the agenda (quick update)

I have a blog to move, but it is on a hosted domain so I need to do a little research on how to change that.

Also I want to move my music off of Google Music. I am thinking of moving it t0 MP3Tunes, they have an app and they fought the good fight to make cloud streaming services for music possible.

Calendar is gonna be tricky because I share with my family, but I am looking at cozi. Other then giving me the creeps with its rainbow and kittens language I can’t find anything objectionable yet.

Sites- I am also thinking of moving my main site off google sites and getting it hosted to solve other problems like email and the like. But I don’t want to pay a lot and I don’t want administrative headaches, input on this is welcome

Oh and some advice, create a list with links or set of bookmarks for yourself – this is confusing at first.

Reading Alone- RSS Readers

Today’s Task- A New Newsreader.

The first thing I have come to terms with is that the social features of Google, no one seems to offer that for more than one service.

My other requirements are:

  • Online because I use it at work and home, otherwise I would consider feedemon
  • Not suck on mobile browsers or have an app
  • Work with podcasts

Which doesn’t seem too demanding.

I started with Violet Blue’s solution – News Blur.  This has a lot of things going for it, but I have more then 64 feed and I am not sure I am willing to pay for that.  The interface is nice and it has mobile apps so this is a good choice if you don’t have much in reader.  The import was the slickest here.

Another good option seems like bloglines, but personally I don’t care for tabs as an visual choice and their privacy policy made me very uncomfortable.  It could still be a good choice if you want a desktop format.

Right now I am using feedshow and I think I have a winner here.  The format is clean, the OMPL import worked well, my podcasts play.  The support is in a public forum format linked right to the front page and the developer includes his email. I have even taken my del.io.us accout out of moth balls in hopes of using the built in buttons to replicate some of the social fun of reader.

On the downside feedshow doesn’t have an an app and the page doesn’t scroll properly on my phone.   These are annoying downsides, but I decided I could live with them.

If you have other suggestions I am all ears.