How to Eat a Digital Elephant One Bite at a Time
I can’t believe I didn’t blog this before but let’s put my regrets aside.
So, you have come to realize that everyone who knows how technology works was right – it’s all spying on you. And, well, you don’t like it but – you don’t know where to start. You feel overwhelmed. Many people have these kind of feelings
- I’m too busy to figure this out
- I’m afraid to try something new in case something breaks
- I’m used to letting ‘geniuses’ fix my tech
- I’m too old
- Everything is changing to fast
- I just want it to work
Ok, these are all normal feelings but let me be crystal clear that none of them are an excuse for letting a creep spy on you. Imagine if a peeping tom had binoculars fixed on your bedroom window. It’s as bad as that or worse so do something today, ok?
Great. Let’s get started.
THE SOCIAL STUFF
This is the most scary stuff. I watch my foolish friends and family amass the precious photos and history of their children (who had no choice in the matter) onto the servers of some very uncool people. What’s most frightening is that 9 out of 10 of these people don’t even know exactly how the technology works. If you are one of those 9, just trust me and start making the better choice for your family with the following alteratives – and bring your friends and family so that you aren’t alone.
|Unsafe||Safer Alternative||Where to get it||Quick Notes|
|*Diaspora||https://diasporafoundation.org/||Choose a pod. Sign up. Bring your friends and family. Never go back to facebook. Totally decentralized. Totally your data. You can even import and export all your data!|
|Mastodon||https://mastodon.social||Fun and extremely awesome and powerful. Totally decentralized. Totally your data.|
|TBA||let me know!|
THE PERIPHERAL STUFF
The first step is to start switching from unsafe ‘peripherals’ to safer ones. These will immediately start helping you relax about change because your operating system will be familiar. It’s kind of like renovating an ensuite washroom before tackling the kitchen. It kind of eases you into this new and safer life. But before we move on to this easy and simple step, please keep in mind that your ultimate goal *must* be to remove all unsafe operating systems from your life. This includes Apple, Microsoft and Android.
But for now, let’s start with taking one bite of the elephant.
|Unsafe||Safer Alternative||Where to get it||Quick Notes|
|Microsoft Office Suite||Libre Office||http://www.libreoffice.org/||Wipes out Microsoft Word, Excel, Power Point and more while leaving you with *more* power and features and a great experience.|
|Telegram Messenger||https://telegram.org/||Not only open source but feature loaded and works on literally any device as well as even on a web browser.|
|Kakao Talk||Telegram Messenger||https://telegram.org/||See notes above|
|Skype||hubl||https://hubl.in/||Browser based. Just allow it to use your mic/camera. Use it on almost any device. Once finished with link, never use it again, or link stays active and you can use it again and again. Multiple people at the same time is also awesome. No file sharing yet but Telegram can do this while on a chat.|
|Skype||jitsi||https://meet.jit.si/||Have heard good reports that jitsi works well on self-hosting (even safer)|
|Internet Explorer (or whatever dumb new name they give to the same garbage)||Firefox||https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/||Most people use this anyways, but just in case you are really lost... Also, the plugins you can add to this make browsing so much more awesome.|
|Outlook Express||Thunderbird||https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/||Just awesome and then you just plug in Enigmail plugin for total email encryption.|
|icloud||Nextcloud||https://nextcloud.com/||You can either buy their box or install it on an old computer as a server... or put it on shared hosting. Pure sweetness in cloud file stuff.|
|Adobe Photoshop||GIMP||https://www.gimp.org/||Unbelievably robust and easy to use. Edit photos like a pro or as a pro and never turn back.|
|Missed any??||Let me know!|
So now we have the stuff out of the way, we need to deal with email by itself.
Most people, sadly, use some of the most compromising and horrific spying machines around. Some of these might look familiar:
First of all, putting technology aside, your email address actually speaks volumes about who you are as a person. For more on this, read my post here about that. But, on top of that, it’s not secure having your email on someone’s computer. For just a second ask yourself this concerning question: Why would a company pay to give you free email? Answer: to market to you or worse. So in order to market to you they must have all your data. Haven’t you ever wondered why advertisements start to look very, very similar to what you are doing in your life? Yeah. That’s because of that (and other things)
For email, if you are technologically savvy enough you ‘could’ run your own email server which would be the safest possible solution. However, it’s not that easy. Maybe your friend could set it up, but if you don’t have such a friend, what is best is to stop supporting these companies who prey on people like this and move to something cooler. It’s really *not* that expensive to pay for email. Here is what you do:
- buy a domain like ‘your name’
- choose something cool that goes before it like ‘me’ or ‘name’
- call a company that sells domains and email (preferably in a country like Canada) and force their tech support to set it up.
Then you would have an email like this:
If it’s not available there are countless Top Level Domains (TLDs) that you can choose from and certainly one of these will be waiting for you. And it’s fun!
Just make sure that when you buy your domain and email that you have enough memory. Most of them have some kind of unlimited plan for memory so go with that. Also, make sure that it has IMAP support – I would be shocked if they didn’t but this is the email service you want. You should budget about $15/year for the domain and another $?? for email and storage. I have been really happy with Canadian Web Hosting for service and pricing if I can make a quick plug. For about $5.00/month to have safe email per person is pretty reasonable. If you have another reason to have a website, you could simply get unlimited email through your website hosting plan as well. This requires a little more skill but it’s not that hard. A friend who runs their own website should be happy to set it up for you once you purchase. I would do this for my friends…
Now you’ve got your email and your other ‘stuff’ more secure, the last discussion is the big one.
THE OPERATING SYSTEM
You need to start planning to get rid of your current operating system which is probably either Apple/mac or Microsoft Windows. These companies have compromised many things at your expense of both dollars and privacy. They do not deserve your business nor are there endless reasons to stay with them. For 99% of people they could switch 100% to a safer option and be completely happy. There are a very small number of people in niche markets like print and design and perhaps medicine where the entire industry has forced everyone to communicate with these corrupted systems. In these cases you may need to keep one computer for ‘work only’ and your ‘personal life’ should be immediately moved to a safer option.
I recommend that everyone immediately switch their desktop and laptops to Ubuntu
Ubuntu is the safest, fastest, most supported and most loved free and open source operating system in the world. Switching to Ubuntu operating system is not that difficult but it does require enough comfort and skill. It’s easy enough to learn, but if you do have access to an ubuntu community near you, you should join that community or start one yourself.
Soon Ubuntu will be ready to go for mobile devices too. This is another reason why it would be wise to consider Ubuntu.
A NEW AND SAFER INTERNET
Another important thing that we will all need to work on quickly is to create a new and community-owned internet. This is a bigger picture discussion but please also start preparing your mind for ‘mesh networks‘. I will post more here as I learn and this will be my new focus for 2017 and 2018 because what good is all this safe stuff if we are using them on unsafe platforms owned by people who have agendas that we cannot control?
I hope this has helped someone break the chains.