Every so often I get bored writing about statistical analyses, software and torturing data and spend time in alternative creative endeavors: taking and processing pictures, writing short stories or exploring new research topics. The former is, mostly, covered in 500px, I keep the stories private and I’m just starting to play with bioacoustics.
While I’ve been away from this blog came the Google Reader debacle; Google announced that Reader will be canned mid-year, probably because they want to move everyone towards Google+. Let’s be straightforward, it is not the end of the world but a (relatively) minor annoyance. The main consequence is that this decision led me to reevaluate my relationship with Google services and the result is that I’m replacing most services, particularly those where what I consider private information is stored.
My work email (Luis.Apiolaza@canterbury.ac.nz) stayed the same while I moved my Google calendar back to my work’s exchange server. I setup my personal email address in one of my domains, served by Zoho. There are no ads in this account. I opted for this to avoid worrying about maintaining email servers, spam filtering, etc. I’ll see how it works, but if it doesn’t, will swap it for another service: my email address will stay the same.
I barely use Google Docs, so it won’t be a big deal to move from them. I deleted my Google+ account, no big loss. I’m keeping my Gmail account for a little while while I transition registration to various services. Nevertheless, the most difficult services to replace are Search, Maps and Scholar, which I’m now using without being logged-in in Google. I’m testing Duck Duck Go for search (kind of OK), while I’m sticking to Maps and, particularly, to Scholar. Funnily enough I have access to Web of Science and Scopus—two well-known academic search services—though the university and I will often prefer to look in Scholar, which is easier to use, more responsive and much better coverage of the literature; particularly of conferences and reports.
Google didn’t remove a small service. It did remove my confidence on their whole ecosystem.