Freeing Yourself from Google’s Gmail

Gmail FrustrationIn a previous post I was writing about weaning myself off of Google. Well let me tell you, it is not easy. Harder than I even imagined it would be. Actually it is a major pain in the ass!

For this experiment I opted for a Yandex email address as my new main personal email. It has an easy to use interface and the ability to sync other emails (such as my Gmail) with it. The interface is clean and pretty good. The URL has “neo2″ in the path when logged in so I am assuming it is based on OpenWebMail somehow. Which is fine with me.

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Big News Sites Track Us Too

I was reading a Wired article today titled, “Amid NSA Outrage, Big Tech Companies Plan to Track You Even More Aggressively” and commented that they too track the heck out of people with a whopping 30 trackers (4 social networks and 26 tracking companies!). Ironically the comment was not approved. It seems that the very news sites that are writing news on the NSA and Internet companies tracking us are doing the very same thing!?

Wow @WIRED seems to be one of the worst. Tracked by 4 social networks and 26 other companies! #privacy pic.twitter.com/yFhZ00FNnj

— Jascha (@jascha) October 8, 2013

Screenshot from 2013-10-08 13:04:21

Even The Guardian has a whole lot of tracking going on:

Screenshot from 2013-10-11 10:23:36

 

Oh sweet irony!!!!

Weaning Off Google – The First Step

google_msn_yahoo-fish-cartoonThey say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. Well folks I am here to say I have one…

It’s my Google-ification!

Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with Google. More that I had the epiphany that I am up to my eyeballs in it.

The other night I started pondering what all I use and how (or if) it is connected to Google. Just have a look at your Google Dashboard and you might be surprised! Here is a short list of things I use that are all Google…

  • GMail
  • Android
  • Google Voice
  • YouTube
  • GTalk
  • Google+
  • AdSense
  • Google Docs/Drive
  • Picasa
  • Analytics
  • Search

With the above just being the key points! I am way deep in the sea of Google. So what is a guy to do???

Firstly the easiest thing for me to change behavior wise is not search using Google. I have changed my Chrome to use DuckDuckGo as default for search. A few other good alternatives are:

Next installment I will be switching over my Gmail to an alternative.

Adventure Log: Big Bear Lake

This last Sunday we made the one hour and 45 min trek to Big Bear Lake. In all my years of living in LA I had never quite made it there to see what all the fuss is about. The ski season was about to start and only a little snow had already fallin so there was no need for chains and the roads were very passable.

Stream Crossing

The drive there is certainly fun going from next to nothing to 7000+ feet in elevation up winding mountain roads. Once there we drove around the lake to see the houses then cut over to the Rim of the World Drive from North Shore Drive. This is where the real adventure begins. I do not recommend going there after the seasons snow fall start since most roads get washed out or damaged even for super high clearance vehicles to pass.


View Larger Map

Note: Be sure to take with you provisions and an emergency kit in case you get stuck and have to spend the night. An emergency beacon is even better to have! Also be sure to get an Adventure Pass if you plan on making stops. As always advise family or friends on your travels and when to expect to hear back from you!

The Subaru XV Crosstrek did an excellent job of tackling the off-road driving. We did get stuck twice but that was due to the road being washed away to the point of needing much more clearance. Glad the Crosstrek has skid plates since I am sure they have some scars to prove the adventure. Luckily on the first instance of getting stuck some dirt bikers came by and helped us out. I have to say I am thoroughly impressed with how well it handles off road and the CVT does a great job of laying down the power on rough terrain. We will be sure to head back to Big Bear once more snow is in the forecast. Plus there are many more secluded hiking trials to be seen once the weather warms again in Spring.

 

Owner Review: 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek Limited

I have had the 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek for 17 days (1200+ miles on odometer!) now and thought I would write a review since the ones I read prior to buying were all over the place. Yes, the Crosstrek is a variation on the proven Impreza platform. Which is part of the reason I bought it. You usually want to avoid a new car model the first year it is out so they can work out the bugs. Being that it is technically not a new model I overlooked this.

Subaru Crosstrek outside of abandoned mine in Mojave Desert

The main concern I had prior to test driving the Crosstrek was the numerous reviews complaining about the lack of power and complaints on the CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission). I find the power to be suitable for the type of vehicle it is. You are not going to win any races in it but that is not the purpose of it. The CVT takes some getting use to since the usual act of punching the accelerator to the floor is not as effective as a 20% throttle then ease to the floor approach. With this method I can pass anyone on the highway and overtake with ease. For the record I drive 35 miles each way to work from north of downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica every day. So I know about traffic and the need to pass people on occasion. The joy of the Crosstrek to me is that it fills all my needs with equal doses of each. I wanted a car to fit this tall order:

  • Drive daily to work with good MPGs
  • Take on weekend road trips around SoCal and enjoy the twisty roads in route
  • Be able to drive off-road to get to points of interest
  • Seat 4 normal sized adults and carry gear/groceries/etc.
  • Look cool doing it

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