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Gmail and me (all things come to an end)

I recently mentioned that I was trying to see what Google services I could replace and stop using.

Now. Before I get into this, my motivations need to be clear. I don’t care that much about web privacy. I care to the extent that I don’t want my bank account hacked, but will accept the possibility as long as my bank has processes and procedures in place to repair any damage. The only thing I found surprising about the recent NSA thing is that people were surprised. It is my default assumption that my government and most businesses will do what they can to learn what they can about me. Any steps I take are mostly out of convenience (i.e., I stop tracking and ads because I don’t like them and there are easy to install/configure extensions for it).

I’m one of those users who cares more about convenience than security or privacy. I use many Google products because they work well and are fairly easy to use.

However.

What I do care more about, over convenience, is flexibility and choice. I hate being locked into services because they are my only option.

Gmail is one of those things. So. But I don’t like the interface (I know, I know – most people do. But I don’t. I find that I actively avoided replying to emails because I hated using it). A while back, I managed to snag some personal Google Apps accounts and have been using my own domain name for my Gmail and other Google services. This was step one to my path to switching away. Once going through the pain of notifying everyone of my new email address, I now have an email that isn’t tied to any specific service and with domain control allows me to create aliases, should I decide to change my email (thus, I never have to do the ‘this is my new email thing again). Domains are cheap and this is something a lot of people should consider doing (er, but not with Google Apps since free personal accounts are no longer available).

Next was finding an email client/interface that I actually like. I hate Thunderbird. And it is pretty much the only cross platform email client (with a GUI). Crossplatform support is necessary since I switch – on a daily basis – between Linux, Windows, and OSX. I tried alpine a while back but couldn’t figure out how to configure it (I was, like, a baby n00b at that point, whereas I’m more of a toddler n00b now). I love Alpine. I’d been using the pico editor on the command line for very quick text editing for a while – haven’t figured out the whole vi/m and/or emacs thing yet – so the editing interface was already familiar. Now that I’ve not only figured out how to configure, but to do remote configuration so I can sync my config settings everywhere, I’m good.

On the back end, I decided to go ahead and switch to the email boxes provided with my host. Unlimited boxes with unlimited storage? Okay. Good enough for me. At this point, it is just a matter of changing my MX records and transferring my emails. Done and easy to do.

Of course, this doesn’t solve the web interface problem since I’m not going to be able to install Alpine everywhere. For now, I’ve picked Roundcube as my choice ‘cause it is a nice interface and my host allows for a Simplescripts install (York recently moved to this as its default web interface for staff and, I imagine, student email). I’m looking forward to the eventual release of Mailpile since it seems like a really viable self-hosting and nice looking webmail setup.

I’ll post about me and other Google services later…