1x46: A Target of Derision


So what would help when looking for alternative services? What do you look for, and where do you look?

I work at FastMail. I know if you’re looking for an alternative email service you’ll probably find us because word-of-mouth seems to get us a long way. But what then - what do you want to know?

Its easy for me to list features (and we have loads of documentation devoted to exactly that). The thing is, if you’re coming from Gmail, you’re probably not really that unhappy - they do a good job of email. So you’re probably looking for something else. From what I see from customers, its often things a bit harder to quantify, like personal service, or the knowledge that they can talk to a real engineer, or commitment to standards-compliance, stuff like that. I’d argue that we’re as strong as anyone on email tech and security, but its hard to prove that.

Unfortunately, that stuff is hard to list as selling points, which makes it harder to find. So how does this work? @bryanlunduke, when you looked at FastMail, did you find what you wanted? What would have made it easier? Which services did you reject because you could tell they weren’t the right fit your needs, and which did you reject because you couldn’t figure out if they were right for you or not?

Btw, this isn’t me having a cry that we lost out to Kolab, just in case its sounds like that. Kolab are awesome and have a great product, and I totally get why the fully open-source thing is appealing. I’m not asking “how can I win next time” but rather “how can I help you make a fully informed choice”.


have you thought about/tried using the amazon android market instead of the google one?
Id be interested in hearing about people’s experience using the amazon market over the google market. thanks!


It’s not something I’ve concidered nor investigated yet.


I thought that is why covered patios were invented. :smile:

Not sure what is used in Europe for water heaters, but, in the US, a typical water heater is a 40 gallon tank. You can go to the scrap metal yard and pick one up for next to nothing, if you don’t know of one that has gone bad and intercepted it to the scrap yard. Now, this assumes that you, or a buddy you have, has cutting and welding tools available. Just cut the tank in half long ways, weld some small brackets to hold the cooking and coal grates, weld some hinges and handles, so as be able to shut the two halves together, weld on some legs, and there you have a simple charcoal grill. I have had some excellent BBQ from a friend that made one of those.

And, if you can find some lump charcoal, you’ll never go back to briquettes.



While I have Google accounts, I’ve never switched over to relying upon Google completely. My gmail address is purely personal, and pretty much unused. We have a Google for business account, more for using Google Drive to share documents/collaborative edit, etc.

But overall, I’m a paranoid type, and avoid using Saas to pretty ridiculous lengths. Where we use cloud services, it’s usually at the infrastructure level (lots of EC2) with redundancy across services (lots of Digital Ocean, and some Rackspace, too – and even a GCE instance) and multiple sets of backups.

So. Our list of what we use includes:

  • Postfix/Dovecot/Dspam/Roundcube for a mail server, running on an EC2 instance
  • Owncloud instead of Dropbox, running on a Digital Ocean instance
  • Piwik on a different Digital Ocean box, instead of Google Analytics
  • Gitosis on an EC2 box instead of Github
  • A private Docker V2 registry, instead of the Docker hub
  • ejabberd server for chat
  • LedgerSMB instead of Quickbooks
  • BigBlueButton instead of Google Hangouts/GoToMeeting, etc
  • Salt for configuration management
  • Lots of Drupal-based sites for project management, document factories, and our core business :wink:
  • Asterisk for phones, etc

I do make a clear distinction in our practices between marketing channels (such as YouTube and Google+) and Saas services (like Google Drive, Hangouts, etc). As the owner of a small technology firm, I do see this as a matter of risk management – sure it costs more to roll our own, self-host, manage the security and infrastructure – but nobody can take it away from us or change it in ways we don’t like without us having pretty simple recourse (spin up a replacement server at a different service).

Saas is still proprietary, and while I’ve long been an open source advocate, I really do fall more into the free software camp philosophy… and avoid using proprietary software wherever possible.


Yes. YES. This guy. What this – super, duper smart – guy said.

When I was a little kid I started my computing life with things like a C64, and early versions of MS/PC-DOS, with various incarnations of BASIC. Most of my first pieces of software (read: games) were ones that I typed out the code from a magazine. Free and Open Source to the extreme. Why would I want little executables that I couldn’t type out the code for?

Slowly I began using more and more proprietary bits. Game here. Office suite there. Before long I was using damn near 100% closed and proprietary software.

Over the years, I started embracing “some” Open Source. But with a fair chunk of proprietary bits thrown in. Because going 100% “Free” is crazy… right?

Now, as I sit here an old man, I find that I’m right back where I was as a child. Not having my software be Open Source, with open file formats, residing in infrastructures that I control… just seems weird. Unnatural.

Why did I just type that?



I am down to a single Google app, and that is gmail, less for the reason that I am particularly enamored with it, but more because it seemred, in the traditional google way, to be the best game in town. my searches are done through startpage, which is a lot like duck duck go, except they seem to work (at least for me) a lot better. See also https://startpage.com/eng/what-makes-startpage-special.html

Unfortunanately, I have a work iphone, so leaving Android is no problem for me. Then again, I trust it with my data as little as possible…My data all goes on my Nokia N900, my “brain prosthesis,” as a friend of mine refers to it. It doesn’t have a SIM card, so it is not a phone, just a portable computer, with my books and media on it.

So gmail is the only hurdle left to leaving google (well, that and youtube, but I never log in to youtube, so there is that).

@bryanlunduke, I have not yet read your articles, how is Kolab Now treating you? Is it a worthy replacement for google? At this point, I’m willing to pay to keep my data out of google’s hands. I have a free protonmail account, but it is still in beta, and seriously not “there yet.” So I’m still looking. I heard Aaron on a podcast talking about kolab now a while back, but never looked into it much. What are your thoughts?


What amazed me about this episode is that after Jono had delivered his verbal act of undying devotion to his chrome-buffed love toaster, instead of relentlessly taking the mickey out of his meat and fire worship, you took him entirely seriously and all joined in with your own grill stories and anecdotes!


I’m truly enjoying using Kolab Now for my email. The webmail client (roundcube) is good. A bit different than GMail, but in a good way (I think). Really, for most people, I don’t know that they’d lose or gain much in the way of functionality between GMail and Roundcube.

The short version of my experience so far: No problems, or ads, encountered.


That’s a good point. We should all probably work to make it illegal for Jono to love his grill.




Bloke has a point, I admit it. On the other hand, I have been to El Baconio de Maximo’s house and he’s cooked things and they tasted nice, and I’d quite like to do that again and not be sent to the Subway down the road because I was mean about his oversized hotbox in the back yard. :smile:


I actually use roundcube for my internal email server, so I like roundcube more than squirrelmail, which looks sooo 1987. That plus the fact that thunderbird feels like it is eating every last byte of RAM in the system…

Since my ISP blocks port 25, I just have it set up to receive security and messages from my home servers, stuff that is just none of google’s business.

I may have to give Kolab Now a try. I also used to use Kolab when my mailserver was a SparcStation 1+ running Debian. :smile:


Just logged in with my Google account.

Bryan, what did you replace android with? What do you run on your phone?


Lol! I don’t actually have a phone. :smile:


We haven’t done audio recordings at SCALE for a bit, mostly because they weren’t getting as much traction as video. Slides tend to be important to understanding the session, as do hand gestures and other speaker movements. Deirdré Straughan gave a great talk about why video and speaker moves/slides matter. (sorry it’s also on youtube)

A free option, as in both speech and beer, would be to mirror anything we post up on archive.org. We did that with audio for years, maybe we should start to do that with video as well.


Yup. As noted, this is exactly what we did with the video of Live Voltage at SCALE; I’m confident that archive.org is not going to go away, or decide to block our video for reasons of their own. Put it on YouTube as well, of course, because that’s a lot more convenient for people.


I would encourage you to invest some more resources into the videos at SCALE. In watching Live Voltage, much was hard to understand because of the background noise from the audience. If each mic was recorded separately, then much could be done in processing to make for good quality.


Thanks for the feedback. We’re constantly iterating and improving. However, I believe the video from LiveVoltage you’ve seen came from a camcorder rather than our systems. Thats not to say ours would have been better. All that said our A/V and archival teams are always looking for more help to improve he quality of experience for our remote attendees. If this is an area you’re passionate about, we’d be happy to have you join us. SCALE is a 100% volunteer event.


This may be the future name of a song of mine. :slight_smile:

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