Saturday, April 07, 2012

Quandary! Cannonfire vs. Google

What shall we do with this blog?

I use a service called Blogger, which is owned by Google. In many ways, Blogger is terrific. (That said, the upcoming interface redesign has me worried. The number one rule of the internet is this: Newer is worser.)

The big problem is Google itself. The company is turning into (has become...?) an Orwellian monster, and there are plenty of good reasons to get the hell out of the Google system. I plan to use other search engines whenever possible. I want Google's LSOs removed from my system with every browser closing.

(An LSO is a particularly nasty and resilient type of cookie, capable of tracking your every internet move, which Google places on your system every time you use their search engine. Oughtta be illegal. Alas, our paid-off pols will do nothing against the G-monster. And did you know that Google has turned against net neutrality?)

And yet, to check up on my comments, I must stay locked into a Gmail account pretty much all the time. That means the Big Evil G is tracking everything I do online. They do this to put ads in front of my eyeballs, of course. But it is also quite clear that Google works with Uncle.

Uncle probably is not keeping tabs on your humble narrator -- who remains, almost certainly, far beneath the notice of the Powers That Be. But Google gives Uncle that ability, should I ever do anything track-worthy.

You too may one day wish to do something track-worthy. For example, a new terror attack could cause President Romney to issue draconian new emergency decrees which you might consider horrifying and unconstitutional. You may not want to fight the system today, but you may wish to do so tomorrow.

Look, it's the principle of the thing, okay?

For the sake of principle, the time may have come to quit injecting Google-brand smack, and to encourage all others to do likewise.

Some of you may now be thinking: "Why not use one browser for blogging and another browser for everything else? One browser has a tracking cookie, while the other stays clean."

Good idea. But there's a problem: Firefox is the only browser which does not insert unwanted code and formatting into my posts. Over the course of eight years, I've gotten into the habit of flipping back and forth between "Compose" and "Edit HTML" modes while writing. (I may include a screen capture to illustrate how the sausage gets made.) When flipping between the two modes, unwanted HTML oddities pop into the text -- but only when using IE, Opera and Comodo Dragon (which is basically Google's Chrome). Not Firefox.

The old Firefox worked well with Blogger. Any version above Firefox 4 does not. I'm using the old browser right now.

But I also want to use Firefox for everyday surfing. My version of Firefox is filled with all sorts of cool, ultra-paranoid privacy add-ons. (One add-on, called Do Not Track, has blocked 859 attempts to track my web meanderings -- in one day!)

Yes, Firefox lets you don a very thick overcoat of privacy. But what good is it, when you still have to stay locked into a Gmail account 24/7?

So Blogger has become a problem. Arguably, it is hypocritical for a writer to go on a proper anti-Google crusade while continuing to use their free services.

Perhaps the time has come for the great Wordpress migration. They say that importing from Blogger to Wordpress -- all the text, all the comments -- is pretty easy.

But, as always, there is a hitch. The free sites at have many advantages -- and one huge disadvantage: Bloggers are forced to use a pre-existing template.

That prospect pleases me not. I must tinker with the visuals. It's in the genes. I gotta.

Blogger allows perfect freedom when it comes to futzing with the code. You can even create something entirely new in Dreamweaver and paste the code into Blogger. Blogger will shrug and say: "Sure, dude. Whatever."

Don't presume that I'm terribly proud of this site's appearance -- although, truth be told, the present "19th century blogger" motif is a big improvement over the awful visuals that predominated a few years back. (And I'm supposed to know a thing or two about graphics!) The three-column flexible-width display -- once considered the height of internet elegance -- may have fallen out of favor in recent years, but I still dig it. The three-column design is readable, yet it also puts a lot of info in front of your eyeballs before you hit the scroll bar.

Individuality is a virtue. Better an ugly site that looks unique than a beautiful site that looks like someone else's.

On Wordpress, you can change the way your site looks -- but only if you pay. Each year. I don't want another annual bill to hit this household at one of those desperate times when the dog's chicken-and-rice dinner is mostly rice.

Here are the alternatives:

1. Stick with the Google monster. If Cannonfire goes this route, then -- in all fairness -- this site should no longer attack Google. At least, not often.

2. Move to, say farewell to the "19th century blogger" motif, and then accept whatever cookie-cutter visuals the gods of Wordpress have decided to force upon Cannonfire. Once the move is made, the site's new motto will be "Friends don't let friends use Google."

3. Door number three.

There is always a Door number three. (And maybe even a Door 4, a Door 5, Doors 6-through-6000...) Problem is, I don't yet know what that Door might be. There are many possibilities. But I do not yet know what lies beyond the door.

Do you?
Door Number 3 is self-hosted Then you can configured the blog however you want.

Hostgator has hosting for $3.96 a month.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Too expensive, alas. Right now, the fee is $0.00 a month. That's a good price point.
Yes, I really AM that poor.
You might as well stay put. WordPress doesn't allow ads, and I run ads from BlogHer. Not that I make much from it, but it is something for all of my efforts.
My question is why do equate purity with credibility? Why would your complaints about Google have any less credibility or worth, just because you understandably lack the capability to provide your own platform?

If anything your complaints about Google carry more validity because of your inability to maintain the privacy you view of your Constitutionally guaranteed right, because you practically have to use the internet in this economy.
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