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Blog Locked and Loaded for 2022


2022 Happy New Years postcard.

Well here it is 2022!  Or it will be by the time you make your way to these words.  You will notice the site is now hosted by "dwghoster.com", and that I've tweaked the blog's presentation a bit. 

Behind the scenes I also updated the SQL code which consumed a good many of my days off from work to do so. 

This is a big year for me because all the work I put into this blogging system last year will now allow me to focus more on the craft, content, and the encouragement of others to join me in rebuilding an ad-free blogging network (see my post on Reddit looking for local bloggers to help get the ball rolling).

Decentralization and direct control over data are going to be my key digital strategies in 2022.  I'm putting more operational mechanics and power back onto the PC where things are responsive, and most of all, private.

It turns out that this impulse is in complete alignment with something called Web 3.0, of which a key theme is decentralization

And here is the lame first-hit when Googling that, and what they say:

Web 3.0 is anticipated to help overcome this problem as it is expected to be a decentralized version of the Internet where people have control over their data. The third version of the internet will have more transparency and boast massive content that will be accessible to all.

What's Old is Artificially New Again

As far as the digital industry and pundits are concerned this goes hand in hand with blockchain stuff, which is fine.  But the fact is, the internet and world wide web are decentralized by their very nature.  When people talk about decentralizing, they're literally talking about going back to the way things once were in habit and process.

People need things to happen as a paradigm shift  in order to validate, I dunno, whatever riches their punditry and professional reputations get them.

It's too soon to say if the forces and institutions that are invested in centralization and all of the control and monetization that go along with it will successfully mount a counter-revolution  (e.g., perhaps making sure they are secretly the de-centralizers, if they can pull that off without anyone noticing).  But at least the mantra and spirit are spot on.

Either Way...I'm Decentralizing

No matter what ultimately comes to be, I myself am taking control of my digital property, data, and identity.  I've moved most of my accumulated data off the cloud, thanks to a NAS system, and I've gone back to the Microsoft ecosystem where files can still be generated using client-side applications. 

I can anticipate the collective gasps that I would consider Microsoft to be an instrument of decentralization, them being one of the evil tech empires and all.  But in the very specific context I just described, they are. 

Microsoft as a company sells software and solutions first, and (seems) to dabble in advertising and search second.  For me, that matters. 

Of course, the distinction doesn't change the fact that they have an inferior cloud product when compared to Google, a situation that in my opinion arises from failing to create their own "device-in-hand" hardware; smart device home line; or any real auto solution.  Not to mention that to offer any cloud ecosystem at all, they have to retrofit their legacy product line to work with one.  To me the latter still seems to walk with all the elegance of Frankenstein, though I do believe they will get it together one day.  

Google by contrast was able to design from the ground up with only the cloud in mind, and now their universe is just so much more effectively all-encompassing.

Ducking the big tech cloud as the point, however, means I am uncaring of the quality of their cloud success.  It's how I can still use their programs in my space that is the issue.

Should Microsoft ever abandon its PC-line of software and force everyone to use their products as a web service for good, I'd probably move on to any number of freeware software to continue.  But, let's hope Microsoft sees the ironic wisdom in giving consumers the option of de-clouding, and continues to provide the professional service-approach ecosystem to pull that off.

I'm Bringing You Along

I'm going to decentralize you too this year by being more vocal about blogging (getting off social media, or, perhaps more like me, at least maintaining a blog), and, believe it or not, I have my eye on getting people back to Usenet with contemporary arguments for doing so.  More on that coming up.

  By Dave for Personal Blog.


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POP Email - Because, Privacy


This is a protest post of sort because when I search online for "why should I use POP email" nobody gives the correct answer.

My "pop-culture" settings.  Heh.

The answers usually given are "use it if you want to access email on your device while offline", as if being offline is a serious problem anymore.  Or, "use it to free up storage on your server", which is not a bad answer because eventually you will have to do something with all your cloud-based email, however off in the future.  But for most people that's a specific operation if and when that day of objective arrives and it may not be the only real solution if we are exclusively talking about preservation.  It probably isn't or won't be.

The Actual Answer

The top and actually real answer to use POP email is to keep email moving such that it passes through to you, but is not stored with your email provider on the way.  Bearing in mind of course that your specific configuration can and likely would allow it to pool up online with your provider for awhile, it would nonetheless not stay.  

To put it succinctly you would use POP for off-cloud privacy.  A second best answer is that you might prefer it for control.

POP email is excellent for off-cloud personal computing but it does require more attention and, as with all off-cloud computing, may concentrate your digital habits to periods when you can access certain devices where you are pulling data to.  In a rare tight application of this method, for example, you might only be able to review and respond to email when you get home for the day and can settle in with your computer - though again your specific configuration would never likely be that strict.

The control I mention comes from relying on the traditional email clients to access and pull email because they include many granular features relating to how email is handled, displayed, and archived.   The classic MS Office Outlook is probably the pinnacle example of a feature-rich client, though there are competitors that are fresh and contemporary.   

Here are two (non-sponsored):

Oh the Inconvenience!

I am experimenting with exclusive reliance on POP and in the process, trying to mitigate some of the loss of cloud benefits.  This turns out not to be an alien exercise because before the days of web-first email services like GMAIL, most of the mitigations I have come up with were day-to-day standard practice back then.  I'm really doing nothing more than pretending web-based email never happened.

People will be quick to remind you that unlike IMAP or web mail you can't access your messages from anywhere or anytime.  But that's not really true.  As a critical point consistently omitted in all the "should I use POP or IMAP" online articles, you can in fact configure your POP behavior to leave messages on the server for a reasonable period of time.  This means that all your other devices and email apps, including the basic GMAIL app on your Android phone, have time to access and pull the data.  Day-to-day you do in fact have universal access to recent messages for as long as you want to define "recent". 

In my case I have Outlook on my desktop as my primary device and it will leave messages on the server for my other devices for approximately 3 days.  If there's any situation, such as needing to receive and immediately respond to an email on the fly, I still can just fine.  And by the way, guess often that turns out to be?  So far never.  In case you haven't noticed in the past 15 years, email as a thing for person-to-person communication has all but dried up except in the commercial job sphere.  The entire ability to access email via my phone is really more about just keeping tabs on things than actually firing off responses.

Where POP Email Life Really Hurts

The actual downshot of putting yourself back on POP is the initial technical tending and time for it, as with all off-cloud maneuvers.  But this would only be considered an obstacle for "Facebook" or "mobile-only" digital consumers with no thirst or understanding of the freedom they actually have. 

Also a bummer (but not without solutions; I have implemented them) is that "email" these days tends to be part of a larger personal information management suite or ecosystem that includes your contact database and calendar.  Pushing your email to a POP client moves your email management outside of these other critical workflows you have probably gotten used to.  Some people can live with that, but others will naturally try to port contacts and calendars too so that they all remain in sync and portable which drastically complicates the manuever.

For me the question boiled down to a simple problem.  Assuming I use Outlook for contacts and calendar, how best to simply sync such data to my Android phone?  And it was a problem because in 2021 the personal computing application market doesn't "see" people who want to work off the cloud. 

The actual solution, which is working well, involves available and modern, but niche applications, on the PC and on the phone.  I have to install CompanionLink for Outlook, and on my phone, I have to install something called "DejaOffice".  All these things up and running reliably, so far, keep my contacts and calendar synced to Google Contacts (which becomes just another contact account you can add to your contacts view then focus on), and Google Calendar.  Because everything: email, contacts, and calendar stuff, can all be accessed by the Google GMAIL app on Anroid, it feels like I'm still using their web service.  There's no real loss of familiarity yet none of this data is held in perpetual by Google.

In short, long term privacy and control are the reasons to "pick POP", but as with every effort to keep your computing local and within control, you will spend time you have probably forgot you needed to when you became gradually consumed and assimilated by Google and Microsoft. 

  By Dave for Personal Blog.


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