Who needs Google? Email/Calendar/Etc.

A few months back I decided to make a more concerted effort at taking control of my own digital situation. Although the whole “Google is spying on you” shit does concern me a little, that wasn’t the real impetus here. Plus it’d be useless anyway since I still use, and love, my Android phone.

The fact is, I was fucking sick of getting “JOIN GOOGLE PLUS OR SHIT WON’T WORK” crap from Youtube, Gmail, etc. 

It’s worth pointing out that the route I chose to go isn’t free. It’s not cripplingly expensive, but not free, and a lot of people will be concerned about that. But here’s what I went with.

  1. Registered another domain name. I could have used halfassedlabs.com for this, but since it may get used for important stuff wherein one might not want to call oneself half-assed, I picked something new. $20 a year. I use Dynadot.com to register, they don’t fuck around like GoDaddy and are pretty good support wise.
  2. Signed up for email (mobile-enabled) at Rackspace. $2 per account per month, but minimum of 5 accounts. Mobile sync is $1 per mailbox per month in addition. Rackspace isn’t perfect but they’ve been around a good while and are pretty reliable, plus their webmail interface is… functional, and with spam filtering. But it’s the next bit that’s important. (**See note below for secret awesome here)
  3. Attached the Rackspace accounts to my phone. You can actually add it as a faux-Exchange account (you don’t need their Exchange), which lets you use their calendar app too. Thing is, the non-Gmail email and calendar apps that are built in to Android are pretty crap. Sooo…
  4. Installed Pigeon mail and Cal. Both are streamlined, attractive, functional programs that do the job nicely (Cal is especially pretty). Cal also has a great built-in ToDo list.

At this point, everything is functional. The next steps are to point my Gmail addresses to the new account so I don’t miss anything (already done), and to start updating my assorted account  Eventually I’ll start updating friends to the new account, and finally, turn off Gmail entirely.

Now, it’s important to note that this is made all the easier for me in that I have huge amounts of experience dealing with email setups. I’ve managed Exchange and some other servers, worked as a help desk tech (officially and for friends and family) for nearly two decades, and just generally know what I’m doing. But that’s not to say the inexperienced can’t stumble through this. Rackspace has great support, as I said.

** And there’s one more massive bonus to this whole concept, a trick I’ve exploited for ages. It has to do with helping you filter spam more intelligently. There’s an email concept called a “catch-all”. That is, let’s say I had email set up as dude@halfassedlabs.com, and my catch-all forwarded to that. Any email that went to a non-existent account would then come to me. Why is that good? 

Because I can invite email addresses on the fly, whenever I want and however I want, for anything. Ordering something from, say, Target? Target@halfassedlabs.com. Or Walmart@, or shadyebayreseller@, etc. I can get the mail if I really need it. And if I start getting flooded with spam from one, I know exactly which site sold my email info. And I can create a forward so that all of those get deleted or go to a junkmail account. 

I literally still use the old junkmail@ account from my first domain name from 2000. It’s the most useful thing ever.