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Going Google Free

On June 25, 2004 I received the following email:

To: Aaron Toponce
From: Gmail Team
Subject: Gmail is different. Here's what you need to know.
Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

First off, welcome. And thanksfor agreeing to help us test Gmail. By now you probably know the key ways in which Gmail differs from traditional webmail services. Searching instead of filing. A free gigabyte of storage. Messages displayed in context as conversations.

So what else is new?

Gmail has many other special features that will become apparent as you use your account. You’ll find answers to most of your questions in our searchable help section, which includes a Getting Started guide. You'll find information there on such topics as:

  • How to use address auto-complete
  • Setting up filters for incoming mail
  • Using advanced search options

You may also have noticed some text ads or related links to the right of this message. They're placed there in the same way that ads are placed alongside Google search results and, through our AdSense program, on content pages across the web. The matching of ads to content in your Gmail messages is performed entirely by computers; never by people. Because the ads and links are matched to information that is of interest to you, we hope you'll find them relevant and useful.

You're one of the very first people to use Gmail. Your input will help determine how it evolves, so we encourage you to send your feedback, suggestions and questions to us. But mostly, we hope you'll enjoy experimenting with Google's approach to email.

Speedy Delivery,

The Gmail Team

p.s. You can sign in to your account any time by visiting

On June 25, 2014, I'll be closing my Google account for good. It seems fitting to end it on that date, exactly 10 years after first receiving it. I've already migrated all my documents, my contacts and my calendars to my personal Owncloud instance. When Google shut down Reader, I moved to TTRSS. Last week, I replaced the ROM on my phone with Cyanogenmod, and have not installed or enabled any Google accounts or applications, other than using K-9 for my email. I've already migrated my chat to my own personal XMPP server. The only thing that remains is email.

I will miss the community at Google+. I've made a great many friends there, and have had some amazing discussions. Sadly, it's time to say goodbye. You can find me on Twitter @AaronToponce, and I've usually cross-posted my articles from Plus on Twitter also. We can still have the amazing discussions there. Or, you can find me on IRC under the nick 'eightyeight' on the Freenode, OFTC and XMission IRC networks.

There are many reasons why I'm leaving the Google-verse. They include:

  • Cooperation with NSA spying.
  • Amassing vast amounts of data collection from hundreds of products.
  • Support for proprietary software.
  • A large monopolistic monoculture.

I appreciate that they will allow me to export my data, and delete it off of their servers. Their Takeout service isn't entirely evil. And their Google Summer of Code is to be commended. I appreciate that they have built Android, and submit back to the Linux kernel, and I love that they financially support Free Sofware conferences. However, despite all the good they have done, their toes are touching the "Do No Evil" line, and it's creepy.

I am going to self-host my data. I want as much control over my data as humanly possible. Using Google's services, means losing some of that control, and I just can't tolerate it any longer. This means work and some growing pains, but I'm ready for the trials.

Goodbye Google.

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