Breaking it Off With the Big G

My de-googlification project is commencing apace. As promised, today’s post will include some resources to help you de-googlify your own life.

But first, this is where I’m at: I already stopped using Chrome a long time ago because it’s such a resource hog and they did away with some of my favorite features. Since then I’ve been using Firefox, and it’s been fine, but last week the Mozilla CEO made some disturbing comments that are completely NOT fine, so now I’m trying out alternatives to Firefox. So far I’m liking Brave and Midori, but I haven’t settled on one yet.

Getting off of Gmail is the biggie. I decided to switch to Protonmail instead, and grabbing an account their was the easy part. I’ve updated the e-mail links and contact form on this site and set an auto-responder in my Gmail to automatically let people who e-mail know that they need to update their contact info. By the by, if you have and use my jmbauhaus email address, just change the gmail part to protonmail and you’ll be good to go. Also, jean@jeanmariebauhaus.com still works just fine. Eventually I’ll also move my Jeanie Nicholson and Broke Author accounts to P’mail, but they don’t get much traffic, so that’s not a priority.

This also means I’ve got to go through all of my accounts and update my logins. Since I also haven’t been using password best practices all these years, it’s also an opportunity to change everything out to stronger, unique passwords. I had to get a good password manager to keep them all straight — I don’t want to store passwords in my browser any longer, as I had been doing.

This part is going to take a good, long while. It’s helping to prioritize. I started with accounts I log into regularly, along with accounts that have been breached. One thing I like about Firefox is that it has a service that monitors your logins and lets you know if they’re connected to a website that’s been hacked, but you can also find out by entering your login email at haveibeenpwnd.com. I’m also deleting accounts with services I no longer use, and reducing my digital footprint.

Changing my login methods on accounts that login with Google or Facebook is also going to be a high priority.

Sorting through all the newsletters and subscription emails I get at Gmail, unsubbing from the ones I no longer want and updating my email with the ones I want to keep, is also going to take a while.

Anyway, if you want to go down this road, start here: Alternatives to Google Products for 2021

That article does what it says on the tin, recommending more private and secure alternatives to every Google product out there. The rest of the website also has great advice on other privacy concerns and tools, such as VPN and password management recommendations, etc.

I’ve used Google Docs for years, mainly because I can copy and paste from that to my freelance writing agency’s content management platform without a lot of extra code getting added in like it does if I past it from Word or Open Office. But with my next batch of writing assignments I’m going to give Zoho Writer a try instead. It looks pretty comparable. Zoho also has a cloud storage alternative to Google Drive that looks promising.

I probably won’t be quitting YouTube any time soon, because there are too many good content creators who haven’t yet switched to other platforms. But I disabled the app on my phone and am just watching it in my web browser. Between that and my Android phone, I won’t be able to break up with Google completely. But I can at least support their competition and stop giving them so much information about me.

Oh, and speaking of Android, this is helpful if you have one:

I hope this is helpful if you’re wanting to reduce your dependence on big tech. It’s almost impossible to avoid them completely without quitting the internet altogether — a solution that gets more attractive with each passing day — but at least it’s something.

Friday Links: Weeping Women, Horror-Writing Robots, and Ghostly Novels

I had wanted to write an actual blog post for the back half of this week, but it turns out that after a week of writing and pitching freelance articles, I just don’t have the brain power for anything too thinky. Normally when that happens I would just update you on how the book is coming along, but refer to the previous sentence re: freelance articles, which meant that not a lot of novel writing got done this week.

But I don’t want to leave y’all totally bereft of content (because, as we all know, it falls entirely upon ME to entertain you. What on earth would you do with yourselves if I didn’t serve up content on the regular? Rest of the Internet, you say? What? Pffft!), I’m falling back on that good old standby, aka what blogs were invented for in the first place: the link post.

Like probably a lot of people, I first learned about La Llorona, the Mexican version of the Woman in White ghost legend, from Supernatural. Since this type of ghost features prominently in Bound Spirits, I’ve been brushing up on them. Here are 13 things to know about the legend of La Llorona.

I was going to do a thinky deep dive on Woman in White legends but then I thought why do that when I can just link you to the Wikipedia Page on White Lady ghosts?

Child ghosts are probably the only thing more ubiquitous than Women in White, which brings to mind the ongoing saga of Dear David. Is it real? The Ghost in My Machine examines the veracity of the latest unsettling turn of events.

Do you prefer your spooky stories to be firmly and unquestioningly fictional? Then let Shelley, the world’s first AI horror writer, spin you a story.

And if you missed the prequel chapter from Dominion of the Damned that I sent to my newsletter subscribers last weekend, you can head here to read it (and then head here to subscribe so you don’t miss that sort of thing again!).

This band fueled a lot of the writing of Kindred Spirits, and they’re continuing to help me power through Bound Spirits. I particularly love this album.

I’ve been trying to make up for lost time on Goodreads, reviewing some of my recent favorites. Here’s what I thought of Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box, and here’s my review of Brimstone by Cherie Priest.

Currently reading: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey.

And finally, a list post wouldn’t be complete without a little self-promotion, so here’s a friendly reminder that my haunted amusement park novella Eucha Falls is still free. Here’s the Kindle link, but it’s also available just about everywhere ebooks are sold.

 

It’s Saturday! Let’s all sing for joy.

This was kind of a stressful week on the work side. Let’s perk up and celebrate the weekend with a highway sing-along:

My plans for the next two days involve lots of yarn, Halloween crafts and putting up the decorations. Today will also be my last hurrah enjoying carbs and cheese as I eat up all the unhealthy stuff in the house that won’t keep. Tomorrow, the new PCOS-friendly diet plan begins.

How are you enjoying your weekend?

Farewell, Tubey.

So NBC Universal is shutting down Television Without Pity (normally I’d link that, but I guess there’s really no point, since they won’t even be keeping an archive online). I haven’t actually been on that site in over a year (I think the last show for which I kept up with the recaps was Fringe), but even so, this announcement is stirring up a lot of nostalgia and remembrance. It’s funny how what began as a snarky little website that featured a handful of friends riffing on Dawson’s Creek every week grew into something so big and influential, and how many lives were affected and careers were launched because of it.

I started hanging out on the site when it was still known as Mighty Big TV. I visited it here and there for various show recaps, but I didn’t really get into the forums until Season 5 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, specifically right after the episode Fool for Love aired, which marked the point where my fondness of the show (and the character Spike) ramped up to full-on obsession. My burning need to discuss it with somebody who wouldn’t just nod at me with glazed over eyes led me to the MBTV Buffy forum, which led me to several friendships. Most of those have, sadly, dissolved since then, but not before they led to me travelling to places like Nashville and Louisville and Chicago and San Jose and San Franscisco to meet up and have adventures and form amazing memories with some awesome and hilarious women.

The Buffy forum also launched my former fanfic career, so if you’re here because of my Spuffy fic, we can all thank TWoP for that. I still get more feedback and fan mail for my fan fiction than I do for any of my original novels, which is equal parts flattering and frustrating. Would I be a fiction writer now if not for TWoP? Certainly. I was already a writer when I came to it, so I can’t give it credit for that. But writing all that fan fiction, and having it vetted and beta’d by those aforementioned awesome women, taught me a lot about plotting, pacing, characterization, dialogue and other useful mechanics of building a novel. I might have still learned all that stuff by writing in my own sandbox with my own characters, but I wouldn’t have had half as much fun in the process.

Eventually, though, the forums devolved into a lot of drama, and I think I even got banned from them. If I recall correctly, some of my friends got banned, and then all of the rest of us flamed out and got ourselves banned in solidarity. Looking back, I know we all took both the show and the forums and the whole fandom (not to mention the whole Spike vs. Angel debate) just a wee bit too seriously. At least, I know did. But that’s fandom for you.

Which is all to say that, like many People On the Internet, MBTV/TWoP was a pretty big influence on my life, and because of this I’m sad to see it come to an end. Somewhere around here I’m pretty sure I’ve still got a Cafe Press mug made just for the Buffy forum that says “Snark, Snerk and Scoobie Snacks.” I think tomorrow I’ll dig it out and use it to drink a toast to Tubey.

Are you a former TWoPer? If so, I’d love to hear your TWoP memories in the comments. Also, if you’re still addicted to the recaps and this news has hit you especially hard, you should check out Previously.TV, a new iteration created by the original TWoP founders (they just opened a forum, even!). And for hilarious recaps by good-natured people who just really love TV, check out Hey, Don’t Judge Me!

18 Years Ago

18 years ago today, I was working as a retail clerk at Dillard’s department store. I had just started my lunch break, and was passing through the electronics department on my way to the break room. Sales clerks and customers alike were standing around a big screen TV, staring in shock at scenes of chaos. First responders rushing to and fro, small children being carried by firemen and paramedics, the federal building with its face sheered off behind a mountain of rubble and smoke. I had never seen anything like it before, at least outside of the movies, and I never thought I’d see anything like it again.

How wrong I was.

It’s fascinating to me, the way the Internet and social networks have evolved the way we deal with things like this. In 1995, we didn’t have text messaging or Twitter or immediate access to the Internet in our workplace. As news of the bombing spread through the workplace, everyone was shocked. How does this happen in Oklahoma? Oklahoma City is not a major city. Apart from oil, Oklahoma’s not really that important on a global or even national scale. We thought we were safe from that kind of attack. But our illusions of safety and insignificance were shattered in the blast, and the only ones we had to talk to about that, at least until our shifts ended and we could go home and be with our loved ones, were each other. In the meantime, we relied on the Electronics department clerks to keep us informed about new developments.

On 9/11, the Internet had grown up a bit, and my world had gotten somewhat smaller. I had friends all over the country now, and we kept in constant touch via group e-mails and a Yahoo! list. I found out about the first plane from one such e-mail, sent to the group by a member who worked in downtown Manhattan. A plane had crashed into a nearby building, she said, and her building was being evacuated. I was attending college then, and was late for class, so I fired back a response that I hoped she’d let us know when she made it home okay, and went to class, assuming that it had been a freak accident and nothing more. I didn’t find out that the nearby building was the World Trade Center, or about the second plane, until I got to class. A while later, someone came in and told us about the Pentagon. In my next class, there were rumors about a fourth plane headed for the White House.

All of this information came to us from faculty who were listening to the radio. It was also on the radio, on the drive home, that I learned the fate of that fourth plane, and that the first building collapsed. I got home just in time to see the instant replay on TV. I spent that day glued to the TV, and exchanging horrified and frightened e-mails with my group of distant friends.

On Monday, we had been home from running errands for about half an hour before I saw the first phone pic a spectator had taken of the bombing site re-posted on Facebook. I clicked over to Twitter, and saw a stream of confused and horrified tweets from people wondering what was happening. Those were followed by tweets with helpful information: the best way to find out if your loved ones were okay; where to find free WiFi in Boston if you needed to check in; where to hang out and get free drinks until authorities said it was safe to go home. There were messages of support, offerings of prayers, and, later in the day, more practical help: people offering up their homes to stranded survivors, people offering to buy pizza and takeout for that first group of people to help them feed the survivors. The world had gotten very small, and suddenly, for a while, the nation was one big community, taking care of each other, making sure those who needed it were taken care of.

That was not something I had ever even imagined 18 years ago when my fellow employees and I felt isolated and cut off, completely helpless, constantly taking turns going upstairs to Electronics to see if there was any new news.

We live in a different world now. After such a tumultuous week, it’s nice to be reminded that, in some ways, it has changed for the better.