My first computer was an old laptop with a dead battery and a dial-up modem. It ran Windows XP, but I didn’t have the money to buy expensive software like Microsoft Office or PhotoShop. I discovered OpenOffice.org, AbiWord, and GIMP. I used Firefox, Thunderbird, and Pidgin.
Back then free cloud services weren’t yet around, and I didn’t have a strong enough Internet connection even if they were. Without an understanding of what open source software was, such applications gradually formed the majority of what I used. When I later went to college, I embraced Linux, and my appreciation for open source software grew.
The last time I wrote one of these things, I was using a Chromebook Pixel as my primary computer. I considered this an experiment with a commercially viable Linux distribution. It was fun, but I ultimately didn’t like some of the changes Google made to the experience in order to push its online services. I knew I was giving up some control just by buying a Chromebook, but these instances made me feel even more powerless over my machine.
Android has put me through some of the same emotions. During my time at Android Police, I’ve watched applications and services come and go, again and again. Some have undergone such drastic changes that they are hardly recognizable. Many solutions have shifted to the cloud, where they’re particularly impacted by the need to turn a profit, acquisitions, and corporate decisions. Then there are all the data breaches. And even when things are working as planned, it’s all still dependent on having Internet access.
Being from rural America, and still having family there, I continue to find myself in a situation where Internet access isn’t guaranteed enough for me to trust my computing in the cloud. The connection is great where I