Robert's blog
Robert Važan

American software and services I want to get rid of

There's european alternative to every american app or service, but switching is not so easy and it won't come early nor on mass scale.

I knew it all that time. Everyone knew it. First it was ECHELON, then Windows backdoors, buildup of communication capacity used for intelligence, Debian RNG bug, and now Snowden's NSA story. It was so easy to forget about it and just go on with one's life.

The focus these days is on US, but US is not the only government engaging in massive spying. Private companies as well as criminal groups collect private data for financial gain. Every other startup is selling customer data to whoever is willing to pay for it.

Loss of privacy is not the only reason to distrust software and online services. There are other hidden costs caused by low reliability, low performance, limited compatibility, and other effects of poor engineering. This is accompanied by a whole slew of dirty marketing and business practices.

Customers are taking risks when they download software or use an online service. Risk-encumbered buying is not isolated to software business. Other industries have accustomed buyers to crappy products and complete ripoffs a long time ago.

The NSA scandal merely shows that hidden cost of software increases somewhat with geographical distance between software company and its customers. It makes sense to favor local vendors to some degree. Again, this is not specific to software industry.

I don't see customers switching vendors because of privacy concerns. They are lazy to switch for much more obvious reasons. The lesson for businesses is that being an asshole pays off. Customers are stupid.

Governments could simply force vendors to deliver quality, including privacy, and to stop most of the dirty practices, but the larger governments instead chose to use their influence to get their share of private data and to help their local monopolies to conquer the rest of the world.

Nevertheless, I am not an average customer. Being a developer, I have responsibility to keep my own software free of malware. I therefore have an increased need for security. I don't have any solution at the moment, but I can at least list the most pressing security problems, so that I can address them later.

Okay, enough caveats, here's my list of software I want to replace:

It takes time to switch. I am stuck with the above crap for some time.