December 22, 2020

A roadmap to reclaiming my attention and time

Last edited in September 2022

This is a page to document my switch from proprietary software, SaaS and the cloud to free software, and running things locally.

When I started I was replacing each proprietary software (or SaaS) I used by its free software equivalent. However, doing my personal computing locally has totally changed my computing habits, so it no longer makes sense to think in terms of substitutes.

This is the list of programmes I use: less, vim, git, pandoc, latex, grep, openvpn, atril, bc, wc (to count words in vim), history, backintime, date (to check time in different time zone), keepassxc, abrowser, tor, mutt, msmtp (and msmtp-queue to send” emails offline), rsync, vlc, sed and echo (to edit files without opening them), cat, wget (to download webpage and read offline or download mp3 files from webpages), youtube-dl, diff, mount, umount, tail, head, sort.

Table of Contents


  • 2022-06
    • Deleted accounts with LinkedIn, Twitter, Airbnb and Signal.
  • 2022-03
    • Switched from macbook (and MacOS) to a 2012 PC with Trisquel GNU/Linux
  • 2022-01
    • Deleted accounts with WhatsApp, Uber and Lyft.
  • 2021-08
    • Removed Duckduckgo as my default search engine because it is proprietary and they are a Limited entity - same as Google. I now use MetaGer, a search engine that is (1) under copyleft licence and (2) ran by a non-profit organisation.
    • Deactivated account with LinkedIn.
    • Installed the distribution Trisquel GNU/Linux on a spare laptop PC of 2012 with the aim to switch from my macbook to this laptop; use software Back in Time to backup locally
  • 2021-02
    • Three months in: Spotify was an easy ditch. I realize three playlists and some podcasts on my mp3 player do the job now. Also, that is $119 saved per year.
  • 2021-01
    • deleted all my articles on Medium and deprecated my account.
  • 2020-12
    • replaced Books (on Mac) with Calibre to manage my ebook library. Next step is to get an e-reader built on Open Book printed circuit board (PCB).
  • 2020-11
    • stopped using Spotify. I started to make mp3 playlists again. That’s fun.
    • started to send printed pictures via post to my friends instead of dropping digital pictures via Signal.
  • 2020-10
    • stopped carrying my mobile phone by default when I leave my house.
  • 2020-09
    • resumed using a mp3 player so I don’t have to carry my smartphone around - just to listen to music. Plus, Spotify did not work very well offline. It seems that it needs to connect to the internet at least once when turned on before it can be used in offline mode.
    • started using an RSS reader.1
  • 2020-08
    • started to send more (postal) letters to my friends. What will be left from our relationships if all interactions and memories are digitised?
    • decided to send less instant messages to friends and people. I call instead. We miss the subtlety of relationships via instant messages. Also, instant messages let us put the burden on others without investing much energy ourselves. In other words, we can demand the attention of others by sending an instant message without committing to invest the attention to listen to them. On the other hand, calling requires our full attention and focus as we require the attention of others.
  • 2020-07
    • switched back to a dumb phone as my main phone. I did not want that switch to be an excuse to consume, i.e. buy a new phone. There are a few new dumb phones on the market which value proposition is to help people recover the time and energy that the usage of smartphone got for them. I contemplated buying one but in the end I took a dumb phone I had bought in 2014. T9 still works fine.
    • resumed using an analog camera.
  • 2020-05
    • replaced Pages, Number, Keynote, Notes, Mail, iCal, Screen capture, Dashlane with LibreOffice, Joplin, Thunderbird, Kap, KeePassXC.
  • 2019-07
    • resumed using a pocket-size notebook and a pen to take notes on-the-go; so that I don’t have to dive into my smartphone to make a note. Plus, paper and pen is best for thinking.2
  • 2018-07
    • deleted email application from my smartphone
  • 2018-03
    • deleted my Facebook account.
  • 2017-08
  • 2017-05
    • limited myself to check Facebook once a day only.
  • 2017-04
    • deleted social media’ applications or applications that use infinite scroll from my smartphone (e.g. Twitter, and news apps.)
  • 2016
    • started to use Signal


On the Web

software deprecated or deleted* replaced with license organisation
Facebook deleted in 2018 I call people, send a newsletter, write postcards, letters, et cetera -  -
WhatsApp deleted Signal
LinkedIn deprecated this blog
a newsletter
a RSS reader
see blog
MIT License
see blog
I don’t know
Twitter deprecated twtxt MIT License License held by the developer
Amazon deprecated bookstores in my neighbourhood4
- -
Chrome never used Firefox
Free Software
Google Search
deprecated in 2016
deprecated in 2021
MetaGer GNU GPLv3 non-profit
Google Map deprecated OpenStreetMap ODbL non-profit
Gmail deprecated in 2017 ProtonMail MIT License & GNU GPLv3 commercial
Google Calendar deprecated in 2017 a calendar notebook
and Thunderbird to deal with e-invites
Google Drive deprecated in 2019 I no longer need a cloud cause I have only one device; no need to sync - -
Google Doc deprecated in 2019 LibreOffice Writer

MIT License

License held by Tzu-ping Chung
Google Sheet deprecated in 2019 LibreOffice Calc - -
Google Slide deprecated in 2019 I don’t use slides these days - -
Google Alerts deprecated in 2019 I stopped using Alerts. I had already too much information to deal with. - -
YouTube deprecated in 2020 - - -
Spotify deleted in 2020 personal playlists on mp3 files
Netflix deleted in 2020 no replacement,
I do more reading, and I sleep earlier
- -
Medium deprecated DNS provider


(check license)
MIT License
MIT License

License held by Junio Hamano & others
License held by Tzu-ping Chung
GitHub I don’t know yet
Substack deprecated I don’t know yet
Quora deleted in 2020 - - -
Blablacar (ridesharing) deprecated in 2021 Mobicoop GNU GPLv3 cooperative
Netlify I don’t know yet

*Accounts are surprisingly difficult to delete! Even once I stopped using them.

Alternatives to other Google products.

This blog use to be a Medium account. Now I use Blot which I really like. My aim is to self-host.

I still use a few proprietary software ran by commercial entities. The plan is to switch to Libre software ran by non-profit.

On my laptop (MacBook)

software deprecated or deleted replace with license organization
Page deleted
LibreOffice Writer MPLv2.0 non-profit
Number deleted
LibreOffice Calc MPLv2.0 non-profit
Keynote deleted
LibreOffice Impress MPLv2.0 non-profit
Notes deprecated
Joplin MIT License License held by the developer, Laurent Cozic
Mail, Cal deprecated
Thunderbird MPLv2.0 non-profit
Safari deprecated Firefox
Free Software
Facetime deprecated Signal
Apache License 2.0
iMessage deprecated Signal
Books deleted Calibre GNU GPLv3 License held by the developer, Kovid Goyal
Screen capture deprecated Kap MIT License commercial
Map deprecated OpenStreetMap Open Database License (ODbL) non-profit
Quicktime deprecated VLC GNU GPLv2 non-profit
Photos deprecated Finder proprietary commercial
Dashlane deprecated KeePassXC GPL License held by the developers

With other smart” devices: ditch them

I want to ditch smart” devices and replace them with dumb” devices.

Smart” is a euphemism.

This is the plain-word explanation of smart device”:

a smart device” is a device that substitutes for your cognitive resources while collecting personal data and metadata.

device deprecated replace with license organization
smartphone 2020-07 an old dumb phone
an analog camera
a $25 mp3 player
a $10 alarm clock
a pen & note-book
a paper map
a $15 quartz watch
a paperback book or a magazine
- -
Kindle not yet a homemade e-reader built w/ Open Book PCB MIT License License held by the maker


  2. Pam A. Mueller, Daniel M. Oppenheimer (2014), The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking, aps, Vol 25, Issue 6; Faria Sanaa, Tina Weston, Nicholas J.Cepeda (2013), Laptop multitasking hinders classroom learning for both users and nearby peers, Computers & Education Volume 62, pages 24-31; Anne Mangen, Liss Gøril Anda, Gunn H. Oxborough, Kolbjørn Kallesten Brønnick (2015), Handwriting versus Keyboard Writing: Effect on Word Recall, Journal of Writing Research, 7(2):227-247↩︎



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