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I’ve recently been looking for a replacement for Google apps. I wanted something that had reliable email and calendar. While Google does provide both of those things, I find myself wanting to be controlled by Google’s services less and less. I also wanted something that was reasonably priced (comparable to the monthly price of Google apps). That’s when I decided to give Office 365 a shot.

Now, I’m no stranger to Office 365. We use it at work and I interact at a daily basis. The web mail and calendar are good (or good enough to replace Google), but the real power is with my devices. Because Office 365 is hosted Exchange, mail, contacts, notes, and calendar events sync instantaneously. With Google I would often have to wait several minutes for the data to show up, especially with events. This always left me feeling a bit uneasy wondering if my data was actually there. This is not the case with Office 365.

The setup of Office 365 with my domain was incredibly simple. They walk you through every step of the way, even verifying that your DNS is set up properly. With Office 365, you also get more mail and OneDrive space than you get with Google (50 GB mailbox and 1 TB file storage for the Business Essentials plan). So far, a week into my trial, everything is running smooth. I never thought I’d say this, but I may actually not only use, but choose to use willingly, a Microsoft product.

Well, this is terrifying. From Vice:

Tim Libert, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, has discovered that the vast majority of health sites, from the for-profit WebMD.com to the government-run CDC.gov, are loaded with tracking elements that are sending records of your health inquiries to the likes of web giants like Google, Facebook, and Pinterest, and data brokers like Experian and Acxiom.

From there, it becomes relatively easy for the companies receiving the requests, many of which are collecting other kinds of data (in cookies, say) about your browsing as well, to identify you and your illness. That URL, or URI, which very clearly contains the disease being searched for, is broadcast to Google, Twitter, and Facebook, along with your computer’s IP address and other identifying information.

It seems like every day I see a new article showcasing what little privacy we really have.

The Verge has an interesting article, Facebook is the new AOL, that discusses how the tech industry of the 1990s is back.

The 90s were a decade of excess and mistakes and excessive mistakes. The rollicking good times of the 90s ended with the dot-com collapse of the early 2000s, the memories of which continue to shape the industry today.

So it’s worth noting that the broad outlines of tech in 2015 look surprisingly like the late 90s. The major players are set up the same, the fights are the same, and the mistakes will almost certainly be the same…

2015 will be defined by the Revenge of 90s Internet: media and tech giants flirting with each other, dominant players throwing their weight around, and portals, portals everywhere.

The article does a good job of comparing the major tech giants today with the ones of yesteryear. Facebook as AOL. Apple as Sony, Qualcomm as Intel and Google as Microsoft. The two that really hit the nail on the head for me are Apple as Sony and Google as Microsoft. That being said, some of these comparisons may just be skin deep. I think companies like Apple and Facebook are in much better positions than there predecessors. Perhaps that’s the point of the article. The companies of the ’90s could do no wrong and no one saw the downfall that would be not far off.

I love Gmail. I think it is the best webmail interface out of any of the major providers. This is why, along with great spam protection, I decided to set Google Apps for domains up on some of my domains. After several years using Google Apps with some of my domains, I think it’s time to call it quits.

Google Apps has grown by leaps and bounds and they really consider themselves an alternative for Microsoft’s offerings. I think they may be growing faster than they can handle though. I’ve been having several issues on multiple Apps accounts and because it’s Google, there is no help to be found. Sure you can search their help center but that just gives you a bunch of people complaining about the same issues. You have no way of knowing if and when Google is going to fix an issue. Some of the major issues that have literally made some accounts unusable are:

  • Permanent redirects when logging in. On one account I put in user credentials and the browser redirects over and over until the browser realizes it will never end and stops trying. This issue goes back a couple months with no one finding a solution that works. This makes logging into the control panel or the mailbox completely impossible. The only way to get email on this account is via IMAP.
  • Unable to edit groups. On a domain where I am actually able to log in I can’t edit groups. I click on the group name and I’m redirected to a Google 404 page. Again, I found people having this issue dating back to the beginning of summer. No fix.
  • Unable to delete groups. Another group issue comes when I go to delete a group. I select the group and click delete. The page refreshes and it tells me group is deleted. But it isn’t. It is still listed in my account.

So, I think with these errors it is time to leave Google. I need to go someplace where things work reliably and when/if they don’t I can actually contact a support person for an answer and a fix. You may be asking why I don’t use the email service that comes with my hosting. Well, it’s shared hosting and anyone on a shared hosting account knows that they have issues with major ISPs blocking shared hosting IPs, plus spam checking is subpar, so I need to find an alternative provider.

Today I started a 14 day trial of Rackspace Email on one of my domains. Their webmail looks good, but I probably won’t use it that much. Since Google enabled IMAP all my domain email has been accessed via IMAP most of the time so it’s likely that will be the same at Rackspace. Some things they also have which makes the move easier are excellent spam and virus protection as well as superior support. We shall see how it works out.

Edit: Despite being told in the comments that I needed to upgrade to premium for these issues to be looked at, they are now miraculously fixed. One of the many Google employees that have visited the site today must have had a hand in it because I highly doubt that these issues just happened to fix themselves today. To the Google employee that helped me out, a sincere thank you.

Edit #2: Setting up a Google Apps account for a friend and I decided to download and install Opera. It had never been used to log into any Google accounts or services. It had completely empty cache and cookies. I set up the account then tried to log in and got the permanent redirect. This was on a brand new instance of Google apps. Something is wrong with their system and no one seems to know how to fix it and Google doesn’t care.

Google and Verizon are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege. Complete bullshit if you ask me. This is the beginning of the end of the internet as we know it. I’m tired of corporate ownership of the government.