The Big Four

I recently read an article regarding the big four tech giants, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. The article followed the author through her journey to completely stop using these companies products and services. I have news for you, it turned out exactly as expected. You simply cannot do it.

The Operating System or OS

First, you need an OS. Yes, you can go with Linux and it will work and work well however, how much can you really do with a Linux OS? Well, Apple’s MacOS is linux based but even that is highly customized to Apple’s needs.

Most software developers who write software for a computer will write either for Windows or MacOS which means that almost any software you may want, won’t work unless you choose a side, Microsoft or Apple, it really is a two-party system.

When you start talking phones, you have Android (Google OS), ios (Apple) or you can get a Windows phone (Microsoft). Your only other choice is to forego the smart phone and get a “dumb phone”. Do you remember life before smart phones? You can choose between a phone with a number pad or flip phone where to send a text, you have to use 0-9 or you can spend a little extra and get that really cool slide out keyboard. Social media, email, those mindless games you play, they will all need to wait until you get home.

Me personally, I run a Macbook Pro with a 1TB SSD. I run 500GB of that SSD with the MacOS and the other 500GB with Windows 10 and Apple’s Boot Manager software. This gives me the security and stability of the MacOS while at the same time, a place to play my Windows only video games. I’ve invested some real cash into Star Citizen and do not want that to go to waste.

Apps

You can cry about it all you want but you will not be giving up all your apps any time soon. Case in point, you can swear off Facebook, delete your profile and never touch them again but what about the 100+ family and friends from across the country that are on Facebook? Since I deleted my Facebook account, I’ve heard from exactly 2 family/friends from outside my area and one of those was my niece telling my my brother had passed.

Speaking of apps, all the popular apps are owned by the big 4. WhatsApp is Facebook, etc. so if you give up the big 4, you end up with social media apps where none of your family and/or friends have ever heard of the app. Remember ICQ? Oh and all your friends on TickTock, Microsoft is looking to buy the US part of TickTock due to Trump’s disputes with China.

In order for any social media application to be successful, it requires interoperability with apps that people are using. Just today I installed the app I’m currently using to write this blog post. It takes the major apps, chat, email, WordPress, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and puts them all into a “single pane of glass” or one location. If you are curious, check out Franz. Of course, that means you have to have accounts for all those apps you just said you’d never use again because they are owned by the big 4.

Analytics

I run a Pihole at home. A Pihole is a DNS server that runs on a Raspberry Pi which is a small Linux computer that is about the size of a pack of cigarettes and costs around $40. My Pihole takes all my requests like facebook.com, google.com, etc and runs them through a blacklist of sites I won’t allow access to. I blocked all things google and discovered that a good number of websites just don’t work because they use Google services and analytics. They serve content from Google, they use Google Cloud Platform or GCP to host their content, they send usage data to Google to track usage, etc. so if you want to order a steak dinner to be delivered via a food delivery service, you may have to either disable the Pihole or you will have to call the restaurant and go pick it up yourself.

Conclusion

You simply cannot get rid of the big 4. People use them and that is not a bad thing. Think about this, if everyone has a Facebook account, you can reach anyone you want in one app. The monopoly isn’t the problem, the problem is the abuse. The big 4 need to be regulated to prevent the abuse that they tend to inflict on others.

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