Monthly Archives: September 2014

Historic onomatopoeia

David Astle’s WordPlay column in the Sydney Morning Herald recently came up with this gem when investigating the history of onomatopoeic words:

Cliche, say, echoes a printing plate locking into position. The plates were called stereotypes, blocks of recurring expressions that justified their own metal slug, rather than assembling the alphabet on each occasion.

The English language can be lovely sometimes.

Google the email eater

I recently started disentangling my online world from Google, with the main aim being to no longer logon to a Google identity. The final (final!) straw was when using the Gmail client on iOS meant that you were also identified to all their other apps whether you liked it or not. Enough! Leave me alone.

After much procrastinating, my mail is now routed via the well recommended Fastmail1. And so far so good.

Having gone through the rigmarole, it was kind of deflating to read Benjamin Mako Hill’s account at Copyrighteous of calculating how much of his non Gmail mail ends up being routed via a Google server:

For almost 15 years, I have run my own email server which I use for all of my non-work correspondence. I do so to keep autonomy, control, and privacy over my email and so that no big company has copies of all of my personal email.

A few years ago, I was surprised to find out that my friend Peter Eckersley — a very privacy conscious person who is Technology Projects Director at the EFF — used Gmail. I asked him why he would willingly give Google copies of all his email. Peter pointed out that if all of your friends use Gmail, Google has your email anyway. Any time I email somebody who uses Gmail — and anytime they email me — Google has that email.

Spoiler: Turns out to be over 50%. Sigh.

Still, I’m happy to have moved. It feels strangely liberating actually just paying for a service instead of wondering what that service is secretly costing.


  1. Bonus: they’re Australian which offers some protection from overzealous US monitoring attempts, the original team having bought themselves back from Opera. And they maintain an back office blog which often exposes their security issues, warts and all.