The Edgebook is Dead

A few months back, I got a excited for a new take on an old thing. I was interested in an iteration of Windows 10. It’s name was Windows 10X. And it will never see the light of day. Bummer, because I was really interested in a Windows version of a Chromebook. I called it the Edgebook. It could have been a simple laptop without the ad-driven privacy-invading Google tentacles weaved throughout. But the potential of Windows 10X is not all lost.


I’ve been using a Chromebook for about 2 years solid now — there’s a lot to like. Its limitations are actually a feature because they make it simple. A virtue that is still oft undervalued, simplicity is a strength that makes using a Chromebook an easy affair. There is, of course, a downside to Google’s ChromeOS. It’s the same downside inherent in all of Google’s products and services: ad-based surveillance. Your personal details profit the big Google. I have been willing to make the trade-off before: sell my digital soul for “free” web software. What could it really hurt? I reasoned that if I was forced to see ads on the web, they might as well be hyper-targeted ads for things I would actually want to spend money on.

But no more.

Like the clock’s steady pendulum, I’ve swung back to the side where privacy is of paramount importance. Going from Google to Apple, I prefer to spend my money on keeping my personal data on the private side of the fence. Why be a persona non data — that is a person online who receives no respect of their personal data, not immune to digital intrusion or invasion? Although Microsoft isn’t as privacy focused as Apple, they are certainly not as privacy ignoring as Google.

So imagine a laptop that is both simple like a Chromebook and doesn’t log your every digital move? That is what I had hoped a Microsoft Edgebook would be. But now it won’t be anything at all. Apparently, beta-testers didn’t see a reason for Windows 10X to exist, or Microsoft perceived that the OS variant simply wasn’t worth releasing to the public. I guess that’s not too much of a bummer because news reports say that some of the hallmarks of Windows 10X will be migrated into full-fledged Windows 10. I’m not exactly sure what this will entail, but I do think it’s smart for Microsoft to take what they’ve learned from development on Windows 10X and apply it to their main OS. The biggest paradigm that may be adopted is the overall push towards simplicity and modernity. I welcome that.

Despite the better looking future for Windows 10 along with its classic robust flexibility and capability as an operating system, I’ve already decided to switch from my Chromebook to either an iPad or a Mac, because Apple and iPhone. As of now, I’m lasered on the iPad as the most simple and modern computer on the market. Oh, and did I mentioned it’s also the most private? Yeah, take my money, Apple.

Reset Your Digital Self

You know the flustered feeling that all your tech devices and social media services can bring? Turns out, the overwhelming mental clutter can be relieved. I’m not talking about a radical shift like Digital Minimalism, although that would help. It can be simple. In this case, I’m referring to an informative post with a few ideas for a Digital Reset.


Click over to the blog of Anil Dash and check out the list of steps he takes to regain control over his tech life. It’s straightforward and down-to-earth. I like the practical tidbits he shares.

Two of his key principles I especially want to echo here.

Fear Of Missing Out

First, if you decide to step away from social media, FOMO is not as bad as you think. The acute feeling of denial – that fear of not knowing what the latest cool meme is – subsides quickly, being replaced by tranquil relief from the onslaught of info overload.

Deliberate Data

The second principle is about all that info. It’s good to have only intentional info.

For me, the best way to have this is to not have any news feeds! So avoiding social media, I like to intentionally go to websites that I know and trust for certain info. I even use a DuckDuckGo search field to find new info – on purpose!

All it takes is a little clicking and typing and swiping – slightly more effort than mindlessly doom-scrolling Twitter or Facebook.

Addressing Algorithms

If or when I do interact with social media accounts, I like Anil’s idea of resetting the algorithms that fill the feed with stuff. Maybe if I un-pause my Twitter usage, I will likewise unfollow everyone, or at least do a massive purge and slowly rebuild the feed content.

This past week, I unfriended 76 people’s accounts on Facebook. I’m sure my newsfeed will look different now, but I rarely visit Facebook anymore. Shrug.

There are other ways to do a digital reset beyond social media. If it sounds like a good idea to you, go read Anil’s post. I think you’ll find it helpful.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!

Zero Feeds Experiment Results

On July 1, I started The Zero Feeds Experiment – a 30-day trial, abstaining from all news and blog feeds (I was already abstaining from social media feeds). So how’s that workin’ out for me? This post is my one month follow-up.


These Three Feeds

For me, there were three particular feeds that…fed my daily habit of checking in and scrolling like a robot for a ‘1’ in a long list of zeroes: the Google Feed, WordPress Reader, and Feedly. 

Without Google Feed

I missed my Google Feed right away – a lot. In this list, just a simple swipe away on my Android Home Screen, I was fed what seemed like an expertly curated collection of the best stuff on the web, tailored precisely to my personal preferences. There was rarely a ‘zero’ in a list of good ‘ones’!

Ditching this left a small vacuum. I left it turned off for a whole month. Yet the hole it left was kind of filled by Google News on my desktop PC at work.

I have been more vigilant overall to avoid general news because it’s too sensational and hyper-focused on only the worst happenings in the world. But with so much apparently going on this year, I’ve been drawn to check the Google News “For you” section: “Recommended based on your interests.” It’s basically the same as the Google Feed on my phone.

You might think I sort of cheated. But removing this feed from my phone and limiting check-ins to my PC at the office drastically reduced my habit. It helped sever a twitchy-connection with my phone.

Here’s a surprising fact: I turned the Google Feed back on my phone 2 days ago. Yet I have not been checking it! I just don’t have the habit like I did. Over time, I will likely resume this one though.

Without WordPress Reader

This feed lives inside the WordPress app. It makes blog checking very convenient. Liking and Commenting on posts is super easy. And the act of reading is better because you see the same formatted text and layout – no ads! – for every post no matter what blog it comes from.

Ignoring this feed, the main problem I avoided was the incessant habit of checking my phone, as if boredom could be my worst enemy. By itself, this feed was not bad at all since I don’t follow too many blogs. But it was one that contributed to my overall phone-feed-twitch.

My other bigger goal was to promote the practice of visiting people’s actual blogs. This way, I would see an individual’s blog theme with its unique colors, fonts, and layout. I think there is something special lost when everyone looks like the same democratized post listing.

While it has been nice to click over to live blogs, I do miss the convenience of the WP Reader. I have not resumed using it. For now, I’m letting my hands-off approach with this one coast.

Without Feedly

Feedly was the most exhaustive feed I took a break from last month. It lets you amass a never-ending stream of headlines from multiple sources. Every article! In reverse chrono order! For what Feedly is, it’s done very well. The interface is clean. Form and Function shake hands, smiling warmly.

Abandoning Feedly forced me to visit many individual websites, “on-the-line!” At first, this was downright jarring – yuck! So many intrusive ads, banners, videos… Different layouts, colors, fonts… Too many sites to tediously check on.

To mitigate the gross problems, I had to organize the sites I frequent into a folder on my browser’s toolbar. And I had to delete some! I can’t visit all the sites. My eyeballs get tired, and my time is limited.

The other thing that helped manage this transition was time. After 4 weeks, I finally felt accustomed to manually checking websites instead of relying on an aggregator like Feedly.


Results

There was an overall net effect, a gain, from breaking my phone-twitch feed habits. My phone felt calmer, or I did when using it. There was less to look at on my phone; it felt simpler and less demanding.

And I read a lot, mostly books on my kindle. I got involved with both fictional stories and non-fiction. I still watched a little YouTube sometimes. And at the end of the month, I picked up an old casual phone game to play, which has been fun. Also, I kept my blog post frequency up high, maybe too high.

Relying less on my phone to check sites meant using my Chromebook more, and that’s been nice because the display is huge compared to my phablet. I enjoy websites in their full ad-laden glory. (I seriously should consider subscribing to high-quality sites that might have no ads or at least far less intrusive ones.)

Lastly, I need more time to experiment. Now that it’s been nearly 5 weeks, I feel like I’ve settled into this new paradigm of being feed-free. I want to keep it up for now, see how it goes.


What do you think? Reply below with your comment. Contact or Email me at the buttons above. Thanks for reading!