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#30DayFOSSChallenge Year 2 - Weeks 1&2


(If you're not sure what this is about, start here.)

(This is part of a series. Find the rest on my blog.)

Apologies for missing Week 1's post. I went camping for the eclipse and underestimated how much that would throw off my timing on things. This post will cover both weeks.

Last year I made a lot of progress. The downside to that is that this year I'm left with only the most challenging things to replace. In the last two weeks, I've mostly been grappling with removing Google from my life as much as possible. That even includes contributing to alternatives. The good news is that there's some you can contribute to even with no technical knowledge.

But First: The Matrix Channel!

If you haven't yet, please check out the matrix channel. There's some great friendly chat there and a lot of advice and ideas being shared. It has been a wonderful addition to this year's challenge.

The quick way to join the chat is to choose "element", then "continue in browser" and then "sign up". Hope to see you there!

(Not Quite) DeGoogling

My current job requires the google suite of apps. Specifically, Voice, Gmail, Calendar, and Drive. This is non-negotiable from my position. What does one do when they just can't avoid the proprietary options?

Well, what I did is I separated them. I grabbed an old phone (I keep them to re-use for projects, and to reduce e-waste) and installed all of the necessary apps on it. Then I removed them from my personal phone.

Now, I have a work phone with all of my google apps. It stays on my desk or in my work backpack and minds its own business. My personal phone, that travels everywhere with me, has been rid of google's prying eyes.

This is a strategy I intend to recommend more in the future. When you can't eliminate something, you can at least quarantine it.

A Deep Dive On OpenStreetMap

There is one other google app that I've been unable to shake: Google Maps. I live in a city, and travel a decent amount. I also have started walking, busing, and biking places more in the last year, which means the routes once familiar to me are now new. All said, I rely on maps a lot.

Last year, I started using Organic Maps. I adore Organic Maps. It relies on a project called OpenStreetMap. OSM is incredible, but it has a lot of gaps in its data. Specifically for me, almost everything was missing in my neighborhood. Not even the buildings were recorded.

So this year, I decided to look into contributing to OSM. To my surprise, it's surprisingly easy. Not just tech-nerd easy, I think anyone can do it. There's two great ways.

First, the website has a very good online editor. With a pretty minimal learning curve, I was able to start outlining the buildings in my neighborhood, and marking them as houses, businesses, places of worship, etc. I believe these edits go through review from more experienced users, but I've already seen some show up.

Second, there's an incredible app called Street Complete. This app gamifies adding detail to OSM. It shows you your current location, and icons for missing information. You click on them and it asks you to fill in the details. Might be the hours for a business, or a missing street address, or whether there's a bike lane. You even get badges as you go!

The other thing I want to say about OSM is that the community is great. I asked a few questions about it on mastodon, and the responses I got where all really warm and helpful.


A very quick addition: My old favorite weather app, Geometric Weather, has been abandoned and no longer works. However, it has been replaced by Breezy Weather. It's a wonderful app, one of the examples where it's at least as good as (if not better than) the proprietary options. Check it out.

The Next Two Weeks

In the next two weeks, my upcoming focus will be yet another map related issue. I really want to find a way to get live transit information available for my city. I've tried the existing apps, and none of them cover St. Louis, MO, USA. However, I believe that it may be possible to get that coverage added, or at least find out why it's not. That's the next goal.

Other Participants

As I mentioned, there's several people in the matrix participating and chatting. There's also a great series of blogs being written by Richard Nosworthy on his blog. I think he's got a great conversational style in his writing that makes it more approachable (and less long-winded) than mine, so give him a look!

PS: Have thoughts about this post? Email me at or message me on mastodon at