Like a normal featureless cube, but sings comical songs.
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It Keeps Happening

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emdeesee
2 days ago
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@jepler You may be right about Pintsize.
📌 Lincoln, NE ❤️️ Sherman, TX
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1 public comment
jlvanderzwan
3 days ago
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Is this the robot equivalent of throwing up during an ayahuasca ceremony?

How the Koch Brothers Are Killing Public Transit Projects Around the Country

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Supporters of transit investments point to research that shows that they reduce traffic, spur economic development and fight global warming by reducing emissions. Americans for Prosperity counters that public transit plans waste taxpayer money on unpopular, outdated technology like trains and buses just as the world is moving toward cleaner, driverless vehicles.

Most American cities do not have the population density to support mass transit, the group says. It also asserts that transit brings unwanted gentrification to some areas, while failing to reach others altogether.

Public transit, Americans for Prosperity says, goes against the liberties that Americans hold dear. “If someone has the freedom to go where they want, do what they want,” Ms. Venable said, “they’re not going to choose public transit.”

The Kochs’ opposition to transit spending stems from their longstanding free-market, libertarian philosophy. It also dovetails with their financial interests, which benefit from automobiles and highways.

One of the mainstay companies of Koch Industries, the Kochs’ conglomerate, is a major producer of gasoline and asphalt, and also makes seatbelts, tires and other automotive parts. Even as Americans for Prosperity opposes public investment in transit, it supports spending tax money on highways and roads.

“Stopping higher taxes is their rallying cry,” said Ashley Robbins, a researcher at Virginia Tech who follows transportation funding. “But at the end of the day, fuel consumption helps them.”

David Dziok, a Koch Industries spokesman, said the company did not control the activities of Americans for Prosperity in specific states and denied that the group’s anti-transit effort was linked to the company’s interests. That notion “runs counter to everything we stand for as a company,” he said.

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emdeesee
4 days ago
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This kind of thing is so infuriating. Short-sightedness, selfishness, and subterfuge is why we can't have nice things, and why the US has lost its status as a world leader.
📌 Lincoln, NE ❤️️ Sherman, TX
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The Clone Zone

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sleep is dumb

Tonight's comic would have preferred if you asked permission first.

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emdeesee
7 days ago
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Also the puppet has a butt, unlike Clango.
📌 Lincoln, NE ❤️️ Sherman, TX
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Austin College announces TEDx speakers

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Austin College will host the third annual TEDxAustinCollege on Sept. 29 in an event that will feature short talks by six members of the Austin College community amid interactive TEDx programming and TED Talk videos. The talks will be preceded and followed by the lobby experience “Discovery Depot,” which will provide opportunities to interact with ideas and fellow TEDx participants. The event takes place in Wright Campus Center, with Main Stage talks in Mabee Hall and live [...]
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emdeesee
11 days ago
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I hope to be in town for this. Woot!
📌 Lincoln, NE ❤️️ Sherman, TX
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Dead Golf Courses Are the New NIMBY Battlefield

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As the sport’s popularity wanes, vast amounts of underutilized land will open up. Can it be developed?

Golf is dying, many experts say. According to one study by the golf industry group Pellucid Corp., the number of regular golfers fell from 30 to 20.9 million between 2002 and 2016. Ratings are down, equipment sales are lagging, and the number of rounds played annually has fallen.

Part of the bust can be blamed on the fallen fortunes of a single person: Tiger Woods. Golf boomed in the 1990s and early 2000s as the charismatic superstar raked in titles. Then, beginning in 2009, it faced a one-two punch of recession and bad press when its star golfer’s chronic infidelity came to light.

But the bigger story involves the sport’s aging demographics and the athletic tastes of Millennials, who just aren’t that into an expensive, poky sport that provides few health benefits. Unless the golf industry can change its ways, the decline will mean a lot of empty greens across the country. How that land is used—or isn’t—could reshape America’s suburbs for decades to come.

Golf courses and country clubs currently consume massive amounts of relatively underutilized land in cities and suburbs. Across the country, as courses and clubs begin shutting down, hundreds of thousands of acres of land could soon start opening up for infill redevelopment. While not so great for golfers, this could be a boon for cities, especially those facing a housing crunch.

Consider that the average 18-hole golf course is 150 acres. At standard densities, that means that your average golf course can host at least 600 new single-family detached homes. Mix in townhouses and apartments, and a single shuttered course could provide housing for thousands of new residential units. This is land in desirable communities: Golf-centric subdivisions built in the 1990s and 2000s feature courses threaded among affluent McMansion-style developments, meaning that the new housing could go in areas with access to high-quality schools and work opportunities.

Developers have started to take note of this trend. As communities struggle to figure out what to do with their shuttered golf courses, developers in suburbs across the country are putting together million-dollar commercial redevelopment plans, often buying sections of foreclosed golf courses at bargain prices from banks. In a Kansas City suburb, one golf course is set to be converted into an industrial park. On another golf course in suburban Jacksonville, plans are underway for a mixed-use retail, office, and hotel development.

In fact, at present, it seems like just about everything except housing is going onto the old courses. This is partially due to present zoning: Many golf courses were broadly zoned for commercial uses to allow for allow for things like clubhouse restaurants and bars, meaning that they can be redeveloped into shopping centers and office buildings without much hassle.

But the main variable blocking new housing on old golf courses might be old-fashioned NIMBYism. Golf courses, after all, are often interpreted as high-status amenities that raises the value of neighboring homes, despite evidence to the contrary. If golf courses are gone and not coming back, residents often ask, why can’t they turn into permanent parks? Indeed, converting former greens into open space, wetlands, and natural preserves is happening nationwide in places where local land trusts have been able to purchase the tracts.

This can be a more appealing option for neighbors—often much higher income than the average resident of their region—who push to block permits and rezonings that might allow for infill housing redevelopment on idle greens. Earlier this year, voters in Lynnfield, Massachusetts, an outer suburb of Boston with a six-figure median income, voted down a zoning change that would have allowed for a 154-unit senior housing facility on part of the struggling Sagamore Spring Golf Club. Voters in the Rochester suburb of Penfield, New York, meanwhile, recently passed a $3.65 million bond to buy out the golf course and turn it into a park.

This trend of fending off housing on golf courses is hardly limited to the United States. In May, NIMBYs in Flixton, England, a suburb of Manchester, managed to negotiate a course redevelopment plan down from 750 homes to 380 homes, before killing the redevelopment altogether. The golf course sits barely 500 feet from a major transit hub.  

Golf probably isn’t coming back, at least not at the kind of scale it once boasted. Whether or not this bust can be a boon or a wash for suburbs and cities will likely be decided by hundreds of small zoning fights like these over the next decade. If recent pushes to downzone and preserve golf courses are any indication, it will take some effort and forethought on the part of planners and policymakers to get former greens productively redeveloped. Once the physical embodiment of tony upper-crust seclusion, these silent driving ranges and ghostly sand traps can be an effective way for more people to find housing in exclusive suburbs—or another means of keeping newcomers out.

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emdeesee
11 days ago
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We went through this with a local course while I was on the planning commission. The neighbors were indeed very unhappy. In our case the land is being converted into a care facility for sufferers of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

The most important lesson I learned as a commissioner was land use is not forever. In this case, what was a golf course when you purchased your home might not always be a golf course. Large, open spaces, such as golf courses, are particularly likely to change over time. This is a strong argument, for me, to buying within the built environment. It's not perfectly stable, but more so than the wide open spaces of the suburbs.
📌 Lincoln, NE ❤️️ Sherman, TX
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Alternatives to Google Products (Complete List)

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Google Alternatives

It’s been fun Google, but it’s time to say goodbye.

Have you noticed?

Google’s entire business model is based on you surrendering to their corporate surveillance. That’s it. All they do is repackage mass corporate surveillance into convenient, free, trendy applications that suck up all your data. Your private data helps Google dominate the online advertising market.

You are the product.

The other key issue to consider here is that Google is tracking and recording your activity in order to build a user profile, which can be used for various purposes. Google has many ways to track your activity, even if you are not logged into a Google account:

  • Tracking through Google Adsense (all those annoying banner ads you see on most websites also function as tracking)
  • Tracking through YouTube and other Google-owned platforms and products
  • Tracking through websites that use Google Analytics (most websites use Google analytics – but not Restore Privacy)

All the data that Google collects about you is usually monetized through targeted advertising (Google is now the largest advertising company in the world). Your data may also be provided to government authorities (Google has been cooperating with governments for mass surveillance since 2009).

In other words, Google is working to track your every move online, even if you are working hard to avoid it.

The solution to this problem basically entails:

  1. Deleting your Google accounts and data
  2. Avoiding Google products and using alternatives (this guide)
  3. Using good privacy tools, such as a private browser and a good VPN service, which will help protect your data from third parties

Google search alternatives

When it comes to privacy, using Google search is not a good idea. When you use their search engine, Google is recording your IP address, search terms, user agent, and often a unique identifier, which is stored in cookies.

Here are a few Google search alternatives:

  • Searx – A very privacy-friendly and versatile search engine.
  • Qwant – A private search engine based in France.
  • Metager – A private search engine based in Germany.
  • DuckDuckGo – This is a great privacy-friendly Google alternative that doesn’t utilize tracking or targeted ads. They also have a zero-sharing policy with other features, but they do record search terms.
  • StartPage – StartPage is basically Google, but without the tracking.

Check out the private search engine guide for additional information.

Gmail alternatives

Gmail is one of the worst products you can use if you’re concerned about privacy. Everything you do through Gmail is collected by the parent company – every email, attachment, and image… Using Gmail gives Google an intimate view of your private life and personal contacts.

When you remain logged in to your Gmail account, Google can easily track your activities online as you browse different websites, which may be hosting Google Analytics or Google ads (Adsense).

There are many different privacy email options, but here are a few popular choices:

  • Mailfence – Based in Belgium – 500 MB free; 20 GB Pro
  • Tutanota – Based in Germany – 1 GB free; 10 GB Pro
  • Mailbox.org – Based in Germany – 2 GB storage
  • Protonmail – Based in Switzerland – 500 MB free; 5 GB Pro

You can try any of the options above to find the best Gmail alternative for your situation.

Many providers, such as Mailfence and Tutanota offer completely free accounts up to a certain storage limit.

Chrome alternatives

Google Chrome is a popular browser, but it’s recording and tracking everything you do.

google chrome tracking

If you are a Chrome user, you may want to consider these alternatives instead:

  • Firefox browser – This is a free, open-source internet browser that’s quite popular. You can also use a variety of privacy add-ons that can block ads and tracking (but beware of browser fingerprinting).
  • Tor browser – This is simply a hardened, privacy-friendly version of Firefox. You won’t need any add-ons or extensions because it’s already configured for privacy and security. That being said, it may be overkill for most users, because it will break many of the websites you visit (thanks to NoScript).
  • Brave browser – Brave is a good browser with built-in privacy protections and ad blocking. However, it is also based on Chromium and is affected by the WebRTC leak issue.

Check out the Firefox privacy guide, which explains different privacy and security modifications you can make with Firefox.

Google Drive alternatives

If you’re looking for a secure cloud storage option, you can check out these Google drive alternatives. They are more secure and better for protecting your privacy and data.

  • TeamDrive – This is a business-oriented cloud backup and file synchronization option based in Germany.
  • Tresorit – This is a user-friendly cloud storage option based in Switzerland. They offer client-side encryption, but also utilize Microsoft Windows servers, which is one drawback.
  • Nextcloud – Nextcloud is an open source, self-hosted file share and communication platform. They are based in Germany.

YouTube alternatives

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be many popular YouTube alternatives, but here are a few:

  • Vimeo
  • Dailymotion
  • Bitchute
  • Hooktube

Hooktube – Hooktube is basically a YouTube proxy, which allows you to unblock YouTube videos, download videos, and get around YouTube censorship restrictions (unless YouTube deletes the video completely). This also helps to keep your data from Google.

How to use Hooktube: Just replace the domain in any YT link with and you get a light-weight page that loads YouTube’s media files (mp4, webm, etc) directly into your browser’s native media player. <a href="https://youtube.com/watch?v=S6bOkFLrsAc" rel="nofollow">https://youtube.com/watch?v=S6bOkFLrsAc</a> becomes <a href="https://hooktube.com/watch?v=S6bOkFLrsAc" rel="nofollow">https://hooktube.com/watch?v=S6bOkFLrsAc</a>, etc. Supported parameters: start, end, loop (1 for on), speed (range: 0.01 to 4), autoplay (0 for off, default is 1).

And lastly, you can also check out the unblock YouTube guide for additional solutions.

Google analytics alternative

If you’re running a website, it’s important to see which content people like the most, so you can give your readers what they want. Otherwise publishing articles is like throwing darts blindfolded at a wall. Unfortunately, Google Analytics goes overboard with the tracking. Here are a few alternatives:

  • Matomo (formerly Piwik) is a great open-source analytics program that respects the privacy of visitors by anonymizing and truncating visitor IP addresses. It’s the only analytics service that is certified to respect user privacy (and the only analytics used on this site).
  • Fathom Analytics is an open source alternative to Google Analytics that’s available on Github here.
  • Clicky is another alternative, but it does not have the built-in privacy protections of Matomo.

Many websites host Google Analytics because they run Google Adsense campaigns. Without Google Analytics, tracking performance of these campaigns would be difficult. Nonetheless, this is still bad for privacy.

Google Maps alternative

A map alternative for PCs is OpenStreetMap.

A few Google Maps alternatives for mobile devices include:

  • Maps (F Droid) uses OpenStreetMap data (offline).
  • Here WeGo provides good mapping solutions for both PCs and mobile devices with their app.
  • Maps.Me is another option that is free on both Android and iOS, but there is a fair amount of data collection with this alternative, as explained in their privacy policy.

Google Play Store alternative

Currently the best Google Play Store alternative is to use F-Droid and then go through the Yalp store.

As explained on the official site, F-Droid is an installable catalog of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) applications for the Android platform.

After you have installed F-Droid, you can then download the Yalp store APK, which allows you to download apps from the Google Play Store directly as APK files.

You can learn more about Yalp and download it from the F-Droid website here. (See also the official GitHub page here for more info.)

Google Calendar alternative

The best Google Calendar alternative seems to be Etar, which is open source, simple, and respects your privacy.

Another good option is the aCalendar from TAPIRapps. This appears to be another good option that respects your privacy and it also has some good features. Check it out on the official site here.

Two other Google Calendar alternatives are Kin and Fruxx. However, if you read through the privacy policies, it looks like Etar or aCalendar would be the better options. This is because both Kin and Fruux collect user/calendar data.


Do you care about your privacy?

Most people looking for Google alternatives have woken up to the fact that Google is awful for privacy because they collect as much of your private data as possible.

But what about your internet service provider?

In the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, internet service providers are also recording your online activity. This information can be legally sold to third parties (in the US), or saved in government databases to be potentially used against you (UK, US, and Australia).

Aside from government surveillance agencies, there are many other third parties that are quietly tracking your online activity, such as Facebook.

One of the best tools for keeping your data out of the hands of third parties is to use a virtual private network. This will encrypt and anonymize your online activity, while also hiding your true IP address and location. Check out the best VPN guide for the latest recommendations and test results.

The privacy tools guide discusses other solutions as well.

Do you have any other suggestions or tips on Google alternatives? Feel free to drop a comment below. This guide will be regularly updated to reflect the latest information and user feedback.

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emdeesee
12 days ago
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I frequently resent being the girth of the umbilical that seems to be bind me to the Google ecosystem. I'd very much like to reduce my dependency on services that treat me, or more accurately my data smog, as a commodity.
📌 Lincoln, NE ❤️️ Sherman, TX
expatpaul
11 days ago
I have a hosted Nextcloud server for files, calendar and contacts. It works well and it's rather nice being the customer rather than the product.
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