New Year’s resolutions 2017

Here are my resolutions for 2017:

1. Complete The Lords of Midnight.

God damn it, I’m going to do this.

2. Use DuckDuckGo at all times.

I’ve already switched from using Google search to DuckDuckGo, the privacy-oriented search engine which doesn’t track your searches. But DuckDuckGo is still developing, and its search results often aren’t as good, so I find myself drifting back to Google.

Everything is a trade-off. If I value privacy, if I don’t want to be monitored, tracked and analysed, then I have to put in the extra effort – which isn’t even very much – to spend more time looking through search results to find what I want.

And perhaps the serendipity of scrolling through more results, and finding things I wasn’t looking for or didn’t expect, will be a reward in itself.

3. Switch to a non-free private email provider.

If I’m avoiding Google for search, why the hell am I still letting them handle – and thereby read, monitor and analyse – all of my most private communications?

2017 is the year in which I put a value on my own privacy, by switching to a non-free email provider. One which, because I’m the paying customer, doesn’t treat me as the product.

4. Switch to safety razors, shaving soap and brush.

This continues the theme of switching to a superior tool despite the initial effort/cost hurdle. I’m going to abandon the ongoing scam of expensive disposable razors with ever more numerous blades, and switch to traditional safety razors. Out too goes the foam in a can, to be replaced by shaving cream, applied with a badger-hair brush.

5. Switch to a better solution than takeaway coffee cups.

Maybe I’ll buy a reusable cup. I’m not committing to the detail of the solution yet.

The CXO Clusterbomb

Do you find, like I do, that however rigorous you try to be in checking every “do not email me…” option, you still end up receiving corporate spam, marketing emails from every company you’ve done business with? I think they just ignore those boxes, add you to the marketing list anyway, and hope a few of you won’t bother unsubscribing.

What’s even worse is when you find yourself unable to unsubscribe. This often happens, ironically, because you took the most data-cautious route of all, and refused to sign up for an account. They added your address to the mailing list anyway, and now you’ve got no account to log in to, to change your subscription settings.

The solution to this is either to create an account (and they’ve got you after all, the conniving bastards) or contact customer services. But the latter option is often made deliberately difficult. There’s no email address on the website, or if there is it doesn’t work. The final resort is haemorrhaging cash on a telephone call to Bangalore in which you have to navigate a problem resolution flow chart, which you’re not allowed to see, and which is only described to you indirectly via an intermediary, who speaks the same language as you, but not a mutually intelligible dialect of it.

At the end of the phone call, in which you’ve been told to “click the unsubscribe link” and then explained that you’ve already done this 14 times and you’re still receiving emails, you just know that when the operator has told you they’ve unsubscribed you from the list themselves and the problem is now resolved, all they’ve done is click the same link, and you’ll be receiving more spam from them in less than 24 hours.

I’ve developed a new strategy to fight unsubscribable corporate marketing emails, although it could be applied more widely to get resolution on any customer service issue. I call it the CXO Clusterbomb.

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