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Why I've migrated my mail, calendar and contacts to Fastmail

5 min read

Up until this weekend my mail, calendar and contacts services were a little disparate:

Now I have all three hosted by FastMail

So why was I using those particular services, and why have I now moved away from them?

ProtonMail

I migrated from Gmail to ProtonMail when it was still in beta. As part of the IndieWeb journey I've been on since 2014 I've been trying to move away from silos and big data as much as is practicable.

I supported the concept of what ProtonMail were doing (and still do), particularly the privacy ethos and the ad / tracking free nature of their offering. From a geek perspective I liked the tech behind the way they secure email at rest and (claim to) never be able to access your emails, though as email is inherently insecure that isn't what tipped it for me.

Moving away from Gmail meant the 'trinity' of email, calendar and contacts being all on the same service was broken. But the change seemed to be low-friction for me, and anyway at that time I was planning to keep calendar and contacts with Google until such time as ProtonMail supported all three (spoiler alert: at the time of writing their contacts support is better but still no calendar)

I did have a few niggles with ProtonMail:

  1. Contacts support was poor. At that time it was just name + a single email address per contact (e.g. two separate contacts for one person if they had a personal and work email!), and so I had ended up retaining my main contacts list in Gmail and having a duplicate contact list of emails in ProtonMail. This was a real pain to keep in sync.
  2. Price / value. I don't mind paying for a service, but having two domains and needing about 15-20 email aliases pushed the price up a bit and I was soon at the limit I felt was value for money. I did feel that paying around US$90 ought to have led to a bit more genorosity. (Everyone has different limits of course.)
  3. No calendar support.

Google Calendar

Like any well-honed silo, the water is warm at Google and so it was with their Calendar. It just works, and the UI is a dream. It had all the functionality and connectivity I wanted, so from that perspective there was no incentive to change (which is why most people won't, of course). It's what sits behind it all that is the worry for the community: 'you are the product' and all that!

Moving email away did lead to some friction, as I could no longer directly accept Gmail calendar invites sent to my non-Gmail main email address. Instead I had to either ask people to send invites to my Gmail address (defeating the purpose of moving email away), or do an export of the invite to an *.ics file and then import it into Google Calendar.

Nextcloud Contacts

My IndieWeb user page tells me that I migrated my contacts to OwnCloud in January 2017 (and then to NextCloud in June).

The main reason I did this was because contacts support in ProtonMail was poor (see above).

OwnCloud/Nextcloud has a contacts app with CardDav support, and so I was able to use that to migrate contacts away from Google and so scratch off one of my itches. But it didn't solve the 'two contact lists' issue, which I kicked down the path for another day!

I have been happy with this service, and it was only my need to re-unify email, calendar and contacts that led me to leave.

So why FastMail? Aren't they a silo too?!

I had considered using the NextCloud calendar app instead of Google Calendar, but it was quite slow and not as feature-rich as I wanted. (One showstopper for me was the lack of single-event deletion for repeating events.) So I decided to look for something else that would better meet my overall needs.

Well, yes FastMail is a silo I guess. But I read plenty of reviews about them and pored over their privacy policy, and was satisfied that the trade-off was worth it. They are ad-free too.

At $US50 a year I get all three services I want in one place, with no domain or email alias restrictions. CalDav and CardDav support is built-in so no problems syncing with my mobile devices.

Usability is good: for email and contacts it is better (for me) than ProtonMail / NextCloud respectively.

The changeover was relatively easy to do (the usual tension of waiting for new MX records to propagate across the internet notwithstanding!), and so far I'm happy with my decision.

Early days, though, so let's see how it goes....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just finished migrating my mail, calendar and contacts over to @FastMail All working well (touch wood!) and via and syncing nicely with my Android phone :)

I loved the board game as a boy - great fun when the ball went down the chimney and rolled down the stairs :) https://cobwebbedroom.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/denys-fisher-haunted-house-board-game.html

Hi @ReclaimHosting I've installed a test instance and notice it's installed under /home/<me> rather than /home/<me>/public_html - anything to worry about or is that fine? Thanks.

Turning a Strava Club Event route to a Garmin Course

3 min read

This post is written in response to queries from my local cycling group as to how to get a Strava Club Event into a Course on a Garmin device, so people can follow the course on the day.

At the end of this post I also show how you can save the Route into your own 'My Routes', so you can ride it again and again!

Method One (copy and paste):

If you have received a Strava Club Event that has a route included, the top of the Club Event web page will look something like this:

Screenshot

If you scroll down a little bit you will get to the actual route, which looks like this:

Screenshot

To get the route onto your Garmin device:

  1. Click on Export TCX (for devices without viewable maps, e.g. Edge 200) or Export GPX (for newer devices with viewable maps, e.g. Edge 1000)
  2. Save the GPX or TCX somewhere on your PC / laptop, e.g. Desktop or Downloads
  3. Connect your Garmin device to your PC / laptop with a USB cable
  4. Using your file explorer (e.g. Windows Explorer) navigate to your Garmin device's 'Garmin/NewFiles' folder, which in Windows Explorer will look something like this:
    Screenshot
  5. Copy your downloaded TCX or GPX file into the NewFiles folder (make sure it goes into 'Garmin/NewFiles', and not into just 'Garmin'). It will look something like this:
    Screenshot
    6. Unplug your Garmin device from your PC / laptop. The Garmin should then restart and the route should appear in your Courses list.

Method Two (use the 'Strava Routes' Connect IQ app ):

If you have a newer device that supports Garmin Connect IQ apps (e.g. Edge 520, Edge 1000), a much simpler method is to use the (free) 'Strava Routes' app. Instructions on how to install and use this app are here

Saving a Club Event route into your own 'My Routes':

Remember above where you can see the Route Details. The link to the Route (in this case PP: Stondon Shillington Pirton) is actually clickable, so if you click on:

Screenshot

you will get to here:

Screenshot

Notice the little grey star on the left of the route name (I've circled it in red)? If you click on the grey star it will turn red (Strava calls this 'starring'):

Screenshot

Starred routes will be saved in your own 'My Routes' folder, which you can get to by clicking on Dashboard > My Routes.

Screenshot

It will look something like this (notice the red star in the top right):

Screenshot

N.B. It's not just Club Event routes that you save in your own 'My Routes'. Any route that has been shared with you can be saved in the same manner, and you will be able to use Method One or Two above to add them as a Course onto your Garmin device.

Anyway, hope this has been useful. Any comments please let me know.

Rob

First posted: 22 October 2017
Last updated: 22 October 2017

Convert Strava activity to a Strava route: the two 'official' methods

3 min read

This post is written in response to queries from my local cycling group as to how to convert Strava activities to Strava routes.

Both methods are not always entirely reliable and have limitations (see below). Method One is the easiest and simplest.

Method One (via the 'standard' Strava website):

Follow the instructions here

Screenshot

Method Two (via the Strava labs website):

Screenshot

Instructions:

1. In your browser, open the Strava activity you want to export. It will be in the format https://www.strava.com/activities/1234567890

2. Copy that link to your clipboard

3. Open the Strava Labs 'GPX to Route tool here

4. Paste the link in to the tool and then click 'Convert'. (The first time you do this you will be asked to link Strava Labs to your Strava. This is fine as both websites are run by Strava.)

If you get an 'Error Computing Route' message, you can either try again later (occasionally waiting will work) or more usually you have to give it up as a bad job! (There are online and offline tools for advanced users that can sometimes help.)

Exporting routes to GPS devices:

Once your route has been converted intro Strava using either method, you can then export it as a GPX or TCX file for importing into your device.

N.B. If you have a newer Garmin device - e.g. Edge 520, Edge 1000 - you can cut this step out by installing the Strava Routes Connect IQ app and downloading the route direct from your device.

Limitations:

Both methods do not allow you to easily edit your routes, if at all. So if you went the wrong way on your activity, the route will go the wrong way as well. Or if you want to simplify your route, perhaps by taking a more direct route, you will probably not be able to.

There are also map limitations in the converter. If it can't find a valid route on the Strava basemap then it will route a longer valid way around - even if your activity went the shorter way!

For these reasons I rarely use either of these methods, preferring to create my Strava routes from scratch via the Route Builder tool. (There are also ways of doing routes via non-Strava websites, e.g. RideWithGPS, but that's outside the scope of this post.)

Summary: if you're happy with the limitations and don't mind route imperfections, then by all means use these methods. But if you're a perfectionist like me, these methods will not be for you!

First posted: 1 October 2017
Last updated: 1 October 2017

Pleased with my new @seesense_cc ICON lights, but I wish they came with the latest firmware installed. Took me 6 phone reboots to update!

Hi, I'm just joined social.coop (having been over on mastodon.social for a few months), and intend this to be my main Mastodon instance. I'm keen on the movement and co-operative principles (my first job leaving school was working for a co-op!). When I saw that like-minded people were already over here I decided to take the plunge myself, so here I am :)

I've written a short blog post with my musings about the from an end-user perspective https://raretrack.uk/2017/indieweb-for-end-users---some-thoughts

Indieweb for end-users - some thoughts

3 min read

I've been mulling over this post by this post by Jeremy Cherfas , my reply and then Chris Aldrich's response asking for views on what the could do better.

My attraction to the IndieWeb has been about owning my data, avoiding silos where possible (i.e. where the friction is tolerable), and federalising content. (You can read a little about my journey on my IndieWeb user page .) I only came across the definitions of IndieWeb Generations the other day, but would label myself as a Gen2 with a little bit of Gen1 thrown in for good measure.

I've had a Known instance since 2014 with varying degrees of success with POSSEing and so on, but to be honest my focus has often been more on the 'own your data' side of things. I've needed to nudge myself to get back on track with Known and stuff.

Whilst I'm a geek I generally feel a fish out of water by the more techical content of the IndieWeb site and the conversations in the IRC chat room . There's probably a few relatively simple things that could be done to improve things, as others replying to the original post have already mentioned (easier onboarding, more user-friendly documentation, more approachable look-and-feel, etc.). Also perhaps an IRC sub-chat room for beginners (or, dare I say, some sort of more modern forum where Q&As can be asked in non-real time?). And whilst I prefer text instructions myself, a lot of people prefer videos so how about some tutorial videos?).

Here's an example from the Gen 2 bit of the Generations page:

 

What if this said something like:

Understand basic concepts of posting content on your site that's also copied elsewhere, replying to posts on others' sites from your own, and using online free tools to make this work seamlessly

(Wording not definitive; just to illustrate how simpler wording could help newer users.)

I'd also like to mention Homebrew Website Clubs. I was really attracted to these when I first knew about the IndieWeb, but have never actually been to one. The impression I got is that they were more for coding and developing than helping end-users to improve their own websites, incorporate blogging, etc. I think I'm wrong (and am very glad to be!), but do we always present an inclusive 'all levels of experience welcome' approach?

None of this is intended to sound ungrateful for what we've got and where we are now - quite the opposite. Without the highly-skilled and commited developers we have, and the shared vision of IndieWeb, we wouldn't have anything to talk about improving (we'd be oblivious in our walled gardens!). I am massively grateful for the work and efforts of the IndiewWeb community, and only want to help us collectively improve and attract others to join.