I miss the days when I bought software on my Mac instead of using a subscription. More and more software and services are moving to subscription-based models. In this blog post, I want to share my thoughts on subscriptions, including those that I am grateful for paying for and those that I have stopped paying for. By working with open-source software I learned how important it is to give back and support the developers (and companies) that are providing services that we like, or not paying them if we don’t!
Subscriptions and services that I am happy to pay for
There are a few services and subscriptions that make my daily life easier and more enjoyable. I am happy to pay for them because those make me happier, or they provide me things that I find essential. For example, I use Apple One which includes Apple Music, Apple TV and iCloud services.
I really like Mythic Quest, See, Severance, and Foundation tv shows, but it is also about iCloud security and the software development that keeps improving. I want to avoid hosting my email server or pay with my privacy or with ads. That is why I decided to pay for it, but it can be applied to any services based on my preferences.
I also use Tailscale, a software that allows me to connect to my devices securely and fast. I use it every day to do backup on my NAS at home from the office. This service is so much better than standard VPN, and the company is embracing open source development. They are very transparent about their development progress and challanges in the blog. I like that! For what I use it for, I don’t have to pay for the services, but I am happy to support the developers behind it.
Another subscription I am grateful for is YouTube Premium Lite, it’s great to be able to watch videos without having to deal with ads. As someone who spends a lot of time on YouTube, this subscription has made a huge difference in my viewing experience. I no longer have to sit through ads that I don’t care about, and I can just focus on the content that I want to watch.
Talking about advertisement, NextDNS is another service that I pay for. I used to have PiHole, then switched to AdGuard, but since Raspberry Pis are hard to buy today, I prefer to pay this service rather than maintain it at home. I can now enjoy my online experience without being constantly bombarded by ads, and I think it’s worth the cost, considering that is way more stable than a RPi. Not only that, but I would switch to AdGuard, but I avoid running any Russian developed software until the end of the war.
LanguageTool is a European-funded, multi-language tool that I discovered after using Grammarly for a long time, it has full API access and integration with Slack, Mail, and more native macOS apps. This tool has been a great help for me, as I use it for both my personal and professional writing. Heck! I am using it right now to write this post! 😉 It’s great that it supports multiple languages, and the fact that it has full API access and integration with other apps is a massive plus (Obsidian and LibreOffice plugins are available).
Bitwarden is an open-source and (optionally) self-hosted alternative to the now bloated 1Password. Even if it is written in C#, there is a slimmer version of the backend re-written in Rust that can run on a raspberry pi without many issues. I pay for the service mostly to keep the security and keep developing it. It might not have the best UI, or slick design, but it at least they did not disappointed me 😢 More on that later!
Email privacy is something that I value. SimpleLogin is a valuable service that even though it has been bought by Proton, it offers more than Apple/iCloud Hide My mail because I can own my email domain. I have more control over my emails and, which is great in case of leaks or spam. I also like that it’s been bought by Proton, as it gives me more confidence in the security and privacy of my email. SimpleLogin is also open source and can be self-hosted. 😅 though I prefer to pay rather to run an email server!
About social networks, I am supporting Mastodon with a small monthly payment on Patreon. Why? I moved out from Twitter and deleted all references from my account. I never paid for Twitter. If I did, I would waste my money and give them directly to Musk with no benefits. 🖕 Instead, I prefer to pay for the development of a decentralized and open-source project, that offers multiple instances for free for many people. Not everybody can pay, so I am because I like it better this way and I want to see them succeed.
Services I am not paying anymore
I have stopped paying for several subscriptions that I found were not worth the cost or no longer met my needs. One of those is Netflix. I used to enjoy the wide range of content that it offered, but over time, the movies and series that I cared about was removed, and the new things are not interesting to me. I would rather not subscribe just for one single TV show. 😡 So, the trick they use “that show that keep you subscribed” does not work to me
There is a service that I have been paying for more than 6 years, and now I realized it was not worth it: ProtonMail, from being an end-to-end email provider, it became just a glorified encryption at rest with PGP that can’t keep up with features that others can. I used to appreciate the level of security that ProtonMail provided, but as time went on, I found that it was lacking in certain features that other email providers offered. Their support for open-source software was good, as well as their way of being transparent. Sadly, the dream of having end-to-end encrypted email turned out unrealistic unless everybody uses ProtonMail or PGP/GPG encryption in their client. This meant that my PGP key is only used at rest and to encrypt a limited number of emails from Facebook 😮 Really! That is the only service that can send OpenPGP encrypted emails: Set it yourself here.
One that I stopped using is the Nintendo Switch Online: I rarely use my Switch since I got my Steam Deck at the beginning of this year. I found that the Steam Deck offered a wider range of games and better graphics, and it was more convenient for me to play on my Mac and Deck rather than on my Switch. I also found that the subscription cost for Nintendo Switch Online was not really useful: the included emulators are fun, but I never used them. So, I have decided not to pay anymore.
The Danish Postal service (Post Nord) automatically notifies me and tracks packages on the official App when a new parcel is coming to my address or has my email/phone number. I found that more convenient and more reliable than the Parcel App, that I was paying for. I had to mention it because Parcel supports Amazon and a lot of tracking services, so if you are not in Denmark, I strongly suggest it! 👍
Should we talk about dating apps? I have been paying for years for Grindr Xtra… it has never been worth it, and ads blockers are making the user experience better for non-paying users. I found out that the services offered were not that good, since privacy does not exists on that app anyway. The app kept crashing and had plenty of bugs and issues that were never fixed in the serveral years I paid for… 😡 When I lost all my chats (yeah! it is not a myth) I was super annoyed and decided not to pay for the app.
Give back to the communities
Plenty of companies are firing people right now. 😭 Inflation and several other factors are making things more difficult than usual. That is why I feel it’s important to support the development of software that we care about, especially for open-source projects. Open-source projects rely on contributions from the community and companies, both in terms of development and financial support. By paying for subscriptions or buying apps from companies that contribute to FOSS, we are supporting the development and maintenance of these projects.
Without contribution or financial support, many open-source projects would struggle to continue development and maintenance. We can show our support by becoming a sponsor, paying for a subscription, or buying apps from companies that contribute to open-source software. In this way, we are not only getting access to the software, but we are also contributing to the growth and sustainability of the project. Supporting open-source projects is a way to give back to the community and ensure that the software continues to be maintained, improved and available for all. That should not apply exclusively to Patreon or donating to developers, but also to companies that are doing the right thing. I don’t like to pay with my own privacy or data. 😡 I prefer to pay with money. 💶
TL;DR: If you liked it: contribute or pay for it! 😉