Thursday, September 02, 2010

Ever had trouble with your bookmarks? A simple solution is available.

Well, this is a post with a difference from what I've posted before...I think. I want you to imagine the following scenario, which I think you will find very familiar.

I have been using the Interwebnets for the past 15 or so years. I've seen the web in it's very early-advanced (a term I'll explain in footnote 1) state, where IE had just come out along with Netscape and I could browse web pages that had not only text but images, oh and there were also--wait for it--animated gifs. Wow. This is fantastic I thought. Here were online brochures which I was designing for print and you could deliver them to thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions. There was also bookmarking where I could save a book mark to a menu and easily return to that fantastic site that had terrible blinking text, but useful design and development information any time I wanted, without having to remember the address. Remember those aweful geocities addresses with the directory tree the size of a piece of string? Well how the heck else was I going to remember all those letters and numbers, along with tilds (~) and and dashes. Bookmarks were fantastic and the web was full of them. Then my computer was infected with a virus, and all those bookmarks, along with my work, photos, emails, and everything was gone.

Once I was back up and running, I had to start the whole process of collecting emails, collecting those valuable bookmarks, some of which were impossible to find again because search engines weren't the same as they are now. A huge undertaking to say the least, and then the hard drive crashed, or I upgraded the operating system and something corrupted my profiles, or I had bookmarks at work, and bookmarks at home, and bookmarks on the laptop, but it was difficult to migrate them, and retain them for many years without worry.

So I then became aware of delicious, the website where you could add links to your account, along with description, tags for easy keyword references, and then interlinked profiles based on links I had. A fantastic site, but still just not the same as the typical bookmarks. After all if I really wanted to, I could always navigate into the folder on the hard drive and copy all those links. There are other many useful sites that have come famous and work hand in hand with delicious, facebook, twitter, stumbled, ad nauseum. All great and very useful sites, however also workarounds for the simple problem that it's difficult to retain your bookmarks in a perpetual state, or otherwise known as in the cloud.

Cloud computing has become a very real and beneficial way of storing and accessing data on and over the web. It increases the capacity by spreading load and resources and allows for millions of users to concurrently do processes that would otherwise be on a most probably slow computer, and state is stored online, not on a device that could potentially, or should we say probably fail at some point.

There is a solution to the most basic problem of having a normal bookmarks menu in your browser, which is easily restorable in the event of localized data loss, as well as synchronizing your bookmarks between browsers, and different devices and it's free. Ladies and Gentlemen, I proudly introduce you to:

This browser plugin is compatible with IE, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari. There is also an iPhone, iPad and Touch application available with support for Android coming soon. I've used this utility for the past couple of days and I'm happy, erm ecstatic with the results. My bookmarks are now synced between the many browsers that I use on a daily basis, on my laptop, and home computer. My laptop also has some virtual machines running that I could also get synced up so that I'm never away from my trusty bookmarks. It's better than having to log into a website over and over, then browsing through that specific page, or downloaded browser plugin menu to find what you want. I'm not saying it's a replacement for the likes of delicious etc, it's more of an additional asset in your arsenal of tools to manage the wealth of information out there so that you can easily retrieve it. I have to say though that my bookmarks list is very small, for the time being because I've relied mostly on my memory or Google search to find the information I want; but it's going to grow.

Although Xmarks is a plugin and is required to be installed on each browser you use, the download is very quick, very easy to install and provides a very simple to understand button. You can log in and stay logged in perpetually and it will synchronize itself. If you add a new bookmark to your bookmarks you can easily click the button and it will update the repository and your other browsers or machines will be updated automatically.

Please note that I am in no way affiliated with Xmarks, delicious, Facebook or any other online entity that I have mentioned in the above. I just feel that this is a very useful utility--about time right--that everyone could benefit from. I've certainly been impressed the past couple of days and I think you will be too.

Happy bookmarking

(And in case you didn't know, Ctrl+D, do it now for this page if you like :) You can also click on the little star in Google Chrome, Add to Favorites in IE, etc etc etc.

Footnote 1: By early-advanced I mean the Internet as being in the very early stages of the multimedia rich Internet as we know it today. This was the beginning of the .com bubble, and alot of learning was still being done to make webpages more accessible, aesthetic, informative and encouraged trust to buy things online. Without the graphics today the web wouldn't be as successful as it is now and now we are in a totally new and evolving stage of the web which I refer to myself as being the enlightened web. We now see more clearly what's important for business to succeed through online interaction, and reliability is being demanded. The cloud enables us to do this.