Archive for the ‘tagging’ category

New version of Del.icio.us extension for Firefox

2007/05/25

Wonderful thing about Firefox extensions is the autoupdate feature. Go to Tools->Extensions, select Find update and for all installed extensions you get the latest and greatest …. usually.

One extension where the update did not work was the Del.icio.us button for Firefox. I was happily using version 1.2 of the plugin and would never found out about the update, if I had not set the new workstation. The latest version 1.5.29 did not show in the updates. Which is too bad, because it is so much better …

New extension gives you new menu item and sidebar, with two panels: tags and bookmarks. The tags are interconnected, for example, if you have bookmark tagged as ‘3d’ as well as ‘animation’, you will see animation as child of 3d tag as well as 3d as child of animation. Tags can be sorted by alphabet or by frequency, bookmarks by last added, site, most visited, last visited.

Complete tutorial is here. If you are still using the previous version, go ahead and upgrade – by uninstalling the old version and installing new from here. It is absolutely worth it.

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What is wrong with GMail

2007/03/02

Disclaimer first: I really like GMail. Since I started using it (about year ago), I learned to appreciate the beautiful simplicity and elegance of the Web interface. And since I switched completely to GMail as foundation of all my email systems (about November 2006), I have managed to simplify most of my email related chores. But let’s face it – GMail is far from perfect. Here is list of the annoyances and missing features that I have collected:

POP access.
It is there. It is free. It works. (Hey, Yahoo! – paying attention: available and free). So what is the catch ? It is single client POP solution only. As soon you download the email with ANY POP client, neither of other clients will see this email message as new and download it. This solution works for those who (as myself) use Web interface only and have single, permanently running POP email client (e.g. Thunderbird) just to keep backup copy of all email. For this purpose, it works perfectly – and you will appreciate that GMail will send to POP client even the Sent emails, not only received. If you are, on the other hand, using simultaneously a notebook with Outlook, desktop with another POP client AND Smartphone and would like to have all your emails downloaded on all of them all the time, you are out of luck.

Even with the first “backup only” scenario, I do run into troubles from time to time: if my “backup client” on desktop stops working (either machine is down or the Thunderbird hangs) , and I start Mail.app on the Macbook – “wroooom” – it downloads all new emails without merc, which means they will never be included as part of my backup (unless you manually transfer them, which is major P.I.T.A)

Last issue with POP access is tagging within downloaded emails: none. Regardless how much time you have spent properly labeling your emails, none of it will ever make it to POP client. Labels are Web Only

What would be the fix ? For downloading, the right approach would be clearly – let POP client decide which emails are “new” in its context. It certainly can be done, because this is the mode in which Rogers-Yahoo! operates. I am not sure whether there is simple solution for the labels download – the problem with labelled email is that most client support only folders and emails can be multi-labelled, which makes it position in folder hierarchy problematic.

Sorting
According the official mantra, search is better than sort. It may be true, most of the time. I have been often in situation, where I would prefer the sorting. For example by name or by date sent. Or even subject. One feature that I always liked about Outlook was the default “grouping” of emails by time: Today, Yesterday, Week Ago etc. Occasionally, it is also useful to sort by attachment size.

Contact Management
This is, IMHO the weakest point of GMail. The contacts management’s UI is far from good. It takes too many clicks to do changes and some simple things are just too frigging hard/impossible:  try for example “merge” several email addresses you have collected for the same person, or edit multiple records. I was thinking about using external application to maintain contact list, but GMail does not really synchronize with anything – all you can do is export and import CSV files. The solution would be very simple: just provide the public API for the address book – and the community will take care of the rest.

Labeling
This very strong, unique feature of GMail works very well, but I see several areas where it could be improved:

  • allow time sensitive labels – e.g. “last 3 days” label, that would display different content based on expression
  • allow hierarchical labels e.g. work->project1, work->project2 – everything labelled by either project1 or project2 would automatically have the label work as well
  • allow visual attributes to labels – similar as colors in Finder. If label has assigned color, use it as background in email list
  • allow drag and drop of selected messages to labels
  • offer tag-cloud as alternative rendering to linear list
  • Dealing with digital mess: Bookmarks

    2007/01/08

    As I mentioned before, I am keeping all my bookmarks in del.icio.us account. Thanks to excellent Firefox extension and available bookmarklets, posting new URL’s is very comfortable. After using the del.icio.us for some time, here is few tips how get best of it:

    – use the post buttons – they are available for Firefox as well as IE
    – post often and tag a lot. Tags are the only way how to search the non-public posts
    – keep consistent approach to tag names. I use singular, replace the ‘.’ with word dot (dotnet) and write all lowercase
    – follow the crowd – consider using similar tags as others, it makes it easier to be part of community
    – use wisdom of the crowd. Look what else did other people tagged with the same tag as you did. You will be surprised what you may discover.

    You can use the URL’s creative way. To list all your bookmarks tagged with ‘osx’, enter http://del.icio.us/YOURUSERNAME/osx. To find out what anybody else tagged with ‘osx’, use http://del.icio.us/tag/osx. To see what is most popular with tag ‘osx’ use http://del.icio.us/popular/osx. You can see the pattern. It is also very easy to search URL’s tagged with combination of tags, for example search all URL’s tagged with all three tags” ‘osx’, ‘software’ and ‘free’ use http://del.icio.us/tag/osx%2Bsoftware%2Bfree (the %2B is Web encoding of the ‘+’ sign). You can also enter tags at the top of the home page:

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    Del.icio.us offers very nice programmatic API, to retrieve/update/add list of posts, tags or bundles. This makes it very easy to integrate with other systems – and this is main reason why there are so many add-ons, tools and hacks available.

    Having bookmarks on-line is what you want to do – they are not very useful without internet connection. As your collection grows, and you invest some time in organizing and cleaning up the collection, you may want to take some precaution that this effort will be not wasted if for some reason Yahoo decides discontinue the service: you want backup. Del.icio.us gives you option of doing backup, via Settings->Export/Backup. If you want more, I found this wonderful page full of del.icio.us tools.

    I am right now evaluation the Mac-only offline Client WebnoteHappy which seems to be very promising and works exactly the way I like. It integrates bookmarks from Firefox, Safari and del.icio.us into one repository, allows you locally search, modify and manage the collection but post changes back to delicious. This way you can have best of both worlds: high user comfort and offline availability with local backup as well as on-line availability with synchronization. User interface resembles iTunes. There are still some minor with the program that I have not figured out – but this is what the evaluation period is for, right ?

    Also very nice – and free – is also Cocoalicious offline client. It is fantastic help to consolidate and rename your tags. Rather then doing it through Web interface (see https://secure.del.icio.us/settings/USERNAME/tags/rename) you just rename the tag in Cocoalicious same way as you would rename file in Finder).