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Foxmarks, Xmarks, LastPass, Xpass, LastX, X%^&% Quick Rant

lastpass-xmarks-225Warning: I think I’m becoming a curmudgeon – except that title has until now been reserved for somebody else Smile.   But I still have doubts about the recent transaction: LastPass acquired Xmarks.

I really liked Xmarks – when it was Foxmarks.  A simple bookmark synchronization service that would keep your Firefox up-to-date no matter where you logged in.  Essential Cloud Computing when we’re no longer enslaved to one computer only.

Then it became Xmarks, started to offer password sync and several other services, including “enhanced” Google Search – i.e. adding a social layer to Google’s algorithm. I opted out of password sync, sticking to the basics.

LastPass, on the other hand was a solution for the password conundrum – so good, that Ben was ready to dismiss his usual concerns.  The transaction probably makes sense for both parties: Xmarks was going down the drain, having experimented with business models and running out of cash.  LastPass picks up millions of users.

So why am I ranting?

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Opera Unite Turns Your Computer into a Web Server. But Will You Want It?

The little browser that could … was how the Opera browser was often referred to around 1996-98.  The best browser packed with innovative features that Internet Explorer and Firefox were forced to copy: tabbed browsing, popup-blockers, saved sessions, zooming, mouse gestures to name a few.  But it never really took off,  continuing to hover around 2% market-share forever.

Today Opera proves again they are innovators: they claim to “reinvent the web” with the launch of Opera Unite.

Read more

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Keep Your Paws Off My PC, Microsoft

<rant>

I’ve had it. I’m tired of Microsoft programs taking over my computer without permission.  This time it’s IE7 – yes, I know, IE8 is out, but I could not care less.  In fact I have not launched IE7 for a long time.  Sticking with Firefox, and if I was not so dependent on several Ffox add-ons, the browser I’d switch to would be Google’s Chrome, not Internet Explorer.

So what happened?  Read on

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InfoWorld’s 2009 Technology of the Year Awards

InfoWorld announced the winners of the 2009 Technology of the Year Awards in Applications, Middleware, and Data Management:

The Awards are presented in a slideshow format, and InfoWorld made it almost unreadable: there is an ad in between every single page, you either 20 second to flip a page, or have to click “skip” every single time, then click one more time to close another page that hides the slide. Frankly, I think they went way overboard with this.

That said, I did the work for you, here are the winners:

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Zoho Writer, Sheet, Show
  • Day Communique WCM
  • Telligent Community Server 2008
  • Oracle Database 11g
  • Talend Open Studio
  • Denodo Platform

Congratulations to the winners!

(Cross-posted from CloudAve)

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The TechCrunch Fablet

Fablet: FireFox + Tablet.  The $200 device Mike Arrington & Co wants to build:

We Want A Dead Simple Web Tablet For $200. Help Us Build It.

I can’t figure out if this is real or a joke.. but we’re far from April Fool’s Day.smile_angel

I have a strong Deja Vu feeling though.   Last year I shared a Bloggers’ table with Ismael Ghalimi at a conference and watched him feverishly work away on the Redux Model 1.  He showed me some of the documentation, in a matter of a few hours exchanged specs then placed an order with component suppliers – the guy was totally obsessed.  As skeptical as I had been before, I started to wonder if he might just be able to pull it off – his energy level was just radiating…

But in the end, all the effort (and quite some money Ismael spent along the way) came down to nothing (at least for now): The Office 2.0 Conference gadget will be an HP 2133 Mini-Note PC.

That said, the Redux Model 1 was one guy’s heroic effort, while this project will largely be crowdsourced.  Still, the hardware business is tough … I have one advice to Mike: talk to Ismael.

Update:  It is not a joke:

The reason why we announced today is because we have the manufacturing/prototype etc. setup now, along with design (which we will also post for feedback etc.)

Update (7/23): Two days later, here’s the commentary from Ismael: Where is the Redux Model 1?

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Firefox 3 Dies a Few Times a Day

I like the new Firefox, but it should still be labeled Beta.  I’ve detailed my installation problems here,  and the fact that the “Use my choice for all cookies from this site” button does not work is horribly frustrating, on some sites I keep on hitting “OK” dozens of times before I can proceed.

But there’s something even worse: periodically, but several times a day, Firefox simply stops reacting. No, not a complete freeze: you can still type, open/close new tabs .. it just won’t browse.   Whatever URL you type in, the damn thing won’t move, until you restart Firefox.

A browser that stops browsing. smile_sad

Update:  PG-13 version of the Firefox logo.

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Firefox 3: Lost a Few Extensions, Found Others… No Smooth Sailing Though

Several of my favorite Firefox extensions did not make it to 3.0 for compatibility reasons, but I found functional equivalents for almost all.  Amongst the (temporary)  losses is  Zoho QuickRead, being replaced by OpenITOnline (The Zoho Team tells me QuickRead will be FF3 compatible in a few days The FF3 compatible Zoho QuickRead update is now available).

OpenITOnline is a handy extension that allows you to read documents online without the need to first download, then open them in the relevant Office applications.  The file formats currently handled are:

  • Documents (*.doc, *.rtf, *.odt, *.sxw)
  • Spreadsheets (*.xls, *.csv, *.ods, *.sxc)
  • Presentations (*.ppt, *.pps, *.odp, *.sxi)
  • Images (*.jpg, *.gif,*.png)

There’s an easy guided setup, where I changed the default Zoho Viewer to the relevant “active” services, i.e. Zoho Writer, Sheet and Show.  OpenITOnline also supports Google Docs and ThinkFree.

My old-style del.icio.us extension was replaced by the functionally richer new one.  The PayPal Plugin became a casualty, just days after I had discovered it.

The upgrade itself was anything but smooth sailing, and I’m not referring to the initial download fiasco.  The new Firefox appeared to work fine on the Vista PC, but exhibited strange behavior on two XP machines.

It simply did not “remember” the settings for two key extensions: every single time I started Firefox I got flooded by pop-up windows to configure Gmail Manager (one window for each account) and had to go through the hoops of setting up Foxmarks. For a while I thought the extensions were to blame, or perhaps a strange interaction with some of the new extensions – once you’re on the wrong track, you can spend hours uninstalling/ reinstalling them in various sequences.  But then I noticed some of my default settings were gone, homepage reset, cookie handling and history tracking all changed.  Weirdest of all was the fact that the “OK” button did not work on any configuration/setup screen.

So now I knew something was wrong with Firefox itself – to cut a long story short, I could fix one of the laptops by some magic sequence of uninstalling/reinstalling everything a few times, but the other one was hopeless.  I had to resort to brute force: uninstall Firefox, wipe out all related directories (those ugly documents etc.. \user\ local data\whatever paths), then System Restore to the day before the Firefox upgrade, then install everything again, followed buy repeated Windows and McAfee updates that the system forgot due to the Restore.  It was ugly.

Now Firefox 3 (almost) works, except that the “Use my choice for all cookies from this site” button does not seem to do anything. (Update: It’s damn frustrating having to hit the same button a zillion times!)

I lost about half a day, and more importantly at a time I really couldn’t afford it, had more urgent things to do.  Not the first time, and I’m afraid not the last one either.  But this time I’ve decided to do something about it: I’m presenting a virtual invoice to Mozilla, for the productive time lost.

Of course this invoice won’t ever be paid.. but I already feel better. Every time a software company hijacks my productive time, I will create a Virtual Invoice.  (I already have another one in the queue, for Microsoftcoming soon).

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LinkednIn Down in Celebration of their Billion-Dollar Club Membership

<rant>

Quite a celebration: just the day after their $53M investment round, valuing the company at $1B (that’s Billion with a B) was announced, LinkedIn is down:

Is there a new emerging trend here?   PR blitz, big announcement, site is dead.  Other examples just this week:

Firefox Download Day leads to dead site.

Technorati Monster shows to celebrate investment + new ad network.  ( But hey, new Sales Team here to help, instead of technologists)

Then there was twitter .. then .. then ….smile_angry

</rant>

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Download Day Progress: 40% of My Readers Are Using Firefox 3.0

After a really bad start the downloads are at full force.  Here on my blog, Firefox 3.0 already has 25% 40% share and growing by the minute. It’s actually higher, since these are daily stats, the early hours skew skew the stats towards other browsers.  Total Firefox share (all releases) is 60%.

Browser Market Share June 17 - http://sheet.zoho.com

(Chart by Zoho Sheet)

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FireFox Site Down as Expected

<rant>

What kind of a download day is this, with artificially delayed opening? As if they wanted the site to crash, all part of a PR mania – reminiscent of the iPhone Launch (the first one) on iDay. Will this become fday? As in Firefox Day, or f*day?

</rant>

TechCrunch agrees. Read also: Digital Inspiration, Mashable!, webmonkey, VentureBeat, Startup Meme, jkOnTheRun, Between the Lines,