Ditching Delicious, Converting to Evernote

Delicious is one of those sites I heard about long before I started using it, much like Twitter. I had tried syncing bookmarks between Firefox installations using plugins, and I kept a bookmarks file on my jump drive for ease of reference, until I just got fed up with the process. Storing them online made sense, so I created an account and quickly converted all my regular bookmarks to Delicious.

Delicious has some frustrating design points though. Even if I ask it to keep me logged in, when I go to Delicious, it shows me other people’s bookmarks, not mine. So I set my home page to http://delicious.com/dmmagic, so it goes to my bookmarks… but the search box is still for all of Delicious. And here’s where it gets worse: I remember content better than title, so when I go to search, I rarely find what I’m looking for. I’ve bookmarked a page based on the content, but when I search, nothing comes up because the title doesn’t always reflect the content exactly.

Since I switched to Delicious, though, the oddest thing has happened: I’ve pretty much stopped using bookmarks. I don’t know why, but I just don’t often need to recall web sites late enough after finding them that I’ve forgotten where they are. And the sites I visit regularly, I don’t bother to seek the bookmark for: I just type it in. When I do need to recall something, a bookmark is insufficient.

Since I’ve used both Delicious and Evernote for a while, my information has been split between the two. Now that I’ve switched to Chrome, though, clipping to Evernote works even better than it did in Firefox. In addition, I can easily highlight the content I want to recall and send that to Evernote, or send the entire page with a click of a check box. And searching in Evernote is easier than searching in Delicious. I don’t need to recall individual sites, but I do need to save research.

I’ll need to improve my organization in Evernote a bit more, but in general I think it’s going to be a better tool for me than relying on bookmarks.

Updated – Why Chrome Concerns Me

Google has recently announced their web browser, Google Chrome, and while a variety of bloggers and news sites have begun reporting on and hypothesizing about Google’s motivation and the browser’s functionality, nobody seems to have any negative concerns regarding Chrome other than its competition with Mozilla Firefox. Some have shared their concern that this will kill Firefox as well as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which is a fine concern to have, but one I think isn’t major. People who care more about privacy will look at Google’s continuous data mining and give Chrome a miss. Firefox will still be used, and it’s Open Source, so it’ll continue being developed (unless Google buys it…). But again, not my main issue.

My concern is where Google states that Chrome is more than a web browser. Rather, it’s “a modern platform for web pages and applications,” with the word application mentioned 5 times in three paragraphs there. While Mozilla Firefox uses Gecko as its application engine, Chrome will use Webkit (along with Safari and Konquerer), just as Google’s mobile operating system (Android) will use Webkit.

Application compatibility and development could certainly put a dent in Mozilla Firefox’s usage statistics, but more importantly, it sends up a red flag to me. I fear we’ll return to the lack of standardization that was a hallmark of the browser wars in the early to mid 90s. As webapps become more prevalent, I fear web developers will have to begin writing apps to be compatible with Gecko, Webkit, and Microsoft, and that’s simply ludicrous. We are finally achieving standardization when it comes to HTML, and with Javascript, PHP, and ASP we’ve got languages that are understood equally by all browsers.

With Google entering the browser wars and choosing Webkit, it appears that we are establishing a lack of standardization for the future, which bothers me. Moreover, as Google moves more towards web development, with their own web browser in place I fear that they will build something akin to Microsoft’s ActiveX, where their web applications will be even more advanced and powerful, but will require their web browser to achieve that full functionality. I am concerned that Chrome will encourage Google to create proprietary web applications.

Of course, they may stick to their creed of “Do No Evil,” and my concerns may be completely unfounded. But as Google gains more power and popularity, I wonder how far they can push the definition of “Good” before losing the favour of their users. Regardless, I’ll check out Chrome so I can support it, but I doubt I’ll be switching to it full time. I already give Google my email and contacts, but adding my browsing into that… I like to pretend to have at least a little bit of privacy.

Addendum:: Google Chrome is Open Source, as is Webkit, so it’s not like THE END OF THE WORLD if they develop stuff that’s Webkit-only. It would just make me a little sad, and be a step in the wrong direction, I would think. Unless Webkit became a standard (and I’m sure someone will make the argument that Mozilla could always switch from Gecko to Webkit), and no news or rumours have arisen yet that such a move is likely in the web development community… though with both Android and the iPhone using Webkit, it certainly wouldn’t be absurd for Webkit to become so prevalent it became a standard…

Regarding Privacy:: Another update, since I mentioned this earlier. Since I’m in meetings all day, I haven’t downloaded, installed, and tried Chrome yet, but CNet takes a closer look at the Terms of Service attached to Chrome. Of particular concern to me is:

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services.

Since my own content is copylefted under Creative Commons, I don’t particularly like the idea of Google serving up my content in any sort of advertisement and potentially making money from it.

Favourite Firefox Extensions

I’ve been meaning to catalog these for a while now, so without further ado, here are my favourite Firefox extensions:

Adblock Plus blocks nearly all advertisements and popups automatically, but is also configurable to block images or just about any other content you want. My favourite use is when I’m browsing a particularly immature forum where people have offensive signatures (images they have uploaded to act as their signature); I can just right click on the image and use Adblock to block it. It keeps my screen uncluttered and clean.

All-in-One Gestures is highly programmable and allows you to use your mouse and a key combination (I click a button under my thumb on the mouse) to draw a “gesture” on the screen, which is then mapped to a command. Reloading tabs, opening new windows, or displaying cookies, they can all be programmed into Gestures.

BugMeNot isn’t officially hosted by Mozilla, but is pretty handy. If you get to a page where you have to login to see the content (a la some articles by the NY Times), just right click on the login box and select BugMeNot. It will query a database where people have entered accounts they have created in the past for just this purpose, then enter that account for login, thereby saving you the pain of creating a free account yourself.

Chromatabs is an aesthetically pleasing change to the tabs in Firefox, colouring the tabs either automatically or based upon your preferences. Tabs with a common domain (but not subdomain) are coloured alike, allowing for quick distinction between domains. Also, it’s pretty.

DownThemAll! is the best download management utility I have ever used. It often increases download speeds significantly (allowing you to download a file in as many as 10 pieces), can handle pausing and the like, and is both configurable and fairly silent. Compared to the standard Firefox download, it is wonderful, and is comparable to what Opera has built-in.

FireFTP is just a basic FTP client for Firefox, adding functionality that,while I would appreciate it be bundled with the browser, is excluded by Mozilla for some understandable reasons. If you don’t want to use a separate FTP program, install FireFTP.

Forecastfox Enhanced is a great weather plugin that displays the forecast in your status bar. My favourite feature is the built-in radar, which can be increased to 640×480 and animated.

Long Titles resolves a bug in Firefox that clips alternate text when you over an image with your mouse cursor. Normally in FF, to see this text, you would have to right click and go to properties (or switch to Opera or *shudder* IE), but Long Titles displays all of the alt text normally for you.

NoScript is a fantastic security addon that blocks all Javascript and other web scripting languages from being executed when you visit a page. The addon is also highly customizable, allowing whitelisting and the blocking of XSS. At work, I block pretty much everything to be safe, and this is always one of the first addons I install at a new computer.

Secure Login compliments the use of a master password (which you should always have if you use FF to store passwords) by entering the password in login fields a bit differently. Normally in Firefox, if you have your password saved for a page, upon double clicking on that field you’ll be prompted to login with your master password. After you give the master password, your login credentials are entered in the field and you can login. The downside is that FF does this by way of actually sending the characters to the login field and leaving it at that. Secure Login is similar to Opera’s wand feature and can log you into a site without entering the characters. This means that keyloggers can’t capture the passwords, and that nothing need be typed other than the master password and Alt+N. The upside is that, even if you have a keylogger installed on your machine, all a hacker could capture is your master password. Provided you use something different for all your accounts, they’d have to get physical access to your machine to find any useful information.

Tab Mix Plus is one I just discovered today, but it is the premier tab management addon, allowing you to lock, save, restore, and do a variety of other things to your tabs. It can also replace the standard Firefox crash recovery and is supposedly better at managing memory than FF’s normal tab/history/etc. saving and crash recovery.