OK, no more Xmarks for me

I like the idea behind Xmarks but there seems to be something I am doing that’s just not working.

Here’s what I’ve done.

  1. Installed Xmarks on all of my browsers. For Internet Explorer this meant a small system tray app.
  2. Made one set of bookmarks the Master To Rule all of My Bookmarks™. I did that once and confirmed that Xmarks has those bookmarks via the My Xmarks page. Neat page BTW.
  3. Synchronized all of my browsers. The first time I selected “the download and erase bookmarks on this browser” option.
  4. Bookmarks are synchronized! Sweet.

A few days later I started losing whole sections of my bookmarks. Not so sweet. Fortunately Xmarks has a great revision system and I was able to roll back to the set I wanted. Repeatedly. Sometimes more than once an hour.

I think the culprit is Chrome but I just couldn’t get the darn thing to behave. I’m sure Xmarks is not at fault, It’s just that one of my browsers never attended kindergarten and doesn’t know how to share with the other kids.

I’m back to manually synchronizing my bookmarks which isn’t a big deal as I don’t add to them that frequently. For Firefox I’m using Mozilla Sync which has developed into a nice option from years ago. For that browser it just works and also synchronized my add-ons, preferences, etc. For Chrome the bookmarks are shared using the Great Google Data Collection Experiment™.

This may have been why I stopped using this software in the first place. Meh, back to sorta syncing my bookmarks at least in Firefox and Chrome.

That was a short walk and I installed Xmarks

When I switched the laptop back to Firefox I bemoaned the lack of being able to synchronize my browser’s bookmarks with each of my other devices. That was on the list for why I used Chrome in the first place:

  1. Shared passwords
  2. Shared history
  3. Shared bookmarks
  4. Participating in the massive data collection experiment known as The Great Google™ BOW BEFORE THE DATA COLLECTION MONSTER!

That last one always made me tighten my tin foil hat just a little.

Shared passwords are easy with 1Password. I set it up to synchronize with Dropbox, picked a reasonably complex password that I can remember and just go. I have my passwords on Windows, Mac, my Android phone and the iPad. It doesn’t work with Linux as far as I know but I always have my phone with me and it’s all good.

Using Xmarks covers the other items and it works well.

I use it to synchronize my bookmarks and history but I turned off the other add-on items like site info. This shouldn’t surprise me as I’d used this tool before and I still can’t recall why I stopped using it (though it might have been because it shutdown for a while).

It works in the background and with those other features disabled it’s really transparent and unobtrusive. That’s good software design: it performs it’s job and gets out of your way. Cool.

I could setup my own server to sync with but I don’t think my bookmarks are really that telling. That doesn’t mean there is not a lot of good social engineering potential in my bookmark data: it’s just that I’m already tracked one way or another by the Great Google Monster™ so Xmarks isn’t high on my list to be concerned about.

Featured image photo by B Rosen

And the winner is Xmarks

Earlier I had dropped Xmarks and installed Mozilla Weave. After a few weeks I’m back to Xmarks.  Syncing the browser history is a very useful feature, but some really weird things have been going on with my Weave sync data lately.

My problems began when I installed Weave on my Ubuntu 9.10 work station. I could not get the bookmarks to install on that browser for anything. No errors in the log, just no sync either. I have just plugged in another old PC in the basement and installed Weave. The same thing happened and I was not getting any data synced.

Also being able to roll back to an earlier set of data on Xmarks is a huge benefit. I screw up sometimes and Xmarks has a great safety net.

I know that I can install Weave and Xmarks at the same time. That way I can use Xmarks for password and bookmarks and Weave for browser history.  But I’m not going to do that because I want to limit the amount of add-ons that I’m using.

Now if only Xmarks would just sync web browsing history then I would not keep looking at Weave…

Mozilla Weave

Image from Mozilla's Weave websiteI’m giving Mozilla Weave a try. I’ve been a big fan of the extension formally known as Foxmarks (Xmarks) so when Mozilla released Weave, I was not sure if there was anything for me to look at.

I use a work PC, my HP, and a laptop. Xmarks has been good at keeping my bookmarks and passwords secure and supports a revision history of your changes. Somehow I messed up my bookmarks and this got moved to the Xmarks server. Not a problem, I just rolled back to an earlier revision and got all of my bookmarks back.

It’s like applying SVN onto my browser.  Mozilla Weave is not quite like that. It does do bookmark and password synchronization but it doesn’t provide a means to rollback to an earlier version of your bookmarks (or maybe I just couldn’t find it). What appeals to me is that it also syncs up your browsing history.  I have often been at work trying to remember a web site I had seen the night before at home. I’m hoping that this will sync my browsing history.

Xmarks has been very responsive to their users so I expect this feature to make it into their extension soon.