Online Address Frustration

I’m surprised at the poor state of online contact management, given how mature the online e-mail market is. I’ve just spent a frustrating and mostly wasted morning with Plaxo, trying to see if it could fulfil my relatively simple needs (online contact management, syncing with something desktop-based, ideally Thunderbird, and syncing with my mobile phone as a nice to have). After struggling with the over-engineered Plaxo interface, a wobbly Thunderbird sync extension that loses critical bits of data, and a de-duper that misses obvious duplicates, I gave up. The latter service requires signing up to a free trial, which I’ve now cancelled.

At some point I’ll give Yahoo Address Book a go - initial investigations look good, it does away with the unnecessary social networking guff (I’m already signed up to Facebook and LinkedIn, thanks, Plaxo - try focusing a little harder on your core business), and is much speedier. Unfortunately, the Yahoo effort seems to be a bit basic - mainly a lack of sync points - but at least that does remove some of the potential for damage.

Does anyone know of any other solutions? I was willing to pay for Plaxo, and I can’t be the only one. I think there’s an unmet need here.

The Rescuers

The Rescuers is perfect for Christmas - it’s a lovely family movie without the irritating Christmas tat. From its basic yet beautiful introduction with static paintings. through the robust characterisation, rough animation and moving song, it’s a classic from start to finish, especially compared to some of the more recent Disney fare. It’s well plotted, with no parts that drag or bore. The voice talent, particularly Oscar-winning Geraldine Page as Madame Medusa is hilarious and well-timed. The well-named Evinrude (a real brand of motorboat engine) is very funny. It has the typical Disney blend of humour, drama, and sentiment that makes them such a good watch. Walt Disney would be proud.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Subscribers on Google Reader

Tip for anyone who blogs and uses Google Reader:  the new ‘Discover’ feature of Google Reader enables you to see how many people are subscribed to your blog. Select ‘Browse’ and search for your blog using keywords. When you’ve found it, it’ll show how many subscribers there are. Take the number with a pinch of salt: it is, of course, only one of many blog readers, albeit a popular one.

Les Livres

Every time I get sad about the illiberal attitudes of the public sector in the UK, at least I can reassure myself that I don’t live in France.

One-Time Pad Irritation

NatWest have recently introduced a one-time pad device on their on-line banking system, which I’ve just got my hands on. As someone who travels a lot, it’s going to be an inconvenience to carry around, so I phoned up NatWest to see if I could have it disabled. The chap I spoke to implied it was being introduced by all UK banks in one form or another and wasn’t going to be optional. Does anyone know if this is true? I wonder if they have really thought through the implications for their customers. Online banking is often of the most use when you are away from home, and carrying a physical device seems like a very stone-age method of providing security. Why can’t I choose not to have it?

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