My latest Greasemonkey / jQuery script PimpGoogleBookmarks.js I wrote to – as the name of that script already says it – pimp Google Bookmarks.

One thing I hate about the Google Bookmarks Screen is the long list of tags on the left ( yep, I do have many tags ) which makes the entire document very long ( high, to be precise ).
My little GM script adjusts the height of the list of tags on the left and the list of search results on the right to my screen size and gives both areas a scroll bar, thus I can scroll down the tags list or the list of search results separately.

In addition it is possible to search for a combination of tags by doing a double-click on those.

Sweet, isn’t it ? Greasemonkey and jQuery are two powerful friends when it comes to tweak web pages to just work a bit better and become more convenient to use.

Good bye delicious, hello Google Bookmarks !

After delicious has decided to come up with new functions I don’t need and brake the old essential functionality I have been using since years ( this mess is discussed here on the review page for the Firefox extension Delicious Bookmarks ) I decided to migrate over to Goolge Bookmarks. Luckily Google Bookmarks provides an “Import Delicious Bookmarks” function and that function works quiet nicely and is smart enough to also figure out which bookmarks I already imported some time ago when I first tried out Google Bookmarks.

Google Bookmarks performs much better than delicious now (as a matter of fact it is really fast!) and comes with a simple user interface which … just works and provides the essentials I need ( except that I could not figure out yet how to get my bookmarks sorted by date as a default ). I am using the GBookmarks Firefox extension for bookmarking and so far I am happy with Google Bookmarks now.

Whether I ever will return to delicious certainly also depends on whether they provide a service to easily migrate back my bookmarks from Google Bookmarks. Nevertheless, as soon as I figure out some way to include a list of my recent bookmarks from Google Bookmarks in my blog as I do it nowadays with delicious bookmarks there is probably no reason for me to ever return to delicious.

Update: Getting a “502 Bad Gateway” Error today when trying to login to delicious.

My favorites for week 5, 2011

Big GrinSomething to laugh: my favorite comic strip of the weekabout ROI calculations

ROI calculations easily can become weird, like the one shown here in thís Dilbert comic. But perhaps there is more truth in this way to calculate the ROI of software and IT service business than we like to admit … ?

ApplauseSomething to learn: my favorite tip of the weekabout hints and tips for Google Chrome

Gizmodo came up with a great compilation of hints and tips for Goolge Chrome today: “Google Chrome Cheat Sheet: 10 Tips and Tricks”. Did you know that you can type in any math query into the address bar and get an answer instantly ? Goodbye, Windows Calculator ! And did you know that you can inspect any element on a web page through right-click and selecting the function “Inspect element” ? And even better: you can manipulate instantly to create your own version of that web page in your browser. A cheap way to zoom into images for instance: just type in a new width for the img html tag and voilà – the image appears in a different size in your browser window, without any need for extensions like Firebug or Image Zoom like I use them for my Firefox browser.

NerdSomething to watch: my favorite video clip of the weekabout basketball

Mission over-accomplished, I would say. OK, the ball should go into the basket, but that’s it, right ? Watch “Boy Gets Dunked Through Basketball Hoop ”.

  Something to enjoy: my favorite photo  on flickr under a Common Creative licenseabout the U.S. Pacific Fleet

The U.S. Pacific Fleet, the world’s largest fleet command, encompasses 100 million square miles, more than half the Earth’s surface, from the West Coast of the United States to the eastern shore of Africa. The Pacific Fleet consists of approximately 180 ships, 1,500 aircraft and 125,000 Sailors, Marines and Civilians.
And they have 10.000+ photos on flickr, the latest under a CC license. Lets look at a few of the newer ones:

"" by U.S. Pacific Fleet.
SAN DIEGO (Jan. 31, 2011) Amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) steams into San Diego Bay returning to Naval Base San Diego from local operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Joe Kane/Released)
"" by U.S. Pacific Fleet.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 3, 2011) – Seaman Matthew Honan, a search and rescue (SAR) swimmer, gives the thumbs up to be taken out of the water after rescuing "Oscar," during man overboard training drill aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62). Fitzgerald is the 12th Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka as part of the Destroyer Squadron 15 and U.S. 7th Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer A. Villalovos)
"" by U.S. Pacific Fleet.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 3, 2011) Guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) fires its MK-45 5-inch/54-caliber gun during a pre-aim calibration fire (PACFIRE) training exercise. Fitzgerald is the 12th Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan as part of Destroyer Squadron 15 and U.S. 7th Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer A. Villalovos)
"" by U.S. Pacific Fleet.
YOKOSUKA, Japan (Feb. 2, 2011) – Fire Controlman 3rd Class Justin Faris, left, Fire Controlman 3rd Class Sarah Wells, center, and Fire Controlman 3rd Class Aleksey Yatskovskiy take in mooring lines as the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) gets underway from Yokosuka. Fitzgerald is the 12th Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka as part of the Destroyer Squadron 15 and U.S. 7th Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer A. Villalovos)

Something to talk about: my favorite quote of the weekabout Lotussphere 2011

A new business context is emerging. The social model (…) has the ability to solve the problems that keep the people who run companies up at night.

Interesting quote – among many others – made during the opening session of Lotussphere 2011. Here are more of my notes I took while watching the replay of this session:

Watching The Lotusphere 2011 Opening General Session on Facebook.
Here is the link.

Allistair talks about openness, standards, APIs, empowering people to bring more and more social media into the business world … from outside and inside ! And he talks about simplicity and elegance. The latter still is a big challenge for us in my humble opinion !
Simplicity and elegance are essential attributes to drive adoption ! Well said !
We won’t celebrate our 100th anniversary. 😦 Apparently we are too busy to make the world smarter.
Wanna run LC on a Blackberry Playbook ? Seems to be no big deal …
Social software is about people, not technology. The stories from BASF, KBC, CSC and AT&T show: in most examples it is about finding the right people for a given problem.
Learned a new acronym from Sandy Carter, Vice President Collaboration Solutions Development & Support: ROE – Return On Everything. She talks about how w3 unities all of us every day, about using online role games to recruite new employees, about the power of jams.
A 5-year-plan is too slow to deal with the fast changing world of social media.
LotusLive Symphony is coming … !

Rich Media Library coming to Lotus Connections 3.0 … ! 

My favorites for week 49, 2010

Big GrinSomething to laugh: my favorite comic strip of the weekabout the internet

  The internet never forgets ? Haha, how come we bump into so many HTTP 404 errors every day, how come most of my older bookmarks are dead links and many hyperlinks I find in documents don’t work anymore ? The internet is a fast growing body of knowledge of human mankind, but it is a very fragile body of knowledge. Moderately Confused ? Don’t worry, keep posting your stuff !

Surprise Something to surprise: my favorite "I really didn’t know this" of the weekabout google searches

Did you know that

  • 20% of googles queries are new each day ?

Only 20 % ? That has been a surprise to me. That means most of the people are searching for the same things most of the time.

Source: “Zeitgeist 2010: How the world searched”. This posting comes with a nice video by google as a look back down the memory lane into 2010, shown in form of what people have been searching for. Well done !

  Something to enjoy: my favorite photo  on flickr under a Common Creative licenseabout balloons

"" by Jonathan Lumibao.

Hot Air Balloons, those colorful giants traveling smoothly above our heads are always great objects for exciting photos. Jonathan Lumibao has published a few in his flickr stream, here is one of those. Which reminds me of my first balloon ride in April 2000, when I received the following title afterwards: “Herzog Axel von der Wörrstadter Wolfskante, unerschrockener Recke vom Gumbsheimer Backesmorgen”. That was fun, I can tell you !

Something to talk about: my favorite quote of the weekabout opportunities

Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls and looks like work.

We live in the times of fast, cheap and low budgets. We only like opportunities which come as “low hanging fruits”, a term I really hate to hear so often. True innovation means taking some risk with the chance to loose, and it means effort, development, trying things out, improving things over time. That’s the part of innovation many don’t like.

Why or why does Picasaweb look so different on Windows Vista ?

After fixing the Windows Vista Flash problem on my computer I am still struggling getting my Picasa web albums showing up correctly under Windows Vista. The screen shot below shows how it looks like under Windows XP ( on the left ) and under Vista.

Damn Vista ! I am glad I found this wonderful Firefox plugin Fire/Universal Uploader which makes uploading files to Picasa a piece of cake. A real wonderful user interface reminds me at Norton Commander ( or Total Commander, one of the few pieces of software I ever paid for and don’t want to miss on any of my computers ): on the left side you see your local files and on the right your PicasaWeb albums and files. You simply select a file on the left and click on an arrow to do the upload and a status bar at the bottom visualizes nicely the progress. Or you simply drag’n’drop a file from the left or from your desktop or explorer. Real cool ! And this powerful add-on supports other sharing sites as well like youtube and flickr and many more !

Here is a screenshot from this add-on:

Bad back to my original question: Why or why does PicasaWeb look so different on Windows Vista ?

Update on September 17th, 2008: Even with the new Google Chrome browser PicasaWeb does not show up nicely on my Windows Vista box. Since PicasWeb is owned by Google I would have expected that Google’s browser would fix the issue. Nope. Obviously it is a problem far deeper down in some layer of the operating system, since it shows up no matter what browser I use.

Astronomy software gadgets

NGC 1333

Those of you who like astronomy might be happy to read about two nice offerings I bumped into last week:

  • Google Sky – a web based offering from Google obviously, allowing you to explore the sky. It works similar to Google Maps: you can zoom in and out, move around, view the sky with different filters like infrared or microwave, and you can actually share URLs, like this one here of NGC 1333, a reflection nebula in the constellation “Perseus”, a chaotic star birth area 1.000 light-years away from earth, with a very young ( only 10.000 years old ) star, IRAS 4B, where with the help of the Spitzer Space Telescope a lot of water has been discovered, according also to an article in the latest issue of “bild der wissenschaft” I have been reading recently.
  • Microsoft WorldWide Telescope, a nice looking virtual telescope on your desktop after you have downloaded and installed  it ( after you have checked the pre-requisites ! ). This allows very smooth navigation through the sky, searching for objects and retrieving additional information, discovering constellations and then traveling into the deep space to lots of objects of interest ( NGC 1333 is in there as well ). You can also view our planets, zoom closer, turn them and you even can zoom down to our blue planet and discover it like you can do with Google Earth by using different types of maps ( streets, hybrid etc … ).

Tags and Folders

Last week I was sitting in a phone interview by someone who runs a study about social software and especially tagging. One purpose of the interview was to find out how I am tagging information within IBM’s social software offerings but also in external social software I am using like flickr or del.icio.us ( in this interview I learned how to pronounce this correctly and where actually this strange URL comes from: delicious, not d-e-l-dot-i-c-i-o-dot-u-s ; hasn’t been obvious to me until now since English is not my mother language).
During that interview I suddenly heard me saying that tags and folders are pretty much the same.

Hummmh, is that really true ? Let’s try to sort this out.

First of all we all might agree that both are means to somehow arrange pieces of information ( usually called documents, can be articles, photos, videos, emails, bookmarks or whatever ).

A folder is actually an old term and has an equivalent in the physical world. Remember those paper or plastic folder where you can put in some paper sheets ? Now, those folder would have one special characteristic – at least those folder in physical world: you can put one sheet of paper only into one folder. This actually requires you to think carefully about how to name your folders. Assume you have folders for your paper mail you still receive once in a while and you name your folder after companies you receive mails from, but you have also a folder for “assurance” policies. What if you receive an assurance policie from company xzy ? Do you put that into your “xyz” folder or do you put it into the “assurance policy” folder ? Or do you may be create a copy of that document to satisfy both folders ?

Tags actually also have a physical world equivalent: a little label you can attach to a document for instance using a clip or some strap. Thus in case of the assurance policy: why not adding two tags, one labeled “xyz”, the second one labeled “assurance policy”. No problem with that, right ? You could even use different colors for those different tags.

Now assume you tag all your letters you receive like this and throw them on a big stack since because you use tags you do not need folders anymore. You would very soon end up with a huge pile of letters, right ? And do you think it would be easy for you to find anything in this pile of papers ? Even if you use colored tags – once you reach a critical mass like let’s say 1000 sheets of paper it would become hard to find a particular one, right ?

Thus it looks like tags are not a really practical approach in our physical world. We prefer to use folder, most probably even with some alphabetic or otherwise organized index within that folder, since even finding something within a folder once you hold the right folder in your hands still is a little challenge.

Once we deal with “soft-papers”, or let’s say software documents or files, it becomes easier to search. The computer and some piece of software can do that for us very quickly without doing mistakes and overlooking something. Thus tags might become the preferred means to arrange documents due to their advantage that I can use multiple tags for one document.

Now in software world – is it really true that the difference between tags and folders actually is that documents have a one-to-one relationship to folders and a one-to-many relationship to tags ?

It is probably not that easy, since a folder in software world might not be always modeled 100% equivalent to a folder in physical world.

Let us look at folder in computer file systems. Under Windows it might be true that a file can exist in one folder only. Of course we can create a shortcut to a file and move that to another folder, but still the file would be in one folder and that pointer to the file in a second folder. Under Linux this might be pretty much the same but look different. Through the concept of logical links ( I am not really a file systems expert, thus those experts out there: feel free to comment. Is a shortcut under Windows equivalent to a logic link under linux ? ) it might at least look like that a file exists in multiple folder.

Let us look at Lotus Notes: usually I move a document from one folder to another one, thus it always exists in one folder unless I do not create a copy. This is the standard behavior, but I also can “Add” a document to another folder – then one and the same document will show up in multiple folders and whatever I do to one ( including deleting it ) in one folder will become visible in the other folders as well – since this is really one and the same document.

In addition to folder Lotus Notes has the concept of views – one document might appear in multiple views. If I delete it from one view it is gone in all other views as well.

Did this blog article help to figure out the difference between tags vs. folder and what they have in common ? Probably not 100%, but to some extent I hope. Let’s take those two messages out of it:

  • Both tags and folder are a means to arrange information.
  • Typically a document exists in one folder but can have multiple tags.

The confusion about folder and tags is real, that much is sure when I look for instance at the latest move by google to come up with a new frontend for their “Google Docs & Spreadsheets” offering. They bascially have replaced tags with folders because obviously user have been asking for this according to this google blog article: “An entirely new way to stay organized“.

Almost from the day we launched people have been clamoring for folders. They’re here! Even cooler, our new folders continue to work like the tags they’ve replaced – your old tags are automatically converted to folders and documents can live in more than one folder at a time.

Documents can live in more than one folder ? This is against what I have said above about folders, at least about folders in physical world. Either they have done a bad job to model folders in their world or they just decided to name tags “folders” because user more like this traditional concept of good old-fashioned folders.

Some readers of my company blog actually pointed out two more significant differences between folders and tags in their comments:

  •   With folders you can realize a hierarchy. You can build a “tree” type order by putting folders into folders. Tags usually can not be tagged.
  • Folders can be emptied and you could end up with empty folders. In case of tags – if you do not have any document with that tag then this tag basically is gone.