Getting on the Social Trail

More reports of social annotation tools — services that allow you to not just bookmark sites but share those bookmarks, and other bits and pieces with them. This one from the highly readable Read/Write Web, just down the road from me in NZ:

There are a plethora of bookmarking sites out there and only a few of them have become very successful – and Stumbleupon are two that spring to mind. Trailfire is a bit different from your average bookmarking site, because they don’t just allow you to share bookmarks – they make it easy for you to share ‘trails’, which are “annotated navigation paths”.

I haven’t had a chance to try out trailfire, and I’m not quite sure how well it works, mainly because it won’t load (it’s been telling me to stand by for nearly 15 minutes now, which is as Bob Geldof would say, a quarter of an hour too long. It has, however, been added to my directory of such tools, which is looking quite big now.

Recovering Your Firefox Bookmarks

This is documented elsewhere, but perhaps comes across as too nerdy for some. If you’re using Windows XP, recovering from a crash or whatever, and find that your Firefox bookmarks (and bookmarklets and bookmark toolbar) have disappeared, here’s what to do:

  • Close Firefox if it’s running.
  • Find your profile in c:Documents and Settings[your XP user name]Application DataMozillaFirefoxProfiles
  • There should be a subfolder there called bookmarkbackups. Find the most recent bookmarks html file in there (usually with a date after the ‘bookmarks’ bit.
  • Copy it to somewhere safe and rename the existing one bookmarks.html.
  • Copy it to the default profiles folder (up one level from the bookmarkbackups folder, deleting the existing bookmarks.html file.)
  • Close Firefox if it’s running and launch it. Your old bookmarks should be restored.

(And, while I’m at it, here’s a solution if your Firefox browser refuses to remember any of your changed settings in toolbars etc when you close it, resetting everything back to what it was before. The same bug — likely to be fixed soon — also deletes your search engines in the search box to the right of the address box. This fix will fix both problems:

  • Locate the localstore.rdf file in the same place as above.
  • Delete it.
  • Restart Firefox. You should be good to go.

Thanks, GreenKri.)

Firefox’s Big Menus

Playing with the new Firefox and it’s nice, although I don’t like the way some old extensions seem to have disappeared, such as the one which lets me use Opera-style mouse gestures to move through pages. Another thing I’m not crazy about is the default gap, or spacing, between rows of menu and bookmark items, which is larger than in the old version, reducing the number of menu/bookmark items you can see on a screen:


This may be fine for people with huge monitors, but not for us ordinary joes. Excuse me if I’m being dense, but I’ve looked around the options and online but can’t see any obvious way to alter this, although I’m sure there must be one. Any thoughts, folks?

A Bookmarklet Too Far?

I’m researching bookmarklets at the moment, and to me it’s an unsung corner of the browser world. But the more I look at them, the more frustrated I am that there aren’t more of them, or easier ways of making them.

For example, I use a lot of specific email addresses for registering on certain services. If I register at Blogg’s Cafe, for example, I’ll give them an email address of This means I know who is giving away my email address if I get spammed, I can change the email address next year if I need to, I can remember easily what email address I used to register at that site, and I can block the address if I choose to. This was real easy before, since any email address at the domain in question that wasn’t preselected would go straight through to my usual inbox. My hosting service has however recently changed its approach, and unless an email address is registered, it will bounce. This may make sense if I’m getting deluged with spam — so spammers can’t just send anything to that domain in the hope of getting through — but it does mean I have to register an email address before I can use it anywhere. This is usally one too many steps for me, so I don’t bother as much as I used to.

This strikes me as a perfect opportunity for a bookmarklet. Select the page you want to register at, click the bookmarklet and it will extract the domain URL, add a year or some kind of code in there, zip over to your hosting control page, add the email address in question, zip back to the page you want to register at, add the email address and voila! Would that be possible, I wonder? Would it be easy? Is this pushing bookmarklets too far? (I can hear Buzz saying let ActiveWords do it, but I must confess my scripting skills aren’t up to it.)

Flock and the Productive Web

This week’s column on (subscription only, I’m afraid) is about Flock, or about the things that Flock will help us do more easily, such as post to blogs, post to Flickr, turn boring bookmarks into a wealth of shared knowledge on, and generally make the browser a real platform for productivity:

One of the fun things about the Internet is that just when you think the game is over, somebody moves the goal posts, shoots the ref and says the rules have changed. At least that’s the way I see it with a new browser called Flock.

 You’re no doubt familiar with the Web browser wars of the mid-1990s. Microsoft’s Bill Gates came to realize the importance of the Internet late, but quickly got up to speed and crushed the poor old Netscape browser by offering Internet Explorer for free. The epilogue is that despite some upstart threats from a Scandinavian company called Opera and an open source free-for-all called Firefox, Internet Explorer still dominates the Web. In sporting parlance, it’s a bit like Microsoft has parked a big bus in front of the goal, so no one else can score.

 But I don’t think that’s the whole story. For the browser, you see, is emerging from a passive click-and-read experience to a place where you can get your work done and even share it with others.

The Bookmarklet

Good list by Steve Rubel of Bookmarklets Every Blogger Should Have:

Here’s a bunch of bookmarklets that I use every day in Firefox. I highly recommend them. To use these, drag each one individually into your Favorites or Links toolbar (in IE), or your bookmarks folder/toolbar in Firefox

Good stuff. What I’d like to find is an extension to the toolbar in Firefox that let me add more bookmarklets (God, I hate that term. Anything ending in -let is ripe for extermination). Anything out there?

Outlook Gets

Attensa, an RSS reader for Microsoft Outlook, has added tags:

You can add tags to articles and access them using a pull down list using the Attensa Toolbar for Internet Explorer. When you tag articles with Attensa your bookmark list on is updated and synchronized automatically. With the addition of tagging, Attensa gives you a set of tools for organizing your feeds and articles. Categories let you create a hierarchal [sic] structure using folders to keep feeds organized. Tags give you a more free form tool for keeping articles organized and they connect you with the social network.

Sadly Attensa only works with Outlook and IE. But it is free.

Social Acrobats

You’ve got social bookmark sharing, photo sharing, now you’ve got social Acrobat file sharing: Yummy! Personal PDF Library.

Yeah, I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it might have its uses. I just can’t think of any right now.

Oh, and it’s brought to you by the guys behind Print(fu), which will turn a PDF file into printed book.

Searching for Tags

Denis Sinegubko tells me of his new tag searching facility in his software FirstStop WebSearch. Here’s an excerpt from his FirstStop Blog: Social Bookmarks in FirstStop WebSearch which explains it in more detail:

The pre-installed (in version 4.2) category “Social Bookmarks” contains the following search sources: LookSmart’s,, and, a search engine for the Anticipating your question about, I can tell you that we didn’t include this very popular social bookmarks manager only because it doesn’t have a search facility.

Sounds like an interesting tool.