Monday, May 22, 2006

Foxmarks Privacy Policy Updated

When we first unveiled our Privacy Policy last month, some users were rightfully concerned that it appeared that we were reserving the right to spam them: the policy said that we might use the email address you provided when you registered to "contact you regarding services or products that we believe may be of interest to you." And that certainly sounds like spam.

When we set out to construct our privacy policy our lawyers gave us a generic policy which we adapted to the particulars of our service. The generic policy had in place the spam provision, which, in our haste to get the policy out the door, we neglected to curtail. That's been fixed now. We agree not to spam you unless you ask to be spammed; and even then, it seems unlikely that spam will ever be part of the Foxmarks experience. From where we sit, spam is, like, totally un-foxmarxian.

If you're interested,  check out the Privacy Policy here.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Foxmarks 0.71 Released

Today we released Foxmarks 0.71 on our own website. If no problems emerge over the next several days, we'll release it to the Firefox Add-ons site next week. This release fixes a synchronization bug that several users encountered, and adds translations for French, Italian, and Dutch.

As always, please let us know if you have any difficulties with this new release.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Foxmarks looking for Sys Admin Help

We're looking to hire on a short-term contract a Sr. Systems Administrator to help build out the monitoring and automation infrastructure for our production service. If you know of anyone who might be interested in working with us, please refer them to our ad on craigslist.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Server Upgrade Completed

Today was a challenging day for Team Foxmarks. We managed to complete the server upgrade and data migration that we'd been planning for a couple of weeks, and, while I would like to report that it went smoothly, that would not be an accurate characterization of the process and its ultimate outcome.

The bad news is that we lost some user accounts in the migration. To those users whose accounts suffered this fate: we're truly sorry. Instructions for recreating your account can be found here; the silver lining in the cloud is that, since the data in your account is a copy of the data that you already have on your PC's, in all likelihood, no data was lost. (We do, however, have backups; contact us if you feel you need those backups.)

Nonetheless, we realize that this will inconvenience some users, an unfortunate irony as Foxmarks' core value is about convenience.

Our first priority is getting affected users back on board. I'll be posting more about what happened and what steps we'll be taking to prevent future mishaps.

Server Upgrade Today

As promised earlier, we will be upgrading the Foxcloud Synchronization Server to the latest and great version of Cosmo. We will be taking the server down for about two hours starting at 5pm PST. During this time, you won't be able to create new accounts, synchronize your bookmarks, or access your bookmarks via my.foxcloud.com.

We'll post here again when the upgrade is successful.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Server upgrade is coming...

Sometime next week, we'll be taking down the Foxcloud Synchronization Server for a while to upgrade it to the upcoming release of Cosmo 0.3. The upgrade wil give us some additional headroom in terms of total number of end-user accounts, as well as allow for the possibility of non-English characters in usernames, first name, and last name fields.

During the downtime, users won't be able to sync, create new accounts, or view their bookmarks on My.Foxcloud. We'll try to keep downtime to a minimum, but the upgrade will be a bit more complex than ones we done in the past as it involves migrating everyone's data from the current version of Cosmo to the new one. We'll post here when we start and when we complete the transition.

Foxmarks and the Vision of Places

People who have been following closely the development of the next versions of Firefox -- Firefox 2 and Firefox 3 -- already know that one of the key enhancements of Mozilla's next generation of browsers is a system called Places. Places is based on the key insight that two systems that currently exist separately in the browser, bookmarks (which represent places that you've visited and want to be able to return to) and history (places that you've actually visted), could be much more valuable if they were combined in some fashion. They both exist to solve an end-user problem: how do I get back to some place that I've been before?

As envisioned by its creators, Places integrates history and bookmarks into a single database for the back end, and revamps the current UI affordances (the bookmark menu, the bookmark manager, the toolbar, the bookmark sidebar, the history sidebar, the address bar url history) to talk to that back end. Done right, a system like this really opens up a treasure trove of interesting end-user possibilities, both for extensions and for the core browser. A good interface to the Places back-end would also enable online service providers to provide tight integration -- right in the browser -- with the many different kinds of web services that have exploded in popularity recently, such as del.icio.us, digg, and furl. Despite the fact that any implementation of Places would likely require a major rewrite of Foxmarks, we've been excited about Places since we first heard about it; we have drunk the Kool-Aid, and we believe in the Vision of Places.

That's the good news. The bad news is that, in the rush to get Firefox 2 out the door, the implementation of Places falls quite a bit short of the vision. There have been numerous complaints about the number of bugs in Places in the alpha version of Firefox 2; some have observed that the new UI is not the hands-down improvement that was hoped for; and we noted that the back-end was designed without consideration of synchronization, which would have made a Places version of Foxmarks essentially impossible.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Mozilla has made the tough decision to hold off on deploying Places at least until Firefox 3, giving it some much-needed time to be more fully developed. Some critics have complained about this decision, but we think it's the right call -- something as important as this deserves time for considered development; no one would be served by releasing Places before it was ready for prime time.

Last week, Mike Shaver of the Mozilla Corporation gathered some of the interested parties in a meeting to discuss requirements for Places that hadn't yet been reflected in the implementation. Representatives from Google, Yahoo, del.icio.us, and yours truly discussed both back-end needs and real-world use-cases. I came out of the meeting with my belief in the rightness of the Places Vision reaffirmed, though there's going to be quite a bit of blood, sweat, and tears shed getting there. I look forward to seeing Shaver's notes from that meeting published for all to see.

Foxmarks 0.69

Earlier this week, we released Foxmarks 0.69, a version whose primary claim to fame is that it includes additional translations from our distributed team of volunteers. In addition to English and Japanese, Foxmarks now includes support for the following languages: German (de-De), Spanish (es-ES), Portuguese (pt-BR), and Chinese (zh-TW). If you're looking for Foxmarks in any of these additional languages, please download directly from our website. Next week when we release on the Firefox Add-on site we'll send the "update is available" signal that will cause Firefox to note the availability of the new version.

If you see any problem with these localizations (or with any other aspect of Foxmarks), please let us know.