plaxo

oh yes those thoughts….

after the Atari every computer I have used as my ‘main’ machine has been a Mac – from my first encounter with a Mac in 1984 I was hooked and bought my first in 1990. Since then I have lost count of the number I have purchased except that when I last shopped in the Apple Store the sales person looked me up on the system and then called his manager who scanned the screen, raised his eyebrows and shook my hand saying, “you have owned a lot of Macs!”

I have owned and used PCs as well but have always returned to the Mac for day to day communications and data management, until now. Since joining NBC Universal I have been using a PC as my main machine and dealing with the slight differences of logic and location, the difference of dogma and credo that led Umberto Eco to his beautiful discussion of Mac and PC as Catholic and Protestant – http://www.columbia.edu/~sss31/rainbow/mac-pc.html.

I could bemoan the dependence on the right click, the difficulty of finding diacritics, the recycle bin, but I would be offering nothing new to the discourse so I shall focus on the most difficult aspect of my conversion: moving hundreds of contacts from the Mac Address Book to Outlook.

A one off import was not only difficult to achieve as Address Book creates a single vCard file with all the contacts and Outlook only recognizes individual cards for each contact, but would mean endless updating of both address books to keep them in sync. An LDAP server would work but as I celebrate my first Christmas in 15 years without a pager I was keen to avoid taking responsibility for another 24/7 commitment. So after much resistance I tried plaxo (www.plaxo.com).

Plaxo does one thing very well: it syncs all your contacts on all your computers, Mac or PC with an online searchable database so you can access contact info even when away from your own machines.

Plaxo does one thing very badly: it attempts to sync iCal with the calender in Outlook and makes a complete mess of both – at last count I have 5 instances of every appointment in my calendar and if I delete the duplicates it removes the original as well – I am awaiting feedback from plaxo tech support and will update this entry as and when the issue is resolved.

Plaxo does one thing that is brilliant conceptually but with some interesting ramifications: if someone in your address book is a plaxo member their entry in your address book is updated to the information s/he has entered on plaxo. In theory it means you will have up to date contact info at all times, but like all aspects of Web 2.0 it relies on us all keeping our individual profiles up to date and our phone numbers formatted for international dialing.

Like anything democratic our predictions will be over optimistic, but on balance I think the plaxo effect is worth the effort, and will be all the more so if we each take a moment to update our current contact info for the benefit of all our contacts. And to encourage this process plaxo has engaged the connections ideology from LinkedIn and Facebook – combined with its ability to sync address books this is a real plus for the esociety.

I recommend disabling the calendar synchronisation functionality for the moment.

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One thought on “plaxo

  1. Marcus

    Wow. I never knew you had a blog. I could have alleviated myself of the burden of asking you all those questions. SAPIENS QUI INSPICIT of course. XXXxxx

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