Goodbye Firefox?

The Horror

I still have my t-shirts. I’m not sure how they’ve held up over so many years, especially with how frequently I have worn them – one for Firefox, one for Thunderbird – both from the official Mozilla store.

Image representing Firefox
Image via CrunchBase

I’m fairly certain I’ve been using Firefox since 1.x, and perhaps even before. I jumped ship from Internet Explorer as quickly as possible and having been a long-time fan of Netscape Navigator, Firefox with its relations to Netscape was appealing to me.

Today I did something that I’ve seen coming for a long time now. I’m not sure if it will stick – but I’ve done it.

  • I exported my bookmarks from Firefox into an HTML file (I probably have several thousand, carefully categorized).
  • I imported my bookmarks from the HTML file into Google Chrome (it looks like they came over without a hitch).
  • I closed the almost-always-running instance of Firefox.
  • I unpinned Firefox from my Windows taskbar.

Now I sit stand in front of my computer, the monitor flashing its warm blue glow, my fingers typing on the keyboard as if nothing has changed, and yet something has changed – something significant. For over five years now a large portion of my life and work has occurred via the Firefox browser, and now, now it is no more.

What Happened?

Firefox’s bloat over time was a big hassle for many – but I held onto Firefox through all of that. The slow release cycles compared to Google’s Chrome drove others crazy, but I held on through that.

What finally drove me (several years ago) to begin using Chrome for at least a significant portion of my web activities was the profiles – something that Firefox never really was able to handle well, as far as I know, still can’t. I have different “personas” on the web – they are all me (Dave Mackey) and I don’t pretend to be different people, but I operate for different functions. I am the personal me, I was the corporate me, I am the techie me, and I am the pastor me. Each of these personas was best served by a separate profile. With thousands of links organized into categories, it was too confusing to try and keep track of everything all mashed into one profile – so now, my ministry links are in my ministry profile, my personal links are in my personal profile, and so on.

Any Hope of Reconciliation?

Sure there is. I have never used Chrome as my 100% primary browser. Up to this point I’ve primarily used Chrome for web app (GMail, Facebook, Calendar, Asana, Keep) and have used Firefox for browsing and discovery (e.g. StumbleUpon, Digg, RSS, Zakta). There may be issues that arise when I use Chrome for everything that weren’t present when I used it for only these app’ish purposes…but I sort of doubt it.

Still, there is hope for reconciliation in my relationship with Firefox. Why? Because, quite honestly, I don’t trust Google. No, I’m not paranoid. Yes, I let them collect all sorts of info. about me and use it to target their advertising at me. I’m not worried about that – I’m worried about commitment. Google has axed far too many products or twisted them beyond recognition to be entirely trusted. I now Google Reader is the latest example, but there have been so many others – anyone remember their attempt with wikified search? Or how about that note taking application – what was it called?

So, Google, here is your word of warning: I’m watching you. Customer acquisition isn’t the whole game, to win customer loyalty you need to be loyal too, and you’ve fumbled quite a few times in this area!

SugarSync – What is Missing?

I love being a fan of great products – and supporting those products with my finances. I’ve been a long-time fan and premium subscriber to SugarSync, a cloud-based backup, syncing, and web drive product. I like raving about them, and getting into arguments with folks like Steve Weir about whether Dropbox is better (nope!).

That said, I’m also a fan of making a little noise when companies don’t always treat their customers with the utmost respect they deserve. Successful business involves a symbiotic relationship between the business and the consumer, neither side can demand too much nor give too little. SugarSync has a great product, but I’m concerned that they aren’t committing enough resources to shoring up some weak spots in their current offerings, instead focusing more on new client acquisitions and business partnerships (which, again, are all well and good, but there has to be a balance).

So, here are my *beefs* with SugarSync and what I’d *really* like to see implemented in the near-term future.

The Critical Missing Components.

Image representing SugarSync as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

Currently SugarSync doesn’t utilize Microsoft‘s Volume Shadow Service (VSS) and I can’t for the life of me understand why – it is built directly into Windows and is utilized by most backup software providers. Why? Because it offers numerous huge advantages with easy implementation. Including the ability to backup files while they are in-use. This means you don’t have to close out of Outlook, an accounting application, or anything else that is actively using a file before it can be backed up.

The other big no-no SugarSync engages in (that I can think of no practical reason to exist, and which should be a very simple config file change to implement) is finite versioning of files. SugarSync currently keeps a limited number of previous versions of a file – which becomes an issue if it is a transactional file (e.g. a database – including Microsoft Outlook or any email client, rss reader, etc.). These files change all the time – in a single day they may change hundreds or thousands of times! SugarSync needs to keep these versions for as long as the user desires them to be kept – not arbitrarily deleting them!

This is Important…

  • Ability to Pause/Resume Backups/Syncs – While everything in an ideal world would place nice with one another, the fact of the matter is that software oftentimes interfere with each other. It’d be great to have a way to pause backups/syncs by SugarSync. Again, I don’t run into any problems with this regularly – but it would still be a nice feature.

It’d Be Cool If…

I’m not particularly concerned about these features, but it would be cool if…

  • SugarSync integrated with Google Docs, backing up all Google Docs into SugarSync and vice versa (or a subset as so desired). This would also allow mobile editing of documents (of many types) via Google Docs without needing to download the documents from SugarSync (as one must do now before editing).
  • Backing Up Gmail is another useful feature. I’m not as concerned about this as the integration with Google Docs, but still, a nice freebie.

I LOVE Boomerang for Gmail

Boomerang effect
Boomerang effect (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not sure how I survived this long without Boomerang for Gmail, and I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do when my free premium trial runs out either. This tool is absolutely awesome for increasing productivity.

Essentially, Boomerang allows you to remind yourself and others about emails in your inbox. If you are like me and are continuously getting emails, this is a must-have. For example, if you send an email and need a response to it you can have Boomerang bring the message back to the top of your inbox if you don’t receive a message with x time frame.

Another awesome feature is the ability to send recurring scheduled emails. For example, if you have someone who tends to forget things you can set up a scheduled email which will send another copy of the email every day until they remember to do whatever the email specifies. Of course, this could be abused – but properly used it is awesome.

One feature I’d love to see added to Boomerang for Gmail is the ability to SMS someone if something doesn’t happen in x time frame. This could be a text message to self reminding yourself to answer an email, or a reminder that you haven’t received a response to an email, or even a more persistent form of the recurring scheduled message – say the person doesn’t respond within five days to your recurring emails it could escalate to recurring text messages.

Boomerang is available for free on a limited basis and there is a personal account priced at $5/mo. But to get the recurring messages you’ll need the Professional which clocks in at a whopping $15/mo. I pay $5/mo. to SugarSync for 30 GB of data!

I understand Boomerang needs to make money – but might I suggest an alternate pricing scheme? How about a pay for usage option? For example, let me deposit a specified amount into my Boomerang account (lets say $10) and then charge me $.10 for each email reminder I make for myself above the base ten free and maybe $.25 for each recurring email reminder I schedule.

For some people, the flat Professional package would be the best deal – but for others the pay per usage would be more than adequate. I imagine this would add significantly to Boomerang’s user base. I really don’t think I can afford another $15/mo. for a professional subscription. I already pay $60/mo. for internet, $5/mo. for SugarSync, may need to start paying FreshBooks for invoicing, adding Boomerang on top of it all? If I was going to use it heavily, sure, but I’d say I’m a medium load user. I might schedule a few reminder emails per day max and the recurring emails would probably next exceed ten a month.