Ticking all of the right boxes

When evaluating a product there are various key factors we need to assess such as:

  • Does it solve my particular problem.
  • Is it easy to use.
  • Does it have the set of features and capabilities that I need.
  • Will it continue to meet my needs as I become more adept.
  • Does it include good documentation.
  • Will it save me time (will I be more productive).
  • Is it worth the cost (both financial and time to learn & use).
  • Is it robust and well supported.
  • Also see: Before purchasing software

Continue reading “Ticking all of the right boxes”

10 slick and cool IE Extensions and Tags

What a great way to start 2008 with Surfulater included in 10 slick and cool IE extensions by By John Fontana, Network World, 01/04/08. We certainly are in good company along side Microsoft Silverlight. Click on Next in the article to get to slide 2 and you’ll see:


What it is: Sure there’s lots of information on the Web, but sometimes you just want to keep those little nuggets you find on your system for safe keeping. Surfulater lets you permanently save selected text, images, and complete Web pages, then edit, annotate, cross-reference, organize, and search for information in your offline personal and portable knowledge base.     

Why you should use it: Ever find a dead link in your Favorites folder? Or discover a piece of information has been moved onto the “subscription only” part of a Web site?

Where to get it: www.surfulater.com

Surfulater is indeed a great addition to IE, but of course it also works with Firefox and does much more than just make it easy to capture web content. But you most likely already know this.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Xmas + New year break, we certainly did. I’m back at work in earnest now, after cutting back to a support only role over the break.

Tagging. Right now it looks like the next big new feature for Surfulater will be tagging. I’ve been thinking about this for quite some time and have locked down an initial design over the past week or so, which looks good, at least on paper.

I’ve re-read everyones posts on the forums, gone over the notes I’ve been taking for some time now and digested and distilled these into the initial design specification.

In order to deliver the proposed tagging system as well as other future capabilities, it looks like I’ll be replacing the fairly simple database engine Surfulater has successfully used to date with a far more powerful SQL Database engine. This will require code to convert your existing KB’s to the new database, as well as the new code for the tagging system, so it may turn into an even more substantial task than I had expected. That said the end result will be well worth it and put things firmly in place for even more interesting future developments.

As soon as I’ve got something to show you and talk more about I’ll post here on the blog.

PS. Thanks for all the great comments re. Web KB’s in my last blog post.

A Great Surfulater Review

Just after Christmas Ercan Cem contacted me about reviewing Surfulater on his blog Digital World, which was most welcome, and is in fact something we’d like to see more of. We’ve had some good coverage recently, which I’ve been meaning to blog about, but there always seems to be more pressing things occupying my time.

James Fallows mentioned Surfulater in The Atlantic in Nov 2006 in his article Making Haystacks, Finding Needles.

A relatively new entry, Surfulater, created by a veteran developer in Australia, differs from most of the others in the elaborate ways it allows you to comment on, classify, and even edit the material you have collected. For instance, if you’ve copied and stored a blog entry or a passage from a Web site, you can enter notes of your own—“There he goes again!” “This detail is interesting—right alongside the clip, and search for those comments later on. It also has a variety of special categorization tools.

A few weeks back a new customer mentioned he heard about Surfulater in the Washington Post, but I’ve yet to find out any details. Library Clips wrote an article Surfulater for PIM back in August 2006. Bob Stumbel’s EVERYTHING 2.0 list includes Surfulater in his OS 2.0 – Update section, which doesn’t seem the right spot to me.

Back to Ercan’s review which you can find at Great Information Manager: Surfulater. Ercan does a very good job of explaining the need people have for Surfulater and how it fulfills this need. Best if you go and read it for yourself.

If you write a blog or a newsletter or know someone that does and would like to help more people find out about Surfulater, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

Surfulater – A Dr. File Finder – Tucows Favorite

The level of interest in, inquiries about and sales of Surfulater and have jumped up nicely in the past few days, for a variety of reasons. One is the very positive review of Surfulater by Michael E. Callahan, aka. Dr. File Finder at Tucows on 27 March. Michael concludes his review with:

I find the program to be very useful. In fact, I’ve come to like Surfulater so much that it’s not only a Pick but it’s also one of my Dr. File Finder Favorites and those are few and far between. Check it out … I think you’ll like it!

Michael has been reviewing software for quite some time (in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs), and must see products that traverse the landscape from woeful to great. I am extremely pleased that Michael has placed Surfulater somewhere in the latter category.

Michael first contacted me in late 2005 indicating he was interested in reviewing Surfulater type programs and we had an interesting exchange at the time as we’ve both been involved in the software business for a long time. As often happens I didn’t know the review had actually been published until after the event. It is currently flagged on the Tucows home page which is great and I look forward to hearing from more Tucows readers.

Here is Dr. File Finders review in full:

Surfulater, by Soft As it Gets Pty Ltd is a program that I use myself to gather ideas of articles. Rather than jot down notes about a topic I might want to write about, I use Surfulater to “grab” the idea and save it for me. No typing involved. The program lets you save anything you find on the Internet. At the same time, the program makes it easy to organize information as well. It’s perfect for anyone doing research, gathering information, and so on.

Surfulater lets you put things in categories and you can even cross-reference entries. I actually have categories that are related to columns here on Tucows. So, I have a “How To” category, a “Tell Me About” category, and so on. The program is very intuitive and easy-to-use. To me that makes it perfect for users with all levels of experience. Another feature that I really like is that it supports Firefox which is my default browser. Some of the other programs only work with Internet Explorer.

Surfulater makes it easy to gather information, to save things that you want to read later, and more. Create as many categories as you want and the build your own library of information. I find the program to be very useful. In fact, I’ve come to like Surfulater so much that it’s not only a Pick but it’s also one of my Dr. File Finder Favorites and those are few and far between. Check it out … I think you’ll like it!

Thanks Michael.

Evaluating Software from a Users Perspective

Jonathon Giebeler has very recently discovered and purchased Surfulater and made a really interesting post over on another forum, where Surfulater related software is being discussed. I have to admit I mentioned this discussion to Jonathon during an exchange of e-mails, as I thought it would be of interest to him. I had no idea the outcome would be a very enthusiastic post about Surfulater and also a discussion on how Jonathon evaluates software. I follow a very similar evaluation process to Jonathon, but mostly use search engines to locate products, not software sites.

My guess is that most people are fairly ruthless when evaluating software, I know I certainly am. Jonathon’s point 5 “If the UI sucks – uninstall the program” rings true to my ears. Very few people give first impressions a second chance. I wouldn’t for a minute suggest that Surfulater has the best UI around town and as sure as I’m sitting here writing this, there will be people who have uninstalled Surfulater as quickly as they installed it, but hopefully not too many.

 Without further ado here is Jonathon’s post in its entirety:

Just a quick note on this.  During the last few weeks I downloaded a ton of programs (including the ones discussed at the beginning of this thread).  I don’t see what the interest in MyBase is?  I installed this program and promptly uninstalled it because I didn’t see anything I wanted to use. 

In my view (perhaps different from yours because I am an architect/law student).  I want a nice UI and easy access to my information.  The information is what it is all about.  As far as a text only programs there should be not discussion.  There are a ton of text editors that all do the same thing.  What is important is a tool that will allow you to gather information from everywhere (the web included) organize it (usually trees) and link it. Obviously the ability to grab information from the internet is important (because there is so much information out there) but you need to also be able to use simple text or import from other sources, docs, pdfs, etc. 

With this said, I am placing my bet on Surfulater.  I down loaded this program with about 20 others and it is still installed.  My process for evaluating is as follows:
1. Go to download.com and do a general search so you get as many results as possible (then do it again so you do miss it)
2. Go through the hundreds of results, read the descriptions, look at screenshots, visit homepages, and finally download promising programs.
3. Install all the promising programs (I do it while I am searching)
4. Gather all the new shortcuts on the desktop, and open each of the programs
5. If the UI sucks – uninstall the program
6. Take a closer feature look at each of the remaining programs.  Can you import the information you want? Does it work well with other programs? Can you input data easily (i.e. is the structure of the program not so restrictive that it takes to long to input simple date), etc, etc,

I did this, and have already deleted many “promising” programs.  Surfulater is still running and here is  why:

It is a web companion yes, but I can also use it to input practically anything else with the attachment and clipboard utility.  To understand the features you’d have to try it.  A good quick view of the possibly it to look at the help section – it was created in the program and is obviously not just clippings from the web.

Here are a few features I loved:
1. I can create many different “books” (that’s what I am calling them).  I have created, Projects, Personal, School, and AEC.  The books are displayed as colored tabs along the top so I can quickly switch between each, and in each book I can have as many articles and folders I want. 
2. It is the best for capturing web articles.  I can download just the part I selected, the selection and the page (which appears as a thumbnail by the imported selection), or the selection and a link to the page.  The title automatically is inserted as well as a link.
3. Here come the best features – accessibility to data – to any note I can add comments, a reference, attachments, or “see also” (which creates a bi directional link to another article. 
4. Visibility – I have never seen this feature but I love it.  Next to each of the items noted above there is a minimize button so I can hide, the article and just view my comments, links, etc.  Also if I click on the “Roofs” folder I can see all the sub articles instantly without having to select each separately.
5. The clip board tool.  I am working on a project with about 100 pages of restrictions, and I am using Surfulater to organize these.  I scanned the document into PDF format.  When I read something I need to reference, I select it and copy it, then I go to Surfulater and create a new article base on this selection, then I put in my comments, i.e. what we are going to do to comply with the requirement

Anyway the possibilities are endless.  I really never write reviews for programs, but I am just extremely impressed with Surfulater.  I haven’t found a program quite like it, and if you guys really want the best editor  – information compiler- possible, I would at least try it.  I still don’t understand what you liked about MyBase.  I chose “General knowledge Base 2.2” over MyBase, and even that has been replaced by Surfulater…did I miss something?  I don’t remember being impressed.

Thanks Jonathon, the cheque is in the mail. 😉

I guess it had to happen

Back in June we put out a Press Release on Surfulater, which unfortunately didn’t get much coverage. I did however create a new opportunity for Spammers who must harvest e-mail addresses on Press Releases, but that’s another story for another day.

Over the weekend I was doing some Web searching and came across a mention of the press release and a link to it. The “I guess it had to happen” bit is the web site was all about surfing of the kind you do in the water, not on the web, and it was an Italian web site to boot. 🙂

On Google

Well the fact of the matter is Surfulater is barely visible on Google (apart from paid ads). So I’ve been been doing some research to try and see how we can rectify this sad state of affairs. It is pretty obvious that if folks can’t easily find Surfulater when they do a Google search, then the chances of them becoming a customer are pretty slim. Continue reading “On Google”


Smallbiztechnology.com helps small-medium sized businesses strategically use technology to grow their businesses and provides news, articles, discussion boards, resources, analysis & events for the owners of small-medium sized businesses.

I’ve just discovered Smallbiztechnology.com because, I’m pleased to say they’ve written a glowing review of Surfulater which you can see here.

I’ve not had much time to dig around here yet, but it looks like there is lots of good stuff to read.