Surfulater special – 50% Discount on 30 Aug 11

Once or twice a year we offer a Surfulater special through our friends at BitsDuJour and it is that time again. The Surfulater promotion is on Tuesday 30 August, 2011 and will run for 24 hours with a great 50% discount.

You can access the special here and click on “I Want This” to be notified when it goes live. You can also share this special with your friends and colleagues using the various “Share this deal” buttons – “Twitter, Facebook, E-Mail etc.” on the special page.

If you’ve been thinking about buying Surfulater, then this is a great opportunity to do so at a great discount price. Make sure you don’t miss out because you’ll be waiting for quite some time for a special as good as this one.


Surfulater V3.41 was released on 25 March 2011

Some things such as blogging have gotten a bit away from me of late and I am here now to somewhat belatedly let those who may have missed the automated update notification, now that Surfulater V3.41 was released back on March 25th.

V3.41.0.0 is an update to work with the latest Web Browsers from Mozilla and Microsoft, namely Firefox Version 4 and Internet Explorer Version 9. It will also work with older versions of these browsers and continues to work with Google Chrome.

My next blog post (out tomorrow) is titled “Why Google Chrome is my Web Browser of choice.”

Have a great week everyone.

Your Information in “The Cloud” – Safe, Secure, Available or Not?

Everywhere you turn you see “The Cloud” being mentioned – run your applications in ‘the cloud’, store you backups in ‘the cloud’, run your enterprise in ‘the cloud’. There is little doubt that ‘the cloud’ is the buzzword of the year. Google have their shiny new Chromium Operating System and Chrome OS Laptop whose focus is to get you working entirely in ‘the cloud’ or as they call it ‘the internet’.

I used to be pretty sceptical about cloud computing and web applications, however I am slowly but surely changing my thinking and I am using some web applications on a very regular basis. The Web, its capabilities, development tools, languages and libraries have come an awfully long way in the past 5+ years, yet it still feels like we are just at the beginning of much bigger things.

To me the most important benefit of ‘the cloud’ is the ability to have access to ‘my information’ and applications on any PC that has a Web Browser and an Internet connection. Further this also encompasses use on my amazing new Android Smartphone.

Now as wonderful as this brave new world of cloud computing is, there are some show-stopping downsides. At least four come to mind:

  1. When you don’t have an Internet connection, most likely all work stops.
  2. When you have a slow Internet connection, productivity slows accordingly.
  3. The company whose Web Application or Service you now rely on pulls the plug on it or they change it so much as it no longer meets your needs.
  4. Same company goes out of business.

As an end user what concerns me most here is that I no longer have “my information” in my own hands (it is somewhere in the cloud) and I potentially have no way to move forward in the worst case scenarios of points 3 & 4. I might have many years worth of important information that I can no longer access or utilize. So to use ‘the cloud’ you must have absolute trust and faith in the companies or organizations providing you with whatever services you are consuming.

To my mind the ideal scenario is to have a combination of desktop software with “my information” on my PC that is synchronized to ‘the cloud’ and to other PC’s. Then take this one step further and have a Web Application that I can use in any Web Browser on any PC to gain access to “my information” for the times when I am not at “my PC”.

This gives me the best of both worlds – I can keep working whether I have an Internet connection or not, I get ownership back of “my information”, I can continue to use the desktop application no matter what happens to the company who provided it and I will have better prospects of migrating “my information” to a replacement application should the need arise. If the company does go out of business or kills the application I will loose the Web Application and probably the synchronization capabilities, however I still have the Desktop App and “my information” on my PC, so the situation is nowhere near as dire.

This is very much the direction I want to see Surfulater head in, allowing our users to access and utilize their information wherever they are, while keeping their own local databases and being able to access same regardless of whether they have an Internet connection or not. And of course having their local databases synchronized across the PC’s they have Surfulater installed on, work, home etc.

I’d been thinking about writing this blog post for some time and finally hit the tipping point when I read on the weekend that there is talk of Yahoo closing their Delicious bookmarking service down. This appears to have created a degree of panic amongst Delicious users who are now searching for a replacement service. Some have imported their Delicious data into Surfulater, however their Tags aren’t coming across because the XBEL format does not include Tags in its specification.  We should be able to update Surfulater to resolve this.

Merry Xmas to all and keep on Surfulater’n.


PS. We’ve got a great Xmas special running with a 50% discount on Surfulater – see image at top right of the web pages. This is our very first Xmas special, I thought it was time we did. Do tell your friends, family and colleagues.

Google Chrome integration and more in Surfulater V3.40.0.0

Google Chrome Context Menu

Another new release of Surfulater is now available, Version The big news in this release is full support for the Google Chrome Web Browser, enabling you to capture content from any page using Chrome, along with complete web pages etc.

Google Chrome Context Menu
Google Chrome Context Menu

This works in the same way as our other Surfulater Extensions for Firefox and Internet Explorer, by adding Surfulater to the Chrome right click context menu. For some background on the Chrome Extension see my previous post.

The next important new feature in this release is the ability to remove HTML markup from article content. There are times when captured web page content includes styles and formatting etc. which simply add clutter and we don’t want. Remove HTML Markup comes in handy here and lets you choose various types of markup to remove, including all HTML markup.

The menu shown below is available whenever content is being edited.

Editing context menu showing Remove HTML Markup.
Editing context menu showing: Remove HTML Markup.

I suggest you try each of the menu options to see the result. You can always press Escape to Cancel the changes and keep the original content.

A perennial problem that a very small number of people have is the inability to add new articles from their Web Browser and see images in existing articles. This is typically caused by either Firewall or Anti Virus software blocking access to Surfulater’s built-in Web Server. I’ve written about this issue before here and here. Well it happened again recently to a new user and this time I decided it was time to write some code to check access was working and notify the user if not, preempting some frustration on their part and support requests on ours. I’ve also added a new Troubleshooting section to the Surfulater Help which provides assistance with this issue.

A nasty bug which was introduced in the last release has also been fixed. It was related to the new capability added in that release to enable articles to be dragged from the content window to the knowledge tree. The result was a random, very difficult to reproduce crash. An big thanks to the various folks that sent in the crash reports.

A variety of other issues have been addressed including some Unicode issues with Knowledge Tree Filters. They are all outlined in the V3 Release Notes in the Help.

As always we trust you benefit from the work we’ve done in this release and look forward to your feedback and suggestions. The Surfulater Download page is where it’s been for a while now.


A Google Chrome Extension for Surfulater arises

Requests have been coming in for a while now for a Google Chrome Extension that would enable integration with Surfulater, as we do for Firefox and Internet Explorer. We didn’t want to rush into this as we had no idea whether Chrome would gain traction and because there were capabilities missing from Chrome Extensions that we needed for Surfulater.

Time has passed and Chrome’s popularity continues to rise (I can now see why). For us software developers the good news is the Google team behind Chrome keep working on its Extension programming interface, recently adding the missing features we need for the Surfulater Extension.

What all of this means, is that I am pleased to report, we now have a Surfulater Chrome Extension that is 86% complete and in testing so far, is working very well indeed.

In fact I’d have to say this would be the best extension we’ve developed so far, largely due to the great job the folks at Google have done in designing Chrome’s Extension interface and the way Chrome extensions work.  Also Chrome’s debugging capabilities seem smoother than other browsers. Overall it has been a pleasure developing the Surfulater Chrome Extension and Plugin, which isn’t something I can say for the other Web Browsers.

Google Chrome is a very interesting product, which along with important new functionality in HTML5 and future developments that Google is working on, opens the doors to new and interesting ways for folks like us to create and develop products. I understand the folks at Mozilla are making fairly major changes to Extensions in Firefox V4, however I’ve not yet had time to look into this. There is no doubt in my mind that they have quite some catching up to do, compared with Google Chrome. It will be interesting to see if they can pull it off.


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”

Surfulater V3.31.0.0 now available

It is always good to see another new release move out the door, this time even more so. The last few months have been devoted to designing and implementing the new Surfulater web site, updating the Blog to match and moving to our new Support Center. This has meant our usual release cycle has missed a beat or two. The good news is that is all behind us and we can now get back to something resembling normal, whatever that is!

Continue reading “Surfulater V3.31.0.0 now available”

We should never expect much from free

When I did the big update to the Surfulater Blog last month I included a social sharing widget SexyBookmarks by Shareaholic. These widgets let visitors share details of our posts on Facebook, Twitter etc. and E-mail friends about them.

I did a quick evaluation of the most popular WordPress Social Bookmarking services and widgets and SexyBookmarks rated highly and looked pretty. Unlike most other programs of its type, it didn’t use any 3rd party service/web site for its operation, which was another big plus. Continue reading “We should never expect much from free”