Thursday Jul 09, 2009

Google Notebook


Google have decided to discontinue development for google notebook. I first started to realise something was wrong when I upgraded to firefox 3.5 and the plugin for google notebook was disabled (incompatible with this version of firefox). I waited a few days for the update to appear before going to the google notepad page to manually load the update where I found the following and a link to this. To be fair they are continuing to provide the web facing services to all existing users (no new users) but development seems to have stopped on the plugin which was the ONLY way that I ever accessed the service!

Imagine my disappointment. I have always found this an invaluable tool. When researching a particular topic you can grab URLs, add notes to it and arrange them in books around the topics that you are researching. Also since I work across multiple machines at multiple locations (Mecbook Air on the road, Mac Mini at home and Solaris Sun Ray at work) I can install the firefox plugin on all machines and access the same information without the need for remembering to do fiddly syncronisations - after all "the network is the computer".

Anyway unable to face the current and immediate future without the browser plugin access to notebook I decided to take matters into my own hands and fix the problem. Using a method well documented elsewhere on the web I managed to make a version of the plugin that claimed to be compatible with firefox 3.5 in the hope that it would work and so far it has, with no issues. The solution requires some command line skills but should be NO issue for even the most basic UNIX/linux user and easy enough for any windows or mac user that has ever used the command line. The instructions below are for using a bash shell on MAC OS X but will work fine on any UNIX based system (Solaris, Linux or MAC OS X). If you are using windows you will need to find the equivalent windows commands or UPGRADE your OS to Solaris, MAC OS X or Linux.

Take the google-notebook.xpi file and copy it to a clean empty directory then at command line type.

seanh$ unzip google-notebook.xpi

This extracts the various files that make up the plugin. The file that you need to edit is initially read only so you need to make it read/write.

seanh$ chmod u+w install.rdf

Now use your favorite text editor to edit the file install.rdf.

seanh$ vi install.rdf

Locate the following line:-


and edit it to read.


Now change the file back to read only.

seanh$ chmod u-w install.rdf

Then delete the original google-notebook.xpi file and create a new one.

seanh$ rm google-notebook.xpi

seanh$ zip -r google-notebook.xpi ./??\*

Now go to firefox addons and uninstall google notepad, restart firefox and install the xpi file that you have created and bingo you are back in business.

I should add at this point that this is NOT supported by google and certainly NOT supported by me. I have tried it and it works on my environment let me know if it works on yours (via the comments). I guess that at some time in the future it will break but I am hopeful that I can get al least as far as version 4 of firefox and beyond before it breaks. Then it will be a case of looking at the code itself (assuming that google have made or make the source available).

Monday Jun 18, 2007

Google Notebook

As I mentioned in an earlier post the way that I work is to use different devices to access the internet depending on where I am rather than lug around my access device with me. Unless data is therefore stored within the network rather than the client this mode of working is difficult therefore I am always looking for tools to help me. Some time ago I came across  Google Notebook and have been using it for the past 6-9 months in conjunction with the firefox plugin. This combination is a truely useful application for the network ready user. Once again the data is stored in the network (this time at google) and brought to the edge either through the browser plugin, the browser itself or the google portal.

When using the browser plugin it so easy to clip a URL together with comments and text you type in yourself. This makes it richer than simple bookmarking. I find it particularly useful when researching on the net a new subject. I can open a new notebooks and clip comments and URLs into that notebook as I gather information/learn.




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