Google

2009-05-10

XML++

Well I could not find a better title for this post as it touches several different but connected subjects as you will find out below...

I've been an Outlook user for over 10 years and I've used it as my contacts manager until recently. Although, I am guessing very few people use it, one of the features I like is the ability to add a picture.

Times have changed. Facebook has pictures, e-mail and other contact information that I would normally keep in Outlook. Still, I would want to have Outlook as my 'authorative source' as I control what information goes in there.

Grand Central (now known as Google Voice) and gmail also has contacts and now that Google separated Google Contacts as a stand alone product; I decided to take my contacts online.

Problem is importing from Outlook to Google Contacts strips many fields, pictures being one of them. Plus there is no product out there that would import updated Facebook information to Google Contacts.

I am quite surprised that it does not exist actually but understand that Facebook is using some measures (like e-mail address is displayed as a graphics file instead of text; so any software that needs to read it need some sort of ocr capability + it may violate Facebook's terms).

All hope is not lost. There are some applications that partially helps:

  • FoneBook is a Facebook application that lets you import some information:
    [Fonebook does not, and will never export phone numbers or email addresses - Facebook does not allow this!! Feel free to join this group to petition for it to change http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=47429104064]

    [For a Mac version you might want to try AddressBookSync - http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=43678885451]

    Fonebook is used to transfer contacts photos and infomation from Facebook™ to Outlook®. If your phone then supports Outlook® synchronization you should be able to have your contacts photos on your phone when they call you!

    This application works with both Outlook® 2003 and 2007. It is also know to work with most modern Nokias and all Windows® Smartphones/PDAs.

    The application currently copies a contacts photo, profile web address, about me details, status details and if you are using Outlook® 2007 their birthday
  • I also found out that apparently there was an application called Facebook Downloader which made it to LifeHacker but it has been taken down by Facebook for violating their terms.
  • OutSync lets you select Facebook contacts and select their pics with Outlook
  • Gupdate is another facebook application; that attempts to sync Facebook data to Google Contacts. It can also add new contacts if they do not exist. Well, I tried it but it did not seem to do anything for me.
  • There is a .NET application by Koushik Dutta, a software developer, that only attempts to import pictures from Facebook to Google Contacts. Source Code is available too.
On that last note, Koushik was referring to Google Data API & Facebook Toolkit which brings me to the real reason I am blogging this. While digging thru the Google Data API, I saw a link to "The Annotated XML Specification", written by one of the XML co-authors, Tim Bray in 1998.

I was reading thru it, and found the annotations extremely helpful. So, I googled to find more on Tim Bray and found his blog "ongoing"; It's quite entertaining and enlightening.

One of his recent blog entries titled "Nastiness"; his observations and recommendation are simply awesome. He is thinking very clearly and communicating well. I am adding his blog to my Google Reader (so should you :p )!

That article actually dragged me into the incident blog and I have read some extremely well written, thoughtful articles and comments.

For example:

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