Okay, so I was finally fed up with my contacts list (or social graph as the cool kids call it) looking like this and being completely unsynced and unmanageable.

Before Plaxo Pulse

Before Plaxo Pulse

Once I got through the slightly hard to use website to actually pay Plaxo for a premium account (there is a 15 day trial offer BTW), I managed to get Premium services turned on. The process to get there was not pretty and looked like this:

  • try to find Plaxo pulse on Plaxo site  – if I didn’t already know about it, I never would have looked;
  • find their “premium service” link buried in a page
  • sign up for premium service
  • connect blog
  • connect Twitter
  • connect Facebook (this took 5 tries ande vetnaully I gave up and tried it in Safari instead of Firefox and it finally worked.)
  • download and run sync tool for Mac OS X – it works;
  • de-dupe contacts – also seemed to work;
  • connect personal Gmail account – FAIL 3x
  • export all Gmail contacts into vCard format and import into Address Book
  • sync up to Plaxo
  • de-dupe again
  • try to resync to Google now; it now works since there are no Google contacts…but the sync is one way so nothing goes up to Google. Argh.
  • Download and use A to G to export Address Book enties into a file that Google can parse;
  • Re-run de-dupe. It works.
  • Contact syncing to personal Gmail is also syncing
  • Just for the heck of it, attach old unused MSN account. It too syncs up.
  • Add in work client A’s Google Contacts (again, one-way sync only.)
  • turned off the broken Apple Address Book sync connection to Google contacts

Now I have this:

After Plaxo Pulse

After Plaxo Pulse

Things I’ve noticed:

  • Plaxo doesn’t know what it is as a company;
  • They have some amazing technology. If they had a focused team leading it, I think they could stop being so confused about their identity and just be the one player in the system that keeps all this crap conneted properly. But it doesn’t seem like it’s in their DNA.
  • Their de-duper tool looks way better than the Address Book built-in version.
  • They have a really cool thingy that appears in Mail.app that tells you when somebody is not in your Address Book. Apple should have added this about 10 years ago. Thank you Plaxo.
  • Skype is still an island but I barely use it these days as I mostly live in Facebook and Google chat.

Overall, not the world’s worst process, not the best – probably a 5 on the scale of ugly things you really want to avoid. But it probably went faster because I have done about 1000 contact and calendar import and exports for other systems ver the years so I get the process and understand sync chains well.

But so far it doesn’t seem to have caused a new singularity or black hole to come into being. Good first step. I’ll let you all know how it goes. Feel free to comment below.

UPDATE: June 2, 2009

  • Plaxo Pulse’s sync is only one way from Google contacts into Address Book and that’s useless so I’ve added Spanning Sync back into the mix.
  • Also Plaxo had (but then abandoned) LinkedIn sync – a feature I had originally wanted  but now it’s dead and gone.
  • So with Spanning Sync managing my Address Book <–> Google Contacts and hopefully not borking them too much (I had problems with Spanning syn in the past), Plaxo is now relegated to just keeping my Facebook contacts and status updates in sync and doing more powerful de-duping than Mac’s Address Book.

It now looks like this, (adding in calendars and IM networks):

picture-191

It remains to be seen whether Plaxo is worthwhile. I’m fine with losing access to my old MSN account and if at the end of the day it’s just a $65/year de-duper, I’ll pass.

Thanks Brendon for making me look at Spanning Sync again. I had left it when Apple and Google built their sync tool…which then stopped working. Hopefully SS will do the trick.

This seems like an awful lot of complexity. I may just turn off all of my networks and become Amish.

Update: September 8, 2009: Goodbye Plaxo

I finally killed Plaxo today. I had duped my mac into another machine and booted it and Plaxo went all nuts trying to sync, then resync all of the contacts and it was just annoying enough that I uninstalled it on the cloned machine, questioned the entire value of Plaxo, and uninstalled it on my primary computer and then deleted my account. Goodbye Plaxo. I wish I had gotten more value out of that $65USD. That was a hard lesson.

They asked me for my reasons for leaving. I only had a minute so I jotted down as many as I could:
– it adds no value
– most of my friends are not in it
– I don’t need or want another social network aggregator;
– Comcast should not have bought you
– your product management team doesn’t know what the hell you’re building
– your annual licensing model is stupid (it should be monthly)
– your development stalled out a LONG time ago
– your de-duper isn’t really that much better than just doing it in Address Book after all.

Good bye Plaxo.