Browser Bookmarks for Travel, Security
One of the problems with traveling is maintaining (or having access to) a particular set of bookmarks you find invaluable. Typing in Internet cafés costs money, and being able to go click-click-click on browser toolbar that has your most often accessed sites is handy.
I carry around a portable version of the FireFox browser on my thumb-drive. I could never see myself doing otherwise. Not only do I have a place to bookmark Web sites as I'm surfing at an Internet café, but I also don't leave a trail of the Web sites that I visited or a cache of anything that I viewed on the public computer that I was working on.
Additionally—and this is what I really think sells me on the notion—I store my username/passwords in the browser and set a very strong master password that's needed to unlock their use during each browser session. Having security credentials and bookmarks in one place allows me to visit sites that require such information without ever typing in the site URL or username/password on a public computer, in which malicious keystroke loggers are sometimes installed.
For example, a keystroke logger is installed by a sneaky fellow on a few machines in an Internet café. As tourists come into the café, they go to Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, and type in their usernames and passwords. Some go to places like Expedia and purchase airline tickets with credit cards. All these keystokes (and in some cases, mouse clicks), are logged to a simple text file, which is later downloaded by this fellow and filtered for useful information. It's a treasure-trove of identity theft.
Since all the sites I visit most often are bookmarked, I never type in a URL. And since all my usernames/passwords are filled out on the forms already when I get there, I never type in any of that information, either. If a keystroke logger is on a machine, the only sensitive thing it's going to capture is the master password typed to unlock the browser, nothing more.
If I can avoid it, I don't check bank accounts over WiFi or on public computers. When I type in credit card numbers, I type the blocks of numbers in out of sequence, using mouse clicks to place the new text in the proper order.
It's amazing the number of times that I'll get on an Internet café computer and find Hotmail, MSN or Yahoo messenger, or the Skype program left logged in (with money on the account that I could use to call a landline or cellphone anyone in the world). It's sloppy, and it's commonplace.
So I know the unlikely percentage of people that will actually keep a browser on the thumb-drive like me, but for those that do, and wish to keep their bookmarks synced with their machines back home or at work, I've got a good solution: FoxMarks, for the FireFox browser.
I was looking for a way to keep the bookmarks on my laptop in sync with the bookmarks on my thumb-drive. An alternate application could be someone with a computer at home and a computer at work. Different machines, but you want to keep the same bookmarks. FoxMarks lets you do that. Additionally, if you want to have access to your bookmarks and you're on a random computer somewhere using a Internet Explorer, you can log into the FoxMarks Web site, enter your account credentials, and behold, a clickable folder-tree hierarchy of all your bookmarks (in the event you really don't remember what Web site you'd noted beforehand). Neat stuff.
I'm sure there are plenty of bookmark sharing services out there, and this is just one of them. But it works, it's free, and it's simple. Install with FireFox and forget about it.
Stationary time is housekeeping time for me, and my time in Lima (as well as this new laptop) has given me a moment to clear out my collection of Web site bookmarks that have been accumulating in an un-orderly fashion.
I have several interesting sites that I've recently come across, and plan on writing about, but a handful aren't strong enough to stand on their own. So instead writing them off, I thought I'd share them collectively:
Rejected Online: The Best Rejected Advertising
This site features some wonderfully creative commercials ad agencies around the world, that have been rejected or banned because of their content. The 'banned' section is my favorite.
LogoPond: Identity Inspiration
A showcase of some extremely creative and visually appeasing logo design.
A blog entry about the intriguing New York City "alternate side parking shuffle"
Wikipedia: Timeline of Historic Inventions
Stating from the Paleolithic Era, and ending in the current day. 4th millennium BC: Noodle in China
Cherryflava: A Cure for the Common Handshake
A funny, disturbing, decal placed on the inside of a men's room door.
Creativebits: Cool Business Card Designs
A fun collection of creativity.
Flickr: Business Cards
More business card creativity.
Ironic Sans: Terrorist Organization Logos
Terrorists identity branding. Another set of crossed AK-47s? yawn
Guardian Unlimited: Writers' Rooms
Photographs of the desks and offices of some very established writers.