Over the weekend, Plaxo released version 2.0 of its software, which allows users to synchornize their Outlook contacts with Plaxo’s server, and request updates for contact information from users. I started using Plaxo last week, and – thanks largely to having more than one similar application installed at the same time – ran into some horrendous problems.
So it was with some trepidation that I installed version 2.0, having dumped the last version because, after my contacts database got corrupted, it would continually crash Outlook. So far, though, it’s worked far more effectively than the previous version, so much so that I’ve installed it on two machines and actually got them to sync not only contacts, but also all my other Outlook data – something that I had on my Mac via iSync and .Mac, and deeply missed on Windows. If someone produced something that let me sync to the Mac as well, I’d be in deep joy.
Incidentally, a couple of people asked me to remove their details from Plaxo, over uncertainties about how the system could be used for spamming – something that (of course) I was happy to do (Plaxo 2.0 actually makes it easier to do this, with a single-button on each contact card which lets you remove the contact from their system). Although I can see the reasoning, I think there has to be a measure of trust involved in any system that handles personal data. I also suspect there’s cheaper and easier ways to mine email addresses. As a journalist, I often have to find people’s email addresses, and not once has Google and a bit of intelligence let me down – including for people who take steps to hide their addresses from their Web pages.