Dropbox and Xmarks: solving a couple of trivial annoyances.

Hi folks

I, like you, have heard about Dropbox before, but I’m not too keen on having my information on someone else’s server, out there for all the bad guys to have at, so I stayed away for years.
That said, after recently overcoming my knee-jerk reaction (I mean: how much of “my stuff” is -already- out in the ether) I decided to try it.
First, even if someone did break in, the data would be useless to them unless they could decrypt it, which is unlikely. (The encryption/decryption is done by Dropbox – it’s not something you have to do.) There have never been any reports of DropBox being compromised.
The other thing that kept me out of there was that their free service (and it is free) is limited to 2 Gigs of storage. Heck, my hard drive has 430 GB of stuff on it.
But with some more thought, and a tip from someone else, it turns out there is a rational  use for the free service: my iPassword keychain (which is, as you know, already encrypted.)
Like many of you, I have more than one computer, and keeping things such as my browser passwords and booksmarks synced between them (not to mention calendars, address books and so on) is a pain. I’d rather not have to think about it… and just have it happen automatically.
DropBox does that, or at least as much of it as I choose. (I have another suggestion for bookmarks, below.)
So, OK: I signed up for the free 2 gig account.
The way it works is dead simple: (after you get a free account) you install the software on your various machines, which creates a DropBox folder (on each machine) and whatever is in that folder is seen by all machines. Simple.
As to 1Password, I just went to its prefs and under the general tab, told it to move my file to the DropBox folder. DropBox automatically started uploading it. One thing I did notice is that the 1Password file is really a separate file for each entry, so in my case, with about 800 passwords saved, it took several minutes (20? maybe) to finish the upload from my main Mac… but this does offer the convenience that if one password is added or changed, then only that one has to be uploaded, and takes just a second or so.
The download sync (to my laptop) was MUCH faster; only a minute or two.
I have a couple of other small files I keep automatically sync’d as well, and so far things seem just fine.
So: there’s my solution to a trivial annoyance.  If you want to check it out, follow this link:
(Since it’s a referral link, you’ll get an extra 250 megs  for free (or so they claim.) )
They do, of course, want to suck you into their More-for $10 p/m fee, and I find that a bit steep… but it’s your call. Just choose the free 2 gigs and have a go at it.
Then, as promised, the solution to the other trivial annoyance: browser bookmarks. I’ve got not only the Mac and the laptop, but Parallels for Windows XP and Windows 7, not to mention a real PC (which gets turned on about once a year.)
Not to mention that I have FireFox, Chrome and Safari on my main Mac.
Having the same set of bookmarks on all machines  and browsers is -really- convenient, and -really- a pain if not.
For example, I pretty much live in Safari, but now and then have to (or choose to) use (say) FireFox. I really don’t want to have to maintain separate bookmarks for each one: I want my Safari bookmarks available regardless if I using Safari or FireFox or Chrome.
To that end, I found another free service: Xmarks.
Once again, you sign up for a free account. Then you visit the same site with each browser/OS you want sync’d, and download the appropriate plugin. (Yeah, some work up front, but then it’s done.)
Then just load up your main browser, and tell Xmarks to upload all those bookmarks.
You visit the prefs of these plugins, and tell them how you want things done. Automatically? (Yes, thank you.) Keeping everything sync’d? (Yes… but…)
The But?  Well, you can control it all yourself if you like: manual syncing; overwrite everything; manual downloads… or, as I said, automatic, which syncs everything once an hour.
How well does it work?  Pretty well, actually. Things got wonky once a few weeks ago, and I just told it to replace the stuff on their server with a fresh copy of my Safari bookmarks, and then told the other browsers to use that. Since then, they’ve been syncing just fine by themselves.
So, there you are: my solutions to a couple of trivial annoyances. You’re on your own and YMMV.

ebay: There was an error in your input. Solution?

I was plagued by this suddenly a few days ago, and now I think I’ve figured it out.

It began when I signed into myEbay and got:

There was an error in your input. Please go back and ensure that all fields are properly filled in.”

Nothing I could do, over several days, including calling eBay support, got me around this issue. The best eBay support could come up with was “use the Canadian service” – which curiously worked.

A check of the web shows this problem isn’t rare.

It also shows that it’s a generic PHP reply, and while it happens on eBay most frequently, it isn’t limited to them. That got me thinking.

I went back to eBay.com (which had been giving me the errors) but instead of going to the sign-in page, I just entered “ebay.com” in the URL field… and bingo!  I was in.

And as I guessed, I was also signed in!

I think the problem is simple: eBay failed to sign me out for some reason. The input error went away as soon as I signed out of the dot COM account, and everything is back to normal.

So, if this is hitting you, try just visiting the site, bypassing the sign-in page. See if you can sign OUT from there.