Bookmark management on your own server: Insipid

For ages the process of keeping bookmarks synchronized between my computer and laptop was quite an annoying task. Using Firefox on my PC and Safari on my Mac the recently introduced sync feature in Firefox wasn’t an option for me. Not being particularly keen on sharing my bookmarks with an external service sites like Xmarks were out of question as well.

Just recently I was lucky to find my personal solution: Insipid a “web-based bookmark repository” which can easily be installed on your web space to offer access to your bookmarks wherever you go while being fully controlled by yourself. Unlike the software’s meaning “insipid – 1. Lacking flavor or zest; not tasty. 2. Lacking qualities that excite, stimulate, or interest; dull.” Insipid is very well done and offers a lot of interesting features. One could argue that Insipid’s appearance being simple and functional does match the description dull, but this can be changed through customization with html and css.

Bookmarks can be added to the list via the webinterface or through a custom bookmarklet. Especially notable is the ability to assign multiple tags to an entry for easy organization. This means I can add a lot more bookmarks without causing too much clutter and loosing track of specific topics.

Here is a picture of my current Insipid installation with the detail page for the tag “Android” selected:

If that isn’t enough for you Insipid also includes a search function for which I didn’t feel the need to use yet.
In addition to offering the ability to publish an RSS-Feed of your bookmarks the Snapshot feature is especially intriguing. When adding a bookmark it allows to add a snapshot of the current state of the site which can be very useful if it’s information is very important to you or if you expect to the website to change in the near future.

My only negative point so far is a small one – the default setting for adding a bookmark is for it being public which I don’t want it to be. For now I set it to private manually every time but maybe I should have a look at the source to change this behavior. Apart from that Insipid is a great help and therefore worth a recommendation!

Open source website statistics Piwik are pretty impressive

 

Until now I’ve mostly used awstats to monitor website statistics, mainly daily/monthly visitors, their origin and search terms. Today a friend and fellow student told me about the open source software for web analytics Piwik which offers a beautiful, well designed and feature-packed php/mysql-based backend. Installation is as easy as unpacking the downloaded zip and opening up the installation dialog in the browser. After setting up the mysql database and adding a superuser you’re good to go. To monitor a site you just set the URL in the Piwik backend and add some short JavaScript code to the html body of your webpage. Yes, this also means that you can monitor all your sites in the same backend, regardless if they’re on the same server or not.

Regarding features Piwik doesn’t leave much to desire: visitor graphs (beautiful!), detailed information on the user’s origin (search engine incl. search terms, website url), browser setups, the visit’s duration and provider. Even entry and exit pages, as well as automated reports via email and the option to add more functionality through widgets are included. It’s also possible to anonymize your visitor’s IP addresses to satisfy country specific privacy protection laws.

For WordPress users the plugin wp piwik (which is not developed by the same group of people) is also worth mentioning as it integrates smoothly into the WordPress backend by adding graphs and statistics to the dashboard.

What impresses me most, is that this multitude of features doesn’t make the interface clunky or difficult to use – which seems to be a common problem, especially with big open source projects. Again it’s just nice to find an open source project which is easy to install and meets or exceeds the requirements!