Importing into Google Contacts from a CSV

I’ve spent far too much time trying to import my phonebook into Google Contacts from a .csv file, for my new G1.  Google have done an uncharacteristically poor job of their import function (at least as far as plain CSV files go, I haven’t tried the other options).  I eventually worked out the format by creating a dummy contact and exporting it to CSV.  I’m posting it here because I couldn’t find a decent description from searching the web.

Here are the columns from my exported contact:

  • Name
  • E-mail
  • Notes
  • Section 1 – Description
  • Section 1 – Email
  • Section 1 – IM
  • Section 1 – Phone
  • Section 1 – Mobile
  • Section 1 – Pager
  • Section 1 – Fax
  • Section 1 – Company
  • Section 1 – Title
  • Section 1 – Other
  • Section 1 – Address

And similar fields for Section 2.  The thing I didn’t immediately realise is that each section corresponds to different types of contacts.  Section 1 is Work, Section 2 is Home/Personal.  I presume section 3 would be Other but I didn’t have any data in there.  More importantly, the name of the section has to be in the description field, so Section 1 – Description has to contain the string “Work”, Section 2 – Description “Personal” (not “Home”!), etc.  Once you know that it’s all quite easy, but it’s not obvious at all.

So an example line would be:

<name>,<primary email>,,Work,,,<work #>,,,,,,,,Personal,,,<home #>,<mobile #>,,,,,,

Surely Google can get an intern or someone to improve the usability of this, or at least improve the documentation!

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Top 10 NY Beer Bars

Here’s my top 10 NY beer bars (again in no particular order):

  • The Ginger ManMidtown East. Probably the best beer bar in Manhattan, huge selection of draught beer and bottles and decent bar food.  Only downside is it gets very crowded with the after-work crowd.
  • Spuyten DuyvilWilliamsburg, Brooklyn. Looks more like an antiques shop than a bar from the outside.  Quite out of the way (from my point of view anyway) on a fairly nondescript street in Brooklyn.  Extremely good beer selection, with a lot of quite rare beers, including some cask beer with proper hand pumps, which you very rarely get in the US.
  • d.b.a. – East Village.  Great beer selection, good atmosphere, a bit cramped if the garden out the back isn’t open.  They seem to have a location in Brooklyn as well now.
  • Peculier Pub – Greenwich Village.  Studenty dive bar, but really great.  Very good beer selection, dodgy decor…  Not sure why they don’t spell it ‘peculiar’.
  • Zum Schneider – East Village.  Great German beer house and restaurant.   Lots of decent German draught beer (mostly Bavarian), and great food.  Also do a lot of events (e.g. Oktoberfest) which are very popular.
  • Burp Castle – East Village.  “Temple of Beer Worship” – they used to have bartenders dressed as monks.  They don’t do that any more, but they do sometimes tell people to be quiet if the noise level is too high for proper beer contemplation.  Very good selection of Belgian beers, as well as others.
  • Hop Devil Grill/Belgian Room – East Village.  Decent array of American craft and Belgian beer (the Belgian Room is/was next door but I think they might have redesigned since I last went).
  • Vol de Nuit – West Village.  Cool Belgian beer lounge, fairly small with moody red lighting.  Good frites!
  • Loreley – Lower East Side.  German brauhaus, very good food and good beer (including Kölsch!).
  • Blind Tiger Ale House – Greenwich Village. Great selection of draught (including some cask ale) and bottled beers, both American and international.  Gets very busy but worth it.

Honourable mentions (can’t be bothered to track down links!):

  • Stout NYC – Sports bar with good beer range, near Penn Station.
  • House of Brews – several locations.   Good draughts.
  • David Copperfields – Upper East
  • Heartland Brewery – several locations.  Micro-brewery.
  • Good World Bar and Grill – Lower East Side.  Swedish.
  • Valhalla – Midtown.  Good beer range.

Top 10 Beer Bars/Pubs

I was thinking about what my favourite bars/pubs are.  Here’s v0.1 of a worldwide top 10 (in no particular order):

  • Delirium Café – Brussels, Belgium.  At least 2001 beers available at any time (the world record)!
  • The Bukowski Tavern – Boston, MA, USA.  Bit of a dive bar set into the side of a big concrete car-park, great beer selection and a lot of character.
  • Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese – London, UK.  One of the oldest pubs in London, rebuilt just after the Great Fire.  Still basically the same as it was, and good cheap Sam Smiths beer.
  • The Ginger Man – Manhattan, NY, USA.  Probably the best beer bar in Manhattan, huge selection of draught beer and bottles and decent bar food.  Only downside is it gets very crowded with the after-work crowd.
  • Porterhouse Covent Garden – London, UK.  Biggest beer selection in London, and some half-decent beers of its own.  Gets very crowded and no mobile reception because of all the copper piping.
  • Toronado – San Francisco, CA, USA.  Another place with a of dive bar feel, really good draught beer selection.  Lots of random paraphenlia on the walls.  Has a hot dog place next door which you can walk through to.
  • The Dovetail – London, UK.  Great Belgian bar tucked away in an alley in Clerkenwell.  Very good beer and food.
  • Spuyten Duyvil – Brooklyn, NY, USA.  Looks more like an antiques shop than a bar from the outside.  Quite out of the way (from my point of view anyway) on a fairly nondescript street in Brooklyn.  Extremely good beer selection, with a lot of quite rare beers, including some cask beer with proper hand pumps, which you very rarely get in the US.
  • The Jerusalem Tavern – London, UK.  Another old pub – the building dates from 1720 but the tavern has been around since the 14th century.  Owned by the St. Peter’s brewery and serves their very good beers.  Tiny place so it’s always rammed.
  • Brugs Beertje – Bruges, Belgium.  Very nice bar tucked down a back street in Bruges, really nice atmosphere and a nice room in the back with lots of beer paraphenalia on the walls.

If I can be bothered I think I’ll compile a similar list for London pubs and NY bars.

Sony VAIO TZ suspend/hibernate problems fixed in Intrepid

In case anyone is Googling, I’ve just installed the Ubuntu Intrepid (8.10) release candidate on my Sony VAIO TZ21, and all the problems I was experiencing in Hardy with suspend/hibernate seem to be resolved!

Bug report is here.

Amazon multiple account weirdness

The other day, I logged in to Amazon and got as far as checking out, when I noticed that my address book only had very old addresses in it (from circa 2001/2002) and the order history stopped around the same time.  After thinking for a bit I realised that I’d accidentally used an old password that I don’t really use for anything important any more to log in, so I logged out and logged back in with the correct (newer) password and exactly the same email address.  Lo and behold, I got my up to date account information and recent order history.

Now, I don’t thinking I’m alone in expecting that when I create an account with a website, the email address or login id will be the primary key, and not the login and password combined.  So I was a bit surprised by this.

I sent Amazon a mail asking them how this could have happened, and asking them a couple of awkward questions like “What if I change the passwords on both accounts to be the same?” and “If I delete one account does it delete both?”.  They couldn’t really provide satisfactory answers to that and said I must have inadvertently created the second account (which is probably the case).

Discussing this with some colleagues at work, it became evident that this is the usual behaviour – you can create as many accounts as you like for the same email address, as long as the passwords are different.  Moreover, creating the account does not require the email address to be confirmed!  So this means anyone can create an account on Amazon with my email address.

Now, I don’t think this in itself is a massive security hole since the new account doesn’t have access to any privileged data, but at the very least someone malicious could try to do some nasty things.  For example, they could create a lot of accounts against a target email address with common passwords, and hope that the victim accidentally logs in with the wrong one and, not realising their mistake, re-enters their details and makes a purchase.  The user probably wouldn’t notice since the confirmation will get sent to their email address as expected.

I put these points to Amazon in a customer services enquiry, and for the most part I got the expected fob-off:

Please rest assured that Your Account is secure.

In the event of Malicious creating accounts with obvious passwords in the hope that someone will accidentally type the wrong one and enter their credit card details into an account,Our secure server software encrypts all your personal information including credit or debit card number, name and address. The encryption process takes the characters you enter and converts them into bits of code that are then securely transmitted over the Internet.

Secondly, An attacker registering many passwords against the email address of a victim, even if the attacker was to get access to the customer’s account,Please know that if someone was able to log in to your account, they  would still not have access to your payment card details, as they are not displayed anywhere on the site.

None of the customers who have shopped at Amazon.co.uk have reported fraudulent use of a payment card as a result of purchases made with us. In fact, we are so confident about the transaction security we offer on our site that we back every purchase with a security guarantee.

Well, I’m glad that I’ve got all those ‘bits of code’ protecting me!  Unfortunately, they’ll be protecting the attacker too… They do make the valid point that you can’t extract credit card details even if you can log into an account, but you can still make purchases and read or change addresses.

I have seen posts on the web saying that the reason for this functionality is so that people sharing the same email address can have their own accounts.  This might have been an issue in the early days of online shopping, but now in the days of widely available free email accounts, I don’t think this is necessary.  Even then, why not have an email verification step when creating a new account?  I don’t think this would be a barrier for people signing up.

It seems strange to me that such a well known web presence as Amazon would operate a confusing system like this, the disadvantages seem to far outweigh the advantages.  I’m sure security experts would say that the simpler a system is, the simpler it is to secure it.

Graham