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Get it together

A number of sites can help organize your passwords, usernames, and other personal info.

Do you find that your Web stuff is starting to look like a “before” picture of your desk in one of those “Get Organized Now!” books? The more we surf, the more stuff we accumulate on more devices. I’m sure I’m not alone in my frustration when I discover that a helpful bit of information is stored in my work e-mail account or browser bookmarks, when I’m at home. Or in feeling that if I must sign up for another service with one more unique username and password, I’ll heave the box out the nearest window. In skeptical desperation, I tried out a few early contenders in the “one page, restored sanity” arena and was pleasantly surprised. There is hope.

I started out at Yodlee, which is designed to put all your financial accounts, Web e-mail addresses, and anything else you access online under one password-protected roof. Yodlee’s customization layout favors financial accounts, but you can still enter any kind of account you like. Yodlee is extraordinarily easy, fast, and satisfying to use. Once you enter a few accounts, you can view the sordid details of each without ever having to enter another password. You can view each account under its designated category, or click on the Dashboard feature to see them in a layout that looks like a typical “My Yahoo!” page. You can even take Yodlee with you on your mobile phone, Palm device, or Pocket PC. (Caveat: when I tried this, I got an .exe file, so it looks like you might be out of luck if you’re on a Mac.)

My next stop was at, which aims to solve the browser bookmark problem. You don’t have to remember to surf sites from this page and save bookmarks to it. Instead, just drag a Save This button into the toolbars of Netscape and Internet Explorer. Next time you’re browsing and want to save a frequently visited site, click that button. A pop-up dialog box will then allow you to save it to whatever folder you like. Now you can access that page from any browser on any computer. (Caveat: It didn’t work in Netscape 4.73 on a Mac, even after I checked Java and Javascript settings, but it worked flawlessly in Internet Explorer 5.0.) also lets you import address books, so you can send links to friends with one click, and designate folders as “group” folders that your friends can access and edit. You can also access your Savethis info from any wireless-enabled WAP device. The only thing I didn’t like about was its log-in process, which requires that you type in your e-mail address every time–so naturally, I added my Savethis account to Yodlee.

. . .

My organizing done for the day, I decided to relax with a little dancing by Ze Frank. If you haven’t heard about “How to Dance Properly,” you must take five minutes to learn Frank’s 10 dance moves, including the pony and the basic twirl. What really clinches the demonstration is Frank’s facial expressions–especially in the number called “make love to the crowd,” which does indeed seem to be a crowd favorite. The rest of Frank’s site is loaded with drawing tools, animations, and other quirky things (get Flash to see some of them). While many “vanity” sites make the mistake of instant, full (and too often dull) disclosure, this site gives the visitor a lot to do and see without telling him or her what to think. (Still hunting for the dancing? Click on the “invite” link.)

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