There are a few things in my computing life that have been constantly chaotic. Top of the list: my contacts.
Looking at how my life has bounced around like a pinball, I have 3 active Google mail accounts, I have my Mac Address book, where all my added contacts from my iPhone dribble in to, and an old application and card scanner that wasn’t really compatible.
In short, it was a mess. Then I noticed that one of my twitter contacts is working for this company called “Full Contact” that promises to process all your various sources of contacts, to merge them, de-duplicate them, and then scour the various social media sites to fill in the gaps.
You can start for free, it will let you connect up to 5 accounts, but only one will be processed unless you upgrade to the premium tier (and pay for it). But it is enough to let you see how it works. It identified and fixed nearly 20 duplicates, or partially overlapping entries from my main Google mail account.
There are plenty of things that Full Contact brags about on their website, but for me, the value is:
- combine all my contacts – really, just grab then from the 5 significant sources I had. At multiple times int he pst i have tried to consolidate them. Export to csv, rearrange the columns, copy and past, and reimport. Seems simple, but it always sucked. Full Contact just handles it.
- merge duplicates – see above, as part of my old “manual” massaging, I tried to merge and clean. Painful. Again, some machine learning, or some other black voodoo magic, Full Contact intelligently combines, and gives you the option to merge, seeing what will change. Cool.
- kickass apps native iOS and MacOS (and Android) apps, that connect and keep your contacts handy. I would bet that soon a Windows app will be launched for completeness.
If they stopped there, I would still have gotten enough value for the subscription. But there’s more.
If you are a gmail user who uses the web interface (like a whole lot of people I know), there is an amazing Chrome plugin. It creates a configurable panel that give you instant access to your combined contact list. It also has an option to examine your Gmail received signatures for contacts to add. I grabbed a few, and it is handy.
Import and link to Social Media. Since they aren’t allowed to connect to LinkedIn via their API, they require you to download your connections to upload. But it is really painless and they remind you monthly to re-do it so that they capture any changes in a timely fashion. I also added my Twitter connections.
Lastly, and something that I didn’t really get at first, is that Full Contact continually scours their sources of information, matching against your contacts, identifying missing or changed information. Seemed ok, but it is AMAZING. I get 40 – 50 updates A WEEK, that help my contact completeness. Images, cities, additional emails, or jobs.
I thought I would never get my contacts under control. Life had left my with several repositories of contacts, and more than a little chaos. Full Contact has reversed the entropy that was my contacts.
Now, if they could do something about my music collection 😉