Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Syncing Your Devices – Calendars, Email, Contacts, oh my!

My job as a support and repair technician is evolving — which is only natural, as tech itself is evolving. At an exponential rate.

Years ago, my job consisted mainly of trying to cure non-booting Windows installations (remember “Error: ntldr.exe is missing or corrupt”?), getting a recalcitrant printer to ‘install’, crawling in attics and under houses “pulling” Ethernet cable, and removing the occasional virus.

Around 2007, the explosion of cybercrime forced me to become a virus removal specialist, and accounted for the majority of my hires. Affordable Wireless G networking gear pretty much ended my need for coveralls and flashlights, and I had to learn about (and master) RF ‘spectrum’, interference, and wireless security. Plug and Play’s finally maturing to functionality greatly reduced my printer install calls; but now there was “home entertainment centers” (with Dolby Surround Sound!) and “nanny cams” to install.

Today, the call coming into my shop – it seems – has a 50/50 shot of either being a nasty virus, or something like “I just synced my iPhone, and now I have three copies of each of my Contacts.” (or, “I just synced my iPhone, and now my Inbox is empty!“) We are transitioning to “cloud computing” – like it or not – and “mobile computing”.

People used to know better than to mix Apples and Windows (for one thing, it didn’t work), but today.. well most people seem to have at least one iGadget, maybe an Android phone (perhaps a BlackBerry), and their PC at home is Windows. And they expect them all to play together in some Utopian sense of “I paid for it, it should work.” Like.. the folks at Apple and the folks up in Redmond like each other, and go on picnics together.. and join hands and sing kumbaya, and the folks at Google just show up and join in. One big happy family. (I just made myself “lol”.)

People are no longer tied to any specific location or device as they roam about getting work done on laptops, tablets, or even smartphones. The challenge is to keep everything synced so you can access the same data from each of those platforms.

Well, here’s the real truth: it is not in Apple’s or Microsoft’s best interest to play well together, and in fact it profits them to try to “lock you into’ their products. Google? Yeah, it profits them to play nicely (and move you into the cloud) as their purpose is -> they want to learn every-single-thing they can about us, and then show us ads we don’t want to see.
Yippee.

Okay. So it’s 2011, and you want to keep your Outlook, iPad, and Blackberry all in “sync”, and you want it so, when you enter a new phone number for a Contact on one device, the Contact ‘merges’ seamlessly on your other devices with no errors, duplications, and do it in real time.
Good luck with that.

This is fledgling technology (learning to crawl), and everyone under the sun is selling some product which they claim can do this. But know this, (and I quote) “No perfect, seamless solution exists yet”.
Of course it doesn’t: this is all too new. This stuff isn’t even to version 1.0 yet, it sure seems to me. And there’s other agendas and cross-purposes in play as well (think “sales”).

But there are methods. Imperfect methods. But.. better than none, right?

For Outlook user who want syncing with iPads and/or iPhones, my (admittedly limited) experiences tell me you have two routes, really. And probably the best one is a $100/yr MobileMe account. Which, guess what? Is now closed for new sign ups (as of today?)(again, I made myself ‘lol’). But, coming this Fall, if you can wait that long, there will be a new version – called “iCloud“. Which probably will work.. and probably will stick around longer than MobileMe did… The other route is to ‘go Google’.. basically installing things so you can use Google’s (“cloud”) servers and services as your ‘middleman’. (So they can learn all your habits..)

What I suggest – if this topic is relevant to you – is you read this great PC World article: How to Keep Your Data in Sync Across Platforms and Devices

Keeping your contacts, calendars, and other data synced across all your mobile devices and PC platforms isn’t as difficult as it seems.

One thing about tech.. you have to constantly keep learning.. it isn’t sitting still! (TCP/IP v6 is here..)

Today’s (other) reading reco: Here is a Very Nice and Useful Firefox Add-On and Chrome Extension That Will Save You Paper

“Here is a nice Firefox add-on and Chrome extension, called iWeb2X,  that is engineered to convert a web page to a printer friendly PDF, image snapshot, or high resolution wallpaper. What sets this iWeb2X apart from the other PDF utilities out there is that no sign-up account is required and you get the following features: […]”

Today’s quote:Do what you can, with what you have, where you are!~ Theodore Roosevelt

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


June 7, 2011 Posted by | advice, Apple, cloud computing, computers, Google, how to, Internet, iPhone, Microsoft, mobile, MS Office, PC, Portable Computing, Simple File Sharing, software, tech, Web 2.0, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments