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.


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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

The WWDC and MobileMe

For the sake of ratings, I simply must write something about the hot topic on the Web right now– a topic so hot (how hot is it?) that the amount of “buzz” has caused the social networking/blogging site Twitter to crash under the burden.
That topic is Apple’s WWDC (aka “Stevenotes”*).

The Worldwide Developer Conference has become (one of) the venues where Apple offers sneak peek (preview) at new products and technologies… A glimpse at what the immediate future holds.
(Personally, I find such teases annoying, but the iFanatics feel different, I guess.)

For instance, this year, we were told about OS 10.6 (aka “Snow Leopard”).. which won’t offer any new features and we might see it in a year. WooHoo!!! Yay!!! I mean.. yawn.
And we’re told about a new version (2.0) of the iPhone’s OS, which will affect every person on the planet. Not.

Can you tell? Even though this event is being held right up the road, and I am a World Renown Tech Journalist, I made no effort to attend, and am too experienced to get wow!-ed by the hype. I also confess, I am not a iPerson/iFanatic.

Yet, there are some interesting and relevant items to note: Namely, Apple’s investment in bringing to us the “wonders” of cloud computing with MobileMe and the 20GB iDisk (and they’re hoping.. the 3G iPhone). This video from the conference explains, and demostrates. (For some reason I can’t embed the video, so you need to click the link. Sorry.)

This $99/year service will work “cross platform” (Windows/Mac/Linux) and across devices.

Here we really are looking at “Web 2.0”, and the future of computing. People, before too long, will be storing their whole lives and all their personal information on the Internet. So that we can share it.
Has anyone considered the security implications?

I’m an old dinosaur, and I’m a curmudgeon to boot.. I think there already is too much personal information available about us on the Web, and I’m not about to go putting my address book and calendar (and.. my accounting program?) there.
But those of the Look At Me Generation will probably be clamoring for it.

[update 8/1/08: I have been following MobileMe in various user forums, and tech blogs– the general impression I get is that MobileMe doesn’t work, and is causing intense frustration amongst the public.]

* A reference to the fact that the keynote address is usually given by Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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June 11, 2008 Posted by | Apple, blogging, computers, Internet, iPhone, PC, Portable Computing, privacy, tech, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment