more on BlackBerry syncing

After some finagling today, I figured out that I could keep using Missing Sync for my calendars if I just created a single dummy calendar on my Mac in iCal. It syncs my “real” calendars as read-only now, but I’m OK with that.

I’m still not sure what I’m going to do for my next phone, but if I was interested in Android, I’d be looking at the Droid Pro or maybe the Samsung Continuum.

syncing BlackBerry and Mac

I’ve been using Missing Sync with my BlackBerry Storm, just to sync my contacts and calendar from my Mac. I’ve had problems with it, on and off, but it’s mostly worked OK. Since I’ve switched to the new MobileMe Calendar though, the calendar sync doesn’t work anymore. Mark/Space has a KB entry acknowledging this, but there’s no indication that they’re planning to fix the problem.

I’m eligible for a “new every two” discount from Verizon soon, and I’m wondering if I should stick with BlackBerry. If Verizon really does get the iPhone, that would really simplify the sync situation for me. On the other hand, if I switch to an Android device, that’ll make it more complicated. I’ve been playing around with options for syncing iCal and Address Book on the Mac with Google contacts and calendars. It turns out to be really easy to sync the address book with Google — the option is right there in the preference screen. There’s no such option in iCal, but it seems like I ought to be able to subscribe to a MobileMe calendar in Google calendar, though I apparently would have to make the calendar public to do that.

I’m wondering if Spanning Sync would be worth looking into. It’s kind of expensive for what it does though. And I occasionally think I should switch over to using the calendar that comes with my Backpack account. I could use that as the source, and subscribe to it in iCal and Google.

Meanwhile, I’ve ordered my usual Moleskine calendar for 2011.

random stuff

Some random notes, since I haven’t been doing much blogging lately:

I replaced the hard drive in my MacBook with a new 500 GB drive a couple of weeks ago. It’s working pretty well. At first, I thought the fan on the MacBook was coming on too often, but that doesn’t seem to be a big problem now. I used Carbon Copy Cloner to copy everything from the old drive to the new one, then just switched drives. No problems. I did de-authorize iTunes before switching drives, just in case. I really don’t know if switching to the new drive would have caused me to have to re-authorize iTunes, but I thought it might. I got the drive, and an external enclosure from Newegg.

I upgraded the OS on my BlackBerry Storm to on Sunday, when Verizon released it. I couldn’t do the OTA upgrade, since I didn’t have enough free space for that, so I did it through Desktop Manager. It worked OK, but I had to manually restore my apps after the upgrade. DM backed up the apps, but couldn’t restore them for some reason. It wasn’t a big deal to do the restore myself. All my application settings, though, apparently got lost in the upgrade. I had to re-enter user names and passwords into a few apps, and re-enter authorization codes into a couple of apps. I also found that QuickLaunch 1.x didn’t work right with the new OS, so I paid CrackBerry $2 to upgrade to 2.x. It works fine now, and the new features were certainly worth the $2, so I’m glad I upgraded.

I’ve been fighting a cold since Mother’s Day. The first week, it was pretty much a standard cold. In the second week, I developed a really bad cough, but all the other symptoms pretty much went away. I went to the doctor, and she basically told me that it was a post-nasal drip problem, and just gave me some samples of Zyrtec and Nasonex. I’m not sure if either of those did me any good. When I ran out, I switched back to Claritin (actually, a generic equivalent). I’m not sure if *that’s* doing me any good either, but I think it is, at least a bit. The cough, and the throat tickle, come and go. I’ve learned to keep my windows closed at home, with the air conditioning on, and (sometimes) my air cleaner too. I definitely sleep better that way. I’ve also signed up for allergy alert e-mails from the Claritin site, and from I’d like to see if I can really correlate my problems with any specific allergy levels, or particular allergens. I remember having this same problem last year, right around the same time, so I’m guessing it’s a seasonal thing that I might be able to manage, if I can figure out exactly what’s screwing me up, and learn to stay away from it.

Meanwhile, I’m spending a lot of time alone in my apartment, catching up on my reading! I’ve read all the Hugo-nominated novels that were in the Hugo packet. I’ve now started into the novellas. Honestly, I thought all the novels were great, and I’m not sure which one deserves the Hugo. Conversely, none of the novellas has stood out as really great so far. I’ve only finished two though.

Storm OS Update

It looks like there’s finally going to be a new official OS update released for the Storm this weekend. I haven’t had many problems with the Storm, so I haven’t bothered trying to install any of the leaked updates.

I haven’t been blogging much lately, since I’ve been fighting a cold for the last couple of weeks. I’m feeling a bit better now, but I had a lot of trouble with allergies today. I think I’m going to stay in my apartment over the weekend with the windows closed and the A/C on.

worst gadget of the year?

I see that my new cellphone, the BlackBerry Storm, won the editor’s choice award for “Worst Gadget of the Year” from Engadget. I’m actually starting to get used to it, and I kind of like it. I’ve got nothing against the iPhone 3G, which won “Gadget of the Year”, both editor’s choice and reader’s choice. I’m comfortable with the Storm though. I think I’ve finally got the problems with Missing Sync resolved, though I’m hesitant to say that out loud, since I’m worried I might jinx it.

some more calendar syncing notes

OK, I’m sure anyone reading this blog is by now bored out of their skull by all this talk about syncing calendars. I have no idea why, but I’m still finding it kind of interesting getting all this stuff straightened out. A while back, I blogged about the weird way that Apple handles birthdays between iCal and Address Book.

To summarize: You can generate a calendar in iCal that shows all the birthdays for your contacts. It’s not a normal calendar, though. It’s more like a calendar subscription, which means you can’t push it down to your iPod with MobileMe. I’ve been using a third-party utility to generate a “real” birthday calendar, which *can* be pushed down to the iPod, or anywhere else I’m syncing my calendars.

I think this auto-generated birthday calendar is the source of some of my syncing problems, both with Outlook (on the PC) and on the BlackBerry (via Missing Sync).

Looking at this thread at the Macworld forums, it appears that iPhone OS 3.0 may actually support subscribing to calendars, so I won’t need the third-party utility anymore. I’m not sure if Missing Sync will support pushing that down to my BlackBerry though.

more Missing Sync issues

I’m still trying to iron out some issues with Missing Sync.

One thing I’m noticing — the sync back from the BlackBerry to the Mac looks like it wants to wipe out the URL field for any of my iCal entries that use it. I can see where the URL field might not be mappable to something on the BB, but it’s a little scary that it would just wipe it out on the way back to iCal. I was looking around to see if there was a way I could change the mapping so the URL field would just be left out of the sync, but I didn’t see anything obvious.

So now I’m back to just pushing the calendar down to the BB, and not syncing it back.

random BlackBerry Storm notes

I may or may not be over my sync problem with Missing Sync. I got a response from somebody on the Mark/Space forums that gave me a few things to do, which I tried, and I’ve gotten a couple of good syncs since then.

Also, I just tried out the station caching feature in Slacker Radio. It took a while to update the device, but now I’ve got a few hundred megs of random music on my Storm for free, so it’s hard to argue with that.

Also on the music front, I tried using Media Manager from the BlackBerry Desktop software to copy some MP3s down to the Storm. I don’t know if it’s just me, but Media Manager was so slow, I just gave up on it. Maybe I’ll play with that some more tomorrow, and see if I can figure it out.

I also got the WSJ Mobile Reader set up today too. That looks to be a pretty good app. I haven’t played with it much yet, but it seems to be pretty easy to use, and it looks like it gives you access to quite a bit of WSJ content.

Missing Sync troubles

I seemed to have Missing Sync working OK with my Storm for a little while, then the calendar sync starting tossing out errors. I opened up a support ticket on Friday night. I’ll see if someone gets back to me on Monday or not. Meanwhile, I tried a few random things to fix the situation, and I have gotten it working again, though I’m not confident it’ll *keep* working.

I did a backup and restore of my iCal data, then ran Onyx to clear out all my logs, then rebooted and did a fresh sync. No errors. It’s getting late, so I’m not going to mess with it any more tonight, but we’ll see if the device keeps syncing OK over the next few days.

I was listening to a DNR episode last week which dealt with some of Microsoft’s work on sync technology. It was pretty interesting. Apparently, sync still isn’t an easy problem to solve.

Missing Sync

I just installed Missing Sync on my Mac. I’ve got it all set up to sync my contacts and calendars between the Mac and the BlackBerry over Bluetooth. Sweet. I encountered a few bumps while setting it up, but I think I’ve ironed out all the weird little conflicts, and it’s working OK now.

I’ve still got the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software installed on my Vista machine, but I don’t think I’m going to use it for anything except maybe software installs.

Overall, the Storm is working out pretty well so far. I haven’t had any random reboots, software glitches, or anything like that. I’m getting used to the touchscreen and virtual keyboards.

In terms of my overall “holy grail” quest for maximum syncing between all my devices, I think I’m actually doing a lot better than I would have ever expected. I’ve got my contacts & calendar on my Mac, on the web, on my iPod Touch, and now on my BlackBerry. On my Vista PC, I’ve only got my contacts, but I can always get to the calendar on the web.

On the random notes side, I have Backpack on the web, accessible through FrontPocket on the iPod Touch, and through the mobile version of the BackPack site on the Storm. It would be cool if I could directly sync Backpack to the notes app on the iPod Touch and/or the Storm, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point.

On the e-mail front, I have access to all of my e-mail accounts on both the iPod Touch and the Storm now. I think the iPod Touch is a little nicer to use for e-mail than the Storm, mainly because it has full IMAP support. The BIS solution on the Storm really just forwards mail to the device. Sometimes, it seems to be able to mirror read/unread marks and deletions back to the server, but I’m not sure if it’s doing that for all my accounts. I think I’ve figured out that, for my Lotus Notes e-mail, if I delete a message on the Storm and tell it to delete that message on the server, it *will* remove the message from my Notes inbox, but it doesn’t actually delete it. I’m not 100% sure on that. I think I need to mess around with it some more.