MacBook Air reinstallation and hopefully Time Capsule transfer

OK, so I’ve completely wiped my MacBook Air, time to rebuild it. Here is a list of things that have to happen. Sure sounds Windows like doesn’t it 🙂

# Remote install Mac OS X. Sigh. This is going to take 4 hours over the air apparently
# Try the “Time Capsule recovery”:http://www.askdavetaylor.com/how_to_restore_imac_macbook_from_time_capsule_machine_backup.html which comes during the standard installation, it asks if you want to restore from Time Capsule
# Run Settings/Software Update to get me to 10.5.5.
# Install Microsoft Office 2004
# Install PDFPen
# Install Quickeys (or a good time to get F2 and F4 working with other stuff)
# Copy over my Music
# Make Mac Mail work with my email accounts
# Make Entourage work with our Exchange server
#

Swimming in Exchange Calendar Duplicates

I don’t know what is doing it. Entourage, the many synchronizer, but I’ve got 1100 duplicate calendar entries which is depressing since I deleted 500 last week. Time to buy a deduplicator. There don’t seem to be any for Entourage that don’t take weeks to run, so I’m having to do this with Outlook under Parallels. The google:”outlook duplicates” search revelas Mapilab and “Sperry”:http://sperrysoftware.com both make these. I’ve use Mapilab and it costs a ridiculous $24 to get something that shouldn’t happen. Sigh.

Using CalDav to bidirectional sync Google Calendar and iCal

Well it isn’t perfect yet. Seems to work great for one calendar that is read/write on Google Calendar and also to have lots of read-only calendars (iCal calls these subscriptions) while read/write calendars are called accounts. (The bigger issue is that iPhone sync with Nuevasync doesn’t seem to work).

There is also much confusion about how it all works. There are three flavors of calendars:

# Your primary calendar. This is home base for Google. Unlike Outlook/Entourage, but like iCal, Google has this notion that you can have multiple calendars (like a home one and a work one. Microsoft on the otherhand, forces everything into a single bucket). Adding this as a read/write calendar involves creating in iCal/Preferences/Accounts a very strange account with user name that is yourid@gmail.com and your Google password, then you type into the Account URL a very bizarre string which is: https://www.google.com/calendar/dav/_insertgmailaccount_@gmail.com/user
# Your secondary calendars. These appear to iCal like completely separate accounts. This is the unfun part because others have pointed out you can’t copy entries from one account to another, but at least you can se them. The process here is identical to that above, but you have to find the so called _calendarid_ which is a unique number. In the current Google Calendar user interface (it changes daily), you click on the little down arrow next to the calendar in question and select Calendar Settings and scroll down to the bottom of the screen and look for Calendar Address:. You then create another account with your google name and password, but you change the funny URL to https://www.google.com/calendar/dav/_calendarid_@groups.calendar.google.com/user
# Your read/write shared calendars. When someone lets you manage and create events on a calendar, the owner is the other person, but it looks to iCal like it is just one of your secondary calendars. This means that if you are doing the administrative work for someone, you can use Google to add appointments and offline you can use iCal. That is pretty cool! The URL is identical to yours, but with their gmail account inserted, so it is https://www.google.com/calendar/dav/_otheraccount_@gmail.com/user
# Your read-only shared calendars. If you have some calendars that are read only, you don’t have to create a separate account for them, instead, use a completely different mechanism which is the Subscribe to Calendar for iCal, this is read-only and in this case, you use a totally different URL from the one above. Choose Calendar/Subscribe from iCal and then go to Google Calendar and in the section called private address, click on the ICAL button, this brings up a gigantic URL that ends in .ics, copy that URL and stuff it into the URL that subscribe needs.

Amazingly, this all seems to work, so iCal and Google Calendar end up being a good replacement for say unrelated groups of people doing scheduling. Means that you can belong to multiple informal groups like your family and share. And also to your work where your admin can look at your work calendar and home too 🙂

Duplicate Calendar Events

I’ve got literally thousands of these in Exchange that somehow have grown and grown. After an hour of deleting manually, figured there has to be a better way. Here is how to delete duplicates:

Duplicates: Removing or Creating

Remove Duplicate Calendar Events Author: Jolly Roger

This script removes duplicate calendar events from the calendar in the current identity. The script determines whether an event is a duplicate of another event by examining these event properties:

To use it, you basically copy it to ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Entourage Script Menu and then run it from Entourage. This thing works but is extremely slow, finds one duplicate every minute or so with 5000 calendar entries. Also you have to approve each removal.

There is an iCal deduplicator that works way faster I blogged previously and on the Windows side, I tried “Mapilabs”:http://www.mapilab.com/outlook/remove_duplicates/ application that costs $15 with a free 14 day trial that works much faster.

Appigo

“Appigo ToDo”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9Jp87lIwU8 was recommended by John. He is right. It is a terrific To Do list manager and it syncs up into the cloud. I’ve normally used Outlook’s Notes to do this between PC and Blackberry (for free!), but iPhone doesn’t support notes nor does Mac Mail and so there is no sync into the cloud.

In any case, this is another example of a smaller dedicated application being better. In truth, I think dividing Calendar, Address Book, Mail and Notes makes more sense than having one monolithic application particularly on devices like iPhone and on today’s fast computers.

Now if only someone made a group scheduling application that worked seamlessly across Mac, iPhone and Blackberry, I’d be happy! And please don’t suggest Exchange with Entourage, it doesn’t do so many important things. Here’s a list:

# iPhone to Exchange. Doesn’t let you add invites from the iPhone. Doesn’t let you schedule recurring meetings that happen say on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday every week.
# Mac Entourage to Exchange. Doesn’t let an assistant see invites coming over email so invites just stack up in someone’s folders. Fix looks like some sort of server rule forwarding which should be form based.
# iCal to Exchange. Well, this one doesn’t work at all without a third party server side piece or very slow client side synchronization using iSync that is very buggy.
# Blackberry to Exchange. This does work fine. Although there seem to be bugs.
# PC to Exchange. Outlook does work well.

The alternative is to go to Google Calendar, and these are the issues:

# iPhone to gCal. No such client that I can find. Google Calendar doesn’t support ActiveSync which is the way that iPhone talk to the world.
# iCal to gCal. No way that I can find that this works natively. That is it synchronizes properly
# Entourage to gCal. Same deal
# Outlook to gCal. This does work but only via an Outlook add-in
# Blackberry to gCal. They have an automatic synchronizer that works.

So gCal works in the Blackberry/PC world, but not in the Mac/iPhone world. Steve had better tell Eric next time there is an Apple board meeting 🙂

iPhone 2.0 Tips, tricks and traps

Well, after two weeks of using the iPhone 3G and its 2.0, here are my notes for what works and what doesn’t. In general, this is the best phone I’ve ever used and for the first time in 12 years, I’m not using a Blackberry which is kinda of amazing. First the good, then the bad, then the ugly:

The Good

# The internet is really faster. 3G does seem to work and more importantly, the Wifi switching seems to be really effective (unlike my XP machines which are always hunting or even the Mac OS X which has its problems).
# The Exchange ActiveSync is amazingly bug-free and very fast. I was able to sync 1,000 calendar events and 7,000 contacts in a minute or so. Way faster than the Blackberry or for that matter Entourage (Entourage 2008 takes a day and a half to do a full sync with Exchange).
# White 1tGB. Call me a geek, but I actually like the white color and 16GB is *alot* of music and video.
# The Apple Remote from iPhone seems incredibly nerdy, but is super useful. Controlling your iTunes from your phone and then having Apple Express to control your stereo means you can run your home system from anywhere and you never lose your remote!
# Pandora is a terrific application because you don’t need to sync your music. Don’t know how I lived without it. Midori is also terrific because it lets you see YouTube videos of songs you like. Biggest thing missing is podcast streaming. There was mobilecast on jailbroken 1.x firmware and I really miss that application! I just never want to dock my iPhone ever again and we are very close to it!
# The location stuff really works. Now we just need turn by turn directions!

The Bad

# Syncs with iTunes are now way slower. I don’t what they are doing in backup, but is super slow. No fix in the latest 7.7.1 unfortunately. Of course, with me, I”m wondering why they are backing up at all. After all all the music is on the computer and all the email and so forth is on servers (you really want to use Imap or Exchange).
# Appstore really does work. I’ve got 5 screens full of new icons and the installation and runing works, but the applications are definitely unreliable. In general, before important phone calls and each day in the morning and evening, I completely turn off and reboot the machine.
# Regular reboots. There look like lots of memory leaks and other problems in version 2.0. So you have to treat the phone more like a computer. Regular reboots really help. However, on some reboots, the phone doesn’t acquire the wireless network correctly, so sometimes you have to do twice
# No copy and paste or dialing things that look like phone numbers.
These make it impossible to blog or to copy email somewhere. Also
Blackberry has this totally cool feature where if it looks like a phone
number in a email, you can click to dial it.
# No IM client. I used Twitter which is buggy and crashes unfortunately. And I need to try Paringo on iTunes Link which reportedly able to do Google Talk which is what I need.

The Ugly

# Contact searching is incredibly slow. The screen can lock for 10 seconds in the contact application with 7000 contacts. Blackberry is always keystroke fast as is Mac Mail (great job on indexing), but this is even more miserable than Outlook contact searching and don’t even talk about how slow Entourage is. The solution for that one is to use Google’s keystroke fast application as noted in http://www.iphoneatlas.com/2008/07/30/a-workaround-for-slow-contacts-in-iphone-os-20/
# Battery life is really terrible. Right now, I charge the phone all night. I charge it whenever I’m at work. We actually bought chargers for our conference rooms so folks can charge. I charge it in the car. So, net, net, this is something that can never really get fixed with this version of the 3G chipsets (it is a problem with all modern phones), but it is like going back 20 years where you discovered a dead phone is a useless phone. In those days at least there was another battery pack you can put in, but not with the iPhone. I’m sure someone will make a really ugly gigantic battery pack or cradle, but for me that is not the point of the iPhone.

Sync Server spinning

I’ve had problems with sync between Entourage and iCal and sometime i get process Sync server running wild. So how to really break the link? It isn’t documented anywhere how this kind of syncing works. Even when you tell Entourage not to sync, I still see the Sync Server running. “Austin Kinsella1”:http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?messageID=5793364 points out that the information is in ~/Library/Application Support/SyncServices so I tried deleting everything there.