Tricking an iPhone to use an optimized page using an Google

If you search Google on your iphone and click on a link, it uses a javascript program to make the page look good. The Javascript takes a multicolumn page and turn it into a single readable column.  But, it is quite hard to get it to do it without going to Google all the time on your iPhone or iPod touch. So here is how thanks to Abel:

# Load <a href=”http://tinyurl.com/5fr7qq”>http://tinyurl.com/5fr7qq</a> by emailing it to yourself
# Read the email on your iPhone and click on the link
# The page you get won’t load, however
# choose to add as a bookmark
# Edit the leading ‘http://’ out of the URL.
# Go to the website you want
# once it starts loading, click the bookmark you created
# it will render the page optimized for iPhone
# You can then bookmark the newly rendered page for future use.

Spanning Sync vs. Busy Sync

Spanning Sync is “supposed”:http://addingunderstanding.com/uninstall-spanning-sync-problems.html to sync Google Calendar with iCal, but there are many issues. Busy Sync apparently works better. The big issue is how do you uninstall it. Most Mac apps are a drag to trash, but here, you need to reload the trial and click on the DMG and they have a dedicated application for uninstall there.

Google sync to Exchange

Well, I’ve been trying to get Google and Exchange to work. Tried Google Sync for Outlook. Now, the usual question, Google sync, says “do you want to delete 415 events in your Outlook calendar?” There can only be really one answer to that:

NNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

So I think the best choice is to backup Outlook, then do the sync, then reimport in. Use the calendar de-duplicator to get to the right place. Maybe after the sync it all works.

So, I don’t completely understand what it is doing. The best “recommendation”:http://webworkerdaily.com/2008/03/06/google-releases-google-calendaroutlook-sync-tool/ I’ve heard is to use Blackberry to Google Sync application. I’ve been using this for my Chinese calendar and seems to work reasonably. Only runs on late model Blackberry’s. Browse to http://m.google.com/sync. It does cost you to just have a Blackberry up doing this, but best choice now.

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.

itunes inconsistent in how it handles artwork

If itunes finds the artwork for you, it never adds it to your MP3 files, so you have to Get Info and copy and past it. If you have art yourself, then you have to copy and paste them in. A little strange.

Pushing Album art to MP3 files – Mac Forums

n my experience they only way to get the artwork stored into the ID tags is to manually do so.

-If iTunes finds the artwork on it’s own, to add it to the ID tag, ‘get info’ of one of the songs on the album, go to the artwork tab, select the album cover, copy it (command-c in OSX, control-c in Windows), then highlight all the songs on that album, ‘get info’, click in the blank artwork field, then paste (command-v or control-v) and hit ok. It will then embed the artwork in the ID tag.

-If iTunes doesn’t find the artwork and you add it yourself, it’s a little easier…just find the relevant artwork (I usually get a 300×300 pixel or larger file; I check Wikipedia first, then I do a Google image search based on album name), copy the picture in the browser (or download the jpeg if you’d like, although it’s an unnecessary step) by right clicking (or control clicking if you have a 1 button mouse), select copy image, then ‘get info’ on all the songs on the album and paste in the blank artwork field like in the above case…which will then embed the artwork you found in the ID tag

Backend comparisons: Exchange, Google, or MobileMe

Whether you are a small business or a family, everyone needs the same three things:

* Email ideally from your own vanity domain, whether it is myname@tongfamily.com or myname@igncap.com, while having a @gmail.com or @me.com is nice, we all want our own identity. And we need lots of disk space, at least 2GB per user. Have wireless sync on iPhone or to Mac Mail.
* Calendar. I need to see someone else’s appointment and also have a shared calendar for common appointments. See them in colors on the iPhone or Mac iCal
* Contacts. Have contacts that are the same between your iPhone and your Mac Address Book.

h2. MobileMe

Most of this is pretty easy, email works fine, but doesn’t allow vanity domains, so everyone has to use foo@me.com

For Calendar, the answers are complicated as usual, here is one view

Calendar Sharing using .Mac/MobileMe – AppleInsider

Here’s the setup:

Mom: has shared calendars S1 and S2
Dad: has private calendars A1 and A2, and shared calendars S1 and S2
Kid: has private calendars B1 and B2, and shared calendars S1 and S2

As it currently stands, Dad & Kid can subscribe to a published calendar from Mom, but can’t alter it. You have to log in as Mom to change S1 and S2, and then Dad & Kid will get the changes.

But… if you’re on an iPhone, you are one of Mom or Dad or Kid, period. You can’t switch user profiles or accounts, period.

Mom’s phone cannot have any private calendars or contacts. Dad & Kid can’t change the calendars and contacts they share. Bogus.

The reason for this is that the syncing isn’t live on MobileMe – if Dad makes changes, and Kid makes conflicting changes, and alterations hit the server at different times, who wins? (ie, Dad moves an appt in their view from Mon to Tue. The change is only local until they resync with .mac. Before they do, Kid moves *the same appt* from Mon to Wed. They sync first. Now, when Dad tries to sync, the server can’t find the appt on Monday to move, because Kid moved it already. Oops. Confusion reigns.) Push sync alleviates this, since changes are live.

If Dad & Kid can subscribe to a *live* version of S1 and S2 though, using the live push, then syncing is automatic, and more or less instantaneous (there are still boundary cases, of course, which I’m sure someone will toss up as proof of why this could never work… those can be worked around), and you get true shared information.

The current Publish/Subscribe model won’t work for iPhones if the users want to be able to change the shared data as well as view it.

So how does each one of these do?

h2.

Hosted Exchange. Well, this isn’t too bad, you can share contact and calendars with iPhone thanks to the ActiveSync. It mainly flunks on connecting to the native Mac Mail, Address Book and iCal. You have to use Entourage

However, Snow Leopard, the next release of Mac OS X will have ActiveSync on the Mac. That means, Exchange ironically is probably the best choice to host mail.

A less higher run alternative is Kerio. This emulates ActiveSync so in essence, could also be a replacement. Net, net, ActiveSync looks like a defacto standard that Mac and iPhone will talk with natively. That is great news. And probably the most likely alternative.

h3. Google

Well, this theoretically should be the best choice. Gmail is the nicest email on the web interface. However, each of the development groups for mail, contacts and calendar is completely different, so today there is no way to sync with iPhone and Mac and also allow shared calendars. Here is the exact state:

* Mail. This is fine, Google supports imap for free with all gmail account and with Google Apps, you can have a vanity domain name work with gmail interface.
* Calendar. Things get worse here. While there is a google sync for the blackberry, there is no sync tool for the iPhone and google doesn’t support activesync. I have tried a third party Nuevasync, but like most third party things, it doesn’t work well. For sharing of calendars, Google has the richest set of multiple calendars and it works superbly on the web, but when syncing with iCal, it uses Webdav, which is pretty buggy causing iCal to crash quite a bit. But it does allow sharing both read-only and read-write.
* Contacts. The reason none of this works. Google contacts don’t have notion of first name or last name, it is one name field, so iPhone’s get confused for sure. They have a Google to Address Book sync, but this manual and uses the really buggy native iSync on the Mac. You want to avoid that at all costs.

Net, net, my money is on waiting for Snow Leopard and then going to a hosted Exchange.

Google Contacts as the hub not!

Google finally has their contacts close to a separate application. You can get a list when you logon to gmail and edit them. The biggest issues are:

# Amazingly that Google has got to be the only contact manager that has no notion of first name and last name. It is all one field. So there is no way to sort by first and last name. And most importantly for things like iPhones which search by first and last name so parsing doesn’t really work. For instance, “Nuevasync”:http://nuevasync.com really has some big problems trying to sync into the iPhone, it has to guess like crazy and for instance, if you have a PhD at the back, then it thinks it is the address.
# Google doesn’t support unicode! So you can’t use it with Chinese. What is it with these guys? It is pretty basic stuff to support UTF-8. This breaks all the contacts

So the net is that right now while the contacts on Google seem like they would be great, some really simple things make it pretty unusable.

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 🙂