iCal to Exchange before Snow Leopard

So “Vyshemirsky”:http://vyshemirsky.blogspot.com/2007/10/how-to-synchronize-ical-with-exchange.html found another solution to this problem called at http://ww.snerdware.com/groupcal and they have another than does the same for contacts to the Address Book. Although “Judi”:http://judismith.wordpress.com/2007/09/13/still-no-ical-exchange-sync/ found it buggy and it deleted appointments in Exchange and iCal (so backup before trying any of this!). And “some”:http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=471498 think they are out of business.

There are real issues like “Justin”:http://justinhartman.com/2008/03/31/apple-ical-microsoft-exchange-fix-for-leopard/ point out and “Fragens”:http://thefragens.com/blog/2008/08/ical-exchange-time-zone-fix-chapter-2/ has a fix for. Outlook 2003 and earlier uses non-standard time formats like _(GMT+02.00) Harare/Pretoria_ whereas Apple uses _Africa/Johannesburg_ and so when iCal gets a calendar request from Exchange, it simply adds two hours to the event start time becaue it can’t deal with GMT+2. He wrote a script you run on your computer that runs in Mac Mail, it intercepts the message and then fixes the dates. Clever guy!

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 🙂

Evernote for Notes syn

with my blackberry I used notes for to do lists and things, but with iPhone, Notes are not synced with Exchange or shared. This application does that. Syncs to do lists to the cloud for viewing everywhere.

Back To School: Expand Your Brain with Evernote

iPhone version of Evernote creates and syncs text notes, snapshot notes, saved photos notes, and even voice notes. You can tag, upload, sync, and search any of your notes from your iPhone the same way you would on your desktop

iPhone and iPod Touch Firmware 2.0.1 available

It is a 256MB download, so hope you have a fast connectionApple Releases iPhone Firmware 2.0.1 – Mac Rumors

Not clear what has changed, but early claism are

– Backup process for the iPhone is much faster.
– Netshare still works
– SMS typing faster

Apple releases iPhone 2.0.1 Software Update – AppleInsider has a forum thread and here is what users are seeing:

-Contacts are now more responsive.

Sync problems are fixed. It will backup the first time you sync after the update. The updates after that for me have only synced data in about 15 seconds rather than requiring a backup on every sync before.

fixed the lagging keyboard in e-mail and texting

iPod lags are much improved as well.

Email loads appear to be quicker.

Browsing names in the address book, switching between the keypad, addressbook, voicemail is instantaneous. Thank God! Much faster all-around. The camera boots up in half the time it used to.

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.