The Great Sync on OS X: Google Calendar, Plaxo, address book, PocketMac and BlackBerry

While many people, including myself, can find plenty to gripe about with Outlook & MS Exchange , one thing that is rock solid is the over-the-air syncing with BlackBerry devices. Both email and calendar appointments sync fairly effortlessly and reliably.

In the non MS Exchange world syncing hasn’t been so easy, especially on the Mac side of the world. But with a bit of testing that I did recently with the google calendar mobile sync I think I’m finally in good shape.

Here is my setup.
for contacts: The Plaxo Mac OS X app keeps my OS X address book and in sync. My contacts don’t sync over the air to my BlackBerry curve, but when I plug my blackberry in to charge ( using a USB cable ) I run PocketMac which then syncs the contacts. I expect a plaxo blackberry sync client to come out in the future.
for email: The blackberry push email system does this all automatically, so no need to do anything extra.
for calendar: This was a serious pain point for me. I use Google Calendar and for the last few months I’ve been forced to basically use the WAP site for Google Calendar when I was on the go. It worked OK, but it meant no offline support. Now that Google Sync has been released my calendar updates in real time on my Blackberry — and works the other way — updating Google Calendar OTA if I make changes on my BlackBerry.

So there you have it. Definitely not as elegant as it could be, but finally everything is in sync !

OS X: Upgrading and Installing Leopard – pick the clean erase and install option

After waiting for Leopard to arrive I finally got my hands on it and went ahead with the installation. When you install your latest OS X you have a few choices:


In the past I’ve usually done a full HD backup, I then format the drive, and do a clean install of the new OS – using the upgrade as an excuse to clean house and get rid of all the crap that accumulates over time. But for some reason when I went through the process this time, the only option available to me was an “Upgrade”, which entails updating the OS as well as all applications and settings ( I later learned that perhaps having my external USB hard drive connected was the cause of that single option. )

So I rolled the dice and after doing the “upgrade” i noticed lots of sluggishness and beach balls a plenty !

So over the holidays I finally decided to do a full cloning of my hard drive using carbon clone ( which was simple and worked well ), and then proceeded with a clean install of Leopard aptly named “erase and install”.

Things are now snappy and that clean fresh OS feeling is quite minty ! You can also use the built in migration tools to transfer settings or just use the clone to copy over the “home” directory.

Waiting for Mac OS X Leopard: Why no digital download option ?

OS X Leopard imageThe newest version of Mac OS X “Leopard” is out in the wild, but my order has an estimated delivery date for next week.

Not a big deal, but made me think: In today’s world of broadband and on-demand user behavior, why doesn’t apple offer a digital download option ? On top of it, it’s environmentally more responsible to do away with all the extra packaging, fuel costs for shipping, etc.

As far as expertise and DRM issues, Apple has the experience with it’s iTunes store and .Mac service to offer this kind of option and make it secure.

In the gaming space I’ve seen Valve‘s digital efforts evolve over the last few years into a really impressive offering. They have a service called Steam (gigaom review) which essentially allows you to purchase games and download them instantly. They also use the service to foster online gaming, do auto patching, premier game trailers, and fight against cheats. It was initally conceived because they had trouble with 3rd party distribution, and ironically today Steam is used as a distribtuion platform for other game publishers.

The other company that could also facilitate this would be Amazon themselves. They distribute music digitally with their new amazon mp3 store — so why not do the same for software ?

Useful Mac apps: Play WMVs, Google Analytics Widget, and Quinn

Some helpful ( and fun ) OS X apps that I’ve been using recently:

– id Software released HD footage of Rage (trailer & developer walk-through), the new internally developed game, at QuakeCon 2007 (Shacknews coverage). It’s in WMV format, so if you are on a Mac and not running some kind of virtualization/windows combo, you should grab the WMV Quicktime component. While I haven’t played PC games in years, this one is looking pretty solid.

– Using Google Analytics to track your site’s traffic and running OS X ? Dashalytics is a new OS X widget that shows a snapshot from your Google Analytics account in your OS X Dashboard. On the subject of traffic stats, if you are running WordPress, make sure to check out our Stats plugin.

– Must be something about playing Tetris for hours on end back in the day (aka “Tetris Effect“) that caused me to seek out Tetris clones. A really good one that a few people have emailed me about (and just saw that Jamie wrote about recently) is called Quinn. Really clean interface, and even includes “extensive online highscore database” 🙂 Definitely worth checking out.

– (UPDATE #1) Forgot to also mention the excellent OS X port of Open Office called NeoOffice. It even handles MS Word tracking changes which is something Google Docs does not currently support. (thanks Matt for the tip)

Hit by the OS X 10.4.10 update problems – having flashbacks to BSOD

os x crash I’m speechless ! Just had my mac crash and require a restart (panic) for the third time in about 20 minutes.

Looks like it’s related to a 10.4.10 update that has caused problems with wifi when running on battery power. Plugging the power cord back in seems to have stabilized the situation.

For a few minutes I thought it was Firefox related, since that’s what I was using when the crashes occurred.  I tried out Camino for a bit ( it has been a while since I last used it ) — and it’s really a slick browser. Only thing holding me back from using it full time is the lack of plugin support.
Back to this buggy OS X update. As one user, tele_player, on the apple support forum put it:

 > …and this is better then Windows? Somehow I am
> starting to feel like I bought into the marketing
> hype of Apple products… =(
Right now, it doesn’t look better than Windows, but a screwup like this is actually VERY unusual.

Let’s hope we see a quick fix soon.