I'm a pretty big calendar user at both work and home. No I'm not one of those folks who manages every life event or task in a calendar, but I use them pretty heavily. I basically follow the GTD / David Allen use of calendars storing events or tasks that must happen at a specific point in time. Keeping all this information organized is nice but it's pretty useless if you don't have it everywhere you go. Back in December I blogged about synchronizing my work calendar in Entourage with Google Calendar and ultimately my iPhone. I discussed two ways to set it up. One was a free solution using off the shelf software, and the other a fee-based solution using the popular Spanning Sync. I'm happy to report seven months later everything is still working very well with Spanning Sync.
When the iPhone 3.0 software was announced earlier this year I was excited to hear about the Find My iPhone feature. I've been a MobileMe subscriber since it launched alongside the original iPhone and the prospect of finding my iPhone if it were lost was intriguing.
In order to use the feature you first turn enable it on your iPhone, which must be running iPhone software version 3.0. To do this, go to the Settings screen and tap Mail, Contacts, and Calendars. Ensure Fetch New Data is set to Push. Next, access your MobileMe account in the same settings screen and make sure Find My iPhone is turned on.
I posted earlier today about synchronizing an Entourage calendar to other macs and to my iPhone. Well, I've found what I believe is a better solution though not free. Spanning Sync is software made specifically for synchronizing your calendars and address books across multiple macs. What's nice about this solution is you only need Spanning Sync on your computers and nothing on your iPhone. This solution does assume you're already using MobileMe for calendar syncing. The problems I mentioned earlier, namely Calgoo Connect crashes and calendar changes not filtering back to Entourage, are not present with this setup.
Let me set the stage. I have two Macbook Pros. One is used at the office and one is my personal machine. They're both laptops so they each see a fair amount of travel. And while one is primarily for work there is some overlap in what I do on the machines. For the most part though having two macs makes it easier for me to separate what I work on and how. Where this separation sucks is when you start looking at my calendar. I use Entourage 2008 on my work laptop (insert long, drawn out rant about Microsoft software. Yes there's OpenOffice and other MS-ish solutions but they all suck when you need serious collaboration with others using Microsoft products) for e-mail and calendaring. I use iCal on my personal laptop and on my iPhone. Up to this point I've somehow managed NOT being able to look at my work calendar unless I was sitting in front of my work laptop. This has halfway worked for a year but it's just not cutting it anymore. So this weekend I set out to do some research on calendar syncing solutions that would ultimately get my Entourage calendar from my work laptop to my personal laptop and iPhone.
The solution I'm laying out below doesn't cost a penny and for a lot of people that's incredibly important. However, there are caveats. In the near future I'll discuss a second option that isn't free but might provide more stability and features for those who need them. Stay tuned. The free solution involves the use of software from Calgoo and Nueva Sync. The first six steps below are done on the computer with Entourage. The rest are either done on an iPhone or other Mac computers.
I've been into this productivity thing for quite some time now. Implementing GTD in all aspects of my life has increased not only my productivity but my sanity as well. Add to that my affinity for gadgets and the iPhone and it's easy to see why I was thrilled to learn the fine folks at OmniGroup were releasing OmniFocus for the iPhone. I bought OmniFocus for the mac well over a year ago and found it easy to drop $19.99 on the full-featured iPhone version. Yea it would've been nice to get a returning customer discount; you can blame Apple's AppStore for not building this functionality into the store.
I've had some time to take the OmniFocus iPhone application for a test drive and here are my favorite features.
I e-mailed a slew of folks earlier notifying them of a few e-mail address changes and thought it pertinent to blog it as well. With my recent sign on to Apple's MobileMe and Viacom's lawsuit against Google the e-mail addresses I use are changing some. I'll still be using trajik210 [at] gmail [dot] com as a secondary account, but my primary personal e-mail address is now a.west [at] me [dot] com. Even if MobileMe isn't "true" push the cloud integration is still very nice. If you have me in your contacts or address book, update your data yo!
For the past 8 days I have tirelessly attempted to get MobileMe working on my personal Macbook Pro (Leopard). I have followed several threads on Apple's forums where many others were experiencing the same issues. I've been active on this thread and this one as I attempted various things and worked with other users on the problem.
Within the last 15 minutes I was successful syncing to MobileMe. This is what worked for me.
According to others on the threads, Apple has recommended folks try and sync from a fresh user account. Well, I have a second Macbook Pro (office computer) so I decided to sync from it. I went into System Preferences, selected .Mac and waited for a minute. When the MobileMe update showed up I installed it. I then quit System Preferences, then immediately relaunched it. I entered my MobileMe username (without the @me.com) and typed my password. I noticed something odd, that my password seemed shorter than what I had entered on my personal Macbook Pro. Nevertheless I signed in, checked the box for "Synchronize with MobileMe" and it in fact worked. I was able to select a syncing interval (I chose Automatic) as well as Calendars, Contacts, and Bookmarks. I then switched over to my main (personal) Macbook Pro and went through the same steps, manually typing my MobileMe password, choosing sync preferences, and then doing an initial sync.
Within one to two minutes I was logging into me.com and verifying my Calendars and Contacts were online. Oddly, I don't see a place where Bookmarks show online. I then set up my iPhone and configured Calendars, Contacts and Bookmarks for push syncing. This caused all three types of data to be overwritten with data from MobileMe. It all seemed to work very well.
So what was the problem? I use an /excellent/ password storage program called 1Password. It makes it super super easy to use really strong passwords on every site. Since 1Password also stores a bookmarklet in Safari on the iPhone I'm able to easily log-in to all my Web sites without having to remember nearly 100 passwords. Sidenote: 1Password has released a new native iPhone app that will be available in a week or so from the App Store. What I realized, is that every time I was trying to sign-in to and sync with MobileMe from my main (personal) Macbook Pro, I was copying the password from the 1Password OS X app using a little "Copy" button the software provides. I was then pasting the clipboard contents into the MobileMe sign-in screen. While I have verified the 1Password copy button was not adding characters to my password (by pasting into TextEdit), it does not work with the MobileMe sign-in screen. After typing in my MobileMe password by hand I was in business on my personal Macbook Pro.
I'm confused as to whether the MobileMe sign-in screen was actually signing me in correctly, or just allowing me to see my account info and then passing an invalid password when I attempted to synchronize (as this was the error that showed up in the OS X Console). Regardless, I FINALLY have everything working now.
I would be VERY interested to hear from any other users that may be using 1Password and performing the same steps I was. If you fall into this category, reply to this post and let me know.