May 262011

Recently, I have come across some major deficiencies in Apple’s MobileMe service, as well as their implementation of caldav support and iCal. Since the upgrade to the new calendar format, a client has been having some major difficulties syncing work calendars. Prior to the recent forced upgrade to the new calendar structure, MobileMe was able to sync calendars between the owner’s MacBook Pro and the office Mac Mini just fine. There are about 15 separate calendars used for scheduling various tasks and work crews with about five years worth of data in them. On the surface, everything looks great. The calendars maintain their customized colors and content between the two Macs, three iPhones and an iPad. The problem is that since the upgrade, syncing has become an exercise in futility. When syncs do complete properly across all devices, it can take upwards of six hours to complete. I contacted MobileMe chat support. According to Apple, the issue is caused by the large number of events stored in the calendars. Adding insult to injury (so to speak), it was suggested that we delete unused events from the calendars to improve the sync times… one by one. Archiving the calendars, or simply exporting them and importing them as local calendars on each Mac would not be a problem. The real issue is that there is no way to delete a range of events in iCal or through the MobileMe website. I did not spend significant time looking for a mechanism to accomplish this, but initial tests seemed to indicate that it is possible to delete calendar events one month at a time by accessing MobileMe calendars through Evolution on Ubuntu… go figure.

Incidentally, we also have exchange calendar capability. In exploring a possible solution to the sync issue, I exported all calendars and then imported them through iCal to an exchange account. Activesync replicated the calendars (while maintaining the calendar colors) to the other Mac with no problem whatsoever. Unfortunately, iOS does not maintain the color schema. In fact, toggling the exchange calendar on and off on an iOS device cycles through random calendar colors in a non-sensical manner. Very disappointing, Apple. Very disappointing.

Related Links:

Sync Services: Advanced troubleshooting for contact and calendar syncing

Unreliable MobileMe Remains a “Hobby” for Apple [Opinion]

Sep 052009

Since I’ve been using Snow Leopard, I’ve virtually stopped using Entourage. Granted, I had just upgrade to the web edition, allowing for tasks and notes to be synchronized… I’m very happy with the native Mac integration. The more I work in an Apple environment, the happier I am. While certain aspects of the OS are not as regimented as Windows, once you learn some keyboard shortcuts, away you go. And since it’s based on Unix, there are endless options for add-on software. Now on to my new discovery: Dejumble.

The native exchange support is very weak in it’s handling of tasks. Productivity for me is hard-wired into GTD mentality. It is very important that my contact data/schedule, etc be universally available from any device or computer I happen to be working on. It is also extremely important that the machine I use the most have a good interface for entering and handling tasks. I used Things and Omnifocus (both on the iPhone and my MacBookPro), but found their lack of exchange integration to be a deal breaker. Exchange integration is critical as my exchange mailbox is synchronized with the company ACT! database.

Dejumble is the answer to iCal’s weak access to task notes. Initially, I wasn’t sure how it would handle the exchange sync. I expected tasks to be lost in the process. I am pleased to report, that after 5 days of heavy use, I am here to say that the syncs are handled perfectly. Any change to task notes in Dejumble are instantly updated in iCal, which then updates the exchange server.

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If you want to sync your tasks to your iphone, check out TaskTask.


Aug 302009

I’ve been running Snow Leopard for several hours now. I’ve setup multiple exchange accounts with the new native support built into the OS. The results are very good. If you have an exchange account hosted on a 2007 Exchange Server, this update is a must.

Aside from the simple fact that exchange is now fully supported, there are some things that you can do with the configuration that are well thought out. Similar to Outlook’s ability to open multiple exchange mailboxes, the native Mail application can open more than one exchange account simultaneously. You can also choose which components of exchange you wish to access. For example, you can sync each of the following individually: calendars & tasks, contacts, e-mail & notes. For business users that rely on exchange, but have Macs at home, this integration is very nice. Now if I can only retrain myself to use Mail instead of Entourage…

Jul 182009

Due to a botched trip to the zoo, we discovered a new place to play on Cape Cod. I’d been by the Children’s Museum before traveling to and from job sites, but never considered this as a possible destination for a day trip. Traffic was fairly heavy leaving the Cape today, and we got off to a late start. It was nearly 2:00 PM by the time we were on the highway. Thanks to a stop at exit 6 for lunch and drinks, I checked the zoo website and found that they closed at 4:00. Given the traffic and the distance, we’d have been lucky to get there by 3:30. On a whim, we grabbed some tourist fliers at exit 6 and found the Children’s Museum listed in one. So, off we went.


The admission fee was reasonable, and they were open until 5:00PM. It cost $24 to get in. I was impressed by the number of exhibits they had, as well as the number of types of activities, exhibits, and toys on hand. Because the weather was beautiful today, we practically had the museum to ourselves. There were no more than two or three other families there when we arrived.


There is a mock up of a submarine, complete with a working periscope. The kids loved it.


The exhibits are really well done, with lots to keep the kids occupied. Though the museum is a fraction of the size of the one in Boston, I preferred it. Because, the museum is essentially one very large room, it is easier to keep an eye on the kids.


The best thing (for me) about this place is that there are things to do for both of the children (ages 1 and 3). There is a small music room with a working keyboard, tambourines, percussion instruments, etc. There is an area where kids can put on a puppet show (complete with stage). There are a number of places to play dress up, as well as puzzles and exhibits that older children will enjoy.

When it was time to leave, the kids went ape-shit (naturally). The staff gave us vouchers for free ice cream cones for the kids at a local ice cream place which immediately distracted the kids. We will definitely be back.