iCloud 101: Know your family’s Calendar

Knowing family members’ schedules is useful, but it’s also a way to stay connected. There is more than one way to keep an entire family up to date with the various events in our lives. Here are three techniques an iCloud-using family can use.

Spanning Tools review: Cure your cloud syncing woes

Whether you use iCloud, MobileMe or Google to sync your contacts and calendars — no matter how careful you are — glitches occur. Fortunately, Spanning Tools helps clean up your contacts and calendars, making sure your syncs go as planned and correcting errors after the fact.

5 quick OS X Lion tips and work-arounds

Overall, I’m thrilled with OS X Lion. However, like any new OS, there are some things that either don’t work quite right or, while working as intended, may annoy. So, here are five tips and work-arounds I’ve found that might help address some growing pains.

How To Upgrade Your MobileMe Calendar Safely

Since my business runs on iCal, I approached the CalDAV upgrade for MobileMe Calendar users (which becomes mandatory May 5) with reluctance and some healthy fear. Here are my recommendations and a walkthrough of the process that should hopefully make the task less daunting for you.

A Closer Look At Apple’s Icons

As a follow up to my article on the hidden gems of Apple’s design and inspired by the comments that you, the readers, left, I wanted to take a closer look at some of the icons of OS X. The second part of this article is where I’m going to go in depth into some of the hidden messages and “easter eggs” that Apple has hidden in their icons, but first, I felt it was important to revisit the history of some of these icons that we see on a daily basis. As you will be able to see, there’s a lot of thought that goes into Apple’s thought process when it comes to icon design.

First Look: Spanning Tools Public Beta

Spanning Tools

I’ve never been as organized as I currently am with the combination of my MacBook Pro, iPhone and Google Calendar. Sure, before I crossed the line to Apple (s aapl), I had tried to use Thunderbird (with Lightning’s Calendar plugin) to keep organized, syncing to my Windows Mobile phone, but it was always clunky and slow and not worth the effort when things didn’t “Just Work.” Since tasting the sweet Apple pie, I now have multiple Google (s goog) calendars shared with my wife and synced to both of our Macs and iPod touch/iPhones with Spanning Sync. We are now totally organized, and it’s awesome.

However, like any data system, it’s a case of garbage in, garbage out. The combination of data corruption and synchronization is one that can wreak total and utter havoc on the most organized of people, rendering us as useless as a fish out of water. To combat the potential of this scenario, the folks over at Spanning Sync have released a public beta of its new utility, Spanning Tools.

Spanning Tools is a preventative maintenance suite, analyzing your critical data, alerting you of potential problems, and allowing you to take the appropriate action to eliminate the threat before it manifests in corruption. Spanning Tools comprises three separate utilities. Read More about First Look: Spanning Tools Public Beta

Snow Leopard In Depth: Exchange

Microsoft Exchange

Even though Apple (s aapl) builds great products for the consumer, the company often misses the boat with business users. Snow Leopard stands to make serious inroads with Mac users in wingtips and pinstripes with native support for Microsoft Exchange Server. Mail, iCal, and Address Book will all be updated to talk directly with your Exchange account and in some cases, may work better than Entourage.

The Long & Winding Road

It’s taken a long time to get to this point, but the Mac has a long history of working with Microsoft (s msft). I think a little history is interesting here to show how we’ve arrived at Snow Leopard.

The Mac has had Microsoft Office almost from the beginning (Word and Excel for Mac were first released in 1985). Jaguar added LDAP access to Address Book. Panther introduced Windows Printer Sharing and Active Directory support so that you could log into a Windows Domain from a Macintosh. Tiger introduced Exchange accounts in Mail (though with IMAP access only) along with much improved support for Samba and Windows file sharing. The move to Intel gave us virtualization of Windows apps. Read More about Snow Leopard In Depth: Exchange

Free MobileMe Alternative: How to Set Up Google Sync for Mac and iPhone

google_syncMobileMe, Apple’s (s aapl) online personal information management (PIM) solution, has withstood quite the controversy. While some of the more fortunate subscribers, like myself, have had only positive experiences, others had to wait several months before syncing worked without reporting cryptic errors or silently failing.

My only gripe was the buggy MobileMe web site. Problems were numerous, such as the page randomly refreshing in the middle of adding a calendar event. Obviously this wasn’t disastrous on its own, but annoying tics add up, and eventually push people to look for alternatives.

Recently, I discovered an offering from Google (s goog) that challenged the PIM synchronization features of MobileMe and competitors like Microsoft (s msft) Exchange (what you unfortunately probably use at the office). This new service, Google Sync, offers the same seamless integration between your computer and mobile phone. It’s fast, free, and, most importantly, it works. Read More about Free MobileMe Alternative: How to Set Up Google Sync for Mac and iPhone