Syncing Apps With Dropbox

dropbox

Many Mac users are fortunate enough to have more than one machine. Whether it’s a home desktop and laptop, or a home and office machine, it can be very useful to keep some form of continuity between the two systems. This is easy enough to do with individual files — simply using an online service such as Dropbox or Syncplicity to keep everything synchronized between two machines. But what about applications?

This article will explain how easy it is to keep many popular applications in sync between more than one computer. It doesn’t involve putting all your data on ‘the cloud’ — you still have a local copy if a service closes down for any reason. The steps outlined work for the applications noted here, and may well be applicable to a different piece of software you’d like to keep synchronized. We’ve previously written how to achieve something similar for your iTunes library, but will now take the idea a little further, extending it to other apps. Read More about Syncing Apps With Dropbox

Weekly App Store Picks: Feb. 21, 2009

iphoney

The weekend seems to have rolled up super-fast, so welcome one and all to the Weekly App Store Picks.

Before we jump in to this week’s apps, let’s take a gander at recent happenings in the world of Apple.

First up, as a frequent tweeter, I was pleased to learn about desktop tweeting without a client app earlier this week. Check out the article for a helpful how-to guide.

Mid-week it all kicked off iPhone-style! Countering Apple’s recent anti-jailbreak actions, the Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted a 15-page exemption request to the U.S. Copyright Office. Hit up our post for the low down.

With timing that implied that their next-action was some kind of nonsensical retort, Apple clenched their fists, stomped their feet and promptly rejected the latest South Park game from the App Store.

Moving on to the apps, this week I’ve been looking at FrostyPlace, geoDefense, GooSync, Bowman, technoBox and Shooter.
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Syncing iCal Birthdays to Your iPhone

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One of the perplexing limitations about MobileMe is its inability to sync birthdays in iCal to the iPhone and iPod touch. As you may already know, iCal can take birthdays from Address Book and add them into a special “Birthdays” calendar, which is really a subscription calendar.

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But while the latest updates to MobileMe now allow for the syncing of subscription calendars from your Mac to MobileMe, their events are not pushed to iPhone and iPod touch. Apple’s (s aapl) explanation is this:

When syncing subscribed calendars to MobileMe, the calendar information and settings for the calendar is synced, but all of the downloaded events are not. This is done to help streamline the syncing process with MobileMe, as it prevents syncing redundant information to other computers with an Internet connection.

Duh.

To get around this limitation, you can disable over-the-air syncing, and sync Calendar events via iTunes instead. But that defeats the purpose of paying for MobileMe’s push abilities. The other way is to export the Birthdays calendar that iCal has created and re-import it back into iCal as local calendar events. These birthdays and anniversary events will then be synced with MobileMe and, subsequently, pushed to the iPhone Calendar app. The problem is, you will have to do that every time you add a birthday to a contact in the Address Book.

Well, I’m happy to tell you that there is finally a solution that requires little to no effort on your part.
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Foxmarks Adds Cross Browser Sync for IE and Safari

foxmarks-logoWe’re living in a cross-platform and cross-browser world. Most web workers aren’t one-browser-fits-all.

I have two computers: a MacBook Pro and an iMac. Even though Firefox 3 is my default browser on both computers, I regularly have at least three different browsers open to do what I need to do in my work day. Certain sites only work in Internet Explorer, while others simply behave better in Chrome or Safari. Other sites are bookmarked in Safari solely for the iPhone.

Foxmarks has long been the free go-to utility for syncing bookmarks between multiple instances of Firefox. I’ve long preferred Foxmarks to Mozilla Weave which, while it syncs more information between Firefox browsers, I’ve found to be less reliable. For non-Firefox browsers, I’ve had to use my.foxmarks.com to access sites using IE or Safari that are bookmarked in Firefox.

No more. Last week, Foxmarks introduced syncing for both IE and Safari (I can’t wait for a Chrome version).

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Google Calendar Sync: We Have Choices

A little while ago, Google (s goog) released a free iCal-to-Google Calendar sync tool called Calabaration. I don’t believe that Calabaration works very well, given how it generates a new calendar group within iCal and has limitations on how the Google Calendar can then sync to MobileMe. So I reached out to BusyMac, the makers of BusySync, and Spanning Sync, makers of the Spanning Sync application, to see if they wouldn’t mind me reviewing their products. Both companies happily agreed. Here’s what I learned:

Commonalities

Each one:

  • Installs as a preference pane in the System Preferences.
  • Is very easy to configure.
  • Has fantastic support. Also, hats off to both developers for answering so many of my questions and for helping me to diagnose some key problems with sync services.
  • Doesn’t appear to have any tangible impact on system performance.
  • Works with MobileMe, enabling you to view/edit your Google Calendar within iCal, on the MobileMe web site and via an iPhone (s aapl).
  • Has excellent instructional videos, tutorials and documentation.
  • Let’s you perform a reset of the application so that you can start over with clean settings.
  • Has exceptional logging so that if you do come across a problem, it is easy for the developer to help resolve it.

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Wirelessly Sync Google Calendar With Your iPhone

I live and die by my Google calendar and have always hated the fact that I could not wirelessly sync it with my iPhone. I’ve tried every method in the book, and finally have found two methods to wirelessly sync your Google calendar to your iPhone.

NuevaSync

The first method is free and uses a service called NuevaSync. NuevaSync allows over the air synchronization to the built in iPhone calendar. It seems like a great service, but I could never get it to work because it requires the iPhone Exchange account to work (you are only allowed to have one Exchange account per phone and mine is used for work email). My roomate has successfully set it up on his phone and he reports that it works well. NuevaSync does not require the user to install any third party software, but does require the user to create an account on the NuevaSync website (security risks?). Instructions for configuring NuevaSync can be found here.
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MobileMe: What it Syncs, When it Syncs, and Why I’m Staying With It

Recently MacLife magazine reviewed Apple’s MobileMe service. My problem with the review is that it lists something as a negative that continues to spread misinformation: 

Doesn’t “push” your email instantly, rather every 15 minutes.

This is wrong. In this article I’ll touch on what gets synced with MobileMe, when it occurs, and why I’m happy with it. 
First, keep in mind the following about MobileMe:

  • Many think MMe is just email, contacts, and calendars, but that underrates the service. I’ll discuss everything MMe can sync.
  • The sync process depends on what is syncing, and where the update was made. 
  • Updates can be made on as many as three different “device types.” I’ll refer to them as the Web, which means you’re logged into www.me.com, the iPhone, and the Desktop, which means a desktop computer.
  • While the iPhone and desktop can have their sync/push configured, the web always syncs/pushes. 

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SyncMate Connects Your Mac and Pocket PC

SyncMateOne of the obvious needs for a Web Worker on the go is the ability to keep data synchronized across your multiple devices. Your options can vary wildly depending on your combination of hardware.
For those with a Mac on your desk but a PC in your pocket, Eltima Software offers SyncMate, a software solution to keep your Mac and mobile device connected. SyncMate Free lets you connect your Mac with your PDA or Pocket PC (aka Windows Mobile device), keeping documents, contacts, calendars and more all up to date across both devices.
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I Want MobileMe, Enterprise Edition

I have been using MobileMe, and its previous incarnation DotMac, for just over two years. Everyone has talked about the great features it has as well as some of the near-misses. However, I haven’t seen anyone point out a major flaw in MobileMe — how it does not compare to Enterprise class offerings.

With MobileMe, we can sync our calendars, contacts and email. We have a version of “push” which really only provides instantaneous email, not calendars or contacts. Even Apple has gone on record to state what is “push” and what is not. A colleague here on TAB also wrote about what we should have expected for push when MobileMe was released, as compared to what we received.
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Break Away From MobileMe: 7 Free Services to Help You Make the Move

Apple’s replacement for .Mac has had a very rocky start, and has a long way to go before its ready to compete with free alternatives. Many users do not want to move away from MobileMe because of the deep integration with the Mac desktop, while others are reluctant because its hard to find another single service that provides all of the services that MobileMe does. If the latest outage has you ready to jump ship, here’s a guide to making the break.

Mail: Gmail

Making the transition to Gmail is very easy. Gmail allows you to use POP3 to download all of your existing mail from MobileMe into Gmail, and Gmail also allows you to send email as [email protected] allowing you time to migrate slowly. With instant search, integrated chat, nearly infinite storage, and an extremly fast interface, making the switch to Gmail not only replaces MobileMe Mail, it makes your email overwhelmingly more enjoyable.
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