Monday, August 30, 2010

More Overblown Techno Venting

I have lots of computer and phone problems, right? Lots of tech issues, and I'm not much of a geek... I bug you with them all the time. They're too numerous to catalogue here, so... I won't this time.


Except that one of the perennials has raised its blooming head (must be springtime) yet again: Phone calendar syncing. Let's try to do this chronologically, which is to say, calendrically, if not logically.

(Those looking for salacious or, for that matter, even vaguely interesting stuff need read no further.)


I initially had a conundrum about syncing the iPhone and the home iMac, as I had linked the phone to the work laptop PC. Can't link an iPhone to two computers, right? No big deal, right? Except when I was, ahem, working from home and needed to access or change my work schedule on the iMac.

To overcame this, I reset-up an old freebie Plaxo account and paid for it(!) so that program would grab my calender and contacts from Outlook at the office, and then forward them to iCal at home. The iPhone I could sync through iTunes on the laptop, either in the office or on the road. This was working fine.

At home, I'd get some work emails (only through my company's Webmail), check for new requests and do the scheduling on iCal, and from there it would upload through Plaxo to the work laptop next time I turned it on. Brilliant. Home, work, phone, all synced.


But the iPhone started dying after it hit its warranty limit. I swear, fourteen months. It started playing up when the Home Key kept missing the curfew, if you get my meaning. I'd press it, press it again, hold it down, nothing! Unless I was trying to show this to someone, in which case it worked perfectly. Sigh.

With all the hassles that went down with the iP4, I thought I'd either wait a bit for the iP5 or maybe pull out a bit from the tethered world of Apple and try something else. Maybe I could stretch it until my phone contract came due, in March next year. But that Home Key was bugging me. It was often usable, but a pain when it wasn't. How long could I put up with it?

So in frustration and in HK airport I grabbed a Sony-Elricsson Experia X10 (Android operating system). At least I thought I was frustrated by smart-phones at that time. I learned a new definition of the word after a few days with the Exaspera.

Battery life was problem one.

Syncing was problem two. (Problems 3 - 12, another time.) The phone wanted talk directly to its own Sony-Elricsson program, not directly to Outlook. This meant I had to turn the Plaxo program off if I wanted that to work. (I am still under the impression that, and according to the help file in MSO, that I can't run two syncing programs with Outlook.) No Plaxo meant that I would loose my link to the iCal at home.

It turns out that the Exaspera was happy to link to Google Calendar through the S-E program as well. Now, I hadn't needed Google Calendar for the iPhone, but what the heck.

So I downloaded the Google Calendar Sync program and linked that to Outlook. It took a bit of fiddling and I ended up doubling up calendar names and the like, so I renamed some, deleted some.

So now my appointments were going from Outlook to Google and from there to the S-E program and from there to the Exaspera.

For the iCal at at home it was going through Pla... oh, no it wasn't. I had stopped using Plaxo on the laptop. Simple, I thought, I'll just sync Plaxo with Google and it will go to the iMac!

Simple solutions are always... they always fuck up.

Plaxo isn't linking to the Google calendar - it keeps trying but it fails... (It still fails today.) Shit. Maybe when I renamed the calendars or deleted them or something, I took away some default setting that Plaxo needs to find the correct Google Calendar.

So I stopped using Plaxo. Actually, it stopped for me. (Now iCal goes to Google for its sync. Don't ask me how I set that up, it's a mystery, but it does. And as I have to use Web-mail at home to check work emails, I can still just adjust any appointments in iCal. Or I could just use Google Calendars all the time at home. Why does it have to be this difficult?)

As I said, the battery life on this exasperating Elricsson is just terrible. I'd charge it overnight but by lunchtime it would have died and I'd have missed calls and texts. So, taking a great hit, I sold it on to someone who wanted to play Paper Toss. She also bought another battery for a quick change once a day.


OK, I went back ON the dodgy iPhone,...


Then it REALLY cracked up. Swipe wasn't swiping, buttons weren't reacting... Complete lock-up. I could reset it I guess, see if that solves the acute issue, but it won't fix the dodgy Home Key. I think I might still reboot and use it as a iTouch, or try it again on a new carrier just for playing Word With Friends and Angry Birds... Did I ever tell you that I don't play phone-games as I think they're wanky? I didn't play any until someone go me hooked on Angry Birds. The whole concept of wasting what precious time we have left on earth in order to manipulate transient pixels on a glowing screen is still pretty wanky, but there you go. I was hooked. Such is the fragility of our personalities that we could so easily all become wankers, just as we could all have been Nazis, given the right social and peer pressure - and perverse and pathological love of people with funny moustaches.

(No, just rebooted it, the Home Key still drives me absolutely crazy.)

So there I was, back OFF the iPhone and onto the Nokia E71 again (which I had bought very early last year before I realized that my provider contract was up and could get an iPhone3G for free if I renewed for two years).

Now, problems are there with the Nokia too; text on the screen is too small for my failing eyesight; the touch keypad is too small for my chubby fingers; plus, GGGggrrrrr, like Sony-Elricsson, it needs Nokia specific software, viz Nokia Suite (OVI doesn't work on the E71) to sync to the laptop... Downloaded a new version of that E@L did... (One day I'll tell you the trouble I had trying to remove the previous version! No, please don't, you cry in horror.)


A colleague from India came to the office with his Samsung GalaxyS (Android). He said he loved it. My other colleague, from Chiang Mai, who had been using a bulky old E61i (three years old, four?) was convinced and negotiated a good price in Vivocity (NOT most definitely at the Samsung outlet). He was able to sync both Gmail and our work email easily together. They were both very pleased. Battery not a problem, pretty reasonable, similar to the iPhone, my Indian colleague said. Happy to hear that considering my previous experience with the Android system...

Look familiar?
Doesn't have Angry Birds, but...

And so I fell apart, psychologically: I became a wanky phone Nazi! Next day, I went to the same shop in Vivocity, told the guy I wanted the GalaxyS for the same price as my colleague (had to be cash) and I came back to the office proudly bearing my purchase (equivalent amount donated to Pakistan flood relief). All three of us now had the same phone! (We had all bought E61s all those years ago as well.)

We were all smug in the office last week with those new phones, but we allegedly were there to prepare for the training in Japan in two weeks time. Then the boss surprised us! He came in - he doesn't get us all in the same room that often - not to tell us to get back to the task at hand, but to inform us that from now on, we all had to share our work schedules (two on Outlook, one on Windows Live) using Google Calendar!

Oh no!

This didn't take anywhere near as long to setup, amazingly, as we thought it would.

And almost straight away those guys were complaining about seeing the hundreds of personal appointments that dot my Outlook schedule.

Hey, it's MY calendar. Or it was. They said they didn't need to know about my flight schedule to Phuket, nor the hotel details ("so much Baht, you must be rich!"), nor the schedules with my gastroscope-ologist, my oculist, my snore-ologist, my endocrinologist, my neurologist, my orthopaedic Torquemada, my dental ditto, my gypsy fortune-teller, my "massage" "therapist", my etc, my etc...

Shit. Nosey buggers.

So I tried setting up a second calendar on Outlook for my personal stuff but DIDN'T link this to Google, because... hey, you CANT.

Only ONE calendar can be synced between Outlook and Google. Sigh. That now meant that my personal schedule didn't get to the SamsungS. For e.g. when I checked the time of my Gastroenterologist appointment today, it wasn't on my phone! Do'h.

So now (like right now!), instead, I have set-up a Personal Calendar on GOOGLE, and as multiple Google calendars work seamlessly with the GalaxyS - finally something going my way! It's pretty fine so far tonight - the Doc's appointment is there, retrospectively.

However, as I said, that Personal Calendar doesn't get back to Outlook for off-line scheduling, but it doesn't clog up my colleagues Google Calendar pages either.

I can get it to iCal, along with the Work Calendar. However I had to make it public and searchable in order to set this up - you can now find all my massage appointments with Google Search if you want...

Why don't I just go to Google Calendar completely you ask? I would, but, strange as it may seem...

~~~~~~~ I AM NOT ALWAYS ONLINE! ~~~~~~~

In the plane, at many places in Singapore (I have forgotten my password for island-wide(ish) free wi-fi), at expensive hotels where the internet is also expensive (but not cheap hotels where the internet is free), at my mum's place in Australia - funnily enough not all 85 year-old ladies have, or even need, broad-band internet - at these times, in these places, I am not online.

But while I am traveling with my laptop, off-line, I still can adjust my schedule with Outlook! It syncs when I get back online. Can't do squat with Google offline, what?


Maybe my current situation is tenable: Let's see how long it lasts...

Work stuff is typically done on the laptop, though it can be one on Google or on the GalaxyS. Private stuff is done on Google when I am online, on the phone when I am not, or on the fly.

1: Outlook Calendar <<->> Google Work Calendar <<->> my colleagues' Google calendars, i.e no Personal Calendar in Outlook :( or on my colleagues' Google :)

2: Google Work Calendar & Google Personal Calendar <<->> GalaxyS

3: Google Work Calendar & Google Personal Calendar <<->> iCal*.

4: Plaxo Pro ($49.95) <<->> nowhere.


Let's see how long the new phone lasts!


* I am thinking, why do I need to sync to iCal at all? I'm always online at home. Then I could then change back the privacy settings for the personal stuff! I think I'll do that now - at least I proved to myself that I could link them if I wanted to!

** I could have gone to the gym instead of typing this: it would have finished two hours ago and I am not sure which would have been the more exhausting.


expat@large said...

Now I'm getting Gmail pushed through! Howe to turn off? Ah, here.

I could not get my work email from my phone neither receive nor reply (obviously) so I have been forwarding it all to Gmail and reply from there.

I am thinking of dumping Outlook, go 100% Gmail for a while, see what happens...

Anyone give a fuck??

No? Thought not.

Lost in Melbourne said...

If I move to Singapore will I also turn into a techno addict? Or where you like this before you moved to Asia from Melb/Syd?

Anyway I am heading back to Melbourne as soon as I nail down a job down there.

knobby said...

you could go all laptop if you wanted to. just get one of those wireless broadband USB data cards. not sure how well it works while roaming, of course, or how expensive it'll turn out to be but should be cheaper than Sheraton Wi-Fi!

guess what my word verification is: "ressent"


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