Friday, June 20, 2008

GPS Cameras

This is a great idea and the whole geo tagging concept will help
people better manage their large photo libraries. Apples got some good
event collection approaches in iPhoto now, but with geo tagging we
should soon be able to group photos by location. Imagine a series of
smart location albums that group events that land within some
configurable distance. I.e. all photos within 50 miles of each other
etc. Or better yet use it to tag them to countries, states etc. Its
all about the metadata, and the more metadata you can add without
adding any inconvenience to the users the more you can get and then
the more you can give back to them in functionality.

Now, how do I find a good excuse to convince my wife to let me get a
new GPS enabled camera?

(yes, I know the iPhone 2 has GPS and a Camera, but the iPhone camera
is really crappy as its very sensitive to movement, guess its too much
to ask apple for image stabilization in there?)

DotMacSync doesn't work

Beyond my calendar woes, dotmacsync is doing another crazy thing to
me. I sync my keychains between my 2 macs, when I do that each time it
warns me of updated/changed items >5% for the keychains. I accept the
changes and it carries on and then does it again on the next sync. I
could turn off the warning and just let it ping pong on these changes
but then it would probably decide to wipe my calendar, address book
etc without warning. Its amazing to me that syncing things like
calendars, keychains and addresses as individual line items that could
each be versioned, hashed etc is so broken in this day and age.

I think Apple's move with .Me in moving everything to a central place
is the right one. Its one I attempted with Google only to fail due to
some horrible calendar bug of theirs.

I love the iPhone and Leopard and my nice MacBook Air. But take some
of these geniuses and replace the people on the sync services and fix
it as its making our lives miserable.

Google Calendar

I wrote a while back about using Google Calendar as my main calendar
source and then BusySync to sync it to my home and work Macs. Well
that worked pretty well until I got a strange email one day from an
admin at our office. "I got this calendar reminder from Google and I
think its related to you, can you please stop sending me emails from
outside the company network?"

Strange. I looked into it. It seems Entourage sync'd to iCal. Google
subscribed to that calendar (I didn't want more than a 2 way sync for
this flakey Entourage stuff) and then Google has taken it upon
themselves to send notices to all meeting attendees about upcoming
meetings. It was an option I had no control over at all. I tried
turning off all the settings and thought I had it licked, and then I
got another email from a colleague saying the same thing.

Ok I thought, this is ugly, I deleted the Entourage calendar from
Google, now only my personal calendars were on there.

Another week or two goes by, and then an email (from my boss's admin)
asking me to cease and desist.

Google, your calendar app is sending emails about calendar events in
deleted calendars to my co-workers. This is unacceptable.

My only fallback was to disable Google Calendars for my domain.
Fortunately i'm the only one in my domain using them. It seems that I
will never be able to re-enable the calendar service on this domain as
Google somehow is caching deleted calendars and events and sending
unwanted messages to people.

I only hope that now with the Calendars disabled it no longer sends
the messages, if it does I have to nuke the domain and hope that

Meanwhile i'm back to iSync for my calendars which is marginal at best
and since Entourage doesn't work its now hard to get a consistent view
of all my calendars in one place. Im hoping that the new iPhone and
Snow leopard release fix this disaster.

Office 2008

The normal office 2008 apps, Word, Excel etc are reasonable for me. I
felt no loss with VBA going away and they've been reasonably stable
and compatible in the otherwise Windows dominated office. What
continues to shock me is how bad Entourage 2008 is. It is the worst
piece of software i've used in a long time. Here are a few MAJOR flaws:

1) Database corruption - seems to happen about once a week requiring
you to rebuild its entire (proprietary) database (hold option key at
launch, get coffee)

2) Calendar/contact sync - this is a great way to lose your data, more
specifically when things go wrong it wipes data off your Exchange
server. Yes thats right, it doesnt just have sync issues, at times it
clears your entire calendar on Exchange. Microsoft, take a note from
apple on the "warn my if more than x% of my data changes" type notices
from iSync (not that iSync doesnt have horrible problems too).
Currently Entourage 2008 is the only way to push your Exchange
Calendar to an iPhone compatible iCal destination. Unfortunately its
so bad that you may as well throw it out and wait for the native
Exchange support in iPhone 2 and Snow Leopard.

3) Microsoft Sync services - this is the best way to heat your lap and
drain your battery. Runs forever, drains your battery, and doesnt do
anything useful. "Force quit" is your solution.

4) If you read an reply to a lot of emails like I do with Entourage
you will eventually see what appears to be a duplicate reply from
someone in your mail box. If you read my blog you'd know that I file
mail after I read it and my inbox is always near empty. So I read a
message, reply, then file. Some time later a new message turns up and
seems to be the one I just filed. Odd. I go on Exchange via OWA and I
see the new message is actually a new reply but for some crazy reason
Entourage is showing me the old one. Cache coherency problems? Don't
know but again, this makes entourage unusable.

5) Calendar time shifts - Although not as quite as disastrous as a
total calendar loss mentioned above Entourage has the habit of
shifting my calendar events by many hours on the Exchange server
itself - yes, it took my existing events and then updated their times
to its liking. I then had meetings scheduled at 2am etc. Again this
makes Entourage unusable.

I read a review of Entourage 2008 recently in MacWorld, they gave it
4/5 stars, same as Apple Mail as a Mail client. I don't think the
reviewers know what they're talking about and I think the entire
Entourage 2008 team should be banned from the software industry forever.


Ok, so I don't get it. Bento, the "personal database" from the makers
of File Maker has huge support form the reviewers and rates highly.
Its also pushed at Apple stores and on their web site. I tried it and
I just don't understand its value. I have to ask, so what? Perhaps i'm
not the right demographic but frankly I don't see the need for its
existence. Sure it seemed like a nice app but a nice app with no value
to people doesn't warrant high marks.

Where have I been?

Sorry folks, life caught up on me. Currently im 30,000+ feet in the
air fighting a nasty stomach bug on my way home from CA again on my
MacBook Air. For the record, the battery life is fine for me for these
trips. Even in the office yesterday, I never charged it or plugged it
in and used it for notes, spreadsheets etc all day long (but not

Just finished a book recommended by a friend, The Daemon by Leinad
Zeraus (an assumed name chosen for its hit raking in Google from what
i've heard). It was a great book and a good fit for my interests and
background (although a little more violent than I expected). If you're
a hacker type, computer gamer or just into the whole digital age, I
recommend it.

Anyway I have a backlog of a few things I want to comment on so
they'll be coming shortly.

p.s. for the record, crossing the country and back in 3 days with a
stomach bug that requires you to find a restroom every 2 hours is not
a pleasant experience. Someday i'll eat again.