February 8, 2010

Have you tried flavors.me yet?

Flavors.me is a nice little aggregator of services - or a quick simple way to make a personal website that requires zero maintenance.

My invite code for you is: heat.

Use it wisely, while you're over there, check out my flavors.me page. :)

February 5, 2010

I just quit MobileMe (I think...)

My MobileMe subscription is up in 14 days from today. So I asked myself if I really wanted to spend $109 Canadian to perfectly sync my Calendars, Contacts and Email to my iPhone, MacBook and Apple's (very pretty) me.com site.

Enter Google Sync. I heard about Google Sync earlier in 2009 and ignored it as another Google Labs experiment that wouldn't get much attention. Boy, was I wrong.

Today I made the time to backup my contacts, calendars from my Mac and import them all into Google Mail and Google Calendar.

Following Google's simple instructions within an hour I was finished and running again. I now have Push Gmail, which I didn't have before, push contacts / calendar (previously done by MobileMe).

I'm going to give this a trial run for the next 13 days and see if I like it enough to not renew my MobileMe subscription.

Google Sync Setup Process

I can't complain, it was simple and uneventful except for one hiccup during the calendar sync that was quickly remedied. I followed the steps on the Google Sync site for iPhone.

  1. First I removed MobileMe from my iPhone and signed out of MobileMe on my Mac (Do this in System Preferences) after already having backed up Contacts and Calendars on my Mac (I can't stress that enough: File > iCal Archive and File > Address Book Archive)
  2. I followed the setup instructions here to get Gmail and Google Calendars working (I left my contacts for now in fear of some extreme merging conflicts on Google Contacts)
    1. Here's the only hiccup with Google Calendar syncing. When it came to choosing which Calendars were meant to be synced with my iPhone the instructions say to "use Safari" and visit m.google.com/sync and check the Calendars you want to sync. This didn't work on desktop Safari - use iPhone to do this step
  3. Now that Gmail and Google Calendars were syncing on my iPhone, I followed these instructions to get Calendars syncing on desktop iCal.
  4. Finally, the most dreaded, Contacts. Fear crept up in me, my palms started sweating (then I remembered I backed up!) I setup my Apple Address Book to sync with Google Contacts following these Lifehacker instructions. Note: There's a change in 10.6 Address Book and it's layout of the preferences tab. To sync with Google just go File > Preferences. In that pane chose the "Account" tab and check "Synchronize with Google"
    1. There were only 26 merge conflicts that were quickly solved in Address Book.
    2. Once I'd finished my changes, I exported the "All Contacts" group as vCards, deleted my Google Contacts (all of them) and imported the vCards file with all my contacts again.
We'll see how my 13 day experiment goes, finally I'll list some pro's and con's I've discovered sofar:

Pros (of Google Sync)
  • Adds Push GMail
  • Everything's in one place now, Gmail, Google Contacts, Google Calendar, synced across my devices
  • No errors or flakiness during setup gives me a lot of confidence this might actually work
Cons (of Google Sync over Mobile Me)
  • Loss of the "Find My iPhone" functionality may be worth $109 by itself, I use it frequently when I "lose" my phone in my condo - since I have no land line, I have no means of calling it.
  • I'm not 100% sure if the Address Book correctly syncs back to Google Contacts when I make changes on my desktop or iPhone - further investigation will (dis)prove this.

February 1, 2010

Google Analytics are you listening?

In mid-2006 when I finally managed to snag a Google Analytics account I was working with an internet acquaintance on some upgrades to their site. One of these upgrades included stat tracking with GA. The acquaintance and I both had an account, so we thought: "Hey, why not, invite me to your stats!"

Now, four-ish years later, I am no longer in contact with that acquaintance and am not affiliated with the project at all, and yet - I can still see their GA stats. All due to a simple flaw in the GA system: You can't remove shared GA accounts from one another.

I now have two "Accounts" listed when I first visit the Dashboard. One "private" the other of the acquaintance.  I can still see their stats for all their accounts (apparently the entire account was shared with me, not only a single site).

There's an ongoing discussion the Google Support forums, but no reaction from Google whatsoever.

Check out the discussion here.