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Google Contacts syncing issues with the iPhone

Google iPhone SyncFor some time, I’ve had a major productivity issue:  the phone numbers (and in some cases email addresses) of all of my contacts that I keep in Google Contacts were not synchronizing with my iPhone making it pretty difficult to make calls on-the-go.  After a decent amount of searching, I found a lot of people having similar issues but not a clear path to fixing it.  It seems it is a known issue and centers around inconsistency in how Google contacts and the iPhone handle contact fields, the number of fields that will synchronize, field labels, etc.  More concerning, most people who were able to fix their issue did it manually by editing every field for every contact in their address book to use one of Google’s default fields.  This is an extremely painful and tedious process, and could induce sheer madness for anyone with a sizable number of contacts.

The quick summary is, from what I can tell, that Google will only synchronize fields that meet their standards (Home, Mobile, Work Fax), and most importantly, case sensitivity matters.  So if you imported from another address box, your fields may not be matching up even if they are named ‘home’ and ‘mobile’.  Those will be ported into Google Contacts as custom fields and custom fields do not synchronize.  This also applies for the field ‘other’ which seems to causing a lot of people angst as well.  Also note, that Google will only synchronize a certain number of fields such as phone numbers and email addresses.

Finally, I came across a post by Seth Jaffe (thanks Seth!) on a message board that outlined an easy way to make a lot of changes to your contacts in one pass.  I used the basis of his post to fix the issue for myself and thought I would pay it forward with a post outlining how to fix this for yourself if you are dealing with the same issue.  Note, this should only be a fix if you are synchronizing your contacts from Google Contacts to your iPhone (which you can learn to do at MacTalk or here at Google if you are interested).  Also, disclaimers apply.  Back up your data.  I don’t want you go from missing a few data elements to missing an entire address book!  Okay, here we go…

1.  Export your contacts from Google – Click ‘My Contacts’, Click the ‘More’ button and ‘Export’.  You want to export as a Google CSV file.  When it gives you a choice, most of you will want to pick “My Contacts” as the group you want to export as it will be where most of your contacts are.  To be safe, I recommend you do this process twice and also export as an Outlook CSV as well.  This way you will have a back up for either Google or Outlook if disaster should strike.

2. Save the Export to a file – You will need to save the export to a location on your computer and should end up with a file named “google.csv”, but you can name it whatever you want.  Just remember where you saved it.

3.  Open in Microsoft Word – Because it is a .csv file, most of the time this will open for you in Microsoft Excel.  You don’t want to do that, for some reason it did not work for me.  (another alternative would be to open the comma separated file in a standard text editor as well)  In the case of Word, simply Right Click and open it with Microsoft Word instead.  Note, the information in the file will be comma separated and will be all jumbled, don’t panic, this is okay.

4.  Search and Replace – Now use search and replace in Microsoft Word to change a lot of the fields so that they are in the format that fit Google’s defaults and thus they will synchronize over to the iPhone.  Here are a few examples to give you an idea that I used:  Replace all instances of ‘mobile’ with ‘Mobile’, Replace all instances of ‘home’ with ‘Home’, replace all instances of ‘other’ with ‘Work’.  This should get your contacts file to be in the right format.

5.  Save the file – Save the file but be sure to save it as a different file name, like GoogleNew.csv so you don’t overwrite your original.  Microsoft Word will probably add the suffix .txt on the end of your file name if you save it in text format.  Just go to the file where you have it saved and rename it so it ends with the .csv extension only.

6.  Delete your Existing Contacts – You’ll want to delete all of your existing contacts in your My Contacts group because you want that folder empty when you import all of your clean data back in and avoid a duplication issue.  Again, make sure you’ve backed up your data before deleting.  You can do this by clicking “My Contacts” in Google Contacts, selecting all and deleting.  You’ll probably need to do this for several pages if you have lots of data but it is not that bad.

7.  Import your file – Once you have an empty “My Contacts” group, you are ready to import.  You do this by clicking “My Contacts”, then clicking the “more” button and then import.  Choose the file that you created. For example, GoogleNew.csv.  And then click ‘import’.

Once you do that, it should pull in all of your contacts from the new file into your “My Contacts” group and if already have synchronization set up on your iPhone, Google will begin synchronizing your data over to your phone almost immediately if you are on wireless.  You can make sure if works by going into a few of your contacts and you’ll notice the data fields showing up and synchronizing with the right information.  Hope this helps some of you that have been having the same synchronization issues between Google Contacts and the iPhone.

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When a Picture is 480 Words

This morning I had one of those moments that isn’t a big deal in the broad scheme of things but I found interesting and relevant.  I’m at the beach taking some time and thought I would drop this in a post.  We all know that the web has given us a tremendous amount of value in software and capabilities.  At the same time, each and every day I recognize that this same tremendous proliferation of software has almost made managing all the sites, downloads and apps a full time job as well.  Take this example from this morning…

Earlier this week I changed back to an iPhone from Android so I’ve spent that last few days loading it up with a bunch of apps.  One of the apps is Instagram, an app I’ve wanted to try and gave up waiting for it to come out on Android.  Anyway, downloaded the app, took a picture, picked my filter and was given my choice of channels to send it to.  So, in his case, I sent it via email to my wife, sent it to Facebook and decided to not put it into my Twitter stream.   Then I saw that I could send the photo to Posterous, a service I signed up for long ago but had used in some time, so I thought, send it there too.  And then software took over…

All of of sudden, this nice photo ended up on this blog and in my Twitter stream.  What happened?  I forgot that at some point back when I signed up for Posterous, I also said of course publish anything posted on Posterous I would also want to publish to Twitter and to this blog BUT I should be smart about it and only do it when I am the author (that way I can control it what cross posts).  So all software operated as instructed.  But things that I did not intend to happen at the time I published this photo did.

So it turns out that I now need two new services:

1. Service Tracker  –  A service that keeps track of all the services that I’ve signed up for.  This I’ve been wanting for years. At one point, I used Friendfeed for this purpose and it seemed to work well but I feel I need something specifically designed for this purpose.

2.  Service Auth Tracker – I would now like a service that tracks all services that I have authenticated and authorized to access data in other services or to cross-post.  This post demonstrates the cross-post issue.  Who knows how services I’ve allowed to use my social logins or to access my social data stream.

Okay, time to hit publish.  I wonder when these two new services will be built and by whom?  Where this post will now publish to is a whole other question.

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Posted via email from loupaglia’s posterous

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Pause and Reflect

Pause

Image by Rafa Puerta Photo via Flickr

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology. Most of this blog is about technology. But make no mistake, we are under self-inflicted attack of technological warfare.  And we love it.  But we have to remain mindful of it. We have to be mindful of it because it is only going to get worse, because technology is getting better. Think about it…let’s take one device, the iPad, a device phenomenally designed so that you can comfortably have it on your lap and be plugged in. What a great way to immerse yourself in great apps, great content, your feeds, the news, books, videos…all while ignoring those around you when you are probably already interacting with them so well….watching the tube.

I’ve had a post like this sitting in my drafts folder for months.  Fred Wilson wrote a post a few weeks back talking about “Being Present“. Similarly Brad Feld wrote a post about his four minute rule that he has with his wife. So I thought it was a good time to dust if off, polish it up and hit publish.  It’s purpose is simply to make the three of you that read it to PAUSE and reflect, even for just a moment before going to the next items in Google Reader.

With technology, we all know it is very tough to unplug and be present for the ones around you. I try to remind myself all the time of this when with the family and admittedly, don’t do the best job of it. The good news for me is have a family that will continually remind me so they keep it top of my mind…put the phone down, shut the laptop.  My personal favorite is my dad who says “Lou, is that phone attached to your hand?”  It is (or should be) obvious for most that balance is really important. This got me thinking about the pervasiveness of technology and how much it may be hindering our abilities to interact on a personal level with others, not just family but colleagues and strangers too.  Again pause and reflect.

I realize that anyone reading this post is instantly going to say that if anything technology has improved interaction with others.  The mobile device let’s you stay connected and reachable.  There is video chat like Facetime and Skype giving you the ability to communicate with others across the country and around the world.  Facebook keeps you in tune with the happenings of all your offline friends (if that isn’t a paradox in itself).  Twitter keeps me abreast of the news and what is happening around me.  And I get it, absolutely right.  That is why is such a tough topic and one that everyone has to figure out themselves.

Take a moment think about it, take stock of those around you and how they are interacting (or not) with others.  Think about the opportunities where you can interact with others and leave the technology aside for even a few minutes.  That is all you can do.  I’ve done it and here are some observations I’ve made:

  • At home – talked about this above already.  Read Fred and Brad’s posts on it.
  • In the city – As if not making eye contact and acknowledging a stranger in city was already a problem, now walk down a city street and take a look around you.  People walking and talking on their phones.  People with headphones on in their own little worlds.  People (pet peeve of mine) walking down the street and typing on their phone.  The most recognition you give is not slamming into them.
  • At the local coffee shop – Starbucks recently changed their WiFi policy making web access even easier for patrons.  Think about that though.  The coffee shop where people used to go, sit down with someone else and chat.  In the past month, I’ve been in Starbucks in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.  Everywhere it is the same.  Everyone has a cup of coffee…and their noses into their phones or laptops.  Sometimes both, while ear buds in their ears while listening to music.
  • At the airport – Waiting for my plane to depart, I think everyone at my gate was on the phone, on their laptop, charging their phone or laptop at the charging station or listening to their iPod.
  • On the train and on the plane – Same thing.  Everyone immersed in the technology in their hands.  More rare is the occurrence that you actually meet the person next you.
  • At the stadium – I was just at the Giants game this weekend.  There we are opening day, beautiful new stadium, huge crowds cheering their team, a game on the field.  What do I see?  A row of people on their phones the whole time!  Don’t get me wrong, I checked into Foursquare but then I watched the game, chatted with my neighbors and cheered for the team.

Again, I am the first one to say technology is fantastic.  I can’t stress that enough.  But we need to sneak some time back in for personal interaction…somehow.  For fun, take some time the next time you are out and take a look around you.  Pause and reflect.  Repeat.   Ok, time to go check what is on the DVR.

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Best LEGO DRAWing

You can’t beat it.  World Cup. LEGO and the USA pulling out the draw in the opener against England!

Positive Vision, Not Negative Outlook

Google Wave has taken the world by storm and been the talk of innovation since it was demonstrated months ago. Invites going out like concert tickets and for better or worse, early returns are coming in. This morning on the train ride into the city I read Scoble pronouncement that Wave is over-hyped. There is fantastic follow-up conversation that I recommend in the comments discussing it even further. Louis Gray also discusses.

So is Google Wave the New New Thing? Who knows? Scoble, Gray and many others probably have fair points. I have no idea if it is going to be successful. In fact, I haven’t even used it yet since I wasn’t opened to the system (not one of the worthy 100k, thanks Google!). I’d like to discuss a bigger question.

Why so negative? (Said another way, a very provocative question is “Why be so quick to judgment?”) Who knows what the future holds? In the beginning, Twitter showed no purpose to me. I have a personal post to prove it. I made the mistake to be very quick to judge the service at the time and quite honestly give the thing time to ferment. I later remedied my incorrect early impression. I think people confuse how they look at the service now as opposed to the service we were all looking at it when it first came out. And that quick rush to judgment has bigger negative consequences.

When Friendfeed switched to a real-time interface, I came very close to making the same mistake. It was blistering fast, hard to follow and there was a lot of noise in the channel just like when you follow tons of people in Twitter and just watch the stream. Very valid points BUT to a certain extent, it is the wrong way to look at things. It took a few months, but once I got used to the service, I couldn’t even go back to “refresh mode”, I loved real time. Back in August,I reflected and was honest with myself as to what I thought at one point no longer was valid…for me.

The goal or premise of Google Wave was to re-define what we mean for collaboration and by folding into the framework the concept of real-time, public and private conversations, threaded and nested conversations: really the merging of email and IM/chat which has been the standard collaboration conversation paradigms of the past couple decades.

Some say, impossible, there is too much email lock-in to change the way people communicate in an email like channel. Why? Are we actually saying that we will not advance from the email we know today? That cannot be. With that attitude, we are set collectively to never create anything game-changing and new. Again I reflect, back in the 90’s, a little search company came out and I laughed (negatively) and wondered if these two guys didn’t understand that Yahoo! owned the search market. We know how that story ended. And that is why I don’t say things like “don’t come out with new search engines, you cannot beat Google, they have too much share and power.” Is it daunting? Of course it is. But not impossible. Microsoft, a gorilla, is under threat in the enterprise and the office productivity space. We would never have thought such a thing could occur, many still don’t.

Building good enterprise software (often regarded an oxymoron) is hard and often failed but that doesn’t mean we will not continue to innovate in the space.

I close this post tying it back to Google Wave. Will it be successful? Who knows? What I can say is that it shows an enormous amount of vision, positive vision about how it can change the collaboration and real time communication world. It is so early in the evolution, let’s see where we go, viable use cases, incremental improvement, additional feedback loops incorporated into the product. And finally, let’s not lose sight on what huge factor: the open development community will harness some real power and value in this ecosystem. Just like what happened with Twitter. Twitter evolved from a simple user interface with a white box to type “what are you doing”. It would be no where near as pervasive today with the significant developments around its API and the community developing apps with vision on how to leverage a one-to-many communications framework.

Let’s give this some time. Let’s give it a chance. That is what makes innovation so great. Building and investing in things that do not seem possible, initial ventures that are seemingly dumb and improving the status quo.

Guess I woke up on the right side of the bed this morning.

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