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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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Faces in iPhoto ’09

Apple iLife banner

Image by troy mason via Flickr

Messing with Faces in iPhoto ’09 this evening after moving a lot of our photo collection from the laptops to a new iMac. After several cold attempts on moving the photo library over, deleting the database, launching iPhoto and trying again, the ‘Faces’ functionality did not seem to be working properly.  In fact, it seemed to not recognize one face.  This is a far cry from earlier reports I was reading on FriendFeed that the sofware was recognizing the faces of people’s feline companions!

Did a quick Google search regarding iPhoto face problems I was having and there isn’t much out there in the form of help save this one.  (Lots of reviews already)  I was also fortunate enough to find one post regarding the problem and  couple of posters were highly recommending for anyone having issues to watch the video tutorials on any of the new functionality to (and I’ll use their words) “avoid a lot of frustration.”  I wish I read that advice before embarking on my iPhoto journey (my fault).

The key assumption that you should not have is that iPhoto is going to automatically organize people into folders for you to then name.  That was my initial assumption simply because it processed the photos as such when initially launching the application.  It apparently did work like this for some but not for others.  Here’s the iLife video tutorial section over at Apple.  Head on over there for help.  Here is the tutorial specifically for organizing your photos using faces.  After two minutes of the video, I was fully operationally with several people in my photo collection, tagged, recognized and auto-recognizing on the rest of the photos.  So in my case, it didn’t happen magically but overall once I knew what I was doing, it seemed to be working quite well.

Obviously I need to use the software for some time to give a full verdict but overall, I am liking the software so far.

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Perspective and Reflection

Evening reflection by matey_88

With all the news swirling around lately, it feels to me that we’ve lost a little bit of perspective.  It could be international relations, the stock market or the economy just to name a few, all very important things that affect our lives and life on a global scale. The economy is not the greatest right now.  We’ve witnessed over the past few months some of the worst corruption and corporate negligence on very large scales.  But does that mean everything should be put under the microscope, that everything is wrong rather than the other way around?

Let’s take two of the bigger stories in the tech industry of late: Yahoo! and Steve Jobs.  (I could argue these are not the two biggest things going on but they certainly are driving a large portion of the media coverage)

Yahoo! has been under the microscope for some time now.  And yes, an offer from Microsoft at $33 per share is looking pretty compelling when you look at where the stock is today.  But let’s not lose sight of what is good.  Yahoo! has $7B in revenue, is a known brand and has a number of category leading products. Last time I checked, that is pretty good.

The story with regard to Jobs’ health I find more concerning.  I’m a shareholder in Apple but I don’t think it is my right to probe into the health of an executive.  There is no correlation between Jobs’ health and bad company performance.  So the ‘conspiracy theory’ swirling around this (even if Apple could have been more forthright) just doesn’t deserve this much negative attention.  Because we’ve been burned by poor corporate governance in several situations should not mean that is the litmus test on how we handle all questionable story lines.  In fact, Kara Swisher has what I believe to be a great post with regard to Steve Jobs today over at Boomtown, particularly the transcript of Job’s speech at Stanford.  It is about perspective and a bit of reflection, even in cloudy times, and driving forward from there (that’s what I took from it).

I don’t plan to jump into philosophy here so I won’t.  My sense is everything has reached this point of “permanence”, that all is bad right now and is being looked at with that lens.  With that there’s been some loss of perspective, some loss of reflection on what is really important. Tim O’Reilly recently posted his thoughts on what matters.  I agree with much of what he said.

I’m confident that things are going to look up.  It is going to take some time.  I know one thing though, that it starts with a positive look on things, a look at the things that are important and a passionate drive forward from there.  Just a quick glance back at the innovation that came out of the first bubble burst tells us that is true.  And that is what is at the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit after all.

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Favorite lines from Today

It is not every day that a couple of lines catch my eye. Today brought out a couple of them so I thought I would mention them here:

1.  Steve Jobs – In his letter to the Apple community, Steve Jobs ends with a classic line:

So now I’ve said more than I wanted to say, and all that I am going to say, about this.

Not making light of the situation but glad to see Steve’s open and close stance on what is personal to him.  I do not agree with a lot of the ridicule that Steve or Apple have received regarding how they have not disclosed information about Steve’s health.  My view is until it reaches a point where the CEO duties are not able to be responsibly met, the information should remain personal.  Steve’s line sums up my thoughts on this as well.

2.  Jeff Nolan – late yesterday, Jeff sent out this tweet:

“Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks… I cringe when that’s the book request for the night. Seems like it should be someth ing used at Gitmo.”

Anyone who is a parent out there who reads to the child can commiserate. I believe there are several books that I can put on a list that without fail my daughter will ask to read.  I haven’t read Fox in Socks yet but Green Eggs and Ham is certainly up there on my list although lately I’ve been getting Amelia Bedelia’d.

3.  Brad Feld – A couple of days ago, I stumbled upon the “legal” page on his blog.  Here is an excerpt and there is more so do check it out:

…I’m responsible for what I say, and all errors, idiocy, stupid comments, swear words, and humor are my own personal responsibility. These are my own thoughts, generated by me, representing me.

I awarded to Brad via Twitter my first annual “best blog disclaimer ever” award as a result. It is not very often that one can get enjoyment from a disclaimer or terms & conditions.  This one, however, was a nice respite from lawyer speak.

Enjoy the rest of your Monday.

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iPhone Improves Driving Experience

Got the iPhone last week, had to do it.  Nice, shiny device….good.  Stunningly clean interface….good.  Embedded iPod….good.  Enterprise Exchange with ‘push’ support…..good.  And that is before I enter my vehicle.

Earlier this week, I was already impressed with WordPress blogging capability from the iPhone.  Today, I wanted to put the iPhone through a couple of test cases with the multimedia system in my car, particularly the bluetooth phone system and the auxiliary iPod connection.  These are two things I did not think of regarding compatibility before getting the device so I was moderately concerned since my wife is already using my 80Gb iPod Classic.  Anyway, I digress.

First test:  Bluetooth pairing to be able to use the iPhone with the internal Bose system in the car.  Worked flawlessly.  In fact, better than the Blackberry Curve.  With the Curve, only entries us to the letter ‘N’ would sync with the car’s directory service (was never able to fix this).  With the iPhone, full directoy capability.

Second test:  iPod auxiliary connection.  Upon connecting, I was met with a message on the iPhone that said “This device is not compatible with this system.”  uh oh Houston.  Then a nice friendly message popped up and said “Would you like to switch to airplane mode?”.  Why yes I would and then instant music and full access to playlists, etc.  And it charges as well!  So, the iPod works with the only downside being I have to choose between phone service or playing the iPod.  Perhaps Apple will be able to lick this with a later version.

To close, one more point I would like to make since I’m on the topic of driving.  You can type on the iPhone with one hand.  I’ve heard many reports that compared to the Blackberry you can’t do it.  With this, I disagree.  In fact, I typed this entire blog post while driving!  (just kidding)  But I did type a quick Twitter message just to see if I could do it.  And no, I won’t do it again because it is not safe, I know this.  It’s okay though if you are at a traffic light (a long traffic light).

Take care…