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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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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…

Testing the new iPhone app

Many of you may know that WordPress just released their iPhone application. Since this is the first post I’ve tried, we’ll see how it goes. I did notice one issue as it mistakenly fired a Twitter update when I installed the application. If that is the only problem, then this tool will be an A plus effort. I look forward to testing it out.

user experience, great explanation

A co-worker sent me this to me weeks ago as one of the better examples he’s seen of explaining the real point of user experience. I just now got to take a good look at it and they did an excellent job in the overview. And they do it with what has become the most recent mainstream icon of consumer design, the Apple iPhone. (side note: rumors of the 3G iPhone are gaining momentum, that will be incredible, 3G and email push, enterprise support, sign me up)

Here is the slide show explaining the real point of solid user experience practice: