overhauled .Mac serveice gets pushy -- and that's good thing.
July 25, 2008 (MacWorld)
Synchronization is hard. It may sound simple: copy personal
information, such as contacts and events, between computers and keep
them all up to date. But over the years, we've seen sync programs that
don't quite work. I not-so-fondly remember manually deleting hundreds
of duplicate contacts from my Palm handheld years ago, and even now, I
run into records in which separate companies and individuals were long
ago squished together into the same contact.
Apple Inc. has thrown resources at this problem over time, and the
latest incarnation, MobileMe, adds the capability to synchronize some
data to devices and other Macs lickety-split, the way Microsoft's
Exchange Server performs in the corporate world. In fact, Apple calls
MobileMe "Exchange for the rest of us." MobileMe definitely comes
closer to fulfilling the promise made by the six-year-old .Mac (which
it replaced), though it has more than a few rough edges.
With an online service such as MobileMe, I'm writing about a moving target shortly after what turned out to be a disastrous introduction. Not only was MobileMe rolled out at the same time as the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0
software update -- which greatly strained Apple's overwhelmed servers
during the first days -- the service also ran into snags days before
that when it was soft-launched in advance of its grand debut.
The service was frequently unavailable, and synchronization often
didn't work properly. Apple apologized for the snafus and extended all
MobileMe subscriptions by 30 days. So, it's possible that the
reliability of the service will improve over time.
Existing .Mac subscribers automatically became MobileMe subscribers, and were given a new firstname.lastname@example.org
e-mail address. New accounts are available from Apple for $99 per year
($149 for a family pack of five licenses), but you can also buy a boxed
version that includes a registration code from retailers like
Amazon.com Inc. for less.
Upgrading the software on the Mac is oddly tricky, however. Under
Leopard, the Mac OS X Update for MobileMe 1.1 doesn't appear in
Software Update. You must first open the .Mac pane in System
Preferences, and after a minute or so, a dialog appears informing you
of the update. Only then does Software Update make it available.
According to Apple, this unusual two-step process was required to add
the MobileMe imagery to the preference pane; future updates will be
available just via Software Update.
Users running Tiger won't see a MobileMe update at all, even though
the service works under Mac OS X 10.4.11 (except for Back to My Mac and
some sync options, which are Leopard-only features). Although I didn't
run into any problems with syncing under Tiger, several reports in
Apple's discussion forums advise deleting .Mac preference files if you
encounter problems. (In the Finder, go to [home]/Library/Preferences
and look for files with "com.apple.dotmac" in the names.)
I recommend making a backup copy of your Address Book and iCal (or
Entourage) data before upgrading, just to be safe. To avoid initial
data munges, it's a good idea to also use the Reset Sync Data option in
the Preference pane.
source : http://www.computerworld.com/