Sunday, 23 December 2012

You can't win.... farewell Google/Outlook Calender Sync

So I continue with this exercise in self-indulgence, for whatever purpose. Oh I must admit, I like typing on that keyboard, the Corsair Vengeance, FYI.
Anyway the message I have today is:-

YOU CAN’T WIN


.. actually forget that, i.e. winning,

YOU CAN’T KEEP WHAT YOU’VE GOT.


I allude to Google shutting down support for calendar sync that I had HAD to use since I went from Apple to Android.

All I want to do is something very very simply:-

USE MICROSOFT OUTLOOK 2011,


..with my PC and phone, for notes, e-mails, calendar, and music (iTunes), that’s it, nothing fancy. Oh and keep it all off-line too, not because the world might end and I'd need this stuff (actually if I did have access to this stuff after an  'internet apocalyptic' event, I wouldn't mind) but because such access does have it advantages, some of which I'll describe.

Now I used to own iPhone 4, and side-graded (it wasn’t quite an upgrade) to a Motorola Atrix, it was ‘ostensibly’ free, had a bigger screen etc.

E-mails, all systems are fine.


E-mails, ok I use both Hotmail (now outlook.com) and Gmail, my PC simply collects the e-mails and put them in my 10+ years old .pst file. On my phone I can use Gmail, works well-ish, and Microsoft poor effort of an Android client. Actually I use Gmail a great deal more. Both receive spam. Outlook.com lets me block senders, Gmail offers the creation of ‘filters’ but if you select more then 25, it decides that you shouldn’t be trying to block that many spammers in one go!

My iPhone used to manage syncing through iTunes quite nicely. But with exorbitant pricing, (still) small screens, and the rather closed nature of the phone, I just can’t go back to Apple and the sync bliss I had with them. On retrospect ‘the closed’ nature is not that much of an issue.

iTunes Sync, all systems are fine.


So in Android land, I bought (before Google banned me from buying, unless I give them my passport) iSyncr, that was a one stop (but slightly awkward) solution to my iTunes sync problem. The gory details of how I tried Songbird, and other programs are for another time, perhaps never, as I’ve forgotten the experiences. I only went through them because NONE would sync PLAYCOUNTS properly. Yes I love PLAYCOUNTS, and want these to sync. iSyncr does the job, so that’s that.

Calendar, used to work, still works, but apparently Google are about to kill it.


I found out in a web news article, about days after the event. My gripe, I like to have things OFFLINE, as well as on-line, just a few things, notes, e-mails and family photos. That’s it, yes, I am a dinosaur, not with the times etc. etc. ad nauseam. But that’s what I want. Why should I have to log into my Google account (yes I use two one for this blog and a few things, and my real named one) just to look at my calendar for the day or week etc? Oddly, Google don’t mind providing this offline on an Android phone, but oh no they hate the idea of anything being kept locally on a PC’s.

I also want to use a separate application, not my browser for my calendars, and Outlooks does it well, I typically have a LOT of tabs open, and don’t want to ‘hunt’ for the calendar tab. Yes I can put a short cut anywhere, desktop, browser bar etc, but then I would be forced to focus away from the tab I was looking at. Yes I use a single browser window, enforced via tabmix plus in Firefox.
So yes, it’s largely about the ‘way’ in which I browse and use a PC, I do not wish to change THIS aspect, I want an integrated application, Outlook provides, or rather ‘provided’ this, but no more it seems, thanks to Google.

Notes, never quite worked, largely gave up.


How to sync offline PC notes to an Android phone? Well if anyone has a simple solution, let me know, because after going thought a dozen so-called solutions, none of them worked. I still takes notes, but I have to resort to copying them manually etc. Poor beyond belief.

In iPhone land, it was bliss, it just copied to and from Outlook, no problems. Now here’s the good one, Google don’t mind you keeping a chunk of e-mails on the phone, offline maps, and even your calendar, but not notes it would seem. The idea is that you log into Gmail and read your notes there, no, not via your Gmail application, obviously, but via your browser.

Evernote offers a PC client, but it’s Android and PC clients, want net access, and have limited caches. They do offer offline access, but at a price so exorbitant, it would be cheaper to buy a data plan and carry on using their ‘free’ client.

Then there’s The Missing Sync, but it costs good money and has no trial version. I’m wary of paying for something that many have commented on as ‘doesn’t work’.

My Phone Explorer comes close, but it doesn’t do e-mails, argh!
Just about every other Android notes solution that I’ve tried, and I’ve tried one too many, simply won’t keep offline notes. I don’t’ mind them ‘being on line’ but I want local off-line access as well, for similar reasons as though I stated for my wanting the calendar offline.

I have used Microsoft One Note, it doesn’t appear to link with Outlook notes, and is cumbersome to use. It represents ‘overkill’ in terms of features, when I want something really simple.
Oh before anyone suggest a Window 8 phone and that OS as a solution. Err I installed Windows 8 on a fresh partition, and well hated it from beginning to end whilst I used it. Enough said. I don’t care much for ‘Oh you’re too set in your ways’ , ‘too stupid to use it’ etc. I just don’t like it, ‘what like you said you didn’t like Android and are now on your third Android phone’. I’m not into cutting my own nose off to spite my face, I go with what I like, which sometimes mean going with something cheaper (much cheaper!) even if you don’t get on with aspects of it, e.g. Google ‘Play’.


Learn to live with the grubby compromises out there...


Gripes aside, note my lack of criticism for the actual phone, the Sony Xperia T, which I am actually quite fond of. Yes I don’t hate all technology, just lots of it, for making life just darn awkward.

Odd thing being my rather appalling customer experience with Sony some year ago, and then again recently. As I said from the outset, YOU CAN’T WIN, and if I stopped buying from all those who have given me poor service, I would have to do without technology altogether. I have to buy from who gives the least worst service, and put up with it. take my mobile phone provider, used to be Orange (Now EE, or everything everywhere, or even Nothing Anywhere as I think thy should be called), for ten years, came down to what I expect will be a £15 repair on a phone, their conduct was so appalling (contradictory and ambiguous to boot), that I just paid off the contract and called it quits. I’ve been with Vectone for a while, pay as you go, it’s cheap especially for international calls and works, though the line quality is usually a bit poor. Their customer service, is just plain dreadful when push comes to shove, but they’ve got some stuff right, so I put up with them, as other providers are either exorbitantly expensive, or just plain worse.


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