An update on MobileMe
Sep 22, 2008

Google Analytics tells me that my post on problems with MobileMe is currently one of my most popular, so I thought I'd write a little more about that. As I said before, I had been having some big problems with MobileMe. For a while, my iPhone simply wasn't syncing at all. Since I do a lot of work at home where I have access to my iMac, but also do a lot of work elsewhere on my Thinkpad this was a bit of a problem. Initially I got around this by migrating to Google Calendars. But, to be honest, this didn't last for long. My approach was to import my iCal calendars into Google, then subscribe to them in iCal via CalDAV. This worked decently well, and allowed me to keep my calendar in sync on Google, iCal, and, via syncing through iTunes, my iPhone. It was a bit more cumbersome, but at least I had full access to my calendar wherever I went. The main problems with this were that on my iPhone, the Calendar app didn't have write access, I'd have to go into Safari and edit the calendar that way if I wanted to do it on my iPhone (a process which I don't really like; I'm not a huge fan of web apps in general). The other problem was being tied to syncing through iTunes again. In the brief time that MobileMe worked propertly, I got very attached to my over the air syncing, and didn't really like giving it up. Long story short, it didn't take that long for MobileMe syncing to start working again, and I switched back and have been very happy since. Since I can still access me.com/calendar in Firefox on Linux by simply changing my user agent (and it works perfectly), I really have no motivation to use anything else. So for the foreseeable future I intend to stick with MobileMe for my calendaring needs. If apple offered some sort of hosted MobileMe the way Google does with Gmail I might even switch to that so that I could have full integration of all my tools (it's annoying that the address book on my mac and my iPhone isn't the same as my gmail address book, and the syncing between the two is so horrible that I have no desire to touch it ever again). Another alternative I'm somewhat considering is Zarafa. Zarafa offers a drop-in Exchange replacement that, basically, exactly duplicates all of Exchange's functionality including the ActiveSync that iPhones now support. Even better, they just open-sourced it. This is actually a fairly attractive possibility as it would give me everything I like about MobileMe, plus all the other advantages that an Exchange solution would offer except for the licensing costs (and hopefully some of the annoying design decisions, though I don't know enough to really say yet). The downside, of course, is that I'd have to maintain my own server (or pay for a hosted solution, if such a thing exists). But I do know a number of other small business owners who could probably benefit from such a thing, so I could probably go in with them on a server to run Zarafa for all of us (and maybe even get them to pay me to maintain it and such). It's certainly worth considering at any rate. I may try and set it up on either my Gentoo-powered Thinkpad or my FreeBSD server at home and give it a whirl.
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