Problems Sync’ing Palm with Mac’s Mail.app and Entourage

As a mac user I’m already used to the sad fact that we’re second whenever programs, features and innovations are decided and misguided companies still believe we’re a Pain in the Ass when it comes to support us (funnily, a lot of companies exist today because of innovations Apple made that spawned whole industries).

Hence, I’m used to living with certain “quirks”, which mean I have to know specific steps, procedures and compatibilities when I try to run or use equipment not expressly decided with the mac in mind (it’s amazing how well devices designed directly for the Mac or Apple work, like no other platform has seen, things like the iPod, iSight, iTrip, iMic, etc.).

As such I have a Sony Clie UX50 and two Macs, one (home) with Mail.app, Addressbook and iCal and another one with Entourage (office). One would think they should be simple enough to Sync, what with MS having an open kit for sync’ing with Entourage and iSync supposedly using Open standards for all its files. I wish it was so easy. This is a call for help. Read on if you think you can help out.
(Originally sent to a maliing list as a call for help, and reproduced here in its undedited entirety)

(Ok, this will look like a rant, but it isn’t, it’s a call for help or options, I just don’t know how to voice it without expressing the feelings I have for this)

Now. Am I the only person in the world to think that an iSync conduit for Entourage would be a good idea?

I have to use entourage in the office and use mail.app and addressbook and ical at home. I have found there is no easy way for me to synchronize all these things together and I have to, as my office appointments are in entourage but my personal apopintments are in iCal (to start with, lots of similar problems with the other apps).

I was told I could use a Palm as intermediary, which sounded reasonable enough.

I have a Palm Clie UX50 which I use with both macs, and I’m doing the palm-shuffle, sync’ing at home and then at the office. This seemed like a good option, but very basic yet important differences sprung some major problems.

First: The Palm, being its sole reason of existence to be a substitute for a written calendar and addressbook (everything else are extras, the core function of a PDA is to keep addresses, notes and appointments, this is not debatable, although can be downplayed), now in it’s sixth major iteration of its operating system and fifth major version of the addressbook still can’t, or won’t handle more than one address per contact. I won’t even try to expand on the irony and absurdity of this. Both addressbook and Entourage recognize more than one (Entourage can recognize a work and home addresses, which is the needs of 90% of the people out there who need more than one) and Addressbook can have unlimited addresses. Both use and recognize the VCF format, pioneered by Palm. Addressbook is the most standard of the three (in regards to the format for interchange). But if you use Palm as an intermediary you’re left with a single addrtess and you have to “predefine” what the addresses on the Palm are going to be (Work or Home), if you make a mistake hgere you could end up, after two or three syncs, with repeated addresses or deleted entries in Addressbook (as something that was work address in entourage is stored as home by the palm who later overwrites the home address in iaddressbook)

Second, Entourage and Addressbook handle differently the meetings, especially all-day meetings and recurring events. If you’re lucky you end up with duplicates for everything (an all-day event like an anversary gets
written both as an event from 12:00 am to 12:00 am AND as an event from 12:00am to 11:59pm), if you’re NOT lucky you end up with the whole calendar being deleted and rewritten every time you do a sync. (“iSync detected changes in your to do and calendar entries, 512 entries will be deleted, 513 entries will be added, procceed or delete all?). This has the added benefit that after every sync Entourage tries to remember of every past meeting for the last month, as entries with old dates are input again in the system.

Third. Periodically .mac gets sick of all these changes and borks out, asking you to reset it all and replace it with .macs data: “Downloading 1254K, 4324 changes, reset all devices? Yes, Delete All data?”.

With a conduit for entourage (or an updated Addressbook application for Palm, or at least the address database handler, as even third party addressbook substitutes like agendus can’t expand on it) in iSync I could sync entourage as if it was a PDA or something directly, not worrying about losing information to tintermediaries.

Any idea if this has been done or if it is possible? What are my options here?

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