Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Mac update

So, I've had my Macbook Pro since Monday, and so far things are generally going swimmingly well. I've hardly looked at my Windows desktop PC in that time, and just love using the MBP. However, it would be fair to say that there have been a couple of issues.

Setting up a printer.
I'm sure if I had a Mac only network setup, or just plugged the printer into the Mac it would work flawlessly. The trouble is, my printer's attached via a USB cable to my main desktop PC running Windows 7. Could I get the MBP to see the printer. No. I fiddled, and googled, and fiddled and googled all to no avail. Then I thought some more, fiddled and googled and eventually got it working. However, it required my to enter strange commands ("smb" and server name stuff) in the print set up dialog, and create a password for my desktop which I've never needed to have before in order to allow me to connect to the desktop as a "registered user'. So much for Macs being easy - just plug and play. I appreciate this is more limitations of the Windows setup talking to the Mac rather than the Mac itself, but still, this is the 21st century. I'm now able to print, but it's slow (probably the Mac printer driver - which incidentally doesn't allow me to configure anything on print setup, such as draft mode), but at least it's a start.

The second problem related to how I wanted to control my calendar. I also have an iPhone as you know and I use a desktop Windows based PC at work. Currently I have all my calendar information on my iPhone in a single calendar, and this is set to sync to my work Outlook calendar via Exchange. I wanted to change this approach to the following scenario, but am struggling to work out the best way to achieve this. I'd like to keep my "personal" calendars separate from my work calendar, but all viewable together. I know you can view multiple calendars in both iCal and the iPhone calendar, so it shouldn't be a problem in principle.

My questions were as follows.

Was there an easier way to get my personal calendar info out of the existing iPhone/Exchange calendar and into a "Personal" calendar in iCal than doing this manual - i.e. deleting stuff item by item out of the existing calendar and re-entering it into either an new iPhone "personal" calendar or a personal calendar in iCal.

If I could achieve that, I could have one (or more) personal calendars in iCal/iPhone plus my work Exchange generated calendar in the iPhone. What is the best way to keep everything in sync?

The options as I understand them are:

Mobile Me - but there's a cost (not out of the question), but how does the work based Exchange calendar fit into this equation

Physical syncing of the iPhone to the Macbook via USB wire

Something more complicated routing through Google calendar

What I've actually done is delete my personal calendar entries in the Exchange (work) calendar, and set them up in a "Personal" calendar in iCal. Then I synced via USB cable. Voila! Now using view "All Calendars" in my iPhone I can see everything, but in the respective calendars.

I've also signed up to a 60 day free trial of Mobile Me as I'd rather sync happened over the air than plugging in my phone to the Mac all the time (a side benefit is that it gives me another "spare" email address, 20G of disk space and a few other bits and pieces). If it doesn't work for me I'll cancel the trial. If it works, £58 a year ain't too bad for someone as paranoid as me about keeping stuff in sync.

I'll worry about the work Exchange sync another time. I can see that in my iPhone and I'm not too worried about not seeing it in the MBP.

So, my two problems solved. Cool. I really love the MBP.

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