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Summary:

Living as a Mac island in a sea of Windows machines at the office can sometimes be a challenge. Though Apple has made advances through simply enabling Mac OS X clients to attach to Windows networks, and mount shared file servers, third party devices are often […]

Living as a Mac island in a sea of Windows machines at the office can sometimes be a challenge. Though Apple has made advances through simply enabling Mac OS X clients to attach to Windows networks, and mount shared file servers, third party devices are often the part of the ecosystem that goes forgotten – as Windows-oriented developers will sometimes overlook the Macintosh, assuming Mac users make up too small a part of the population to demand dedicated effort.

For too long, I thought my Blackberry, which I depend on for mobile e-mail, calendar, basic Web surfing, and address book functionality, was one of those devices that would never fully support the Mac. Living in parallel worlds, I had contacts and calendar in Microsoft Outlook on the Dell laptop, and simultaneously, a separate list of contacts in my Macintosh Address Book, and appointments in iCal. Updates on the Blackberry wouldn’t affect the Mac, and vice versa.

pocketmac_sync

This all changed with Blackberry’s adoption and free release of PocketMac. Now that I’ve discovered PocketMac, my two worlds have been united – with the added bonus of synchronizing the data via .Mac to multiple Macs.

Like the Palm Desktop years before it, PocketMac offers the option to synchronize personal data between your Macintosh and the Blackberry, primarily focused on your address book and calendar appointments. But PocketMac is more flexible, offering to synchronize with a variety of desktop apps – including Apple’s Mail and Microsoft Entourage to iCal and the Now suite.

After installation, connect the Blackberry to the Mac via standard USB cable, charging the device, and you can configure it to your .Mac account by entering your user name and password, select which applications you want to synchronize, and simply hit sync. (As seen below)

pocketmac_sync_data

Subsequent synchronizations will note differences between your local data and that of the mobile device, giving you the option to accept or decline the changes. In the below example, the Mac noted that the Blackberry had deleted a completed meeting. I had the option to restore it to the Blackberry, or delete it from the Mac. Having already sat through the meeting, and not wishing to repeat it, the Mac soon also had the appointment erased. (See below)

pocketmac_sync_deletion

This brief interruption didn’t stop the synchronization, by any means. After I had made my selection, PocketMac kept humming along, until all tasks were complete – from e-mail to contacts.

pocketmac_sync_contacts

Now, instead of two separate address books and parallel calendars, I have one universal data set, shared between my Blackberry, my Mac at home, my Mac at work, and the Dell laptop. Best of all, if you already own a Blackberry, PocketMac is a free download.

  1. I’m not sure the app is ready for prime time. Without warning three weeks ago it stopped sync-ing my calendar. RIM’s tech support (this is not supported by PocketMac) has not been able to fix the issue so far, even after several uninstalls and reinstalls. Happily, it looks like the Missing Sync folks may be cooking something up.

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  2. I was using PocketMac about a year ago to sync my iPAQ and it just didn’t work at all, despite all the support tips. After about 10 re-installs and extensive troubleshooting I decided it was not worth it so I uninstalled. Definitely not a company I’d consider purchashing more software from in the future.

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  3. I’ve been using this app for about a year and a half. It tends no to work at all on my laptops. Not sure why but at least its free now.

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  4. @BingeBoy.com – How are you using it if it’s not working at all?

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  5. They say that a person with a happy experience tells 3 people, and one with a bad experience tells 7, so you need to keep a high percentage of folks pleased with your product. It sounds like some of you had trouble with PocketMac syncing on iPAQ or other platforms. Using it with my BlackBerry 7100, I have no complaints at all. It just works in the way that I would expect. It’s a breath of fresh air compared to not thinking I had any solution at all.

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  6. I just bought a Blackberry Pearl (8100), and can confirm that PocketMac does not work past the first sync at all. If you look around the Blackberry forums you’ll note that this is the experience of most people that have attempted PocketMac. I think the app has a long way to go to be usable, and it most definately needs syncing via Bluetooth to be added. Come on RIM – pull your finger out !

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  7. I didn’t realize it was systemic. I don’t watch forums any longer – that’s why I bought a Mac.

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  8. @Rob

    When you remove the PocketMac, you also have to manually delete the .plist file or it doesnt do anything to remove/re-add the app.

    @Kezza

    Hmm, I bought my BB Pearl the day the T-Mobile started shipping them and I have been using PocketMAC 4 series as soon as it came out. And I sync at least once a day and have no issues. And my father who has a 7105T uses PM4 to sync his to his mac with no issues.

    @ALL

    if you have issues with PocketMac 4, please submit bug requests or it will never get fixed. the PocketMac (I can not thing of their real company name, sorry) does still write the code for PocketMac for BlackBerry. Just now they get paid by RIM to do it. Plus they get access to the RIM Engineers that designed the BlackBerries. Now if only one person has an issue (or they only know of one person) then it may or may not get fixed. But is hundreds (or even thousands) do, then that get a much higher priority.

    just my 2 cents worth

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  9. BE VERY CAREFUL. I have it and it isn’t ready for prime time yet. Yes, some people have been lucky but a quick look over forums will show you it is a nightmare.

    My case is simple, PowerBook g4, OS 10.3.9, iCal, Address Book, Mail and regular up to date stuff with a Pearl Blackberry. I’ve exchanged three pearls so far and reinstalled PocketMac three times from scratch. It is tricky at best. No matter how I set to overwrite the device, it still wipes out my entire calendar and only imports the “home” category but not the more crucial “work”.

    Blackberry support is quasi-nonexistant. I sent them tons of logs and a month later they are still looking over it. PocketMac was a little more helpful.

    This is beta stuff. Backup everything first and test it on a blank user account. And whatever you do, know you cannot count on BlackBerry. Maybe it’s a Windows type company that doesn’t care about its users. Come to think of it I will retry them.

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  10. I used PocketMac for the iPaq I used to use. Well, I tried to use PM. I had a lot of clean-up to do after a number of attempts to make the program work. I tried technical support, but they were not very helpful.

    Because I just couldn’t get my iPaq reliably talking to my PowerBook G4, I bought a PalmOS device. It didn’t have the nice features of the iPaq, but it synchronized reliably with my PowerBook and Missing Sync was a blessing after the nightmares I had with PM.

    A few months ago I tired of having multiple devices to carry with me, so I bought a BlackBerry 8700. The only software to synchronize it with my PowerBook (and now MacBook Pro) is PM. With some trepidation, I downloaded and installed PM.

    It works, mostly. I don’t synchronize my tasks with the BB. I sometimes have problems with the address book dropping entries or phone numbers. PM sometimes makes changes to iCal entries as well (converting all-day events to timed events midnight-noon). None of these problems appear to be strictly reproducible.

    I’ve made PM technical support aware of these problems. They say they will be repaired in a subsequent release. So far, no joy.

    After my very positive experience with the Missing Sync folks, I’m praying they construct an appication. I’d gladly pay $50 for the capability to reliably synchronize all of my PIM data between my BB and my Mac. I might even pay $75 for confidence that my data were safely esconced in both my BB and my Mac.

    I don’t see myself dumping my BB. It’s not a perfect device by any means, but it’s the best game in town for a combination PDA/phone. It does both acceptbly. I’m also not dumping my Mac. I’m not going back to a Windows-based machine and all the headaches I had with maintenance.

    Besides, I just like unix…

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