Tasks, Notes and Contact Sync

So, I finally broke down and got a MacBook Pro with OS X Mountain Lion.  My personal machines to date have been Windows, Android and LINUX machines.  Because I have a myriad of platforms I have been using Google as the intermediary when it comes to sync.  Here are some notes/observations from my experience in trying to get syncing set up for tasks, notes and contacts.


Simply put, there is no good sync for Tasks with OS X Mountain Lion.  All of the material I've found indicates that there is no way to sync Reminders with Google Tasks.  While the account set up says calendar and reminders it simply doesn't work for connecting to Google.  Just use Google Tasks via the web browser and the awesome Android gTasks application on your Android Slate/Convertible or phone.


When I first set up the contacts sync I was only seeing 35 contacts.  I knew this wasn't correct.  After looking at the contacts section of GMail I figured out that it was only showing contacts that are tagged with "My Contacts".   After adding the "My Contacts" tag to all of my contacts they all started syncing.  However, you do lose all of your groups/tags in the contacts app on OSX.  They are not removed from GMail.

I also discovered that a new contact that had been entered on the mac wasn't syncing out to the Google contacts.  However, if I created the contact on Google contacts first it would sync out to the mac.


Notes syncs with GMail notes, not Google Docs (now Drive).  After setting up notes, I was experiencing super annoying pauses and loss of focus as the app would frequently sync with Google.  At that time I was only syncing with Google for notes.  When I turned on sync to iCloud in addition the pauses stopped.  Oh, and before you turn off syncing, make sure you have the notes associated with that account saved somewhere else.  Notes removes the notes you are no longer syncing!

After a couple days of using this set up, I made a horrifying discovery.  Every one of the syncs that was being done with Google (every few keystrokes) was creating an entirely new mail document.  I had dozens of emails which represented the progression of changes in the document!  Also, in digging into the configuration, I wasn't really syncing with iCloud for the notes either.  When I tried to turn this on through a different control panel it demands that you create an email account that will be associated with your iCloud account.  No thanks.  I am now not syncing notes either.

This article had some useful information on setting up notes sync.


I only ended up syncing Contacts when it was all said and done.  Unless you are willing to go with a single platform (Apple, Android or Microsoft) you will have sync gyrations to deal with.  Having a web based IMAP/calendar provider is a key component to making all the syncing work.

Keeping RIM Viable

It is no secret that RIM has lost its huge lead in the smart phone area.  Not only have they lost their lead, they are in danger of becoming irrelevant.  What can RIM do to not only be viable, but to become a leader again?  There are two things they can do: put Android on RIM devices and be the premier provider of sync for contacts and tasks.

Android on RIM devices

I’m sure that I’m not the first person to suggest switching from BB OS to Android.  Although, there are some details that I think are important to make this work:
  • Keep the high quality look and feel of the devices
  • Have Wi-Fi on the phone
  • Have the killer BlackBerry keyboard.
  • Have a large screen touch device with a slide out BlackBerry keyboard.
Android on the device doesn't mean having a tool or process that can be followed to port an Android app to the BBOS. It means having Android running natively on the device. For my the BlackBerry was never about the OS. The parts of the software I like are the unified settings area, the ability to change to a nice array of fonts and the security. But more important aspects were the quality feel of the device and the signature keyboard and trackball.

Sync for Contacts and Tasks

This is an area where RIM could really jump in and dominate.  With their experience with sync and BlackBerry devices and their experience with infrastructure in the secure messaging area they are uniquely positioned to be able to make this happen.  It is amazing that in present day there is still a need for a seamless way to sync contacts and tasks between devices.  What would it take for RIM to meet this need? 
Provide web applications for viewing and managing contacts and tasks.
Provide sync software for BBOS, iOS, Android, OutLook on Windows and mail/reminders on OS X.

Where have I been? (MSE ITS Project)

I wasn’t as prolific with my posts in 2011 and this year because I was focusing on finishing my Master Software Engineering degree and Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) project.  My project website with full documentation and source can be found here: http://people.cis.ksu.edu/~bnehl/

My MSE project takes a Multiagent System approach to the Control of Traffic Signals (MACTS). In additional to control of the local intersection there will be a configuration which incorporates near neighbor coordination. The system was designed with the intent of utilizing distributed cooperating agents. The system goals include minimizing the number of stops, reducing the amount of wait time, reducing travel time, increasing the average speed of travel, reducing fuel consumption and reducing the production of hydrocarbon emissions.

The project code interfaces with the Simulation for Urban MObility (SUMO) application.  MACTS was implemented with Python, RabbitMQ and MongoDB.