So, in the world of personal information management (there's an acronym that peaked too early—PIM), I've set my sights pretty low. I don't have any customer relationships to manage, and I don't need to share my appointment calendar with friends. I just want to store some names, phone numbers and addresses. But—here's the catch—I only want to do it once. That is, I want to store the name, phone number and address of everyone I know in some central location that I can update. I want that location to send the information to, say, my mobile phone. Let's say the central location was my Palm Zire 71, but I don't really care if it's not. It would be neat if I could "synchronise" my Palm with, say, my mobile phone, so that if I add a new number to my mobile, it can tell the Palm there's a new number. However, in the spirit of lowering expectations, I don't care if it's only one-way traffic.
This doesn't sound like a big ask to me. But in the Windows world, it is. Let me give you two examples.
I used to own a Sony Ericsson T68i mobile phone. (This phone takes the honour of being the worst phone I ever owned. The user interface alone would have ensured this honour, let alone its other deficiencies.) The price of the (non-standard) cable to connect this phone to a PC was, if I recall correctly, somewhere between $50 and $100. So, instead, I bought a Bluetooth to USB adapter. I actually succeeded (after a procession of "wizards") to connect the phone and the PC over Bluetooth. Great. The missing link, however, was any software to then get names and numbers from the PC (for example, from my Palm desktop application) to the phone. The Sony Ericsson website was completely unnavigable, and seemed to constantly refer to using software that it no longer distributed or supported. There were a few poorly-written third-party applications floating around the web, all of which purported to do something useful, and none of which delivered anything, yet still managed to ask for a $US 10 payment. I struck out, and gave up.
I now own a Motorola V3. (And it has a much nicer user interface.) To my utter astonishment, Motorola provided not only a USB cable, but actual software to allow my PC to talk to my phone. Now, recall my PC hardware purchasing success story as you read on. This is a PC to phone interfacing success story. I have my desired one-way Palm to mobile phone information flow working at last. This is what I need to do:
- Export the Palm address book in vCard format.
- Import the the vCard file into the phone's desktop contact organiser. Here's an interesting fact: on performing this import, everyone's "Home" phone number as exported by the Palm application is imported as their "Home 2" phone number into the phone desktop application. Remember this, we'll need it shortly.
- Export the address book from the phone software as a comma-separated values (CSV) text file. I kid you not. People still use those.
- Load the CSV file into my favourite editor.
- The top row contains the field names. Change "Home 2" to "Home". Save.
- Import the address book from the edited CSV file.
- Transfer the address book to the phone.
I understand that OS X has an address book that already knows how to talk to mobile phones. I hope it likes my Zire 71.