dotMac and syncing

· technology ·

Khoi Vinh has posted an article about possible links between the .Mac service and the upcoming iPhone over at Subtraction. Although I agree with a lot of what he says about the current poor value of .Mac, I'm actually finding the syncing aspect of it quite invaluable at the moment.

If any of you are on the Yojimbo mailing list, you'll know that .Mac syncing can be a really squirrelly thing. There seems to be some kind of voodoo involved, and if you don't chant the correct incantation, or the moon is waxing while Venus is in the ascendant, the whole thing either doesn't work at all, or spits out endless complaints about conflicting data. I seem to have been quite lucky, and after an initial bout of seemingly endless dialog box clicking, I took my hands gingerly off the wheel and it seems to drive itself. The key thing, if you reach that point, is not to touch anything. Don't poke at it, and all will be well.

Although I sync most of my data using rsync via a server, it's really useful to have some of my most vital and frequently updated data automatically and transparently synced. That way, my iCal calendars, Address Book contacts, Safari bookmarks, Yojimbo data, Keychains and 1Passwd, erm, passwords are effortlessly shuttled between multiple computers. If the iPhone does indeed sync with an improved .Mac, that would be really wonderful.

Khoi is right though: .Mac needs some serious improvement to bring it into line with what you can get through other web services. If I can get (currently) 2.8 GB of storage for email alone, for free, from Google, $100 per year for 1 GB of space for email, file storage and web hosting combined seems very stingy. When the email servers have a rather poor record of reliability, it's unforgivable.