Thursday, May 31, 2012

My Google Custom Search just died. Did I offend the GoogleNet? (fixed)

Two days ago my much loved Google Custom Search was working beautifully (emphasis added) ...
Why coupons? Price concealment information and memetic archeology in the pre-web world 
... I found that reference through my pinboard/wordpress microblog/memory management infrastructure now integrated into my personal google custom search...
My latest enhancement was paying off; my ("free" = ad supported) personal custom search engine was now successfully indexing a blog that archived my shares and annotations [1] as well as my ancient web pages (archived) and my and blogs.

My extended memory was better than ever!

Until it died. [2] As of yesterday my custom search engine is returning very few results.

My first thought was that I'd unwittingly committed a Class One transgression against the GoogleNet. Perhaps Google considers my link/annotation blog to be a link-farm-equivalent -- and had blacklisted my entire domain. Perhaps I had broken an unwritten rule of the GoogleNet (formerly known as the Internet, home of Archie and Veronica [3]).

I'm still able to find my notes.kateva.or and even posts in Google's standard search however (if I restrict by domain). So I'm not certain I've transgressed. If the search doesn't work soon I'll try recreating that engine. If that doesn't work, or if I detect more signs of transgression, I'll have to remove my pinboard archive and beg mercy of The Google.

I've a broken iPhone I could burn. Perhaps that will appease.
[1] It's my tawdry substitute for my long lost and much mourned Google Reader Share page. I hate the way it looks, but it's primary use is RSS consumption and index fodder. I am looking for a better template but WordPress themes/templates are a rats nest of complexity.
[2] Echoes of losing Google Reader Share!
[3] If you know what that means you either used Google or you are a very old geek.

Update 5/31/2012: It's back.

I followed some of advice that "omr" (not a Google employee) generously gave on the Google Search product forum. Instead of creating a new CSE however, I replaced many of the entries of the old CSE with the patterns he suggested. Perhaps most importantly, I changed the setting for indexing

I'd previously opted to index all entries and all linked pages. Considering I add about 20-60 links a day I think that was a tad ambitious. I now index only the text of this shared items/pinboard (micro) blog.

For reference, here's an edited version of omr's recommendations:
In the "Sites to search" box, enter this URL Pattern:
If you wish to include some of your other sites, enter additional URL Patterns to match them.  (Enter one URL Pattern per line.)  For example, if you want to include the msptrails site, add:
For more information about URL Patterns, see
Please include only a limited number of sites.  Start with the minimum number of sites that you consider necessary to include; or, if you wish to include several, preferably no more than ten.  (If you own some older or less-active sites that you don't need to search anymore, don't include them.)
Click the new CSE's "control panel" link (which takes you to the "Basics" page of the control panel).
Leave the "Search engine keywords" box empty.
Near the bottom of the page, note the "Show automatic thumbnail" option.  The automated thumbnail-image selection is not always ideal, so perhaps you may want to turn off that option.  (Click to remove the check-mark, then click the "Save Changes" button BELOW the option.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The mysterious iTunes -100000 error: This file cannot be downloaded - Fixed

I think I need to sacrifice a goat to the spirit of the Nameless One. How else can I escape the curse of really weird Apple bugs?

This bug isn't quite as weird as the Apple ID vs. MobileMe verified forwarding email bug, or even the mysterious Image Capture Slowdown, but it's bad enough. 

The other day an iTunes track download failed. First time I'd seen that. So I tried with iTunes. It made 3 tries and failed there too; the download list showed an error code of "-100000" and iTunes told me:

There was a problem downloading ...

The file seems to be corrupted. To redownload the file, choose "Check for Available Downloads" from the Store Menu.

I tried several tricks including changing user accounts, trying it on another machine from my home network, trying it again from my iPhone, trying it on AT&T's network, etc. Of course I restarted my machine, different version of iTunes, etc etc.

Nothing worked. 

I tried downloading to my wife's phone. Everything downloaded ok except for that one Arcade Fire track: "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels".

So I went through Apple first tier support, then to 2nd tier. They reset my password so they could try downloading -- and it apparently worked for them. So they washed their hands of me.

Of course it doesn't work for me, no matter the device. The one track is bad.

So what's going on? Well, I'm not the only one. There's a clue in an iTune's Discussion:

...I  also tried all of the suggestions to no avail.  As an experiment this weekend I tried accessing the "corrupt" file from my daughter's  network in the Chicago area.  Logged in, downloaded, bam. Worked like charm. I have no security software on my home network, but by golly I worked from another network...

I bet this is a geography problem. The file is corrupt on a server that manages my geographic area.

One way to test this would be to travel and try it.

Another would be to connect via VPN to a different region and then retry.

It's late for me to try that tonight, but Dreamhost (California) does support SSH connections. Tomorrow I'll try that one ...

Update 5/23/12: VICTORY. I connected via SSH Tunnel to Dreamhost then downloaded again (clicked Buy). It worked instantly. This supports the theory that an instance of the tune was corrupted on the iTunes server for my geographic region (Minneapolis St Paul).

Apple ID Hell: Apple's identity mismanagement and an insanely obscure ID bug with MobileMe send as email

Apple has long had trouble with truly basic concepts of authentication, but lately they've gone off the rails.

It's not just the new and quite demanding Apple ID password requirements that will lead most customers to put them into iPhone Notes -- since it must be entered each time you buy something.

It's not just the bug in their password instructions; when they say "no more than 3" repeating characters they mean "no more than 2" repeating characters (test it yourself).

It's not just that Apple prevents one from seeing the ugly and unmemorable Apple ID that we have to type in -- while also disallowing copy/paste into the password field (take that password manager!).

It's not just that Apple's Apple ID maintenance UI wants me to change my primary email address to match my .mac ID -- which doesn't have email.

No, it's even worse than all that.  The big problems are the proliferation of Apple IDs, and a bug that hit my very old Apple ID.

By trial and error I've discovered I have no less than four distinct Apple IDs.

I have an Apple ID that matches an old MobileMe account I abandoned years ago.

I have an Apple ID that matches my current MobileMe account. When I changed its password I also changed my MobileMe account password.

I even found an old developer account that is now an Apple ID too. (Apple merged these databases). So that's #4. It has yet another email address of mine and so I verified that. 

Lastly I have the Apple ID that is associated with hundreds of dollars of purchases. That's the one I care about -- and that one has two email addresses associated with it. That's critical for password security. One of the email addresses is my personal Gmail address.

Except ... neither of them are "validated". That's bad.

Apple won't let me validate them either. It claims both are associated with other Apple IDs.

One of them is my current MobileMe email. Since I've discovered that account morphed into yet another Apple ID, that makes sense. I removed that one and added a new email that I was able to verify (I own my own domains, so it's easy to make email redirects).

Then I tried removing the Gmail address and adding it back in. Uh-Oh, that's no longer allowed. It's been orphaned.

I check each Apple ID in turn, including my mother's and the kids. The Gmail address is not associated with any of them. So is there a fifth AppleID somewhere? Is there a bug? Is there a security breech?

There's more. After I changed the email address and password for my Apple ID, Apple enrolled me in iCloud for that account! So now it has an email address too?

I'm beginning to understand why Apple's share price is relatively low. If they can't manage something this basic, they're in trouble.

Apple, if you need a clue, here's a few:

  1. We need a way to delete Apple IDs. Unwanted IDs are a security risk.
  2. Or we need a way to merge Apple IDs!
  3. You need to fix my gmail bug Apple.  If #2 is not a bug, you need a way to reclaim that address (does someone else have it as "unverified"? Is that part of how iTunes accounts are hacked?

See also:

Update: I've figured out the bug. It arose as a side-effect of changes to the way Apple IDs work, and it only impacts people who are still on MobileMe accounts and who have the same email address associated with two Apple accounts prior to the time Apple made that illegal. In brief:

  1. The Gmail address was a validated 'send as' forwarding address in Mobile Me Mail.
  2. The Gmail address was the primary email on my Apple ID.
  3. Then Apple created an Apple ID for Mobile Me email. Somewhere in Apple's databases the Gmail 'send as' address became an alternate email for the new Apple ID. HOWEVER, it was already a primary email for another Apple ID. So it didn't display in the AppleID maintenance screens for my Mobile Me account.
  4. Since it existed in the database, however, it couldn't be validated in my .Mac account.
  5. When I removed it from my .Mac account I wasn't allowed to add it back, since it was associated with my MobileMe account -- but in a partial state there.
  6. It couldn't be located using my First and Last name in the Apple ID locator page because it wasn't properly associated with the MobileMe account. However, Apple's 2nd tier phone support was able to see it there.
  7. I went to the MobileMe account and added the email manually. It suddenly appeared -- as verified! I removed it, but Apple Support confirmed it didn't remove completely. So I left it "verified" with the MobileMe account. Now I know where it is.

Apple is closing MobileMe, so there's no way they'll ever fix this bug. I'm glad I seem to have fixed it however, it might have screwed up my iCloud migration. I think before I go to iCloud I'll remove that forwarding email address.

Postscript: Apple's Support Profile is supposed to show the products associated with my Apple ID. I think it used to. I don't see them any more. It says my home number is associated with a different Apple ID...

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Image Capture hangs at "Scanning", process pegs at 100% - ghost iPhone and dust removal

I've used my Epson V700 with Image Capture for years. Until today it's never had a problem.

Today it has a problem!

My scans are taking a very, very long time to complete. They seem to hang after the scan is completed, but after about five minutes they complete. It's as though something is timing out. In Activity Monitor the Epson Scanner Process is pegged at 100% CPU.

I switched to another account and the scan completed in seconds. So it's not hardware. It's something about my primary account.

A restart didn't fix it and deleting Image Capture preferences didn't help.

The problem started after several scans, so it's not related to a software install. The /private/tmp folder that Image Capture uses to cache its work seems fine.

Next up I'll try Onyx and clear out all my caches.

It's a weird one.

Update: I've identified one difference. On my primary account Image Capture thinks an iPhone is attached, even though it isn't. I found one other report of this in Snow Leopard and another here.

Update 2: I got rid of the "ghost" iPhone camera by removing all USB peripherals and restarting. That didn't help however. Scanning in my primary account is still far slower than scanning in my admin account. I even tried repairing permissions; as usual that made no difference. I started an Apple Discussion thread on this.

Update 6/9/2012: There were two issues. Removing the "ghost" iPhone did make a difference. The rest of the difference was dust removal. I was used to having it turned off. Turning it on really extends scan duration. Perhaps it's on by default and removing preferences enabled it?

Finding partly played podcasts: In Our Time

iTunes tracks how many times tracks have been completely played [2], but it doesn't provide any UI for tracks that have been partly played.

This isn't a big deal for music or videos, but it's a real bother for podcasts. I have 72 episodes of "In Our Time" in my "IOT unplayed" shortlist; and I know some of them are partly played. I just don't know which ones. 

It's been a longstanding frustration, but this week, Doug's AppleScript for iTunes gave me the answer:

Project: Gather Partially Played Tracks « Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes

... Smart Playlists don’t include any criteria for detecting how far along a track has been played, and Last Skipped may not necessarily have been set if a track was simply stopped rather than skipped.

... a track’s bookmark property will contain the number of seconds the track had been played before it was stopped. Thus, if any tracks have a bookmark value greater than zero then they’ve been partially played...

I'm lousy at AppleScript, but it wasn't hard to modify the example Doug provided. I have a smart Playlist called "IOT Unplayed" and I modified the AppleScript to find tracks in that Playlist that had a bookmark value greater than zero [3]:

property nameOfPlaylist : "Partially Played"

tell application "iTunes"
set opt to button returned of (display dialog ¬
"Find partially played tracks in:" buttons ¬
{"Cancel", "Podcasts", "IOT Unplayed"} default button 3)

if opt is "Podcast" then
set targetLibrary to (some playlist whose special kind is Podcasts)
if opt is "IOT Unplayed" then
set targetLibrary to some playlist whose name is "IOT Unplayed"
set targetLibrary to library playlist 1
end if
end if

set thePlaylist to some playlist whose name is nameOfPlaylist
on error
set thePlaylist to (make playlist with properties {name:nameOfPlaylist})
end try

delete every track of thePlaylist
end try

duplicate (every track of targetLibrary whose bookmark > 0) to thePlaylist
reveal thePlaylist
end tell 

Of course this isn't as elegant as a Smart Playlist -- I need to run this AppleScript manually. Even so, it solves 80% of my pain. Thanks Doug!

[1] I donated $5. It was a royal PITA to do so. It reminded me of how bad our donation system is. Among other things:

  • I distrust PayPal intensely based on past experience. So I had to use the awkward data entry UI.
  • It took me a while to figure out I had to 'update amount' - so that cost me two data entry episodes
  • I had to go back and add an email
  • If I could keep track of how much I'd previously donated to the site, I might make a larger (or smaller) donation.


[2] I have a feeling that years ago iTunes would consider a track "played" if one simply started listening to it. I'm probably wrong about that.

[3] In my hacked AppleScript the 'library playlist 1' statement will never be reached; I just kept it in as a reminder of how to scan all tracks. AppleScript only allows 3 buttons, otherwise I'd have made this an option.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Navigating AT&T mobile's web site: a cheat sheet

I have a hard time navigating AT&T's mobile site. So I wrote this post to store some of the links I use. I'll update it periodically. Some links may embed one of our phone numbers, so they're not so useful for others.

In general I login first, then copy and paste these links to navigate.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Google results 100% ads?!

I did a search on "open source document management".

My result page was 100% advertising.

I've never seen this before. I'm hoping it's a bug of some kind. I tried opting out of Google personalized ads to see if that helped. Next up I'll just block every advertiser on the page using Ad personalization.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

iOS Restore problems: App Sync failure and missing Google Contacts

Fresh off discovering iOS Restore problems with In-App purchases and video podcasts I was called in to help a friend transition from two 3GS to two 4S iPhones.

He had a different set of problems, some familiar, some weird, some new to me:

  • When restoring Mail, Calendar and Contacts from Google Active Sync, the best option is to delete the Google account and restart. I've run into this several times, and reentering a password on a restored Google Active Sync (Exchange) data set works about half the time.
  • He ran into a real mess with AppleID vs. ID. I think he'd started out with one Apple ID (Store Preferences) on his iPhone, then switched to another. As a result he had apps on his iPhone that no longer matched his iPhone Apple Store ID. They'd run, but they wouldn't sync to the desktop or the Cloud. When we did a restore they were gone. There's no way around this; he either has to switch to his old ID (but it's lost) or repurchase the apps that were owned by the lost ID. Yech.
  • He and his wife share one instance of iTunes, but their apps have different Apple Store IDs. This can be done, but it requires a mixture of Cloud and iTunes sync. Double Yech.
  • To enable email delete on Gmail with delete, we had to rediscover the insanely obscure setting that makes Gmail behave like a rational piece of software.

Those are the familiar bugs. Yes, Apple Store IDs and App DRM are a mess. Apple isn't a genius every day of the week.

The weird bug was, I think, a Google bug. After we reentered his Google credentials and synchronized, we found several missing entries in his Phone shortcuts. That's because the Contacts were missing. After a few cycles of removing/restoring Contacts Sync I could see the missing entries varied.

Turns out that Google was giving us exactly 100 out of 216 contacts; but the 100 varied. It seems Google was throttling the phone update.

Maybe if we'd waited a while we'd have gotten the rest. Instead I changed Sync from Push to Manual. Tried a few manual updates to no effect, then switched back to Push and we had all 216. A real pain, and I found zero hits on this problem. (Now there is one.)

The iOS user experience could use some work. In particular, the Backup story is pretty feeble.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Start Chrome using a specified "user profile".

I love Chrome's Multiple User feature - aka Identity Management in the G+/Facebook era.

 It's why I switched from Safari to Chrome on OS X. I have a profile for
  • My TrueSelf that only a few shall know.
  • John (Kateva) Gordon
  • My corporate self
I also have profiles I use when I'm assuming my children's identity (ex: Facebook monitoring). All the Profiles sync through Google Cloud including bookmarks, passwords, extensions and so on. So I use the same Profile everywhere.

Even in Darkness, Google does some things well.

I switch my three primary profiles all the time. That's how I know the great weakness of the current implementation. The Profile Google gives me is never the one I want. I frequently have to switch identities, which opens a new window, then hunt that window down ... Meanwhile, the original Window hangs on.

I want some shortcuts that will take me directly to the Profile I want. In both Windows (easily) and Mac (comand line), there are ways to do that as described in SuperUser and Quora:
This is top-secret stuff, these parameters don't show up on the most popular listing of Chrome command line options

The command line parameters are of the form:
  • chrome --profile-directory="Profile 1" -> Kateva
  • chrome --profile-directory="Profile 2" -> Corporate
  • chrome --profile-directory="Default" -> Personal
They match the directory names shown in (Win) C:\Users\[userid]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data.

I've created a Windows shortcut for each Profile, now I have to give them unique icons.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

iOS Backup and the Cloud: Problems with Restore

After the 5.1.1 update my son's iPhone developed a crash habit. One photo in particular triggered an immediate restart on editing. Perhaps an iOS bug, maybe another problem. I did a full Restore, which means a backup then wipe then reinstall then restore. That didn't fix the bug, so we deleted the problem image.

That's not what I'm writing about though. During the Restore cycle we ran into some newer limitations with iOS backup. These included:

  • His Pocket God Comics, which are in-app purchases, were not backed up - contrary to Apple's iOS backup document. We were able to re-download them from within the Pocket God app; but that process appeared to rely on Pocket God and its Cloud servers.
  • His video podcasts vanished. We sync through iTunes though, not the Cloud, and they were still in iTunes and could be restored. Some of them aren't available from the Cloud any more.

I don't think there are any workarounds for these problems. Apple could fix this; in the Jobs era it's the kind of thing that tended to get his peripatetic attention. I doubt they will, but I'd be happy to be wrong.

My only recommendation is to distrust the Cloud, and avoid in-app purchases whenever possible. If you are using something that's Cloud dependent you don't own it -- and you don't even rent it. At best you have a fuzzy claim to occasional use that might be revoked at any time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mac: how to make a server photo screen saver work

I wanted to share a common set of screen saver slide show images across 3 of our Macs. First I put them an old G5 with abundant storage. It seemed to work, but if there was any interruption of our wifi network other machines couldn't reconnect. (Disregard the marketing. Wifi is much slower and much less reliable than wired.)

So I put them on our Time Capsule NAS share. That worked, but if a client logged out or a machine restarted the share wasn't remounted.

Sigh. OS X Networking is reliably disappointing. I remember network shares being more reliable in 10.3, and that using a share shortcut mounted the share. Certainly shares worked better in MacOS Classic (albeit a lot more slowly).

What seems to help is mounting the share on startup by adding it to one or more user's login items. After this the screen saver image slide show survives a restart.

(There are ways to mount drives on boot for all users with editing of etc/fstab, but it looks risky to me and I read reports of "finder problems".)

iOS In App Purchases - they're not backed up

I restored an iPhone from backup -- and discovered at least In-App Purchases don't restore automatically.

I'm now downloading the set from within the app.

It's a pain to do this across all "In App" purchases. I'm surprised there aren't more complaints about the in-app purchasing system; to me it's a big regression from the original App Store model.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Windows 7: Changing network location after initial connection

I have compared Lion to Vista, but that's really an overstatement. As bad as Lion is, it's better than Win 7 which is better than Vista.

Today's Win 7 problem has to do with Win 7's well intended network location security. When you first connect to a WiFi network Win 7 asks you to choose a network location. If you choose Public some network tools won't work -- including my corporate RSA IE toolbar.

After you connect, however, it's not obvious how to switch from Public to Work. The secret is to

  • Go to Control Panel:Network and Internet:Network and Sharing Center
  • Click on the hyperlink-like text that says "Public"
  • In the new window choose Work or other trusted network

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Spammers have found a hole in Blogger's comment system

I'm used to getting comment spam with embedded links. Often the spam appears benign, but the links go to bad places.

This one was different however:
I agree. The organization and departments like FDA or BFAD should check the contents of these toothpaste products. This will ensure its safety to the people. Aside from that, other chemicals in the toothpaste formulation should also be checked. According to my dentist, Ron ******, some products may contain melamine which can cause severe damage to the brain. I hope that they will be able to resolve this kind of issue.
It sounds spammy, but it is somewhat related to my blog post and it didn't display with an inline link in Google's Comment review. It even linked to a Blogger profile.

So I approved it. Blogger emailed me a copy and then I saw it had a link. It was spam of course. (I think BFAD has something to do with "Black Friday" sales deals?)

The post was crafted so the link didn't display in the Blogger Comments review UI, but it did display once the post was approved. The senders even invested in a spambot (human or silicon).

Obviously a high class operation! I wonder how long it will take Google to close this loophole. In general their Blogger spam filtering is excellent; most spam isn't even presented to me for review.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

iPhoto to Aperture: Summary and managing the Event/Album problem

Apple's Aperture photo management software was a mistake.

I don't know what they were thinking, or where it came from. Obviously it was intended to be a "professional" alternative to iPhoto, but someone (Jobs?) never thought through how customers would move from one to the other. Migrating complex data between fundamentally dissimilar applications is an impossible problem.

Apple's customers wanted iPhoto Pro, instead we got Aperture 1.0.

Apple must know they made a bad mistake. Over the past three years they've been trying to turn iPhoto into Aperture-lite, and Aperture into iPhoto Pro. Despite the marketing claims, they're not there yet. They may never arrive -- it's almost impossible to change an application's fundamental behavior without producing a smoldering wreck.

Eight weeks after starting down this road I recommend waiting for Aperture 4...

iPhoto to Aperture: My experience: Apple Support Communities

... Several weeks ago I migrated three iPhoto Libraries from iPhoto 8 to Aperture 3.23. (In limited testing iPhoto 9 migration appeared to have similar results).  

.... if you are a demanding sort, wait for Aperture 4.1 and iPhoto 10.x.   My migration process was fraught with traps and errors that resulted in loss of 'metadata' (image descriptions, etc). Video migration was particularly problematic. I spent many, hours experimenting and testing. I had to repeat the imports several times to find the best path.

Some data loss cannot be avoided; Aperture does not store iPhoto Event or Album descriptions. Keyword consolidation is a tedious process.   At the end of the road Aperture gives me many new features, scalability, and a (relative) confidence that I'm committed to an application with a demanding and technical user base.  

On the other hand, I miss iPhoto's many clever features for managing Events/Rolls. Aperture is taking me back to the days of Albums...

It's too late for me though. I've paid the price and made the transition. 

Most of the transition that is. I'm still trying to work around edge issues. Consider the "Event" to "Project" migration.

The two concepts have quite a bit in common. Each photo belongs to exactly one "Event" (iPhoto) or Project (Aperture). Photos can be moved from one Event to another. By contrast, a single photo can appear in multiple Albums.

Even so, there are significant differences. Over the last few years Apple added a lot of clever workflow and UI affordances to Events. They became so easy to work with I came to use Events for many things I'd done with Albums. I went back in time and reworked older Events to fit the new model.

After the migration however, most of those conveniences are gone. Aperture "Projects" are only superficially "Event-like". They'e relatively awkward to work with. I'm back to using Albums again, and I'm looking for an AppleScript method to turn hundreds of Events into Albums.

I'm sure I'll work around a lot of the issues. I wish, however, that Apple had created a true iPhoto Pro rather than go down the Aperture road. I wonder if, in the Cook era, Apple will finally introduce iPhoto Pro, and quietly retire Aperture.

See also

Update: I did work around the issue -- in an illuminating way. In iPhoto Events and Albums live in separate UI views. In Aperture both can be contained in Folders. So I mix my Events and Albums now.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

MobileMe to iCloud - Is Apple getting nervous?

Apple's MobileMe service officially ends on June 30th, almost 8 weeks from now. When it ends we either need to go to iCloud or give up on easy address book synchronization across our iOS and OS X devices and user accounts. (I've already moved the kids over.)

I'm in no rush. iCloud/Mac requires Lion and Lion won't install on the older iMac the kids still use. Worse, I don't even like Lion on the machines it supports. Lion is a disappointment.

I'd prefer to stay with Snow Leopard until early 2013, then switch to Mountain Lion. Except, of course, Mountain Lion won't install on our MacBook.


I suspect I'm not the only one who isn't in a rush. Apple seems worried. The last time I used the MobileMe web interface I ran into a fake-out splash screen that tried to convince me MobileMe was already gone (nice try Apple). Recently Apple sent me a free Snow Leopard DVD to reduce the cost of a Lion upgrade (the cost is irrelevant). Today Apple is telling me I can keep my email address even on machines that don't support Lion [1]. Meanwhile, Macintouch, an old-school Mac site, shares ideas  from MobileMe dead-enders and iCloud denialists.

The pushback is strong enough that hard core geeks are coming up with inventive ways to sync Snow Leopard Address Book and Calendar to iCloud [2].

One option, of course, is to go all in with Google. This was more appealing when Google was less evil than Facebook. Worse, it's not clear how well Snow Leopard Address Book did synchronizing with Google. Lion still supports this; I created an empty account and synchronized with Google. It ended up bringing over 598 cards from the group "My Contacts". (All Contact had 2091 members). I've no idea how reliable this is, but iOS synchronization with Google works quite well. So this might be an option for Lion machines, and non-Lion machines would use Gmail (which is evil now, but works well [3]).

Lastly there's Spanning Sync - an alternative Mac Address Book to Google Contacts option for those who want to abandon MobileMe for Google Apps. (It's an expensive option for a family however.)

Alas, these days I don't want to get closer to Google; I'm trying to move the other way.

So I'm stuck, waiting to see if anyone else comes up with something better. Maybe if I wait long enough Apple will make Mountain Lion run on my old MacBook.

[1] Sort of. Apple botched this half-measure, even by lowest of standards. There's no way to tell from Apple what this means.. What it really means is email and calendars currently in MobileMe will be accessible on iCloud via the web UI.Unofficially Snow Leopard may also be able access this email via IMAP.

[2] I doubt this will work all that well; synchronization is hell even when it's supported.

[3] iCloud's web apps are better than MobileMe's -- but an earthworm could clear that bar. iCloud Contacts, for example, is even more awful than Lion Address Book.