Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sync disaster #257 - New Missing Sync 5.0 wipes out address book on my i500 cell phone

Computers have caused me vast pain over the years, but nothing has hurt so much as synchronization. I had disaster #257 when an attempt to sync my Samsung i500 PalmOS 4.1 address book with my OS X Address Book using Missing Sync 5.0 locked up and then wiped out my phone book.

Why does sync cause so much pain?

I think it's one of those marvelous problems that is:

1. Actually quite trickly and complex, since it involves syntax, semantics, data model reconciliation, mapping and more. To anyone who's worked in the knowledge representation industry these are words to inspire deep fear.

2. Thought by management to be quite simple.

That's an equation for disaster. The only thing worse than a fundamentally hard problem is a hard problem that's grossly underestimated. Mapping disasters killed Palm (Outlook data model reconciliation issues). It won't kill OS X, but it's interesting to see how Apple bodged this one.

They made a big deal about iSync, which was really pathetic and confusing, but now they have 'Sync Services' in Tiger as well as iSync (probably because they want iTunes on Windows to sync Outlook data to iPods, so they had to move sync into a layer that could be shipped on Windows). Add in something like Missing Sync 5.0 and disaster is well nigh unavoidable (MS 5.0, for example insists on including an iPod in the sync melange, as though two device sync wasn't hard enough!

So, now I'm trying to recover my address book. tiger - Google Search helped. The file is in Tiger and it's easy to find using Spotlight. There are previous versions too, so I'll try swapping one of those, or just restore from my backups. Don't be fooled by all the cache files that contain addresses; those are generated to help Spotlight work.

Update 11/7/05: I'm not sure this wasn't due simply to the fact that the i500 appears to be USB 1.0, I have about 3000 contacts, and there seems to be a lot of work going on with each contact synched. I let the thing run overnight and it might have completed.

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