Apple’s Sour Fruit Leaves Bitter Taste

Today is the day that Apple has mandated that the iCal calendaring system be “updated” to the MobileMe service, if you happen to subscribe that is. After waiting as long as I could I did the “upgrade” yesterday, spending nearly 3 hours trying to get some semblance of a working calendar. In the end, I just shut the damn thing off.

Now, being the cautious person that I am, I read up on how to do the upgrade “safely,” read through the known issues, even read the troubleshooting tips before I got started. The best blogs I have found come from Spanning Sync and BusyMac for some of the best info overall, however.

Even so, I knew that it wasn’t going to work. I knew it in my heart and in my bones.

Why? Because I have a situation that has had known issues for years and there’s isn’t anything that I can do about it.

At work I must use Exchange 2003 services for calendaring and email. I have no choice. That’s what we got.

All my personal calendaring has been done on iCal on my Mac. With MobileMe syncing, I have been able to sync my calendar (e.g., back it up in a way) to MobileMe, which in turn can be pulled down from any of my other Macs.

On iOS devices, however, it’s one or the other. You can’t sync the personal stuff from your Mac and the Outlook stuff from work and have it show up in a single calendar. In fact, you can’t even sync the Outlook (or Entourage, which is even worse at syncing) with iCal directly and expect it to work correctly.

So, my workaround was this: I would have my Outlook sync with Google Calendar, and then in turn use Spanning Sync to sync my iCal with Google Calendar to get my work calendar to show up in iCal. I would then sync iCal to my iOS devices through iTunes.

Not pretty. Not pretty at all, but it worked (mostly) – there were still well-known issues with time zones but it was do-able.

It became unusable yesterday, just as the early adopoters had been talking about since the change was announced.

MobileMe copied all of the data “to the cloud” (up, up and away!), and then deleted the calendar events (yes, I exported in advance).

Trying to see some verification of what was happening, I moved to Safari to check out my online calendar. Shock of shocks, nothing was there.

So, I went back to my iCal program, and sure enough the files were there, but under the “MobileMe” section.

Then things got really weird.

I had downloaded and installed the latest update for MobileMe on my Windows machine because I read that it worked with Outlook for Windows. Maybe, just maybe, things may have been done right after all.

Starting up Outlook gave me a shock. I had 20 new calendars in my Outlook as MobileMe had pulled in a new calendar for each separate category in iCal.

I went back to Safari and saw that now the appointments that had originally been in iCal were now listed. Why it took longer to get the Safari page to load the events I had no idea. But the categories were all messed up.

Figuring that I would start from scratch from the Outlook side, and knowing that the MobileMe version was now the master, I started to delete the events from the Safari window. Makes sense, right?

Heh. Famous last words.

They disappeared from the window, but did not disappear from the calendar. If I selected next week, for instance, and then went back to this week, everything was still there.

I lost count of the number of times I got the error dialog box “A script on this page has stopped responding. Would you like to stop or continue?”

Of course, the “continue” button didn’t work, and spawned two more error dialog boxes. Stopping the process didn’t do anything other than cause the page to go blank. After closing the window, and then shutting down the browser and restarting, no less than 4 times, I decided to give it up.

This is not the way I want my calendar to work.

This is not the way I want my relationship to be with Apple.

This is my data, not yours, and if you are taking the control away from me you better damn well let me have access to it whenever I damn well please!

So, I’ve turned it off. Losing this kind of control with the ineptitude that Apple has always exhibited with their cloud services.

Nearly a year ago I wrote about how I was beginning to sour on the Apple Kool-Aid, and it looks like those predictions are starting to come to pass.

I have seen rumors that the 10.7 “Lion” upgrade will require using the Mac Store, something that does not surprise me but drives me absolutely crazy, because of the way the store keeps track of what’s on your computer. Quite frankly, I do not want the contents of my hard drive – regardless of its nature – to be distributed across the “cloud.” This is especially true since 1) Apple sucks at it and 2) we’ve seen what can happen.

I’ve turned off MobileMe syncing because the basic premise is that Apple no longer wants to leave me in charge of my own data, they want to be able to control where it sits, how it does or does not sync with my devices, and how it does or does not work (mostly does not) as a cloud-based app.

Screw that. It’s my data, not theirs.