Contact Sync

Spanning Sync v3.0

Though I’m trying out Google’s sync capabilities in my latest installation its not my sync tool of choice as I’ve been syncing comprehensively since I got my iPhone. I had to find a suitable solution for managing all my contacts (986 and counting) so approximately a year ago I stumbled upon Spanning Sync, which has been taking care of my contacts and calendars ever since.

As Google’s contact API has developed, slowly I must say (why can’t most companies understand this is perhaps one of the simplest problems for them to solve that would rid their consumers of daily irritation?) it has improved and improved, but I have to say it still has some way to go. Anyway despite this being  a critical product my impatience got the better of me earlier this year and I decided to try out the beta of version 3.

Now this should have been fine, but I was one of an unfortunate number of users that ran into a duplication bug that I just haven’t been able to shrug completely from my MBP, iMac, Mac Mini and thereby my iPhone. Now I don’t think I lost too many numbers and time machine on my iMac managed me to rescue those that I had, but it has left my contacts addresses pretty messed up.

See what I mean! 3 Addresses
See what I mean! 3 Duplicate Addresses! Argh!!!

I finally bit the bullet late this evening, after finding my mother’s address duplicated twelve times and bought a relatively new product released by the spanning sync team – their contact and calendar cleaning software. And I have to say it runs like a dream. Now I reckon it will take a good deal of passes to properly weed out these problems across all my machines, but finally I won’t be editing them manually again. Phew.

The interface for Spanning Sync Contact Cleaner is simple and straightforward:

Contact Cleaner Interface

It usefully highlights some of the problems that the google contact API has and presumably most similar contact sync systems. How can BSc be a bad suffix? How about Sir or Lady being bad prefixes? Come on. Real world here. We might not all know a Lord or Lady, but I find it particularly useful to at least be able to add a persons qualification to the end of their name, especially when I’m dealing with a professional.

It is however eminently handy to be able remove blank spaces from the end of words, to change people to companies and vice-versa when it detects an error, as well as removing duplicates properly (why Apple couldn’t have built a better system into address book for this I’m not sure). Anyway once you start to bulk up with contacts all of these problems become tiny irritants for sufferer of OCD like myself and a mostly automated system is very helpful.

At the end of all of this it might occur to any Mac Fanboys out there to ask, why not just use MobileMe? Well. I don’t like to be forced to only use Apple stuff and I’ve tended to find their software, which whilst better than Windows in almost every conceivable way, not that polished in comparison to tools specifically designed for the purpose. Plus $99 a year. Really? After I just spent £2k on a laptop, leased for 2 years, and you want me to pay extra. No thanks!

Oh I nearly forgot to say that there is a $5 discount if you’re already a subscriber to Spanning Sync proper! Excellent. All in all $14.99 isn’t a great price to pay to save a couple of OCD hours tonight spring cleaning and I’m sure it’ll save many more hours in the future…

PS – My results –

95 Duplicated Addresses Removed

10 Duplicated Phone Numbers Removed

23 Duplicated Contacts Merged

Published by Peter Neal

I'm a small business consultant enabling small business owners to achieve sustainable growth, whilst working part-time at Tees Valley Arts. For more about me personally see peterneal.co.uk

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