Insert 'syncing feeling' joke here


— 9:41 AM on April 1, 2010

After my team of banished Keebler elves finished assembling my Hackintosh (for which I took credit in my three previous posts), two issues quickly became apparent. First, fudge striping does a poor job as a thermal conductor. Second, now that I was spending a lot of time on two different computers, I needed a syncing solution.

The two computers in question were, hopefully obviously, the Hackintosh and my office computer—a current gen 15-inch MacBook Pro 2.8GHz with 4GB RAM and the matte screen option. Why, you may ask if you're nosy in a Chatroulette kind of way (that is: creepy), do I need to sync these machines when one is neither owned by me nor tethered to a single location? A few reasons. First, I'd like to keep my iTunes libraries synced. Second, I like keeping certain files on my office MBP as yet another backup. Since we don't have draconian IT policies (or even a full-time IT guy) at my office, I'm not especially worried about data theft. Third, syncing my work files with my home computer means I don't always have to haul the MBP home. Fourth, when my inevitable firing comes, I won't have to copy any work from my MBP (as an ad wonk, I'm entitled to my work for portfolio reasons).

Of course, there are several ways I could go about syncing everything betwixt the machines. I could just copy files back and forth each night using file sharing. I could use file sharing simply to open files on my home computer at work and vice versa, which really isn't syncing, but would conceivably work assuming I always have a connection that doesn't close off the appropriate ports. Which I don't trust. I could, and have, used my iDisk to store certain files that I use regularly. I could even use a program like ChronoSync to schedule syncs, but it costs 40 bucks and I'm cheap. Plus, like everything else mentioned (and many solutions that haven't been), it's only semi-automatic at best. Great for my handguns, less satisfying for my deep syncing needs.

And before someone mentions MobileMe and Back to My Mac, don't. I have MobileMe. It serves its intended purpose in my life. And, thanks to eBay, I always pay much less for a yearly subscription than I would going through Apple. Back to My Mac works just dandy for what it is (after much wrasslin' with port forwarding, that is), but what it is is not a syncing utility.

So, given the lack of built-in syncing, free syncing software, or other decent Mac-based solutions, I did something heretical: I turned to the Gods of Zune and discovered Windows Live Syncing. Windows Live Syncing is not new, having started life as FolderShare from BiteTaxi before being acquired by the Empire in 2005. An OS X 10.6 version was released on November 2, 2009. Which I failed to notice as I was busy that day encouraging my wife to shove a live human out of her body. She succeeded.

Windows Live Sync is, in and of itself, remarkably easy to use. You download the software to the appropriate computers, select the folders you wish to sync, then sit back with a box of Milk Duds and watch the bits fly. Every time you change a file within a synced folder, it gets copied to the other computers, assuming they are online. For example, every time I save this MacHole document, which I'm writing on my MBP, it gets copied to the Hackintosh. Nice.

Of course, getting your computers online may prove to be a bit difficult. At home, I spent a couple of hours fiddling with port settings on my Airport Extreme!!!! Base Station to get everything copacetic. It didn't help that the documentation for both Live Sync and—in typical Apple fashion—my AEBS was wafer thin. Luckily, I had already dealt with some port forwarding issues when configuring LogMeIn, so I wasn't completely in the dark. At the office, I was fortunate again in that our IT infrastructure is relatively sieve-like and no bribing of the freelance IT guy with a case of PBR was required.

After a week of use, I am quite impressed. A couple of files—including my MacHole master document—have failed to sync a time or two for reasons I've yet to discover, but everything else has been very transparent. And my Trash hasn't mysteriously turned into a Recycle Bin, either, so that's a plus.

Also, while Windows Live Sync won't exactly get me to buy the assumedly (new word, use it this week) forthcoming ZunePad 3D, it does double the number of Microsoft products I actually like. The other being the Xbox 360 Non Red Ring of Death Edition.

Unfortunately for my most ardent supporter, successful installations yield less snark. My apologies, MacSpanker71, but I'm sure I'll see you later on The Roulette.

Later,

Fox

   
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