In particular, I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of help in troubleshooting the periodic malfunctions that I run into when using MobileMe thanks to all of the many tips posted in support forums. Apple’s own support message boards have been very helpful, if chaotic and not always conclusive. If you hunt through them enough, there’s a good chance you’ll come across a solution that matches your particular MobileMe problem, whatever it might be right now.
I tried to summarize some of the best advice I’ve come across in these instances in this blog post I wrote last year: “Woe Is MobileMe.” It occurs to me that blogging for the record is the least I or any MobileMe user can do, as there is literally no one else to help us. So as I continue to encounter further flakiness, instability and frustration — it’s not a matter of if, but of when — I’ll post what I learn here, and hope that the magic of search engine optimization will help those in need to find whatever I can offer.
I Can’t iCal
For instance. My iCal database had been synchronizing unreliably for about a month until I sat down and tried to find the root cause this past weekend. Among my three or four computers that routinely sync via MobileMe, my desktop machine at home had stopped updating altogether; changes made on the others Macs, which would easily synchronize with one another, never showed up on my iMac.
I tried all the usual remedies: signing out of MobileMe and signing back in, overwriting the data on my computer with the data on the MobileMe server, even running some Terminal commands to truly reset the service on my computer — all in various sequences and with various combinations of logging out, logging in and rebooting.
Nothing worked until I came across a support forum message buried in a long discussion thread that advised manually deleting the calendar data itself. It turns out that somewhat hidden inside of each user’s library folder is a directory called Calendars, apparently containing the files that iCal loads at startup to display your schedule. These are the actual files that are getting rewritten with each synchronization, and in my case, they had become corrupted somehow.
I quit iCal, navigated to this folder in the Finder, and moved the entirety of its contents to the trash. The next time iCal launched, I had a ‘fresh,’ default database of events, with none of my own data present. At this point, I went to the MobileMe system preferences pane, clicked on the Sync tab, clicked on the Advanced button and then clicked on the Reset Sync Data button from the resulting dialog sheet. That allowed me to replace all of my Calendars data on my computer with the calendars data stored on MobileMe (from another computer, I had made sure the data on the cloud was up-to-date). Thankfully, it worked, and now iCal is synching beautifully with the rest of MobileMe, across all of my devices. When it works, it works great.
World without Apple
In retrospect it seems likely and/or obvious that the crux of this problem was that the ownership permissions for my calendar data files had probably been screwed up somehow over the past several weeks or months. I’m not sure, exactly, why MobileMe doesn’t include a routine to check for such maladies, or why none of Apple’s documentation points out how such a thing might be the cause of the kind of MobileMe headaches that I endured, but I’m just grateful someone else out there had figured it out, and that I can now pass it on.
It certainly suggests though that a community wiki of some sort is in order, some kind of centralized resource that can help us all cope with the very real — and very frustrating — disruptions that, for many of us, are part and parcel of dealing with MobileMe. Of course, the mere existence of such a thing would be a damning indictment of Apple’s efforts with this product, and perhaps it might spur the company to pay some real attention to these problems after all. But I’m less interested in that than I am in a support net for users like myself; like I said, at this point it’s folly to hope for any meaningful help from our friends in Cupertino. With MobileMe, Apple is the absentee landlord, so to speak, and we tenants only have each other.