BirdieSync, Windows Mobile, and Mozilla

I spent years writing application software for the elegant, excellent-for-its-time Palm OS. Unfortunately, Palm lost the war. Fantastic engineering, horrible marketing, no business savvy. This past summer I reluctantly gave up my Treo for an ATT Tilt with WM6. WM6 is typical Microsoft – horribly bloated, slow as molasses, confusing as hell. A ton of cheap / free apps available. Although pretty hopeless as a phone, the browser / e-mail client work great.

An example of annoying….in WM6’s Calendar, if you mark an event for a time period (say 10-11 AM) on a given day, the calendar displays a tiny caret on that day on your monthly calendar so you know you’ve got something going on at a glance. However, if you mark an event as an “All-Day” event (99% of mine are all-day), WM6 displays nothing on the monthly calendar view to remind you at a glance. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

The one thing that really pissed me off most about the WM6 experience was you have to BUY and use Microsoft Outlook in order to sync the Tilt with your PC. I gave M$ my $50 while holding my nose and tried it for 6 months. Outlook is also typical M$, i.e. horribly bloated, slow, and infuriating.

I just bought a new laptop and, whilst gagging as I waited for almost 1 gig of M$ Office to download so that I could install Outlook, I stumbled upon a British app called BirdieSync, which supposedly allows sync-ing WM6 with Thunderbird and Sunbird. There’s a free trial, and the software costs €19.95 (about $30 US). I gave it a try.

Installs in a jif.

Difficult to configure, no doubt because M$ makes it as difficult as possible.

Sunbird blows the Outlook calendar away (duh), and of course comparing Thunderbird to Outlook is like comparing a Porsche 911 Turbo to a Buick.

A few tips:

1) BirdieSync installs a submenu in both Sunbird and Thunderbird under TOOLS. Most of what can go wrong can be solved in those menus. When the Activesync process fails, the error messages are usually pretty useless, but the answer can usually be found in the TOOLS -> BirdieSync submenu.

2) BirdieSync is very particular about time zones. In order to sync Sunbird properly, the time zone on your WM6 device must be EXACTLY the same as in Sunbird -> Tools -> Options -> Time Zone.

3) When configuring Activesync (Tools -> Options) the usual suspects (contacts, calendar, etc) apply only to Outlook. For BirdieSync, “Cards” means the Address Book in Thunderbird, “Events” means the Calendar in Sunbird, and “Mails” means the e-mails in Thunderbird.

4) On the BirdieSync site, there’s a sentence in the support section saying “please consult the FAQ, almost any question you’ve got is already answered there”. I found that to be true. Getting everything syncing properly took me a solid hour of futzing around, and every seemingly complicated question I had was indeed answered (sometimes a bit cryptically) in the FAQ.

5) Unlike Palm Desktop and Outlook, if Birdiesync encounters a problem while sync-ing, it won’t warn and continue. It warns and then sits down in the middle of the highway like an obstinate camel and stops dead. You must correct the error condition, then unplug the USB sync cable, then re-connect the cable, and then re-attempt sync. Not necessarily a bad thing, but different, so be aware.

http://www.birdiesync.com/faq

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About The Mighty Skunk

I'm a Boffin
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3 Responses to BirdieSync, Windows Mobile, and Mozilla

  1. Fantastic.Thanx for the info. I’ll get right to the birdie sync.Let’s see if I can figure it out too.

  2. It works.It’s aliiiiiveeeee.Thanks a lot. I was just about to pay a bunch of money to someone who really don’t disserve it. This is just perfect.Had to unlock my HP iPAQ 210 with the SDA_ApplicationUnlock (first hit on google).

  3. Robert says:

    I’ve had a love/hate relationship with BirdieSync for over a year now, and your summary is spot on.Even likening it to an obstinate camel: you may not like it, but when you need to transport stuff across the desert, you’re really glad to see it!

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