Thursday, July 29, 2010

.Mac Bitrotten—Support For Tiger Degrades.

With the introduction of MobileMe Calendar, those of you who are still using Mac OS X 10.4.11 Tiger are going to be in for a disappointment when the .Mac System Preferences will no longer function properly, with inexplicable hangs in both the "Sync" and "Advanced" panes.

The loss of system functionality is not significant to MobileMe users, since syncing calendars with iCal in Mac OS X Panther and Tiger were not reliable to start with. But this update to MobileMe puts bullet holes into whatever operability MobileMe had left with Tiger.

The .Mac System Preferences no longer operate to provide sync services to Macs running Tiger—selecting the "Sync" or "Advanced" tab will cause the System Preferences app to hang, necessitating a force-quit.

Users of MobileMe pretty much only have iDisk services remaining as an on-line feature to Mac OS X Tiger.

If I were to make a suggestion to users of Tiger, find someone with a Mac running Leopard or Snow Leopard, start the MobileMe System Preferences, select the "Sync" tab, click on the "Advanced" button, and take your host from the list of hosts that MobileMe syncs to! This will prevent MobileMe from accepting your Tiger-driven Mac as a sync client, and will prevent inexplicable performance degradation or data loss when trying to sync calendars. Due to the loss in functionality with the .Mac's Sync preferences, you may as well kill syncing altogether, regardless of whether you have Safari 4.1.1 installed or not.

If bookmark syncing is still a requirement for you, may I also suggest OmniWeb 10.1 as a substitute to Safari. It can sync your bookmarks with other instances of OmniWeb on other machines using the same MobileMe account, and it supports the functionality of WebKit featured in Safari 4.

Also, if you are a die-hard Firefox user, you may be interested in getting yourself Firefox Sync, which allows you to synchronise bookmarks between instances of Firefox, both on your Mac and your iPhone or iPod touch.

Backwards compatibility is obviously no longer a priority at Apple. Since Mac OS X's introduction, Apple has been building on new system software and on-line services at the expense of compatibility with machines that cannot run the latest operating system releases. As on-line services from Apple also grow and mature, it has become a necessity to get the latest Mac in order to run the latest Mac OS X release, just to remain up-to-date with MobileMe. If you have anything that requires older hardware or software to run, you'll have to keep them going, and pray Apple does not alter the deal any further.

Update: a representative at AppleCare gave me a useful tip: make a new user account, and try using your .Mac account from there. I did, and it led me to the revelation that there are certain system settings and caches that may need to be cleared or reset in order to allow System Preferences to continue operating normally. Look for anything in your Home directory's Caches, Library and Preferences folders related to syncing, .Mac and iCal settings, and blow them away!

Update: that's it—Mac OS X 10.4 is not able to log into what it thinks is a .Mac account. I presume that as of the new MobileMe Calendar exiting beta status, you now get a login error from the .Mac System Preferences.

Article last updated: 31 October, 2010: added details as to the state of usability of .Mac on current edition MobileMe services; added some more details about what alternatives to use in place of MobileMe.


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