Thursday, October 23, 2008

The best way to merge your contacts with iPhone [Newsletter Comp Version]

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Windows Secrets Newsletter • Issue 172 • 2008-10-23 • Circulation: over 400,000

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The best way to merge your contacts with iPhone

Scott Dunn By Scott Dunn

Many people find that synching a new iPhone with their contact and calendar data from applications like Microsoft Outlook just doesn't work easily.

Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to make sure that your devices are sharing data smoothly.

If you're having trouble using iTunes to sync your contact data from Outlook or other sources with your iPhone or iPod Touch, follow these steps to get your data where it needs to be.

Step 1. With your phone connected to your computer, make sure iTunes is running. If necessary, select your phone under the Devices category in iTunes' left pane.

Step 2. With iTunes' Summary tab in front, make sure the Options at the bottom are set the way you want them. I like to control which files are moved and when, so I uncheck Automatically sync when this iPhone is connected. I also select Manually manage music and videos.

Step 3. Click the Info tab. Select the box at the top of the Contacts section if you want iTunes to sync that information with your phone. Select other settings in that section to control how the data is organized.

Step 4. Repeat the above step for the Calendar and other sections as desired. Click Apply.

That should initiate the synching process. If it doesn't, wait until the Sync button appears and click it.

No go? Try the official iPhone troubleshooter

If you run into problems while synching your phone via iTunes, Apple offers several strategies that may solve your problem. Here's a quick rundown of workarounds to try:

• Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed. To test for a newer version, pull down iTunes' Help menu and select Check for Updates.

• Reset the sync history. In iTunes, choose Edit, Preferences. Click the Devices tab and then select Reset Sync History.

• Disable non-Apple add-ins in Outlook by unchecking the boxes for each one in the COM Add-Ins dialog box. The steps to opening this dialog vary between Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007; consult the programs' help files for instructions.

• Use Vista's User Account Control applet to create a new user. Then log off your current account, log into the new account, and try the sync again.

• Uninstall iTunes and then reinstall the program.

Detailed steps for each of these approaches can be found in support article HT1692.

If none of the above fixes things, your iPhone synching problems may be caused by corrupt entries. To test for this, browse through your Outlook contacts list looking for garbled names or other indications of faulty data. (Doing so also helps you eliminate duplicate entries, which are discussed in the next paragraph.) Delete any corrupt or superfluous entries and retry the sync.

One final snafu may remain. When merging address books, entries with minor differences are sometimes interpreted as separate entries, resulting in one or more duplicates. Fortunately, a number of products exist to ferret out and deal with such dupes.

A free program I like is Contacts Scrubber for Outlook from TeamScope Software. It searches your contacts and presents dupes to you one at a time, making an educated guess as to which fields to merge. You can specify which entry is the one to preserve and click inside individual fields to select details to merge, overwrite, or discard.

The free version of Contacts Scrubber can process up to 1,000 items, but TeamScope sells for U.S. $30 a version that goes beyond that limit and includes more advanced features. Contacts Scrubber works with Windows NT/2000/XP/Vista and Outlook versions 2000 through 2007. You can get the free version from

A phone without stored phone numbers is pretty much useless. Fortunately, the procedures outlined here will solve most iPhone sync problems. Still, you may need to use several techniques until you find the combination that works for you.

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Scott Dunn is an associate editor of the Windows Secrets Newsletter. He has been a contributing editor of PC World since 1992 and currently writes for the Here's How section of that magazine.

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XP beats Vista? Could be the OS or poor drivers

Dennis O'Reilly By Dennis O'Reilly

For at least one organization, the choice is clear: you'll get more work done in less time when you use Windows XP instead of Vista.

On the other hand, some problems you encounter while using Vista are not caused by the OS but by a third-party driver.

A reader named Gerry, who asked us not to use his last name or company name, describes the process his firm used to determine whether to stick with Windows XP or upgrade to Vista:
  • "When we tested Vista, we configured PCs (both 32- and 64-bit) as we normally would for our users, who are mostly engineers. Our first finding was simple: we did not find a single enhancement that made users more productive.

    "However, our biggest surprise was performance. Universally, we found that our engineering applications required 65% more time to complete tasks [on Vista] compared to XP on the same hardware. We estimated that the average user would waste at least an extra 60 minutes each day simply waiting for things to happen.

    "All of this testing was done on Vista-certified hardware that was no more than six months old. We worked directly with Microsoft and the hardware and software vendors to address these issues. Although they helped, it was a losing battle.

    "In our earliest tests, the applications required 500% more time to complete. After patching and updating drivers, we were able to get that down to 65%. For our 200 engineers at a $50/hour burden rate, that equates to a loss of $20,000,000 (or more) per year.

    "Now add the cost of hardware upgrades to support Vista. Then deal with the driver and application compatibility issues.

    "Therefore, we found no business case for Vista."
In Vista's defense, Microsoft's main pledge was to make Vista more secure than XP, and in that regard the company succeeded. However, safer and faster is the winning combination — something that many people find to be missing from Vista.

That said, it's not fair to point the finger at Microsoft whenever Windows fails to work as advertised. The problem might not be the Redmond company's fault, as Bill Hobson found when he diagnosed a glitch with his Vista 64 PC:
  • "I have a Dell Precision Workstation running Vista x64 Business with a Broadcom integrated NIC. I noticed that Outlook Web Access was taking 15-20 seconds to bring up the login screen. I tested with both IE 7 and Firefox 3 and got the same results.

    "So I went to Dell's site and got the latest NIC drivers from there. Still poor performance. Then I went directly to Broadcom's site and downloaded version 10.1, upgraded, and still had the same poor performance.

    "I disabled that NIC, installed an Intel Pro 100, and now the page loads in less than 1 second.

    "I have a Dell tablet with Vista Ultimate and a Broadcom NIC, and it suffered from the same poor performance, but fortunately there is a better [32-bit] driver available that fixes this speed issue.

    "I am hoping that Broadcom gets their act together and puts out a decent-performing x64 driver soon. Bottom line: it may not be Vista that is the problem!"
As much as we'd like to think that hardware and software vendors work together like a well-oiled machine, the responsibility for keeping our PC's components on speaking terms is sometimes difficult to pin down.

Clickjacking scores its first victims

In last week's Top Story, Windows Secrets associate editor Stuart Johnston described a technique being used by bad guys to infect your PCs and steal your personal information. Now we hear from a reader named Graham, who has first-hand experience that clickjacking attacks are real and likely to become more common.
  • "Yep, clickjacking is in the wild. I build, fix, and de-badware computers for family, friends, and businesses. I had a friend complain that his eBay page kept popping up with auctions when he hadn't accessed eBay. So, dutifully, I went to see what was going on and found that he had been trawling through some [game] crack sites.

    "When he clicked some links, he would also pop his eBay page up (he had his eBay cookie set). Bingo! The crack-page vendors had scored his login details. I quickly apprised him of the risks of visiting said pages and, of course, quickly reset his eBay password and scanned, cleaned, and disinfected his computer.

    "Hopefully, I have left him a much wiser if not a safer surfer. So the hack is out there and, I am sure, soon to spread to more legitimate sites as hackers break into badly protected Web pages. And I am sure more nastiness will soon present itself rather than this more benign attack (and I am not lessening the seriousness of this type of attack, just that this was easily fixed)."
To repeat the precautions that Stuart outlined in his article: (1) use the Firefox browser with Giorgio Maone's NoScript script-blocking add-on installed (donation requested) and allow only trusted sites to run scripts, (2) update to the latest version of Adobe's Flash Player, and (3) stay away from questionable sites.

Readers Gerry, Bill, and Graham will each receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of their choice for sending tips we printed. Send us your tips via the Windows Secrets contact page.

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The Known Issues column brings you readers' comments on our recent articles. Dennis O'Reilly is technical editor of

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Hush ... Google knows what's best for you

Woman's face By Katy Abby

With today's busy lifestyles, technological assistance seems indispensable. Cell phones and PDAs keep you up-to-date on anything that "just can't wait" until the next time you're in front of a computer. From the palm of your hand, you can now check your e-mail, peruse the latest headlines, manage your to-do list ... and receive unsolicited dating advice?

Watch as a poor, unsuspecting lad accidentally places his love life in the hands of the all-knowing Google SMS. The beep of an incoming text has never sounded so ominous... Play the video
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The Windows Secrets Newsletter is published weekly on the 1st through 4th Thursdays of each month, plus occasional news updates. We skip an issue on the 5th Thursday of any month, the week of Thanksgiving, and the last two weeks of August and December. Windows Secrets resulted from the merger of several publications: Brian's Buzz on Windows and Woody's Windows Watch in 2004, the LangaList in 2006, and the Support Alert Newsletter in 2008.

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