One Reason .Mac Stinks

by Matthew Russell

Related link: http://www.mac.com



Like many of you, I too am a paid .Mac user, and I have been for a couple of years now. But if it weren't for all of the pain involved in transitioning from one e-mail address to another, I wouldn't renew it. Heck, I might just chock up the loss of time and people I may never get back into contact with again and still not renew it -- but I'll just be totally honest here and tell you that I haven't decided yet.

As a Mac enthusiast who has renewed at least for one term and shelled out about $200, I feel like I have a genuine right to complain about my prestigious $100/yr @.mac address (what most of you all also get for your Benjamin too), and so I'll go ahead and get to my point: iCal support stinks. It's plain and simple. No, I'm not the busiest man in the world, but I would like to be able to do more than view my calendar online. Rather, I'd like to be able to edit it too. Sounds simple doesn't it? Well, to tell you the truth, I think that for $100/yr, it is a pretty simple request, because Backup, Virex, and my quirky iDisk sure aren't worth it -- at least not to me.

So what's better? Well, I think we all know of at least one web-based e-mail client that does a pretty darn good job of integrating calendar support. Yep, the notorious Outlook Web Access. Although (thank God) I personally don't own any MS machines/licenses myself, one of my employers owns plenty of them -- more than any other single organization in the world to be exact (any guessers?) -- and you know what, I'll go ahead and tip my hat to them. By gosh, MS doesn't do many things well by my standard, but they sure do have a snazzy web-based e-mail client with calendar integration. And it even works pretty well in Firefox. Imagine that. I don't even want all sort of bells and whistles though -- I just want a few basic features that allow me to add and edit events on my calendar without having to tote metal around with me all day long. Honestly, what good is a read-only calendar in this day and age for anything except birthdays or football game schedules?

But before going, I'll leave you with a thought provoking blurb from a quasi-flame war I had the pleasure of partaking in a little while ago with some folks much smarter than I am:

[With the whole Disney/Pixar thing going on] Steve's calendar is bound to get more complex and, hence, iCal [will] get better...Seriously, though, since nobody at Apple is probably allowed to publish their calendar, I believe nobody there ever feels a need for that feature to work reliably.

Or since they never leave the Cupertino campus (apparently), perhaps they haven't cared to add in editing either? Hmmm, an interesting thought in any event.

At least I can be thankful that they haven't adjusted the cost of .Mac for inflation yet.

Should I gamble again this year?


19 Comments

fryke
2006-01-24 22:09:19
solution
Start sending out your new (gmail?) address three to six months before your .mac account expires. Put it in your E-Mail signature while you're still using the .mac account, so your replies to contacts let them _know_ what to do once their mails don't arrive. There might be the odd contact who _doesn't_ contact you in the time between your announcement and the actual switch, but you _can_ contact *them*, right?


I think 100$ is certainly too much just for an E-Mail addie you can keep – if you continue to pay for it. (Can keep the gmail.com address, too, can't you, and for free, too...)


iCal management? Get a mobile phone, smartphone or PDA that works well with iSync. Then you only have to bring a _little_ metal with you everywhere you go. And you can edit and add entries to your calendar on the go, synch the devices at home and everything's well. No need for .mac for that.

MattInOz
2006-01-24 22:20:59
Unless you have more than one computer
.Mac excels when you have more than one Mac. The ability to synchronise my Address Book, iCal, Keychain, iDisk and Bookmarks between my Mac at work and my Mac at home means I have access to a lot of information at both places.


It would take more effort to do it via other means, since the syncing is integrated into Mac OS X.


I'm currently evaluating Yojimbo, which uses SyncServices to synchronise its data between 2 Macs via .Mac.

macrat
2006-01-24 22:27:12
Meeting Maker
I believe that Apple still uses Meeting Maker internally.
carlj7
2006-01-24 22:54:29
solution
Can you really trust google to read all of your confidential for the rest of time? I mean, probably, but I'd feel safer just owning my own domain.
freytag
2006-01-25 03:47:41
100% compliance
That's exactly the main reason why I have decided that I don't need .mac right now. It's just not enough usable from everywhere...
palmettobug
2006-01-25 06:20:18
Your own domain
I second the get your own domain opinion. You can get a domain with email and web hosting for less than $100 a year. Far less. Then you are in control.
JensAlfke
2006-01-25 11:41:12
solution
You may own the domain, but unless you host it on your own computer, you're just renting part of some web host's server. Which raises the identical question of whether you can trust BobsCheapHosting.com with your confidential data till the end of time.


I use a pretty big, established and reputable web host (Dreamhost), but I don't see why Google would be any less trustworthy.

foolmanchoo
2006-01-25 17:19:47
multiple calendars at once...
I believe you can view and publish multiple calendars at once by using the new "group" feature...


btw, I quit using .mac this year... I went the delicious, firefox, plaxo route... haven't looked back.

_MEP_
2006-01-25 18:52:01
that's the only complaint?
In the three years (approaching four now) since I "switched" to the OS X platform, I've never even considered a .mac account despite all of Apple's best efforts to sell it to me.


Virex? I can get anti-virus software that doesn't jack up my system files for free.


Backup? I'm not paying $99 a year for something I can do just as well on my own (again for free since I'm not using online backup).


Email? I've used my own domain name for years, why would I want a "@apple.com" address anyway?


iDisk? No, just no. Even my mail service (FastMail) offers me online file storage, not to mention google.


Photo sharing? That's what Flickr is for (and better at).


Calendar sharing? I don't need it, and if I ever did need it, I'd want the same improvements already talked about (if it's online, it's got to be editable. If it's not editable, I'll stick to my Palm).


I've never once understood why people pay so much for so little real value. To me, .Mac has always been a bad service and a blemish compared to most of Apple's products.

jbelkin800
2006-01-25 20:20:09
.Mac most mis-understood Mac app
Lots of people like MEP above give a :30 second read through on the web page and think they know .Mac.


Yes, you can get a free email address and even free storage but does your "storage" mount on your desktop like a partion/external HDD? With folders you can drop files into, toss, move around - essentially treat as another partition/drive on your Mac?


Or create a password protected portion by clicking on two things and typing in a password?


Is there another seamless solution that will not just backup my address book and booklmarks but sync and create an internet viewable file so anywhere I have internet access, I have my bookmarks?


Yes, Flikr is nice but it's not nearly as nice as the templates provided by Apple.


How about the 600 free GarbageBand loops, the free iBlog and other software?


All for about $.25 a day?


And now, even tighter sync with the ilife apps and the new iweb for instant web pages.


BTW, Virex support was dropped a year ago - you should know your stuff before you "complain."


If none of these features are not useful for you - that's your choice but don't knock what you don't even know.


Sure, do I wish it were cheaper - of course - but isn't that true for everything? Yes, it was once free but then so were rides in cars and stickers.


Is it perfect. No, but what is not just in computers but in life? It delivers EXACTLY what it promises - an easier online site to easily sync, access files, bookmarks and other info. If you want an Apple-fied bundle of such services, .mac provides that easily and effortlesly for $70 to $99 bucks a year. If you don't need, fine, just step away and mind your own business instead of presuming to apply your needs for everyone else - we're not dumber or smarter than you for using the service and the price is paid upfront so we know exactly what we're getting - we're not getting duped or scammed if that's your big worry.


And yes, the iCal sync is not very good but iCal is not all that great - it looks nice if you have simple needs but it doesn't do much else. But then nothing in life is perfect.


ptwobrussell
2006-01-25 21:06:49
.Mac most mis-understood Mac app
Lots of people like MEP above give a :30 second read through on the web page and think they know .Mac.


And some people reply to blog posts and paraphrase the .Mac webpage with about a :30 second reply, citing such great features as "instant web pages." Now really, what is an "instant web page"? Is it something you'd go showing off? I kind of doubt it. An instant webpage kind of reminds me of something like instant mashed potatoes....it sucks.


All for about $.25 a day?


Everything is "cheap" if you break it down far enough. Heck, who knows, my PowerBook may only cost me a few cents a day if I keep it long enough.


BTW, Virex support was dropped a year ago - you should know your stuff before you "complain."


Maybe you should read a bit more closely before you decide to take personal offense (or at least act like you have) about an impersonal rant.


. If you don't need, fine, just step away and mind your own business instead of presuming to apply your needs for everyone else - we're not dumber or smarter than you for using the service and the price is paid upfront so we know exactly what we're getting


Actually, I think I'll do whatever I want to do...including posting rants about products that I don't think cut the mustard.


Remember, I'm a paid user too. And as you point out, it's only 25c a day.


don't knock what you don't even know.


Last time I checked, I know it about as good as anyone else does. What is there to "know" about how to use a piece of simplistic commercial software that has a long way to go anyway?


just step away and mind your own business instead of presuming to apply your needs for everyone else


I think there's some irony in what you say. Sounds like you're more of a salesman than I am. Sure you're not one of the developers on the .Mac team?


But then nothing in life is perfect.


That says it all. And that's exactly the point I'm making. Glad to see you get it.

ptwobrussell
2006-01-25 21:12:53
.Mac most mis-understood Mac app
And I'd have thought something like Sherlock would have been the most misunderstood Mac app anyway. What's up with that?
ptwobrussell
2006-01-25 21:13:03
.Mac most mis-understood Mac app
And I'd have thought something like Sherlock would have been the most misunderstood Mac app anyway. What's up with that?
ptwobrussell
2006-01-27 04:28:55
As we were undergoing some internal changes to our blogging system today, a few comments I received e-mail notifications for didn't seem to get posted here...so I'll stick them all inline below as a courtesy:


Comment #1:
Have you filed a feature request for this?


If you don't, it's not a bug, it's just a gripe.


-jcr


Just sent an e-mail to the .Mac team via the form at http://www.apple.com/feedback/mac/tm.html -- good reminder to do that. It's easy to forget.


Maybe you folks at Apple could consider integrating some sort of feedback mechanism into the OS or into the software. If nothing else, just a simple Cocoa wrapper that fires off e-mail to the appropriate places. Seems like a good idea. Maybe stick it in System Preferences and call it "Feedback"?


Comment #2:
I still shell out 100 Bucks a year for .mac, for its simplicity, mobility and comfort. Right now, I am publishing 3 iCals just because it's so easy. I add appointments on the go with my cell phone and get them into iCal via iSync. I sync and backup daily onto my iDisk, and to my secondary computer from there. So I don't have a need for a cal web interface. But that's just my lifestyle.


Sounds like you're getting your $100 worth


Comment #3:
Your woes with changing email address are familiar - I solved it once and for all by using the excellent service at http://www.pobox.com - well worth getting in order to have a more stable address.


I'll check it out.

Dan_C
2006-01-27 13:15:56
"I personally don't own any MS machines/licenses myself, one of my employers owns plenty of them -- more than any other single organization in the world to be exact (any guessers?)"


How about, USAF?

Rene Lepage
2006-01-27 13:34:15
I dont get your point here. I use 5 different calendars with iCal, and thanks to .Mac services, I publish/edit 2 of them (simply add/edit event and control-click (or right-click) "calendar/refresh"). I can synchronise all of them between my desktop, laptop and my wife's iPod. True I can't edit them from a pc. Well, it's called appropriately .Mac services, right. Do you know any computer platform that does'nt lock you in somehow?


Now, does it worth 100 $/year? I agree, we can argue about that.

ptwobrussell
2006-01-27 22:10:23
And Dan_C answers correctly...now for a new question: what percentage of your tax dollars go to MS (via software licenses/purchases by the gov't)?
Wil Limoges
2006-01-31 22:32:11
I'm right there with you on this. .Mac is not worth $99 a year in contrast to the plethora of free services that are currently available. Even worse .Mac is causing the Mac platform to suffer from .Mac cannibalization. Apple is putting features into .Mac that absolutely should be available on its Server platform and that should also work across all platforms seamlessly. Calendar syncing should be substantially better with options that would work for collaboration and communication inside of corporate environments and be available as a stock service under Mac OS X server. Web Mail!?! I mean could you imagine how awesome .Mac's version of web mail would be on Mac OS X Server!?! As it stands Apple ships a squirrel mail and offers no support. And bookmark syncing should be handled much the same way as del.icio.us does. If you ask me .Mac is a hurdle for the platform and is causing its Server software to be weekend for not having some real competition for Microsoft's exchange platform. I wish that Apple would just desolve .Mac and work these features into a rich platform based on open source products then actually support it. Or give .Mac some truly hot features that are worth paying for and incorporate them into the Server software with out fearing the cannibalization of .Mac.
Jay Menna
2006-02-18 10:10:23
Apple wake up and finish iCal!