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Disclaimer: The entries you find in these pages are based on my individual opinions and thoughts. Some of the entries may be just plain wrong, and others harmful. Should you choose to act on, or try, anything you find on this site, you assume any and all risks associated with your actions. So there.


Contacts, Contacts Everywhere

March 19, 2004

Ok, so I've seen duplicate address entries in the address book from time to time. It happens when you change something on your Palm and on your Computer— the sync service keeps both; stuff happens. So what do you do when you get 30,000? And how do you get that many? Dunno, iSync gone bad, I guess.

This problem was affecting two computers: a boss and his assistant's computers. They are set up so that his calendar and address book are synced to hers once an hour. This went well from the start, almost without a hitch— especially surprising because both users were new to OS X, iCal, Address Book and iSync. The assistant was out for a few days and left her computer on and connected. When she returned her address book had gone from 1450 entries to well over 30,000, most of which were blank. She promptly spent 4 hours deleting the blank entries, only to have them return at the next sync.

I had her go in to single user mode and run fsck, no problems found, got her to nuke all of her cache files, then delete the blank entries again (this didn't take another 4 hours, thankfully) and tried to sync one more time. Same thing. So I took both computers, plus a copy of the Address Book from backup from before the event occurred. And you'd think restoring from backup would do the trick. But no, the problem seemed to be intertwined with .Mac and iSync, and getting it simply to reset and use the seemingly good data on the computer wouldn't fly. Registering and unregistering, telling it to replace .Mac or the data on the computer didn't work either.

After attempting a restore and sync of the addresses one more time, I created a new OS X user and tried it from that account. It worked. Ok, so I tried syncing what was now good data on .Mac to the old account by way of replacing the data in the old account from .Mac. No go. It partially synced, then failed with no real error. We're now at two hours and counting.

So, after a few more fiddles, I went into both accounts, unregistered from .Mac, deleted all cache files, did the same thing at the System level, then proceeded to hunt down and delete every preference file that was remotely related to iCal, iSync and Address Book— at the System, Library and home/Library level. Then reregistered .Mac, told it to replace with data from this computer, and synced an empty Address Book with the full calendar to iSync using her original account. Then I synced one more time for good luck. And it worked.

Next I brought in the old address book files from the backup, opened Address Book to see what was there, quit, then pushed sync one more time. It worked! I pushed sync one more time, this time just to be sure nothing new appeared. It still worked!

Ok, so I went to the boss's computer, unregistered, and nuked the Address Book, printed out the next 6 months of the calendar and nuked that. Then I hunted down and killed all of the related prefs and caches at both System and User level. Next I opened Address Book and iCal and closed them. Then I went to iSync and reregistered .Mac, told it to replace the data on this computer with the data on .Mac and pushed sync. Thanks be to God it worked!

Now, I went back to the assistants computer and synced again. It went quickly, smoothly and no changes! Yippee!! So the last thing on the to-do-list is to re-publish the boss's calendar, and re-subscribe to all of the other company calendars. After doing that, I quit, hit sync and it FAILED during the calendar sync, but it went right through the contacts. Ok, so .Mac has also been giving me fits, so I hit sync again... and it failed again on calendar, but this time the message from .Mac was more specific that their was something going wrong on their end.... maybe? Failed again. So I nuked all of the subscribed calendars except two. Failed again. And again. Maybe .Mac is really doing maintenance. Sheese, just what I needed, a guessing game. So off to do other things for a while.

A half an hour later I returned and it finally worked. So I tried adding back the rest of the calendars back. Failed. Failed. Damn. Reboot. Failed. Tried again and then over 100 blank addresses came back???? Tried to "Revert to Last Sync" and THAT failed.

Flipped over to the boss's laptop and reset all devices. This appeared to work. Tried to sync the other laptop.... never finished, hung during "Resetting Backup Conduit."

Ok, so I finally went to bed. The next morning I thought about it and decided that the problem isn't addresses, since they worked when we didn't subscribe to any other calendars. So I went to the backup and restored again, with an older date, and synced up both computers using only the boss's data. It works fine, just fine. I tested it by deleting a couple of duplicate email addresses and it worked perfectly.

So, I'll be going to the other computers and deleting older calendar appointments to pare down the size of the calendars, then we'll go once more into the brink of subscribing and syncing.