Sunday, December 27, 2009

Windows Mobile Calendar Gets Categories

NuevaSync Premium Service users with Windows Mobile phones can now sync calendar events with a "category" tag matching the event's Google calendar. This allows multiple Google calendars to be managed conveniently on the device: a filter can be enabled to show only one Google calendar, and new events can be created in any of the user's Google calendars.

More information on this new feature can be found on our web site.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Remote Wipe Your Phone!

NuevaSync Premium Service users can now remotely "wipe" their phone if it's lost or stolen.

After enabling the feature on your account, the devices that are ready for remote wipe will be marked in the device management page on our web site. To begin the remote wipe process, click the "manage" link:



You'll then see a page like this with a "Wipe your lost or stolen phone" link:



The next page is the final confirmation before the wipe command is sent (so be careful if you're checking out the site!). A captcha must be entered at this state to prevent accidentally triggering the wipe process:



Now, provided your phone is still syncing, it will erase all stored data. Confirmation that the wipe command was received is displayed on the device management page (if the phone didn't respond you'll see a "wipe pending" status here).



If you trigger wipe for a phone that is turned off, or for some other reason doesn't respond, and you want to revoke the request, a 'Cancel' wipe link will appear on the device management page. Beware however that any device that has an active push connection will wipe very quickly (in less than a second typically).

See this page on our web site for more details on the new remote wipe feature.

Note that some devices don't support remote wipe yet: Android 2.0 phones such as the Droid, and the new Nokia N900.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sync All Devices!

I'm very happy to announce that NuevaSync now works with all the devices that have an Exchange sync capability. Compatible phones include the very new Nokia N900, and the rather old Palm Treo. Also supported: the ├╝ber cool Motorola Droid, and the slightly less hip PocketPC 2003. And of course, SonyEricsson, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPod Touch, WebOS, Windows Mobile all sync too.




Testing, debugging and fixing sync for all these device types has been a major undertaking both for us here and the many users who helped in the effort (thanks!). With this work done and 100% device coverage achieved, we're busy developing new features to be released before the end of this year.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New: Sync Tasks with Toodledo!

Beginning today Premium Service users (and free Premium trial accounts) can sync with the popular task management site Toodledo.



To sync tasks you need a compatible device (iPhones don't have tasks support yet but Windows Mobile, Nokia and Palm Pre phones do). Register for a Toodledo account (free or pro). Enable and configure tasks on our web site---enter your Toodledo username and password. Note that you need to enter your fully-qualified Toodledo username (typically your email address).



Finally enable tasks sync on your device. Windows Mobile setup looks like this:

Nokia Mail for Exchange will list tasks under the 'Content synced' once enabled:



The Toodledo API doesn't provide real-time change notification, so the service checks for changes every so often. Changes made on their web site will appear on your phone after a few minutes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Sync your BlackBerry!

BlackBerry® devices can now be used with NuevaSync thanks to a $49 application from AstraSync (they have a free trial). Until recently there were a few compatibility issues with AstraSync and our service, but those have now been resolved. Contact, Calendar and Email sync are all supported, including Push Email service.



After downloading and installing AstraSync please follow these configuration instructions. Your BlackBerry device should show up on the device management page like this:


Check our new BlackBerry device forum for more information, or to report any problems.

Sync on.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Push Email Service now supports GMX

We deployed new code was today that includes a fix to support the popular free Email service GMX. There have been quite a few users attempting to use GMX with push email free trial accounts and it wasn't until I tried GMX myself that we discovered there was an incompatibility with their IMAP service. Fortunately the problem was easy to fix.

In testing with GMX we've noticed that message read/un-read changes are pushed (unlike GMail) but message delete events are sometimes delayed by up to a minute.

Correct push email configuration on our web site for GMX looks like this:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Premium Service Free Trial Now Available

New today on the web site we now offer the chance to try Premium Service before you buy. A new free trial account can be created here.
Existing users can can be begin the three day trial period by any free service user by clicking "click here to begin" on this page, then click yes on the confirmation page.


Free trial users get all the Premium Service features including Push Email, but they'll continue to use the same server facilities as other free users. Free trial accounts can be upgraded to permanent Premium status at any time during the trial.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Push AOL Mail to the iPhone

Since our push email service works with any IMAP compatible mailbox, there are quite a few services besides GMail that can use it, including AOL Mail. Today we released a service update that gives better support for AOL Mail, including quick configuration on the web site. We did find one AOL-related iPhone quirk so I thought it would be useful to write up complete configuration instructions for an AOL account db1234567@aol.com using NuevaSync account aoltest1:

If you're using a NuevaSync account with an aol.com or aim.com registered e-mail address then service configuration is much easier because the web site notices you may be trying to use AOL Mail and presents a quick setup screen. You only need to enter your AOL password, click yes and you're done:




For folks who like to do things the hard way, here's the full configuration screen filled out for an AOL account:



After verifying that there's a green light in the status display, we can proceed to device configuration. Here's where we need to work around a small issue with the iPhone. Normally we'd enter the AOL email address here:




However, if you do supply an @aol.com address, the iPhone will go into a never-ending spin trying to fetch auto-configuration information from an AOL server (it says "Verifying Exchange account information" but really it's trying to get the server name from the server "aol.com", which of course doesn't have that information to give):


This is similar to the GMail case where the phone tries to fetch config from a Google server and gets an SSL certificate validation error. However in the AOL case it just spins and spins and spins. Other devices such as Windows Mobile allow the user to disable auto-configuration, but the iPhone doesn't. We've found two ways to work around this. The first is to put the phone in flight mode during the account configuration process. This works just fine but it means you lose the chance to confirm the setup is ok because the phone can't test it. The second method is to first enter an e-mail address that doesn't end with aol.com. It can be anything you like. In this case I simply replaced "aol.com" with "nuevasync.com":



This will get you to the next screen without the death-spin syndrome. You can then edit the e-mail address back to the correct @aol.com address and enter the server name http://www.nuevasync.com/.



Clicking next on the screen above should check the username and password and connectivity to the server. Lastly turn calendar and contact sync off unless you're using those since sync performance will be a little faster with them off:

For reference, the resulting setup looks like this. SSL is on, the user's AOL e-mail address is configured, their NuevaSync account, their NuevaSync Password and server name:



And that's it. Open the mail app on the phone and you should see your AOL inbox, and new messages pushed. A bonus vs. GMail is that AOL's IMAP implementation is complete, so message read/unread status is pushed in real time. We did find one potential pitfall with AOL Mail: their SMTP server checks the sender address on messages. GMail's simply replaces the sender address with your account's e-mail address if the device happens to present a different one. In the case of AOL, if the e-mail address configured on the phone does not match the AOL account, then message sending fails. We don't yet have a test for this in the web site, so beware that if you find after configuring that you can't send messages, then probably your e-mail address was mis-typed. It's easy to open the sync account settings page on the phone and change it though.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New feature: GMail message 'archive' support

New in today's premium service update is a feature that many GMail users have requested: messages deleted on the device can now be 'archived' instead of the traditional move to the trash folder. An archived message desn't have the inbox label and hence will no longer appear in the inbox, but will show up in GMail search results and will retain any other labels the user or filters have applied. This is slightly different to the normal IMAP treatment of deleted messages where they'd appear with the 'trash' label and would not appear in regular search results.
The 'Delete-means-archive' feature needs to be turned on in the e-mail advanced settings page. Log into our web site then click the 'setup' link next to Email to display the regular settings page, then click 'Advanced settings'. Check the box at the bottom of the form and click save:



There's no need to do anything else (except perhaps wait a minute or two for the configuration change to propagate to the sync service). All your deletes will now magically 'archive' the messages at GMail.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Edit Word Documents on your iPhone with "Documents To Go"

Recently I heard about a $5 iPhone app called Documents To Go which allows editing of Microsoft Word documents. If you're not familiar with the iPhone, it has built-in viewers for e-mail attachments in several common desktop file formats, including Word, PDF and Excel, but does not have an editing capability. Documents To Go adds that capability, at least for MS Word files today and for Excel in a future update.
The way I heard about this app first was when several users complained (all on the same day, curiously) that it did not work with our service! At first I couldn't understand what a Word document editing app had to do with our service, but once you realize that there's no easy way to get the files onto and off of the device, it becomes more obvious. Add to that the fact that Documents To Go comes from renowned device sync client developer DataViz, and the penny drops...
Documents To Go can communicate with an application you install on your desktop computer, to fetch and save files, but if you spring $5 extra for the Exchange version, it can read and send files through a corporate mail server, or of course our push e-mail service (we fixed the compatibility problem soon after the first reports). It has its own sync client software, and shows up as a separate device as far as our service is concerned. It has its own settings page where you enter your username, password and www.nuevasync.com, much the same as for the phone's built in client:



Then sync your inbox (my GMail account in this example), which will display all the messages with compatible attachments:



Word attachments can be opened and edited like this:



Then saved on the device, back to your desktop, or e-mailed directly from the app which is what I did with this document, and here it is open in Word on my PC:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Push E-Mail is Here!

Big news: We've launched our new 'push' E-Mail Sync Service. The iPhone, Palm Pre, Nokia S60 Series and Windows Mobile Phones can use push E-Mail Sync.
Your mailbox is accessed by our service via the industry standard IMAP protocol which is widely supported by corporate servers and also by most hosted e-mail services,
including Google's GMail.



New messages appear on your device within seconds with an optional beep or vibrate alert. iPhone users don't need to keep the mail application open:


video

Push E-Mail sync is part of our $25/yr Premium Service. In addition to e-mail sync, premium users get priority support and the ability to sync an unlimited number of calendars, with no restriction on history. Premium service is run on separate machines from the free service for optimal performance and reliability. Once an account is upgraded to premium status, e-mail can be configured by clicking 'change' next to 'E-Mail' on the web site:



There is a streamlined configuration process for GMail users. If the account has an @gmail.com or @googlemail.com address this screen is presented and you only need to enter your password to finish:



For other users there is a comprehensive setup screen that allows all the mail server settings to be entered individually:



There's more information on our web site and if you'd like to comment or ask a question please check out the new E-Mail and Premium Service areas on the Nuevasync forum.

I have to thank all the users who helped us test e-mail sync over the past few weeks. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has supported us with unsolicited donations. Those donors will all receive complementary premium service.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Contact Counts on the Web Site

The detailed account status page has been enhanced to show more information about your Google contacts. We've found this to be handy when investigating reports from users who had either no contacts on their device, or the wrong number of contacts. Often there was confusion about which contacts, and how many should be syncing. The new information displayed on the web site should clear up the confusion:

The example above shows a user with 241 contacts in the 'My Contacts' pseudo-group at Google. This is the set of contacts that we sync. If a contact shows up under 'My Contacts', it should sync. If it doesn't, then it definitely won't sync. The default 'System' groups (Friends, Family etc) and two user-created groups (Test Group, Second Group) are displayed next. Contacts in these groups are always included in 'My Contacts' and so they will sync. The last group is the one formerly known as 'Suggested Contacts', and now labeled 'Most Contacted' at Google. By popular demand, we do not sync contacts in this group. So for this user, the total number of contacts that will sync is 241. Contacts in all of the groups except 'Most Contacted', will sync but they don't count towards the total because those contacts already accounted for under 'My Contacts'.
You can see the detailed account status page either by clicking the link in the troubleshooting page, or by clicking on the green/orange/red 'lights' in the main status page. If you're wondering why it takes a while to load, it's because we re-fetch your contact information from Google in real-time, to be sure the page shows up-to-date results.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Service Outage Sunday

Unfortunately we had a service problem today that didn't trigger our service quality monitoring system, but did affect service. Please accept my apologies for this. We're working to improve the monitoring system to catch the particular type of error it missed. Service has been brought back to normal operating state.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Service Overloaded by iPhone 3.0 Update

Apple's highly anticipated 3.0 firmware release is causing us some operations problems right now. Large numbers of devices have been updated within a short time period, and it appears that after the update the sync code in the phone triggers a 'resync'. This puts extra load on our service which is currently running at maximum capacity. We've enabled load throttling measures which should ensure it remains working, but unfortunately not all devices will be able to sync until the load spike passes.
UPDATE: We've deployed some hardware upgrades tonight and service is now back up and running normally. We're expecting to be able to handle the load peak forecast for Thursday morning as the remaining iPhone users update their devices.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sony Ericsson P1i

We've had owners of Sony Ericsson phones connecting to the service for a while but they proved to be a stealthy group of users in that nobody had ever reported any problems to us. (I'm talking about the 'home grown' Sony Ericsson phones, not the line of Windows Mobile devices they make). Curiosity got the better of me and I went eBay fishing for a test device. After a few delays with shipping and then me being out the office, my 'unlocked' P1i finally arrived today. The P1i is no longer sold, but there are similar current devices such as the G502. Anyway, the P1i is now configured and syncing. Interestingly, although the Sony Ericsson phones run the same Symbian S60 OS as Nokia devices, they ship a completely different sync client, Roadsync from DataViz (incidentally, you can get this client for Nokia devices too if you want).



My phone already had the Exchange sync client installed but Sony Ericsson's support page implies that some devices might not come with it pre-installed. Configuration was easy and I'm happy to report that it synced just fine. That is, except for the fact that contact pictures did not show up on the device. We need to so some investigation to determine why that's happening.
I connected the phone with WiFi, rather than cell data service. It does push sync over WiFi, even when the device is 'turned off'. A nice surprise because not all devices do this (the iPhone does not for example).
The keyboard drove me completely nuts. There are three or four characters per key, and both a shift and alt keys. I was unable to deduce the relationship between them by experiment and had to resort to the on-screen keyboard. The side scroll-click-wheel worked quite well though. Better than a touch interface for one-handed use, I think.
The contact and calendar apps have a good feel to them, and an initial test suggests that unlike Nokia's calendar, all day events work properly. There doesn't seem to be support for folders in the e-mail sync client (other than the inbox, sent folder etc). The device has IMAP IDLE (push) support but unfortunately so far I haven't been able to get its IMAP client to work at all. It seemed to become severely challenged by my 3600+ message inbox so I haven't had a chance to compare push sync e-mail with IMAP IDLE.
Once the remaining testing we plan is completed, we'll be adding some configuration and device-specific information to the web site.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Palm Pre Setup

Here are step-by-step instructions for setting up the Palm Pre to sync with NuevaSync.  Configuration can be done under any PIM application (e-mail, contacts, or calendar) but it is simplest under the calendar or contact applications.  Under e-mail it does auto-configuration guessing that sometimes chooses the wrong server type.

Whether you choose to start configuration from the contacts or calendar app, the configuration is applied to the other apps as well.  (If you don’t use all of them, that is OK, it will still sync.)

  1. Open up contacts (or calendar) and go to “Preferences & Accounts”: 
    contacts_2009-08-06_184508
  2. Scroll to the bottom and tap “Add An Account”:
    contacts_2009-08-06_184142 
  3. Tap “Microsoft Exchange”:
     contacts_2009-08-06_184147
  4. Then enter your NuevaSync-registered e-mail address and NuevaSync password:
     contacts_2009-08-06_185311
  5. Put https://www.nuevasync.com in the server slot and your username in the username slot.  Leave the domain slot empty.  Tap “Sign In” and you should be syncing.
    contacts_2009-08-06_185500

Monday, June 8, 2009

Syncing with the Palm Pre

I snagged a Palm Pre over the weekend.  It was well worth it; though it did mean starting out at about 05:30 on Saturday to get to the Sprint store in time.

I hadn’t gotten to test the Pre pre-release (heh), so the first question for me, naturally, was “Does it sync with NuevaSync?”  The answer is yes, and I’ve been syncing my contacts, calendar, and mail with NuevaSync since about 8am Saturday morning.

What about the Pre itself?  It is smaller than I expected, even having seen size comparisons online. It is about 1/3” shorter than an iPhone/iPod touch and much more rounded.  Even though it is a little thicker than either of those, I think its shape is better suited for carry in a pocket.

The build quality feels very good.  The slide/hinge mechanism on mine has no discernible play on any axis, fully extended or closed, which is even better than I expected.  The screen is excellent.  It is a little brighter and sharper than the one my iPod, but they are basically comparable.  I like the Pre screen myself, but I could see votes either way (the iPod/iPhone screen is slightly larger).  I imagine it would loose handily in a “Will it Blend?” faceoff though – a metal case is hard to beat for that one.

The entire phone is the same shade of shiny black, so it is difficult to discern the controls from pictures.  The power button is in the top right corner (the same position as an iPod/iPhone, but on the opposite side), and right next to it is a tactile switch to put the phone in and out of silent mode (I like that quite a bit).  The upper-left side has a rocker switch for volume control.  In the center on the right side is a small and very well disguised USB port behind a protective flap.  The round (glowing, though that never comes out in pictures) button in the bottom center of the face is primarily used for task switching (think Alt+Tab).  Just above it, but below the screen, is a touch-sensitive bar.  Swiping along that bar is something like “back”, though conceptually it might be said to go “up” as well.  For example, from the Inbox swiping will take you “up” to the folder list.  At the very top center is a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.  The little bar near the top of the face is a speaker.

The overall input is very iPhone-like, with various swiping and pinching and tapping gestures, with the addition of the swiping bar on the face.  On the whole, the input is so similar, I’m not sure there is any worthwhile difference between the two mechanisms.  That is probably a good thing, as the iPhone has a friendly interface.  The Pre has one notable difference in its physical keyboard.  The only downside is that the actual keys look a little cheaper than the rest of the phone.  I think that is purely aesthetic though, as they feel solid.  I managed to get someone to time me typing the same sentence on both devices.  On the iPod touch I got it done in ~69s, with ~64s on the Pre.  It wasn’t a very long sentence (I’m not a quick typist on these things), but it was typed in normal English with all the correct capitalization, punctuation, etc.  Overall I prefer the real keyboard on the Pre, and I was a little faster, though it doesn’t appear to make a night and day difference in speed.  I’ve typed regularly on the iPod/iPhone for quite a while though, and just barely over a day with the Pre: I may get better with practice.  I have noticed that the iPod/iPhone has better automatic spelling correction.

Along with the keyboard, the big news with the Palm Pre is that it supports multiple applications running simultaneously.  It does work, and it seems to work well.  I can say for certain that switching between my calendar, contacts, and mail is significantly faster and easier on the Pre.  It really deserves more than a few sentences, but after using lots of different mobile OSs I can say that this is much easier than any of them for multitasking.  For day to day use, it feels much more like using a real (albeit tiny) computer.

I was pleasantly surprised by the camera.  The quality was far better than I expected and I can snap multiple shots pretty quickly – around one a second.  It has a flash as well, with all the basic controls (auto/off/on).  That is nice touch.  I’m not sure if there is any other on-phone camera that can do a fill flash.

Last up on the hardware is USB connectivity.  The port is rather difficult to reach behind its flap (I think they really want people to purchase the inductive charger) but it is notable for having the best connectivity options I’ve seen.  When first connecting, it prompts on the phone whether one would like to connect as a USB mass storage device, for media-sync, or just for charging.  That is nice on its own, but goes a step better, as one can change modes afterward without reconnecting.  For example, after connecting to do charging, I can tap the little USB icon in the corner of the phone and switch to harddrive or media-sync mode on the fly.  (Once in harddrive mode, you can’t easily switch back, however.)  Perhaps I’m the only one left, but I prefer managing all files manually vs. automated media-syncing, so the mass storage device mode is very welcome.  I haven’t tried managing every kind of document that way yet, but I’ve done a little with music, pictures, and certificates successfully.  All the screenshots were copied over that way as well.

And now for some pictures.  I took these earlier today.

By itself:
 IMGP3255 IMGP3252 IMGP3253

And next to an iPod touch:
IMGP3248 IMGP3249-2

I’ve been overwhelmingly positive so far, but there are a few quirks.  One is the speed.  Most the time it is snappy, but occasionally tapping something will produce no visible effect.  When that happens I often tap it again in case it hadn’t registered my finger, just in time to realize it was simply being slow.  The second tap might reverse the first, so I have to start over.  It can be annoying.  This can happen with all mobile devices, but I think it is more common on the Pre.  Another is an Exchange / NuevaSync-specific one, which is that the Pre doesn’t support multi-colored calendars through its Exchange sync.  It is very close to working, but just a little short.  The Pre downloads the full calendar list, assigns each one a different color (the colors are even user-selectable), and allows each one to be adjusted individually for inclusion in the “All” list.  It is quirky though, as it gives every calendar the same name, and despite having them all on the list, only really syncs the default.  Hopefully this will be fixed in future firmware.  In the meantime, using a merged calendar is preferable.

The Pre also offers built-in Google sync.  I want to preface this by saying I haven’t had the chance to test it extensively, so these are just some initial impressions.  On the pro side, it is easy to setup and multi-colored calendars work properly with the built-in sync.  On the con side, the contacts sync includes all suggested contacts, ie, anyone you ever e-mailed on GMail.  That may not be a big deal, but it can be very messy if you have an extensive list.  I think remote updates to contacts and calendar both are picked up a good deal faster when syncing on NuevaSync as well, but I need to do some more testing to be certain.

And here are screenshots off the latest firmware, 1.0.2 (yep, there has already been an over-the-air update).

Here is the calendar view:

calendar_2009-08-06_164830

And a specific event:

calendar_2009-08-06_164855

And the contact list (these test entries don’t have pictures, but pics do sync OK):

contacts_2009-08-06_171450

And a specific contact (this one does have a pic):

contacts_2009-08-06_165623 

And, lastly, one of my INBOX. ;)

 email_2009-08-06_165730

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Google OAuth Security Flaw

A security vulnerability in the OAuth protocol was announced last night. This is the mechanism we use to have access tokens granted to us for users' Google calendar and contact data. Google has implemented the recommended warning message on their access request page, which reads:

This website is registered with Google to make authorization requests, but has not been configured to send requests securely.If you grant access but you did not initiate this request at www.nuevasync.com, it may be possible for other users of www.nuevasync.com to access your data. We recommend you deny access unless you are certain that you initiated this request directly with http://www.nuevasync.com/.

I think the message must have been written on the assumption that a fixed OAuth protocol will be introduced in the future (hence the 'has not been configured...' part). Unfortunately right now that doesn't exist so there's no way for us to 'configure' our service appropriately.
So what does this mean for our users? Having analysed the vulnerability, the bottom line is that you need to be sure that if you ever see that Google page where you grant access, that you were yourself performing the access request. That is, you just came from our site and had just clicked on the 'Request account access' button. The nature of the vulnerability is that someone has to trick you into clicking 'grant access' on that page in response to clicking a link on some other page (not on our site). This is exactly what the alert message on the page says, so basically if you read and understand the page, then you're ok.

Update: There's a good description of the problem in this blog post. It turns out that the attack is not so easy to pull off against our service because we take steps to ensure that the Google id stored in your account matches the data accessed by the Google access token. In general the attacker won't know the victim's Google id and therefore the attack will fail.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nokia Nirvana

Or at least pretty close. A number of changes were deployed tonight that bring us up to a much higher level of compatibility with the Nokia MfE client. More information about our Nokia support in general can be found here. There's also a new Nokia discussion area on the Nuevasync discussion forum which would be a good place to post any experiences (good or bad!) with Nokia syncing.
We recommend using the latest version of MfE (2.09.158 at the time of writing). This has support for contact picture sync which works both ways (for reasons outside our control, updates to pictures at Google seem to take around 5 minutes to show up. Please wait a while before concluding picture syncing isn't working).
The only Nokia problem that we're aware of at present is that a contact with two mobile phone numbers (or more) at Google will only sync with one of them to the phone. This is because Nokia appear to have not implemented support for the contact field that we normally use for the second mobile phone number ('car phone'). We'll figure out a fix for this problem soon.
Nokia's calendar application has a rather strange approach to all-day events: they are treated as regular events that happen to run from midnight to 11:59pm. This looks like a bug to us, but apparently it's always been like that. It's important to get your time zone setting right because if it is off vs. the Google calendar these all-day events will show up spanning two days, and at weird times. A 'real' all-day event is called a 'memo' in Nokia-speak and if you create one of these on the device it will sync as an all-day event at Google. However if you ever resync, it'll be converted back to one of the strange 'lasts-all-day' events.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Nuevasync Discussion Forums

Nuevasync now has a web discussion forum. Registration is required to post. You don't need to be a Nuevasync user to participate.

http://forum.nuevasync.com

Fix Bundle

Several fixes and small improvements were deployed last night.
We've implemented our own workaround for this Google contacts service bug. This problem was affecting quite a few users and resulted in loss of contact sync. Affected users don't need to do anything, sync should begin working again. You had this problem if the sync status page displayed a message about bad data at Google.
Also fixed is a problem affecting some users where an event deleted at Google would remain on the device.
Recent Palm devices such as the Centro will now sync with the service. These devices don't allow e-mail sync to be turned off and because our service didn't allow e-mail sync they would always throw an error. The service now allows e-mail sync to be enabled (but doesn't actually do any syncing of e-mails yet), and so these Palm devices will 'work'. Palm support should be considered experimental at this point. We know that several things aren't working properly.
Finally, the web site now allows a 'default country' to be specified (in the account settings page). This is used to apply a country to contacts that don't have one at Google. This in turn is particularly useful for non-US iPhone users because the iPhone's map application does very strange things if the country field is not set (such as trying to navigate to Paris, TX when a person in France tries to find a friend's address !)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Nokia Contacts Working Again

Since the most recent release of Noika's MFE sync client our contact sync from Google didn't work (Plaxo did still work). This problem has been fixed. We're taking some time to fix a number of other smaller Nokia compatibility issues. These should be done in the next few days. We also have Palm interoperability working in the lab, but not yet deployed on the production servers. There will be a post here when that's done.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

These Calendars Go To 'Eleven'

Previously we had an eight-calendar limit. As of tonight the limit on the number of calendars that can be selected to sync has been increased to 11.

(Some readers may need to watch this).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Contact Code

New code dealing with physical address processing was deployed last night. The goal was to do a good job of translating postal addresses as they appear on GMail contacts into the device format. This is an interesting problem because there are many different address formats in use around the world and the address comes to us free-form with no fields identified. The new code is able to recognize addresses from a large number of countries, although it may still be challenged by some UK addresses. If the country is present in the contact's address the iPhone map application should now correctly locate addresses in countries other than the good old USA. The iPhone seems to have bug in its contact edit screen: a contact that has a valid country (for example the phone's map app finds the address correctly) will always display 'United States' for the country if you edit the contact. This doesn't happen for contacts entered on the device itself. We will be adding a 'default country' setting to the web site soon that allows a global override for the country on all contacts that don't already have their country set. Thank you to all the users from France and other countries who helped make this feature happen.
The mysterious 'squares' in contact names problem has also been fixed, along with a few contact issues seen with Windows Mobile devices (file-as not being always set, contacts appearing as 'Unknown').

Monday, February 9, 2009

Do not adjust your set. Nuevasync is still here.

Here are some answers to the questions we've been asked today:
Is Google's new sync service similar to Nuevasync ? Yes the two services use the same sync capabilities present in the same devices including the iPhone, and today provide a similar set of features.
Did Google use any of our technology? No.
Does this mean the end of Nuevasync ? No, there will be much more to Nuevasync than today's Google sync service.
Is this good news for Nuevasync ? Yes. I'm pleased that Google have adopted our approach to mobile sync. It's also good to read that they are using their resources and influence with device vendors to enhance the quality of device sync client code.
If you guys weren't planning to become the sync engine for Google, why did you create your Google service ? We wanted to develop really solid sync server software and Google was picked as a data source back in 2007 when work began on our 'demo' service. Google had a decent calendar application and a usable API. The plan was to attract a few hundred users and fix any bugs they revealed in the code. There are 120,000 users today so we over-achieved a little on the plan but we've also fixed some very obscure bugs!
Which new features are coming next ? E-mail sync (from any IMAP mailbox), support for other calendar services besides Google, a solution for users who need to use a corporate Exchange server, tasks support, major web site improvements. We will also fix all the bugs ;) Keep the support mails coming...

Friday, January 30, 2009

New Service Code Deployed

Since 08:00 UTC today we have new code running that provides significantly improved capacity and reliability. So far everything looks to be operating as expected.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nuevasync Review at TechCrunch

Jeff Widman at TechCrunchIT has posted an interview with David.  Particularly if you are curious how Nuevasync came to be, make sure to check it out.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Support News

We've recruited a new member of staff who will work 100% on user support. It's been challenging to keep up with the support workload recently, particularly at times when there were service reliability issues because those tend to lead to large numbers of new tickets being raised. Users should experience more consistent response to support issues and our engineering staff will be able to focus entirely on fixing the problems reported.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

If You Have no Contacts...

Thanks to everyone that reported they had no contacts. A pattern is emerging. Almost all the users reporting lack of contacts have the same problem, which in fact isn't a new problem nor is it related to the recent reliability issues. This blog article has the details. If you have a lack of contacts, or indeed any problem, please log into our web site and check your account status first (if you see a red light that indicates a problem that needs to be fixed), then your sync status. These pages 'understand' a large number of known support issues and will often display information on how to fix the problem you have.

Update: thanks to a very helpful user who was willing to allow us to use his account for debugging, we found an additional problem with Google contact sync last night. Users with larger numbers of contacts should benefit from the fix which is now live on the production service.

Contact Sync Status

There are quite a few blog comments here suggesting that contact sync just isn't working at present. As far as we are aware contact sync is working normally. We can sync contacts on test devices, add contacts on each end and everything seems ok. There are situations in which the iPhone will delete all its contacts and then re-fetch the contact list from our service. If for some reason it can't contact the service at that point then the device has an empty contact list. It's possible that this event has been happening more often than normal, or that there's some reason why the re-fetch isn't working. We'd expect devices to catch up again and retain their contact list.

Update: if you have no contact sync (or indeed no calendar sync) please send a message to support@nuevasync.com with subject 'I have no contacts (or calendar)' and include your Nuevasync username and the number of contacts in your list if you know that. There may be some account-specific problem and we'd like to investigate some affected accounts. Thanks.

iPhone/iPod Default Calendar

We're not yet up to date on the web site with all the tips and tricks for the iPhone multiple calendar feature. Here's one useful thing: for reasons not yet clear the iPhone sometimes picks a 'default calendar' seemingly at random. This can be annoying because when new events are created on the device they are assigned to the default calendar unless another one is explicitly selected. We intend the default to be your Google main calendar but this doesn't seem to always be the case. Until we get this resolved, it will be necessary to change the default calendar after the initial sync. This can be done in the settings page, under 'Mail, Contacts, Calendar...', scroll down 'till you see 'Default Calendar'.

Friday, January 16, 2009

iPhone Multiple Calendar Support Fully Deployed

All existing users now have multiple calendar support enabled. The next time your device syncs it should pick up colored calendars. No user intervention is required. Sync status logging is still turned off so the sync status page will not display correct information yet. It might say that your sync has an error when in fact it succeeded.

Service Status

The servers weren't quite able to keep up with their workload during the busy part of the day Thursday but are operating normally now. As load rises on Friday morning it is possible that service will degrade again. We are working on two fronts to address our overload problems: 1) deploying additional server capacity and 2) making a performance optimization in the software. One or both of these measures will be introduced on Friday to address our increased load.
The heavy traffic over the last few days is due to two things. First the transition to multiple calendars generates more work for the servers. Second, we have three times as many new users signing up every day than we did last week.
The status on the transition to multiple calendars is as follows: about half our users have had the feature enabled. Roughly 75% of their devices have made the transition. When we're sure that most of the eligible devices have transitioned and the current performance and capacity issues have been addressed, the remaining users will then be multical-enabled.
The web page that reports sync status and the elapsed time since the last successful sync will display incorrect information at present. This is because the recording of the status and error data has been temporarily disabled to reduce disk traffic (and improve overall reliability).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

iPhone Calendar Color Selection

The mystery of the iPhone calendar coloring is...well...still a mystery to us. At present the situation is this : the iPhone picks the colors. We don't yet know how to send it color information. If we learn how to do that (assuming it's possible) then we will allow users to pick the colors. Google does allow users to select colors, and assuming a stable calendar/color assignment on the device, it is usually possible to modify your Google colors so they match. However, sometimes the iPhone randomly changes the colors. There is also a strange black on yellow color that can show up, and in extreme cases all the calendars get that color. We suspect that it has some deep meaning (perhaps related to the 18th century practice of flying a yellow flag on a ship to indicate the presence of fever?). The yellow plague and the random color reassignment can usually be fixed by clicking the link 'Folder list on the device does not match? Reset it. ' on the calendar setup page.

Chinese, Japanese Calendar Names

Several users reported that in the calendar selection page, if the calendar name is a multibyte string, it was displayed as ???? characters. This bug has been fixed and those calendars should be readable now.

Service Status and Vanishing Contacts

After a marathon debugging session we found and fixed two performance-related bugs in the service last night. One had led to more disk I/O being done when a device performed a re-sync with contacts enabled. The data we store was being re-written when it hadn't really changed. We had many devices re-syncing yesterday when they converted to multiple calendars. This led to disk saturation and hence service slowness. Slow service leads to increased load because some devices time out and trigger yet more re-syncing. The second problem was a memory leak that became worse with the increased load, eventually leading to the service bogging down completely which triggers an automated re-start. Both these bugs were fixed late last night.
The worst aspect of this incident was that Apple devices interacted in an unfortunate way with the degraded service: if the device wasn't able to sync a change made on its end it could trigger an out of sync condition in the service. This is handled on the iPhone by deleting all the existing data, then re-fetching new data from the service. Normally this would happen in a few seconds but yesterday the service wasn't always responding to the re-fetch and as a result the device ended up empty until it was able to successfully re-sync.
For us this is a worse situation than if the service were completely down because in that case you'd still have all your data on the phone. Therefore we modified the service code last night to allow us to globally block these out of sync triggers on a temporary basis. Hence we can guarantee that nobody will have their contacts vanish all of a sudden. The downside to this is that nothing will sync for the affected devices either. This safety mode was enabled last night. It will be turned off once we're sure service is stable this morning (things look good at present).
All the devices that got into the half-synced state where contacts and calendar events were 'vanished' should have picked up sync again and fetched new data.
We do have plenty of servers and network bandwidth available.

Update : people have asked 'what can I do' to get syncing again. The answer is : nothing. Sync should pick up again naturally. The safety mode has been turned off now, so unless there are further service load problems everyone should see normal service return soon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Server Stability Problems Today

It turns out we were a bit over-ambitious with the number of users enabled for multiple calendar sync. The conversion process went very smoothly over night, but when the load rose this morning (load peaks around 9am pacific time every day) the service hit an overload state. There could be unreliable service and short outages today as we deal with the situation. It's unlikely the problems will last beyond today. Apologies for the poor service today, we expect to have things back to normal very soon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Colored Calendar Phase-In

Some details on how iPhone multiple calendar support is being enabled for our users:
In planning the roll out for multiple calendars there was some concern that the extra load on our servers from processing the transition for large numbers of devices all at once might bring down the entire service. Transitioning a device from the old to the new calendar content involves re-fetching all calendar events and quite a bit of churn in the persistent store, so more CPU and disk and network resources are used than for normal syncing. This led to the adoption of a progressive roll out strategy.
In addition, in order to reduce the risk of widespread service instability, we decided to initially deploy first in a mode where 'old' users did not get the new features but newly signed up users did. The idea was that new users never had working sync and therefore if something unfortunate happened they would be much less upset than existing users who had had working sync beforehand.
The plan was to watch for any reports of badness from new users for a while, then if none were seen, begin to enable multiple calendar support for existing users.
What actually happened was that there were no reports of new problems but there was an unrelated server stability issue over the weekend. Investigating that issue delayed the beginning of the 'old user' roll out, and in the meantime someone leaked the existence of multiple calendars for new users in a blog comment.
This prompted the 'official' announcement which of course led to frustration for those users who had not yet been 'enabled'. It was necessary to proceed with caution: enabling 100 users first then watching server load for a while, followed by 1000 users and so on. As of tonight roughly 40,000 users have had multiple calendar support enabled and we expect to enable the remainder tomorrow, assuming no server overload issues show up.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Features!

NuevaSync has several new features for the New Year:

Support for multiple, separate calendars on Apple iPhone and iPod touch devices is here!  Now you can tell which appointment belongs in which calendar, add appointments to the calendar of your choosing, and filter your display to show only events from a specific calendar.  What is most important of all, your calendars each get their own color.  We are currently phasing this feature in: if you don't see it on your phone yet, you will very shortly.

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You can now select exactly which of your calendars you want -- or do not want -- to sync.  This feature is available for all users and device-types: just click on the setup link next to the calendar section after logging in to the NuevaSync site.

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Read-only calendars can now be selected for sync.  This is great for common calendars, like holidays, and for shared calendars from school or work.  You can make changes and remove entries from a read-only calendar on your phone, but those changes will not be applied to the remote version.  On an iPhone or iPod, read-only calendars are marked with an "*" after the name.

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