Signs of Triviality

Opinions, mostly my own, on the importance of being and other things.
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iCal, iPhone and iCloud - iVey!

siri by
peekassoAfter my wife got an iPhone a few weeks ago, I quickly developed phone-envy, so not very surprisingly I am now the latest fanboi jokster trying to make Siri respond to juvenile questions. (So far she's entirely useless. After switching her to German (why not) and asking her "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" she responded with "Ich verstehe leider nicht, was du mit ``Sprechen Sie Deutsch'' meinst.". Duh.)

The three hours on hold with Verizon Wireless and Apple Support were not entirely wasted, as they lead to entertaining dialog such as the following:

Apple Tech: "Where did you purchase the phone?"
Jan: ""
Apple Tech: "I'm sorry, is that a local store?"
Jan: "No, it's a website., your online store."
Apple Tech: "I'm sorry, is that a third-party vendor website?"
Jan: "No, it's the website of the company you're working for. Apple. APPLE
Apple Tech: "I see, thank you."

In hindsight, I suspect I they outsourced their support to Siri. Anyway, Verizon assured me that my phone was locked by Apple until January 4th and to please call Apple; Apple assured me that they (a) have no record of my phone anywhere and (b) don't ever lock phones, that they are ready for activation the second they're ordered/shipped and to please go to the Verizon store where I bought the device. After calling Verizon again, a friendly fellow responded with "Sure, let me just activate your phone." and five minutes later everything worked. Amusingly, Verizon then proceeded to immediately drop his call to my iPhone to ensure the activation went through. Twice. I'm looking forward to years of Kwality Service.

But so I had this simple little idea of having my and my wife's calendars in sync. Turned out, that wasn't quite as easy as I had hoped. The requirements were:

Cloud Calendar 2012

  • my wife has a number of calendars on her macbook in iCal that she wants to share with me as well as a private calendar she doesn't want to share with me (I wonder...)
  • I have a calendar online at Yahoo!
  • my wife has an iPhone that should be in sync with her macbook without having to connect the two via USB
  • I have an iPhone that should be in sync with my wife's shared calendars as well as with my Yahoo! calendar

Being a German of Very Little Brain, I imagined this not to be complicated, what with the wonderful world of iCloud (Oooooh, cloud!) and whatnot. So I embarked on the effort to add an iCloud calendar to my wife's macbook's iCal. Only, if you are not running OS X Lion, your iCal 'Add Account' menu does not include iCloud:

iCal add account

Alrighty then, let's just use Yahoo! calendars for all this. I'll just import my wife's iCal calendars into her Yahoo! account, then set the iCal to sync from there; the various iPhones will trivially sync via Yahoo! as well. At least that's what I thought. So I proceeded to do just that: export each calendar to .ics files, create new accounts in my wife's Yahoo! account, import the .ics, then set them to be shared with my Yahoo! account.

This looked promising. The various macbooks were able to sync the data. But the various iPhones did not -- each synced a subset of all available calendars and refused to fetch new ones or delete calendars after they had been deleted on the Yahoo! servers. Multiple rounds of 'delete Yahoo! accounts from the iPhone, then recreate' yielded no success.

"Fuck this shit." is a sentiment encountered frequently by the author of this blog posting. It seemed to me that iCloud should be accessible via CalDav, and searching around yielded a few hints that this is in fact possible. You have to select 'CalDav' as the type of server and then know your caldav server address. does apparently not work for SnowLeopard -- instead, you have to figure out the pXX- prefix to turn the server address into, for example, To identify the right server, try sending yourself an invite from iCloud and look at the server address; either it will contain the server name, or an argument like &p=p02.

So once you have added your iCloud calendar, you can then painstakingly create new calendars in there, re-import the exported data, again mark them as being shared, unmark the iCal calendars from displaying, change your various iPhones to forget about Yahoo! calendars and to sync with iCloud and then all will be peaches. Except if your name is Jan Schaumann, in which case the very next thing you encounter when you attempt to import the shared calendars will be this:

iCloud Fail

So then I needed to accept the sharing invitations in my iCal rather than via the iCloud web interface -- which, by the way, thought I had my wife's name (not her account information, just her name), which I was only able to change by updating my iPhone's Siri settings, which for some bizarre reason had her name -- and then, after all this, several hours down the road, my various fanboi appliances are finally agreeing on when my daughter's preschool x-mas party takes place.


December 16, 2011

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