iPhone and Google calendars, sync Google and iPhone, Nuevasync

It is really not pleasant when you read that your iPhone will sync with Google calendars, and that iPhone software version 3.0 will allow you to have up o 25 calendars at a time, to find out that it actually doesn’t work as you think it might.

The instructions from our friends at Google are simple enough – use MS Exchange, add in your account details and you are good to go… but must first enable mobile devices in your Google dashboard (obviously this doesn’t apply to a personal Google account, only a business or academic one). In the instructions it lovingly tells you all will be well, but doesn’t mention what to do if all is decidedly unwell.

Every time I have tried to do this, I have managed to get my main default calendar only. It doesn’t matter if it is iPhone 2.0 or 3.0… still the same. And still the frustration mounts!

Having upgraded to version 3.0 today, I was fired up and ready to try a final time. Not easily put off when facing defeat, I tried for three hours, all to no avail. What a waste of time. I then read some other blogs and came across a third party service – www.nuevasync.com – and since it is free, decided to try it.

Lo and behold, after typing in the right details to Nuevasync, my iPhone shows ALL of my calendars, not just the general one. Glory be!

Now, if Nuevasync can do this, I’m pretty sure it is possible for Google to do it. I don’t see why we need a third party in the loop here, but for goodness sake, nobody let Nuevasync go out of business!

I now get to see all of my calendars in iCal on my phone, can add events and they sync to the main google calendar, add others, and have others add to my diary (yup, it’s a preference setting for work based calendars)… it ALL works as it should.

If you are as frustrated as I was, go to the Nuevasync web site, sign up for a free account and edit the settings. You’ll be running in about three minutes where before you were plodding.

Just be a little careful with your contacts and email though – if you enable these through Nuevasync, you *will* lose everything off your phone when the first sync happens. Be sure that you have got everything you need backed up, or in Google… or both!

Art awards, BP Portrait Awards, Art for Art’s Sake

Award winning portrait of 2009
Award winning portrait of 2009

I like art – I enjoy a trip to the National Gallery, Tate Modern and many other places besides. I must confess though that I never really understand what I am looking at.

To me, a piece of art is good because I like it. Like a good wine – there may be plenty of people able to tell me why a cheap wine is no good, but when I taste it, if I am not offended, I carry on drinking and possibly enjoy the flavour and how it combines with my meal… to me a cheap bottle of plonk could be every bit as good as a fine wine hailed the world over. It depends on how I am feeling, the circumstances surrounding the moment, the company I am with and so on. Finery, it seems, is within the taste buds of the drinker!

Art is a complex issue for me. There are days when I enjoy looking at a painting, and days when the same painting seems to draw indifference from me. I love portraiture, for example (probably because I enjoy photography and particularly capturing emotion in people’s faces). I don’t tend to think too hard about it, I look and see the qualities I have captured and consider it a photo worth keeping and showing, or one to sit deep inside a folder somewhere on my hard drive, probably never to see the light of day again. Occasionally I delete them too.

What has baffled me ever since I began looking at art is the language surrounding the subject. This is what I never really understand. To me, it is as inaccessible as the jargon that surrounds many professions, often guarding the divide between being a lay person and being in the profession. Academics are good at this, talking with a high level of language that mere mortals can’t usually follow very easily. This protects the status of the profession, by making sure that only those who can access the language are able to rise to the highest levels. In many ways, the language used is a tool of the trade, and seems to get further away from the way most people talk. Perhaps it will soon be recognised as a different language entirely, when only a minority can master the complexities.

So it seems to be with art and me. I am unable to understand the language of the artist and struggle to see the relationship between what is often a beautiful image and the short sentence or two that goes with it. Take for example the announcement of the BP Portrait award on the BBC news web site today. Fantastic image, lots of detail and interesting lines that keeps me looking at it, and enjoying it. The artist, a 44 year old art teacher (uh oh… mixing art AND academia now), has this to say about his work:

“I challenge the fixed notion of an idealised image of childhood and substitute it for a more unsettling, complex representation that exists in its own right as a painting.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but this baffles me. I don’t have a fixed notion of idealised childhood. I am not sure that there is one – yet here is the winner announcing there is, and so I am lead to believe there must be, and that I have somehow overlooked it. I then look at what is unsettling in the image – perhaps that the age of the person is slightly imperceptible – could be 12, could be 30. It’s the clothing, the stance, the look in her eye, perhaps. None of this is unsettling really. If you met the person in context you would know the age more readily, but in the abstract world of portraiture, we have to rely on clues the artist gives us. Perhaps this is why it is unsettling – there are few clues. The clothing certainly seems to suggest an older person…

But it exists in its own right as a painting? What does it mean? It certainly *is* a painting, and it certainly exists. Could it simply mean that even if it wasn’t trying to challenge or unsettle you, it is still quite a nice painting? Is what he says reminiscent of the way I critique my own photography? It’s a nice image…

And how I wish this was the only example of such tom-foolery that seems to adorn the world of art. Why not simply say something along the lines of “A lot of people may not see the age of the child in this image, which can be confusing, and start to challenge your ideas about what your stereotypical child might look like. However, it also is a nice image, so enjoy it for that if you don’t want to think about the deeper meanings that you can draw from it…”

I suppose even that is going to cause concern with some folk. I just wish I could understand art a bit better, or more specifically, the language that artists use to explain their work to those of us without a clue.