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windvane

Synchronizing Contacts

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These days some of us are hoping to synchronize especially contacts across several applications/platforms. Unfortunately, too many of these (cellphones, PDAs, Email clients, etc.) aren't all that bright.

 

Example: My Blackberry Flip will synch (using their conduit) with MS Outlook just fine... BUT many of my contacts are companies only. That is, I have some like, say, Pizza Hut where I have the number and name, but no person to list at that company. This makes scanning down a list difficult, and makes voice-dialing almost impossible.

 

That's the main issue for me: "How can I easily access companies like I do people... especially via voice-dial? How can I find a fix that will work across all the devices and applications where I hope to seamlessly synchronize my contacts without special rules for each?"

 

I tried (with some success) a number of solutions, including 3rd party software and just muscling in a patch of my own, but the best answer seems to be the simplest:

 

At my most complex contacts source listing (for me that is MS Outlook), I tweak the name fields whenever I first enter them. By putting the entire company name in the FIRST NAME field and some LAST NAME that is the same for all companies that have no actual person contact (for me, "ACompany") I can solve the problem. So...

 

If the contact is IBM Corporation, the name fields in Outlook would be:

 

FIRST NAME: IBM Corporation

LAST NAME: ACompany

 

By doing this, I can:

 

- Voice-dial easily - "Call IBM ACompany Work"

 

- More easily sort out companies that have no person contact, even with applications (like most cellphones, etc.) because there is at least SOME value in the LAST NAME field... and they all sort into a group alphabetically, and then by FIRST NAME, which is the real company name. Easy to locate. (NOTE: Many applications do not provide a COMPANY NAME sort capability.)

 

- In Outlook and most competent e-mail clients you can choose how you want a particular record to sort, so at least there you can still sort by the COMPANY NAME in the normal way, and any NAME FIELD tweak becomes redundant and unobtrusive.

 

Hey... I know it's ugly, but it does work. I was forced to find an answer some years ago while trying to use Sprint's VOICE COMMAND feature... which is a server-based voice dialer that was/is great, but, again, the lack of full-feature commonality among 1. My Outlook, 2. Sprint's Server and 3. The non-Sprint Voice Command service provider made the otherwise super feature unusable unless EVERY record had an actual person first/last name listed. My little, silly workaround solved the problem, such that I cold make a change to contacts anywhere (PC, phone, internet DB access) and the information propagated out to everything else.

 

An additional benefit is that the "tweak" provided a solution in advance for whatever next gizmo with which I may have to synch contacts.

 

OK... you are probably all LOL (as they say) big-time about now, but while you are struggling to find some elegant comprehensive solution I'll be calling for supplies or technical help or pizza with flawless precision!

 

B)

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