Mac users don't have to watch BlackBerry users from afar; they can also join thumbs with the rest of the world by using software to keep their Mac and BlackBerry in sync.
The BlackBerry's software is clearly focused on the Microsoft Windows desktop components and infrastructure: the only software that RIM supplies for synchronization, firmware updates, and application loading requires Windows. Mac users aren't left entirely in the cold, however, thanks to some ingenious software from PocketMac (http://www.pocketmac.net/), called PocketMac for BlackBerry. While you will not (at the time of this writing) be able to update the firmware of the BlackBerry or install packages that require the use of the Application Loader, you can happily sync your BlackBerry to a variety of PIM for the Mac, including DayLite, iCal and Address Book, and Microsoft Entourage.
PocketMac for BlackBerry works with a password-protected BlackBerry just fine and prompts you for the password before sync operations (see Figure 6-5).
Figure 6-5. PocketMac for BlackBerry prompting for a password
One of the nicest things about this software is that it allows you to sync against so many applications and gives you fine-grained control over which parts of your BlackBerry sync against which applications: if you really wanted to, you could sync your Contacts against Address Book and your Calendar against Entourage. You can decide if you want your Memopad to get synced against the old school Stickies application, Entourage, or DayLite notes. Figure 6-6 shows one of PocketMac's configuration screens.
The BlackBerry's Memopad is a great place to store lists and notes for things you need to keep on hand. iSync cannot sync notes between devices, but PocketMac can. So, using a BlackBerry and PocketMac is your best option to keep your notes in sync at all times (see Figure 6-7).
While the idea of syncing isn't at all foreign to Mac users (we've had the ability to sync all sorts of devices to our Macs for quite a while), there are some tweaks that you may need when your BlackBerry has been naughty or is otherwise giving you a hard time.
PocketMac has the means to help you rebuild your BlackBerry with the data on your Mac by using the PocketMac Batcave, hidden away in /Library/ PocketMacBB/.
Open the Advanced Preferences application from that directory, and you will see all kinds of options.
Figure 6-6. Delegating which applications to use for various parts of the BlackBerry PIM
Figure 6-7. Notes and memos can be synchronized
You can have the data in your desktop PIM completely obliterate the contents of your BlackBerry (see Figure 6-8), and it will never sync the data. It will erase the Contacts, calendar appointments, tasks, and notes, and then copy the items from your Mac right onto the BlackBerry.
Another useful option for iCal users is to only sync things against one calendar this way, you can keep several calendars on your desktop but sync only one (perhaps named appropriately, such as "To Go" or "Mobile") with your BlackBerry.
Figure 6-8. Push instead of sync
Moving on a little, you can find the most dangerous item in the PocketMac arsenal, one that allows you complete control over which notifications you get when an item is being deleted. I call this the "nuclear option" (see Figure 6-9).
Figure 6-9. Devastating ability to auto-restore or auto-delete removed items
I can't think of a single time I'd want to activate this option unless I was absolutely certain that either my Mac or my BlackBerry was my definitive source for my data storage. I frequently add/remove items on both, so I don't think it's a good idea to manage things like this with silence. I'd rather know what is going on when things get dicey.
So not only can you sync your BlackBerry with your Mac, you also have your choice of several well-made applications to sync against. The only remaining piece of the puzzle is a Mac version of the javaloader binary that you can use on Windows to load applications and other packages onto the device. Hopefully the team at PocketMac will have a resolution to this soon all signs point to this being a big deal to the PocketMac developers, especially after new handsets are released and several new bumps of firmware become available, which can only be loaded on your BlackBerry by way of a PC [Hack #20]. I was dusting off my company-issued ThinkPad to install several OS releases on my 7100 and 7290, as well as some packages that do not offer an over-the-air installation option.
While I normally wouldn't encourage people to buy an application based on future performance, I will say that PocketMac has been incredible about fixing my bugs and seems completely committed to this product. Given that as it stands right now it is the best synchronization tool for the Mac, it stands on its own for the modest price they charge for the application, and it will probably serve Mac users very well.