Good tech news: SugarSync for BlackBerry

The Sharpcast company of San Mateo, Ca., maker of the invaluable SugarSync backup-and-sync utility, has recently announced that its system will work on BlackBerrys, in addition to today's coverage of Macs, PCs, and some mobile devices. Here's why I think this is great news.

I mentioned recently that I have come to rely completely on Google's calendar sync tools because of their "never have to worry about it" effect. When I want to add, delete, or change an appointment, I never have to worry about whether I'm entering the info into my Outlook calendar,  Google's online calendar, or my BlackBerry. The sync tools make sure that info entered any one place shows up in the other two -- so far, unerringly.

As I thought about it, I realized that there are three other utilities I esteem because of the same "never have to worry about it" quality:

- The PC indexer X1. I never have to worry about where I've stored a file or piece of email, because I know that X1 will be able to find it. (As mentioned before, the program sometimes hangs but has never lost data.)

- VMWare's Fusion program. I never have to worry about whether a program I like is for Macs or PCs, because I know that with Fusion I can run either kind (plus Linux etc) on an Intel-based Mac. Sometimes Windows programs can slow down when run with Fusion on the underpowered (though elegant!) MacBook Air. But overall Fusion works so well that I simply never have to think about the Mac/Windows difference.

- And SugarSync (earlier mentions here and here). I never have to worry about copying files from desktop to laptop before I take a trip or or wonder where I've stashed the latest version of something I'm working on. I know that when I change a file on one computer, SugarSync will copy it to the others. There are a few files that can stump it (namely Outlook .PSTs, a subject for another day), and some friends have reported glitches with certain other file types. But I have come to rely on it entirely -- and on the fact that it's simultaneously backing up all my files, in the "cloud". And now, with the BlackBerry? According to the announcement:

The BlackBerry application is very advanced and it brings capabilities not present before in the SugarSync offering... allowing users to access and share remotely all the SugarSync data available in all of their computers. ...From the road you can easily review documents, send them to colleagues, and collaborate with them and see in real time the changes they may have made to files present in a given shared folder.
But that is not all. The BlackBerry client allows users to open and EDIT files ON the Blackberry while traveling and makes those updates quickly available for others.

 Emphasis in the original -- and the implication, of course, is that from your BlackBerry you could dig out the file you'd left at home, change part of it, and pass it on by email to someone else -- all with your poor little thumbs. Here's the company's illustration of what the file directory of your home computer looks like when accessed from the road 

As I've tried this just now, mine looks the same. I see a listing for the files on my MacMini desktop in Beijing, and on my two laptops, a ThinkPad and a MB Air. In general I try to avoid doing anything more on a BlackBerry than seeing if something urgent has arrived -- I feel like a chimp clicking out messages with my thumbs, which get sore anyway. But I can imagine how this could be handy, and it's an occasion for another mention of how valuable I've found SugarSync as a whole.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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