Step Three – Your Computer
The third step involves configuring Mozilla Thunderbird. Once again, there are two main steps: telling it how to connect to Plaxo, and telling it how to connect to Google Calendar.
1. Connecting Thunderbird to Plaxo.
Before we begin this section, I suggest exporting and then removing any contacts you may already have in your Thunderbird address book. While this is not strictly necessary, there is a risk of creating duplicate entries in Plaxo, and then on your mobile device.
Plaxo offers a number of downloads to sync data to their network. Take a look at their download page. In addition to Thunderbird, they currently offer add-ons for Outlook and Outlook Express, plus Mac OS X Address Book. Yes, they also offer an add-on directly for Windows Mobile (based on the Funambol client, actually), but before you get too excited, the Windows Mobile add-on requires the Plaxo Premium service. Oh well, that’s why we have NuevaSync.
Grab the Plaxo Thunderbird add-on. Install it like you would any other extension (Start Thunderbird, go to Tools â†’ Add-ons â†’ click on Install, browse to the XPI file).
After you restart Thunderbird, you will see a new toolbar for Plaxo. Simply click the Sync button to begin the configuration and initial sync.
Follow the prompts, filling in your Plaxo username and password as required. Once configured, Thunderbird will now connect directly to your Plaxo account and sync with your online address book. Oh, I suggest going to the Plaxo menu â†’ Preferences, and make sure that Manual Sync in NOT checked.
At this point, Contacts in Plaxo, your mobile device, and Thunderbird should all be synchronized. If you add a contact to Thunderbird, it will appear automatically in Plaxo, and then on your phone. The reverse is also true. For instance, if you delete a contact on your phone, at the next sync it will be removed from Plaxo and then from Thunderbird. Neat, huh?
2. Connecting Thunderbird to Google Calendar.
The final step involves telling Thunderbird how to connect to Google Calendar. While you could use the Mozilla Sunbird calendar program, I suggest grabbing the Lightning add-on that integrates a calendar directly into Thunderbird. Install the Lightning XPI the same way you installed the Plaxo add-on (if you receive a warning, but sure that you are attempting to install Lighting into Thunderbird and not Firefox!). Of course, restart Thunderbird to finalize the Lightning installation.
Re-launch Thunderbird, and you should see a new sidebar on the right for Events and Tasks.
Before you start manually adding events to your new calendar, we need to tell it how to sync with the mighty Google Calendar. To do so, we’ll use the slick Provider add-on for Thunderbird, which adds bi-directional sync capability between the Lightning add-on that you just installed and GCal. Download, install the Provider XPI, and re-launch Thunderbird just like you did before.
You’re almost done. All that’s left is to connect your local Lightning calendar to Google. This process takes a few steps, but hang in there. You only have to do it once.
First, log into your Google Calendar account. Click the Settings link near the top-right corner.
Under Calendar Settings, click the Calendars link, and then select your calendar.
Once your calendar options expand, look near the bottom of the page. Right-click the XML button to the right of Private Address and copy its location.
At this point, return to Thunderbird and select the Calendar button in the bottom-left corner. Now, create a new calendar by choosing:
File â†’ New â†’ Calendar…
A new window will spawn asking where you would like to store the calendar. Choose On the Network.
On the next screen, choose Google Calendar as the Format (this is the option that the Provider add-on creates), and paste the XML location that you previously copied into the Location slot.
Finally, enter your Gmail address and password. Voila! Your Lightning Calendar will now populate with events already created on your Google Calendar.
The End Result
Holy moly! Did you read all the way to this point? If so, congratulations! You should now have a completely functional and synchronized setup. But don’t just take my word for it. Try it yourself.
Try adding an event to your Lightning Calendar. Within a total of 15 minutes, it should show up on Google Calendar, followed by Plaxo’s Calendar AND your mobile device. Now delete that event on your mobile device. Within another 15 minutes, it should no longer exist anywhere in your setup. It works the same way for Contacts. Totally awesome.
Again, remember that some of these are still Beta products, and there may be outages or strange glitches. I’ve noticed a couple times that ActiveSync on my MOTO Q has trouble reaching the NuevaSync server and won’t sync for a few hours, but eventually it comes back.
The only potential problem I potentially see with the setup I have just described is if NuevaSync decides to require a paid subscription service once they come out of Beta. I don’t know what they are planning, but I certainly would not mind an ad or two, plus the option to donate. Their service is certainly worthy of many generous donations.
Did this process work for you? Let me know in the comments. Also, as you might imagine, this article took a LONG time to research and write, so if you found it useful, please spread the word by giving it a Stumble, a Digg, a Mixx, or whatever.
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