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Q&A

When Outlook meets iPhone

By J. D. Biersdorfer
New York Times / February 16, 2009
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Q. How do I get my contacts from an Outlook address book onto an iPhone?

A. As with music and video, transferring Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 contacts from a PC to an iPhone is typically done through the iTunes program from Apple. Start by plugging the iPhone into the PC with the USB cable that came with the phone. Click on the iPhone icon when it pops up in the Devices list on the left side of the iTunes window.

Click on the Info tab in the middle of the iTunes window. In the Contacts section, put a check in the box next to "Sync contacts from:" and select "Outlook" from the drop-down menu. Select the desired groups of contacts and click the Apply button in the bottom right corner of the iTunes window to sync the data. (The settings for synchronizing the Outlook Calendar, e-mail settings, and bookmarks are also on this Info screen.)

Apple has a synchronization guide at support.apple.com/kb/HT1386. Microsoft's document on Outlook-iPhone relations is at snipurl.com/ba9mr.

The process may not be flawless, however, as Outlook add-ons and other factors may trip things up. If that happens, Apple has a troubleshooting guide at support.apple.com/kb/HT1692.

Q. I'm trying to decide which type of broadband service to use. I see a DSL provider offers "up to 7.1 Mbps," while the cable company says it can do "up to 10 Mbps." What do these numbers mean?

A. The numbers refer to how fast you can download files over your Internet connection. Data transfer speeds are traditionally measured in bits per second. The "7.1 Mbps" figure means that the DSL provider says it can download a file to your computer at 7.1 megabits (or million bits) a second, and the cable company says it can move that file faster, at up to 10 megabits a second.

Higher speeds save time when downloading large files like movies, music, large photos, and other hefty chunks of data because you receive it all quicker - in theory. In reality, the actual data transfer rates will probably be much slower than advertised.

Congestion on the Internet, the number of other people using the service at the same time, and even settings on your computer can affect how quickly your data actually move.

Be aware that what goes down does not usually go up as fast. Most broadband services have faster speeds for snagging files than for sending them. For example, a DSL provider may offer 7.1 megabits a second for downloads, but only 768 kilobits a second for uploading files.

When shopping for a service, be sure to find out the speeds for both directions in the data transfer if you expect to be uploading large files on a regular basis.

If you're looking for opinions on providers, the DSLReports site has reviews and information at www.dslreports.com. For more about the measurements and data transfer speeds, check out the SpeedGuide site's article on bits, bytes, and bandwidth at snipurl.com/bcqtp.

Tip of the week
Web-based mail is great - until you don't have an Internet connection. Google recently introduced Offline Gmail, which downloads a copy of your mailbox and all the recent messages when you do have Internet access, and then keeps it all available in your Web browser for when you don't.

To turn it on, log into your Gmail account on the Web, click the Settings tab and then, in many browsers, the Labs tab. Click the Enable button for Offline Gmail and then the Save Changes button.

To start downloading your mailbox, click the new Offline line on the mailbox page.

J.D. Biersdorfer writes for The New York Times.

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