Tuesday, February 8, 2011

export your Sidekick contacts

One of the various flaws of the Danger Sidekick service--besides its lack of database backups--was its lack of interaction with the outside world. To my memory, like so many things, this was T-Mobile's fault, but however it happened, exporting your data required buying a third-party sync application, which didn't work as well as one might hope, and was eventually not an option for Mac OS X. It's also pretty lame to have to pay $25 to get your data off the service because you plan to stop using it.

In the run-up to Chile, I explored ways of getting my address book off the backend service, and discovered that through a combination of functionality (likely not on purpose), you can actually export your contacts.
  1. Go to the Mail section of the Desktop Interface.
  2. Start a new message to yourself.
  3. Click "Attach vCard." This brings you to the Contacts screen, where it will show your "A" contacts.
  4. Under the "Attach Checked vCards" button, there's a "View" selection. Select "All."
  5. Click the checkbox column header to select all your contacts.
  6. Click "Attach Checked vCards." This brings you back to your email in progress.
  7. Send the email to yourself (give it some time to send).

Some bullet points about the result:
  • The email will have one vCard for every contact.
  • Assuming you don't want to import them by hand into anything, GMail will let you download them as a .zip file.
  • I then merged them (using cat in the command-line shell) into one giant .vcf file.
  • The only thing on Linux or OS X I found that will sensibly parse a multi-contact vCard is Google Contacts.
  • Google can then export the list in Outlook or other formats.
  • I only exported 130 contacts. I don't know what happens if you have the limit of 2,000. Should be fine. Will definitely be slow.
  • Plan to do some hand-editing. There's all kinds of crazy "CLASS: PUBLIC" notes and weird wrong birthdays and stuff in the vCards.

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