to the rescue to the rescue

One of my co-workers recently got her first smart phone. A reporter for more than 25 years, she had a treasure trove of numbers in her old phone. Getting them transferred to the new phone, a Motorola Droid X2, was not a problem – Champaign Telephone took care of that when the switch was made.

But getting those phone numbers where they would do her some good outside her phone,  that was a challenge.

This might seem daft. Why would you want the numbers out of your phone?  For us, it’s mostly for when we’re using our desk phones, which is a fair chunk of time. Being able to leave a spreadsheet up on your terminal – where you’re already typing – can make that easier.

When she first signed in to her new phone, all of her Facebook, Twitter and phone contacts were imported into one Google contacts database. For “phonebook” purposes, she really only needs the contacts from her old phone.  But when she synced the phone with her Google account, only the two names she had added since getting the phone appeared on her  Google web account.

I’m still not sure why that is. It may have to do with how she set up her first sync. But it doesn’t matter. I just wanted a way to get those contacts into a format and a place where she could use them.

I exported all the contacts as one vcard file, thinking I would just load them in Access and export them from there. But Access wants a mouse-click on each one, and there were hundreds of contacts. Who has that kind of time?

I used Google and, Cnet’s excellent software download site, to find a software answer, but came away dissatisfied. There were packages that might do what I wanted, but they were trial downloads that only allowed syncing five names.

Yahoo’s mail site appears to do what I wanted, but it hung every time I tried.

When a problem like this arises, there is a point where you’ve spent more time trying to find a way to solve the problem than a straightforward retyping might require. I didn’t want to hit that threshold, but I was getting frustrated.

That’s when I remembered, one of the great resources on the web. If you want to do something, chances are someone has already done it and posted it there.

Within moments of going there, I found a package called vcard2xls. I downloaded it, installed it and ran it. It took perhaps five minutes.

Here’s where I found it:

Now my colleague has a spreadsheet of her  contacts.

Even though I found a way to do what I wanted to do, I'm sure someone else has figured out a quicker way, and I'd like to hear about it if so.


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