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OT: contact-management hell (iPhone how-to)

I have an iPhone languishing on my desk.  Why?  Because I've got my phone-book
with my friends' details sitting on a Linux box in a MySQL table, and a
separate out-of-sync listing embedded in my ancient Motorola V180.

At some point last year I wiped my PC's hard drive and more or less fully
converted to a Linux desktop, so I no longer have a working installation of
Outlook 98 which used to give me a very limited mechanism for updating the
contact list.

The iPhone and pretty much every other vendor's notion of a contact manager
(be it a PDA, cell phone, webmail account, sales-automation tool, whathaveyou)
seems to be proprietary and patented to the hilt.

Having just seen "Food Inc." I'm of a mind to write my Congressman to stop the
monopolistic madness of all these Fortune 500 companies which wield their
lawyers and intellectual-property nonsense over the rest of us.

*However*, stepping back from the brink:  how do y'all manage *your* contact
info?  Is there a sane way to keep your address book (defined as names, phone
numbers and email addresses, maybe a few other fields) regularly copied
(sync'ed may be too strong of a word) in either direction between a Linux box
and an iPhone?

I would have solved this myself with Google but the best I could come up with
was a VirtualBox "solution" involving special kernel hacks and a stock install
of XP with iTunes, and probably a pirate copy of Outlook--if I go down that
path I'll find myself in the same hell I did when I tried to run MythTV on an
ATI-based motherboard.  It'd be simpler to program a robot's fingers to just
retype my address list into the iPhone's native UI.


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