Introducing the notMac Challenge to create a free replacement to dotMac's client-based services that's easy enough for a first-time Mac user to install and so fully and transparently integrated that a long-time dotMac user wouldn't notice the difference.

Current prize value:
Contribute now, and I'll match the first $10,000.
Help provide incentive for someone to solve this problem.


Since Apple decided to start charging for dotMac, I've spent $495 to keep some useful files remotely accessible on my iDisk and sync my bookmarks, address book and calendar between computers. While I find these features incredibly useful and convenient, I have no need for any of dotMac's web-based services, and as a result, I don't think I've been getting a good value from Apple. I know that workarounds exist that allow one to take advantage of dotMac's services without a dotMac account, but they require a level of technical proficiency that I just don't have. I've no doubt there are a lot of people like me.

The goal of the notMac Challenge is to create the incentive for someone to make an alternative dotMac solution available for the general public. Since this is something that could benefit a large number of people in the Mac community, I figure what better way to create that incentive than to invite anyone interested to contribute to the reward.

To make the stakes even richer, I'll match every contribution up to a total of $10,000. So, if you contribute $100, I'll double it for a total of $200. Hopefully, in a short amount of time, the prize pool will be large enough to encourage someone out there to liberate the less technically literate of us from the obligation to pay Apple $99 a year.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: Why should you contribute?
A: Because you want to make the world a better place. Or because a successful solution will save you $99 a year. Either one works. A small contribution would more than pay for itself the first time your dotMac renewal is due and larger contribution will be recouped over time since you'll be saving $99 every year.

Q: Why are you matching the first $10,000? For that amount, you could pay for 100 years of dotMac membership.
A: Long story short, I was talking with my uncle about the XP on Mac prize from earlier this year, and we both thought it was an interesting way to generate interest in solving a problem. However, I felt it was something that could be repeated, and he wasn’t as sure. After talking about it for far longer than anyone else in the history of the universe combined has ever spent on the subject, my uncle decided that the only way to know for sure was to actually do it—and to make it more interesting and give the prize a running start, he’d throw $10,000 into the prize pool.  Now it’s up to me to prove my hypothesis right. So, as you can tell, the stakes are much higher for me personally than just finding an alternative for dotMac, I also have to justify the inordinate amount of time I’ve spent thinking about this.

Q: Why do I hate dotMac?
A: I don't. I find it immensely useful, but not $99-a-year useful. I don't use my dotMac e-mail address or any of the other online dotMac services. However, Apple provides the ability to use the WebDAV-based dotMac services with one's own server, and since I already pay for my own server, $99 for the online features seems wasteful.

Q: What about the people who want online access to their e-mail, bookmarks, address book, etc.?
A: This isn't for them. But I think it would be great if someone used the winning code as the basis for creating a competitively-priced alternative to Apple's dotMac that offered those services and provided server space for those who don't already have a place to host their own account.

Q: How do I know you're not going to keep just the money?
A: You've got my word. Every contribution is listed on the Supporters Page in order to provide as much transparency as possible. Also, if I don't pay the winner, I'm sure someone will track me down and confirm that I'm a real person with a front door I have to walk out of each day who's adverse to getting hit upside the head with a baseball bat.

Q: How can I get more information?
A: Please visit the forums, or send me an e-mail.