Tuesday, June 16, 2015

10 years of Calendar Swamp

10 years later, it still feels like January in the road to interoperable calendars and schedules.

There has been some progress, but still mostly inside new calendar silos, as opposed to the kinds of standards that made email the success (and ubiquitous pain) that it is. Love it or hate it, you know how email works and you just use it. Calendar sharers should be so lucky.

I never did get a way to seamlessly share Windows and Macintosh calendar information. Ten years ago, I wasn't using Microsoft Outlook. Today, I see all its warts, the way it shares meeting invitations with my iPhone but doesn't display the same information as the Outlook client does.

My five+ years of iPhone appointments are automagically backed up to iCloud, but when I load my calendar on iCloud, I can't search it. Meanwhile, my iOS devices only display calendar entries going forward or up to one year back. If I want to search all five years, I have to export the calendar as an .ics file to a Google Calendar, and then I'm acutely aware that Google is reading my calendar over my shoulder. It's their business model. (Oh, or I could buy a Mac. That's a high price to pay just to search some calendar entries.)

Meanwhile, my Outlook calendar remains tethered to Outlook, a truly terrible piece of email software which every company on the planet wants to abandon -- probably including Microsoft at this point. I use non-Outlook email for a variety of reasons. It's way too complicated to try to schedule something that way, so I always end up asking folks to send me Outlook calendar invites. And then they're using my Outlook email address, making maintenance of that email box a small nightmore.

What was true 10 years ago remains true now: If the public doesn't demand calendar and schedule interoperability, liberating calendaring from hardware and email platforms, vendors won't deliver it for them. The loss of productivity of all that calendaring and scheduling being done in email silos on siloed platforms remains incalculable.

Let the second 10 years of draining the Swamp commence!

Thank you loyal readers - truly you are the advance guard of fed-up calendar enthusiasts who have inspired me repeatedly over the past 10 years. And if you feel like helping, demand your technology suppliers join CalConnect, the only group on the planet trying on a worldwide scale to make a truly interoperable ecosystem of calendars and schedules. Not only could CalConnect's work make the average worker feel more productive, it could also sort out many event-related aspects of the Internet of Things, the Smart Grid, healthcare systems, and other use cases too numerous to mention.

Disclosure: I remain CalConnect's chairman of the board, and intend to stand for re-nomination to the board, for another three-year term, later this summer.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Next Wednesday: Panel on the future of calendaring and scheduling in San Jose

I have eagerly accepted an invitation to participate in a panel on the future of calendaring and scheduling next Wednesday, January 28, 2015, from 4:15 to 5:45pm in San Jose at CalConnect XXXII in San Jose, California. I would love to have a Calendar Swamp reader or two there. But you must contact me right away at (510) 473-5077 if you would like a complementary pass to attend the panel session, as the room is nearly full.
Regular conference registration is also available at the CalConnect Web site. January 26-30 is the 10th anniversary meeting of CalConnect, including a three-day interoperability test event followed by a two-day deep-dive conference. I plan to attend as much of the event as I can.

As current chair of the CalConnect board of directors, I am proud of the work this group is doing to drain the swamp.

Pictured, left to right: Gary Schwartz, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and president of the CalConnect board of directors; Scott Mace, Calendar Swamp; and Mike Douglass, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Fifth Recipient of CalConnect's Distinguished Service Award. Photo taken May 23, 2014 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, after the conclusion of CalConnect XXX.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Conference room hoarding

Just because we might be able to share our schedules -- and those of shared resources such as conference rooms -- doesn't mean that our work colleagues always reserve just enough of those resources for their needs. Conference room hoarders were the topic of a Wall Street Journal story published on October 15, 2014.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

I am now chairman of the board of directors of CalConnect

As of this month, I've been elected chairman of the board of directors of CalConnect. My additional duties consist primarily of running the organization's conference calls, which include twice-a-month strategic planning calls. Readers of Calendar Swamp know I am in the third year of a three-year term on CalConnect's board of directors.

I am always happy to answer questions here or offline about what CalConnect is doing to promote calendar and schedule interoperability, or better yet, visit the CalConnect Web site, consider joining the organization, and participating in its conferences. Registration for CalConnect XXXI, September 29-October 3 in Bedford, England, is now open.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Year 10 of the Calendar Swamp

As this Calendar Swamp blog enters its tenth year, I continue to see Web sites and apps strive to reinvent calendaring, scheduling and meetings, but scant little real progress toward connecting the calendars we already have on our personal devices. As the Internet of Things rolls out, interoperability remains a crying need. Too often, the answer is to enter the Apple silo or the Google silo or the Microsoft silo and try to work things out in there. But more than ever, no one platform dominates. Open source doesn't appear to offer any near-term or long-term solutions. Standards, such as those promoted by CalConnect (full disclosure: I am entering the third year of a three-year term serving on the organization's board) offer some help, but without the active adoption of those standards by all important stakeholders (I'm talking to you, Microsoft), our calendars remain the roach motel of information: data goes in but doesn't come out.

Nevertheless, I shall maintain this blog as long as it is necessary. Given the recent scandal that shook the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is evident that calendaring and scheduling is, for some, a matter of life and death. That is reason enough to press on.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

CalConnect XXX Workshop Preview

William Smith, CEO of MedRed, and I discuss the upcoming May 21 workshop at AOL in Reston, Virginia organized by CalConnect, the Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium, of which I am a board member. The topic of the workshop, and this conversation, is the VA's effort to improve patient scheduling. Last year, Medred led a team that won a VA contest to develop technology to achieve this. The implications go far beyond the walls of the VA and can enhance healthcare delivery throughout the industry. The May 21 workshop is open to the public, but registration is required.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Workshop on VA Scheduling System contest, May 21, 2014 in Reston, Virginia

As a follow-on to the column I wrote last year about the Department of Veterans Affairs and its recent contest to improve scheduling in its VistA electronic health record system, I am participating in a CalConnect workshop on this effort, to be held on May 21. I will lead a panel discussion featuring stakeholders from government, software development, the open source community, CalConnect, and possibly others. There is no charge to attend the workshop, although registration is required. Please join me in Reston, Virginia on May 21 for what should be a memorable workshop and a milestone in calendar and schedule interoperability and the role it can play in improving the nation's healthcare.