Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Calimanjaro to the rescue?

Well this is a positive development. A new iCal-friendly Windows calendar called Calimanjaro. Now if they can get some kind of sync going with Windows Mobile, I can just use Calimanjaro instead of Outlook. Can we hope?

By the way, you probably won't read about this at the usual Web 2.0 sites, since it's a new Windows app. Fancy that -- a new Windows app. And it's only $19.95. Not $19.95 a month. Just $19.95.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Multi-household family calendars provides resolution of duties in a multi-household family, one affected by separation, divorce or remarriage. Thing is, all family-oriented calendars (heck, all calendars) should have these same features. It would help preserve single-household families. And yes, OurFamilyWizard needs to integrate with calendars other than its own.

Monday, December 11, 2006

More calendar chaos coming

Rob Weir: "So the new OOXML standard now contradicts 400 years of civil calendar practice, encodes nonexistent dates and returns the incorrect value for WEEKDAY()? And this is the mandated normative behavior? Is this some sort of joke?"

I'll be talking to the folks at Novell about this on Wednesday for an Opening Move podcast about OpenXML and Open Document Format interoperability.

(Cross posted to IMJ.)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Google Calendar terms of service

I love the questions and facts I get from Calendar Swamp readers. One such reader alerted me that the Google Calendar terms of service limit use of Google Calendar to "personal or internal business use only." The reader is looking for an alternative that could be used to publish a Web calendar for business use. The catch is it has to be free like Google Calendar. I'm stumped. But I'm also thinking there are lots of public Google Calendars which are being published for business purposes. Do you know of any? Or of any that Google has asked to have taken down?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why standards matter

From the Spanning Sync blog: "Google Calendar is currently experiencing some technical problems. Internally we often refer to building an application on top of Google Calendar (which is itself still in beta) as 'building a house during an earthquake.'"

This makes me think of standards as seismic safety for software. With a standard, one can have a standard server running independent of the Internet that one can test against. When the server platform is a service and not a standard, if the service goes down, anything you're trying to build on top of it slams to a halt as well.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Insane syncing

Ian Forrester: "Welcome to my insane syncing setup for calendars, contacts and tasks."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Trumba retrenches

Trumba had offered a free service that synchronized some offline calendars, but the company's had to retrench to find revenue. So, farewell this week to the Trumba calendar sync option.

Trumba will probably do just fine as a site for creating Web calendars and feeds. The company originally started out with a $39/year price, and is now in the process of bumping that up to $99.95 a month. Customers who already had a Trumba account prior to this week can pay $9.95 a month or $99.95 a year until 2008. A few nonprofits may feel burned after originally signing up for the free service (my church was one of them) but according to an email I've seen from Trumba support. the possibility exists of a non-profit pricing scheme in 2008. I hope Trumba does well and can offer that service as a way of keeping some nonprofits out of the Google Calendar tractor beam.

Monday, October 09, 2006

CalDAV is now a Proposed Standard

Congratulations to all those working on the CalDAV standard, which the IETF has now adopted as a Proposed Standard. SwampDrain factor: +1.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Goo Sync launches

It's turning into quite a week. Yesterday a new sync service for Google Calendar launched. Check out Goo Sync. I'll be looking into it.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No guru, no method, no teacher

Dana Gardner just posted a podcast we recorded last week, before I stumbled upon CalendarWorld. I'm no calendar interop guru, just a guy trying to find solutions. But I appreciate Dana's continuing efforts to raise the issue.

Dana also posted a transcript, if you don't have time to listen to the show.

Looking for info about .ifb files

ScheduleWorld generates .ifb files. I had never heard of .ifb files before. It looks like they are iCalendar free/busy files. But Apple's iCal couldn't open them. Does anyone out there know more about .ifb files? A Google search isn't any help.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ScheduleWorld Outlook 2003 sync worked! Woo hoo!

So far, so good. After figuring out what info to enter into the Funambol plug-in, I was able to sync my Outlook 2003 calendar (and contacts!) with ScheduleWorld. Tomorrow, I figure out how to publish my free/busy info. I think ScheduleWorld has some SwampDrain points headed its way real soon.

Help me, ScheduleWorld. You're my only hope

As I face The Decision (whether to upgrade to Outlook 2007 or not) I'm grasping at any available alternative straws. ScheduleWorld may be my last hope, but so far I've not been able to initiate its Funambol-fueled sync between Outlook 2003 and the Web. Maybe it'll work for me tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

CalDAV moves forward

Although there aren't many CalDAV-compatible calendars yet, they're coming. Recently I talked with Dave Thewlis of CalConnect about Apple's recent moves. (Apple's hosting the next CalConnect meeting later this month in Cupertino. It's open to members only.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

State of Linux calendaring 2006

I spent some time at LinuxWorld yesterday talking with Kevin Carmony, president and CEO of Linspire, makers of a more customer-friendly version of desktop Linux. He had just announced Freespire 1.0, a free version of the Linspire OS, and I observed that Freespire didn't include a calendar out of the box. Carmony pointed me to the Linspire Calendar, which comes bundled with Linspire, but is really just Mozilla Calendar, available as such from

But there's more to the Linspire calendaring story. Carmony and his vice president of business development, Randy Linnell, are both veterans of Franklin Covey Co. Carmony was vice president of technology there, after Franklin Covey bought Carmony's company, NewQuest Technologies, which made a personal information manager, Ascend, that I vaguely recall before the acquisition. Before the acquisition, Franklin Covey really didn't have a digital calendar. Linnell was with Franklin Covey for 11 years with titles such as director of customer service and director of technology.

Point being, these guys know calendaring. Carmony is totally sympathetic with our quest to drain the swamp. We both agree Mozilla hasn't done enough work on interop. The Linspire folks looked at Chandler, but it's aiming a bit high for the average customer, and it's been further delayed by server issues. (At OSCON, the Chandler team revealed that they've been forced to abandon efforts to build its Cosmo server on top of Apache Jackrabbit.)

Many desktop Linux distributions, such as Novell's OpenSUSE, Ubuntu, and Fedora, include the Ximian Evolution calendar. Evolution now supports CalDAV, a swamp-draining move that gets it part of the way toward interop nirvana. To get true nirvana and sync with most mobile devices, you still have to inject something like the Novell Groupwise Mobile Server, which is free--provided you've already bought a bunch of other Novell server software.

Do you think Mozilla Calendar is good enough? (I don't.) Are you willing to wait for Chandler? (I'm not.) Is the Ximian solution good enough? (Only if you're provided your calendar through an Enterprise with a capital "E".)

Maybe the Linux community should rally around someone like Carmony, who knows calendaring, and build something else?

Once Desktop Linux has a widespread, popular calendar, could its popularity help drain the swamp faster? (I think so.)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Apple iCal server is under the Apache open source license

Ted Leung points to Apple's clarification that yes, indeed, the Apple CalDAV-compliant iCal server is being provided under the Apache 2.0 open source license. This is a good thing for CalDAV and for calendar interoperability. SwampDrain Factor: +1.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Apple announces iCal server, mainstream press misses the story

Apple press release: "For the first time, Mac OS X Server will include a calendar server for users and groups to coordinate events, schedule meetings, reserve resources and use time more effectively. iCal Server uses the open CalDAV standard for integration with leading calendar programs, including iCal 3 in Leopard, Mozilla’s Sunbird, OSAF’s Chandler and Microsoft Outlook."

The mainstream tech media promptly ignored this aspect of Apple's Leopard announcements today. This speaks volumes about the work remaining to raise the profile of interoperable calendar technology in the popular press. Even if more and more users are clamoring for it.

Check out this diagram, and Plaxo's role in it

Ian Forrester diagrams calendar interoperability that works for him. It's the first time I've heard that Plaxo has a Web-based calendar service.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Imagining calendar interop nirvana on Inside the Net

I was delighted to be the featured guest on today's Inside the Net podcast, speaking with Amber MacArthur and Leo Laporte about the latest goings-on in swamp draining. Leo got me to describe calendar interop nirvana, and I talked a bit more about this week's news from Calconnect.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Interoperable free/busy info demoed by Calconnect

Thanks to Dave Thewlis, executive director of Calconnect, for letting me know today that the organization this week demonstrated interoperable free/busy info flowing between different types of calendar software. The press release is here and there's also a PDF-based presentation online describing the demo in detail.

The demo exchanged free/busy info between seven different calendaring systems: Bedework, Google Calendar, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, Oracle Calendar, TimeBridge and OSAF's Chandler. CalDAV was a big technological component of making it work.

It will be a while before the fruits of this interoperability work boil down to average calendar users like me, but it's good to see this progress being made at the enterprise level.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Gimme that one-time religion

Okay, okay, I get it. Calendar interoperability is either impossible, too tough to define, it's going to cost me $$ every month, I'll have to look at a bunch of ads all the time, or all my privacy belongs to my service provider (gotta love Software-As-A-Service).

Can't someone on this planet create a piece of packaged software, so I can pay One Price and achieve synchronization/free busy sharing between a Pocket PC and Apple's iCal? Do I really have to buy Office 2007 to pay one time only?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

CompanionLink for Google Calendar

Blog post from The Personal Productivity Show:
"CompanionLink for Google Calendar™ is a two-way synchronization solution for people that want to extend their Google Calendar onto their desktop calendar systems or mobile devices. It can synchronize Google Calendar with all the latest Pocket PC, Windows Mobile, Palm, and BlackBerry devices in addition to Outlook, Lotus Notes, Palm Desktop, and Groupwise applications."
The blog poster goes on to say:
I’ve installed the 14-day trial of CompanionLink but I’m having trouble getting it to connect to Google Calendar. It keeps telling me my email address or password is wrong, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t. So I’ll keep trying.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Yahoo! Calendar to iCal converter

I just discovered Manas Tungare's Yahoo! Calendar to iCal converter. Swampdrain rating: +1.

The difference between import/export and sync

Yahoo! has a succinct description of the difference between import/export and sync.

Firefox calendar lives! With some confusion

I was pleased to discover today that there is an updated calendar plug-in for Firefox 1.5. But Mozilla needs to get the word out better. In fact, my copy of Firefox 1.5 was still telling me the old calendar plug-in wasn't working -- it continued to tell me this when it was receiving updates from Mozilla. It also wasn't able to find the new plug-in. You can find it here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Google Calendar API

Google Calendar has an API. Thanks to Wired writer Lucas Graves, who brought this to my attention.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Office 12 beta likes Google Calendar

With the help of a product developer within Microsoft, I've been able to open iCal invitations, generated by a beta release of Office 12, within Google Calendar. But our similar attempts to open these invitations within Apple's iCal have been unsuccessful. The ball may end up in Apple's court. This isn't the first time I've heard that Apple's implementation of iCal is a bit odd. But it is the first time I've ever heard of Apple iCal not opening an .ics file. It brings to mind the old adage, "Be conversative in what you write, and liberal in what you read." Recently I read of a Microsoft official stressing the importance of bilaterial interoperability agreements as being at least as important than supporting standards. If the Office 12 problems persist, such an agreement between Apple and Microsoft may be in order.

As for myself, I'm still eager to route around Outlook. How will Windows Mobile support Windows Vista Calendar? And, more importantly, will Windows Vista Calendar run on Windows XP, like so many other pieces of Vista?

Monday, May 08, 2006

View all calendar mashups

The Web 2.0 Mashup Matrix includes info on available mashups between the major Web 2.0 calendar programs and other Web 2.0 services. Not exactly calendar interoperability nirvana, but another intriguing step forward. SwampDrain Factor: +1.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

SpaceShare takes calendar sharing to the highways

SpaceShare is cool. It's a way to offer or find a carpool ride to an event. The impetus is on the event organizer to sign on. Judging from the current list of events, you won't find any rides to monster-truck pulls, but if you're into the San Francisco Mime Troupe, check it out.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Office 2007 iCal challenge

It's time to start trying to settle this Office 2007 iCal question, but I refuse to install the beta software myself. I still don't need that level of grief.

When I was at InfoWorld in 1989, a test I was able to run on a beta of dBase IV made headline news, thanks to the cooperation of a beta-tester who was never named.

It's time for another test. If you are running a beta release of Office 2007, please create an event on your Outlook 2007 calendar for test purposes. Then, please invite me to this event by creating and sending an iCal invitation to this event to I'll try to open each of them in one or more iCal clients and report the results here. If possible, I'll also reply to your invitation and will be interested in knowing if the reply gets through to you.

I'll even accept invites from Microsoft employees, but I'll also disclose that these invites were sent by someone at Microsoft. Otherwise, I won't identify anyone who participates, just in case you're worried about violating a Microsoft non-disclosure agreement. (I've got 25 years of experience with protecting sources, with no complaints yet.)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Linux-based Nokia tablet comes with Outlook calendar sync -- for a monthly fee

The Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, which Amazon currently sells for less than $400, can be used with an offline calendar to be synched to Outlook, but there's a small monthly fee. Darla Mack has the details.

Will Crossbow support iCal directly?

Well, Microsoft once again opts for an aggressive product code name: Crossbow, for the next version of Windows Mobile ("Hailstorm" was fun too, but Crossbow is more, shall we say, visceral). This InfoWorld story speaks of Crossbow having "strong links" with Office 2007, but no mention of Windows Calendar and/or iCal. If Crossbow does support the latter two, I can delete Outlook from my hard drive and simplify my calendar sharing, provided I can swallow the Windows Vista hairball.

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Event Share Framework site goes dark

Missing, presumed dead: The Web site, which had tracked the RSS-based calendar-sharing extension called Event Share Framework (ESF). ESF itself looks dead. Possible killer: Microsoft's SSE. No reward posted yet for the whereabouts of ESF, but more proof that just because something says RSS doesn't mean it solves calendar interoperability problems.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Google Calendar saves to private .ics file

Okay, so Google Calendars can be saved to a private .ics file, and this permits a level of calendar sharing. Now, where's that "save to Outlook" option?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Google Calendar: Events enter, don't easily come out

Google Calendar looks good enough. But there isn't a straightfoward way to export its calendar data to mobile devices. (RSS subscriptions still aren't straightforward data pipelines.) "Web 2.0" hasn't replaced computer-to-computer synching yet, and may never. No SwampDrain points to award at this time. One direction (import) isn't good enough for that. Maybe because it's Google, a flurry of "mash-up" plug-ins will solve the problem. We'll see.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Calendar standards history is ugly, Oracle's planned support is not

Phil Durbin pointed me to this extensive history of calendar standards, published last month, and sorry reading it is. But progress continues, however slow. I was pleased to read there that Oracle intends to support CalDAV in its Oracle Calendar.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

TimeBridge: Worth watching

I've always believed the calendar swamp will be drained first and best by service providers. We've seen some already targeted at families. TimeBridge, now under development, is focused on the thorny meeting-scheduling problem for organizations and businesses. I'm especially curious to see what it will cost for small businesses.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Apache Calendar?

Greg Stein, chairman of the Apache Foundation, speaking this morning at EclipseCon 2006: "Will there be an Apache calendaring system? Don't know. We're following the developers."

Apache Calendar. That has a nice ring...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

No special interoperability sauce here

If any new twist on calendar interoperability comes out of this, it looks like it'll be because it creates its own standard based on sheer publicity. It's one thing not to fully embrace iCal when Apple is its most famous supporter. It's another thing entirely to do the same to Google.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Reinventing cut-and-paste

This is worth a SwampDrain factor of +1. I've got another point or two waiting when Microsoft wires it up to Outlook, or whichever calendar can sync with Windows Mobile devices.

Monday, February 27, 2006

(Not) waiting for Outlook 12

I'm not a beta tester. Unlike the days when the InfoWorld Test Center paid my salary, my current workload just doesn't allow time for it. But my rants against Microsoft Outlook finally attracted a response from Microsoft, and it's all centered around Outlook 12.

The email came from Cameron Stillion, and with his permission, I hereby reprint it in its entirety:


I was recently forwarded a link to your blog. Overall, I'd say you're spot-on, with a slightly sharp edge toward Redmond... but that's not a huge surprise. You do seem to have some up-to-date information on Windows plans, especially Vista - but I'm surprised that you aren't more tuned into the Outlook support for iCal that is already in Beta as we speak. Are you on the Office 12 beta? Huge improvements in iCal parsing, support for subscriptions via webcal://, and even publishing using iCalendar. I'm only saying this because I'm the dev lead over these features and built many of them with my own hands. Call it personal pride in one's workmanship. :)

As for Vista and their plans? You'd like to think we're all one big happy family up here - but the fact of the matter is that it is just as difficult to get different vendors to behave nicely together as it is to get disparate product groups to agree on market focus, interoperability, and a cohesive grand unified user story.

A little good news, a little bad news. Isn't that life in a nutshell?

Cameron Stillion
Microsoft Office
Outlook Development

Thanks, Cameron, for responding to my interoperability concerns on behalf of the Outlook team, at long last. Again, I've no intention of trying Outlook 12 beta for the reasons I gave above. The solution to this problem cannot merely be to get everyone to upgrade to Outlook 12. I would, of course, welcome reports from independent readers of Calendar Swamp. Does the Outlook 12 beta solve your Outlook calendar interoperability problems?

My hunch is that Outlook is getting pretty good at subscribing to iCal-based calendars, but probably still has trouble when those calendars try to subscribe to it. It sounds like some progress is happening even here, however.

As for Cameron's comments about the Vista team and the Outlook team not being on the same page, I think that speaks for itself.

I encourage Cameron, or other members of the Outlook team, to start blogging so Outlook customers can have a broader dialog with the company about calendar interoperability. I also hope that dialog includes the interoperability needs of gazillions of Outlook users who don't plan on upgrading to Outlook 12 for a long time to come, for a variety of reasons, including the cost and complexity of upgrading.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Eventful at Etech

Heads up, calendar fans: Brian Dear of Eventful will "unveil and demo a major new feature" at Etech on March 8 in San Diego. More interoperability, I hope?

Friday, February 17, 2006

The OSAF perspective

Lisa Dusseault of OSAF -- which some believe are building the biggest calendar interoperability solution of them all -- dampens and revives expectations in this IT Conversations podcast I recorded in December, just released.

Monday, February 13, 2006

'Remote Calendars' drains more swamp

From the 30 Boxes blog: "Mike has found a great piece of software that lets you subscribe to your 30 Boxes iCal feed (in My Settings > Syndication) in Microsoft Outlook!" It's called Remote Calendars and it indeed does what 30 Boxes says it does. Give it a SwampDrain factor of +3. It implements what Microsoft demoed last year at Gnomedex, only in open source. Hooray!

Unfortunately, it still requires you to publish your calendar to the Web on a page, and worse yet, without any access control available for that page.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Wireless data still = $

A few days ago I posted something here about a mobile phone service provider lowering prices on its unlimited wireless data plan. Unfortunately, I got the price wrong. So I deleted the post. I'm sure it'll be around forever due to various RSS scraping services and aggregators. But this is my way of utterly disavowing that post.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Microsoft creating new calendar swamp in Windows Vista?

I had questions, Microsoft's Steve Makofsky has some answers (scroll down to the 11th comment) regarding Windows Calendar in Vista:
"'Outlook Sync': To be honest, we're not sure that most users will be running *both* Windows Calendar and Outlook. Windows Calendar is designed for personal calendaring, while Outlook 2007 has more advanced calendaring features, especially for groups running Exchange. You'll be able to import Windows Calendar calendars into Outlook by simply opening these files from within Outlook. However, beyond this import scenario, full interop between the two clients (such as the ability for both of them to edit the same data set simultaneously) is not planned for the Vista/Office 2007 release."
Steve doesn't mentioning importing Outlook calendars into Windows Calendar, so I'm going to speculate that doing this won't be very pretty. We'll wait to hear more from Steve, or, perhaps Robert Scoble will get the answers on Channel 9, which has yet to do a segment on Windows Calendar.

For the overall calendar interoperability picture, Steve's revelations mean more confusion, not less, at least in the short term. Consider this. Millions of people have mobile phones that know how to synchronize with Outlook. None of them synchronize yet with Windows Calendar, though some might sync with some iCal-based services (raising all my privacy concerns again).

So the question may become, how soon will mobile phones appear that support synchronizing with Windows Calendar, and how long will it take to get those phones into peoples' hands?

Steve's comment isn't encouraging:
"Pocket Outlook currently doesn’t have a built in ActiveSync provider to convert/sync ICS [iCal] data at this time. I’m not sure what their plan is for Vista."
It's still mighty swampy, and maybe getting swampier, if you run Windows.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

iCal vs. iCalendar

Wikipedia: "iCalendar is a standard (RFC 2445) for calendar data exchange. The standard is also known as 'iCal'."

I'm adding "iCalendar" to my Google, Feedster and Technorati searches which already cover "iCal."

I'm sure we'll be living with both terms in perpetuity. The Microsoft Windows Vista folks prefer "iCalendar," probably because Apple named a product "iCal." Outside of the IETF, I hardly ever heard "iCalendar" until Microsoft started using the name.

AirSet + Verizon phones via wireless: the cost

Synchonizing the AirSet calendar service wirelessly to a Verizon phone? AirSet's Web site currently says: "AirSet Mobile is a subscription service, available through Verizon at a price of $6.49 per month. Airtime charges are incurred only while synchronizing, which typically takes 30 seconds or so, resulting in 1 minute of airtime utilization." You can also sync to AirSet via your phone's cradle and avoid those charges.

Finally...Microsoft embraces iCal. Oh wait, there's a catch

After months of harping on this whole Microsoft/iCal thing...after watching my daily Google search on "iCal" for months...after trolling around at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference last September, vainly seeking enlightenment from Outlook product managers and others...after enduring Microsoft lip service in December audio from When 2.0...they're finally getting it, and better yet, I've managed to attract Redmond's attention.

Steve Makofsky, a software design engineer at Microsoft, sent me a comment: "Windows Calendar, which is in Vista, natively runs iCalendar format."

So there's your answer. It's in Windows Vista. So why am I not jumping for joy?

1. Considering all the other hype around Vista, the iCal support in Vista's Windows Calendar has been very poorly publicized or recognized. It wasn't mentioned during any of the PDC keynotes. Windows Calendar appeared in October in Build 5231 of Vista, and didn't cause any ripples outside the Vista beta testing world.

2. Right now, the final version of Vista has an installed base of zero. It's in beta testing and will be for months to come. A Vista solution offers nothing to the existing installed base of Windows users. Sure, lots of folks will just get Vista when they buy new PCs. That's nice, but we want widespread calendar interoperability now, not whenever.

3. How the heck does Outlook work together with Windows Calendar in Vista? Having two Microsoft calendars in Windows sounds like a recipe for confusion to me. They better be totally interoperable from day one, or what's the point?

When I have the answers to these questions, maybe then Vista will be worth a SwampDrain rating.

Software as a fishing service for law enforcement

To me the $64 question is how many people would feel comfortable with any of the new calendar services if they knew:

1. For regulatory reasons, service providers aren't throwing away any data collected by their Web sites. (Pat Helland, now of, said this in a keynote yesterday at the Software Archictecture Summit.)

2. The U.S. government and other governments increasingly subpoena all sorts of information from service providers. Heck, sometimes they don't even need a traditional subpoena.

"But I was just trying to synchronize my calendars because the software wasn't doing it for me...and calendar sync service X was free..."

But as they say, sometimes, when you're up to your neck in alligators, it's hard to remember you were originally trying to drain the swamp.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

IBM Workplace now supports iCal

IBM gets a SwampDrain factor of +3 this morning by announcing yesterday that they've added "iCal support for calendar interoperability with IBM Lotus Notes" within a product now shipping called Workplace Collaboration Services 2.6. This move isolates Microsoft as the last major provider of calendar software not to support iCal directly.

Boo to the technology trade press for ignoring this announcement! Wake up over there.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Why I prefer to AirSet

Over the past two weeks, I've praised on several occasions, but I haven't mentioned another free calendar synchronization service, AirSet. I know I've criticized AirSet in the past, so why didn't I level the same criticism at

The simple answer is, only stores free/busy information. AirSet stores all of my calendar information. If I have to use a Web service to synchronize calendars, I'd like to store as little personal information as possible. Ideally, I wouldn't have to use a service at all. (I call this "peer to peer" calendar synchronization.)

And yes, I do use other free Web services such as Gmail, despite my privacy concerns. No other email user has to use the same email provider as I do. and if enough people objected, I might move off Gmail as well. By keeping my calendar off the Web, I'm reducing the "attack surface" for bad things to happen to my family's personal data.

Also, check out Neil Jensen's next set of plans for, triggered in part by our conversation.

Dana Gardner and I talk about calendaring

Dana Gardner of invited me to talk with him about calendaring on his Briefings Direct podcast. Listen to the podcast here and read Dana's further thoughts here. It's a newsy chat: I discuss the longstanding bug in Apple's iPod calendar synchronization, as well as the Firefox 1.5 problem (upgrading to 1.5 makes Mozilla Calendar go away!). Dana also got me to speculate on Google's future calendaring moves.

(Apologies to Steve Gillmor for putting words into his brother Dan's mouth on the Gillmor Gang. Steve's the Gillmor I meant to name on this podcast. It must be because I saw both of them in different places on the same day last week!)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Adobe wants to help drain the swamp a bit

I just stumbled across Adobe's demo of a Flash-powered Web page that a hypothetical travel site could offer in the future, allowing visitors to view free/busy information from their personal calendars, along with possible flight times, in a single calendar. Cool stuff. A description of the demo, given at the Macromedia MAX 2005 conference last fall, is on this page. I found video of the demo here, on Day One, starting at around the 1:05:00 mark. (Grumble: I couldn't download the video, but had to view it as a Flash presentation.)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

MightyPhone guesstimate

Ever wonder how much data you'd be transferring when synchronizing your mobile phone calendar with a PC? Sync service provider MightyPhone has this to say:

"Depending on the amount of data you plan to actively manage, the required level of data service subscription varies. For business users that synchronize business contacts and office calendar frequently, we recommend a data plan of up to 2MB to avoid additional data charges. For those using MightyPhone to manage their phone book only, a data plan with up to 1MB should be sufficient. Both examples assume an average address book of less 500 contact entries and a calendar with 4 scheduled appointments per business day."

BlackBerry draining its Mac swamp

Information Week: "BlackBerry maker Research in Motion said Thursday that it will give away free synchronization software to Mac owners so that they can square personal assistants with Mac applications, including Microsoft's Entourage e-mail client."

If you already own a BlackBerry and a Macintosh, this is great news. SwampDrain factor: +2.

(At least BlackBerry users are already acclimated to data usage fees, unlike the rest of us.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Calendar Swamp podcast #6, 1/6/06

The free/busy show. What are free/busy calendars? How can they be shared? Evaluating (and improving), which allows free/busy calendars from Microsoft Outlook 2003 and iCal-based software to be shared and viewed together on a single Web page. Privacy controls needed. The curious case of the discontinued Microsoft Free/Busy service. Imagining smarter free/busy calendars. Listen. (16:25)

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