Friday, October 31, 2008

The customer service problem with calendaring

All the calendaring tech in the world won't make your life simpler if the company trying to communicate event or reservation changes to you doesn't have its act together.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More than Microsoft

Steve Ballmer (rhetorically) asks his customers:
"Why can't we create calendars that automatically merge our schedules at work and home?"
Steve, please make sure the answer isn't an all-Microsoft solution.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

BidCal: Calendaring/eBay mashup

BidCal lets you monitor upcoming eBay auctions from within your calendar. It's from the makers of Calgoo.

I hope this isn't stressing Calgoo's calendar-sync server too much. Last night was the first time in months of use that we found it was down, at least for a few minutes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

eWeek puts calendar icon on cover, ignores calendaring

An ambitious eWeek October 13 cover story, "UC on the cheap," all about Unified Communications (a buzzword mainly at Microsoft), is the first trade pub in a while to feature a calendar icon on the cover. Unfortunately, the story itself focuses on VoIP and instant messaging, not calendaring. Bad enough calendar interoperability gets ignored by mobile phone vendors (the new Google Phone doesn't pretend to talk anything but Google Calendar); now an IT publication uses calendaring as part of sloganeering in an incomplete article.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Syncing two desktop calendars to Calgoo Hub

Those Calgoo folks are clever. They've included a way to sync more than one calendar with their Hub. They support Outlook and also their own free desktop calendar, named, not surprisingly, Calgoo Calendar.

Here's the cool part. I've already got a Calgoo Hub account. From their desktop calendar, I can browse the calendars in my Hub account and select which ones I want to sync to the desktop.

Why would I want to have the same desktop calendar in two places? Aside from the security that redundancy provides, there's another reason. The new Dell notebook I've just bought isn't powered on all day long. It tends to come out after hours when I'm chatting with River about upcoming events. So I'll have a Calgoo calendar on that notebook. But the other calendar will be on a desktop PC (yes, the same one that was running Sunbird) so if I need to add an event (or look one up) during the work day, I can quickly do that without having to wake up the Dell notebook. I just have to remember to sync to the Hub when I'm prepared to call it a work day.

Yes, I know it's more complicated than just storing one calendar up in the cloud and using Web access. But the way I see it, it's what this whole Microsoft "software+services" thing is all about. So far, it's working for me. (I'm sure that soon Microsoft will have it all figured out as well, if they don't already.)

But Microsoft remains the Windows-only solution. The Calgoo desktop Calendar is available not just for Windows, but for Mac OS X and Linux (Fedora Core 5 and Gentoo distributions) as well. I may have other observations about it after I've used it for a while. Ideally, I would like not to be locked into the Calgoo client, but for now, I'm glad to see it as a free Outlook alternative that does all I've asked of it.

UPDATE: I was able to sync a second set of events to the Hub, so while River still sees only the events she wants to, I can see an additional list of events that I want on my calendar, but since she doesn't subscribe to them, she doesn't see them. Just create a second calendar within Calgoo Calendar, sync it to the Hub, discover it with the second copy of Calgoo Calendar, and sync it from the Hub to that second desktop.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Buh-bye, Pocket PC

I'm kicking my Pocket PC to the curb. In its place I have a new Dell Inspiron 910, powered by the new Intel Atom chip. For sheer comfort I've ordered it with Windows XP, and then installed Mozilla Sunbird. I have the option to install BirdieSync if I wish to keep syncing this PC with the Pocket PC, but right now I'm content just to have the option. BirdieSync isn't available for Linux; that's the only reason why I didn't order the Inspiron 910 with Linux. (BirdieSync requires Microsoft's ActiveSync, and you can bet Microsoft won't be porting ActiveSync to Linux any time soon. I never liked ActiveSync anyway.)

Moving my Sunbird calendar data from another PC to the Inspiron 910 was a bit tricky. After hunting around I identified the file where Sunbird stores the calendar. It's got the non-intuitive name of storage.sdb. I copied it onto a jump drive and then replaced the new storage.sdb on the Inspiron 910 with the one from my PC. Viola, my calendar is there and it even knows the Calgoo URL where it should publish. All I have to do is enter my Calgoo name and password.

Next up: Installing a CalDAV server on that old Windows PC. Part of the next phase: Giving River a secure place to publish her calendar on our LAN.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Yahoo! Calendar supports CalDAV

Yahoo! updated its calendar, adding CalDAV support, and is hosting CalConnect XIII this week in Santa Clara. +1 SwampDrain point for Yahoo!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Quest for a thin CalDAV server

For some time I've talked about setting up a CalDAV server in my home. River won't share her calendar on any service outside the home (including Calgoo) because of her concerns about how secure and private the info is. I respect that.

The really expensive solution is to buy a Mac Mini plus Leopard Server but we're already talking a couple of thousand dollars just for that. So that's out.

I'm now looking into either buying a very cheap diskless PC and running OSAF's Cosmo on it, or installing Cosmo on a PC I already have and just leaving that PC on all the time. I may actually try the latter first to see how it all works. Ultimately I want the CalDAV server to just run 24x7 so it would be great to get one without a hard disk spinning all the time.

This month there's a new release (1.1.0) of the Cosmo server. The installation instructions are not for novices. But for pure LAN-based, widely-interoperable calendar-sharing messing about, it looks like the best game in town, nowhere near as challenging as installing Kerio's mail server or other solutions which might be overkill.

Please let me know if you've tried Cosmo 1.1.0 and what you've experienced.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Nokia's Intellisync going bye-bye

jkOnTheRun reports that "the venerable syncing solution from Intellisync will be shut down and no longer available." Nokia is now recommending a solution based around Windows ActiveSync.

Any Intellisync fans out there? Is Nokia's move to ActiveSync good, bad, or no change?