Online calendaring and the fifth circle of hell

Posted on 23 April 2008

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The tower of babel would also have been an appropriate metaphor

Nothing gets done easily; nobody is speaking the same language, and everyone is fighting with each other. Some can speak but not hear; others can hear but not speak.

This is not Dante. This is the state of affairs of modern electronic calendaring.

All I need is a single location to visit when I need to know the time and place of scheduled meetings and events. I need all of the following software to play nice together:

  • My Outlook calendar (for school and work events) to synchronize to my Google calendar.
  • Apple’s iCal, installed on my laptop, will synchronize (as read-only) from my Google calendar, and thus allow me to view calendar events without a wireless connection, such as when I’m on the bus. Future iPhone or Blackberry use is implied, as well.
  • An old version of WebEvent to export in a non-proprietary format that is uploadable to a new Google calendar.

…and I’m not the only one. This whole process has been far more complicated and time-consuming than is necessary.

Google has recently released the Microsoft Outlook Sync App and the Google Calendar API, which is promising but painfully incomplete. Half or more of the events in my calendar have been added as group events, with the coordinator being someone else. These events are not synchronized into my Google calendar.

I have yet to find a way to export any data from the older version of WebEvent that we’re using in the library; we’re probably not going to be shelling out $2500 to upgrade and then stop using the software. Recommendations about this situation would be appreciated.

Here are some potential solutions band-aids:

  • Publish your Google Calendar as public (ok…i guess) and use the iCal private address to download a copy of your calendar every “x” minutes (this is READ-ONLY);
    • via Google Calendar Help
    • for read and write, try this: GCALDAEMON. (Sure. This looks super easy.)
  • …or, just pay up for SyncMyCal ($25 to register, so, umm…no) or OggSync ($29.95 per year, so, again, umm…no)
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Posted in: IT and Computing