I have this technology philosophy that I should stick to technologies that I trust and that make my life easier and that I should avoid technologies that I don’t trust and that will complicate things. I need a principle like this because I’m all over the web, and I needed ways to streamline and minimize the work required to stay involved.
And you know what? I chose Google.
I know many people in the field would question the rationality of such a choice, but I’m totally sold. I trust Google as much as I trust any online company, except I think they have the most to lose if they release my information (on purpose or by accident). If users don’t have faith in the privacy of their schedule or email, then they’ll quit using Google for these services which would have huge financial implications for the company.
However, my workplace didn’t choose Google, it chose Exchange/Outlook. I like the thinking behind Outlook; I think calendar sharing is smart, I like being able to access my calendar from any computer, and I like calendar/email integration. I like these things so much that I had already developed a dependency on Gmail and Google calendar before we moved to Outlook. Google’s calendar also offers a few extras that Outlook doesn’t (such as SMS alerts before appointments and RSS feeds for public calendars). So I was faced with a choice: lose functionality and go with Outlook or stick with the Google calendar I know and love.
Again, I chose Google. But I needed a way to make sure coworkers could see my calendar and schedule appointments with me (else I might be forced away from my Google!!) Remote Calendar to the rescue!
Thanks to Jake Ludington’s MediaBlab I found out about Remote Calendars. It’s a neat little add on for Outlook that allows you to sync your Google Calendar with your Outlook one. If you download the files and follow each step of the instructions, you’ll get a new little toolbar you can see in the image above.
That toolbar is where the magic happens. I’ve added my Google “at work” calendar to my Outlook and only sync one way: from Google to Outlook. I have read it should work both ways, but again, I spend all my time with my Google products. Likewise, if you get calendar invitations in Gmail, you get the same “yes/no/maybe” options you get in Outlook. Respond, and the meeting is updated on your Google calendar. All that’s left to do is sync. This means that I just open up Outlook once a day and make sure to sync.
My next step is to see if I can sync multiple Google calendars. I have a second, public professional development calendar, and a reference desk (office hours) calendar, too. Right now I duplicate everything on my work calendar to get it to come over to Outlook. If I can get Remote Calendars to sync all three, I won’t have to worry about that anymore. But that test is for tomorrow.
Good stuff! I’m all for this streamlining of technology approach. If you’re trying to set this up and need help, just let me know. I’d be happy to help!
Update: I added two more Google Calendars to Outlook today, and they came over just fine. Now I can remove duplicate appointments from my Google work calendar!!