Friday, December 14, 2012

Google sinks Calendar Sync

A small cottage industry grew up around Google Calendar Sync, but that's all history, now that Google has announced it is discontinuing Google Calendar Sync. The details are here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Feudal calendar sharing

Substitute "calendar and schedule sharing" for "security" in this Bruce Schneier opinion piece and you'd have a fine Calendar Swamp post.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mobile phone "fixes" frustrate consumers

This story from June shouldn't surprise anyone: People Frustrated With Online Smartphone 'Fixes'.

As mobile carrier growth slows, there are only a few directions this can go. One, hopefully, would be more attention to better product quality, including listening more to what customers want.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

TonidoPlug: Platform for a low-cost calendar server?

I'm still looking for a low-cost, low-power, quiet calendar server, and may have found a candidate: the Tonido Plug. Click around until you can read about Tonido Workspace, which includes a PIM. No mention of CalDAV or other calendar-sharing capabilities, but if the platform takes off -- and it has some rave reviews -- I'm sure one could be built. Not sure it has much momentum though. Maybe this will help.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

State of the Calendar Swamp 2012: I join the CalConnect board

The purpose of this blog (now more than seven years old) has been to promote awareness of the state of calendar interoperability. It is my passion and privilege to be the nexus for demands by the public at large for progress on this front. I can tell you that interoperable calendaring can make a big difference in the productivity of individuals, groups, and society as a whole. As a salaried employee of HealthLeaders for the past five months, I can attest to the utility of siloed calendars when all involved are using them -- in this case, the Microsoft Outlook/Exchange calendaring system. (I had not been a daily Outlook user until this gig.) But there are other rich calendar-sharing platforms: iCloud, Google Calendar, and others. The problem remains that these systems are not playing well enough together to really propel widespread adoption and use of calendaring as a communciation tool, rather than just an email file attachment whose contents get poured into personal productivity tools.

Last week, as part of my HealthLeaders work, I was in New York talking with a chief medical officer about matters unrelated to calendaring, but she happened to ask me what my other interests where, and I mentioned Calendar Swamp. The executive seemed truly excited to learn that others feel the pain of trying to achieve seamless calendar sharing, and that those of us out there who read this blog are trying to make a difference. She complained about how her organization's medical practice management software contained its own calendar component, but was not open enough to allow sharing of calendar data from that system with physicians' own personal calendaring data.

The story repeats itself in industry after industry, but my current job allows me to see just how critical calendar interoperability can be to helping solve the healthcare mess the U.S. finds itself in. Certainly a lot of other things need to happen to fix healthcare, but it's no surprise to me that executives in this industry can be just as passionate about looking for calendar-sharing solutions as the rest of us.

With all this in mind, I was honored recently to be nominated for a three-year term on the board of directors of CalConnect, the Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium. I accepted eagerly and began my term of office last month. It will continue through July 2015. I've written about CalConnect numerous times. It brings together all the important vendors in this space, and has deep roots in academic institutions who have taken a leadership role in calendar standards and adoption of those standards.

The work of CalConnect is challenging. The participants receive various forms of support from their employers for this work, and HealthLeaders has also been supportive, but for me this is something I have to squeeze in on top of, not instead of, my usual senior technology editor duties at HealthLeaders.

The extent to which I can make a difference as a representative of the healthcare provider industry, and as a representative to you as a reader of Calendar Swamp, will depend on your continued participation. Since the CalConnect board meetings are closed to the public, and the CalConnect general meetings are typically limited to members only, I can only represent you if you tell me your stories, bring up your calendar interoperability issues, share with me your vision of how seamless calendar sharing could or can or does improve your group's productivity, eliminate inefficiencies, cut costs, stimulate creativity...or even save lives. I'm open to publishing your stories here (feel free to comment) or, if the matter is more sensitive and needs to be held in some confidence, I can work with you in that way as well.

So as my CalConnect board term kicks off, let's work together to lift ourselves a bit more out of this Swamp. In closing this year's State of the Swamp during this presidential election year, I will share with you my platform statement that I submitted upon my nomination to the CalConnect board:
Many devices today have electronic calendars built into them, but too many remain largely personal productivity tools and not a means of group communication. Certain calendar interoperability standards exist, but these need to be popularized, enhanced, and baked into more calendars and other appropriate technology. Complexity remains the enemy of interoperability. Bold leadership in simplifying calendar-to-calendar communication could yield phenomenal results to business and society. From my current vantage point covering healthcare technology, the short-term benefits of calendaring improvements look to be substantial. I hope that my participation on CalConnect's board could be the beginning of broadening participation by calendar-powered leaders outside of the CalConnect consortium's traditional academic and vendor strengths.
Thanks for seven great, if somewhat swampy, years. Let's take the draining to the next level!

Friday, August 03, 2012

No searching at!

Amazing but true: You can't search for anything within your iCloud calendar. Instead, go to your settings for Calendar on your iPad or iPhone, and change sync to "all events" and then search for stuff on your iThing. And let's hope at some point we can search within the cloud as well.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Is the Open Data Protocol cause for celebration?

Did any calendar interop geeks out there notice the May announcement of the Open Data Protocol? More importantly, does it matter to us calendar sharers? Should we feel good or bad about the fact that this effort has already celebrated its second anniversary?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Publishing free/busy info in Outlook 2007 (or iCloud for that matter)

As I ramp up my Outlook 2007 mad skillz (hah), I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong when trying to publish my free/busy information to a personal Web server. I've been relying on a Microsoft Knowledge Base article to do it step-by-step. But step 3 refers to a "Look In" box that I'm not seeing in the Windows 7 version of Outlook 2007. I thought maybe I needed to map an FTP drive in Windows 7, and was able to do that, but it didn't give me access to any "Look In" box or provide any other path forward.

If you are an Outlook ninja and can tell me what I'm doing wrong, please send me a message or comment here. Now I'll go back to grumbling privately about the lack of free/busy publishing in iCloud.

Friday, March 23, 2012

How do I get Outlook to subscribe to an iCloud calendar?

I've turned the paradigm on its head. Usually people want iCloud to subscribe to (or more usually, sync with) their Outlook calendar. I, instead, wish to have Outlook subscribe to an iCloud calendar. Does anyone out there know how to do this easily? I would have thought it was easy, but Google searches continue to turn up answers involving sync, which I am not trying to do. No, I'm merely trying to subscribe. Any ideas out there? Seems like a simple enough question. (And the PC in question running Outlook does not have any Apple software on it, so I'm syncing my iPad and iPhone to a different PC, not running Outlook).

Friday, February 24, 2012

iCloud embraced. But it's still a silo

A commenter to Calendar Swamp notes great success with iCloud, and so, after a rough start, do I. First, the comment on my earlier post, from Lady K:

"I am cross platform (windows 7, iPhone, iPad) and I must say I am thrilled with iCloud. I run 3 businesses, go to school and manage a household schedule using it. The key to being successful with iCloud is to understand how each device interacts with it. The idevices (fortunately) won't let you do things you shouldn't be able to do. Windows, however, doesn't "check for duplicates" the same way so if you create a subgroup (in your contacts folder for example) you can't just drag and drop contacts to add them to other subgroups or they will get deleted. I log into the iCloud webapp directly if I have to manage anything like that. The only other thing to note is that iCloud manages reminders completely separately from the tasks or calendar items. If you need to be reminded of something, you set it up under reminders, which in Outlook comes up under tasks. Other than that I have had resounding success with all of my iCloud products including calendars (a total of 5), contacts (managed using 3 subgroups), tasks (which even set off reminders properly), reminders and even online backups."

I agree with these comments, although I'm not using Outlook currently (more on that in a minute). I now believe my initial problem with iCloud had to do with events my wife had created in iCal prior to iCloud's release and our subsequent installation of it. For some reason (possibly related to the fact that she had created those pre-iCloud events on a Mac running Snow Leopard, not Lion) those older events never showed up on iCloud. But, as time passed, those events rolled from the future into the past, and newer events (created on the Mac calendar post-iCloud install) appeared just fine on my iCloud as well as hers.

This development is particularly timely, as next Monday I begin a full-time gig with HealthLeaders Media as their senior technology editor. Leaving the freelance medical writing/journalism ranks for a high-profile full-time gig will tax my calendar in ways it hasn't been taxed since I was last working full time nearly a decade ago. Also, HealthLeaders employs Outlook, so like Lady K, I will have events on that calendar that I hope can be shared with my personal iCloud. How that will work may be the topic of my next post.

But anyway, iCloud is redeemed in my mind. I would still like to see it support every device out there, not just  iPods, iPhones and iPads, and until it does, iCloud is its own kind of calendar silo. But at least the industry has something to shoot for if and when it finally creates...wait for it...iCloud for the rest of us.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

EFF adds muscle to fight against time zone database lawsuit

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) adds its voice -- and legal resources -- to those opposing a copyright infringement lawsuit against a must-relied-upon database of time zones.