Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Time Management Interoperability

I have trouble keeping track of appointments. I just don't remember dates and times. Google however has saved my bacon many times!

In google you can share your calendar with other people, or if you want you can share just portions of your calendar. You can adjust if it's public, private, etc. Great stuff! And of course I can set it up so I see my calendar on my iGoogle page, which is awesome.

But at work we don't use Google to track everything. We use Outlook, of course. So in order to plan anything that is more than something simple, I have to look at both at the same time. Most of the time work and home don't overlap, but they do sometimes. Planning vacation days of course makes them overlap. Doctor's appointments can affect things too. And sometimes it's just good to know when you will be too stressed to handle one more task.

So I decided to test things out a little bit. I found some tools that would synchronize Google Calendar and Outlook Calendar. And here are my results, for you all to view.

My first test was with Remote Calendars

This is probably the most popular and common one out there from what I can tell. It's free, which is always good. It can be found at sourceforge.

I didn't follow the setup instructions, I wanted to see if it would just work right out of the box. It installed smoothly. Setting up the sync was rather weird though, and I had to actually go read instructions. At that point I found out I had installed it completely wrong, so I started over, following a nice set of instructions I found on the net.

I managed to get my Google cal into my Outlook, which made me very happy. When I tried to go the other way, it didn't do anything. I fiddled with it a bit more, to no avail. So I tried to start over. At this point, I apparently did something very stupid, and Remote Calendars deleted my ENTIRE outlook calendar, with no warning. Boom, gone.

Maybe I should have backed up my calendar first, but I didn't think of that, and it wasn't listed in the instructions. I spent a good hour recreating my Calendar, and promptly uninstalled Remote Calendar.

Out of 5 stars, I give them -1! Installation wasn't too bad, setup was difficult, it did not do what I expected it to do, and somehow or another it completely destroy my Calendar.

My second test was gSyncit

This one is costs $9.99, and is therefore less popular. However, it has an evaluation mode that is free. In evaluation mode you can sync one Google Calendar to one Outlook Calendar. It is not a time limited evaluation mode. It does not auto-sync in evaluation mode. It can be found here.

Install was a breeze here. I downloaded it, ran the file. It put a little icon in my system tray. When I loaded up outlook it asked for my Google username and password. It then let me setup a connection between my Google Calendar and my Outlook. I hit sync, it synced everything, both ways, I rejoiced.

I tried deleting, adding, and modifying items in both Outlook and Google seeing how it worked. Since it didn't autosync I had to keep hitting the button to test it, which resulted in a little popup window that would go away if I registered. Everything on the Outlook end of things worked smoothly. The Google side was a little less than smooth. Google didn't seem to like it when you change an appointment while viewing it, but nothing major.

But, Outlook must be running for it to sync. I guess it's better than nothing.

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