Calendar sharing. Nirvana found?

What is seemingly the bane of existence for most non-Microsoft users is the constant problem of “How can we share calendars?” Exchange does this extremely well, and there are many a Linux zealot, when confronted with the “Okay, we’ll try Linux. How do we share calendars?” has had to hide in shame.

For me, the problem has been “how do I sync my Treo 650 so I can see my family and friends’ calendars, without having to manually do some rigamarole involving synchronizing through some Windows based custom tool?

My savior may have arrived in the form of a tool called GooSync.

The concept is simple. The world in general has failed to come up with a standard calendaring system that actually makes sense, and allows multiple people to share, view, and update each others’ calendars. iCalendar, while very good for publishing calendars and allowing people to subscribe to them for viewing, does a poor job of allowing others to update someone else’s calendar.

Along comes Google Calendar. Ahh, a good, interactive, free calendaring service that allows multiple users to share, update, and publish calendars interactively. Not only that, Google Calendar has a published API specification that allows users to write programs that interact with it.

I had been using CompanionLink to hotsync my Google Calendar down to my Treo, but after months of complaints to their tech support and sales department, explaining that without multiple calendar support, their tool had only limited functionality, and after they even said to me “If you can figure out a way to keep the calendars synchronized without duplicating entries, feel free to tell us how” (and I did), and still not getting an update, it was time to look elsewhere.

GooSync has a number of very strong advantages over CompanionLink and, frankly, any other tool I’ve seen so far.

  • The base version is free. It allows you to sync one personal calendar to and from the Treo to a single Google Calendar
  • For a small fee (about $20 a year), it supports multiple calendars, with read and write access.
  • It keeps all the calendar entries separate on the Treo, either via a text tag in the entry, or using categories.
  • It syncs wirelessly. That means it’ll use the Treo data network (whichever one you have) to talk to their servers to get updates and to post changes. This means you do NOT have to cradle-hotsync your Treo and run some Windows app to synchronize your calendars

That last item bears closer scrutiny. Once the GooSync client is installed on your phone, all subscriptions and maintenance to your calendar list is done via Goosync’s website. Want to add a new calendar to your phone? Go to the website, say “show me all my Google calendars” (and it does), and click the checkbox next to the one you want to show up on your Treo. On the phone, run the Synchronize function in the GooSync client, and 30 seconds later, your Treo is updated with all the new entries.

I’ve tried this with my own calendar, and shared calendars I have write access to, and it works perfectly. No duplicate records, nothing showing up in calendars that I didn’t have there before, it just plain works. I now have full control and view into all my Google Calendars from my phone.

With all the gloom and doom about the PalmOS platform (both from me, and also from very well known tech blogs like Engadget), this is a small ray of sunshine. Note that GooSync supports a ton of different devices, so even if you don’t have a ‘smartphone’ per se, you can probably sync your Google Calendar to your device.

Yay technology, and thank you Google for making it possible, and thank you GooSync!

Another Linux user. Our ranks grow.

About 6 months ago I was having a conversation with my roommate Beth, talking about her aging Dell laptop. She was considering getting a desktop machine to use as her primary workhorse for her up and coming graduate student immersion.

I thought a bit, and said “Hey, I could probably get you something decent. We could even make this an interesting experiment. Tell you what, I’ll get you a machine, but it’ll run Linux. Up for it?”


And we were off…

Continue reading “Another Linux user. Our ranks grow.”

Eve Crankiness

It’s mighty frustrating when your chief distraction / addiction starts being totally unuseable.
And, in the rant department, I really detest ‘debugging’ Windows problems, as I’ve had to do twice today. Windows gives you NO feedback on what’s going on. It either works, or it doesn’t, and the process for ‘fixing’ the problem involves playing whack-a-mole with driver versions, tools, and clicky-clicky interfaces. Except the mole is invisible, and the big bell is broken. You may fix the problem, but you won’t know it until you try again. And then it might work, it might not, or it might work on the next reboot, or, you may be blessed with your fix working, but may stop next time you reboot, or run an update, or move your mouse, or whatever.
I’m boggled by how people can call this platform ‘maintainable’, when the chief answer seems to consistently be “Doesn’t work? Reboot! If that doesn’t work, reinstall from scratch!”
*takes grumpy self off to bed*

Vague amusement at technology.

I find it terribly amusing, coming from a long history of data communications involvement, that my tactic, when deciding to walk away from my computer, is to turn the volume down so I don’t disturb others.

Why is this amusing?  Because I don’t even bat an eye at the fact that I’m streaming 128kbps worth of music from a server in California through 4 companies’ networks and 2 dozen routers, moving something like 20k worth of data a second (that’s 10 full pages of text, to give it context) into my machine where… it is not heard, and discarded.

We’ve become so bandwidth-jaded.

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Looking for a poster? Or maybe an album cover?

Back in high school I remember an image of a full size sailing vessel – a galleon or the like (we’re talking old school wooden round hull), but it was up on ice runners, and was zipping along on the ice, rather than in water.

It might have been part of the black light poster set, as so well catered to by Spencers or the like, or maybe it was an album cover?  Does anyone remember this image, or better yet, have a pointer to it? <a href=””></a> is not helping me.

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ScribeFire – A handy blog posting tool?

I’m trying out a new tool today called ScribeFire. 

The idea is to provide a rich user interface for doing blog postings via a Firefox plugin.  I’ve tried this a few times before with other tools, and have always gone back to just using plain old HTML pages.

So far, the interface is useable, and appears to support many different blogs (including Livejournal, WordPress, and other content management systems). 

It appears to also support editing existing postings and content, but maybe it’s because PG has several thousand posts, the list never actually came up.

The intriguing thing is that ScribeFire is supposed to support Drupal, which would be awfully handy for some of the work we’re doing, but I can’t seem to get it working.

Folks who do LiveJournal, WordPress,, or Movable Type should definately give it a try.

Pats and Pans

In one of the “making community work” bits of reading I’ve done, I read about a process for group meetings called ‘Pats and Pans’. The idea is when everyone gets together for some form of communal meeting (be it “house meeting” or “gardening club” or whatever), folks go around and say one good thing (a ‘pat’), and one thing that irked them (a ‘pan’). It would balance out the interaction so there was appreciation and criticism going on in balance.

In that spirit, I give you my pats and pans for the last week or so…

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Dear Starbucks…

IF you are going stand up and say to the world “I will charge $2.85 for a cup of coffee” (coffee which, realistically, costs you all of about $0.15 to make), you could at least:

  1. Ensure that your PAY FOR wireless service is actually functioning, or let your patrons know that it’s broken LONG before they spend 10 minutes rebooting, fiddling and tinkering trying to get connected.
  2. Make sure that the tables you oh so thoughtfully provide actually have 4 feet on them!. I mean, there might actually be people in your establishment that have laptops, and coffee. I would imagine making sure the tables don’t immediately dump coffee onto the laptops would not be a challenge, but apparently I was mistaken.

No lasting damage to clipper, but the entire experience left me reconsider my continuing support of this these guys.

Windows as a useable Java development environment?

Recently I had to spend a fair amount of time working on CONGO on a Windows XP platform. Stonekeep is doing doing it’s first event where CONGO will be running entirely on Windows XP, so all the environmental stuff I’m used to having under Linux doesn’t work, naturally. Things needed to be updated. This presented many challenges…

Continue reading “Windows as a useable Java development environment?”

End of the day

End of the day

Originally uploaded by eidolon

This year has been great for Maine visits, and this past weekend was just super-awesome.

It was a particularly stressful week, and also going into another stressy week, so the break in the middle was a welcome respite. Friday night was warmer than we normally like, but Saturday ended up being wonderful.

A long breezy day full of sailing and swimming, and a cool night of listening to loons.


Alfresco Opensource Enterprise Content Management

In one of those random conversations on IRC, my friend Duncan pointed me toward Alfresco. It took a little bit for me to understand exactly what the tool DID, but after a bit it clicked in, and I read more about it. The more I read, the more impressed I was by it.
Alfresco is an enterprise-class document management tool. It allows organization and categorization and management of dozens of document types, via a variety of mechanisms. Documents may be checked in and out of the system, revisions monitored, and indexes updated automatically. High end searching is handled by the server, so searches across Word, PDF, and OpenOffice documents is a snap.
As someone who has more than a passing understanding of CMS tools like Drupal, I made the mistake of assuming this was a similar approach. Nay nay! Alfresco is targeted at the organization that is trying to manage tens of thousands of documents and more.
One of the more intriguing aspects of it is it’s built in CIFS server. You can mount the Alfresco Intelligent File System directly from your desktop machine, and browse documents stored in the Alfresco database (backed by MySQL or the like), as if it were a normal file share. Plugins are also availabale for NFS and FTP.
At the moment, I’m not sure if I’m involved in an operation that could take advantage of such a high end system, but it’s awfully tempting to pull it down and give it a whirl.