At the Hadrian Hotel

At the Hadrian Hotel

Friday, June 02, 2006

Let Me Check My Calendar

I need a calendar. Actually, I have a calendar, and I really do need it. My personal choice for a calendar is my Palm Tungsten E2. I do my best to keep all of my appointments on it, as well as those of my family. I really like the UI, and being able to have my calendar in my pocket has been extremely useful. Having an alarm go off before I need to be somewhere is also a good thing - I'm just not the kind of person who will remember to check my appointments on paper (or even online).

A Palm device is not the calendar for everyone. Some people use wall calendars, some use pocket date books. Many people use Microsoft Outlook (with or without a mobile unit such as a Blackberry). A sysadmin I know has decided to go for a personal analog assistant to deal with his schedule.

One of the new kids on the block is the Google Calendar. This is the one that my wife has recently switched to, and I'm hoping that it will (eventually) help me keep my Tungsten much more up-to-date. Google Calendar can provide an iCalendar file to applications such as Mozilla Sunbird or Apple's iCal. In fact, it is this feature that I've just started using to keep my calendar current.

My wife has created and shared a number of calendars amongst all of our family's GMail accounts, and I have subscribed to a few of them from iCal on my Apple PowerBook. I then sync iCal with my Palm Tungsten using Missing Sync from mark/space (I like it much more than Palm's original hotsync implementation). This program uses the calendar name in iCal to set a calendar category on the Palm. This makes things much more colorful (and useful!).

Once I had my family's calendars in my pocket, I needed to do something about keeping track of all the various Boy Scout meetings and events that my boys and I attend. In fact, my intention was to set up a calendar that the entire Troop could use. The choice I made was to set up the Cosmo calendar server from the Open Software Application Foundation.

Cosmo is written in Java and seems to be pretty useful for a 0.3 release. Users create accounts on the server through a web page and can then publish calendars to their directory on the server. For each calendar you publish, you can create one or more tickets that can be used by others to subscribe to your calendars. Tickets can be read-only or read-write, and can last anywhere from seconds to forever. Once they add the ability to put comments on a ticket (like why you added it in the first place), I think they'll provide an extremely flexible way to manage calendar access by others.

So, today I can download my family's calendars to my Palm Tungsten from Google Calendar as well as publish my own calendars from the Palm using Cosmo. I'm guessing that Google is heading in the direction of allowing users to publish calendars remotely using their private URL scheme. Once that's in place, I'll be able to check, and update, all my calendars from the Palm of my hand.

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