For my day job I use Microsoft Outlook running on my Windows XP laptop for all my work-related appointments. Since my calendar is “shared” among my colleagues, I don’t put any personal appointments in it. Sure, I could always mark my personal appointments as “private” so only I can see the title and details, but I’m so paranoid that I would forget and thus have my private life displayed for all my co-workers to see.
Thus, I keep my personal calendar on my home machine (Apple iMac) using the provided iCal calendar application. The big challenge for me, is to be able to see both calendars on my home iMac, my work laptop, and on my Palm Pixi smartphone. So here’s what I did to make that happen:
First, my Palm Pixi can display multiple calendars provided by a single handful of sources. One is Microsoft Exchange and the other is Google Calendar. Since my work email through Outlook uses MS Exchange, that was a no brainer. So I have my work calendar on my Palm Pixi already figured out. Since my Palm Pixi can handle the Google Calendar, I needed to get my personal appointments synced or entered into Google Calendar in the cloud. I discovered the best way to do this is to subscribe to Google Calendar in Apple iCal and use it as my main personal calendar. I can make entries to Google Calendar in iCal and they will automatically be pushed up to Google Calendar in the Cloud. This way, my Palm Pixi can display both my personal (Google) calendar and work (Exchange) calendar.
With my personal calendar already in the cloud in Google Calendar, All I needed to do was subscribe to it in MS Outlook on my work laptop. Now I can view my personal appointments and work appointments on my work laptop using Outlook (albeit, I can only view my personal appointments, which is ok with me).
Finally, I needed to somehow get my work appointments from Outlook to be visible in Apple iCal on my Mac. I accomplished this, by publishing my Outlook appointments to a WebDav server in the cloud, specifically to a free file storage service called http://www.box.net. Basically, Outlook will periodically upload a single file (.ics) to the http://www.box.net file server and thus store my work appointments in the cloud in a simple text file. Next, I have Apple iCal subscribe to this WebDav server to download the calendar information in the .ics file every 15 minutes or so.
Now, I have a system that will allow me to view both my work and personal appointments on my home iMac, work laptop, and Palm Pixi smartphone without me having to copy and paste appointments between two separate calendars. Here’s what I can do for making changes:
1) My Palm Pixi can make updates to both my Personal and work calendars
2) Personal appointment changes are made on my home iMac.
3) Work appointment changes are made on my work laptop in Outlook.
I know that this all sounds like a pain, but I really needed to keep my personal and work appointments separate and have both viewable on different computers and devices.
Now, some might ask, “Why don’t you just have two separate calendars in Google Calendar and keep everything in one place, in the cloud?” That’s a good question. The biggest reason I’ve found, is that when I get a meeting invite in an email message, if I double-click on the attached .ics file my computer will try to open the .ics file using a stand-alone application on my system. So it will either try to use Apple iCal or Outlook or some other specified application. I don’t have the ability to have my web browser open and process the .ics file for entering it into Google Calendar. That just won’t work. Thus, I’m stuck with using an actual computer calendar application to easily process meeting invitations.
What I really would need, is a small application that can open the .ics file and place it in Google Calendar in the cloud. That, would be a really handy app!