iCal

BusyCal Goes Public Beta

BusyCal.png


The very smart people over at BusyMac have released the public beta of their new iCal replacement BusyCal. I've been running it a few days and am impressed. It incorporates the BusySync calendar syncing and adds several features that iCal, for lack of a better term, has ignored.

Scheduling Appointments with Yourself

Clock.png


Since “back in the day” when I ran my life analog out of a Franklin planner, I’ve always had a thing for scheduling appointments with myself. Perhaps it is a unique brand of narcissism but setting aside time for specific projects makes sense to me. So in addition to my regular appointments with other, living, breathing humans, at any time, my calendar may include blocks of time that say something like "Write trade secret agreement" or "Audit outstanding commitments." I find this helpful for finding time to do the big projects that never seem to get done otherwise. If you are going to adopt this practice, there are a few tips:


Calendar.jpg


1. Treat Appointments with Yourself as Actual Appointments.



If you set time aside to do a specific project and then completely ignore it, you are, in essence, breaking a commitment with yourself. If you can't trust yourself, than who else can? Sometimes things get in the way that prevent you from using your scheduled time. In that event, you shouldn't ignore the appointment. You should reschedule. "Okay Dave, a meteor just took out your garden shed. You can't write that motion this morning, but how about next Wednesday?"

2. Don't Go Crazy.



Once you start this practice, the temptation will be there. You’ll schedule yourself to walk the dog at 6:45 a.m. for 10 minutes. You’ll then schedule yourself to do 20 push-ups at 6:55 a.m. Don't. The temptation to micromanage will only get in the way. You’ll find yourself spending all of your time "scheduling" and no time "doing." I reserve this practice for large items, usually things that take more than an hour and a half. The only exception is for meeting preparation. If I'm going to meet someone, I will often schedule myself to spend 15 or 30 minutes preparing.

3. Review and Plan.



Try this for a few weeks then go back and see how you did. Usually on Sunday night or Monday morning, I look at some of the big items I need to accomplish during the week and schedule them into slots of availability. I know from experience that when I reserve time for a big project, it is much more likely to actually get done. It also feels good when you have scheduled time to do a project that is still pending. It takes the stress off so long as you have faith in yourself to honor the appointment. (See tip one above.)

Do you schedule appointments with yourself? How's it working for you?

New iCal Enhancement: Today

today.png

Second Gear released a new application called "Today". This one is for those iCal users envious of the Entourage "My Day" application bar. For comparison you can see the similarities below:

Entourage My Day


my day.png

Today


Today screenshot.jpg

I have limited experience with both applications but as an initial opinion, I think Today looks better but Entourage is more functional. I'd like to see Second Gear get Today off my dock and into the menu bar.  It would be nice if I checked the preferences closer before complaining about a missing feature that is actually there.  Furthermore, rather than scrolling side to side, I'd prefer you to be able to wheel down to subsequent days like we do on our iPhones. Regardless, I seriously doubt many people are going to choose a side in the Entourage vs iCal/Mail debate simply based on the daily summary application. I'm just glad the iCal folks who are looking for this now have an option. I may do a more in depth review later but for now, you can download a free trial of Today from the developer and a license runs $15.

Review - Spanning Sync and GooSync




Spanning Sync



One problem that continued to pester me is one that is near and dear to the heart of all attorneys, the calendar. My office uses a PC Network with a specialized legal application called "Timematters". Timematters is a PC only application and one of the things it does well is sync with my Treo 650. This way my secretary and staff is entering contacts, appointments, and task items which sync into my Treo. This is very helpful to me. The problem is when I want to look at my calendar at home on something other than the tiny Treo screen. So therein lies the challenge -- sync my Treo with my Mac without screwing up the data when I return to my office. (It would not be fun explaining to my colleagues how I managed to wipe out the contact database) As an aside I was never able to successfully do this on my old PC laptop either.


 


 


This is not as easy at it should seem. The Palm desktop may be the worst program ever written in both its PC and Mac variants. But I think the Mac version is particularly loathsome. I try to sync with it and it takes FOREVER. Furthermore, it doesn't always grab all the data and worse yet it seems to corrupt data when I send it back at work. I also tried "The Missing Sync" to no avail (although a lot people swear by it).


 


 


The good news is I've found a solution using Google Calendar and GooSync. GooSync can be found at www.goosync.com and is made by a UK based company, Toffa International. GooSync allows you to sync your Google Calendar with just about any cell phone that has a calendar app. If you go to their site they have a list of supported phones. With my Treo it actually installed a small palm application that, with a press of a button, allows me to sync my treo to my google calendar. GooSync talks to my google calendar and sync’s all changes on both the phone and those on google. When I go back to the office it then integrates those changes straight into my windows based calendar software without a hiccup.


 


 


One nice feature of this is there are no cables. You can sync your phone from anywhere. I usually hit the GooSync button on my Treo as I drive home from the office and again in the morning as I head back in. The free version of GooSync will synchronize for 30 days. If you purchase a 1 year subscription at 20 pounds (which ended up costing me about $40, it will sync an entire year.


 


If you really want to go crazy, you can also buy Spanning Sync. This program installs a system preference tool that works very similar to the .mac synchronization. When you first set it up you can attach each of your google calendars to a separately created calendar in Apple iCal. I’ve had it running on my MacBook Pro now for 2 weeks with no problem whatsoever. Because it allows you to sync multiple calendars I can pull down my office calendar (uploaded with GooSync), my wife’s calendar, the Google US holiday calendar, and any other public google calendar. I can make adjustments to both calendars and the sync process puts it all together on both systems.


 


I’ve been very pleased with this program. My wife still works on a PC and it allows her and I to keep up with each other. This also lets me see my calendar, via google calendar, even when I’m away from my mac. It also works fine on multiple macs. I bought my daughter an iMac and the program works fine on my user account on her computer. If you don’t believe me then go to the website. They have a very nice video demonstration.


 


 


They offer a trial demonstration of 15 days. They have an interesting license schedule, its $25 a year or a one-time fee of $65. I bought the one year license. I highly recommend this program if you have need of viewing and editing your calendar from other computers, or share calendar data with other users (especially cross platform). It is a great little application that quietly does exactly what you expect it to every time.


 


 


The net result for me with these two programs is that my secretary, my wife, and I can all be looking at and changing my calendar from multiple locations and multiple platforms and at the end of the day everything syncs up flawlessly. Since my calendar is constantly changing, this is a very good thing.