Archive for the ‘ical’ Tag

Sync Calendar with Facebook Events

Facebook does not run my life. As much as it may want to, I keep track of my schedule on crumpled pieces of paper and in iCal. Like anyone else in college, it does have a bearing on a lot of social interactions, so for some parties, I’ll get the invitation on Facebook. But Facebook doesn’t ring an alarm to remind me of events, so I’ll sometimes forget all about upcoming events.

Facebook lets you export events to your calendar, but it doesn’t let you subscribe to an XML calendar of your events that can be updated automatically. This would save me a lot of time manually entering events into iCal, and would ensure that I don’t forget about staff meetings or a friend’s birthday party.

The ability to export your current list of events is available, and while it’s helpful, it still means you need to constantly go back to Facebook and manually export your events. I assume Facebook hasn’t included the auto-sync feature simply because founder Mark Zuckerberg would rather you spend more time on the site. I suppose Facebook could internally revenue the problem by offering its own user-editable calendar, but until that time, why not accommodate the users?

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Why I Prefer Software to Web Apps

It’s no secret on this blog that I like iCal (see: exhibits A, B and C). Google Calendar is by far the closest application, client- or server-side, to iCal’s elegant interface. One might even argue that Google’s is better, offering anywhere-access to your daily planner. And with tasks (to-do) for Google Calendar on the way, why not make Google your default time management software?

I don’t want to entrust all my information to someone else’s computer. Web sites go down. Sometimes Internet access isn’t available in certain areas. I need to know that I can gain access to my information whenever I have my computer (or iPod, thanks to iTunes data syncing).

Sure, hard drives crash, and data can get corrupted. But at least then I’ll recognize that it was my own fault for not backing up my data. And at the end of the week, I shouldn’t have to worry about that anymore.

iCal Dropbox in New Mac OS X Version

The 10.5 Leopard version of the Mac operating system has been confirmed for release next Friday, Oct. 26. Among its list of 300+ new features is a much improved version of iCal. Aside from the new interface, CalDAV sync support and the correctly predicted iPhone notes syncing is one feature I suggested last month in “A Better To-do List.”

Apple’s feature list details a new option called Event Dropbox. “Share the information you need for a successful meeting,” reads the iCal Leopard feature list. “Simply drag photos, video, or any kind of document into an event. Send email invitations to attendees and your attachments go along for the ride.”

My idea was for iCal to include “the ability to drag files and emails onto a to-do entry and have them linked. I could then easily access any related materials through the to-do entry.”

Apple’s description doesn’t specify whether this applies to to-do entries as well as events, but I think we have a good chance. Finally iCal is on its way to becoming a fully featured project center.

Todoist: Handy Web-based To-do List

I’ve mentioned before how much I use the to-do function in iCal. It’s a great way to keep your daily tasks organized. Mac users have a pretty good option for keeping tasks and appointments in one application — and it’s only going to get better with iCal-Mail integration in the new version of the OS, coming next month.

Unfortunately there hasn’t been a great all-in-one on the Web. Google Calendar is a pretty good web app for logging events, and Google has recently dropped an iPhone version that’s pretty nice. Gmail users will also appreciate the mail-calendar integration (if someone mentions a date in an email, it’ll suggest you create an appoint out of it).

But Google Calendar doesn’t provide a to-do list, instead encouraging its calendar users to use the ToDo gadget on its iGoogle home page.

There’s a better option. This tip comes from Stowe Boyd’s /Message blog, which has been featured on Bigthawt before.

Todoist is a great web-based to-do list. You can keep a simple to-do list, and check items off as you complete them. Boyd provides a tip to tie your list in to Firefox’s sidebar. Another great tool is the bookmarklet that plays well with Gmail — or any page on the net — that lets you connect multiple links or mail messages to a to-do task. It’s an awesome feature that I would love to see in iCal.

Apple Cripples iPod touch Calendar

Look, I was trying to be optimistic when I wrote “No Maps? No Problem,” listing a bunch of online tools that could fill the gap left by Apple Inc.’s removal from the iPod touch of many great iPhone applications, like Mail and Google Maps.

But now we find out that Apple has purposely crippled the calendar on the iPod touch to only display events, removing the ability to create new ones on the device. And I’m really fuming.

All this means is that I would have to use Google Calendar instead of iCal from now on, but is this Apple’s goal? To drive everyone away from using its applications to web-based alternatives.

Going back to my predictions, it seems we only got two-thirds of the equation. We got the widescreen iPod; we got the internet communications device; but Apple isn’t giving us the PDA.

And this is a deal breaker for me. So until the hackers find a way to get the iPhone apps onto the iPod touch (and how hard could it be? It’s the same freakin’ software and mostly the same hardware), count me out.

A Better To-do List

Of all the great uses for a computer, the calendar is probably the most significant to my life. Business execs get secretaries and the rest of us get iCal.

I can’t stress how important the calendar and to-do lists are for making sure I don’t forget everything. But there’s just something missing in terms of combining all my work in other applications with the calendar.

Life happens in terms of projects. I have to-dos tied to a particular project, using the title format “project name: to-do title.” So for my July blog post about running a successful web start-up, I had “startup: email boyd,” “startup: research boyd’s blog” and “startup” (the all purpose to-do when the whole project is finished). But I’ll have files (documents, music, emails, etc.) tied to the project with no way to centralize them.

A solution would be the ability to drag files and emails onto a to-do entry and have them linked. I could then easily access any related materials through the to-do entry. Most of my life is in iCal. A central project manager is the missing link.

On the Mac end, iCal still has a long way to go, but it’s nice to see Apple Inc. is putting a lot of development into the next version for Leopard. With all the cool features of the new OS, it’s pretty strange that the ones I’m most looking forward to are iCal and the new Mail, which will integrate with iCal’s to-do list.

Month Note for iCal

Millions of people use calendar software to organize their lives. Maybe your assistant schedules your meetings in Microsoft Outlook, or you keep a personal iCal or Google Calendar at home, many of us would be lost without the virtually automatic organization of a PC calendar.

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