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It's not new, but for the first time I've tried out Google's calendar application. I like it a lot, and not just for work. Barb and I both work full time. On top of that, I have the fire department work that keeps me busy with meetings and training; between my three kids we have school, tennis club, 3 soccer teams, karate, and Brownies. I travel about once a month, and Barb travels about twice a year. To keep up with just our family activities -- coordinating transportation for the kids mostly, requires a pretty extensive calendar.
In the past, we've used a white board calendar in the kitchen that Barb put together. It has four color listings covering the activities for each of us looking ahead about a month. It's full on every single day with at least two events. A computer based calendar would be great, but there are problems with using one. While Barb has Notes at home, she doesn't have it work. Her Exchange based calendar isn't realistically available for integration with a home schedule. I use Notes for mail and applications, but don't use the Calendaring features -- mostly because I have nobody else to exchange the data with
and find for one person it isn't an effective tool.
Google's calendar application took me about 15 minutes to learn, and within 30 minutes I'd created a shared Calendar with all the information on our white board and sent Barb a link and full access. This family calendar is distinct from my private one, and can be viewed as an overlay in a combined view or on it's own. It handles repeating events extremely well, and you can do pretty advanced things quickly. In one case, I hadn't realized I was adding items to my personal calendar instead of the shared family one. I was able to edit the event, and simply move it to the correct calendar without having to re-enter the information.
You can overlay not just your calendars, but other people's and even public ones. I quickly overlayed one of US Holidays. There are public calendars which list professional sports schedules, game software release dates, and other more obscure things.
I don't see any features I need that this doesn't offer. In fact, Lotus Agenda users will rejoice at seeing the "Quick Add" feature in use. As you can see in the picture, a plain text entry point allows you to add items to your schedule without any hard work at all. I used this quite a bit, even using multiple dates for repeating events.
Notifications to cell phones, email address, and other features make it very powerful. I especially like that a brief "Agenda" will automatically display and stay updated on my customized Google home page, along side the news feeds and blogs I keep up with. The agent can also be sent to you each day by email.
Overall, I'm finding this extremely easy to interact with. It is a truly unobtrusive way to work and because it is integrated into my normal home page, works in real time between my laptop and my workstation with an update process. With Lotus Notes version 7.02 support for iCal, I should even be able to subscribe so that my Notes client can pick up these Calendar entries as well when I replicate -- then I can sync them to my cell phone.
For my next steps, I plan to introduce this to the people I work with, so that I have shared Calendars related to Penumbra, Cumberland Fire Department, Client project teams, etc. By overlaying these calendars, each of us can have just what we need to see ready at our fingertips. A one-click toggle adds or removes an overlayed calendar from your current view from the list of all calendars you subscribe to so it's never too cluttered.
I can see where I'll be using this as part of daily routine - and that makes it the first calendar tool I've ever been comfortable enough with to say that. I've had so much success, that I'm going to take a look at the ToDo list application from Google next.
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