Jan 032013

Today, I missed that a meeting that I run was about to start, because while all the other attendees knew about it, it wasn’t on my calendar for this week. It’s a biweekly meeting, and my calendars show it as happening next week.

This is not a new problem. It’s not even a rare one. Calendar sync is a problem that has continued to almost uniformly suck beyond words since people first started carrying gadgets around. Interestingly, it seems to have gotten worse, rather than better. Problems with my calendar being out of sync were rare back in the days I was carrying a PalmPilot around, syncing it using the good-old-trusty HotSync┬« protocol and a cradle. Nowadays, though, it seems to be the norm for my calendars to be entirely out of whack.

This is, of course, probably because I expect my calendars to be accurate in more places. Web apps, my iPhone, my iPad, two desktop computers, and a laptop. I use them all to update calendar information. Perhaps I need to give up on this expectation and hope, and just use one gadget for all my calendar information from now on.

I shouldn’t have to do that, though. This shouldn’t be an impossible problem to solve, especially since the information is being maintained on a server.

I’m tired of not being able to trust my calendar to be correct. Why hasn’t this been solved yet? I’ve been using electronically synchronized devices to keep track of my schedule for almost 20 years now (I started with a Newton MessagePad 110 in 1994). There’s no reason why this should continue to be so frustrating after all this time.

I’d appreciate tips on what you do to reduce these problems!

 Posted by at 11:54 AM

  4 Responses to “My kingdom for calendar sync that works”

  1. Bringing your data everywhere is great, but the way we do it now requires setup. And unfortunately, that setup grows with the number of devices you use. It does not have to be this way.

    Desktop computers are great when you want to sit at a desk and be productive. Laptops are great for travel. Mobile phones are great for getting things done on the go.

    We uses these different devices because they have different form factors, not because they have different data stores. And they do not have to.

    What if data and form factor were truly decoupled? What if you could simply plug your data into different devices as needed? We can already use one CD in different form factors — a home stereo system, a car stereo, a computer — why can we not do the same with computer data?

    Enter KT. They have the right idea, and I would be surprised if we do not ultimately adopt it across market.


  2. I’ve been on a similar search for anything that will sync
    (read and write) across Outlook (at work) and Thunderbird/Lightning
    (at home). I haven’t found an adequate solution yet. My initial
    attempts with Google Calendar (including importing via CalDAV
    resulted in numerous errors). Most calendar services (even paid
    ones) don’t seem to support syncing. They are often web only with
    no support for offline viewing and editing. If they do support
    syncing it is usually for Outlook only, and there isn’t the same
    level of conflict resolution that we expect from IMAP for email or
    even file syncing services. One suggesting I read was to save the
    calendar data on a file syncing service (such as Dropbox) and run
    Lighting or Sunbird on every computer. That wouldn’t work so well
    for phones though.

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  4. Admittedly, I’ve not tried using recurring events with my
    setup, but what I generally use is Google Calendar as my main
    online calendar; Lightning/Provider for Google Calendar in
    Thunderbird on my Win and Mac machines; iOS and Android native
    calendar apps simply pointed to Google Calendar as well. Seems to
    work ok for me…