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All posts in Synchronization

Facebook. I’m not a huge fan-boy for many reasons. A few are: –

  • Their proprietary attitude to owning our life data.
  • Their desire to be a digital country  but without any enforcement of standards of acceptable free speech or not.
  • No I didn’t want you to go wild and tag me in all your photos – approval process DOH!
  • Dude. Security?

However, Facebook is only growing and has become the common platform for many of our communications both personal and business.

facebook

There is a lot going for Facebook beyond ubiquity and a huge market share. Ease of use, a wealth of applications and tools for doing all sorts of things.

Events. Events are neat, easy to use, robust, scalable and you get to choose which of your contacts are invited.

Yesterday one of the folks I follow on Twitter asked if anyone knew how to auto-sync Facebook Events with Google Calendar. I don’t know what surprised me more: that I hadn’t thought of that the hundreds of times I used the Events or that this wasn’t built into Facebook.

Is it good business sense for Facebook to allow Google, Hotmail, Yahoo Calendars etc to sync on the fly automatically for each of your events? Does this diminish the usability of Events within Facebook or my claim to “their  proprietary attitude to owning our life data”?

The fact is that giving users what they want can be good and bad: where do you draw the line?

To be fair, Facebook allows the export of individual events to Calendars but if you are a Calendar/ Event driven person then who needs the repetitive strain?

Anyhow, I searched for an easy solution finding a 3rd Party Application fbcal and a Greasemonkey script for Firefox. However, let me state I do not use Firefox. I test with it but will not keep it installed on my PC. I just don’t like it.

The cool folks at fbcal tweeted after seeing my link to them to me and my tweep offering an alternate host in case the original one was buggy.

image

Following this I decided to go back to the search engines and keep tweaking my search terms to see what I could find. I like the way that doing this can trigger all sorts of ideas in my head and I got to thinking about,

Wouldn’t it be nice if the Office Smart Tags worked for Web Page content via Internet Explorer?

Why don’t they? IE8 could have a neat accelerator for right-clicking recognized date and time data ADD TO OUTLOOK / LIVE CALENDAR.

Now this too is not auto-synchronization; the idea is that the user define which state of events in Facebook are on the fly transferred to their respective Web Calendar. Subsequent changes to content therein should be reviewed at any sync and changed according to user selection of options.

At the end of the day you have to ask yourself, why isn’t this a feature on Facebook?

At this time there is no indication that Facebook events will send SMS reminders to our mobiles as Google Calendar does.

So ask yourself these questions: –

  1. Can I get on-the-go, Real Time reminders to my cellular phone about appointments/ events?
  2. Can I sync to the calendar on my cellular phone?
Technorati Tags: ,GCal,,Smart Tags,
About 8 months ago my cellphone stopped working. I dutifully took the Nokia 6233 to my cellular provider and received it back as unfixable from the service center. They told me I could pay for another device for a reduced fee but as that phone was on a 3 year contract I decided simply to get another phone.
My brother had an unlocked Windows Mobile 2003 iMAte SP3i in an office drawer so he sent it over. The phone was by no means perfect but I was happy to have a working phone. He warned me this was a relatively old phone and might not last forever so perhaps I might want to consider a more permanent option.
With alink to his cellphone supplier in the UK I checked the site for details until a very nice MwG Windows Mobile phone went on sale. The company had 100 units and I made my order online. A week of emails and phone calls later I discovered the UK company would not honor an Israeli international Visa card nor would they use PayPal without receving so much personal info as to render the whole concept of PayPal redundant. By now all 100 units were gone. As you can imagine I was a little displeased by the experience.
Ideally I wanted to hold out for the Google Android phone from HTC but I needed to set myself a budget and a phone like that was more than I wanted to spend. meanwhile the stand-in phone, the iMate was becoming idiosyncratic to say the least. I bit the bullet and decided to try an Israeli e-commerce site for phones and ordered a nice Nokia slider with wifi and the trimmings.
The phone arrived unlocked but regardless it simply would not work with my Cellular provider, a defective unit but unfortunately the last one in stock of this model.
An email arrived from another UK phone supplier with a sale on a really gorgeous Windows Smart Phone. I made the order and it was confirmed. I had the phone shipped to my family for my brother in the UK to test (I was getting a little gunshy of the whole thing by now).
To cut a long story short I now have in my possession the Toshiba Portege G810 with Windows Mobile 6.1. It is a wonderful phone, clear reception and sound, excellent GUI similar to the HTC Windows interface and a plethora of goodies on the device.
The wait was worth it now I just have to deduplicate my Contacts from the old phone and sync the data.

My life is managed well by the technology I use. Sometimes there is an overlap or redundancy between two pieces of technology; often because of budget or my unwillingness to add unproven 3rd Party solutions to the mix.

Of course it is not enough to look at how I do things but how this works within my little family unit.

  • Our home PC is probably the central switchboard for all information: Outlook XP sits on Windows XP and my wife and I share an XP user and an email address for Outlook.
  • I sync my PDA (HP Pocket PC) to Outlook for Contacts, Appointments, Notes etc.
  • My wife and I each use GMail and GCal as our away from home PC switchboard.

Each appointment added to Outlook is also assigned to my GMail address so that it appears on my GCal which my wife can see. Likewise I can see hers. This way we are always able to see in one place all the family appointments.

So why use Outlook you ask? Not just because I like it and all the functionality and abilities it has but because I do run my life e.g. Job Hunting from my PDA and Outlook because they Sync together.

In an ideal world my PDA would be my cellular phone but I have a Nokia candy-bar and my wife has a Sony-Eriksson (I have larger fingers which just can’t manage the tiny space between those tiny Sony buttons) so we have Sync/ Backup software for our phones on the Desktop PC too.

I don’t Sync my cellular phone but I do backup the information therein.

Ultimately the R&D teams in Google and Microsoft should be competing to fully integrate Synchronization with Web Services like GMail/ Hotmail or GCal. The first to market value would make this a killer app in my mind.

Of course the user can just use the mobile browser to login to these web services but the advantages of having a synchronized local copy for offline work are immeasurable.

So I am dreaming or hoping that the Google Phone will know how to seamlessly synchronize with GMail, GCal and any other Google Services; that an onboard Google Toolbar will index new entries/ changed entries on the fly so that Google Phone Search incorporates my local contacts, local mail and local appointments.

I am hoping that Google doesn’t cop-out on me and settle for desktop icons on the phone to each service.

I guess I just have to wait and see.

Technorati Tags: ,,GCal,,,,,,,,