May 8, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Google Calendar colors a CNET reporter's day

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All three offer the ability to view the calendar in day, week and month modes by default. Yahoo and Microsoft also offer year views, and Google offers a "next four days" view, which is arguably more useful than viewing the whole year without any events listed. Google has a unique and very handy display function that lets users highlight any number of days or weeks in a monthly calendar thumbnail on the left-hand side to change the main calendar display to show only those days. With Yahoo and Microsoft, users have to click an arrow to navigate through to the next day, week or month, which can be tedious.

Google also offers an agenda view that lets users see a running list of events on the calendar, and Microsoft offers separate views for tasks and for notes. Yahoo lets people create a list of tasks that are seen on the main calendar view on the left-hand side.

That seemingly small feature turned out to be very important to me. It's the digital equivalent to the yellow Post-it notes for ongoing tasks that I migrate through my print date book every week. And if you ever saw my desk, you'd understand how important Post-it notes are to me. They serve as a constant reminder of things I need to do, like train for the triathlon, renew my passport and take care of long overdue e-mails and phone calls. Having it easily viewable there every time I look at my calendar will, theoretically, improve the chances that I will actually get those things done.

Google and Yahoo also allow users to search for events in the calendar by keyword through a search box on the main page, which Microsoft doesn't. Google let me search the Web for events I might want to add to my calendar, although the search is only as good as the events listed. For example, a search for "DJ" and "San Francisco" turned up 47 items, many of which looked useful, whereas a search for "belly dance" in the same city turned up zero items--though I know of a bunch of belly dance events in the city (don't ask why).

And Google Calendar is integrated with Gmail so that when I receive an e-mail that mentions dates and times for an event, I can click an "add to calendar" button and it will automatically add the event to my Google Calendar. Neither Yahoo nor Microsoft offers that function, although accepting a meeting request in Outlook will automatically put it in Microsoft's Calendar, a representative said.

What Google probably does best is offer the ability to share calendars with others. Not only could I create different calendars for myself--one for work, one for travel and another for personal events--but I could also combine those calendars, along with outside public calendars and calendars from friends, all into one view. A user can hide or show any of the different calendars at any time by clicking boxes next to a list of them. This is very handy for when I don't want my friend's crazy yoga schedule littering my work-related calendar view.

Google Calendar solves a problem that has plagued me and my friend for months. Instead of e-mailing back and forth or conducting long and confusing phone conversations about when we are both free to go to Harbin Hot Springs for the weekend, we can now go to a Web browser and quickly see that that trip (unfortunately) won't be possible until next month at the earliest.

See more CNET content tagged:
calendar, Google Inc., appointment, event, Yahoo! Inc.

14 comments

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Public Calendars
One feature the author didn't mention was the numerous public calendars available, for such things as sporting events for your favorite team or sport.
Posted by Galley (55 comments )
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Message has been deleted.
Posted by tom_trumba (1 comment )
Link Flag
Public calendars from DateDex.com
Thanks to Galley for pointing this out. At DateDex.com all events can be uploaded directly to Google Calendar (and Outlook, Sunbird, iCal). We also have a list of public calendars to subscribe to, in a number of categories.
Hope you find DateDex useful.
Posted by DDNigel (1 comment )
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SMS notification on my cell phone is not working
From Gmail calendar, SMS notification to my cell phone is not yet working, despite my online account says, it's setup correctly. Did any one else have similar problems?
Posted by auto1234 (13 comments )
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Widen your sample
It's a shame that C-Net (of all sites) should choose to just focus on the big guns and ignore the plethora of other calendar sites on the Net.

There are a number of excellent services around, my personal favourite being 30Boxes.com which has significantly greater functionality that google calendar... give it a roadtest and I'm sure you'd find it leaves Google in the shade (at least for as things stand now)...
Posted by neurotoxic (1 comment )
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OfficeZilla.com calendar, contact & file sharing
OfficeZilla GroupWare has free calendar, contact, and file sharing. It can keep you updated when you are not in it by email reminders and rss feeds.
Posted by georgescott (48 comments )
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OfficeZilla looks kinda clunky...
I read your comment and checked out OfficeZilla. In my opinion the site for it seems...clunky and unprofessional. It doesn't have aesthetic appeal to lure users--me included--in. But the site isn't the software! you say? Maybe it isn't, but the site is the all-important first impression. Users make a wide variety of judgement calls from your index page. My initial impression was that if the software was as aesthetically pleasing and functional as the website then it probably wouldn't be of any use to me. Just being honest here.
Posted by abeburnett (5 comments )
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Calendars
I went through the same three calendar juggling act the past three months and I also chose Google. Two major flaws with MSN Calendar that you failed to mention are: (1) No import/export feature (you must manually enter all of your upcoming dates and you cannot download the calendar to your PC); and, (2) Microsoft automatically deletes your dates that are over 90 days old- bottom line with Microsoft is that there is no way to archive your calendar. Yahoo lost out on the graphics and the inability to color-code your various calendars. Yahoo is also noticibly slower than Google.
Posted by jeffrey.jensen (2 comments )
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Did you check out Mediabee?
Interesting you concluded: "But I'll still be toting around my date book, because there's no compelling electronic calendar/address book/notebook replacement yet for this old-fashioned girl."

This is the essence of the problem; the reason why the vast majority of households still use wall calendars and day planners to coordinate household activities. Google and some of the newer calendaring solutions have solved some of the problems that plagued people who were already using computer-based calendars, but the real challenge is to bring all the non-users into the fold.

These average users want something that's as simple and functional as the wall calendar; they couldn't care less about drag-and-drop or the ability to share calendars- except with their own immediate family.

Mediabee solves that problem quite well for thousands.
Posted by mediabee (1 comment )
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With the massive database Google already collects
and stores PERMANENTLY on their networks, I would be EXTREMELY leary of providing more personal details (i.e. synch'ing my entire addressbook, calendar, et al) and waiting for the Feds to subpoena Google for the data is a massive sweep of weapons of mass eraction.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
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The best calendar, for me, costs a lot of money
I too live by the calendar, and have tried just about everything
available. In my case, I settled on Apple's iCal for its one feature
that sets it apart from everything else I have tested. When I add
or change something on my home or work computer, it
automatically updates my other computers plus the calendar on
my Nokia.

If I make additions or changes to the calendar on my phone, my
computers will grab the changes and sync the other when the
phone gets within bluetooth range.*

The downside is the need to subscribe to Apple's good, but
overpriced, dot mac service. Fortunately my company considers
it a reimbursable expense.

* via cron scheduled iSync.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
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