May 8, 2006 4:00 AM PDT
Google Calendar colors a CNET reporter's day
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Sharing our Google Calendars was easy. We just typed in each other's e-mail addresses and it sent us invites. Anyone can share, not just Gmail users. Forget who is speed dial No. 1 on my cell phone; sharing a calendar with someone shows where they really stand in my personal hierarchy.
After a confusing start, I was able to share a Yahoo Calendar with a colleague. But I had a harder time finding a Hotmail or Windows Live Mail beta user to swap calendars with. Then I had a difficult time synchronizing my real-world schedule with that of a Microsoft representative so we could figure out how to share online calendars. When we finally did get on the phone to do it, we both got error messages saying that the sharing feature was "currently unavailable."
So much for that.
I saw a few things that could be improved in Google Calendar. For instance, it allowed me to send event invites to friends for a date that had already passed. I didn't notice that the date was wrong until I happened to open up the event in my calendar and see that one of the friends had responded and pointed out my error. It should alert me if I accidentally try to input something for a date that has passed. And I'd like to get an alert or somehow be notified when a friend responds to an invite to an event.
Google and Yahoo calendars also let users set the system to send them alerts via e-mail and mobile phone, while Microsoft lets people send reminders only via e-mail, which is the method I chose to receive all the alerts. In the Microsoft reminders, the text was so small that I could barely read the details, and clicking on the "view details" button did nothing. The Google Calendar alerts can be set to be displayed in pop-up windows too. Google Calendar sent me an alert one day notifying me of a meeting at 2 p.m., but it didn't specify that the meeting was for the following day, which would have been helpful. A Google representative said the company is addressing that issue.
I also was able to search on outside event database sites for items to add to my calendars, such as from Trumba.com and, for Google and Yahoo, Eventful.com. It was easy to export events to Yahoo Calendar from Upcoming.org, which Yahoo acquired last year.
I'm exhausted maintaining these calendars. While they all did the job, I think I'll keep using Google Calendar because of its ease of use, customization and sharing advantages. 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.
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