Andrew Breese

Musings of a professional geek

Tag Archives: Google

Sync Calendars between Lotus Notes, Outlook, and Google

For a while now I’ve been trying to sync my various work calendars, which run on three separate disconnected platforms: Lotus Notes (my current site), Outlook365 (my office), and Google (personal and phone). After trying an open source solution InGoogleCalSync which did half of what I wanted, I found a paid service called AweSync which is darn good – and worth talking about.

Essentially AweSync allows the calendar entries to be sync’ed both ways between Google’s calendar and Lotus Notes. It also syncs tasks and contacts, but I’ve not turned on that feature. The app is clever enough to understand that I have multiple Google calendars, and manage changes between them. The open source app was limited to one-way push, and events could not be edited in both places reliably, but AweSync handles this.

The Outlook calendar sync comes from the boilerplate MS Exchange config on the iPhone which supports contacts, tasks, events, etc. This means that events from my company are two-way sync’ed between Outlook and Google in one calendar, and events from my work site are sync’ed from  Lotus Notes to Google in another, and my third Google calendar is for personal information. I can see all these three sub-calendars now in Lotus notes, can tell by colour which is which, and also see an exact match on my mobile phone. Just like it should be when we try to have a central place to manage meetings and appointments – this small app and the darn large behemoth called Google have provided what I needed.

Awesync was a mongrel to setup due to the locked down permissions on my site computer, which essentially needed to be opened up so that it could run properly. The Support team from Awesync were wonderful, and it was their diligence in assisting me that really helped me decide to purchase it (USD$20).

So I still absolutely loathe Lotus Notes as an email and calendar application, but at least I can now manage my appointments properly.

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Goodbye LogMeIn, maybe Chrome can help?

LogMeIn are stopping their free product dead, effective now. As a user of the free version I’m affected, was unaware it was coming, but I’m not surprised. There are snarky posts and comments starting up all over, but on this choice I kind of agree with LogMeIn.

They’ve given away a reasonable product for free to a very large user base for around 10 years, and now they wish to be paid. There is a kind of grace period for the cutoff too, but that grace period is very short so won’t do much to dissuade the “freeloading” masses. As a freeloader I say meh. My usage was low and irregular enough that I’ll not be paying for the service, and that also means I am certainly not the type of user that LogMeIn wishes to continue to support for free. I’ve had a great run and it is time to cash up or leave.

It is a pity that the base cost is very high.  Superficially I think there is a lost opportunity for a pay-for-use option between the full yearly subscription and nothing. If it were more like a cup of coffee to use, and could be billed adhoc I’d give that some serious thought.

logmein-gone

SO yeah – the “important changes” are that its no longer there. Surprise. I’m uninstalling as I type.

As an alternative I’m first going to look at what Google Chrome Remote Desktop can do, and perhaps even think about a VNC type solution. And there is also TeamViewer which a lot of the LMI ex-users are talking about.

The regular rate of subscription is discounted for now, perhaps as a gesture of encouragement.

They’ve not really informed anyone in advance, and perhaps that was the strategy. There was never going to be a good reaction from the free users on taking away the product. So perhaps they cut them off quickly in the hope that their need for the product is urgent enough that they are kind of forced to pay for the product even if it is just until they get a replacement. But then the subscription is annual, so they’re locking in for a while.

Which reader post Google? Feedly wins

I’ve done the digging and reading (previous post), and I think it is darn hard to find a better offering than Feedly to replace Google’s Reader. It has a few niggling interface drawbacks, but I have not had he service miss a step since starting, and the others that I’ve tried have all had issues on up-time, or do not offer a comparable feature-set. Feedly wins.

myFeedly

Current Google Reader users have till end of June, then their world ends (cue dramatic thunderclap)

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Goodbye Google Reader

google-reader-cancelledGoogle Reader told me today that it is being turned off on July 1st 2013.  Well fark, that is less than fantastic.

The change affects a few other Google products which are also getting shutdown (techcrunch article src).  The list of also ending was a range of API type tools and some apps that I’d never heard of, and certainly not even close to the size and presence of Google’s RSS viewer.  I’ll be sorry to see Google Reader go because it is essentially what I looked for in an RSS app – simple interface, no overt plugs/ads, integrated to my other info, single login, with a few techie bells and whistles. A slashdotter said, and I agree:

I realize that Google Reader probably did not make enough money, and/or drive enough traffic, to justify its continued existence. But I spend more time on Google Reader than any other website, by a considerable margin, and I’ll miss it.

I’d even pay, if they offered it as a subscription service for a nominal fee.

I’d assume that it “failed” because the revenue was not there from the ads, and a business choice was made to stop giving away bandwidth and functionality for free. This closure opens opportunities for other dev shops to pick up the ball and get some new customers – paying customers. I think it will be easier now for another product to have a small fee for an RSS viewer now that G-Reader is ending. The consumer is being taught that obvious but awful lesson of how much we can really get for free.

Alas I will move my rss feeds – using the Google TakeAway tool to export the information, then import into a replacement.

The wise and venerable nerds on SlashDot (for whom I have only respect and true awe) have made a few recommendations for a replacement: The Old Reader and NewsBlur. I also already use a handy app called Feedly to read my google rss list on my mobile, so perhaps I’ll be set there.

As an overview to these apps:

The-Old-Reader The Old Reader – As a tool it looks to function in a very similar manner to Google Reader. Same clicky-paste subscribe, similar display options, and I’m going to continue to evaluate it as time goes on.

TOR also has a nice UI trick where an item is read once you have scrolled through it, which now that I use it make good sense. Clever folks.

I am suss that a product which Google could not fund, or did not want to carry forward could be replaced by another product and does not have a cost. Interesting.

NewsBlurNewsBlur – is a bit more of a clicky & graphical interface, and I had display issues when trialing it, and then import issues as well. But I’m OK with that – especially as their traffic must be going off the charts as all the Google Reader folks spin and smash new services.

They do offer some good ideas in terms of following and assigning your own tags, and also allowing priority or exclusion of keywords within subscriptions. Good idea there folks, but not at all the speed that ToR or G’s Reader.

feedly-logoFeedly had some of the same issues as NewsBlur when I tried to muck around with the Firefox plug-in, but a few refresh-reloads later and I have a single page view of feeds. Frankly I don’t like plug-ins much, and think it is a 3rd best option. Looks good in a long big screen, and very different from the mobile view.

In my initial test it displayed the generic information poorly and hung right, and a such I could not see how/where to get my Google Reader info into it. Fixed itself though.

Not to say that Feedly can be ignored though, as the interface on the iphone is darn good (I already use it), and they certainly have backing enough to be around in a years time.

Big call for this migration is to consider who will still be in business, as that is why I thought I’d try Google first. My mistake.

So which will win?

No bloody idea. They all have issues in performance now, and that will get better for a bit, then probably worse when all the extra users go over to them. I’d hedge that The Old reader is a good way to go first.

If you get any of them working properly, or have a passionate love or dislike for one, then let me know.

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Instagram and others – sell your stuff? Yep

No, Instagram can’t sell your photos: what the new terms of service really mean | The Verge.

The Verge has reasonable summary of the Intragram hype around the potential change of license, and the furor that it created within their community and in the wider communities who are concerned. The article is a reasonable and human readable presentation of what is going on in terms of Instagram, and will serve to act as a reminder to users of other services such as Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Google+ and all the other social aspects of online life. Heck Redit and 4Chan probably also have the capacity to sell posts and material too. Why shouldn’t they? What security did the users pay for? And what is the contractual financial penalty for a breech. Fundamentally not much.

When did everyone brutally decouple their brains and un-think enough, to the point where they though SHARING STUFF ON THE INTERNET WAS SAFE? Seriously.

These companies seek profit, and that means that if you are not the vendor or the customer, then you are the product. If you share material online using these tools then you better get used to it. You = Product.

Instagram has clarified the position so that they are not selling material as much as using it in segway type adds, but really its the same thing (and that might have changed since this writing this, due to community backlash). To me the idea that the company can do anything with my material makes me and my material a commodity.

Users need to moderate what they share online so that anytime a company decides to share/sell/market or even miss-use your material you are not sharing something you thought was private or unique. We should consider posting material to social sites to be the same as posting them on a billboard on the highway. The person chose to post it, and cannot control what happens after that.

Honestly I can’t believe the uproar because I though this was obvious from the start. Content aggregators have been trawling the internet for years already grabbing material, and unless you are very tricky and tech savvy, or very litigious, their aggregation methods will be successful.

What can users do? Well remove and delete things that you don’t want to share. Perhaps delete your account if you feel that strongly, but to be honest the damage might already be done for some material. Be smarter and make a choice from this point forward for each phrase, image, or file you share online.

This is hopefully a blinding flash that scares people into considering what they post before they post. Perhaps the breadth of the impact is enough to drive home the point about keeping your stuff private?

I really hope so. Remember… you are the product.

Trouble syncing google calendar to an iphone

I had a bit of trouble syncing my Google calendars (yes there are a few) with the iphone, and now that its working I thought it better to share the knowledge.

The problem I had was that my Google Calendar contained three separate sub-calendars, and two of them would sync, but the third would not. This mean that I could see all my data when I viewed the calendar on whatever browser, but opening the calendar on the setup iPhone was missing one.

The (TLDR) solution is to tell Google which devices it syncs from are meant to show which calendars. You do this by going to the two URLs and authorising the calendars individually.

To make the process even more odd, but logical behind the scenes the second URL is for syncing of mobile devices, and you need to authorise each sub-calendar on each device which may connect to it. This was the key step I was missing – i.e. I had setup sync for the browser, but not in the specific device and then for the sub-calendar.

Once I did that it worked fine. For a more verbose explanation and some side-detail continue reading below.

Viola!

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