My Life with Google: Part II – Google Calendar
If you haven’t read my previous post on the Google Services, I posted it several days ago, you can read it here. I’d like to continue my discussion of Google Apps by discussing Google Calendar (GCal).Now, I haven’t had GCal nearly as long as Gmail, mostly because it didn’t exist until about a year ago (I think). I’ve only been using it myself since around September. Since then, though, I’ve discovered it to be one of the greatest of the Google tools. Not only is this your typical calendar, where you can add events and keep track of your life, you can also share these events with your friends. Now this may seem like a simple detail, but it essentially takes the place of websites such as Evite, or any of the other popular e-party invitation sites. It can also be as simple as confirming a get-together between friends, or a dinner with family. If they respond with yes, no, or maybe, you can more easily plan for what and who to expect. Now there’s also the ability to add, share, and search for additional calendars to add to your own. The way Google handles these additional calendars is by allowing them to be completely separate from your personal calendar, and checkable so that you can check whether you want it to be displayed or not. This could be quite useful for friends calendars and such where they may have a lot of events added to theirs as well, and you may only want to see what they’ve got going on occasionally. You can tell these apart from your other calendars by the color of the text. You select a color for the calendar, and their text displays in the color of your choosing. I mentioned that you can share and search for calendars, and by this I mean quite literally that you can share and search for calendars. You can allow your friends and family access to your calendar, giving them the ability to see what you have added to your calendar and essentially what you’ve got going on. The search capability can be quite useful. I’ll give an example to illustrate my point. I am an alumni of UNC Charlotte (who’s Computer program is recognized by the Department of Defense — a sidenote =) and still have friends who attend the university. I am interested in the school’s calendar and what date’s the semesters end and such because I can more easily keep up with my friends by knowing this. It would be useful for me to have these dates on my own personal calendar that I can view whenever I want, with very little effort–checking of a box, aamof. So how did I achieve this, you ask, without having to put tons of effort into entering and editing the calendar myself? Well, I logged into my GCal, and clicked Settings > Calendars > and Add Calendar at the bottom of the window. By typing in UNC Charlotte as my search string, I got 128 results. By the descriptions I could tell that most of them are not what I’m looking for, but the one labeled UNCC Academic Calendar, that’s the one that will get the job done. I add this calendar to my collection and select the green that most closely resembles our school color and I can now view the school dates any time I like. Nifty, eh?! I’d say so. One of the most wonderful things about this GCal is it’s reminders. I’ve set things up in such a way that when there’s a chance I may forget an event, I have it send me a reminder, usually a day in advance. Now, I don’t spend quite all of my time in front of a computer, though some of my friends may argue that point, I do in fact spend a nice chunk of my time at a computer. The majority of that time, I have my gmail open, so I check it way more frequently than I probably should. This has proven a perfect way to have setup my life, if you will. As long as I check my e-mail with some frequency, I will know what I have scheduled for the days, weeks, etc. GCal will even send you a daily agenda, if you so wish, though I find this to be a bit redundant, because I will certainly remember the days I have to work, and other consistent events that I have added to my calendar. I recently decided to try out a service called Remember the Milk (RTM). This is a description of their service, in their own words:
Managing tasks is generally not a fun way to spend your time. We created Remember The Milk so that you no longer have to write your to-do lists on sticky notes, whiteboards, random scraps of paper, or the back of your hand. Remember The Milk makes managing tasks an enjoyable experience.
Something I’d like to mention is RTM’s ability to integrate seamlessly into GCal. You can add the RTM calendar to your GCal and a little checkmark will appear above each day, which you can click and add different tasks to for that day. It’s quite useful, if only I could remember to keep up with RTM, my tasks wouldn’t have to be stored in memory (my personal memory).If you can’t already tell, I’m particularly enthusiastic about the Google Apps, and have been for quite some time now. Next time, I’ll discuss the Google App, Documents & Spreadsheets, and how much easier this could make your life. If you’ve enjoyed my take on GCal or Gmail, please let me know by leaving a comment, or just leave a comment anyway, whether you liked it or not, ’cause I know I’d sure like it. =D