Making sense of Google Calendar…

Google Calendar overview

First off, I am concerned about Google’s pervasiveness in almost all aspects of our online life. In particular, now that we have Google Calendar, I do feel sad for the other players in the calendaring space. I’m talking about the feature-rich 30 Boxes, the ever so pretty Kiko, the functionalist CalendarHub, and many others I failed to recall. If you’re interested, here’s a quick Alexa chart I did comparing their traffic rankings. 30 Boxes’ dominance is about to get trumped! In any case, besides the typical things you find on most online calendars, I found Google Calendar to have one unique feature and a bad quirk which I found a workaround for.

Unique Feature: Event Publishing
Google Calendar ReminderI found “sharing an individual event on your site” particularly interesting. Effectively, this meant creating an event button on your site/blog and allowing users to simple do a “one-click” add to their calendars and get reminded of the event. Google has shows us how to code these web buttons to make them work the way we want over here.

Bad Quirk: iCal calendar importing problem
While sharing public calendars might not be new, Google offers the slick ability to search for them. From my initial attempts at adding calendars from search, I found that some do not load. Either the calendar has since been removed by the owner, or the resulting calendar is an a particular iCal format that is incompatible. Rather than to import a public calendar directly from a public web address (e.g. .mac), try downloading the calendar as .ical first to your desktop by replacing the webcal:// to http://. For example:
Turn webcal://ical.mac.com/djlicata/UB32Academic32Calendar.ics
into http://ical.mac.com/djlicata/UB32Academic32Calendar.ics

After that, you can go into Google Calendar > Settings (top right corner) >Import Calendar tab and import your downloaded .iCal easily into Google Calendar.

Ideas for Google Calendar
The first thing you’d want to do is to add your national holidays. Follow this with adding your institiution’s academic and business calendars if you have any. Since we all have Google accounts, I’m pushing for ETC to use Google Calendar for our organizational management. Some ideas I have include:
1. Creating a public calendar for ETC workshops and events
2. Privately share ETC classroom and conference room bookings with staff
3. Share work schedules with one another

If you have more discoveries or ideas, do share!

UPDATE: Read/Write Web has a great table showing how Google almost has an entire deck in the Web Office space. Check it out!

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