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Old 11-23-2008, 03:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
vinmontRD
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I'm glad to hear this is working for you. It *is* a valuable service. I've managed to avoid making a decision still, as there are a few factors for me to consider.

First: regarding Vincent's comment to me back in July, some of the free services do, in fact, seem to have an air of questionable reliability about them. ScheduleWorld sounds like a good idea, but I don't yet have the impression that it's 100% solid (although I could be wrong).

My own situation is this:

At work, I've converted our office to using Google Apps Premiere email (corporate GMail) as our server. Most people have Outlook as their client, with google calendar sync keeping Outlook's calendar in sync with the Google calendar. We can all see each other's public calendar items via the web interface. This solution, of course, doesn't address Contacts.

For those with Blackberry's or other compatible devices, google calendar sync mobile has worked just fine to keep the calendars in sync. I take it a step further, and plug my blackberry into my pc at home every night. This way my home Outlook calendar and address book sync with my blackberry. Between plugging in at home and running google calendar sync at home, on the blackberry and at work, my calendar views are all in sync. I use the IMAP4 interface for Google Apps GMail, so all three devices also have the same view of my work email account as well.

Again - the major piece that's been missing has been OTA contact sync. Google just released a new version of google calendar sync for the blackberry that syncs contacts to the cloud as well as calendars. Upcoming releases should remove the rough edges, and many already find it very usable. I'm guessing that we'll see a Windows version of google calendar sync soon that will sync contacts with Outlook as well - but of course that's speculation. If I really needed to full-blown solution today I'd probably pursue ThinkPost. But...

One more wrinkle to this -- After being Microsoft user for far more years than I care to admit, I finally got tired of griping about MS bloat-ware, and decided to seriously try some alternatives. There's a lengthy story about interesting open source software here, but I'll leave that aside and focus on email and PIM/PDA functions. I finally loaded up the latest version of Thunderbird, installed Lightning (calendar add-on) and the google calendar provider, and then added Zindus. Zindus syncs your Thunderbird contacts with Google contacts. Thunderbird, as it turns out, seems to be a FAR better IMAP4 client than Outlook 2007. It doesn't hang consantly the way Outlook does, and there are a number of add-ons for it as there are for Firefox, including numerous visual themes.

If I were to replace Outlook with Thunderbird / Lightning / Zindus at all my locations, and use the new google calendar/contact sync on my blackberry, with all email clients point to IMAP4, then my configuration would be complete. Another benefit - it would be a cross platform configuration as well on the desktop.

If I were committed to staying with Outlook, I'd probably concede that free contact sync with Outlook is not *quite* there yet, and if I needed it I'd probably use a 3rd party solution like ThinkPost. But I really do think we're very close to seeing a free solution across the board, probably from Google themselves...

- Jon
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