Surrendering To Google Calendar

I surrender!

I tried to make Google Calendar work the way I want to work, but it just won’t. Instead of fighting against it, I’m reversing course and doing my best to work with it.

What I Wanted

A little while back, I decided that I needed to start archiving data by year1. I still want it searchable, etc. but I don’t need live sync of my 2004 calendar data to my BlackBerry. As such, I made the choice to create a couple different calendars, and create a new one of each every year.

This is what I wanted. Nice annually archived calendars of home, work, etc. Google Calendar does not agree with me.

Giving in to the Default Calendars

I’ve still got my annual calendars for years prior to 2008, but in 2008 I gave in and started using the Default calendar as my personal calendar for 2008 data. Google wants to do everything in the default calendar and using a different calendar as the primary is death by 1000 paper cuts.

My plan is to export this data at the end of the year and import it into a 2008 archival calendar. I’ve got some basic scripts for this and nearly a year to fix up any minor issues that still remain in them if I need to.

Personal and Google Apps Calendars

At Crowd Favorite we are using Google Apps for our calendaring system. This means I’ve got two different :scare: Default :/scare: calendars; one in each system (personal and business). While this works well for the most part, it also introduces some limitations around mobile (SMS) integration.

Sync, Alarms and Notifications

With the arrival of Google Sync, my BlackBerry calendar and my Google calendars are wonderfully up-to date with over the air sync. You can even choose which calendars you want to sync. There are, of course, some limitations.

The main limitation is the attaching of alarms to events in the BlackBerry calendar. This happens for the Default calendar in the account you are syncing2, but it does not attach alarms to events in other calendars you are syncing.

The mobile/SMS integration is another issue. Since you can only register your mobile with one of your calendars (regular Google Calendar or Google Apps Calendar), you can only receive SMS notifications and create events via SMS for one calendar or the other.

Here’s my workaround:

I’ve decided to keep my personal Google account as the primary sync account, so I get BlackBerry alarms on my personal appointments and can create personal appointments directly on the BlackBerry.

I then disassociated my mobile from my personal Google account and attached it to my Google Apps account instead. Now I get SMS notifications for my business appointments and I can create business appointments via SMS. These appointments then appear in my BlackBerry calendar with the next OTA sync.

This all works, but I really wish I’d set it up in reverse. Kind of a hassle to change it now, but I probably will at some point.

Desktop Integration

I do enjoy sync vs. subscription, however I’m giving Spanning Sync a little while longer to get the kinks out before I give them another shot. For now, my method of subscribing to my Google Calendars in iCal through my Alarm-It script is working well enough.


Anyone else have any good tips and tricks I should be considering? The comments are open.

  1. I also do this with my e-mail now. [back]
  2. My personal calendar in my case. [back]