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Preview: Calendar Swamp

Calendar Swamp

If we're ever going to share calendars, we have to insist on interoperability between them all. Let's drain the swamp!

Last Build Date: Thu, 26 Apr 2018 11:58:00 PDT


Q&A: Ronald Tse, founder of Ribose, co-host of CalConnect's Hong Kong event, April 18-22

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 14:00:04 PDT

CalConnect XXXVI is just 12 days away. It's a special event -- the first CalConnect event in Asia. Previous events took place in North America and Europe. This month's event is April 18-22 in Hong Kong.Since I am chair of the CalConnect board, I thought it would be informative to post a brief Q&A with Ronald Tse, founder of Ribose, which is the co-host of the event, along with Hong Kong's Office of the Government Chief Information Officer (OGCIO). I also encourage you to consider attending if you want to get in on the ground floor of advancing calendaring and scheduling interoperability in Asia as well as the rest of the world. It should be one of CalConnect's most memorable events yet.With that, here is my Q&A with Ronald Tse.Calendar Swamp: Please briefly tell me who you are and what Ribose does.Ronald Tse: I am Ronald Tse, founder and CEO of Ribose, one of the two co-hosts of the 36th CalConnect conference in Hong Kong. My passion and background is in computer science, having received both masters and bachelors degrees from Brown University in this field.Ribose is a secure cloud collaboration platform used by organizations worldwide in industries that need to share and work with highly confidential and sensitive information, such as in pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and engineering.Calendar Swamp: What does it mean to Ribose to host the first-ever CalConnect meeting in the Far East?Ronald Tse: This is the first time CalConnect is being held in Asia, and this event aims to make CalConnect a truly global organization. I still remember the day we first talked and you, as the chairman of CalConnect, discovered our existence and invited us to join as CalConnect's first Asian member. We really appreciated that and can't express enough of our gratitude. Especially since we have now discovered the benefits of working with calendar standards. From the very beginning, our aim is not only to bring the conference to Asia, but to link up Asian tech organizations with CalConnect the organization, to improve calendaring for the Asian population. This is exactly the expectation [CalConnect Executive Director] Dave Thewlis had when we joined. And I'm happy to say that we have fulfilled at least part of the promise 3 years after joining.Many people know of the CalDAV and iCalendar standards, including ourselves before we joined. However, what people don't realize is how accessible these standards are. If anyone is doing anything about calendaring or scheduling, be it delivery schedules, manufacturing schedules, or travel itineraries, it would be of massive benefit of everyone to implement these according to standards developed through CalConnect. We want to share this experience with other organizations that have not yet had the right exposure and encouragement especially in our part of the world.CalConnect has a very established following in the U.S. where it originated and where the technology heavyweights are based. CalConnect is now also successful in Europe with an annual event there every year. With Asia's technology industry maturing at full speed, we want to make sure our region understands the benefits of these standards provide, or so to speak, how to stand upon shoulders of giants.Calendar Swamp: How is use of calendars and schedules different in Asia than it is in the West? And how is it similar?Ronald Tse: While Asia holds the world's largest population by far, it is also houses the most diverse set of cultures. Chinese and Indian calendar systems date back to ancient times. Similar to the Western world, historically being mainly agrarian societies, the calendar is most useful for farming schedules.However, the significance of the calendar doesn't stop there: since the calendar touches everybody intimately, in certain cultures there is the concept of the calendar era, with each new ruler naming a new calendar era which the year one starts over again, signifying change. This tradition is still kept in Japan and to some extent in Taiwan today.Speaking from personal experience, in the Chinese and Korean cultures, p[...]

CalConnect Web site relaunched

Sat, 30 Jan 2016 10:13:26 PST

Very pleased to announce the relaunch of, now based upon the modern Drupal content management system. I acted as CalConnect project manager for this reboot. If you're reading this post at your desk, check it out on a mobile device too!(image)

Some good news from CalConnect XXXV

Thu, 14 Jan 2016 16:24:44 PST

Nearly seven months after my last post here, I have a couple of pieces of good news on the calendar sharing front, and they both concide with CalConnect XXXV, taking place this week at AOL in Palo Alto. It's an event which allows me once again to hang out with a bunch of really smart folks imagining tomorrow's calendar and schedule-sharing technology.

First, I've learned that the Apple iCalendar/iCloud search limitation I encountered and blogged about during my "ten years" post has been resolved. That is, my iOS devices are now storing ALL my Apple iCalendar entries, not just one year's worth. That means that I can now search through events as far back as February 2007! My previous workaround was to export this data as an .ICS file and then import it into a Google Calendar, a kludge I was not crazy about for a number of reasons.

Why this was a problem seven months ago must remain a mystery. I am pretty sure it wasn't user error (me). Maybe there had been a bug in Apple iCalendar back then, which has since been resolved.

Second, I am leading the team to relaunch CalConnect's Web site by the end of this month. The work underway looks very promising, and among other things, it's allowing me to become a modest user of the Drupal content management system, which is a skill I've long wanted to sharpen. Stay tuned to Calendar Swamp for news of the CalConnect Web site relaunch! Kudos to CalConnect for giving me this opportunity to make a contribution to this community, rather than just ranting about things in general on this blog.(image)

10 years of Calendar Swamp

Tue, 16 Jun 2015 12:03:20 PDT

10 years later, it still feels like January in the road to interoperable calendars and schedules.

There has been some progress, but still mostly inside new calendar silos, as opposed to the kinds of standards that made email the success (and ubiquitous pain) that it is. Love it or hate it, you know how email works and you just use it. Calendar sharers should be so lucky.

I never did get a way to seamlessly share Windows and Macintosh calendar information. Ten years ago, I wasn't using Microsoft Outlook. Today, I see all its warts, the way it shares meeting invitations with my iPhone but doesn't display the same information as the Outlook client does.

My five+ years of iPhone appointments are automagically backed up to iCloud, but when I load my calendar on iCloud, I can't search it. Meanwhile, my iOS devices only display calendar entries going forward or up to one year back. If I want to search all five years, I have to export the calendar as an .ics file to a Google Calendar, and then I'm acutely aware that Google is reading my calendar over my shoulder. It's their business model. (Oh, or I could buy a Mac. That's a high price to pay just to search some calendar entries.)

Meanwhile, my Outlook calendar remains tethered to Outlook, a truly terrible piece of email software which every company on the planet wants to abandon -- probably including Microsoft at this point. I use non-Outlook email for a variety of reasons. It's way too complicated to try to schedule something that way, so I always end up asking folks to send me Outlook calendar invites. And then they're using my Outlook email address, making maintenance of that email box a small nightmore.

What was true 10 years ago remains true now: If the public doesn't demand calendar and schedule interoperability, liberating calendaring from hardware and email platforms, vendors won't deliver it for them. The loss of productivity of all that calendaring and scheduling being done in email silos on siloed platforms remains incalculable.

Let the second 10 years of draining the Swamp commence!

Thank you loyal readers - truly you are the advance guard of fed-up calendar enthusiasts who have inspired me repeatedly over the past 10 years. And if you feel like helping, demand your technology suppliers join CalConnect, the only group on the planet trying on a worldwide scale to make a truly interoperable ecosystem of calendars and schedules. Not only could CalConnect's work make the average worker feel more productive, it could also sort out many event-related aspects of the Internet of Things, the Smart Grid, healthcare systems, and other use cases too numerous to mention.

Disclosure: I remain CalConnect's chairman of the board, and intend to stand for re-nomination to the board, for another three-year term, later this summer.

Next Wednesday: Panel on the future of calendaring and scheduling in San Jose

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 11:47:41 PST

I have eagerly accepted an invitation to participate in a panel on the future of calendaring and scheduling next Wednesday, January 28, 2015, from 4:15 to 5:45pm in San Jose at CalConnect XXXII in San Jose, California. I would love to have a Calendar Swamp reader or two there. But you must contact me right away at (510) 473-5077 if you would like a complementary pass to attend the panel session, as the room is nearly full.
Regular conference registration is also available at the CalConnect Web site. January 26-30 is the 10th anniversary meeting of CalConnect, including a three-day interoperability test event followed by a two-day deep-dive conference. I plan to attend as much of the event as I can.

As current chair of the CalConnect board of directors, I am proud of the work this group is doing to drain the swamp.

Pictured, left to right: Gary Schwartz, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and president of the CalConnect board of directors; Scott Mace, Calendar Swamp; and Mike Douglass, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Fifth Recipient of CalConnect's Distinguished Service Award. Photo taken May 23, 2014 in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, after the conclusion of CalConnect XXX.

Conference room hoarding

Sun, 18 Jan 2015 19:12:37 PST

Just because we might be able to share our schedules -- and those of shared resources such as conference rooms -- doesn't mean that our work colleagues always reserve just enough of those resources for their needs. Conference room hoarders were the topic of a Wall Street Journal story published on October 15, 2014.(image)

I am now chairman of the board of directors of CalConnect

Sat, 26 Jul 2014 13:38:10 PDT

As of this month, I've been elected chairman of the board of directors of CalConnect. My additional duties consist primarily of running the organization's conference calls, which include twice-a-month strategic planning calls. Readers of Calendar Swamp know I am in the third year of a three-year term on CalConnect's board of directors.

I am always happy to answer questions here or offline about what CalConnect is doing to promote calendar and schedule interoperability, or better yet, visit the CalConnect Web site, consider joining the organization, and participating in its conferences. Registration for CalConnect XXXI, September 29-October 3 in Bedford, England, is now open.(image)

Year 10 of the Calendar Swamp

Tue, 08 Jul 2014 13:51:35 PDT

As this Calendar Swamp blog enters its tenth year, I continue to see Web sites and apps strive to reinvent calendaring, scheduling and meetings, but scant little real progress toward connecting the calendars we already have on our personal devices. As the Internet of Things rolls out, interoperability remains a crying need. Too often, the answer is to enter the Apple silo or the Google silo or the Microsoft silo and try to work things out in there. But more than ever, no one platform dominates. Open source doesn't appear to offer any near-term or long-term solutions. Standards, such as those promoted by CalConnect (full disclosure: I am entering the third year of a three-year term serving on the organization's board) offer some help, but without the active adoption of those standards by all important stakeholders (I'm talking to you, Microsoft), our calendars remain the roach motel of information: data goes in but doesn't come out.

Nevertheless, I shall maintain this blog as long as it is necessary. Given the recent scandal that shook the Department of Veterans Affairs, it is evident that calendaring and scheduling is, for some, a matter of life and death. That is reason enough to press on.(image)

CalConnect XXX Workshop Preview

Tue, 13 May 2014 12:35:16 PDT

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William Smith, CEO of MedRed, and I discuss the upcoming May 21 workshop at AOL in Reston, Virginia organized by CalConnect, the Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium, of which I am a board member. The topic of the workshop, and this conversation, is the VA's effort to improve patient scheduling. Last year, Medred led a team that won a VA contest to develop technology to achieve this. The implications go far beyond the walls of the VA and can enhance healthcare delivery throughout the industry. The May 21 workshop is open to the public, but registration is required.(image)

Workshop on VA Scheduling System contest, May 21, 2014 in Reston, Virginia

Mon, 12 May 2014 09:56:43 PDT

As a follow-on to the column I wrote last year about the Department of Veterans Affairs and its recent contest to improve scheduling in its VistA electronic health record system, I am participating in a CalConnect workshop on this effort, to be held on May 21. I will lead a panel discussion featuring stakeholders from government, software development, the open source community, CalConnect, and possibly others. There is no charge to attend the workshop, although registration is required. Please join me in Reston, Virginia on May 21 for what should be a memorable workshop and a milestone in calendar and schedule interoperability and the role it can play in improving the nation's healthcare.(image)

My first column about calendaring and scheduling in healthcare

Wed, 20 Nov 2013 15:33:33 PST

My day job at HealthLeaders Media keeps me very busy, as does serving on the board of directors of CalConnect, the Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium.

Now all this has intersected with the interests of the Calendar Swamp community, and the first result is a column, Why e-Scheduling May be Healthcare's Most Valuable App. Please check it out.(image)

What is consensus scheduling? Workshop tomorrow!

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 15:57:39 PST

What is consensus scheduling? Something very useful in widespread use around the Web today, but that needs to be baked into every digital calendar. I will be live-blogging this event tomorrow at the CalConnect XXVI meeting in Santa Clara. Look for posts using the Twitter hashtag #ConsensusScheduling.(image)

Google sinks Calendar Sync

Fri, 14 Dec 2012 14:32:19 PST

A small cottage industry grew up around Google Calendar Sync, but that's all history, now that Google has announced it is discontinuing Google Calendar Sync. The details are here.(image)

Feudal calendar sharing

Tue, 11 Dec 2012 11:02:33 PST

Substitute "calendar and schedule sharing" for "security" in this Bruce Schneier opinion piece and you'd have a fine Calendar Swamp post.(image)

Bye-bye, Tungle

Sat, 20 Oct 2012 13:05:21 PDT

From TechCrunch in September: RIM To Shut Down Tungle.Me, Team Will Focus On BlackBerry 10 Calendar App. Read the comments to get a glimpse of some startups who may fill the gap.(image)

Mobile phone "fixes" frustrate consumers

Thu, 23 Aug 2012 12:13:43 PDT

This story from June shouldn't surprise anyone: People Frustrated With Online Smartphone 'Fixes'.

As mobile carrier growth slows, there are only a few directions this can go. One, hopefully, would be more attention to better product quality, including listening more to what customers want.(image)

TonidoPlug: Platform for a low-cost calendar server?

Sun, 12 Aug 2012 12:44:44 PDT

I'm still looking for a low-cost, low-power, quiet calendar server, and may have found a candidate: the Tonido Plug. Click around until you can read about Tonido Workspace, which includes a PIM. No mention of CalDAV or other calendar-sharing capabilities, but if the platform takes off -- and it has some rave reviews -- I'm sure one could be built. Not sure it has much momentum though. Maybe this will help.(image)

State of the Calendar Swamp 2012: I join the CalConnect board

Thu, 09 Aug 2012 11:41:33 PDT

The purpose of this blog (now more than seven years old) has been to promote awareness of the state of calendar interoperability. It is my passion and privilege to be the nexus for demands by the public at large for progress on this front. I can tell you that interoperable calendaring can make a big difference in the productivity of individuals, groups, and society as a whole. As a salaried employee of HealthLeaders for the past five months, I can attest to the utility of siloed calendars when all involved are using them -- in this case, the Microsoft Outlook/Exchange calendaring system. (I had not been a daily Outlook user until this gig.) But there are other rich calendar-sharing platforms: iCloud, Google Calendar, and others. The problem remains that these systems are not playing well enough together to really propel widespread adoption and use of calendaring as a communciation tool, rather than just an email file attachment whose contents get poured into personal productivity tools.Last week, as part of my HealthLeaders work, I was in New York talking with a chief medical officer about matters unrelated to calendaring, but she happened to ask me what my other interests where, and I mentioned Calendar Swamp. The executive seemed truly excited to learn that others feel the pain of trying to achieve seamless calendar sharing, and that those of us out there who read this blog are trying to make a difference. She complained about how her organization's medical practice management software contained its own calendar component, but was not open enough to allow sharing of calendar data from that system with physicians' own personal calendaring data.The story repeats itself in industry after industry, but my current job allows me to see just how critical calendar interoperability can be to helping solve the healthcare mess the U.S. finds itself in. Certainly a lot of other things need to happen to fix healthcare, but it's no surprise to me that executives in this industry can be just as passionate about looking for calendar-sharing solutions as the rest of us.With all this in mind, I was honored recently to be nominated for a three-year term on the board of directors of CalConnect, the Calendaring and Scheduling Consortium. I accepted eagerly and began my term of office last month. It will continue through July 2015. I've written about CalConnect numerous times. It brings together all the important vendors in this space, and has deep roots in academic institutions who have taken a leadership role in calendar standards and adoption of those standards.The work of CalConnect is challenging. The participants receive various forms of support from their employers for this work, and HealthLeaders has also been supportive, but for me this is something I have to squeeze in on top of, not instead of, my usual senior technology editor duties at HealthLeaders.The extent to which I can make a difference as a representative of the healthcare provider industry, and as a representative to you as a reader of Calendar Swamp, will depend on your continued participation. Since the CalConnect board meetings are closed to the public, and the CalConnect general meetings are typically limited to members only, I can only represent you if you tell me your stories, bring up your calendar interoperability issues, share with me your vision of how seamless calendar sharing could or can or does improve your group's productivity, eliminate inefficiencies, cut costs, stimulate creativity...or even save lives. I'm open to publishing your stories here (feel free to comment) or, if the matter is[...]

No searching at!

Fri, 03 Aug 2012 12:03:32 PDT

Amazing but true: You can't search for anything within your iCloud calendar. Instead, go to your settings for Calendar on your iPad or iPhone, and change sync to "all events" and then search for stuff on your iThing. And let's hope at some point we can search within the cloud as well.(image)

Is the Open Data Protocol cause for celebration?

Thu, 02 Aug 2012 20:15:27 PDT

Did any calendar interop geeks out there notice the May announcement of the Open Data Protocol? More importantly, does it matter to us calendar sharers? Should we feel good or bad about the fact that this effort has already celebrated its second anniversary?(image)

A leading calendar swamps itself

Thu, 28 Jun 2012 17:01:35 PDT

Google manages to swamp its own calendar. Fail!(image)

Publishing free/busy info in Outlook 2007 (or iCloud for that matter)

Fri, 13 Apr 2012 09:47:40 PDT

As I ramp up my Outlook 2007 mad skillz (hah), I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong when trying to publish my free/busy information to a personal Web server. I've been relying on a Microsoft Knowledge Base article to do it step-by-step. But step 3 refers to a "Look In" box that I'm not seeing in the Windows 7 version of Outlook 2007. I thought maybe I needed to map an FTP drive in Windows 7, and was able to do that, but it didn't give me access to any "Look In" box or provide any other path forward.

If you are an Outlook ninja and can tell me what I'm doing wrong, please send me a message or comment here. Now I'll go back to grumbling privately about the lack of free/busy publishing in iCloud.

How do I get Outlook to subscribe to an iCloud calendar?

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 10:53:10 PDT

I've turned the paradigm on its head. Usually people want iCloud to subscribe to (or more usually, sync with) their Outlook calendar. I, instead, wish to have Outlook subscribe to an iCloud calendar. Does anyone out there know how to do this easily? I would have thought it was easy, but Google searches continue to turn up answers involving sync, which I am not trying to do. No, I'm merely trying to subscribe. Any ideas out there? Seems like a simple enough question. (And the PC in question running Outlook does not have any Apple software on it, so I'm syncing my iPad and iPhone to a different PC, not running Outlook).(image)

iCloud embraced. But it's still a silo

Sat, 25 Feb 2012 02:15:26 PST

A commenter to Calendar Swamp notes great success with iCloud, and so, after a rough start, do I. First, the comment on my earlier post, from Lady K:

"I am cross platform (windows 7, iPhone, iPad) and I must say I am thrilled with iCloud. I run 3 businesses, go to school and manage a household schedule using it. The key to being successful with iCloud is to understand how each device interacts with it. The idevices (fortunately) won't let you do things you shouldn't be able to do. Windows, however, doesn't "check for duplicates" the same way so if you create a subgroup (in your contacts folder for example) you can't just drag and drop contacts to add them to other subgroups or they will get deleted. I log into the iCloud webapp directly if I have to manage anything like that. The only other thing to note is that iCloud manages reminders completely separately from the tasks or calendar items. If you need to be reminded of something, you set it up under reminders, which in Outlook comes up under tasks. Other than that I have had resounding success with all of my iCloud products including calendars (a total of 5), contacts (managed using 3 subgroups), tasks (which even set off reminders properly), reminders and even online backups."

I agree with these comments, although I'm not using Outlook currently (more on that in a minute). I now believe my initial problem with iCloud had to do with events my wife had created in iCal prior to iCloud's release and our subsequent installation of it. For some reason (possibly related to the fact that she had created those pre-iCloud events on a Mac running Snow Leopard, not Lion) those older events never showed up on iCloud. But, as time passed, those events rolled from the future into the past, and newer events (created on the Mac calendar post-iCloud install) appeared just fine on my iCloud as well as hers.

This development is particularly timely, as next Monday I begin a full-time gig with HealthLeaders Media as their senior technology editor. Leaving the freelance medical writing/journalism ranks for a high-profile full-time gig will tax my calendar in ways it hasn't been taxed since I was last working full time nearly a decade ago. Also, HealthLeaders employs Outlook, so like Lady K, I will have events on that calendar that I hope can be shared with my personal iCloud. How that will work may be the topic of my next post.

But anyway, iCloud is redeemed in my mind. I would still like to see it support every device out there, not just  iPods, iPhones and iPads, and until it does, iCloud is its own kind of calendar silo. But at least the industry has something to shoot for if and when it finally creates...wait for it...iCloud for the rest of us.

EFF adds muscle to fight against time zone database lawsuit

Thu, 12 Jan 2012 16:58:18 PST

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) adds its voice -- and legal resources -- to those opposing a copyright infringement lawsuit against a must-relied-upon database of time zones.(image)