Howdy and welcome back to another fun and exciting adventure with The Weekly Geek!
Well, you would think I was back in college with all of the research I have been doing lately. In this weeks fun and exciting column I want to talk about the latest project I have finished, calendar sharing programs. Since a lot of my work is for businesses, many of my customers want and need a program to track each others schedules.
Over the last few months I have grabbed several programs and add-ons from the internet and run them through their paces.
My fist requirement was no spyware and this immediately eliminated over half of the contestants. My next requirement was ease of use, in which most all of the remaining programs passed. The final two requirements were system stability and use ability. If it crashed my test PC’s AND the response from the program developer took more than two business day’s, off the list they went. The usability was from a standpoint, if I downloaded a copy of your program I do accept “this feature is available only in our full version, please enter your credit card number…” WRONG, off the list with you.
Now let’s skip the other gory details and get down to the final three.
Our third place winner is…Yahoo Calendars!
- If you have internet you can reach, read, modify, share and use it anywhere.
- It’s FREE.
- There is no software to download, buy or maintain, they do it all for you.
- Works with any PC that can connect to the internet (Linux, Windows 98, XP…)
- You can have a private appointment that no one sees, a “busy” appointment so no one tries to schedule that time frame and a public appointment which everyone in your “buddies” sees.
- For multiple users multiple calendars are best.
- Multiple calendars means switching from screen to screen.
- I am paranoid, if the Government want’s the data Yahoo will hand it over.
- Not a lot of flexibility.
- Everyone will need to have a private yahoo account (not the one their spouse or kids use to check e-mail) to prevent unwanted viewing of the calendar.
- The internet must be up and running to be used even if you are all in the office, the calendar is actually on a computer somewhere else in the world.
- Navigation around appointments is a bit difficult.
Our runner up is… Office Calendar!
- Integrates nicely into Microsoft Outlook.
- Microsoft Outlook is very stable.
- Being an “add-in” to Outlook means that removal from one or more computers is fairly easy and does not pose a security issue.
- Easy to add and remove users and computers.
- Flexible security to all “read” only, “write and read” or “write, read and delete”.
- The built in “Help” is better than average.
- Many people already use Outlook and are familiar with entering appointments and editing them.
- Synchronizing and sharing with multiple users is fast and easy.
- Working “offline” from others is not an issue.
- Security is very good.
- You must have Microsoft Outlook 2000, XP or 2003 (an additional cost if you don’t already have this on EVERY computer using the product).
- Only works with Windows 98 or newer.
- Cost $99.95 per copy PLUS $15 per year maintenance.
- Every computer with the calendar being used must be on to “synchronize”, the data shown is only as up to date as the last synchronization.
- There is no viewing over the internet from your house or Panera Bread (Actually this can be done with extra hardware and settings not related to the program – Additional cost)
- One computer is the “server” which means that it simply coordinates the calendars so it needs sufficient horse power (CPU and RAM).
And our First place winner and “Shared Calendar Program of the Year” is…
- It is a “Stand alone” program, no additional software is needed.
- It is set up specifically to be a shared scheduling program. Showing employees names and appointments.
- You can make an appointment private where only the person whose appointment it is sees the details, everyone else just sees it as blocked off time.
- There are lots of ways to customize the look and feel of the program.
- You can connect from the internet (does require some additional set up and a static I.P.)
- No annual fee, the version you buy is the version you get to continually use (If you buy version 1.1 you get updates all the way to version 1.9 free, version 2.0 would cost you – just like most other software).
- You can buy a “Personal / Professional” edition where an “administrator” sees everyone’s calendars and the users only see their calendars.
- Works with Windows 98 and newer and only needs a 486 processor.
- During my testing it was easy to forget I was “on” Betty’s calendar when I was trying to schedule an appointment for “Mike”. Practice/Use did solve this.
- If you need multiple users to see each other calendars you need to buy the “Client/Server” edition.
- This is still less expensive than the first program mentioned above.
- Not friendly with Linux or any OS other than Windows.
Well, That’s it for this edition of The Weekly Geek. Until we meet again, have a virus free week.