Help me manage my life (i.e. my calendar)
March 30, 2006 5:41 PM   Subscribe

I add appointments to my calendar at work (desktop) and home (laptop) but miss appointments because I am at the wrong computer or away from both. Help me stay synchronized.

I have a nice powerful desktop at work where I add appointments (from phone calls and emails). I also make appointments with people (face to face) on my moleskine which I then enter onto my laptop (if I dont return to the office the same day/next few days). How do I keep both calendars synchronized?

I run Windows XP on both with Mozilla Sunbird as my calendar (I can switch to Outlook if that would make things better). Is there a tool (or service) that will automatically keep both calendars synchronized? I have tried synching with Yahoo! but that didn’t work because I could never always remember to sync before leaving work/home.

In a nutshell, I need a service that
a) Can keep both calendars synched automatically (both computers are always online so some software that runs whenever an appt. is added or deleted would be ideal)
b) Lets me add appointments via the web (when I am away from both computers. This is not critical)
c) Is free (I cannot afford to pay a lot of money for any service).
d) bonus if it can sms my cellphone for select appointments
I have searched askmefi for this (no answers to this kind of question) and a service called Trumba looks like it would work but is too expensive.

Any ideas that might work for me?
posted by special-k to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My PocketPC phone, combined with Outlook on the laptop, manages my life.

I like it a's an Audiovox PPC 6700.

It's got Bluetooth, 802.11b, EVDO, a MiniSD slot, and a full QWERTY keyboard. I love it.
posted by SlyBevel at 6:08 PM on March 30, 2006

And it's not as big as the photos make it look. Really.
posted by SlyBevel at 6:09 PM on March 30, 2006

Best answer:
posted by Firas at 6:10 PM on March 30, 2006

I would think that Sunbird could satisfy A, since you can have the calendar file on an FTP or WebDAV server. Haven't tried it though.
posted by melt away at 6:19 PM on March 30, 2006

Bag both computers and get a PDA (or a phone with PDA functions built in) which you can carry with you.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:22 PM on March 30, 2006

Steven, that's exactly what I suggested above.
posted by SlyBevel at 6:37 PM on March 30, 2006

(The laptop's in the bag)
posted by SlyBevel at 6:38 PM on March 30, 2006

You could always just run sunbird off a USB thumb drive, and have it with you where-ever you are, possibly skipping the need for 'b'.
posted by tiamat at 6:59 PM on March 30, 2006

You need a webserver with webdav.
posted by krisjohn at 7:05 PM on March 30, 2006

I use Yahoo! calendar and have it page me at my phone 15 minutes before my meetings. I can hit it from home or work.
posted by popechunk at 7:25 PM on March 30, 2006

Get a Palm, or if you want to waste a lot of time, get a Pocket PC. This problem was solved in the mid-90's. Palm apps for basic personal information mgmt are extremely mature (e.g. DateBk5), and there's a whole world of other apps out there to accelerate (or simplify) your life.

I sync my Palm cellphone to three different computers on three different operating systems. While everyone else mumbles excuses about not having access to the answer I've got it in 5 seconds.

It's a football -- when you sit down to the latest computer, you do a 5-second sync and move on to your regular work habits. Sync again when you leave.

I'll let others comment on the web requirement. I think that part isn't complete mature yet -- maybe in another year. Macs are likely to do it best first.
posted by intermod at 8:30 PM on March 30, 2006

I synchronize the iCal file between my work and home desktops via a USB keychain and Microsoft SyncToy.
posted by chrisch at 9:16 PM on March 30, 2006

Sign up for one of the hosted exchange services.
posted by rbs at 9:58 PM on March 30, 2006

I second icalx - I use it to keep track of the same calendar from uni, home, and during regular visits to my parents place. It's incredibly simple, too: the only thing that tripped me up when I started was not deleting the original calendar on the host machine, so that it used the server version.
posted by jacalata at 12:30 AM on March 31, 2006

Second the vote for a hosted Exchange Server. You have to switch to Outlook, and you'll have to pay (about $100/year), but you'll have your appointments, contacts, notes and email perfectly synchronized on as many computers as you care to use. Works in offline-mode too, so if you can't manage a net connection, at least you have all the info available from the last time you did. And if you do have internet, but not one of your own machines, you can use Outlook Web Access (clunky, but gets the job done). I've been using this for a little over a year to keep my home desktop, office desktop and laptop in sync. Love it. I'm using's service. Not the best according to reviews I've read, but reasonably priced. I've had no complaints (other than setup, which was a hassle).
posted by zanni at 1:38 AM on March 31, 2006

Best answer: can sync with Outlook automatically and has a nice web interface. Since I'm not an Outlook fan, I don't use the sync functionality. But the web-based version is very nice as a contact/calendar/notes manager. It's free (they have a pay version, but I've never bothered with it).
posted by wheat at 6:31 AM on March 31, 2006

BTW, the pay version of Plaxo (Plaxo Premium, $50 a year, 30-day free trial) supports mobile access of contacts and calendar via cell phone. Just saying.
posted by wheat at 6:35 AM on March 31, 2006 looks like it would be a good solution for your particular situation.
posted by TheAnswer at 12:18 PM on March 31, 2006

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