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Entries in productivity (2)

Monday
Sep272010

How to Accept Meeting Requests on the iPhone

Lots of folks rely on their mobile devices to help manage their schedule throughout the day. You're probably one of them. I know that I couldn't manage without my iPhone, MacBook and iPad.

The one piece of my workflow that's been bugging me ever since I stopped using Microsoft Exchange and migrated over to Google Apps (Gmail, Google Calendar) is the ability to manage my calendar on my iPhone.

Sure, I can create events on my calendar and even invite people to those events. However, when someone accepts one of those meeting requests, I'm not explicitly notified via email or on my iPhone - I have to check the calendar to see if someone has accepted. It's not ideal, but I can live with it.

The flip side to that equation is what's been driving me nuts: accepting meeting requests on my iPhone. If you're not using Exchange, meeting requests show up as an attachment, usually with the name "meeting.ics", indicating that it's an iCalendar file.

Tapping the icon results in...nothing. I can't open it in the iPhone Calendar app. I have to quickly respond to this person with a message like "Confirmed" just to make sure that we lock down the time and date of the meeting, then officially accept the request and put it on my calendar when I get back to my Mac.

Given that the iCalendar format is a standard used by Apple within iCal on the Mac and on the iPhone, it seems ridiculous to me that I'm unable to respond to meeting requests.

A quick Google search proves that I'm not alone. The last time I performed this search I found a mention of an app buried at the end of a forum thread that was released that very day to solve this problem.

It's called Calendar Happy and yes, it makes me very happy. ;)

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov032008

Into the Cloud

Cloud from the Inkscape Tutorials blogToday is the day I moved completely into the Cloud.

After having my netbook (an Acer Aspire One) for a few weeks, I've been trying to determine my optimal workflow. Today, I realized I had a couple of holes that needed to be filled.

Here was my original setup, BN (Before Netbook):

  • Productivity: Office 2008; iWork (Keynote, Pages, Numbers)
  • Corporate Email: Microsoft Exchange (Entourage on the Mac with occasional use of Outlook Web Access)
  • Calendar: Microsoft Exchange (Entourage on the Mac with occasional use of Outlook Web Access)
  • Contact Database: OS X Address Book
  • GTD: Remember the Milk Pro Account
  • Personal email: Google Apps (as spam filter and mail archive) forwarded to Mobile Me, then using this effective workaround to send email from my domain.

I used over-the-air (OTA) sync for everything (calendar, contacts) and had push email for both my personal and corporate email. I like the OS X Address Book for contacts instead of Entourage/Exchange because I enjoy having people's photos appear in their contact entry and when they call on my iPhone. ;)

Over the past few weeks, I've begun using ThinkFree Office for reasons you can learn about here. It's been a pretty seamless transition and has really helped me use the netbook effectively.

Today however, while in a meeting, I realized that I needed to send personal email from my netbook. That's when the fun began.

The first problem with Mobile Me is that you can't set the "FROM" address to use your own domain. (Hence the above workaround.)

The second problem is that the Mobile Me online Address Book just plain sucks. I needed to get an email address from my contact database and it was such a painfully slow experience. Even on a fast Mac using Safari, it takes an inordinate amount of time to load.

That's when I realized that I needed to go into the Cloud a bit more deeply in order to get my workflow right. So, here's my setup as of this evening:

  • Productivity: ThinkFree Office Netbook Edition + ThinkFree Office for Mac
  • Corporate Email: Exchange (Outlook Web Access for the netbook + Entourage on the Mac)
  • Calendar: Exchange (Outlook Web Access for the netbook + Entourage on the Mac)
  • Personal Email: Google Apps
  • Contact Database: OS X Address Book syncing with Google Contacts
  • GTD: Remember the Milk Pro Account syncing with Todo from Appigo on my iPhone (thanks to Brad Feld for the tip)

What I lost:

  • OTA syncing of my contacts. I now have to sync my contacts with a cable between my iPhone and my Mac. Any additions to my contact database while on-the-go with the netbook will have to be done on my iPhone (if I want to use them while away from my Mac) then sync'd up when I get back to my desk.
  • Push email for my personal mail account. 

What I gained:

  • The ability to send and receive email from my own domain from any modern browser.
  • Access to my contacts in from any modern browser and natively on my Mac.

Those simple changes should allow me to get the most out of this little experiment. I'm sure more of my computing will move into the cloud, at some point.