Mac/Gcal/BlackBerry scheduling nirvana

Despite all my free time of late, I've engaged in surprisingly little geekery. I just haven't felt inspired. However, Google made a small change recently that I think will make a giant difference in the world of Mac scheduling, so I feel compelled to spread the word. Google Calendar has a bunch of fab features (I lust for the natural language support if I'm using iCal), but you can't use it offline, so I've ping-ponged back and forth between it and iCal for a while. I've spent money on tools like Busy Sync that are worthless because they work only MOST of the time, and MOST of the time isn't on if you need to know where you're supposed to be ALL of the time. But lo! Google has introduced CalDav support. In a nutshell, this means two-way syncing between Google Calendar and iCal. It has some holes in it, and they could be deal-breakers if you need those features, but happily for me I don't really care about any of them.

You have to poke around in settings files a bit, but it took me less than 5 minutes to get everything up and running, including testing the two-way sync part. I threw some complicated repeating events at it, and even those went over well.

It dawned on me: this is wicked cool. It's cool even if you just have a Mac and want to use Google calendar, but if you meet those conditions AND have a BlackBerry, keep reading...

I have a BlackBerry and a Mac, which has the potential for causing loads of problems with syncing, but I've headed them off by using Google Sync over the air and not messing with wired syncs. So far it hasn't missed a beat, unlike when I used Pocket Mac or Missing Sync, which puked up duplicate events and other annoyances onto my BlackBerry from iCal. If I make a change on either Google Calendar or my BlackBerry, it is shortly the same in both places (not true push, but "shortly").

Therefore, I can now use iCal or Google Calendar or my BlackBerry to schedule something, and it will shortly be the same in all three places: sans wires or manual syncing. Dead brilliant! It sounds kludgy, but it's not that difficult to set up and requires no maintenance. It might take an hour or two at most for loads of saved time and hassle in the future. Here's how to do it. It assumes you have only one iCal calendar, but you can interpolate for more. Do the steps in this order, or you'll end up tearing your hair out. Trust me on this one.

  1. If you are using iCal, export the iCal file to your desktop. Wipe your Google Calendar clean and import the iCal file into it. This makes Google Calendar your master calendar. Delete the iCal calendar from iCal (you've got a backup now; save it!).
  2. If your BlackBerry already has calendar events on it, you have to delete them. You have to use Windoze so you can have the Desktop Manager software. I ran mine with VMWare Fusion, but if you have to borrow a Windoze machine for a half hour, it's probably worth it. Start the Desktop Manager software, connect your BlackBerry, go to Backup/Restore --> Advanced, highlight Calendar, and click Clear. Now you have a clean BlackBerry calendar and a clean iCal calendar and all your stuff is in Google Calendar.
  3. Now download Google Sync onto your BlackBerry. Fire it up and feed it the appropriate login info. After it syncs the first time you can choose which calendars you want synced. You can choose how often it syncs ("Automatic" works great for me) and how far into the future to have events synced. Now you can just hide that icon and sit back; changes made on Google Calendar or your BlackBerry will now be automatically reconciled. Good times.
  4. If you also want to be able to use iCal, follow Google's instructions for setting up CalDAV with iCal. It has instructions for setting up multiple calendars. Now lean back and schedule away, any way you want. No wires, no fuss.

Just to sweeten the deal, download the Google Calendar dashboard widget for a clutter-free agenda view. And while you're putting cool productivity tools in your dashboard, grab Remember the Moof, which brings your Remember the Milk tasks to the dashboard. And did I mention that you can wirelessly and automatically also sync tasks between your Mac and BlackBerry with MilkSync for BlackBerry (costs $25 per year...about $2 per month for task-tending bliss)?