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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fully focused and in sync

No this has nothing to do with lame boy bands, but with two great web tools I started using this week.

ScheduleWorld

I previously raved about GooSync, the great synchronization tool dedicated to keeping mobile devices in sync with Google Calendar. Well my complementary year of pro access just expired and I wasn't in a position to pay for a renewal, so I went hunting for an alternative.

What I found was one of the most powerful free services I have ever seen. The developers of ScheduleWorld seem intent on allowing users to synchronize absolutely everything with absolutely everything else. The service allows calendar and contact data to be kept up to date across Outlook, Thunderbird/Sunbird, Evolution, Google Calendar, PDAs, mobile phones, and any service, application or device that supports SyncML. Additionally, ScheduleWorld offers fully featured web apps for editing (and importing and exporting) calendar and contact data, as well as LDAP access to your contacts, RSS or Atom feeds of your ToDo lists and public Fee/Busy links to be shared with contacts.

That's an incredible feature list, and if my use of it over the last couple of days is anything to go by it works well and is completely stable too. With the aid of the excellent SynchWorld Thunderbird addon (which includes a handy contact merge tool), I have my contacts, five Google calendars and a Remember The Milk to do list flawlessly in sync between the 'Bird and my N95. An unexpected benefit of this is that the annoying ThunderBird pauses apparently caused by Lightning's remote calendar updates are a thing of the past, since the SW plugin works just fine with local calendars.

The one criticism I have of the service is the complex and confusing setup process. The huge array of settings and their completely illogical layout, along with bizarre interface quirks are not for the faint of heart. Even the most tech-savvy of users are likely to be left scratching their head when some obscure setting somewhere or apparently (but not actually) correct setting is botching things up. The developers obviously have impressive technical know-how, but they desperately need a user interface specialist on their team.

In conclusion if you have the time and patience to set it up, ScheduleWorld will offer you a means to easily and effectively keep everything imaginable in synch.

 

LeechBlock

Even with the best of intentions, it's tough not to succumb to the lure of the web now and again when some really unappealing task is sitting at the top of your list. Sometimes a little Big Brother control is just what the doctor ordered. FireFox extension LeechBlock offers just that. It allows you to specify up to six 'block sets' of websites and how access to each is controlled by the extension.

Each set of sites can either be manually specified, or read from a file on a server URL. Sets can be blocked according to time of day, day of the week, total amount of allowed time or a combination of the three. The ability to lock access to settings and even to disallow disabling or uninstalling of the plugin makes it possible to really anticipate your tendency to work against your own best intentions.

While complete corporate web lockdown really can suck, if you need a little help in imposing self control when it comes to your browsing habits, give LeechBlock a try.

2 comments:

Jameel said...

Wow dude , nice find , been looking for a way to sync google contacts with outlook. Thinking this might just work

Flint said...

Actually their sync to google contacts doesn't work right now (after google introduced the new contact system). It'll sync between your phone and outlook though.

 

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