Dec
15

Let me set the stage. I have two Macbook Pros. One is used at the office and one is my personal machine. They're both laptops so they each see a fair amount of travel. And while one is primarily for work there is some overlap in what I do on the machines. For the most part though having two macs makes it easier for me to separate what I work on and how. Where this separation sucks is when you start looking at my calendar. I use Entourage 2008 on my work laptop (insert long, drawn out rant about Microsoft software. Yes there's OpenOffice and other MS-ish solutions but they all suck when you need serious collaboration with others using Microsoft products) for e-mail and calendaring. I use iCal on my personal laptop and on my iPhone. Up to this point I've somehow managed NOT being able to look at my work calendar unless I was sitting in front of my work laptop. This has halfway worked for a year but it's just not cutting it anymore. So this weekend I set out to do some research on calendar syncing solutions that would ultimately get my Entourage calendar from my work laptop to my personal laptop and iPhone.

The solution I'm laying out below doesn't cost a penny and for a lot of people that's incredibly important. However, there are caveats. In the near future I'll discuss a second option that isn't free but might provide more stability and features for those who need them. Stay tuned. The free solution involves the use of software from Calgoo and Nueva Sync. The first six steps below are done on the computer with Entourage. The rest are either done on an iPhone or other Mac computers.

  1. The first step is to get your Entourage 2008 calendar into iCal. Microsoft doesn't like to play well with others (are you surprised?) so you must use iCal as sort of a calendar proxy to all the other places you'd like it to live. Turn on iCal syncing in Entourage by accessing Preferences -> Sync Services and choosing Synchronize events and tasks with iCal and .Mac
  2. Wait a minute or two for all your data to be created in iCal and then launch iCal to ensure it's all there properly. The new iCal calendar should be called Entourage.
  3. In order to get your calendar to all the places it needs to go we're going to use Google Calendar. Create a new calendar in Google called whatever you want (I chose the name Entourage)
  4. Now, download and install Calgoo Connect
  5. Launch Calgoo Connect and configure a connector that connects your new iCal calendar with your new Google calendar. If you want more detailed instructions (with screenshots) on setting up Calgoo Connect, see this site. NOTE: Calgoo Connect totally crashed my Macbook Pro during this step. I experienced the Mac blue screen of death where the screen freezes with a message in multiple languages. The message basically tells you to hold down the power button for 8 seconds to force a hard shutdown. If this happens to you, you'll have to repeat this step after you reboot.
  6. Once Calgoo Connect is set up with your Google calendar and iCal you can sync your iCal data to Google. This step may take a little while if you have lots of stuff on your calendar like I do.
  7. Once your Google calendar is fully sync'd you can follow the rest of these steps to get all your information on your iPhone.
  8. Cruise on over to Nueva Sync (https://www.nuevasync.com/) and create an account. Nueva Sync is a site that has a Web Service that allows you to use the iPhone's Exchange abilities to setup over-the-air calendar and mail syncing.
  9. To set up my Nueva Sync account and my iPhone I followed the instructions on the Apple blog: http://theappleblog.com/2008/10/29/iphone-how-to-synchronizing-your-google-calendar/.
  10. If you've followed all of these instructions (and the sites I link to) and everything worked properly you should be able to create an event in Entourage and have it show on your Google calendar and iPhone a bit later. Works? Good, let's move on.
  11. To get my new Google calendar data on my personal Macbook Pro I used Google's new CalDAV syncing abilities. This step is super easy if you download Google's Calaboration utility and follow the instructions.

After going through these steps I had my Entourage calendar in Google, on my iPhone, and on my personal Macbook Pro. This was ultimately good enough for me but I wanted to see how things worked if I started making changes. I added a new calendar event to Entourage and waited a while. Before too long my iPhone and my personal Macbook Pro had the calendar entry. I then deleted the entry from my iPhone. This is where things broke down. The change on my iPhone was correctly replicated to my Google calendar (thanks Nueva Sync) and to my personal Macbook Pro (thanks Google Calaboration), but the change did not make it to iCal or Entourage on my work laptop. I know Calgoo Connect is supposed to sync Google calendar changes back to iCal but I haven't been successful getting it to work. Since this isn't working, Entourage obviously doesn't get updated either. As first rounding testing goes I was relatively pleased. But it would be nice to be able to make changes to my work calendar anywhere and have those changes filter to all locations. I also wish the Google Entourage calendar on my personal Macbook Pro would be able to sync to my iPhone directly without the need for Nueva Sync. I'm syncing the other iCal calendars this way using MobileMe. I'm guessing the reason this isn't working is because the Google Entourage calendar is shown in a separate area of iCal (screenshot below) which means it doesn't automatically show up on my iPhone. Bummer.

The really crappy part of this whole thing is just how much software has to be used to bring everything together. There's Calgoo Connect on my work Macbook Pro, Nueva Sync (as an Exchange service) on my iPhone, and Google's CalDAV on my personal laptop. If one thing goes wrong, I'm screwed. I'm looking into alternatives and there's one in particular I'm thinking is going to work better, but it's not free.

Check back later today for that post.

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This entry was posted by Aaron West on December 15, 2008 at 8:00 AM. It was filed in the following categories: Productivity, Mobile & Devices, iPhone, MobileMe, Mac. It has been viewed 16486 times and has 0 comments.

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