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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Tech talk, Outlook, Calendaring, etc... [Mar. 16th, 2006|04:58 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick
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We started a "tech talk" series at work. Every Thursday at 4pm, some engineer would talk about something cool. I was supposed to do the first one today but I missed it.

So I'm pissed at myself for forgetting, but I'm also pissed that there's still no good calendaring "solution" and "we" use Outlook at work, where "we" means some of the people on Windows.

A good solution would:

-- let Windows users use Outlook, because they won't fucking give it up anyway. Does this mean the solution would require you to speak the Exchange protocol? Or can Outlook speak CalDAV, or can you do plugins? Who knows. Or maybe such a beautiful and integrated client that they wouldn't want Outlook.

-- speak CalDAV or some open protocol, so clients don't have to do shit like Evolution's "Exchange Connector" which just screen-scrapes HTML. (which our company's outsourced outlook provider has altered or something, so Evolution doesn't really work.....)

-- lets users use their own servers, own clients... nothing centralized. if you want people's views of stuff, you aggregate it. if you want to book a meeting room, you book it with that meeting room's server.

-- let you intermix personal/work stuff at least from the same client, even if they're stored on separate servers, but publishing free/busy info to the opposite servers.

-- awesome groups/permissions

-- have a kick-ass web interfaces that doesn't only work in IE


I guess I'll keep Outlook open more often. Uh, I can't even login. Oh, right, somebody changed my password because they accidentally sent an email I shouldn't have gotten, and you can only change your mail password on Windows so my current password is some random thing that somebody else chose. hate

[User Picture]From: way2tired
2006-03-17 01:19 am (UTC)
You're such a good organizer/rallier (rally-er?), why don't you start pushing some kind of protocol for this.

I'd commit to working on a windows client for this. I would really love something like this too, because right now I really maintain like 3 calendars, and I hate it too.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-03-17 01:24 am (UTC)
I'm holding out hope for Hula Server and the various CalDAV clients that are popping up. We'll see.

Maybe Evolution won't suck one day and they'll build it on Windows. Oh, look, it's happening kinda:

Go help that project, rather than starting the n-billionth new broken, ill-maintained wheel.
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[User Picture]From: waider
2006-03-17 06:45 am (UTC)
Good luck waiting for CalDAV, since it's been a floating spec with no practical implementation for several years (I looked last week, and all the support software appears to be client-side).

Outlook seems pretty keen to talk to Exchange and nothing else.

Exchange Connector + Evolution works well enough for me to use in the office, but I'll still resort to using Outlook to do large-scale changes, like clearing 1000 messages from the inbox (this isn't a large-scale change, yet Evolution + connector makes it one).

I use remotecalendars to sync an iCal feed into Exchange.

And, to sum up what everyone else in the thread seems to be saying: there's no good solution, and much as it pains me to say it Outlook/Exchange is the best of what's available.
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[User Picture]From: ixjonez
2006-03-17 03:36 pm (UTC)
exqueeze me?


we're demonstrably interoperable via caldav with chandler (which is cross-platform, brad). users have reported on irc that they have successfully used evolution with caldav against cosmo. i've been able to use sunbird with caldav as well, although sunbird has some issues. we also have read-only "webcal" interop with ical (ical doesn't allow read-write subscription0.

there are also people looking at building caldav plugins/gateways/whatever for outlook and exchange. hopefully that will actually materialize someday.
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From: ucc_journal
2006-03-18 12:24 pm (UTC)
Please come back when it's not java.
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[User Picture]From: ixjonez
2006-03-18 10:08 pm (UTC)
what's that sound? could it be - is it - the WAHMBULANCE?

if java's not your style, check out hula, as i believe somebody else mentioned.

for the non-haters, there's also the uw calendar server, which is actually being developed at rpi these days.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-03-18 10:24 pm (UTC)

(and thanks for the previous link....)
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[User Picture]From: bsdguru
2006-03-17 08:43 am (UTC)

win32 evolution

A ex-work collegue ported evolution to windows for his wife a year or two ago prior to evolution 2 coming out. When evolution 2 came out apparently it sucked hence both of them don't use evolution any more.
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[User Picture]From: scsi
2006-03-17 01:29 am (UTC)
Outsourced outlook provider? Lame. Really Lame.
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[User Picture]From: jtrevino
2006-03-17 01:40 am (UTC)


Outlook has been the bane of my existence for years - no matter where I go there it is - like a leper that won't go away. And usually when I talk to IT folks, it's just a given - there's no getting around it. Pretty amazing given the enormous amount of angst it causes.

I was talking to an IT friend this week that has to administer it and it's just as bad on the backend - hours to recover from an outage, etc..

And worst of all - it's just another M$ hack. Apparently, there's no such thing as real calendared events in the backend. When you send a meeting to someone and they accept it, it just moves the "mail message" to the calendar folder. And the calendar folder parses all the emails and fakes up a calendar based on them. So there are no real calendar events to export, etc.. It also explains a lot of the weirdness of the user experience.

The only alternative I know of is MeetingMaker. It runs on everything and has been working well for over a decade. But it's not well known and it's not the "de facto standard".
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[User Picture]From: scosol
2006-03-17 09:31 am (UTC)

Re: ugh

> Apparently, there's no such thing as real calendared events in the backend. When you send a meeting to someone and they accept it, it just moves the "mail message" to the calendar folder.

Call it a hack, but that's what makes it easy to integrate in to imap mail clients with their own calendars-

As others have said- sadly nobody does it better yet- right now I'm just fine with my Entourage.
I would imagine in X11 land that Evolution and Kontact can both work semi-decently with their respective OWA plugins?
Or fuck it- run Win2k in a VMWare client and run Outlook "native" :)
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[User Picture]From: feren
2006-03-17 02:38 am (UTC)
jwz has already told us that unless Hula gets the users laid, it'll fail because groupware isn't going to catch on otherwise. The entire arena sucks, period.

I think it's one of those Catch-22 situations where there just is no good answer.
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[User Picture]From: idonotlikepeas
2006-03-17 02:52 am (UTC)
You can do plugins for Outlook - there's one for one of the free web cals, can't remember. (I think Outlook calls them "connectors".)
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[User Picture]From: loganb
2006-03-17 04:30 am (UTC)

I hear it's good, or at least works


There's a $25 client plugin for Outlook, works for free with everything else.
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[User Picture]From: greg
2006-03-17 05:04 am (UTC)
Check out Trumba: http://www.trumba.com:80/default.aspx

The pro version will sync with Outlook.
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[User Picture]From: avatraxiom
2006-03-17 06:59 am (UTC)


Kerio MailServer does almost all of that. It doesn't speak CalDAV, but I think the latest version speaks SyncML. I don't think it does the separate free/busy publishing stuff or the intermixing stuff, although it does have multiple calendars, so I suppose that would sort of do it.

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[User Picture]From: bsdguru
2006-03-17 08:45 am (UTC)

Try reminderfox

You may want to try reminder fox which is a basic todo list / reminder list goodie for firefox.
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From: funzoneq
2006-03-17 02:04 pm (UTC)

Google Calender

I've been looking into this as well. To my good supprise google is building it's own online AJAX calender software! :)

Non-released screenshots can be found at the following url:

I'm hoping they can make a kick ass applicatation that can sync with PDA / Outlook / Exchange / iCal etc.
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[User Picture]From: anildash
2006-03-17 06:08 pm (UTC)

The Great Reset

omfg my password was reset in The Great Reset, too, and I still haven't changed it back. I really hate the "we lock you out when someone else makes a mistake" thing.
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[User Picture]From: brad
2006-03-17 06:50 pm (UTC)

Re: The Great Reset

I guess my retaliation (indirectly) is that I just won't use Outlook since I don't remember my password. Maybe they'll think twice before pulling that stunt again.
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[User Picture]From: mahlon
2006-03-17 07:45 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: visions
2006-03-21 03:29 pm (UTC)
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-12-29 03:27 pm (UTC)

Apple's iCal Server




I've not tested the later. That seems to be the stickiest wicket of all.
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