Friday, February 13, 2009

Sync Story

Since over a decade I have been using Microsoft Outlook. I started with Outlook Express then used Outlook 2000, XP, 2003, and currently 2007. With time, I have learned to master the product and to truly enjoy it. As a result, I used it for both professional and private emails, contacts, and calendar. A few years ago, I even started synchronizing my contacts and calendar events with my previous Nokia mobile phone. I liked very much having a calendar with me without having to carry a paper version on top of all accessories that a modern man must carry: wallet, keys (home and car), mobile, sun glasses, pens ... this without even talking about the laptop. But what I appreciated the most was being notified by my mobile about my appointments. Even when away from my computer, I was sure not to forget anything (as long as I had encoded it).

Then I changed of job and got a new laptop with that so wonderful application named Lotus Notes along with a BlackBerry already synchronized with it. My opinion about Lotus did not change since last year. I still do not like it and rarely miss an opinion to criticize it for many good (and bad let's remain honest) reasons: not user-friendly, slow to answer, not compatible with most Web2.0 portals like Facebook, LinkedIn or Naymz and I could continue my list of rants. In parallel of using Notes for business mails, contacts, and calendar, I kept using my Outlook for personal emails, contacts, and events. However, while the separation of mails is good for productivity reasons, and while I could take care of contacts by synchronizing my BlackBerry with my Outlook using the BlackBerry Desktop Manager application. Since years, I am indeed using a contact sub-folder of Outlook to organize and backup my mobile contacts.

So there I was, sitting between two seats for the calendar part and not really happy about it. Then one day I woke up deciding to fix the inconvenience of having private events in Outlook and business events in Lotus and on my Blackberry. I was looking for a simple and free solution but obviously the words simple and Lotus do not exist in the same sentence, and it gets worse when talking about software. Useless to say that I could never manage to connect directly my Outlook to the Domino server and always ended with some error message.

Ultimately I found out that Google Calendar proposes a tool to synchronize your Outlook Calendar with your Google Calendar. Google also proposes another tool to synchronize your BlackBerry calendar with your Google Calendar.

By transitivity and because 1+1=2, I have my solution: my outlook is synchronized with Google, which synchronizes with my BlackBerry, which in turn synchronizes with Lotus. Yes, it works. Yes, it is easy to install and no, there is nothing complex to configure. I'm happy as I have all my events on my BlackBerry and in Outlook and I still do not plan to use the Google Calendar interface itself.

So what's next ?
I seriously consider definitively dropping Lotus now as I can download emails from the Domino server using POP.