Monday, November 25, 2013

How to sync calendars between Microsoft 365 and Google

Want to sync calendars between Microsoft 365 and Google? I've had this problem and here's the only solution I've come up with after a lot of searching. It only works with a Windows machine and Microsoft Outlook.

1. Buy OggSync.
2. Install in Outlook.
3. Sync your Outlook calendar with Microsoft 365.
4. Run OggSync. This tool, installed as an add-in for Outlook, will sync your Outlook calendar (which is now pulling from 365) and your Google Calendar.

It works perfectly but it doesn't happen automatically. You have to have Outlook open to produce a sync.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mavericks, Bootcamp and Windows 8.1

Upgraded my MacBook Air to both Windows 8.1 and OSX Mavericks.

First updgraded my Bootcamp partition for Windows to 8.1.

Then I used Winclone to resize the hard drive to give myself more space for Windows -- 95% of my time is spent on the Windows side, rather than the Mac side.

Next I upgraded to OSX Mavericks.

Everything is running perfectly except ... on Windows, my Quickbooks shows an error and needs re-registration. But that's simply the result of the hard drive resizing, not 8.1 or Mavericks. Not a coincidence, I suspect, that of all the software I use, Intuit is probably the one that's most monopolistic.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

managing in a 365 environment after GMail is like being no longer able to teletransport

Trying to manage e-mail in Microsoft 365 (aka Exchange) is really painful after using GMail for years.

It is so hard to return to the notion that each e-mail is an "object" that can only exist in only one place at a time, versus an item that can be tagged innumerable times and therefore exist in any number of places you want.

You mean I have to manually move an e-mail thread after I've replied? It stays in the friggin' inbox, rather than dropping into archive? So weird. And where's my Priority Inbox? You mean it doesn't exist?

Vaguely akin to being able to teletransport at will for years and suddenly not be able to do so.

Fortunately, I only have to do it for those e-mails that relate to one particular client (albeit my main one, my employer).

Sunday, April 7, 2013

using Microsoft 365 and Google Apps together? Oggsync and BlackBerry make it bearable but Sergey and Larry make it hard

I've had a Google Apps for Business account for years, for myself and members of my family, even though I primarily work for an organization.

In a world where every person is really their own corporation (whether actually or just practically), and you're managing the marketing and selling of yourself and the delivery of your services to other entities (aka employers), having a personal/corporate e-mail makes sense!

I'm extremely happy with the GMail interface and Google's service and reliability. I use lots of extensions  like ActiveInbox for which I have a lifetime account (or April 8, 2103, whichever comes first). My whole workflow is dependent upon GMail and Google Apps. $50 per year per user to Sergey and Larry is perfectly reasonable.

The trouble is, there are limitations to creating a unified inbox within the GMail interface.

For years now I've had the work e-mail address I use with my main client (or as it is quaintly referred to, my "employer") simply redirect into my GMail account. I can then have a unified inbox and "send as" from that work e-mail address.

But finally my workplace decided to get beyond a simple e-mail server system and adopt Microsoft 365. No complaints. Good move. (365 is the Microsoft hosted version of their 20 year-old Exchange back-end system for e-mail, calendar and contacts.)

The challenge is that 365 and GMail don't play nice together. You can not call 365 e-mail into GMail with IMAP. (Internet Message Access Protocol is an Application Layer Internet protocol that allows an e-mail client to access and synchronize with e-mail on a remote mail server, such as 365.) This limitation has nothing to do with Microsoft. Google doesn't allow you to make any IMAP calls from GMail. It only allows you to use POP to access an external account, and that's slow and frustrating. E-mail will only be checked every 5 minutes, at best. It won't be nicely synchronized. Google uses an algorithm that determines how often you're using an external account and decides how often you need it checked. There's no way of setting this cycle manually. And I've never seen it less than every 5 minutes.

Going the other direction, you can not use the "connected accounts" feature to pull your GMail into 365. Try it. You won't have success. Other e-mail systems, such as Outlook or Postbox, can IMAP with GMail just fine. But pulling it directly into 365 itself won't work. Microsoft and Google maintain mutual incompatibility and point fingers at each other (although, I think there's evidence that it's Microsoft not Google that's trying to play nice). But even if this did work, I would lose my beloved GMail interface.

I could have a copy of all my 365 mail forwarded into GMail and then continue to "reply as" from within GMail. But my employer (since we're talking Microsoft, we'll use that old fashioned term) will be appropriately annoyed at me if I do that because they want custody over the e-mail. Same goes for POP, even if I accept the limitations noted above of that system with GMail. Again, no complaints. That's correct from the employer POV.

The only solution I've found is to run two browser windows, one with my work e-mail and one with my beloved GMail interface. Sadly, no unified inbox. I've got nothing against the 365 browser interface. The 365 interface is extremely good if you're comfortable with the 20th century notion of a database that Microsoft still maintains, where every e-mail is an object and can only be in one place at a time. There's probably some third party solution for a single browser interface that produces a unified inbox. Yahoo Mail perhaps? But again, I have no interest in even trying because I'm hooked on the world of GMail where folders are just representations of search results based on tagging and e-mails can be in an infinite number of places at the same time. Perhaps Google simply can't figure out how to create a unified inbox in which calls to a remove server are being made via IMAP. Whether it's a limitation of the GMail architecture or a Google strategy, I won't hold my breath for this feature.

At least on the mobile side, there are solutions. BlackBerry has this unified inbox thing down. Far and away the best mobile device for managing multiple inboxes is a BlackBerry Playbook or a BlackBerry 10 device. Set-up with an Exchange account couldn't be simpler. You've then got a unified inbox with all your e-mails co-mingled and your Twitter and Facebook messages co-mingled too. Apple also plays nice, with a unified inbox on IOS. But again, this isn't the GMail interface I've come to depend on. Android? Same problem as browser-based GMail. You have to run both GMail and a separate Android e-mail app.

The other problem is calendaring and contacts but for that there is a solution. You can't directly synchronize calendars and contacts between Microsoft 365 and Google. For calendaring and contacts, use a program called OggSync. I've been using it for a few days now. It appears to be flawless. Running Outlook 2013 with OggSync creates an almost instantaneous bi-directional conduit between Google calendar and contacts and their counterparts in 365. Of course, you have to periodically open up Outlook on your desktop. And I don't know of a Mac equivalent.

Interestingly, if my employer had switched to Google Apps instead of 365, I'm pretty sure it would not have worked as well as Google with 365. I would have been faced with the same problem with e-mail, needing to work from two separate browser windows, and I'm not sure if I could have produced a sync between the two accounts for calendars or contacts.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

installing a Canon Selphy CP900 on Windows 8

First, disable driver signing enforcement:

From the Charms bar, select Settings then Change PC Settings (bottom right of the screen).

Select General and scroll down to Advanced Startup and click restart now.

From the menu, select troubleshooting then Advanced Options then windows startup options.

Restart again and select number 7 Disable driver signature enforcement.

Your PC will boot up as normal.

Now Right Click the Windows 7 driver file that you downloaded from the Canon website and select troubleshoot compatibility.

Go through the procedure and tell it that the driver worked in Windows 7.

It should then install and work.

Once you reboot again the driver enforcement is reverted but the printer still works.

(via the comments on DP Review)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Gamification: different uses of the leaf game by Ford and Fitbit

Next-generation SmartGauge<sup>®</sup> with EcoGuideI rented a Ford C-MAX the other day. It's Ford answers to the Prius, but with much more power and much lower fuel economy. It's a very nice vehicle, although I much prefer the simple and sparse aesthetic of the dashboard of the Prius. One feature of the Ford is an almost photo-realistic graphic of leaves, a feature that the user can chose to display to the right of the speedometer. As you drive more efficiently this "Efficiency Leaves" game will add leaves to the picture. As you drive less efficiently, leaves will gradually drop away. The challenge with this attempt to graphically show your efficiency is that in choosing a realistic image of a branch, Ford also kept to the random appearance of a natural tree. Consequently, it is very hard to understand at a glance how well you're doing. It's not obvious whether your tree is full of leaves, and therefore that you're winning the efficiency game, or whether your tree is sparse.

Contrast this with the Fitbit which uses a less realistic image to represent progress. After a few minutes of use, it's quite clear how large you're growing your plant and therefore how much progress you've made.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Google and BlackBerry 10 don't least not yet

"There is no push email, contacts, or calendar on the BlackBerry Z10 except for Microsoft Exchange accounts. No push Gmail, no push Yahoo — email is checked every 15 minutes by default, and you can make this interval longer but not shorter."

Or maybe that's just sour ... grapes? See here for little insight: LINK. Anyone know how well BlackBerry 10 syncs with GMail and Google Calendar and Contacts?