Outlook & Google Calendar Sync

When big companies duke it out, it’s supposed to be consumers who win through lower prices and better products. But it doesn’t always work that way.

Consider the “Google vs. Microsoft” fight. Google makes Android, a popular operating system for smartphones. Microsoft traditionally made desktop software, like operating systems and office suites. But Google wants you to use their email service, Gmail, with Android devices. This is great if you’re starting from scratch, but what about people who have decades of information stored in Outlook? Couldn’t Google make some kind of free app that would sync calendar data between Outlook and Gmail? Well, they did, but they killed it on August 1, 2014.

Since then, people like me who use non-Gmail email accounts with Outlook have been scrambling to find a good replacement. It ain’t easy. Some of these apps are expensive: $49.95 for something that used to be free? Really? And some of them just plain suck: I tried one sync app that worked as an Outlook plug-in, and it added 37.7 seconds to Outlook’s start time, and often slowed the app to a crawl. There are a few webapps for this, but I’ve found them to be unreliable (either the software doesn’t work, or the whole dang company shuts down). And the webapps are often more expensive than desktop apps: instead of a one-time $49.95 fee, these jokers want me to pay $5.99/month for the rest of my life! Sure, most offer a discount for annual payments, but whatever.

But if you’re looking for alternatives to the old Google Calendar Sync, you should know that there are options out there.

One is Calendar Sync Free. As the name suggests, it’s a free program that comes either as a standalone app (with installer) or portable app (unzip and run). The app is not an Outlook plug-in, so it shouldn’t slow Outlook down when you’re not using it. It works, and works well for the few weeks I’ve used it. The downside is that the free version only syncs up to 30 days in the future. A $9.99 “Pro” version is available which can sync a customizable date range and can delete appointments with 2-way sync.

Calendar Sync Free

There’s also an app called Outlook Google Calendar Sync. This app is totally free, and aims to have all the great (non-crippled) features commercial apps have, like two-way sync, customizable date ranges, and automatic sync. It’s a little more difficult to set up – you have to authorize the app in Gmail, then enter a key Google gives you into the setup wizard. There are more options generally, and certain debugging features are turned on by default. It’s a little rough around the edges, but it works (the current version is a fork of an abandoned app, so there’s a lot of “housecleaning” going on at the moment). I like it, and hope to see big things from it in the future!

Outlook Google Calendar Sync


Georgia Tech 2015 FB Schedule for Outlook

Another year, another schedule! I’ve created downloadable versions of ORANGE BOWL CHAMPION Georgia Tech’s 2015 football schedule that work with either Microsoft Outlook or Gmail and Apple devices.

Because game times vary depending on TV coverage, this schedule has the games starting at 8AM the day of and lists the game location instead of the network (“Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, GA”, instead of “ESPN”). A reminder is scheduled for 13:00 (1:00PM ET) the day before each game.

The schedule is available in two formats: the CSV format (Microsoft Outlook and Yahoo! Calendar) and the iCalendar format (Google Calendar and Apple devices). The CSV version is compatible with Microsoft Outlook 98 or later, and may work with apps that can import events from CSV files (it has only been tested with Outlook 2010). The iCal version of the schedule has not been tested at all. I used this handy tool to convert the CSV to iCal format. Both versions are included in the zip file; please be sure to import the right one after downloading!

Georgia Tech 2015 Football Schedule

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Outlook users may follow these simple instructions to import the schedule. Make sure to read the all the directions below before you begin, as there are some options you may wish to change before importing the calendar:

  1. Download the file to your desktop and unzip.
  2. For OUTLOOK 2007 and earlier: select “File” > “Import and Export” > “Import from another program or file”, then click “Next”. For OUTLOOK 2010: Select “File” > “Open” > “Import” > “Import from another program or file”, then click “Next”.
  3. Choose “Comma Separated Values (Windows)”, then click “Next”.
  4. Use the “Browse” button to select the CSV file you unzipped in step 1.
  5. On the next screen make sure to select “Calendar” as the destination then click “Next” and “Finish”.

DISABLING REMINDERS: If you wish to disable the reminders, open the CSV file and change the value of “reminder on/off” (column G) to FALSE for each game before you import the Calendar into Outlook.

CHANGING “SHOW TIME AS”: By default, the entries will display their time as “Free” on your calendar. If you wish to change this to something else, change the value of each entry in Column V (“Show Time As”) from FREE to “1? (Tentative), “2? (Busy), “3? (Free) or “4? (Out of the Office) – without the quotes.

TROUBLESHOOTING: If you try to import the schedule but don’t see any of the games listed in your calendar, shut Outlook down (open Task Manager to make sure that OUTLOOK.EXE is not running) and re-open Outlook and try the import again. If you’re still having problems, leave a comment below and I’ll try to help!

VERSION INFORMATION: These files were tested on February 19, 2015 on a computer running Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and 32-bit Microsoft Office 2010. It was scanned with Bitdefender and found to be virus-free. It’s the exact same file I’ve used for a over decade now, so it should work for just about everyone.

Worlds of Wonder

Hi everybody! I just want to take a minute today to share a Kickstarter campaign that’s close to my heart.

One of my bestest buds in the whole world is trying to open “Worlds of Wonder”, a sci-fi\fantasy bookstore and bar. My friend has been a sci-fi-fantasy nerd since… forever, and has 20+ years of experience opening and managing bookstores. He wants Worlds of Wonder to be a book and comic book shop… but he also wants it to be a place where you can just come and hang out… maybe have a beer and watch some anime on a big screen, or sit on a comfy sofa and play some D&D or Settlers of Catan or what have you.

Unfortunately, I don’t exactly know where he wants to locate this place, I know he’s only looking within the Charlotte city limits (so, not a “where ‘Charlotte’ actually means Mt. Holly or Huntersville” situation), and that he’s narrowed it down to a few locations, mostly on the west side. If I learn more I’ll post it here.

My friend really is a great guy, and he deserves a chance to make something awesome here in Charlotte. If you like sci-fi, fantasy, role playing and\or beer, why not take a couple of moments to have a look-see at their Kickstarter campaign and maybe back them? They have some pretty sweet rewards!

Worlds of Wonder Kickstarter Campaign

Also, here are links to their website and Facebook page:

Worlds of Wonder website
Worlds of Wonder Facebook page

Thanks so much for helping my friend build something really cool in such a cool city!