Monday, September 21, 2009

How to share google calendar with family and exchange

Update 9/22: Google must've seen my post and reacted :)

A while back I gave my better half my old iphone. I was all jazzed up to be able to sync our calendars, but it turned out to be not as easy as I thought it should be. I know there's and all, but coughing up all that money to AT&T for their service makes one want to act like their dad with their furnace thermostats. (Thank goodness for electronic thermostats, where you can wage the battle once and be done with it...but I digress.)

Here was the situation:
I have an iphone, have my work mail (and primary calendar) fed through an exchange server, and use google apps (gmail) for my personal email.
My wife has an iphone, and a gmail account.

The mission: Share our family calendar - allowing me to see family events that show up on her calendar, and vice-versa.

You'd think this would be pretty easy, but anyone that's been screwing around with these stupid calendar syncing apps for the last few years knows that it's actually really hard. You can get pretty close nowadays with google's default sharing, and even with neuvasync, but at least when I went through this experiment, neither of those solutions had implemented the ability to notify the invitees if the person adding the event did it through their phone. See this thread and this one as examples of the issue. Notifications *do* work if the person adds an event via the google calendar website, but that doesn't help if you want to add an event through your phone.

But what I did find to work was the above combo + google sync. If I have that running, *and* have auto-accept turned on in my google calendar settings, any invitations that are added to my google calendar account get automatically sync'd to my exchange calendar, which are then pushed out to my phone...voila - near real-time synchonization. This requires an extra step, and relies on the google sync app running, but it solves that problem. Next up - wondering why she still prefers the dead-tree version...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Youth Soccer Project Pattern

Have you ever seen a soccer/football game played by 5 year olds?

The Youth Soccer Project Pattern is an observation I've seen, regarding how the members of a project will run around as one big pack, chasing the ball all over the field in committees. In this environment, there also tend to be lots of soccer moms yelling praises at the sidelines (AKA project managers). There might one or two young stars that can make their way through the mess. And there's also bound to be one or two kids that are just hanging out in some corner of the field, picking daisies. In software projects those are often the testers that haven't been properly included in the team, or are those testers who are punching the clock and would rather pick daisies than really get into the action.

Contrast this with experienced teams that have players qualified at every position, and know where they should be at all times. Teamwork consists of short, well executed collaborations. Not to mention the fact that the players have spent considerable time together already, so the osmotic communication is a given. The players know exactly what their goal is. Of course in software, this goal can change drastically based on the situation, but once you're coding, you better know what the end goal is. Otherwise you're just wasting time, and maybe even heading in the wrong direction.

So, what kind of team are you playing with or coaching?