Take a moment to go and check out Google Calendar Beta. The few screenshots I could post here just won’t do it justice. Although it doesn’t quite exceed my particular expectations of an ideal calendar product (yet anyway), it sure is a good start. A quick glance reveals that the interface is quite responsive and usable, you can publish and share calendars, you can import calendars from existing programs such as iCal, you can export calendar formats, and a lot more.
Really, the only missing feature I really want is to be able to automatically sync my iCal calendars on my PowerBook with Google Calendar automagically. SyncServices and the URLs that Google Calendar exposes make this doable, so I could hack something up if I really wanted (and had the time), but instead, I think I may just try ditching iCal for a while, and see how Google Calendar does as a standalone. Really, I’m seldom using my PowerBook if wireless isn’t available, so this approach seems like the road of least resistance — at least for now.
My only real hesitation to using Google Calendar as a standalone involves control. You see, I’m still getting used to the idea of my data being far off somewhere on a server that I can’t put my hands on and that I have no control of whatsoever. But then again, a nightly cron job to pull down my calendar with wget and the private URL that Google Calendar exposes would eliminate some of that anxiety I suppose.
Does the idea of your calendar being far off on a server somewhere that you’ll never see bother anyone else? Along similar lines, does anyone have privacy concerns — despite Google’s privacy policies, and (what I perceive to be) good reputation? Maybe these are silly questions to ask considering that most people’s e-mail is probably just as sensitive as their calendar, and virtually everyone uses a mail server that they never see, let alone think about.
But at the same time, I think this issue is definitely worth periodically reviewing, and now seems like as good a time as any. Now it’s e-mail, tomorrow it’s calendars, next year we may all be using online versions of office involving products like Writely and NumSum, which store our documents somewhere far, far away. Seem like a slippery slope to anyone else?