back to article Calendars have gone backwards since the Bronze Age. It's time to evolve

"I don't want AI," the message read. "I don't want the metaverse. I just want my Teams calendar to sync with my Google calendar." This cri de coeur from a very tech-adept prof on academic Twitter hit home. Some blamed their inability to sync their two electronic lives together on overweening security policies, others on the …

  1. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
    Go

    Amen to all that

    Of course, it's in the interests of exactly zero office software suppliers to make this happen. I suppose the ISO could consult and specify a data interchange format, but you can be sure that the implementations of the import/export processes would variably mangle the data.

    I am reminded of a project in the MoD [1] to integrate a number of commercial off-the-shelf programs into a comprehensive project management suite, two of which (for reasons that will not become clear again any time soon) were Microsoft Project and (as I recall) a PM program from Artemis. We had to have a rule that managers would not export/import between the two, because the two programs fundamentally disagreed about how a calendar worked and what a task duration data point meant; a data round-trip between programs resulted in a project schedule that was irretrievably broken.

    [1] Many years ago, now.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Amen to all that

      "Of course, it's in the interests of exactly zero office software suppliers to make this happen."

      The solution, as ever, is to make it in their interest. All it would need would be a few large ITTs to specify open standards and working synchronisation across a few specified platforms.

    2. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: Amen to all that

      iCalendar exists. If some shitty proprietary software companies are too lazy to make their programs work with it (or are being deliberately obstructive about it), that's their problem.

      Semi-ironically, it was probably Apple (who are very good at having the wisdom to learn and borrow from open source and open standards, but not always the best at giving back) who have probably done the most to push the adoption of the iCalendar data format.

      1. John Sager

        Re: Amen to all that

        iCalendar works for me. I use Davical and Postgresql on my server, which talks to Thunderbird on my desktop/laptop and Google calendar on the mobile via DAVx5. I've created a birthdays setup using vdirsyncer that updates Postgres and that also feeds a Python script to generate a printed calendar every year with birthdays and other activities on it. Now since I'm no longer working I don't have the business calendar issues, but the setup I have suits me and it also gives me a historical record.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Amen to all that

          Haha! That description neatly sums up the entire problem.

          Look at the lengths you had to do through to do that. How many people in the world even COULD do all that?

          The whole thing is, I fully agree, a stinking pile of nasty stuff. Also neatly illustrated by how Microsoft Outlook mobile will happily handle a Google calendar but when I try the same calendar in Outlook desktop, it regularly tells me I can't access it and adds a new linked calendar which it also won't access so you end up with dozens of links, none of which actually work.

      2. Frank Bitterlich

        Re: Amen to all that

        If some shitty proprietary software companies are too lazy to make their programs work with it [...], that's their problem.

        Nope. That's exactly the point of the article: It's the users' problem. Not everybody can or will use any given calendar SW (be it iCalendar or whatever), and if they don't cooperate well, the user will suffer.

        We are indeed in stone age when it comes to PM and calendar syncing, you always have to worry whether software A works nicely with software B.

        This post is best viewed with Netspace Navigator on an 640x480 screen.

  2. Joe W Silver badge

    It used to work

    Sortsa-kinda. Ok, not that reliably.

    In my previous job I could actually do that. My "business" calendar could ingest stuff from my personal calendars. The only ("only"... yeah...) caveat is, that events can (and will) be duplicated, just like entries in your address books or "contacts" app- thingy. Especially recurring dates (birthdays) are prone to that. And don't get me started on traveling. We once almost missed a plane, because the flight info calendar entry was sent in the wrong time zone. One of my colleagues caught it, and we had to cancel the hotel downtown for the last night and book at the airport[+].

    [+] actually I had a bit more time, I was on a later flight, and could spend some time at the Origami Museum at the Tokyo-Narita airport. I spent my last Yen on paper there, beautiful stuff.

  3. Skiron
    FAIL

    By hand!

    Bollocks to all that nonsense - I still use a paper diary (using my own shorthand) and that's never wrong!

    1. simpfeld

      Re: By hand!

      Until you lose the diary or it gets in a fire or the information gets stolen etc etc

      1. Skiron

        Re: By hand!

        Heh, you can say that about any device you carry around!

        1. gotes

          Re: By hand!

          If you lose the device, you don't lose the data stored on the server.

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
            Linux

            Re: By hand!

            What if the device is the server?

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: By hand!

              Then restore from backup.

              You did make a backup didn't you?

              Or were you waiting for the calendar reminder to do so? :)

          2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

            Re: By hand!

            IT's (sic) not "your" data - Google, Microsoft etc etc etc etc own the data and store it, you only worry about having access to it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: By hand!

        It has my name and phone number/s written on the outside of it. (as does everything else I own)

        Never taken more than a day to turn up.

        People get a kick out of returning your stuff, and there are just way fewer scumbags in the world than you would think.

        pro tip: (I also put my name and phone inside things, in case of scumbags who decide to remove the obvious label, or arguments that it's not mine )

        1. john 103
          Joke

          Re: By hand!

          Top Tip

          If you are worried about losing your house keys - put your address on them so people will know where to return them. Even better put the times you will be home so that they can be sure to catch you.

    2. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Devil

      There are two ways to lose data in a diary.

      1. You no longer have access to it. This could be inconvenient, but if your memory is any good then the act of having written it down means you have probably remembered the important bits.

      2. Someone else gains access to it. This is completely outside your control and could be highly dangerous for you. You open yourself to manipulation by scammers and advertisers, and anyone else who could use the data against you.

      I am far more concerned about #2 than #1, therefore I like the OP use a paper diary, in my own illegible shorthand.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: By hand!

      I have a system that works great too. I have my own personal and work calendars (provided by the company that runs my mail too, running on F/OSS) that support CalDAV. These sync perfectly to my computers and phone (using Evolution on the computers and DAVx on my phone). I put all my personal events and all the work events I care about in those.

      I also have an actual work calendar provided by my employer, where I get zillions of invites to zillions of meetings and all-hands and quarterly updates and suchlike nonsense. This one I mostly ignore. I get a lot more work done, and the meetings seem to get along fine without me...

  4. jake Silver badge

    Day planner. On paper.

    Works for me, and has since I was at Uni.

    There are some things that computers just plain aren't good for.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Day planner. On paper.

      "The real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will being to think like computers." - a scary devil monastery sig.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Day planner. On paper.

        My late friend used to say how we already have started down that road. Think about all the times we do something "because the computer told me to." And how many of your various processes have changed to fit the way computers do things as opposed to the way you would have done them before?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Day planner. On paper.

          But computers are easier than having to move all the trilithons in your stone circle on one hour twice a year

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Day planner. On paper.

            The trilithons are just a marker that makes it easy for humans to see small movements. The actual clock is the apparent movement of the Sun or the Moon or (in some cases) one or more of the brighter stars. Moving trilithons makes as much sense as moving the clock ahead or back an hour twice per year.

            Oh. Wait ...

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Day planner. On paper.

              Obviously they stopped doing this in the neolithic because the farmers objected

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Day planner. On paper.

          "we do something "because the computer told me to.""

          Who is "we", Kemosabe?

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Day planner. On paper.

        It;s kind of difficult to be a good programmer if you can't think like your compiler and the target processor.

        Scary devil monastery .sigs were usually the playthings of children.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

          Re: Day planner. On paper.

          @jake - "It's kind of difficult to be a good programmer if you can't think like your compiler and the target processor"

          ... and a dumb user.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Day planner. On paper.

            Well, yes, of course. I figured that would be a given, considering the target audience.

            Destructive testing is my favorite!

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. eldel

      Re: Day planner. On paper.

      Meh - I loved my Time Manager dead tree planner. Used it for many years - then Psion brought out the 3a. The planner lasted about 2 months after that. Whilst I agree that the current computer mediated calendars need serious improvement - there's no freaking way I'm going back to trying to synchronize different people's schedules on paper.

      Especially at home - goodbye and good riddance to the schedule on the fridge door.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Day planner. On paper.

        I'd love to have hung on to my Filofax diary but once shared calendars hit the company system, paper diaries were doomed. It suddenly became much easier for those without secretaries to plan meetings and make sure people could attend. I don't conflate "easier" with "better", BTW. In the final years of my life at a big company the number of meetings was really starting to impact performance. I'm sure a return to paper diaries would have made work better by reducing the number of pointless meetings.

        I still use my Filofax for notes, jotting down ideas, shopping lists and stuffing random bits of paper into to be read later. It's much more satisfying to cross out a ToDo on paper than it is to hit a check-box on the screen.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Day planner. On paper.

          "I'm sure a return to paper diaries would have made work better by reducing the number of pointless meetings."

          That would help. However, the single best way to get rid of pointless meetings is to ban PowerPoint. PowerPoint has wasted the more man-hours, world-wide, than any other daft exercise imposed on humanity by the Computer Revolution (except possibly Microsoft's piss-poor method of updating software leading to massive quantities of downtime ... ).

          1. Stork Silver badge

            Banning PowerPoint

            At Maersk Data we did that for some internal meetings, we had “dogma” presentations (ref to Dogme 95).

            Rules were AFAIR:

            Max 15 minutes

            Hand written

            A2 (might have been A3)

            Max 4 colours

            The idea was to focus on content and not wasting time on pretty graphics.

            We loved it

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Day planner. On paper.

        "there's no freaking way I'm going back to trying to synchronize different people's schedules on paper."

        And THAT, my friends, describes the entire problem. Other people's schedules.

        Me, I manage MY schedule. I'm the only person I have control over, so I make certain that I am in the place I'm supposed to be at any given hour. Everybody else can fend for themselves. To date I haven't missed anything important, so I guess my paper planner is working as intended.

        1. eldel

          Re: Day planner. On paper.

          Well, yes - but how do you know where you are supposed to be? Collect someone from doctor's appointment - better be on the calendar. I'm going to be out at a match on Sunday this week, then at the sanctuary next Thursday, then I'm going to a concert with my daughter in a month. Whatever. How do I communicate that to everyone else? Can it be done - sure - I did it successfully for decades. Is it easier to do it with a shared electronic calendar that everyone can see? Yup. For us at least.

          I'm talking family here of course. I've found over the years that a healthy dose of honesty and reality tend to get one disinvited to corporate meetings, Which suits me just fine. I don't call meetings - if I have information that I think someone needs I will impart that in a direct and succinct way and avoid wasting time on feeding some managerial ego. I will even take the time to write it up - thereby increasing the clarity of my own thinking - instead of blurting out whatever comes to mind.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Day planner. On paper.

            "but how do you know where you are supposed to be?"

            Telephone call. Has worked since before my daddy was a young 'un, will still work after my granddaughter has grandkids. Costs nothing, takes absolutely no time, and there is very, very minimal chance of miscommunication ... what's not to like?

      3. jake Silver badge

        Re: Day planner. On paper.

        "good riddance to the schedule on the fridge door."

        Our household schedule is on the door between the kitchen and the mudroom. The one in the barn is on the wall outside the tackroom. The feed schedule is on the door of the feed barn. Etc. My cow doesn't need a schedule, she knows she gets milked at 6AM. Well, 5AM as of Sunday Morning, thanks to stupid human tricks. (Ever try to convince a cow that it's time to let her milk down an hour early? Good fucking luck. Trying to milk her an hour late is worse ... ).

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Day planner. On paper.

          You pull down the first teat to select menu, then 4 pulls to get to settings, one long pull to enter settings, then 2 pulls to get to time and date, then 11 pulls to advance the hours

          Don't go past or you have to do it all again

  5. Giles C Silver badge

    Hmm

    Well I have got 6 calendars on my phone - personal, car club, work, holiday, magazine production and car info.

    Add to that a walk planner for the important at a glance view

    Then add in for my contract outlook calendar and yes it is a giant mess (all the personal ones I can keep control of)

    Work especially as the client uses teams and slack and there is no way of syncing events with both.

    As said there should be an industry standard (ics) but the implementations Vary a lot.

    I don’t know what the answer is unless we go back to paper diaries…..

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      "I don’t know what the answer is unless we go back to paper diaries….."

      Bring back the Filo-fax!!!

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: Hmm

        My last link to the 1980s*. Free-format, expandable capacity, never runs out of power. I still haven't found anything that works better for me in my personal life.

        * I still give Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy a run out, but that's on an emulator on a very non-1980s machine.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        "Bring back the Filo-fax!!!"

        I was unaware that it went anywhere.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      I dunno. My Samsung calendar is synced with my Google account (for Android), which in turn is synced with the iPad's calendar. All ics files. Events added on one device will shortly show up on the other.

      Maybe the complication is in trying to maintain multiple calendars?

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge
        Mushroom

        I *need* multiple calendars

        I need a work calendar, so my boss and cow orkers can arrange meetings and I can mark myself as unavailable as needed.

        I need a personal calendar so I can track birthdays, personal trips, events and similar. I do not want my boss or coworkers to know my brother's birthday or that I'm visiting the STI clinic on Saturday.

        I need a calendar for each of my organised hobbies, like the cricket, five-a-side match, synchronised swimming or amdram rehearsals so everyone involved knows to turn up - or that it's cancelled/postponed because not enough people can make it.

        If you are working for multiple clients, you'll probably need even more.

        1. Intractable Potsherd

          Re: I *need* multiple calendars

          Maybe I'm missing something (my life isn't quite as complicated as yours!), but Google Calendar suits me well for the different groups I inhabit. One general one shared with Mrs IP so we know where each other is due to be at any given time, then one for work purposes, one for my motorsport activities, and one for wider family, with access on a need-to-know basis. For those that use other calendars, there is a handy export function. Many's the time people have tried to convert me (or insist on me using) the abomination known as Outlook, but none have yet succeeded.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Nowhere in the archaeological or historical record, however, is the madness recorded of two calendars installed side by side but showing different things.

    AFAIK, The Orthodox Church in Russia continues to use the Julian Calendar when Russia switched to Gregorian calendar more than a century ago. So I guess popes have two calendars side by side on their desks, haven't they?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but which calendar is regarded as cardinal?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        The one in the West transept?

      2. jake Silver badge
    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      There is also the precedent of the rest of Europe recording dates as OS or NS for quite a while after the switch to the Gregorian calendar, but (and I suspect this is the author's point) the idea was that the choice of date was a presentation layer thing. The actual events were the same in either calendar.

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      So is that like Dave+1, if you miss an appointment you get a chance to do it again 2 weeks later?

  7. LDS Silver badge

    Data hoarding requires full control

    So each app comes with its own calendar which of course is not the device OS standard one, is not integrated, and can't be synced but with its one mothership.

    Software is no longer written to be useful. It is written to hoard data, and that require silos. Probably that's why Stonehenge was abandoned, priests started to try to track all users' lives....

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The big monster here is Microsoft

    Apple and to a degree even Google all since long adhere to open standards, but to add or remove calendar events data from a Microsoft platform (and I have't talked about the horror or other features like sharing, delegation and limited publication) requires - yes, you guessed it, money to license one of their idiotic and mostly broken standards, and woe betides anyone who reverse engineers it (as has happened before). Not only will that unleash a herd of sharks lawyers, but it also ensures that the next version will be "improved", which should be read as "tweaked just enough to make the competing product fail with errors" - or did you really think they changed thier approach that held back innovation back for decades?

    The rest of the world uses caldav and frankly, any effort to improve or add features should land in that standard so that all but the shark pool benefit.

    Dito for contacts, by the way. Carddav works, but could do with some framework features that allows identifiction of personal vs business data. If someone wishes to have their business data published so that every sales person can get to them and the occasional customer, that should not immediately expose personal details. Keeping that data away entirely is also (certainly at present) a good move, but why should the USER have to do all that protective work instead of the companies that want that data?

    Sorry for digressing. Back on track: Open Standards matter. Anything else harms interoperability and should be banned from any enterprise on account of being in principle not that different from ransomware..

    And yes, I just blew my rant quota for this week :).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Hope this time works for you, ..."

      Yeah? And what time would that be?

      IMO the absolutely worst thing about the ms calendar is that when you create a meeting in it; the auto-generated generic emails sent to other (intended) participants contain NO human readable information; not the name/purpose, not the time, not the day. Nothing. Not in the mail Subject field, not in the email body, not even lurking half-hidden in one of the urls.

      And it's not even a potentially difficult "syncing calendars" problem!

      .

      Although no doubt other people have other worst things they hate more :-)

      1. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

        Re: "Hope this time works for you, ..."

        Agree.

        This is especially bad, when you as Thunderbird-user receive an invite from M$ Outlook.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: "Hope this time works for you, ..."

          > when you as Thunderbird-user receive an invite from M$ Outlook

          How else can they force you to leave your hippy mail client for their glorious Office 747?...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The big monster here is Microsoft

      Oh how true. I run my own server - my Android phone connects to the calendar just fine; my Mac connects just fine; my (and my sister in law's) iPads connect just fine; everything connects just fine ... except ... 'kin Windows 10 on my wife's laptop. Will it connect to CalDAV or CardDAV, will it f***. There's a very very special place in my version of hell where I'd put the MS ******* responsible for this mess.

      And for work I have to work on two different systems - both Windows. For security reasons, nothing talks to anything else so as the article describes it's a 'kin p.i.t.a. manually adding placeholders in one to match the other, and remembering to change them when an appointment changes. And that's quite apart from having to manually cross reference with my personal calendar to make sure I'm not triple booking myself (which is not helped by not being able to take my phone into the office on the few days I go in there).

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: The big monster here is Microsoft

        Windows a can sync to generic provider but the UI doesn't let you.

        However you can set up an iCloud account (doesn't have to really exist) then edit it.

        So people are driven to the big providers that Windows 10 officially supports because of a brain-dead UI. I'll leave you to decide whether or not it's by accident or design.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: The big monster here is Microsoft

          I like that first link.

          I've seen the second, or ones with the same instructions, but ... from that page There’s one last caveat: Your DAV username has to be an email address for this to work." Guess what my user IDs are not.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The big monster here is Microsoft

        Our company is migrating from Google mail + calendar to Outlook 365 for security reasons.

        Moving to a Microsoft product for security reasons is like playing Russian roulette with no empty chambers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The big monster here is Microsoft

          From a privacy perspective it's moving from bush fire to a house you set on fire yourself: neither are safe.

  9. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    A long time ago.....

    My first experience of trying to synch calendars was with a Palm Pilot and Lotus Notes in about 1999 using a programme that might have been called AutoSync. It worked fine after a bit of setting up and I still remember my colleagues' amazement at the fact that I had my calendar, notes and Todo all on the PP. I certainly don't recollect synch being a pain, unlike my subsequent experiences of Outlook. I had a brief spell of running the Mac version of Outlook and trying to keep it in synch with Mac calendars on the same machine but the spell didn't last long and every week or so it would just duplicate every calendar entry when it synched. I gave up with it when rebuilding the Outlook database and Mac calendar was an almost daily task in an attempt to get it to synch properly. I've been native Mac for ages and the Mac calendar synchs OK with my work calendar on the server. The only problem is that very occasionally some clients can't process my invitations and vice-versa, but that's liveable with.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A long time ago.....

      Many moons ago I used my Psion to sync to the shared Outlook calendar - until I was woken up at midnight with the alarm going off because of someone else's dentist appointment........

      After that, never bothered again. I kept them separate, it did mean that I had to type in stuff twice - like my dentist appointments....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A long time ago.....

        The PC software that PSION produced to sync their devices was IMHO flat out horrific. I have no idea what they made that with, but I remember it crashing out of early multitaskers with ease.

  10. DJO Silver badge

    Sounds like a call to resurrect Lotus Organiser.

    1. jake Silver badge

      No.

      Just no.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh don't start me on this one.

    Google Calendar. I receive events for meeting in google mail, I add an alert for it via the Google web interface, it appears to succeed but when I open it to check it again, no alert. Not always, but often enough that I repeatedly missed months of meetings. Possibly down to some weird combination of macOS calendar integration and google, but after a few hours of trying every possible variation to work around it I had to admit defeat and set the macOS calender to make an alert for every event in the calender. This isn't ancient history either, it was a couple of months ago.

    How could this be an issue? In 2021? A calendar literally has one job. I'll stop typing now, but my scream of rage will continue for a bit longer.

    1. logicalextreme Silver badge

      Re: Oh don't start me on this one.

      What continues to enrage me about Gcal reminders is the fact that you still can't get reminders about contacts' birthdays. They sync nicely into their own calendar that you can display in the interface, but I'll only find out about one in advance (or on the day, or possibly a few days later) if I happen to notice it in said interface.

      People have been asking for this basic feature since Calendar was promoted to a "real" product, and the "solutions" range from the manual to the scripted — but all pretty much along the same lines, "copy the events one by one into your main calendar or a new calendar, then add reminders to those events". Meanwhile I believe Apple users laugh merrily. Hell, I think even Facebook can do it.

      Never had issues creating alerts for other events but I don't really use it for meetings, so sounds like your issue might be related — perhaps something to do with them being "second-hand" events. It's unutterably daft.

      I wouldn't say that alerting is part of a calendar's one job though — the one job is to record events. The basic extra things that can be achieved via electronic calendars however are invitations, integrations, viewing other people's calendars and alerting. Trouble is that if you these extra features don't work you may as well just have a paper calendar and remember to look at it every day.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: Oh don't start me on this one.

        I dunno about Apple. I've turned off Apple's "Birthday's" calendar because the alerts aren't customizeable and the max warning is 1 week before (at 0900 these days, which is better than at midnight like it used to be). A week's warning isn't enough time to buy a card and present and post to foreign parts. I copied birthdays into a new sidebar Calendar and I set the alerts as I want them.

        Also, the birthday comes from the Contacts entry, so if you've got just the one Contact entry for, say, Aunty Morticia, Uncle Gomez and the kids you can only enter one birthday and the Calendar will list it as whatever you've titled the contact - like "The Addams Family 50th birthday".

        As for Apple Contacts -- you really don't want to start me on that.

        1. logicalextreme Silver badge

          Re: Oh don't start me on this one.

          Ah, nice to know it sucks whatever ecosystem you're putting up with.

          Tying to contacts is fine for me because I mostly know individuals or couples with mobile phones, so that all fits in nicely. That said, I'm at the age where some of them have started having kids, so I can see how that'll cause problems.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Oh don't start me on this one.

      "Of course, it's in the interests of exactly zero office software suppliers to make this happen"

      Depending on the meetings, this isn't a bug, it's a feature.

  12. MiguelC Silver badge
    1. Giles C Silver badge

      One of the best and most truthful xkcd comics

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        I think we've got to the stage where references like "XKCD 927" should be regarded as being as valid and de facto standard as "RFC 1149".

        1. Dave559 Silver badge

          I'll xkcd 327 that!

          (The id of the almost as well known horsey one hasn't quite etched itself into my memory yet…)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Yes, but ...

      The problem isn't that we have 14 different standards, it's that we have one de-facto standard that everyone except MS uses - because to MS, a standard it doesn't control in order to prevent competition is something really bad. All we need is for that one bunch of ****ing ****s to support the existing standard that others already support - no new standard required.

    4. jake Silver badge

      In the world BX[0] ...

      Andrew S. Tanenbaum once said "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from."

      [0] Before XKCD.

      1. Dave559 Silver badge

        Re: In the world BX[0] ...

        Indeed he did. But obviously Tanenbaum didn't spend enough time drawing stick cartoon figures… ;-)

        (If there's not an xkcd about that, there should be.)

  13. nsb

    As a standards geek, I worked for years on improving Internet calendaring standards, and it was the biggest failure in my standards career. Why? Two reasons, one technical, one technopolitical:

    1. The ical standards permit infinitely recurring meetings, which have to be represented as rules rather than sets. Then, when exceptions to the rules occur, they have to be represented as exceptions, and it becomes way too complicated. If all repeating meetings were represented as finite sets (to be renewed, even automatically, every year or two) then the standards would be much simpler and there would be fewer problems.

    2. Microsoft has shown absolutely zero interest in playing nice and making its calendars compatible with everyone else's. When the dominant player in office calendaring won't play nicely, interoperation is simply never going to happen.

    This, in my opinion, is why governments should mandate and enforce open standards. It is in the interest of the consumer, overwhelmingly, but open standards are pretty much never in the interest of a company that holds a dominant/monopolist position.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      The ical standards permit infinitely recurring meetings

      I've worked at places where infinitely recurring meetings (complete with infinitely recurring subject discussions) are pretty much standard operational procedure.

      open standards are pretty much never in the interest of a company that holds a dominant/monopolist position.

      *cough*AMP*cough*

    2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Unfortunately we've seen wha MS does when governments require compliance to open standards - they'll stuff the national standards bodies with shills to vote through a piss-poor pile of manure with a deliberately confusing name becomes an "open standard that no-one but MS can implement", where conformance (or lack of) is impossible to demonstrate, and which simply carries on the "Use MS or have everyone complaining about lack of compatibility" control over business computing. With Microsoft, it seems that when they use "open" in the title (as in Office Open XML for the 'open' standard), it's like when countries have "democratic" in their name - you take it as an indicator that it's anything but open or democratic.

      Now, if governments added that the standards have to have a compliance verification tool available which is also open, and alternative implementations, then things would be different - MS would need to write a competing pile of manure in order to be able to tick the box.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        In the present case, simply require compliance the existing open standards, iCalendar and CalDev. No, that's not two competing standards, they simply handle different aspects.

        1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

          Unfortunately it isn't as simple as that. Outlook actually has reasonable iCalendar support - you can import many (although not all) valid .ics files although the .ics files it exports tend to be very complex and not many other implementations will load them. Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) is very WebDav/CalDav looking inside, although wrapped in proprietary cruft.

          Unfortunately, Outlook allows very complex events to be created - including some which cannot even be represented in iCal - and users actually use those features. Even if the event can, in theory, be represented, most other implementations of iCal are much more limited and refuse to parse them. And, of course there are many bugs with very complex events (in all implementations) - particularly when timezone rules get brought in as well.

          I actually did a fair bit of work on the SyncEvolution implementation of EAS, fixing several bugs with importing and exporting events to SyncEvolution from Outlook. Despite working on it for a long time, I never managed a completely clean import of my work Outlook calendar (which had well over 1000 events) to a valid ICS file (let alone into a client like Thunderbird). And I had to disable sync in the other direction completely because the round-trip completely trashed the Outlook events - which I relied on to pay my wages and which screwed my work colleagues if these were shared meetings.

          So, yes, Outlook is a problem but the standards and the other implementations bear a significant share of responsibility for the problems. And there is no money in really serious sync, so no one can invest the teams of developers needed to build full integration with Outlook.

    3. Ace2 Bronze badge

      Thank you for trying!

  14. Dr Scrum Master

    Start Date

    Before we go around synchronising schedules, how about using a calendar with a sensible start date?

    1st January does not correspond to any significant lunar/solar event. Starting the year at either the Winter solstice or the Sprint equinox is at least a significant solar event, and has built-in synchronisation, at least for those paying attention to the rising of the Sun.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Start Date

      the Sprint equinox

      Someone's been overdoing Agile.

    2. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Start Date

      I'm fine with the Roman-traditional January 1 for my actual calendar.

      But since businesses and governments can choose any date to start/end their fiscal year, when can I be allowed to choose a start date for my medical insurance? I hate that deductibles reset right at the sickest time of the year -- the dead of winter and transition to spring.

      Let me set it for April 1 (or even the old Julian March 15). After the inevitable summer/fall hospital stuff my missus deals with every year, we'll have blown past deductibles and often hit out-of-pocket-maximum just in time to deal with those colds, flus, and bronchitis (or worse).

      But, that will never happen, because money, and I'm sure the insurers are lobbying to keep that from changing.

      US healthcare is great but also an absolute joke.

    3. Fred Daggy Bronze badge

      Re: Start Date

      Winter solstice, so ... June 21? Er, no. It's like an American stating that "Windows 42 will drop in Fall 2042".

      A date. A real and palpable date thanks very much. Not something that varies according to where you stand.

    4. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Start Date

      We would need to neuter all religions before we could develop a sensible calendar... anyway French Revolution tried it, and didn't go far. Probably because it was still some kind of religion on its own.

    5. the Jim bloke Silver badge

      Re: Start Date

      Lets all go over to the Mayan calendar.

      Sure its EOL'd and out of support, but its not like there is anything to look forward too, anyway...

      1. Dave559 Silver badge

        Re: Start Date

        "Lets all go over to the Mayan calendar."

        It only needs a few human sacrifices to get the cogwheels turning again, I'm sure…

        (As alluded to elsewhere in the thread, volunteering the Outlook development team to be the initial blood sacrifices seems perfectly reasonable and appropriate…)

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: Start Date

          Not just the Outlook development team, but it should definitely include the Microsoft Exchange / Microsoft Exchange 365 Online team as well. It almost brings a smile to me knowing that with Microsoft 365 using Exchange that Microsoft can suffer in the way that everyone else suffered for years with the horror show that is Microsoft Exchange management.

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Start Date

      Let me introduce you to the medieval Wakefield court rolls where the court year starts at Michaelmas and the years are given as the regnal years, e.g the 3rd year of Edward II. Unfortunately no regnal years coincide with the court years.

    7. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Start Date

      /sigh

      A single, fixed* point in time is all that is needed. The most important thing is that the standard is agreed and adhered to across the world. The start point in a year really does not matter as it is an arbitrary point in time and there needs to be one, similar to how the worldwide 0 line (prime meridian) for longitude is the Greenwich Meridian. It could be any line around the world and one is as good as the other (as a plus side it being based in Greenwich really annoyed the French for many years who wanted it based on a line in Paris).

      * In reality, only mostly fixed, but it's fixed good enough for most purposes.

  15. teomor

    Use a good calendar app and stop complaining! Apps and services are 2 different things.

    Teams (Exchange) calendar and Google calendar are only services. You can't expect them to play nicely together.

    I don't have a problem managing both on my Mac stock Calendar app, for example.

    1. logicalextreme Silver badge

      I think you can expect them to play nicely together — you'll just be disappointed.

  16. talltoo

    Hopefully these efforts help...

    These efforts are encouraging, though it does seem the problem regresses at times.

    https://calendarswamp.blogspot.com/2016/01/calconnect-web-site-relaunched.html

    https://www.calconnect.org/

    Cheers.

  17. Graham Cobb Silver badge

    Its a surprisingly hard problem

    I have worked (in my spare time) on both calendar sync and contacts sync for many, many years. They are both really hard problems.

    The main issue is that the standards (ICS, etc - and also all the proprietary ones) are interchange standards, not sync standards (mostly the difference is that they exchange data, not transactions). That is only a problem because devices and implementations differ - the standards envisage perfect devices, with infinite storage and up to date software.

    To take a simple example... you have a phone calendar and you sync it to a desktop calendar. Then, on the phone you change something and resync. When the update happens, which should win? Well, it is obvious, you say, the most recent data wins. What if you have made two different (not even conflicting) changes on the two systems (maybe you deleted an attendee on the desktop and changed the meeting text on the phone)? The phone data is more recent (we are exchanging data, not transactions) so it wins and the attendee deletion is lost.

    The problem gets even worse when multiway sync is happening between several devices. In fact, in that case it is so bad it is, in practice, essential to regard one of your systems as the primary (and sync small changes from other devices with the primary often) - that doesn't stop the problem but at least makes it possible to understand what is happening!

    Unfortunately, even if the protocols are extended to address this (such as, for example, giving every item of data its own modification time) there is a much more serious problem in reality... the participating devices are not equal: in capabilities, in features, in storage, in reliability or in bugs.

    Simple example is a phone with a simple dialing list: it might only store names and phone numbers, and maybe only one home number and one work number. What happens if your desktop has 2 work numbers, 2 mobiles, 1 home number, 1 holiday home number, for the contact? In this case, most phones will select a couple of the numbers and just throw away the rest -- that is the most user friendly choice as, in practice, people want their contact sync to succeed and not generate errors because obscure data is not being stored. If you later make a change on the phone and sync back how does the desktop know whether these other numbers were deliberately removed or just never received?

    Back when I was a main contributor for both GPE (a PDA suite for early smart devices) and OpenSync (a very powerful and sophisticated PDA sync which tried to solve the PDA sync problem properly) [I didn't create either but I did put time in trying to make both work!] we tried really hard to solve these problems. For example, we had the concept of a database of all the quirks of all the PDA implementations so we could say "ah, that phone only stores 2 home phone numbers so if it reports only two later don't assume the others had been deleted". It never worked. It was just too complicated (and it could only have worked if OpenSync was the primary and everything else synced with that and never with each other).

    In practice, the best solution today is to have something you consider the primary (often a desktop system like Evolution, or a storage solution like Nextcloud) and make sure you sync devices frequently, and try to limit changes to the primary if possible.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Its a surprisingly hard problem

      Nicely presented example of why it's hard.

      The extra thing to add to really cause pain is different time zones (one would have thought that US developers would have this down OK as the US has many internal time zones, but evidence shows otherwise) as well as many clocks going backwards and forwards every year, and the varying point in the year that this happens.

      Managing clocks going backwards and forwards is annoying enough in a scheduling system locked to a single time zone (been there, done that, felt the pain many times) but add in multiple time zones and events that can span them across a clock change and it's pretty horrible.

  18. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Calendars are not alone

    "the madness recorded of two calendars installed side by side but showing different things"

    This is not restricted to calendars (and calendars in two different and competing applications).

    In my instance of Firefox, the progressive download time indicated in the top bar drop down and the one in the "show downloads" page differ dramatically in both absolute value and increment in the same application. They must use separate mechanisms that haven't been coordinated. (two different developers who didn't talk?). That would seem even less excusable.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: Calendars are not alone

      All software designed by committee and implemented by a team suffers from shit like this.

      I had the misfortune of looking at the Gimp source code back in the day. One of the effect filters I looked at spent a ton of time converting the image data into a specific format before passing it to a function which spent a ton more time converting it back to the original format so it could work on it.

      I would say you couldn't make this shit up, but sadly people writing software do. Every fucking day of their miserable lives.

  19. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    Madness

    > Nowhere in the archaeological or historical record, however, is the madness recorded of two calendars installed side by side but showing different things.

    I refer the author to the numerous ancient and not so ancient civilisations that have run the lunar and solar calendars side-by-side with even more numerous mechanisms to try and link them.

    One particular event stands out:

    The problem with lunar calendars is that the solar year is dominant. For example, the Ottoman empire used the lunar calendar as its official calendar for government expenditures. But unfortunately tax collection had to follow the solar year because revenue could only be collected following harvests. However, 32 solar years is 33 lunar years and, at the end of cycle, there is one less tax harvest compared to expenditure year so there is less revenue available to the government. The year 1448J was one such end of cycle year and - perhaps not entirely coincidentally - the Ottomans were invaded by Hungarian and Serbian troops just when there was financial pressure funding the army.

    1. Irony Deficient Silver badge

      In varietate concordia

      I refer the author to the numerous ancient and not so ancient civilisations that have run the lunar and solar calendars side-by-side with even more numerous mechanisms to try and link them.

      Speaking of the Ottoman empire, see this calendar day page from Thessaloniki in 1911: the upper left has the Rumi date (i.e. the “Roman” fiscal calendar, synchronized to the Julian) in Ottoman Turkish; the upper right has the Hijri (Islamic) date in Ottoman Turkish; the lower left has the Julian date in Greek; the lower right has the Gregorian date in French; and a line near the bottom has the Hebrew date in Hebrew. (Additional supplementary information can be found on the page in Bulgarian and Armenian.)

      This is quite clearly in the historical record — five calendars side by side showing different things (viz the Rumi, Julian, and Gregorian dates showing a day that begins at midnight, and the Hijri and Hebrew dates showing a day that begins at sunset).

  20. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    I even encounter madness with just one calendar

    I am a happy Linux greybeard at my place of work, so I only occasionally start-up my Windows device.

    Once I am logged in, Outlook reminds me of meetings that have already occured days ago.

    I guess, there was a fruitless discussion on a potential cut-off period: "How long should we remind users of passed meetings?"

    Well, I guess they settled on the Salomonic-moronic approach, "Let's remind the users of all past meetings"

    This is equally good (we're reminding them) and bad (we're reminding all of them).

    1. .stu

      Re: I even encounter madness with just one calendar

      Last week I got a notification from Outlook for a meeting that I apparently missed on 15th April 2020, only 81 weeks overdue! Pretty sure I was there tho :)

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Calendars reached their peak with the Psion 3a and 5...

    ...and it's been downhill ever since.

  22. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    It used to be possible - until five or so years ago - to sync Outlook and Google calendars without any problems. I think it was an "other calendars" option in the Google one.

  23. Martin-R

    iOS/iPadOS do a reasonable job

    My "calendar of record" is the iPad... The *many* Gmail calendars I'm interested in reach it via one Gmail account, and my multiple exchange accounts are configured on it too. It seems to work pretty well - certainly much better than trying to show Gmail calendars in Outlook, let alone something rash like trying to see all the Exchange calendars together in Outlook without ticking multiple checkboxes that won't stay ticked next time you visit!

    Somewhat amusingly, the iPad also seems to be the best place to use Teams... at least there I can easily switch between accounts instead of having to log out and log back in again as on the Windows Desktop client.

  24. Bruce Ordway

    Wishful thinking...

    I've been freelancing for at least a decade and have accumulated several site specific email addresses/calendars that I currently monitor via Outlook Web Access.

    In a perfect world I'd be able to keep track of how I'm spending my time as well as scheduling events and... sync with my other, site specific calendars.

    I have searched a few times for a simple personal calendar but...not found anything for centralizing calendars.

    So... I just keep doing things manually, Excel for tracking activity times and a separate Google calendar for pending events.

    And I know a few people who still swear by their old day planners.

    Hmmm... this article reminds me of another "red headed stepchild"... reporting software.

    e.g. PowerBI, Report Builder, Crystal, etc... don't we all just love to hate these?

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: Wishful thinking...

      Very much...

      PowerBI has/had a lot of potential as an interactive reporting system but is riddled with really dumb implementation issues and strange absences of functionality that would be consistent with other part of it and the editing interface is incredibly poor in many places but quite good in others, just to add to the frustration. After all pulling data from a Microsoft SQL server database using a Microsoft Connector into Microsoft PowerBI one would hope that the data would make it through un-mangled. Unfortunately such a hope is dashed upon the shores of Microsoft's endemic incompetence.

      Report Builder is quite good by way of a non-interactive reporting system but has an interface so bad in places that often the only way to fix anything is to quit it, load up the XML file in a suitable editor and both fix the stupid and manually enter the values and configuration required.

      As for Crystal Reports... maybe sometime closer to the dawn of time it didn't feel like it was developed by a room full of vindictive monkeys mashing their keyboards trying to produce something that was so large, bloated, unwieldy which also delighted in as many weird inconsistencies as possible that it was usable... but I just can't remember a usable version any more.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Wishful thinking...

        "developed by a room full of vindictive monkeys mashing their keyboards trying to produce something that was so large, bloated, unwieldy which also delighted in as many weird inconsistencies as possible"

        That would be Ask's Manman ... but that's another story, from a long time ago and far, far away.

  25. Steve Graham

    "Nowhere in the archaeological or historical record, however, is the madness recorded of two calendars installed side by side but showing different things."

    Look up "Synod of Whitby".

  26. Robert Grant Silver badge

    I want my Teams calendar to sync with my Outlook calendar.

  27. The Basis of everything is...
    FAIL

    Thou shalt not coexist

    We have work phones provided at (alleged) great expense which are configured so that company calendar and contacts can sync to the phone. But only inside their own sandboxes that cannot be accessed by any other application.

    So you cannot see your home and work calendar on screen together at the same time as a manual not-a-sync.

    If somebody calls you, the phone cannot show you the real name of who is calling, just the number. It also means the phone app cannot access the contact list to make calls. Copy/paste is blocked too and don't even think about installing signal, WA or any other messenger and expecting that to be able to get to calendar or contact details.

    We've taken a pretty good communication tool, and rendered it almost useless. Forget the bronze age, we've gone back to the primal forest and dodging dinosaurs.

  28. aerogems Silver badge

    CalDAV

    Probably the majority of these issues could be solved if everyone just adopted, or at least supported, CalDAV. Of course then you don't get the vendor lock-in that everyone (at the vendor) wants. That first 80% is easy, it's the remaining 20% that always takes longer than all the rest combined.

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: CalDAV

      CalDAV is essentially an access protocol. It only solves this problem in the sense that it allows access to a centralised calendar storage. If you want unconnected access then sync is still required. CalDav is necessary but not sufficient.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: CalDAV

        'Tis why I said it would only address the majority of problems, mostly related to interoperability. Getting everyone to adopt CalDAV so you can have all your odd calendars feed into a single one is going to be the hard part. But it seems easier than writing the details on the foreheads of random children with permanent marker. Parents don't seem to care for that. My guess is they are just jealous they didn't think of it first and someone else is making use of prime forehead real-estate on their kid(s) for free.

  29. Engineer Andrew

    There is a lot to be said for a 1980 style Filofax. You can look at it and make entries when someone is talking to you on the phone at the same time. It's very tactile, made of soft leather, and the paper is very high quality. Writeing on the paper with an ink fountain pen is pure pleasure, but if it's a moveable appointment you can use a pencil and your rubber will not ruin the page. It's simple to order next years pages in around September, or you can have an academic year diary. If you lose it you will regret not being better organised, but you could reconstruct most of it from your various electronic records.

    1. mdubash

      ...and you'd still have it as an aide-memoire for decades....

  30. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Longing for the Bronze Age

    At least when my boss wants to schedule an impromptu staff meeting, he'll think twice about the effort involved with hefting his granite lintel atop the appropriate sarsens in my henge.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Longing for the Bronze Age

      Shirley he'd just have to move the easel+whiteboard to locate it under the correct lintel, not the lintel itself?

      Advanced societies would just move the postit from whiteboard to whiteboard.

  31. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

    +1 for Psion5 (and 7...)

    Went from FiloFax to '5' (fed up with rewiting dog-eared pages). All good, even syncd to my NHS Outlook until IT killed the PC port access.

    Ooutlook was 'Out' as, on a day by day basis, I could use any (or most) of 70+ terminals over 14 floors.

    OWA worked..sortof but the Psion was king

    Eventually Gcal caught up but now I'm sick of "need your birthdate to comply with the law' (p*ss off, I'm in UK)

    Now on my self-hosted (and backed up) N***cloud server. Works as well as Google version without the spying.

    NB, I have chosen to VPN (private PTP) to server; just because. Some peeps are probing my VPN gateway every 15 mins cycling through ports (and changing their IP ever so slightly)

  32. bazza Silver badge

    Er, Anyone Heard of BlackBerry?

    Multi-calendaring was solved by BlackBerry yonks ago, specifically with BlackBerry Balance. From what I heard, when well set up it was a very good approach to managing and living with personal and professional calendars. It was so good, no one understood it and so very few went for it...

    But that's just chicken feed. There's way more to calendaring than simply having a single view of what events you're supposed to be at. I recall reading about IBM Profs, dating from the 1980s. This mainframe hosted office solution (email, calendar) knew all about the art of having a meetings. Supposedly, some installations of it were set up so that if someone required your attendance at another site, Profs would book you the necessary transportation and hotel accomodation and also knew how long this would all take, and how long the returns would take for the next appointment. Thus, organising a meeting with Bob, Alice and Frankie was simply a case of inviting them; Profs did everything else to ensure that all participants had the travel docs they needed and the time allowed for it, automatically.

    That was the 1980s.

    What's gone wrong of course is that the creators of all the more recent efforts have focused on straightforward calendar apps like that solves all the problems, rather than ask "why do we have calendars, and why are they important?".

    Google nearly went down this sort of route; they started up some sort of travel coordination application, the emergence of which caused Worldmate to abandon BlackBerry Travel (something along the lines of "we're going to get swamped by a big tech bully, no point competing"). But of course Google lost interest and shuttered the project, leaving the world with nothing. Blackberry travel was fabulous, understanding flights, hire cars, hotels, and being glued into all the important data sources related to "travel".

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One fingered robot.

    All these digital Calendars do already share a common interface using well-known "symbols" -

    Inputs

    - Button clicking

    - Finger Dragging

    Outputs

    - X by Y grid of pixels with:

    - Visible Layout structure

    - Visible Roman characters and other symbols

    Unfortunately, from the perspective of programmatically accessing that IO, all the browsers that I know of go out of their way to make the input impossible. (The output is possible with screen shots). The motives behind that barrier are, I think:

    - User security (to prevent an inside takeover)

    - Intellectual Property protection of sites using the browser (to prevent programmatically ripping content off a screen).

    Of course it is not impossible to do that programmatic accessing (without robotics) but it requires a special setup to fool the browsers = money, time. The only scenarios that can afford that are special testing scenarios (bene) and scammers (mal).

    Perhaps the need to sync calendars will drive the development of cheap $50 robots with just one finger and x,y,z axes. A personal advantage would be that the controller could be offline - unlike relying on vendors to collate your info and thus exposing more personal info to the vendors.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "This is a job for academics [...]"

    Who possibly work in universities that date events by "Third Thursday in Michaelmas Term"? Although a quick trawl of known such event lists suggests that normal calendar dates are finally being used.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Universities aren't only education, there is also research, which happens all year long. And in this case you have to manage contacts and calendars of people and teams from several different places all over the world, using different systems in different languages. Obviously you never only work on a single project at a time, and obviously you don't work with the same people on each of your current projects.

      I guess freelance developers might experience something similar.

  35. Lorribot

    I work for a company that has around a third of staff 100% Google, the other 2/3 are O365, around 40% of all staff use Macs the rest are on Windows.

    Just trying to get the Macs authenticating to AD when they only use Google services or the PCs to login and update from teh WSUS servers..... Calenders, Free busy syncs to book meeting, managing meeting rooms.

    The big companies just don't want to work to common standards. they want their ring fenced customers only using their stuff.

    There is no motivation on their part to make any of this work.

    Look at how Google kept changing its services so they never worked as well with any other browser.

    Look at all the chat apps that can't chat to each other, never have and never will.

    Imagine if you were on a Verizon phone and could only talk to people on other Veirizon phones? But as it computers its all ok. Politicians need to sort this out and stop all this nonsense ring fencing and make all these comapnies agree a standard for all this stuff so they can all talk.

    But I guess there is too much lobbying money in it to bother.

  36. Lucy in the Sky (with Diamonds)

    I use a calendar every morning...

    For the past twenty years, I have been using Outlook calendar. For every birthday, nameday, deathday and historic event that I follow, I have set up a recurring yearly appointment from the start year, which is very handy when I need to go back in calendar time to date newly discovered paper photos or negatives.

    I also use it to keep track of public holidays, the Melbourne Cup, and yes, even rubbish days.

    Every morning when I wake up, there is on my computer, giving me a hint of things to come on the days ahead.

    For work, well there is my work computer, where suits and secretaries put meetings as they see fit, and I see it all day every day when I am at work.

    My elder relatives keep permanent calendars on the toilet wall, so they see the upcoming events a few times a day, very easy to synch with outlook, just fold to the relevant month, and add a note…

    Every night, a script synchs Outlook between all the computers in the house, so I can afford to lose a few.

    I have never thought about putting my calendar on a telephone or an online account.

  37. Chairo

    "if they did work they were so broken you wish they didn't."

    That, and exactly that!

    What is more frustrating than having your calendar messed up by multiple syncs which fail to recognize previous syncs happened and add each event over and over again.

    And after deleting some of the multiple instances by hand, suddenly the sync works in the other direction, deleting your original events in the other calendar.

    As bonus, let's put both calendars to different time schemes, like one is on GMT basetime + difference and the other is just set to local time. Someone from overseas sent you an invitation? Good luck syncing that one!

    I suppose most people just gave up syncing their multiple calendars. I certainly did.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1/1/1970

    NVRAM is invalid

    press any key to load default values

    (or in the case of the Cisco router I'm staring at... '00:12:17.092 UTC Wed Jan 1 2014'... now where's that box of CR2032 batteries?)

  39. JulieM

    What did you expect

    What did you expect? The system is performing exactly as designed.

    When there are a bunch of proprietary interests, all competing not for a share of a market but for the whole market, compatibility and interoperability are dirty words. Every player wants to be the only game in town. So when dealing with something fundamentally simple like dates (there are a few standardised, universally-comprehensible ways of expressing a date) and human-readable text strings (there are also standardised ways of incorporating embellishments with text), they have to introduce "unique features" of their own; not for any actual benefit to the user, but to introduce deliberate incompatibilities with other providers of outwardly-similar services.

    And given a choice between making something that might end up being compatible with another player's offering or omitting a feature that would really benefit users, the big tech players will go for disappointed users every time.

    Am I a terrible person for wanting them all to perish in a fire because the local fire brigade's proprietary hoses did not fit the buildings' proprietary dry risers?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What did you expect

      "Am I a terrible person for wanting them all to perish in a fire because the local fire brigade's proprietary hoses did not fit the buildings' proprietary dry risers?"

      Before municipal fire services - a building displayed a plate showing which company was their insurer. Fire engines were organised for those insurers. If they turned up to a fire - and it didn't show their insurer's plate - then they let it burn.

      1. JulieM

        Re: What did you expect

        Don't give Boris Johnson ideas!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What did you expect

          Boris, as London Mayor, did buy 3 second-hand water cannon for £320k, spent £56k 'upgrading' them (well they did need new CD players, presumably to play Valkyrie music over the tannoy), only for Theresa May to refuse to license them.

          They eventually went for £11,025 as scrap... (he spent £19k just to repaint them!)

  40. mdubash

    History? What's that?

    One more problem with calendars: there's no history.

    I can look at my old diaries going back to the '70s as a reminder of what I was doing around then. It sparks memories (such as they are). Then in the mid-80s, I switched to an electronic calendar. It was so cool!

    But of course, there's no way any of that data has survived the holocaust of changed and abandoned standards, crashed computers, forced hard disk wipes and all the other ills that ether-trapped data is heir to.

    So my memories are gone. Wish I knew who it was I went out with that day - but probably just as well that I don't still have her phone number....

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