This will be my first post in a series covering all the text services I’m subscribed to. I figured with EVERYONE (including my dear mother) jumping on the text message bandwagon, it’s about time everyone knew how powerful and helpful this texting stuff can be.
I’ve done almost everything I can think of to harness all the power of texting that is out there. I initially did this because I couldn’t afford a data plan. Now I’ve gotten so many text services running that it would be impractical to start a data plan since there’s only a few things I’d want to do on my phone that I can’t.
So let’s start with keeping appointments. I utilize Google Calendar as much as I can for scheduling my own activities and even sometimes the activities of others. In fact I think I use it a little more than the designers originally intended, but more on that later.
As you can see from the snapshot, there’s a lot going on here. Everything is color-coded for my convenience. I have Work as one color (yes, that says 6AM for work starting) so it’s easy to see. I also have a personal calendar, financial calendar, church calendar, and the scheduled events of a few of my friends compiled into a ‘friends’ calendar. Those would be the ones blocked out, since I’m not big on giving away other people’s information.
But the fun doesn’t end there! When I had Facebook I found an application that grabbed all my friends’ birthdays and added them to my Google Calendar. I have since shut down my Facebook, but it’s nice to be reminded that others are getting old too. I have a To Theaters and DVD Release calendar so I know when things are out there. I have a US holiday and a Korean holiday calendars, just so I can better remember these things.
I also have a “Phases of the Moon” calendar. I don’t recall why. I’ve spent no time as a werewolf and am not into astrology…. hmm…
The bottom part of my day was cut off in the snapshot, but I assure you my evening are by majority free according to this calendar. And I like it that way. Frees me up to do laundry, hang with friends, watch television, go to church services, eat dinner, hang with friends, catch a movie, hang with friends, play video games with friends, read with friends. Gee, when I put it that way I almost sound like a busy or even interesting person. *Giggle*
But wait! I’ve been yakking all this time and haven’t said a word about text messaging at all! How does it factor in? Well I’ll tell you.
Despite being the point of this post, I must admit that G-Cal (as I’ve come to call it) doesn’t have the best support for texting. They could do better. But let’s go over what they’re doing right.
Each and every one of the events on that calendar pic has a reminder attached to it. Yes, even the Korean holidays and all those haircut reminders. Now G-Cal offers 3 different methods for reminders. One is a pop-up. I’ve never used this one, and I don’t think it does anything unless you leave this open all day. I guess this is an attempt to imitate Outlook. But at least Outlook makes a noise. I dunno; to each his own I guess. There’s also an email reminder. I guess if you kept your email (Outlook or otherwise) open all the time then that could work for you too. Or if you have one of those work Blackberries, you could tell it to email your work address, and it’d vibrate on your hip in its nifty holster.
I personally go with the SMS reminder (that’s an acronym that pretty much means ‘text message’). I can set it for minutes, hours, or even days in advance of the event. I can even set default reminders PER CALENDAR. So if I want to be reminded about work 30 minutes before since it takes 20 to drive there, I can do that. If I want personal events to have an automatic reminder 45 minutes ahead since I don’t know how far I’ll be driving, I can do that. I could even set multiple reminders for an event. So if I wanted to know a week in advance of my parents’ anniversary so I could get a gift, then the day before so I actually go and get one, that’s do-able.
So G-Cal sends me messages before events happen. Neato. Is that all? Of course not! I can also add events and check an entire day’s schedule from my phone. Say someone tells me about a music performance I should go to tomorrow at 7pm at Starlight theatre. It’s expected to last 2 hours. Easy as can be, I send a text to an address provided by G-Cal saying “Music Performance tomorrow from 7 pm to 9 pm at Starlight Theatre”. It creates an event in my default calendar named ‘Music Performance at Starlight Theatre’ running from 7-9pm tomorrow. There’s even a WHERE field that gets filled with ‘Starlight Theatre’. It could hardly be better.
Wait. It could be better. See, it only works for my default calendar. Since work is my main event (at least most time-consuming) in a week, I set that to my default. So no matter what I send to it, it is automatically put in Blue as a work event. And if I don’t specify a duration, it assumes one hour.
Oh, and one other little feature I almost never use but could still be helpful. Say I kept everything on one main calendar or had set a better default. I could send a text saying “day” to G-Cal, and I’d get back a summary of all that day’s events. If I just want the next thing happening, I send “next”. If I wanted to know what’s up tomorrow, I’d send “nday”.
Well that’s a long listing of all the functionality and uses I make of G-Cal. It is even more expandable, but I don’t have any friends I know of that use it. I could easily see a start-up company utilizing G-Cal and Gmail for their employees. In fact I think Google sells Enterprise level versions of both of these. But the functionality is there on the free ones too.

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