Where’s the party?

The other day when one of my explanations was running a little long, a colleague asked for the “Twitter” version. In other words, “give me the high level overview in 140 characters or less.” I thought that was pretty clever, so I decided it might be a neat idea to put the “Twitter” version at the top of a long blog post, like an abstract of the post’s content. That way, if you’re pressed for time, you can just scan my faux tweet to get a sense of the article’s content.

gregsedwardsgregsedwards Live Cal now handles social events & custom birthday cal entries. Welcome back US holidays. http://bit.ly/3ONR7L
about 1 hour ago from the web

OK, maybe that was a little too scant on the details to be practical. Nonetheless, I’ll try to keep it short and sweet.

  • Social events. As expected, Windows Live Events functionally retired on last week (you can’t create new events), so WL Calendar has received a much needed update to handle the gap in functionality. Social events have been folded in with regular events in WLC. You can now create an event and invite others to it, just like almost every conventional calendar program in the known universe. WLC will send an email to each invitee, and their responses (yes, no, tentative, no response) will be collected in the event’s details.

    While this solution lacks the custom "space" for your event’s collateral (such as photos, discussions, links, and files) that was provided by the old system, it does get the job done. Plus, if you really want to have a virtual home for your event, I suppose you can just create a Windows Live Space or a Windows Live Group around it. Or just use one of the scads of free event planning tools out there. Considering how often people used the old Events service, I’d say it’s not a deal breaker either way.

  • Birthdays. The previously-flaky Birthday calendar has been overhauled. Instead of having to go through your contacts, now you can manually create entries on the Birthday calendar. WLC essentially creates a "placeholder" contact for each manual birthday, and you’re expected to use the clean up tool to merge birthday data into your contacts as necessary. That’s still kind of clunky if you ask me, but again it gets the job done. Oh, and you can now set 2 reminders for a birthday (why just 2, and why just birthdays, I have no clue).

    You can also delete the Birthday calendar altogether, which actually helped me to resolve a rather frustrating and ongoing issue I had with duplicate birthdays showing on my calendar. In a moment of "hold my beer and watch this" ingenuity, I decided to just delete and recreate my Birthday calendar in hopes of fixing the issue, and after about 15 minutes of refreshing calendar entries (which, by the way, you can manually initiate at any time), it rebuilt all of my contacts’ birthdays from scratch. End result: one clean Birthday calendar with spiffy little cake charms. Win.

  • Holidays. Another minor (but very welcome) update that I stumbled across, the US Holidays calendar has finally been updated with current holidays. Rather than maintaining your own copies of common holidays, you can just subscribe to a shared calendar to bring them all over at once. I had previously used the US Holidays calendar, but they had stopped working after 2008, presumably because whoever maintains the holiday calendars had fallen asleep at the wheel. Did you realize that Labor Day was this week?

There are still several features of WLC that haven’t been touched. For example, why can’t I easily rearrange/hide/delete group calendars? Also, where’s the long-promised support for seamless integration with Windows Mobile devices? C’mon Microsoft, it’s a shame when Google Calendar does it, but your own web-based solution can’t match the functionality. That said, I think WLC is still the best web-based calendar solution out there. The service continues inching toward becoming a real replacement for desktop-based personal information management programs, and I think it provides more than enough features for non-business consumers.

This quiet little update also begs a question about the notion of releasing updates in "waves." Is all of this nip/tuck activity a prelude to something big that’s coming soon, or are already we seeing bits of wave 4 being doled out piecemeal to avoid the earth-shattering changes that left so many users overwhelmed and disgruntled when wave 3 was rolled out all at once last year?

– Greg

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2 thoughts on “Where’s the party?

  1. That used to be called "The Readers Digest" version for their reputation for condensing popular books. Time marches on. Good post, Greg. X

  2. "Also, where’s the long-promised support for seamless integration with Windows Mobile devices?" Greg, say it 1000 times and it still won’t be enough. This is a feature/function that is a huge oversight fom Microsoft. I hope Microsoft is paying attention.

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