Today, most 10 year olds may not know who the President of China is but will definitely know what Google is. Incorporated as a company in 1998, Google was the brainchild of two PhD students at Stanford University in California, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Google has come a long way from an experimental project to a multinational internet technology research corporation, which hosts a number of internet-based services and products from free mail and web browsers to operating systems and smart phones.
Google’s free online calendar is a wonderful application to keep a track of your schedule while on the move. Though there are many desktop based calendar applications, the need to have a computer at hand is a major disadvantage. And if it cannot be synchronized with a phone or PDA or if you’re not rich enough to own a laptop or a phone with PC syncing capabilities, you are surely doomed. But thankfully GCal can come to the rescue!
Accessing GCal is easy. Existing Gmail users don’t need to sign up. Just click on the Calendar link on the top left corner of the Gmail screen and you’ll be taken there. If you don’t have a Gmail account, just sign up and you’ll have access to a wide range of useful online tools including the Calendar app.
Adding an event to GCal is simple. Click on the Quick Add link (or press Q) and typing your event in plain English in the resulting bubble will create a new event. Quick add function is smart enough to understand what you mean. For example if you type “Carol’s birthday party 7.00pm on 26/5/10”, an entry will be added on May 26, 2010 at 7.00 pm with the description, Carol’s birthday party.
Clicking on the Create Event link (or pressing C) will result in a pane with a plethora of fields to create an event. Or you can just click on a date or time to create the event.
There are three forms of reminders. Pop-up alerts will, as the name suggest, create a pop-up message as an event reminder. But the downside of this is that you need to have the Calendar open to see this message. But there are email reminders and SMS reminders (you have to integrate your mobile phone number with Google to get text alerts). You can tell Google Calendar how soon you are required to be reminded of a specific event. This varies from minutes to weeks.
Rescheduling an event is easy with GCal. Simply drag and drop the event on the calendar to the specified date. If you need to tweak the event further, double click on the event to see all of its details and edit. Need to delete an appointment? No problem, click on the event once and click on Delete!
You may want to create separate calendars. A birthday calendar, a meetings calendar, a holiday calendar and so on. You can select different colours for each calendar text for easy identification.
Need to switch an event from one calendar to another? No problem, you can do it by editing the event. Just select a different calendar from the calendar drop-down list.
GCal is capable of importing data from other calendars, provided the data is in CSV format. If you’ve been previously using Yahoo calendar and think that it is time to switch to Google, you can export the Yahoo calendar data to a CSV format and import it later.
If you’re an Outlook user, download the Google Calendar Sync, a small programme which you need to download and install on your PC. During the installation you’ll be asked to identify your account and the direction of sync (ie. from PC to GCal or vice versa). Define a frequency for sync and Google Calendar Sync will do the rest for you, keeping the calendars up to date.
If the calendar programme you’re using now cannot be synced with your mobile phone GCal is very handy. With SMS alerts you can get notified of an existing event before a preset time.
I think you can see now how powerful Google Calendar is. With the FREE price tag, it provides users a number of potent tools to plan and organize. Due to its online existence, it’s accessible from anywhere. The rumour is that Google is working towards offline Calendar support, but it’s in early stages.
So why not give GCal a try? After all it’s free…