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Virtualization, Cloud, Infrastructure and all that stuff in-between

My ramblings on the stuff that holds it all together

Category Archives: iPhone

How to Remove LinkedIn contact birthdays from your iPhone Calendar

Contacts of LinkedIn, I love you all. honestly I do – but there are a lot of you.

When I added the LinkedIn app to my iPhone it “helpfully” populated by iPhone calendar with everyone’s birthday – which is kind of a problem when you’re challenged for screen estate on the iPhone, and frankly as much as I would love to send you all a card and gift it’s not going to happen, so it’s a bit annoying.

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You can remove these by tapping on Calendars at the bottom of the Calendar display.

Then scroll down past you usual calendar settings, look for “other” and uncheck Birthdays.

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And presto, they’re gone.

*PS Kenny – I’ll buy you a bourbon next time I see you instead 🙂

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Domestic Schedule Bliss? There’s an iPad app for that in the Cloud

 

Anyone reading this that has a partner and family will probably understand my pain… My wife & I have a pretty busy schedule; work commitments and travel that are part of any modern IT consultant job, 2 young children and their highly complex schedule of social and school, nursery, classes add to that a widely distributed network of family and friends and their social events/weekend visiting and it gets pretty complex to keep track of.

As I’ve written about before my Outlook/BES Blackberry calendar is de-facto to me; I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to track everything and the bit of my brain that deals with remembering dates over a week away is either missing or faulty and multiple personal/work calendars just mess with my head.

My wife has performed a heroic task of maintaining a paper family calendar for years, but that forced me to also maintain it manually and often things were forgotten which has led to much confusion and mis-scheduling, especially when I have been away and there have been changes to my schedule.

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We work in IT right? there has to be a technical solution to this pain? well yes, there is; however my wife found using a laptop or small screened mobile phone to manage a shared calendar too difficult whilst juggling 2 small children and always fell back to the paper calendar and lived with it’s limitations.

So, when an iPad was introduced and quickly adopted by everyone in the household as “good-enough” for everything from quick browsing of the web to TV guides, iPlayer, recipes, games I spotted an opportunity.

I was a bit skeptical about the iPad at first and didn’t think it would be much more than a nice toy, however it was used so much by all of the family because;

  • It switched on instantly (unlike a laptop)
  • the battery lasts literally forever so you don’t have to be tethered to power (unlike a laptop or iPhone)
  • Has a usable sized screen that you could read things without having to scroll/pan about (unlike a smartphone); and having 2 young kids it’s wipe-clean and reasonably robust (parents will understand Smile).

So with some fiddling we ended up at this solution

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  • Google calendar acting as the central “hub” reference – accessible via a web browser from anywhere and with a good API that is used by sync applications across multiple platforms.
  • My Exchange-hosted calendar is automatically synced to my fat-Outlook client and to my Blackberry via the BES.
  • the Google calendar sync application runs in the background on my Blackberry and syncs with the shared Google Calendar.
  • The iPad application CalenGoo syncs with the Google Calendar so the calendar can always be viewed and edited from the iPad in a convenient home-use form-factor.
  • My wife’s new smartphone (which will either be a BIS Blackberry or iPhone will be able to sync with the Google calendar “hub” giving her a mobile and up to date editable copy of the calendar.

For us it works pretty well, if you have a similar problem I’d suggest you investigate it, one word of warning the BB/Gmail sync app won’t sync historical appointments from your calendar so be careful if you try to get around this with a manual import; you may end up with duplicate calendar entries (at least I did, and had to de-dupe them).

There are also Google calendar sync plug-ins for Outlook and other mail clients, but I was happy enough with doing it via my BB as that nearly always has a network connection and is kept constantly in-sync with my work calendar.

With all that sync’ing there is a latency of about an hour for changes to get replicated end-end which is more than enough for our family needs.

In terms of security my family or work schedule isn’t particularly sensitive but it’s tied down to usernames/passwords where relevant and transmission is over SSL, entries from our shared calendar get synced into my corporate calendar marked as ‘private’ – but there could be better support for a more granular model both ways here, Google calendar seems to have this concept but it doesn’t federate into into the Exchange/BB world {yet}.

iPhone SDK & Roadmap

 

Now, I’ve been a bit skeptical about the iPhone, I’ve played with a few – nice to use but very much a 1.0 product from a software point of view (great hardware – except for the battery), this link from engadget gives a transcript of the SDK announcement/press conference – more here too.

Looks like there are some good apps coming and support for Exchange over the air via ActiveSync (EAS) – this will be a big selling point, most current EAS compatible devices are Windows Mobile and IMHO are quite poor from a usability point of view, this could change all that… the touch interface opens up a lot of interesting possibilities.

Interestingly apps will be available for the iPod touch too (at a nominal cost), making that a compelling proper PDA/media platform rather than “just a big video iPod”.

Will see how things go, but that’s the only announcement that’s even piqued my interest in getting one at some point, iTunes is neat and easy to use (bit slow, but) and will be the primary method for downloading apps.

**update: BBC iPlayer now available for the iPhone. Cool  – shame it’s not 3G capable yet or that really would be compelling!**