Online calendar sharing with AirSet
For the past few months, I’ve been looking for a web-based calendar-sharing service that makes it easier to coordinate schedules with others. I also needed this service to be able to synchronize with Microsoft Outlook and my Palm Treo.
After months of searching, I’ve finally found a service called AirSet (www.airset.com) that meets these needs and works great. It’s also free (AirSet makes their money by extending the AirSet functionality to cell phones).
My wife Sally and I are both extremely busy people with businesses to run and kid activities to coordinate. It was becoming near impossible to manage our calendars the “old fashioned way” whereby we’d occasionally get together to review our upcoming schedules. Invariably we’d miss something or book multiple events right on top of each other. In addition, we’d have to spend time discussing our calendars, and we’d often have to enter events twice – once in her calendar, and once in mine. The process was inefficient and mistake-prone.
AirSet changes all of that. What’s cool about AirSet is that you can share your personal calendar with “groups” that you or others set up, enabling you to see all events for all group members when you view the group calendar. For example, we’ve set up a “Family” group that enables me to see all of my activities, Sally’s activities and the kids’ activities on one calendar with each person’s activities displayed in a different color. When Sally adds something to her calendar that she wants to include me in, she simply checks the “Brian” box and the event is added to my personal calendar as well (including Outlook and Treo via synchronization). For kids activities – which show up in a different color – we add them directly to the “Family” calendar and check “Brian” and/or “Sally” to add these events to our personal calendars. Cool!
You can also incorporate public calendars into your setup. For example, you can set up a “soccer schedule” calendar that can be shared with anyone else who uses the AirSet service. Businesses can easily set up groups to share calendars as well, with the side benefit that users can then share their personal AirSet calendars with colleagues, friends and family. Conversely, individuals who are already using groupware at work can – as long as the groupware synchronizes with Outlook – use AirSet to share their calendars with friends and colleagues. As more and more people use AirSet – and set up groups and public calendars – the service increases in usefulness.
The AirSet service is fast, secure, easy-to-use, synchronizes well with Outlook and Palm, and is free to use. You can also share contacts and lists and, for a nominal fee ($6.49/month from Verizon), access all of this information via a mobile phone. The only complaint that I have about the AirSet service is the way that it handles private events on your calendar. Currently, if you mark events as private, they don’t appear at all on group calendars, not even as busy time. In addition, you can’t designate your entire calendar as private or non-private by group (e.g., non-private for your family and business, and private for all other groups, etc.).
These minor quibbles aside, AirSet is a wonderful service that has greatly simplified “synchronizing” and sharing my calendar with others. I highly recommend it!