scheduling and calendering as an indie

the outlook/exchange calendar used to rule my life while i was a full time corporate droid, and i pretty much hated it but gotten very used to it. the upshot was that i had more structure in my life, standing meetings pretty much dictated the rhythm of my work week.

now that i’m an indie, the freedom of time is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. i love having the flexibility to work when i want to, but worry that having so much freedom will cause the procrastinator in me to rear his ugly head. mr. wait-till-tomorrow has made his appearance once, and it took quite a bit of work to dig myself out from the rut.

one trick that is working out pretty well so far is that i’ve put all face-to-face meetings on wednesday, and forgo any pretense that i’ll get any design/code work done. for one thing, the mode switching between focused work vs. open ended discussions are minimized. i get to just take myself out of task-based work for one day and focused on relationships and brainstorming with friends and partners, not to mention getting my weekly dose of interacting with real people rather than email and im windows.

this allows me to spend the rest of the week heads down designing, contemplating solo, coding, whatever. of course, every day i’m still staying in touch with people over im and email, but these communication modalities are much less intrusive than face-to-face meetings, and are much more tactical since they are usually about discussion around a particular task.

the last few weeks i’ve forced myself to schedule a week ahead as a discipline thing, and it’s been working pretty good. but for that i needed a calendar solution. google calendar has been pretty good for this purpose, particularly since i can share my calendar with my family and vice versa. but i missed having it sync with my pc (now a mac book pro) as well as my smartphone (windows mobile), since unfortunately wireless still isn’t everywhere, and i need offline access more often than not.

for now, there seems to be no one sync solution that connects all the devices with google, and so i ended up chaining together two pieces of code to make it all work:

1. spanning sync ties together google calendar service with apple ical and works pretty well. it is kinda odd but they don’t just do mac-to-google direct sync, but instead run an intermediary service to tie them together. their web site briefly goes into the rationale, but i’m not sure i understand it. anyway, it works well and it’s the results that count; i don’t have the time to deconstruct their approach. cost: $25/year or $65 outright. with a small company like this filling a niche for google, one hopes that google will displace them with a good set of api soon, and so annual subscription is the way to go. who knows what happens in three years, right?

2. oggsync ties together google calendar and my samsung blackjack, which runs windows mobile. i’ve been using their freeware version, which requires manual trigger to sync, and it works well enough that i ponied up for the paid version, so that i don’t have to remember to sync manually. like spanning sync, it’s an annual subscription, only this time at $30. since i expect i’ll ditch my current wm5 phone and go iphone when it has 3g and open apps platform within the year, $30 for one year ain’t so bad.

the odd thing with both companies is why both companies went with an annual subscription as the revenue model. do they both think that their products have a long lifespan? if i were them i’ll maximize my upfront revenue, say $50 for perpetual license, and hope that i still have a business a year or two from now. i can always sell upgrades if the market is still there, right?


1 Response to “scheduling and calendering as an indie”

  1. October 17, 2007 at 6:36 am

    Interesting points on the subscription vs. perpetual thing. I think that SaaS is a big buzzword right now, and you’re right that sometimes things just don’t fit into the service bucket that well.

    As a counterpoint, it could be that they have a bunch of bigger ideas up their sleeve that are yet to be released, that will guarantee they keep adding value on top of Google’s service. If that’s the case, great, an annual subscription model makes sense, but I’ve yet to see them prove they’re capable of continuous improvement.

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