Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tools You Can Use - Google Calendar Sync

The other day I was getting frustrated that my company phone wasn't syncing my Exchange calendar reliably. I'd tried deleting my profile and re-adding it, doing a hard reboot of the phone (now that's a phrase I never would have dreamed of using even 10 years ago), and several other troubleshooting steps. All to no avail. Being an android-base device, it was naturally having no problems whatsoever keeping up with my Google calendar.

So I set off on a search to find something that might let me sync my Exchange calendar to my Google calendar.

Well, guess what? Google themselves created just such a tool: Google Calendar Sync

It installs on the same PC where Outlook is running. You enter your Google credentials, set the sync frequency, and get out of the way. It works wonderfully. You do need to decide the best refresh frequency for you. Also, I highly recommend going into your Exchange calendar, putting it into List mode, and deleting all of those OLD appointments from years past. It makes the sync go much faster. Personally, I had almost 3,000 calendar events it was trying to sync. Once I pared it down to recurring meetings and just those from this calendar year, that dropped to under 300. There was a HUGE improvement in sync speed at that point.

Now, on to the one primary complaint I have so far about the tool. It's obviously registering itself as an add-on or helper inside your Outlook client. First, I had to close Outlook before it would install. Second, it never asked me for my Outlook/Exchange profile information. It's bootstrapping that, apparently. Given that it's hooking into Outlook, I'm disappointed that it's not event-driven. If I add/modify/delete something from my calendar, why can't it automatically sync that item instead of re-syncing my WHOLE calendar on a schedule? To give Google the benefit of the doubt, it's most likely a limitation inside the Outlook object model, but it's frustrating nonetheless.

The one other minor complaint I have is that, because it's a client-side tool, obviously your computer has to be on and running for the sync to work. The only time this poses an issue is after hours when I've suspended my laptop. If I accept a meeting request on my phone or through our web client, it won't show up on my Google calendar until the next time I have my computer up and running so the sync can run.

Given those two limitations of the tool, it's been quite the nice little find. Now, I have access to my Exchange calendar anywhere I have access to my Google calendar, not just from my smart phone or from our OWA portal.

If you also happen to be using Exchange/Outlook and have a Google account, I can highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I don't WANT this much power

The Mrs. and I just got back from voting here in Northern Kentucky. As we were leaving, I asked the polling place workers how turnout had been. The comments ranged from "better than we expected" to "but still less than 100". Now, I'm not sure exactly how many people are in this polling precinct, but the registration book they have on the table is rather thick.  If I were to guess, I'm going to put turnout at less than 15% for our area. The Secretary of State is predicting 10 - 12% voter turnout, while the county clerks in Northern Kentucky are expecting 7 - 20% turnout.

So, why does this concern me? It's only the primaries, right? First, Kentucky is a closed primary state, so there is no crossing over to vote in the other party's primary. Second, there were three races I could vote in today: Presidential, U.S. Congress 4th District, and State Senate 11th District. There are candidates from both parties in the Presidential and Congressional races. However, there are no Democratic party challengers in the State Senatorial race. This is not really surprising considering that Northern Kentucky is a heavy Republican area. In fact, my county is one of the few one by the Republican candidate in the latest gubernatorial race.

So, what does all this mean? It means that the State Senator for the 11th District will be picked by an exceedingly small minority of the individuals represented by that seat. Turnout will be less than 15%, and only a portion of that 15% (granted, a majority of it, but still) will be allowed to vote for the candidate. The winner of the primary will be the winner of the general election.

There is also a state congressional race in this area today, but for another portion of the county. Again, in that race there is no Democratic candidate. The winner of the Republican primary will be the winner of the general election.

To those who say "my vote doesn't count", I say Balderdash!!! Local and regional elections are typically more important anyways, and with the history of low voter turnouts, especially in non-Presidential election years, your vote absolutely does count.

I don't WANT this much power, but I don't dare not vote.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Overheard in the office

Deskside Technician  #1: (to DST #2) Hey, how do we order cable locks?
DST #2: First, open a ticket.
Everyone: *dies laughing*

Either you get it or you don't.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Have 10 minutes to kill?

If you have 10 minutes to kill, I recommend a podcast for you.

Saddleback Church has a daily devotional available called DriveTime Devotionals. It runs right at 10 minutes an episode, one episode a day, Monday - Friday.

I've started at the first available via iTunes, a discussion of 1 Corinthians. I'm currently on the 5th episode (1 Corinthians - Week 1 Day 5), which finishes up the 1st chapter of 1st Corinthians.

It's a nice discussion format, that breaks down the information in an easy to understand format.

I highly recommend this resource to you!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The wish list just keeps getting longer

And, not surprisingly, it's all geeky stuff.

Courtesy of an article over at Blastr, I learn about this:

Excuse the drool, if you would, please.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Kentucky Supreme Court takes a stand

The town of Liberty, KY decided that all residents and individuals that work within the city should purchase a sticker and have it displayed in the window. A number of people, apparently mostly teachers, opted not to comply with the ordinance.

The city council, outraged that someone would flout their authority, ordered the police to set up roadblocks in order to issue citations for non-compliance. During the course of a stop, an individual's car was searched and marijuana was found. He moved to have the evidence suppressed, arguing that the search was illegal.

The Kentucky Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, held that the searches were in fact illegal and the police had no basis for performing them.

ETA: I can't believe I missed this the first time around.

Alternate headline: "Kentucky Supreme Court says 'May the 4th be with you'"

The 20 most convicting, but most important, statements you'll read today.

20 Quotes from The Explicit Gospel

These are all quotes taken from Matt Chandler's new book, The Explicit Gospel

What are they putting in the water in Indiana?

Tam over at View From the Porch has written several times about the IMPD and other law enforcement officers and their proclivity for LEWD1 activities.

Well, it turns out that it's not just limited to the IMPD. County coroners are now getting in on the act as well.

Maybe she thinks she can do a self-autopsy or something.

1Law Enforcing While Drunk

A geek's May Day

Happy Star Wars Day.

May the 4th be with you!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another entry for the wish list

I'm a geek. I like Star Wars, and Lego. Especially Star Wars Lego.

Well, now it looks like I have another itch to scratch:

Yes, Virginia, it's a Firefly Serenity Lego playset. It's not an official project yet, it still has a ways to go to get that official blessing. That being said, the official Lego response is encouraging, and if this achieves enough support, I imagine it would see the light of day.

I would definitely have to think about getting one.

Lunchtime walkabout prayabout

As part of my weight loss and dieting efforts, I've added somewhat regular exercise to the mix. I'm trying to walk at least three times a week on my lunch break, and my current course clocks in around 2.25 miles.

Seeing as how Cincinnati is in the Ohio River valley, I get some wonderful hill work too, whether I want it or not. In fact, my route takes me straight down to the river, across one of the bridges to the Kentucky shore, whereupon I immediately turn around and retrace my path. It's easy to remember, convenient, and about a perfect distance for a quick 30 minute workout.

Late last week, a snippet of verse came to mind as I was in a quiet time. All I could remember was "fervent prayer of a righteous man". Looking it up, I found James 5:16:
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
 I realized I wasn't doing anything on these walks other than listening to my music and zoning out. So this week, I decided to change it up. I still put in my ear buds, but now I turn the music down low. It's just loud enough to cloak most of the sounds around me, but not loud enough that I can't hear myself think, or in this case, pray.

So now my walks are more than just a physical exercise. I'm trying to make them a spiritual exercise as well. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to "pray without ceasing."

What do you do when  you're taking a break, or vegging out, or engaged in some mind numbing drudgery? Do you crank up the music? Perhaps you turn on the TV to catch the latest news. Maybe, like me, you fire up your web browser and catch the latest blog posts or sports scores.

What if, instead, rejoiced always, prayed without ceasing and gave thanks in all circumstances instead? Imagine what could happen.

This Thursday is the National Day of Prayer, but we shouldn't need a specific call to action to do that which we are already called to do.

So, what will you be doing do your downtimes? I know what I'm going to try and do instead.