Our Favorite Tools: Google Calendar

Not only am I a sysadmin, but I’m also a family man. I’ve spoken of my love for the Exchange connector which syncs my Treo with my Outlook calendar; but that doesn’t help my wife who would like to know where I am too…

Enter Google Calendar.

Both my wife and I have Google acounts which allows us to share our calendars. I can find out where she is and she can find out where I am. It’s a nice complement to the calendar that’s stuck on the fridge when I’m not near the fridge.

However, it’s been a hassle double-entering my stuff.. once in Outlook and once in Google Calendar (or GCal for you hipsters).

Companion Link software, maker of many fine sync products, had an Outlook to GCal sync program, and I ponied up the $20 or $30 for it, and it worked for awile… but things got horribly out of synch and I ended up with like 7 copies ofbirthdays and other recurring appointmentson my Outlook calendar, so I sidelined CompanionLink and basicially let GCal wither on the vine.

But no longer! Google themselves came out with an Outlook / GCal sync tool, and so far, I like it a lot. It’s a small app that sits in your tray and it snychs up your calendars on a given schedule. (Default is every 120 minutes.)

Whaty’s also nice is it allows for one-way sync… so I push my Outlook calendar out to my GCal and my wife knows (within two hours) where I’ll be.


Outlook Deleted Items Recovery

At one of my clients, we limit their users mailboxes to keep the Exchange server humming along. We use an archiving program to keep older mail around in accordance with our document retention policies.

One of the things we mandate is that Outlook purges its Deleted Items folder upon closing. We’ve had users maintain 3800 (unread!) messages in their deleted items folder and then complain loudly when they run out of mailbox space citing that they might need something in their Deleted Items folder. (Of course, this runs counter to the design of the Deleted Items folder is — short term storage for items no longer needed. Long term storage should be used in either the users’ folder or the server’s file system.)

These complaints have subsided now that everyone has had a chance to live with the policy… but there are still some times when people delete something, close Outlook and then realize they can’t get it back.

(Let’s assume the archiver is off-line.)

Outlook Web Access can come to the rescue and recover some of the lost items as long as it was deleted recently. Stuff deleted a year ago is long gone.

Log in to Outlook Web Access. (This works in Outlook Web Access 2000 and 2003. Screenshots are from OWA 2003)

Click on the OPTIONS button at the bottom of the screen (it’s the last icon on the right)

Outlook Web Access Options Icon

Scroll all the way down the page until you see “Click View Items to view and recover items that were recently emptied from your Deleted Items folder. Recovered items will be moved back to your Deleted Items folder.

Outlook Recover Deleted ItemsOutlook Recover Deleted Items

Click the “View Items” button and you should be able to browse thru a collection of recently deleted items.

Any item you restore will go back into your Deleted Items folder, where you can then recover it and put it where it belongs.

Bacon saved.

Handy Word Tip – Tracking Changes by User

Word Security Options DialogA few versions ago, MS Word came under fire for including personal information with every document. The registered user’s name, company and other info was available in the metadata of the document.

MS answered the hue and cry by giving users the option of removing this personal information. We think this is generally a good idea, tho it gets in the way try to collaborate using Tracked Changes.

Before saving a documents with tracked changes, make sure that the “Remove personal information…” option is UNCHECKED.

That will ensure that your tracked changes are saved and passed along; lest they be lumped together with all other changes, making user tracking impossible.