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Wouldn't life be easier if it was more organised, if we all knew what we were supposed to be doing and when, well that's where this article should help solve some of these problems and take it from me a super un-organised person a good calendar program can make a difference to your life.
Of all the calendar programs I looked at, Rainlendar Lite ( also known as Rainlendar2 ) would be my preferred choice, a solid product which is highly customizable but a tad more difficult to use.
Rainlender is a calendar program that is not only a calendar but a reminder program and a To-Do list built in , in the form of the events / tasks manger, also a very capable "iCal compatible" desktop calendar, although the calendar feature can be turned off.
Used as a reminder and To-Do program, it's very feature rich with lots of options to personalize the software to suit the users needs. The actual calendar interface is attractive and very unobtrusive and can also be personalized with
easy skinning. As it employs things like variable windows transparency, the calendar actually looks as though it is part of my Windows 7 desktop rather than software I added at a later date.
The desktop calendar also has mouse-over effect, just hover your mouse over the calendar for a quick check of what you've got going that month which is very handy. The user can also assign hotkeys for tasks such as create new event , show next month and a number of other useful actions. It also has the ability to synchronize events between clients, as well as Outlook appointment integration (Pro version). I liked, too, the way the tray icon shows the current date. the
events / tasks manger and when the mouse is hovered over it shows any events / tasks for the day.
Another useful feature is Rainlendar supports a back-up and restore option. Unfortunately I found no way to import ICS calendar files from other calendars you may be using at the time like Google calendar or ReminderFox, only imports from Rainlendar Ini format and iCal format are available.
When installed the default setting is to have Rainlendar to run at Windows start-up I'm never keen on having programs run at start-up if they don't need to but this being a calendar/ reminder/ To-Do application I've left it to run at start-up so I don't miss any reminders or To-Do's . Although it does run at start-up I haven't noticed any change in my PC start-up time which is a good thing.
EssentialPIM is not just a calendar, reminder and To-Do program but a very capable all round organiser with a contacts address book, password manager and even a notepad built in.
So let's have a look at some of the features of this all in one calendar and organiser. There is a free android and iPhone/ iPad app available which gives the user the option to access their calendar on the move which will prove very useful The calendar app will sync with the desktop program so if a calendar entry is added on the mobile app it will be added on the desktop version and vice versa provided the user has internet connection, in this mobile age many users will find this invaluable.
The desktop calendar it's self can be displayed in different ways to suit the user and the amount of appointments/ activity's they have on the calendar. It can displayed as day, week, month, year or as a timetable. I also like the option to display your schedule in form of sticky's .There are other options for personalization under the options menu. Another useful time saving feature is if an appointment time changes the user doesn't need to edit the entry they can just drag and drop it into the new time slot.
There is also an option to password protect the calendar and the option to print the calendar if needed. EPIM supports backup and restore, the backups can be set to auto-save every x amount of minutes or on minimizing.
EPIM supports imports from other calendars in ical format and exports from other calendars in HTML and ical format. In these formats reminders and To-Do's can be imported/ exported.
Here is a quick overview of the other feature EPIM has to offer as well as the calendar part of the program. As I mentioned EPIMs has a password manager which supports imports from Roboform, HTML and Keepass XML and also as a CSV file. Password can be saved or exported as a CSV file.
The notepad supports imports and exports in RTF/ TXT, Treepad and Keynote. The notepad also has a built in spellchecker. Your email or other contacts can also be imported in CSV and vcard and exported CSV, HTML, RTF, TXT and vcard.
There is another review for EssentialPIM on Gizmo's here.
Online Calendars and Browser Extensions
For users of the email client Thunderbird there is the Thunderbird add-on Lightning. Although not a full calendar program Lightning is full of features and integrates well into Thunderbird. When creating events people can be invited straight from Lightning because of it's Thunderbird integration, organise staff meetings or parties straight from Lighting by sending the email invites out via Thunderbird.
When creating events the user can adjust the privacy to just show the event date and time or have the event fully public or private. Webpage links can be attached to events. Although images can't be attached to events images url's can be so if you want to attach an image to an event upload the image to a photo/image sharing website and right click the the image to copy the image url and attach to the event. Much like ReminderFox only one reminder can be set per event or task, reminders are in the form of a pop-up.
The user can have multiple colour coded calendars on display at the same time for example one for work related events and one for personal events like birthdays. The calendar can can be displayed as a daily agenda, weekly or monthly. The user can import calendars into Lightning in the ICS format and export their Lightning calendar to other calendars in the ICS format.
ReminderFox has an attractive interface and is easy to use. Practically any type of repeat reminder can be set . One downside is the user is only able to set one pop-up reminder per event. ReminderFox has the option for the user to create their own event categories which is a useful customization option. Reminders and To-Do's can be saved as a ICS file and be exported into other online calendars such as Google calendar or Yahoo calendar.
ReminderFox now offers a very useful sync feature which allows the user to sync their online calendars with ReminderFox, I love this new feature. ReminderFox has tested the remote calendar feature with Fruux, OwnCloud and Google Calendar, however on their site documentation they say the feature may work with other online calendar servers. This is a new feature so make sure you have version 2.1.1 to use it.
ReminderFox and Lightning offer the advantage of avoiding the need for running a separate reminder application but at the cost of not having reminders available when Firefox or Thunderbird isn't running.
ReminderFox has been experiencing issues with users losing their reminders, ReminderFox's developer sent me an email with some links which have helpful troubleshooting information in them I'll post them below.
I would also like to include Google Calendar because of it's accessibility . It is available across browsers and as an Android app so although it doesn't have the most attractive interface Google Calender is very functional because of it's great access across devices. After all what is the use of a pop-up reminder for a dentist appointment on your PC at home when you are actually out and about. So hence a calender that is synchronized between your PC and Android device is a plus.
When offline with the user is able to view and create events on the Android calendar app that will then be synchronized with the online calender when the user has a connection again.To view the calendar offline on the PC you will need to install the Google Calendar web app from the Chrome Web Store (see below for link) and when offline the user is able to view a read only version of the calender on the PC. There is also an option to print the calendar.
Google Calender has the advantage that the user doesn't need to download additional software as it is a online / web application all the user needs is a Google account. So that means your calender will be available across computers as well as your Android device. Plus with the ability to set multiple reminders for an event for those who are as forgetful as myself.
Another feature is the ability to create public events, for example a party. Straight from the calender the user can send email invites to the event and also add the option for the guests to be able to see the guest list , event details and even the option to modify the event , which may come in handy when creating a group event. Needless to say Google calendar integrates well with other Google products such as Google + , Gmail and the Google toolbar.
This Chrome extensions Checker Plus for Google Calendar, gives Google Calendar some extra functionality such as pop-up reminders with alram sounds ( a little like Reminder Fox does in Firefox). The ability to quick add events ( but not delete or edit in the free verison) straight from your Chrome browser toolbar. It also has an option which can be set to still give you calendar reminder notifications even when Chrome isn't running.
I use Google calendar a lot because of it's availability across devices and it's really easy to synchronise it with lot's of other calendars but like many other people I'm not mad on the GUI, Zoho calendar has many of Google calendars feature but the GUI is much more attractive, easy to use interface, Google calendar seems to want to invite guests to my doctors appointments even so I keep on unchecking option but privacy has never been top on Google's list of must have features, the trouble is Google has great compatibility and integration across devices and applications, but as I said that aside I prefer Zoho calendar.
Zoho calendar is also an online calendar so to use it all you need to do is create a Zoho account once created you have access to a range of Zoho products/services many completely free to use including Zoho docs ( a little like
Google docs ) and notebook and other tools many geared toward business.
To get started with Zoho calendar
Zoho calendar is also an online calendar so to use it all you need to do is create a Zoho account once created you have access to a range of Zoho products/services many completely free to use including Zoho docs ( a little like Google docs ) and notebook and other tools many geared toward business.
To get started with Zoho calendar
you can import an ics file from an existing calendar or subscribe to other online calendars via their url orjust start a new calendar by adding events manually. Zoho supports displaying different calendars at once differentiated by their different display colours so Zoho can be used for personal and business at the same time but clearly showing which is a work event and which is a personal event such as a birthday. Events can be set as one time events or recurring events. Web page url's can also be attached to an event, image can't be attached to an event but image url's like web page url's can be attached to an event so if you wish to attach an image to an event upload your image to a photo sharing website and attach the image url to the event and hence when the user clicks on the image they can view it.
Multiple reminders can be set for events and are in the form of of email or pop-ups but the pop-ups only seems to function in the calendar page is open in your browser and you are actually on that page, the calendar just being open in another tab doesn't not allow the pop-up to be visible, which makes the pop-up reminder feature a little useless.
Zoho calendar can be displayed by week, month, agenda or day. Zoho also has a search feature to search for events like birthdays or meetings.
Zoho also as a print feature for easy printing and can be printed as a PDF.
The calendar can be shared by email but the user you wish to share it with needs to have a Zoho account to access your shared calendar, the user can share just the events and times or just share basic information like when they are free and busy.If you wish to completely share the calendar and allow others to view and edit it you can do that too. Within the sharing options there is an feature to embed the calendar onto a webpage like a blog. The calendar can be exported as ics file so you can back it up or import it into another calendar.
One rather odd downside is that I was unable copy and paste text within the calendar I had to use keyboard shortcuts.
Users who have a Yahoo email account already have access to Yahoo Calendar. The user interface is very similar to Google calendar but unlike Google calendar Yahoo calendar has no offline functionality , it needs to be viewed and edited online. The fact yahoo calendar is only available online may or may be an issue for some users it depends like anything in life on the users own needs.
I really like the fact that I can really quickly check on my calendar when I'm checking my emails as it's just a case of clicking the calendar button when I have my yahoo emails webpage open.
Yahoo calendar offers no ability to import existing calendars but the user is able to 'subscribe' to other online calendars you may have like I have subscribed to my Google calendar so changes made on my Google calendar show on my Yahoo calendar and I have added my Yahoo calendar URL to my Google calendar so all changes appear on both calendars. This process can be done with lot's of other online calendars as I have also done the same thing with Reminderfox.
Yahoo calendar offers syncing with Apple iOS and Apple Desktop Calendar as well as Mozilla Lightning / Sunbird, no Android app but the calendar is available through the yahoo mobile page which may again be classed as a plus point as memory space on Android devices is often an issue so there is no need to install an app to view your calendar.
Reminders for calendar events, tasks and to-do's are available in the form of an email or messenger alert.
To use the Yahoo Calendar just create an Yahoo account no download required.
Basic Reminders Tools
Google Calendar is a good calendar and with it's availability across devices it's great to know if you add an event/ reminder to your PC version that it will be added to your phone as-well straight away without you needing to do anything it really makes life easier, but the fact it has limited offline capability is a major drawback.GMinder goes a long way to solve some of these offline issues, GMinder is a very lightweight Google calendar offline viewer so the user can view all the Google calendars events offline. While offline the user can also receive pop-up reminders with or without sound and configure how to be alerted. With GMinder the user can also add events/ reminders when offline and when the GMinder has an Internet connection again it automatically adds the event to your online Google calendar which I think is really great.
GMinder is really easy to use just download it and add your Google user name and password and download your calendars, it supports multiple Google calendars too. Within the options the user can choose when downloading the calendars how many days ahead to download and how often Gminder will refresh, in other words how often it checks online for changes to your calendars.
Kana Reminder is another good option. Its a lightweight free program which offers a simple reminder option.
It does not contain many options, but it does what it needs to. Its simple user interface doesn't require much of the skill to work with. It can schedule any program to run at specified time or even can set time to log off, shutdown or restart your computer. One main pro I noticed is its lightweight. It won't give a feeling that it is running there, but it is.
Calendar, Reminder and To-Do Programs to be reviewed:
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