I posted a while ago about my excitement for and confusion around the advent of iCloud, specifically about its ability to share calendars across both devices and the web. I use iCal as my planner, with each class having its own calendar as well as the full school schedule having its own calendar; having to input plans at my desktop computer only was cumbersome, though the convenience of being able to sync that calendar with my iPod Touch and my iPad so that I could have it on the go with me in class was worth it. As my work became more laptop-based, not having that calendar on my laptop became somewhat inconvenient, but the desktop remained the base of operations, so to speak. With iCloud, I figured all of my problems were solved. Now I could sync those calendars across all devices wirelessly and seamlessly and, more important, I could generate events on any of the devices and those events too would sync across all devices. Sadly, at least initially, this was not the case.

When I first started using iCloud, there was a distinction drawn between calendars ‘On my Mac’ and ‘iCloud’. Immediately, this seemed counterintuitive. Why would I want duplicate calendars, one only on my Mac and one in the (i)cloud? Partly because of this duplication, I was also nervous about committing to the cloud calendars exclusively: if a computer-based calendar remains, what does that say about the security and/or longevity of the iCloud calendar? For safety’s sake, I stuck with the ‘On my Mac’ calendars, which then of course didn’t sync to iCloud or other devices.

In the meantime, school uses GoogleCalendar, not so much for school events (feel free to do so, Wayland High School, especially in light of this post) but for more practical matters like signing up for computer labs, laptop carts, etc. This seemed an effective use of the calendar function, though, as with GoogleDocs, I find Google Calendar a less than smooth interface. I, of course, want the school’s Google Calendar to sync to my computer and my devices, however, to eliminate that extra step of opening the Google Calendar.

I am pleased to say that I have solved most of these issues. Let me rephrase. I am pleased to report that most of these issues have solved themselves. I’d like to say that my thorough investigation of support fora and instructional websites allowed me to do this but, as far as I can tell, someone on Apple’s end finally figured out a few things and made some changes to make life easier.

I resolved the other day to finally embrace iCloud. I had found a relatively complex set of steps for merging my existing ‘On my Mac’ calendars with my iCloud calendars and was prepared to do it. I sat down at my desktop, had my laptop with me with the instructions, clicked on the calendars button and, to my surprise, only iCloud calendars; no ‘On my Mac’ calendars. I scrolled, I clicked, I surfed menu items, nothing. I don’t miss them; as I said, it’s somewhat comforting to have the decision made for me rather than having to decide to scrap my ‘On my Mac’ calendars. I suppose I wish I knew how and when that happened but fine by me.

So I conducted a few tests. I created a test event on my desktop: showed up on line, on laptops, and on the devices. Went the other way: created a test event on the iPad, and it showed up elsewhere. So far so good. Feeling ambitious and buoyed by my success, I decided to tackle the Google problem: could I get my school’s Google Calendars to show up in iCal?

I started with some Google Help (from http://support.google.com/calendar/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=99358#ical) (these are for iCal 5; there are separate instructions for iCal 3):

  1. Open Apple iCal, go to Preferences and then the Accounts tab.
  2. Click on the + button to add an account.
  3. Enter the following information:
    • Account Type: CalDAV
    • User Name: Enter the email address that you use to log in to Calendar. Make sure to include the ‘@domain.com’ portion (which is @gmail.com for Gmail users) in this section.
    • Password: Enter the password for the email address you listed above.
    • Server Address: Enter “https://www.google.com/calendar/dav/YOUREMAIL@DOMAIN.COM/user”. DO NOT substitute your username for ‘user’ at the end of the URL.

If you have other secondary account to view:

  1. Open Apple iCal, go to Preferences and then the Accounts tab.
  2. Select your Google account.
  3. Under the Delegation tab, select the calendars you’d like to add to iCal by checking the boxes next to them. If you don’t see a list of delegates, switch to the Account Information tab and then switch back to the Delegation tab.

This seemed to work. All of a sudden my daily calendar was flooded with all of those sign-out calendars that the school had set up. This was not of course desirable; having so many concurrent calendars visible would be overwhelming and completely impractical. But there had to be a way to hide them. Clicking on calendars, scrolling to the bottom, and finding the Delegates section, did the trick. They were all checked there and by unchecking them they disappeared. But now for the real test: can I sign out a computer cart from my Mac and have it show up in the school’s Google Calendar? It did: July 3rd, block 3, I’ll be using Lang iCart 1, as signed out from my Mac.

As for devices, here’s the link to set up iOS devices for Google Calendar:

http://support.google.com/calendar/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=151674&rd=1

I didn’t use the Google instructions, but rather these:

http://www.ideaexcursion.com/2009/06/17/howto-sync-google-calendar-on-iphone-os-3-0/

I feel like I used the Google instructions, and the Google account didn’t work quite as easily as the CalDAV account (which the second link sets up).

In any case, to mimic the delegates functionality on your iOS devices, you need to go here:

https://www.google.com/calendar/hosted/your_domain/iphoneselect [replacing, of course, your domain with your domain name]

For Wayland teachers / calendars, the address would be this:

https://www.google.com/calendar/hosted/wayland.k12.ma.us/iphoneselect

On that page, you can choose which calendars sync to your iOS device. So now, I have all of those Wayland calendars available and editable on all of my Macs and all of my devices.

Next for iCal is experimenting with and assessing the functionality of shared iCal calendars for syllabus distribution since students will have their own laptops this year.

 

 

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