Monday, May 19, 2008

Google Calendar Outlook Sync is making a mess of my calendar

I was pretty happy when Google's official Outlook calendar sync arrived.

Not so happy since.

I'm synchronizing my aged Palm T/2 to Outlook (home), and Outlook to Google Calendar. I'm getting multiple instances of some events -- with the metastatic replicants all one hour early. All day events are turning into 24 hour events that spill over into a 2nd day.

It's a ruddy mess.

Update 5/20/2008: I prefer not to think about sync problems, but here are some clues to what's going on:
  • There's some kind of a time zone bug in the gCal/Outlook 2003/Palm chain. It could be an emergent bug, so it doesn't show up if you just live between gCal and Outlook 2003. It may be related to changes in US time zone transitions and the hacks that were put into Outlook 2003 and Palm to work around this.
  • There's another problem that may be even more intractable. I believe Outlook, gCal and Palm take different approaches to events that are either 'all day' or 'no time'. That is the events are associated with a day, but not with a particular time of the day. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays etc. I would not be surprised if Outlook were the "bad actor" with a particularly odd implementation of date-associated events, particularly date-associated recurring events. Since Outlook is 'in-the-middle' of this transaction set that's a bad problem.
If I were really going to try to stay with Palm I'd install Outlook 2008 and see if the problem improved. Truth is, of course, I'm hanging on the cliff edge with aching fingers, bleeding nails, and gritted teeth for iPhone 2.0.

For now I think the problem is most severe for events I create on gCal, so I'll treat gCal as read-only and do my authoring on the Palm or Outlook.

Update 5/24/2008: I confirmed data was correct in Outlook 2003 and the Palm, then I set Google Calendar Sync to update gCal from Outlook. It wiped all existing data and created a new set. Recurring appointments are ALL off by one hour. Non-recurring are fine. I confirmed time zones are set correctly in Outlook, my desktop and in gCal. This is a gross bug, there's no way QA could have missed it. So it's back to looking at the commercial non-Google properties. I'll have more to say on this in a couple of Gordon's Notes post.

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