add value to online software services
Alan Zisman (c) 2007 First published in Business
September 18-24, 2007; issue 934
High Tech Office column
Over the past
couple of years, I’ve converted to using online services for my e-mail,
calendar, contact list and more. That way, I have access to the same
information at work, at home, travelling – anywhere I can access a
computer and the Internet without the fuss of keeping multiple systems
There are a number of issues, though.
to trust your data to whoever is hosting the service. And while most
services do a better job of backup than most of us do, servers
sometimes crash, making your data at least temporarily unavailable.
(The temporary shutdowns of the Skype VoIP system and Microsoft’s
Windows Activation servers were recent reminders of this.)
inevitably, there are times when the Internet just isn’t available –
long flights, for instance. At those times, it would be nice to be able
to have a copy of the data on my computer. Just like in the days before
Vancouver startup Calgoo
Time Search Inc.) has
a solution to at least part of this dilemma. Its Calgoo Calendar
software lets users do several useful things.
First, it allows
them to synchronize calendars stored on their computer (using Calgoo’s
calendar, Microsoft Outlook or Apple iCal) with online calendars hosted
by Google Calendar (hence the company and program name). More sources
of calendar information are promised.
As well, it lets groups of users – members of a business workgroup, a
family, a team – co-ordinate schedules.
offers identical versions for Windows, Macs and even Linux – a very
good feature in my book. It comes in two versions: standard, which is
available as a free download, and pro, currently $30 per year.
free version requires users to click to synchronize their various
calendars; the pro version syncs automatically. The free version lets
users combine up to five calendars, while pro users can combine an
unlimited number of calendars.
Pro version users get e-mail tech
support. Otherwise the two versions are pretty much identical. Both
versions offer to-do lists, contact management features, sync with
Outlook contact lists and allow subscription to a variety of
special-interest calendars and schedules.
If you want to use Calgoo’s software, you have to go online and
download a copy. CounterPath Solutions
(formerly Xten Networks) makes software that you may already be using
without ever having heard of the company. Also Vancouver-based,
CounterPath is a world leader in softphones: computer programs that let
you make voice and video calls using the Internet. Its eyeBeam and Bria
softphones are distributed to users by more than 250 Internet and VoIP
service providers in more than 50 countries branded with the service
While the company’s eyeBeam software looks and
feels like an on-screen videophone, keypad and all, the company
describes its new Bria as more of a multimedia communicator, built as
an extension of the user’s address book to offer a more robust way of
A third product, X-Lite, is a free
softphone based on eyeBeam, available for download from the company’s
website. It can be used if you already have VoIP service or are
connected to an IP-PBX phone network. (As with most technology, if you
have to ask, then you probably don’t have it.) With the appropriate
service, it can be used to call other softphones or connect to mobile
or landline phones. It can also send video and instant messages to
An X-Lite demo version is upcoming. It promises to allow users without
VoIP connections to “call” other X-Lite Demo users. •