Roland Dürre
Saturday May 18th, 2013

☠ My Personal Calendar Catastrophe ☠

Several weeks ago, I stopped trusting my calendar. And yesterday evening, the absolute worst-case scenario happened. My calendar was (almost) empty. I also received an error message mentioing something about a database error – and then the system was dead. A few central birthdays were still there, along with some appointments I had made a long time ago.

The rest was gone!

This was the time for huge misery and teeth grinding. The fact that, after all, things that are a lot worse could have happened (bike accident, serious illness,…), made it a little more tolerable. And since I had been fed up with electronic calendars and all that accompanies them for quite some time already, I now decided after what felt like 20 years without paper (I was one of the first people owning one of those small grey electronic planners  (organiser, organizer) in cigarette case format by Texas Instruments):

I will change back to paper!

Consequently, there was a lot of work for me yesterday and today (and there will probably be tomorrow, as well). I tried to reconstruct my calendar on paper using minutes, emails, my memory, Barbara’s calendar and other materials. And still, there remains a lot to be done. Neither am I sure that a complete reconstruction can be managed at all.

Incidentally, I never thought of a possible restore in the moment of first shock. I am sure the “sysops” (system operators) can do these kinds of things. But firstly, they are – naturally – not available on a weekend. And besides, I would not wish to impose on their time because of such a thing. From personal experience, I know that, especially with Exchange, basically simple operations can sometimes use up a lot of time and cause a lot of annoyance.

However, I will let them do a “restore” in order to verify my reconstructed paper data. Regardless, I am sure that something will be lost. Consequently, here are my two requests to all of you I made an appointment with:

Please inform me about appointments I made!

And if I fail to show up, please forgive me!

Because that would mean the appointment disappeared in the depths of the “Cloud” and its interfaces and levels. Consequently, I will now switch to paper. To be sure, my electronic calendar was quite practical at times, but it also had several disadvantages.

For instance, there were sometimes appointments pressed on me by Outlook/Exchange. They just suddenly were written in my calendar. Along with the request to either “deny”, “approve” or “perhaps attend”. Incidentally, it is not at all my style to just electronically “deny”. I find it hard to tell nice people “NO”. Especially if there was some accompanying message like “I will have travelled to Munich” or “I see a little time window here”. And perhaps this is really the most stupid reply of all.

In retrospect, you often realize that most meetings were not really necessary and have been decided in a very irresponsible way. And if you always agree to meeting people, you will end up having no time at all left. Most “managers” seem to have that problem – and I do not wish to suffer the same fate. One of the reasons for this is that I have far too much work to do already. …

In my opinion, every appointment should be beneficial to someone. Consequently, they should be agreed upon only personally and mutually, instead of functionally and in this mass-productive way. Because if someone wants something from me (or vice versa), this should be personally discussed shortly before the meeting. Instead of putting a marker into someone else’s calendar, saying “this is when I want your attention”, according to the motto “you cannot deny me your time, because I know you are not busy at that time”.

After all, time is our most precious commodity. And in view of this, it cannot be the meaning of our life to spend entire days in mostly useless or antiquated meetings. And I find an entry threshold for appointments (not electronically, but personally arranging them and writing them down in your paper notebook) rather useful.

Additionally, I have been distrustful with respect to the synchronization for quite some time now. Which is actually something I have been feeling longer than I like to think. Again and again, individual appointments were missing. Since, however, I know that in most cases “the mistake is sitting behind the keyboard”, I mistrusted my own perceptions. But the latest events told me my mistrust is justified.

Perhaps I myself am responsible for all this misery, because I am – or rather: was – an extreme user. My calendar was lying around centrally on the Exchange server of InterFace AG. And being the naïve person I am, I used to believe that I can synchronize clients of various origins with the Exchange server. Even switching between using the same system through our VPN and then again “from the outside”.

This was also an area where I often had problems, perhaps also because my clients are very diverse. I had Outlook on old Windows PC-s, as well as iCal on three different Macs. Not to forget my “Smart phone” (what an expression) and both my “Tablets” (not any better, either) running with Android.

And basically, I always feared that this excessive sort of using calendar synchronization cannot really work well. Incidentally, I also get the impression that I keep missing emails. However, I would not consider it bad news if all my emails were gone, just like all my appointments were. Because now I am in danger of standing someone up.

To comfort me, a friend of mine who never switched from the paper calendar told me that, after all, a paper calendar is something that might also get lost. But at least if that happens it is your own fault – that is what I think. And if I am miserable, I want to have been the cause of my own misery!

(Translated by EG)

The two pictures show the device that substituted my nice “Löhn” paper calendar more than 20 years ago.  I found them on a page all electronics lovers would find extremely attractive

Ingos Sammelseite

If you click on Organis(z)er, you will find many charming devices from olden times. The Texas Instruments (TI 6155) on the picture that looks a lot like my organizer is one of them. I believe mine was called TI 303. It probably was an even simpler predecessor of the 6155. Both pictures were taken by Ingo Trelewska, who is also the owner of all the devices, including software, shown on these pages.

2 Kommentare zu “☠ My Personal Calendar Catastrophe ☠”

  1. Hsns Bonfigt (Sunday May 19th, 2013)

    Ja, Sie, Roland!

    Arkanes Geheimnis, teile ich natürlich ganz altruistisch mit Ihnen. Gab es noch bis vor wenigen Jahren, als EDV noch kein Daten-Messie war. sondern ein System, dem man Wichtiges anvertraute.
    Nannte sich “Datensicherung” und beförderte Dateien und auch Datenbanken sauber auf ein Band, letztere so, daß ein ‘rebuild’ möglich war.

    Sie betreiben ‘Exchange-Server’? Und der hat gar keine richtige Datenbank? Und ein simpler ‘restore’ klappt auch nicht?

    Ein Handwerker, der mit ‘Black&Decker’ und Heißklebepistole antanzt, ist sicherlich kein ‘Craftsman’, sondern eine Lusche.

    Vielleicht lassen Sie ja ‘mal ein Donnerwetter los, daß Ihre hochbezahlten Eierköpfe etwas besseres finden als ausgerechnet ‘Exchange’.

    Merke: Was der deutsche Bundestag einsetzt, ist ganz bestimmt nicht brauchbar für eine effiziente Organisation…

  2. rd (Sunday May 19th, 2013)

    Lieber Hans!

    Natürlich haben Sie recht.

    Und natürlich könnte man einen Restore machen. Nach meiner Erfahrung ist der aber nicht nur bei Exchange immer ein wenig aufwändig.

    Andererseits will ich innerlich wahrscheinlich schon länger weg, von dieser ein wenig hirnlosen Kalenderverwaltung, dass man überall wo man ist, mal ganz schnell einen Termin zu- und dann auch wieder absagt.

    Und deshalb kam mir der Zwischenfall gerade recht für den Wechsel. Ich werde aber wahrscheinlich dann am Werktag noch einen (letzten) Restore beantragen, um dann meine Daten noch mal mit dem Papier abzugleichen und dann Tschüss …

    Ihnen wünsche ich ein paar schöne Maientage über Pfingsten!

    Ihr Entscheidungskriterium: “Kaufe auf keinen Fall das, was der Deutsche Bundestag einsetzt” gefällt mir übrigens sehr gut 🙂

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