Monday, August 30, 2010

Place Yout Contacts and Calendar in the Clouds

Many of us are trading in our cell phones for new models called “smartphones.” Whether these devices have any more “smarts” than their predecessors is debatable and will be grist for another essay at another time. Nevertheless, for sure there are many very cool applications that can be loaded onto your new phone. Perhaps among the most helpful are connections to your calendar and address book.

While some of us still use paper and pencil to keep track of appointments or the address for Uncle Bud’s news digs, others have loaded all this information onto a computer. While the information is easily changed and updated, it is not always easily accessible. You must have your computer on and with you. Unless you are in an office environment, these two things do not always coincide.

Using your computer, your smartphone, and some free online services, you can have access to all your calendar and contact information anywhere and anytime. And the information will be up to date.

One of the free online services you may wish to consider is provided by Google. In order to take advantage of the service you must have a Gmail email account. Just go to and follow the sign-up prompts. It should be noted that this new email account does not need to be used as your primary email; you can continue to use whatever service you now have, e.g. Roadrunner, Fuse, Zoomtown, AOL. Once you have established the Gmail account, you can begin to use the Google calendar and contacts features.

Most smartphones will allow you to synchronize the information in your phone with information on your computer or stored on one of these online services. The specific set-up process for this synchronization, while similar, is different for each phone, i.e. iPhone, Droid, Pre-Plus, etc. You will need to read the manual. Most set-ups are fairly straight forward. If you have a problem, get a teenager to help.

Once the phone is “synched” with the online service, any information that you enter into the computer will show up on the phone and any information that you enter on your phone will show up on the computer.

Many of us already have hundreds of addresses and other contact information stored in our address books on our computers. There are software utilities that will allow you to upload all of this information to the Google Contact area so you do not need to re-enter it online. Another great feature is that once your information is uploaded, you won’t have to worry about backing up the files on your computer. Google takes care of that. Also, even if you don’t have your phone, all of this information is available anywhere you can access the Internet.

Setting up these applications will take a few hours but the benefits and convenience of having all this information at you fingertips is worth the time and effort.

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