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Tech Talk: Make a Date with Google

January 7, 2013
 
 

DinoGiacomazzi blueBy Dino Giacomazzi

When I was young, the first week of every January I would go with my father to the auto parts store to get his copy of the annual "Parts Pups" calendar. I remember this well because NAPA’s calendar provided more than just the days of the week.

Nowadays we live in a world that is far too politically correct for calendars like that, but luckily we have Google Calendar to take its place.


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Google Calendar is a cloud-based time management tool. This column will focus on features that are not obvious at first look; follow the Dot for a YouTube link to a good beginners’ tutorial.

GCal allows you to create multiple calendars and view each one on demand. My account contains many different calendars, including employees’ days off, vacations, a dairy event schedule, farm field events, and my son’s schedule.

Most of the time I only view my personal appointments, but sometimes I want to access these other calendars. For example, every quarter, I print and post the days-off schedule for each group of employees. You can view as few or as many calendars as you like from your desktop and phone.

My dairy calendar consists mostly of repeating events like equipment and barn maintenance, vet checks, nutritionist visits, vaccines, pen moves and company meetings. I will also preschedule farming events, but these usually change and then become part of my farm record-keeping system.

Programming seasonal reminders like "cover haystacks" and "change teat dip" allows you to execute these tasks on a semi-irregular but consistent basis.

The most valuable feature of GCal is its ability to share calendars. I share my farm schedules with my farm manager, and the dairy schedules with my herdsman. I share a calendar with my fellow officers and staff at the county Farm Bureau, but the most important share is with my wife. She inputs her schedule on her iPhone, I input mine on the Galaxy and PC, and through GCal we are always in sync.

Google offers many useful calen-dars you can subscribe to, such as national holidays, sunrise/sunset times, pro sports schedules, your contacts’ birthdays, and the day of the year.

I use "day of the year" to do quick date calculations. Let’s say you check a heifer on May 1 (Day 121) and she is 45 days pregnant. You want to move her to the close-up pen at 261 days carried calf. Subtracting 45 from 261 and then adding 121 will quickly tell you her close-up date will be Day 337, which is Dec. 3. You could then add an event to your "heifer move" calendar on that date.

Finally, if you are planning a meeting, family event, or other activity, GCal gives you the ability to invite people to those events. Guests can decline or accept; if they accept, GCal adds your event to their calendar as well.

If you have an Android phone, you already have Google Calendar. If you have an iPhone, you can sync your GCal to Apple’s iCal. But if you want to access the full power of Google Calendar, it is best to install a third-party app such as CalenGoo.

 

Dino Giacomazzi is the fourth generation to manage his family’s dairy farm near Hanford, Calif. Contact him at techtalkdairy@gmail.com.

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FEATURED IN: Dairy Today - January 2013

 
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