updated 08:05 pm EST, Mon December 31, 2007
First Look: BusySync
Apple's .Mac is a service based on a paid yearly subscription of $100. It offers users many different functions, such as calendar and mail syncing, backup, email, online storage, among others. Many users only require one portion of the service, however, and can not justify the yearly cost for things that they feel they have no use for. BusyMac looks to address one of those needs with BusySync, an application that is designed to synchronize iCal calendars across a local area network. This makes it an idea candidate for office situations, since the one-time cost of the application (minus any major version upgrades in the future) is more manageable than maintaining several yearly subscriptions.
BusySync is simply a preference pane for the Mac OS X System Preferences, requiring only a double-click to install. If multiple users exist on the computer, it will ask whether to install for the current user, or to install for all users. Once the pane is installed, BusySync can immediately begin synchronizing iCal information, unless you wish to first create a specific calendar in iCal to distribute shared items.
The Publish tab in BusySync's preference pane allows you to enable sharing on one or more calendars. The selected calendar can be password protected for both read/write access, and can use a distinct password for each so that editing or viewing responsibilities are properly delegated.
Selecting calendars to publish
Once the calendars have been published, users on your network can access the available content through the preference pane's Subscribe tab. If a password is required to access the calendar in any way, BusySync will prompt the user for one and allow them to have whatever access to which they are entitled. If an employee's circumstances require them to work from outside the office, they can click the Add Remote Server button, and enter the IP address and port information for the computer that is hosting the shared calendars. In either circumstance, iCal will add the appropriate calendars to the source list, and display relevant data in the usual manner.
Published calendars available to share
BusySync automatically backs up the iCal database, and stores the last 10 daily backups. Under the Reset tab in the BusySync preference pane, you can click the Restore iCal From Backup button and choose the appropriate restore point.
BusyMac's iCal synchronizing application is a solid alternative to .Mac for those who aren't interested in the rest of the service's features. For the most part, it uses a set-and-forget approach, requiring input only through iCal once calendars have been chosen. BusySync's backups add to its usefulness, and make its current $20 price point very attractive. BusyMac also offers a volume discount of 10- to 30-percent for organizations with 5+ computers.