There’s a lot talk about “ecosystem” in the computing world recently, and it’s mostly because of Apple. Walking past an Apple store looks and feels clean and nice, just like apple.com.

Have you walked by any of Microsoft’s new stores? If you have, you’ve probably noticed that they are aspiring to be just Apple, but missing the mark. The reason is simple: Apple maintains close control over all aspects of its products – that’s why jailbreaking your iphone or ipad is frowned upon from our friends at Apple corporate.

The general ecosystem discussion comes into play for me for only one reason: simplification. I like how easily things work in the Apple world, but I work in an environment that is split between Apple and Microsoft – going between the England and the France – often swimming the channel between the two. For example, my work and personal email are not @me.com and are hosted elsewhere. Using me.com is insanely easy and syncs email between all devices, but I’m not changing my email. Syncing is the key here, I can send and receive messages from iPad, iPhone, and Microsoft Outlook on my office PC, but when replying, deleting and filing emails – I’m out of luck. About as close as I can get to reaching this utopia is hardly perfect: Sending a Bcc to myself. Syncing the Outlook Calendar with iOS is, however, is an absolute breeze. By downloading *** from Apple, it really works seamlessly for my standalone, non-Exchange Outlook.

But the term ecosystem is just a fancy, en-vogue word for working environment. This jargon has been fortified by Apple because of their integration of the App Store into the desktop OS but I look at it in a holistic way that I keep my files – both computer and paper, my desk and my office. My calendar is my lifeline to my work, my time off, and keeping me headed in the right direction, figuratively and literally. At my office at Temple, I use Outlook for email, calendar, contacts, tasks, and notes. I’ve used Outlook for a long time and I’m sort of used to the quirks and idiosyncrasies – it’s far from perfect, but it’s industry standard software, so I’m stuck with it for now.

I manage my calendar religiously, and my assistant needs access to change and modify things too. But currently, my Temple doesn’t use Exchange Server, where all of the calendars and email and other Outlook info would be housed on a central or cloud server, instead each user’s computer is standalone. I’ve been using the Apple iCloud Outlook patch available from Apple and it works brilliantly. When it comes to my assistant having access to my calendar, there are several ways to have her access it: 1. invite her to share my calendar on her own iCloud or Gmail account or 2., and easier, I just login in as me on her computer’s iCloud Outlook app. I save the password so she doesn’t need to know my iTunes password but maintains access. It has worked really well.

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