Without a data plan

One of the great things about smart phones is the plethora of things you can do with them, that is until you find out you need a data plan to do anything meaningful.  In that case, it’s like having an XBox 360 and finding out your only game is pong.  Great hardware but limited functionality.  Well I was in this same predicament after I bought my Blackberry Curve.

For a while now, I’ve been using Thunderbird for email.  I like it.  It’s simple, free and does what I want it to do.  Recently, I’ve switched to using the Lightning plugin and migrated my calendar over to Google Calendar because I needed something a bit more powerful than just Rainlendar.  This worked great for me.  I had a full calendar program with everything I needed (including the little alarm that you can snooze that keeps popping up which reminds you to do something).  And of course, I just assumed that I could somehow sync my calendar on to my Blackberry which just goes to show the naivety of my youth.

As it turns out you can sync your calendar with your Blackberry using Google Sync IF you have a data plan.  This is not true if you only have wifi.  Because not having a data plan is as close to blasphemy as you get with wireless carriers.  You’re an outcast in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where you’re left to fend for yourself where your only glimpse of hope is finding that one person in the entire interweb that has the same problem as you do AND has solved it.  Unfortunately, I could not find that person, although I did find many who were in the same predicament.

Another solution was that you could use the built in Blackberry program to sync your calendar but only IF you use Microsoft Outlook or have your calendar in a CSV format.  So either I could either switch to one of the most popular email clients that’s probably just as easy to use, much better supported and already installed on my PC OR figure out a way to get my calendar in a CSV format.  Guess which one I chose?  Yep, get my calendar in CSV format.  Here’s how I did it.

  1. I set a Scheduled Task on my PC to run every 2 hours to download my Google Calendar in iCal format locally to my hard drive.
  2. After it syncs, I wrote a Perl script which runs and parses my local calendar and converts it to CSV format.
  3. Every time I connect my Blackberry to my computer, it automatically syncs +/- 30 days worth of events of my local calendar in CSV format.

And Voila!  I have the ability to sync my calendar to my mobile device.  Of course there are a few caveats.  For example, it’s a one way sync (due to nature of the syncing program) but I’m okay with that because I rarely set events on my calendar through my phone.  That almost always happens when I’m triage email anyways.  I’m pretty satisfied with my setup though and it’s nice to know that even if I wouldn’t survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland at least I can sync my calendar with my Blackberry.