Using Ohours To Connect With Your Community


 

Ever want to join someone to discuss a particular idea? Or, maybe you want to meet new people based on a specific subject or topic when you are traveling?

In today's socially-connected world, how does one get in touch - in person or by phone - with the world around them?

Meet Ohours.

The idea behind Ohours is simple: Ohours Otter Logo

  • Pick available times.
  • Announce available times.
  • Confirm times.
  • Meet.

Let's say you want to pick up some pointers on a specific topic. Search the Ohours site, find someone who matches your requirements, see when they are holding office hours, then request a meeting.

On the flip side, let's say you were someone with some expertise in a certain field. You can hold office hours (based on your own schedule), then announce the hours to your community. Folks who are interested can grab a slice of your time.

I've posted hours a few times, usually a few hours in a day once a month. The response hasn't been overwhelming but the connections have been fun and rewarding.

(Ps: If you're in NY on 07/18, meet with me!)

The best use of Ohours is when I am traveling. It's easy to send out a message to a list of folks in the area I am planning to visit. (It can be time-consuming to get schedules figured out, especially when traveling from one time zone to another.

With Ohours, I just set the times I expect to be available, along with a meeting location (or by phone). There are confirmation options that keep me in close control of the meetings.

I've used Tungle from early on and I still like using it to schedule ad-hoc meetings. The great think about Tungle is that it can integrate all calendars into a single calendar, and display only the available times (across all calendars).

The not-so-great thing about Tungle is that it was purchased by RIM in 2011. And, well, RIM is having a tough time.

Google Appointments seems like a good idea, too. I recently tried it but setting appointments was a little generic and conflicts weren't easily handled. For instance, I set my availability for 10am - 2pm, Mondays through Fridays. But if I schedule another appointment during that time (and marked it as 'busy'), the appointments just overlap (showing I still have availability).

That's no good. But it's quite possible I've missed a bank of settings.

For me, the best solution is a mix:

  • Google Calendar: Manage multiple calendars, accessible everywhere, simple invites
  • iCal: View my calendars / alerts on my mobile devices
  • Tungle: Generic scheduling of appointments
  • Ohours: Scheduling for specific times / dates / events, especially when traveling

I could probably do without one or two of these pieces. For instance, going strictly Google Calendar + Ohours would limit the number of interactivity and maintenance.

However, if I don't have an Internet connection and need to look at my calendar (happens frequently when on the subway), I pull up iCal.

Each piece in the mix above, for me, has a specific role. And, it works.

If you haven't already, try Ohours during your next trip and see if / how it simplifies the challenges of scheduling meetings.

 


 

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