Thursday, June 26, 2008

Birthday Reminder Programs

You may have a handful of buddies for whom birthdays you would celebrate yearly through sending gifts or greetings. If you use computer often, you would immediately want to get assistant from computer programs. So, there are actually quite a load of such programs around, free or commercial, they could be found easily through searching "Birthday Reminder" in Google search.

They fall into two categories:
1. Web service.
2. Desktop program running on PC, Mac, PDA or mobile phone.

Here's a list of popular programs of birthday reminder:

There are so many of them, you would ask which one to choose.

First, you are going to ask yourself what you want and need.
  • Do you use computer programs only for reminding you about your buddies' birthdays, not anything else such as appointments?
  • Are you often online?
  • Do you have a cell phone?
  • Do you want to be reminded through popup, Emal or SMS?
  • Do you mind paying a small fee?
  • Do you use computer to store contact information?
Actually, any calendar program can take care of the job of birthday reminding. A birthday reminder can be simply a whole day event plus an alarm in advance. However, if you don't use any calendar program to remind you about appointments and meetings etc., and just want to be reminded about birthday, a dedicated birthday reminder program might be more appealing to you.

If you are often online, obviously an online service can be helpful in timely manner. In addition to alarms of popup, Email or SMS, some online services can even do gift sending for you. However, there might be some catches which I will discuss later.

If you have a cell phone, SMS is very handy to notify you. Such service generally can only be provided by an online service, such as Google Calendar and

If you have already used computer (PC, PDA or online address book) to store contact info, it will be good that the birthday reminder program may get the birthday info from the address book program to save you from redundant keyboarding.

Have you make up your mind for which ones to choose?


If not, I would pick up a few apparently popular ones to evaluate (excluding those on PDA and mobile phones).

MS Outlook
  • Popular in Windows, de facto standard of personal information manager, available in most cooperate Windows PCs and at home.
  • The calendar function is very good.
  • Great sync features with PDA and cell phones.
  • There might be add-on programs that can generate birthday events from Contacts. I haven't found out.
  • Searching calendar is poor.
Mozilla Sunbird

  • Fast
  • The UI is elegant, though less luxury than MS Outlook's UI.
  • Available in Windows, Linux and Mac etc.
  • Portable through portable drives such as USB flash disk, with Portable Sunbird.
  • Searching calendar is excellent.

  • If you consider close integration between address book and calendar is critical, Sunbird won't be a candidate.
This long standing online service is popular in North America.

  • Alarm through Email and SMS. (SMS is a paid service with an annual fee)
  • Gift sending.

  • Need to spam to buddies for inputting birthday info for you, and implicit invitation for joining the
  • Does not support iCalendar import which should be the basic feature of any calendar program.
  • If your friend was born on 1984-02-29, BirthdayAlarm considers the birthday is on the 1st of March in a normal year. If you consider 28th is a more reasonable day to celebrate, you get a catch.
Birthday Calendar::Facebook App
It was claimed there was 2 millions subscribers within the first month.

  • Close integration with Facebook, thus birthday info of your Facebook buddies will be available for reminding you.
  • Gift sending

  • If your social circle is not limited to Facebook community, this Facebook app is not so appealing.
  • Though the app may import CSV from MS Outlook contacts, but if the day format is not US date format, the program will fail to recognize the date info of the birthday field. And because the CSV has to be in DOS CSV format, non-English characters will be screwed up. You don't want your Spanish friends to get greetings from you with wrong spelling of their names.

Google Calendar

  • Elegant UI and fast, among the best online calendar programs.
  • Alarm through popup, Email and SMS. Best of all, the SMS notification service is basically FREE, as long as Google provides such service in your country.

  • The searching calendar function is not so stable, sometimes it endless keeps retrieving info from the web. I am not sure whether this is a temp bug, or long standing problem.

The winners are:

  • Mozilla Sunbird
  • MS Outlook
  • Google Calendar

Companion Tools :

GCALDaemon offers two-way synchronization between Google Calendar and various iCalendar compatible calendar applications. GCALDaemon is primarily designed as a calendar synchronizer but it can also be used as a Gmail notifier, Address Book importer, Gmail terminal and RSS feed converter.

Sunbird Addon for Google Calendar

Google Calendar Sync for MS Outlook