Here is something that has driven me crazy about Outlook for the ten-plus years I've used it. I can't really believe it's insoluble, because that would mean that the program has a more glaringly troublesome defect than others we know about. But I haven't found the solution -- and I'll offer the traditional bonus of a year's subscription to the Atlantic to the first person who can tell me the answer, which I'll share. (Sincerity alert: these are actual paid-out-of-my-pocket bonuses, not company freebies.)
The problem involves Outlook's handling of time zones.
Let's say there is some particular date I want to note on my calendar. It could be a recurring date -- my wife's birthday, or the Fourth of July, comparably-praiseworthy annual events in our household. Or it could be one-time: let's say, a trip to Inner Mongolia three weeks from now. The point is, I want to remember the day itself -- not some particular stretch of hours in that day.
If I live my life in one time zone, no problem. And even if I travel from place to place -- east to west in the US, or to Europe, or to Asia -- that doesn't change my interest in the date itself. My wife's birthday is the very same date each year, no matter what time zone I was in when I first entered the appointment and no matter where I am when the date rolls around. In Outlook terms, that would should mean an "all-day event" on the calendar, not an appointment for particular hours.
But that is not how Outlook actually works, as best I can tell. Suppose I was in Washington DC when I entered my wife's birthday -- and am in Beijing on the happy day itself. Because China time is either 12 hours (in summer) or 13 hours (in winter) ahead of East Coast time, Outlook refuses to show the all-day appointment. Instead, my calendar now shows "Independence Day" as running from noon, July 4, to noon, July 5. New Year's Day runs from 1pm January 1 to 1pm Jan 2, China time. Again, this is purely because my computer was set to East Coast time when I entered the appointments, and now it's set to China time.
I understand the idiot logic behind this approach. It's an attempt to span time zones and give you a real-time sense of when the same event happens in different places. Sometimes that's just right. For instance, if I need to join a conference call at 9am Washington time, I want it to show up on the calendar at 9pm my time. But it's obviously NOT what I want when I enter a "full-day" event like the Fourth of July.
Outlook contains one quasi work-around for the problem: you can permanently change all full-day appointments to a different time zone when you move some place else. (Tools/Options/CalendarOptions/TimeZone/ ChangeCalendarTimeZone... Easy! And intuitive!) But that is overkill. Does anyone know of a way to keep all-day appointments assigned to their proper dates, wherever you are? Thanks in advance. And if not -- hey, you Microsoft programmers, get hopping! I can't be the only one with this complaint.
UPDATE: Google Calendar, as I should have mentioned earlier, appears NOT to have this problem. If you create an all-day appointment while the calendar is set to one time zone, and then change the setting to another time zone, the appointment remains "all-day"! It doesn't take on some oddball 3am-3am 24-hour nature. Unfortunately, if you sync the Google calendar with Outlook using this nifty utility, Outlook's lamentable timezone-specific properties take over. Or so it now seems.
Update #2: I guess if I'd looked around more, I would have seen that this is a known and much-detested bug. As shown, for example, here. (Thanks to Paul Baumgart, who wins the subscription.) As a one-time (if short-term) veteran of the Microsoft Office design team, I can hardly believe that an error this gross has been left uncorrected. But then again I can also hardly believe that Vista was released to market 15 months ago....about which more soon.