Stupid tech tricks: no permission to respond to calendar invites? (The UID:X trick)

I use two separate Google calendars: one for Bredemarket, and one for personal non-Bredemarket meetings. I receive meeting invitations on both of these calendars. This usually isn’t a problem.

Usually.

Over the last year, I have accepted a variety of calendar invites from external inviters, including invites to Zoom meetings, invites to Microsoft Teams meetings, invites to Google Meet meetings, and even old-fashioned invites for Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) calls. (Yes, these still exist.) These have originated from Google-managed domains, Microsoft-managed domains, and other domains.

When you accept a calendar invite, you send a message to the inviter that contains your acceptance of the message, and this acceptance is recorded both on your calendar and on the inviter’s calendar.

Except for the invite that I received yesterday evening.

I was reading email on my mobile phone and received a calendar invite. When Gmail displays calendar invites, it displays them with “Yes,” “Maybe,” and “No” buttons.

Calendar invite, the expurgated version.

So I clicked “Yes” on the invite…and received a message that I didn’t have permission to access to the target calendar.

That seemed odd, but I noticed that there was an “invite.ics” file attached to the invitation. While ics files are designed for Microsoft calendars, they can be imported into Google calendars, so I figured that I’d just import the invite.ics file when I had access to my computer the following morning.

So this morning I imported the invite.ics file…and got the same error stating that I didn’t have permission to access the target calendar.

Curious, I researched and found a solution:

“The solution for this is to manually edit the .ics file prior to importing it and replace all occurrences of “UID:” with “UID:X” (without the quotes). After doing this and saving the file, proceed with the import and all should be fine.”

So I opened up the invite.ics file in Notepad, performed the manual edit, and successfully imported the calendar entry.

As it turns out, the inviter doesn’t usually schedule meetings with people outside of the inviter’s domain, which explains why I was the first person to mention the issue.

While the problem was solved, I had no idea WHY the UID:X trick worked. And I’m not the only one asking this question.

Most of the time when I receive a meeting request in my gmail account, Google Calendar understands exactly what is going on and handles the request pleasantly.

But for some zoom meeting requests originating from one particular client, Google Calendar refuses to admit that it’s a meeting request until I edit the ICS file and insert an “X” after the “UID:” prefix per the suggestion here.

Looking at RFC 5545, it doesn’t look like the “X” is required but it’s not terribly clear.

Does RFC 5545 in any way require that “X” to be there?

As of this morning, no one has answered the question, but I found a comment in a separate thread that appeared to be relevant.

After investigating for a while, it seems adding the “X” is not a permanent solution. The UID is a global identifier, if two events have the same UID in the same calendar there’s a collision. Some calendar services like Outlook (which I use) seem to handle this, while Google and probably many others don’t.

So the mystery continues.

P.S. If you happen across this post and find it helpful, also see my 2009 tip about the spurious “remove probe” error for KitchenAid ovens. (TL;DR: use a blow dryer to remove moisture from the probe hole where the temperature probe is inserted.)

Communities, selling, and service offerings

The infamous content calendar says that today is proposal day, but I’m going to ignore the infamous content calendar and talk about a bunch of things other than proposals. (Well, I’ll mention proposals once, I guess.)

First, I’ll talk about the new glasses that I received yesterday.

In addition to a new frame style, this new set has the transition sunglass tint but WITHOUT the computer tint. (The Costco optical person said that I didn’t need a separate computer tint these days. I don’t know if he was right, but I trusted him.) My last set of glasses had both the transition sunglass tint AND the computer tint, which meant that they had a purple color at times. Now my tint in the sun will be brown rather than purple.

But enough about that.

Let’s get to the meat of this post, in which I’ll talk about the communities that I’ve joined since starting Bredemarket, what led me to purchase something from one of those communities, and one of two actionable items (and an action) that I took from that purchase.

Communities

Before I became a free agent, I was an employee of a multinational firm with thousands of employees throughout North America and thousands of additional employees throughout the rest of the world. One of the company’s VPs established an online community to support her nationwide organization of people, including myself in California, my direct supervisor in Massachusetts, and a bunch of people in those states, Minnesota, Tennessee, and everywhere else under the sun. I was able to participate in that online community even after I moved out of that VP’s group due to a corporate reorganization. (Thanks Teresa.)

With free agency and sole proprietorship came the loss of that community. (No, the VP obviously wouldn’t let me engage with that community when I was no longer an employee.) But over the next several months I joined three other communities. As it turns out, I interacted with all three of these communities over the course of the last two days.

  • On Thursday at 10:00 am, I joined the weekly “town hall” for the employees and associates of SMA, Inc. I am officially an associate of SMA, albeit with a very specialized skill set (more on that later). To support its people, SMA convenes a weekly “town hall” that addresses company issues and also addresses the interests of SMA’s leadership. Every week, for example, there is an “art talk” that delves into a particular artist or artistic topic.
  • On Thursday at 6:00 pm, I joined the monthly meeting of the Orange County, California chapter (“SPARK OC”: Facebook, Instagram) of the Freelancers Union. This monthly gathering happened to be a “happy hour,” although I disregarded the injunction to bring my favorite cocktail.

  • Finally, today at 8:00 am, I joined a paid workshop hosted by Jay Clouse of the Jay Clouse empire of entities. The topic? “Invisible Selling.” Due to early hour, I didn’t have a beer, but had a Nespresso instead. The rest of this post deals with that workshop and the results from that workshop.

The invisible selling of “Invisible Selling”

I’m not going to recount that Clouse covered in his one-hour workshop. After all, I paid for the course, and (most of) you didn’t. But perhaps it would be helpful if I described how I was invisibly sold on “Invisible Selling.”

I first encountered Jay Clouse via LinkedIn Learning. (Another thing that I lost when I was no longer an employee was access to my employer’s online courses from Udemy and others, but LinkedIn Learning has filled the gap.) I had long since forgotten which Clouse course I took and when I took it, but I checked my LinkedIn profile and found that I had taken his “Freelancing Foundations” course back in September 2020.

After taking the course, I ended up joining his “Freelancing School” community, participating in various online meetups, and engaging with Clouse’s offerings in other ways.

All for free.

Then I received a couple of emails from him about his (then) upcoming “Invisible Selling” course.

I deduced from the description that it would meet my needs, and figured that $40 was a reasonable price. Plus, I trusted Clouse based upon my interactions with him and his community over the last several months.

So I signed up.

The results of my attending “Invisible Selling”

As I said before, I’m not going to recount Clouse’s presentation. But in my particular instance, I derived two actionable tasks within the first 30 minutes of the workshop.

  1. The first task, which could potentially be worth between five dollars and tens of thousands of dollars to me, was to make sure that I am anticipating potential client objections up front, and addressing them. I’m going to devote some time to that in the future. And as you can see below, I started to address one objection even before I heard of Clouse’s workshop.
  2. The second task is one that I cannot discuss publicly at this time. However, it could potentially be worth more than tens of thousands of dollars to me. Maybe I’ll talk about it someday.

Service Offerings

One potential client objection that I’m already addressing is that my offerings do not fit my potential clients’ needs. I’m addressing this by broadening my offerings.

Many of you will recall that when I started, I came up with a bunch of packaged “services” that I could sell to potential clients as is, or with some adaptation to meet the clients’ needs. Over the first few months of Bredemarket’s existence, I sold various clients my Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service, my Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service, and my Bredemarket 404 Web/Social Media Checkup. I still sell these services today.

But much of my business today doesn’t derive from these prepackaged services. Well, technically it does, if you read the description of my Bredemarket 4000 Long Writing Service:

The long writing service does not have a “standard” offering per se, because of the variability of what may be needed. Work is billed at an hourly rate.

Some of Bredemarket’s more lucrative work comes from ongoing hourly relationships that I have established with several clients. They use me as needed, sometimes more frequently, sometimes less so, but I’ve kept them happy.

“I just wanted to truly say thank you for putting these templates together. I worked on this…last week and it was extremely simple to use and I thought really provided a professional advantage and tool to give the customer….TRULY THANK YOU!”

Why do these customers work with me? Well, while I have a number of customers employing various technologies, the vast majority of my customers are focused on biometrics. And I am the biometric content marketing expert and the biometric proposal writing expert, because I said I am. (The other John Bredehoft, the one who owns Total Plumbing Services, taught me the importance of self-promotion.)

But what if a client wants to pick my biometric brain and not pay hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to do so?

Well, for the past month I’ve been addressing that price point also via Bredemarket Premium. Certain posts on this Bredemarket blog delve deeply into my quarter century-plus of biometrics knowledge. These posts are only available to subscribers, at the cost of $5 per month. Here’s an excerpt from the public view of one of these posts:

So to my mind I’ve covered the “Bredemarket doesn’t address my price point” objection. (Prove me wrong. Please.)

As I said before, I need to do a better job of anticipating and addressing other potential objections to using Bredemarket to help you communicate your firm’s benefits. And I’ll work on that.

But if your objection is that you don’t like my glasses, I can’t help you. You can’t please everyone.

And a reminder that if I’ve brilliantly addressed all of your potential objections, or even if I haven’t, and if you’re ready to talk about how I can help you:

If your marketing channels lack content, your potential customers may not know that you exist

[Update, January 27, 2021: a July 2020 study from Demand Gen Report explains WHY up-to-date content is important. I addressed that study in this post.]

One of Bredemarket’s most popular services is the Short Writing Service. It can help small (or large) businesses solve the content problem.

You know what the content problem is. Your business has established one or more marketing channels: a website, blog, email list, Google My Business site, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Tumblr, Twitter…or many others.

But the marketing channels are useless IF THEY HAVE NO CONTENT.

Or old content.

Or poorly-written content.

Maybe the information on the marketing channel is six months old, or a year old, or nine years old. (Trust me, this happens.) Or maybe there’s content on one marketing channel, but it’s never cross-posted to the other marketing channels for your business.

What are the ramifications of this? If your channels lack content, your potential customers may forget about you. And that’s NOT good for business.

I’ll use myself as a BAD example. In addition to my business blogs at Bredemarket (https://bredemarket.com/blog/) and JEBredCal (https://jebredcal.wordpress.com/blog/), I maintain several personal blogs. One of those personal blogs is Empoprise-NTN (https://empoprise-ntn.blogspot.com/), and that blog is obviously the ugly stepchild of the bunch. Between 2016 and 2019 I authored exactly ZERO posts on that blog. So if someone is looking for authoritative commentary on NTN Buzztime games, they’re obviously NOT going to look to me.

The obvious solution to the content problem is to CREATE CONTENT. Some people have no problem creating content, but others may need some help. They may not have the time (https://bredemarket.com/2020/09/25/when-you-dont-have-the-time-to-craft-your-own-text/), or they may need some help in selecting the right words to say.

Bredemarket can help you solve the content problem, one post at a time. The Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service (https://bredemarket.com/bredemarket-400-short-writing-service/) uses a collaborative process, in which you and Bredemarket agree on a topic, Bredemarket provides a draft of the text, and the text goes through two review cycles. At the end of the process, you have the text, you own the text (this is a “work for hire”), and you can post the text on your blog or Facebook or wherever you please. Your content problem is solved! And if the post includes a call for action, your potential customers can ACT, potentially providing you with new business.

Speaking of a call for action…

If you would like to talk to Bredemarket about ways to solve your business’ content problem, contact me!

Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service

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