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Tungle launches meeting time broker

Another tool to tame the meeting-setup process.

Tungle, launching today, may be the meeting coordination utility to beat. Like TimeBridge, Jiffle, and other products in this new category, it lets you block off a bunch of times for a meeting you want to have with a person or group of people, and then it handles all the back-and-forth while your attendees figure out which of the available times they want to grab. Once the meeting is booked, it enters the appointment into your Outlook calendar and sends the recipients calendar entries, too.

Tungle's success is in its design. If you're setting up a meeting, you can select whole swaths of potential times, even if you just want the person on the other end to pick a 30 minute slot. You can also do cool things such as drag blocks across days (for example, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday through Friday) for open times. Tungle will excise times that you've already got booked (including times booked by other attendees on your Exchange server), and will make sure that your contact never gets the option to select times that are taken, even if they're scheduled after you send out the initial meeting request.

Tungle lets you create big blocks of potential times for meetings, but it won't double-book you.

Another unique feature: The capability to schedule two people into a meeting but not yourself--great for administrators. And you still get a confirmation when the meeting is set up.

When a meeting is finally locked in, the person or people you've scheduled get confirmation e-mails, and in the e-mails come calendar entries that auto-populate Outlook, Google Calendar, Entourage, and other scheduling systems.

Tungle lets you give some of your contacts access to your free/busy information so they can more easily initiate a meeting request with you. For people you'd rather keep at a more professional distance, you don't have to share anything about your schedule except episodically, when you want to set up a meeting with them.

It appears easy to use and mostly straightforward. I'm looking forward to giving it a shot. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the desktop application to run on my system. Outlook is a "finicky platform" Tungle CEO Marc Gingras told me before I fired up the demo on my own PC. Prophetic words. My cursed laptop also rejects TimeBridge, by the way. I don't know what it is that keeps scheduling helpers from running well on my computers.

For people setting up meetings, Tungle is Outlook-only so far. But as I said, it sends confirmation e-mails to attendees that many calendar applications can read.

Tungle is free. Premium services (such as scheduling meeting rooms) will be available eventually. The company also plans to make money by linking to third parties such as conference bridges.

Once we can get these applications stable on a PC, we'll compare them.