I just realized that the latest upgrade of iCals enables you to get alarm notices without having the application open. I'm not sure why it took so long for Apple to add that feature, but it's seriously welcome. I was about to go to a third party calendar because I couldn't get alarms without opening the application. I'm just wondering if other users have found this feature to be pretty consistent. In the past, I've forgotten minor dates posted on my iCal because I didn't get an alarm notice even though I configured it do so.