website tricks

How to Become Über Organized Using Google Calendar and Drupal

Wed, 2008-05-14 01:32

This is a trick I have been trying to pull off for years. The technology has been almost there or perhaps even all the way there for some time. I worked on perfecting my setup quite a bit, but maybe I quit right when the breakthrough was about to happen. No matter, the method works now and I am much closer to knowing where I am supposed to be at any particular minute.

The components I use for my particular level of organization, namely Drupal and Google Calendar, are not the only tools that will do the job. Any application that puts out an .ics file can play. When I first started to attempt this, there was no Google Calendar. I tried it using the calendar found at the Mozilla website; it is a standalone app. If you frequently find yourself without Internet access and needing to check your calendar then Sunbird may be just what you want. Many other applications use the standard iCal format and should work well.

The first step in the journey is to create a website for every organization you are involved with. It is important to use software that outputs the iCal format for events. Drupal does this, if you prefer another system that works as well, then by all means go for it. Maybe you are truly lucky and all your favorite groups already have a website that formats events in the iCal format. If so, skip to the next step.

Now you need to decide where you want to have the master calendar. As I mentioned before there are programs that will run on your computer and you can have a calendar that way. Personally it is much easier for me to set the Google Calendar as my home page and just use that one. I don't have to run a separate program, and besides, I dig the sexy interface. I will assume that you do, too, and I won't mention any other master calendar from here out.

So, you have your source calendar and your website, which is the source of the events. Assuming you do in fact use Drupal, you will see a little calendar-looking icon near the events part. When you click that, you will be prompted to download an .ics file. What you really want to do here is to right click and copy the link location (copy shortcut for IE).

Go back to your GCal and click Manage calendars in the lower left. You will then see a new screen. Hit Add calendar.

This screen has suggestions that you may add to your calendar. Be sure to come back later and add anything that appeals to you. Right now what you want to do is click Add by URL right next to the search box at the top. The next screen asks for the Public Calendar Address: and this is where you add the link from your website. The link will look like when taken from Drupal.

This is when the magic happens. If the leader of the organization is properly trained and suitably motivated, he will add the events to the website in a timely fashion. All you have to do is sit back and be updated.

If you are not so lucky, it is still well worth your while to track down the upcoming events and add them yourself. It is not difficult, after all.

You may want to add the holidays for your own particular area, and you can add even more calendars at iCalShare.

This could be the coolest feature of the Internet. Everyone understands it. It works. I like it.

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SEO in the City

Tue, 2008-01-29 09:54

I am happy with the way this whole weblog thing is working out. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to read. This is not the most serious blog on the intertubes, but I have made a few new friends with it. All the boys seemed to be able to find it once word got out that I was dynamite with a laser beam. Life is good.

It has been pointed out to me that the one thing I am missing in life is descriptive URLs. Well, ok, maybe a few other things too but I think that one tops the list. I am going to give it a try, and if this post generates an URL that satisfies The Ones In The Know then all posts after it will follow the same format. If not, I may just have to try again.

Yeah you guessed it, this is only a test.

Leave a comment if you like my nice new URL structure.

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How I Tamed OpenID

Sat, 2007-12-15 23:14

I posted yesterday of my trials with OpenID. I have a happier story today. I do not know if I was having a blond or senior moment yesterday, but I also do remember having problems in the past.

There are a couple of reasons I want to figure this thing out. The first is that I think it will be an important part of the future Internet and I do hate to be left behind. For example, if it catches on big time and yet somehow is able to suppress spammers, I would require a sign in to post on this blog. I am too cynical to expect that to happen, but boy would that be nice.

The other more immediate reason I wanted to get this thing in line is that Blogger has just started allowing OpenID as an option for commenting on Blogger blogs. Of course I have a Blogger ID, and in days gone by I would just use that to sign in with. Recently I became annoyed with the entire situation and just decided that anybody who did not care enough about their own ideas to get a real website was not worth my time. Usually I try to hide the fact that I am an elitist snob, but really, some of you people write real smart like and buying a domain and installing WordPress ain't exactly brain surgery...

Back to the topic at hand. Now that I have run off all the non-techie types I can tell you what I did to make myself so pleased. I now use this very URL as my OpenID. It works too, I went right out and commented on a couple of Blogger blogs, entered as my open ID URL, and everything went smooth as silk. I was taken to my OpenID server, which is different from my OpenID URL. That was an extra step for sure, but for me it was pretty cool because I got to choose which persona was submitted to the site. Maybe you have a simple life and have no need for this, but I find I must balance the serious and educated side of me with the all out party animal you see here. This thing actually makes it easier.

So let me tell you how I did it.

I use Drupal, which is awesome enough to provide a module for this sort of thing. I uploaded the thing and it did take me a couple of minutes to find my identity server and all, but after that I just hit save and I am done. Thing is, I feel kinda cheaty like because it is not hard to do this even without a special module. The instructions are all laid out at the Delegation page at OpenID and it just calls for a couple of lines in the head of your template. Easy Peasy.

Today my experience with OpenID was easy and useful. I don't know the advantage from the linky love standpoint of using my own URL to comment on Blogger, because both weblogs had moderation enabled. Poor folks. Have a little self respect, will ya?

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Wed, 2007-09-19 13:13

Here it is, September 19, I have the pirate module installed, and yet nothing has happened. Maybe a new post today will use the filter. Here is a quote from the official Talk Like a Pirate site:

We're talking about the mere image of swaggering pirateness. And while this is a guys' guide, the comely wench will have fun talking like a pirate, too. It's powerful, yet harmless. Perhaps, dare we suggest it, the ultimate aphrodisiac. Try it!

Here goes!

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It's Only Rock and Roll

Fri, 2007-08-31 16:27

Is it possible to imbed 20 seconds of a song into your website? Let's see:

The Rolling Stones – She's So Cold

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Calendar Sharing

Thu, 2007-01-11 00:12

I have been interested in getting all my various calendars synchronized for quite some time now. I have had some success in adding my PDA schedule to my computer records, but the thing that interested me most was online calendars that could be subscribed to using another calendar. I have found a new toy to try out, the service at Zimbra. I tried out the online demo and much to my joy I was able to subscribe to a calendar on a Drupal site. This is the thing I have been waiting for: setting up Drupal sites for the organizations I belong to, and when the person scheduling the events enters it on the website I can expect my own personal calendar to be updated with all the upcoming events.

It looks like there are hosted packages available for Zimbra as well as a download. I would like to install it myself, and there is a free and paid version. I will need to poke around and see which is right for me.

Next up, I must see if there is a way for a Drupal site to subscribe to Google Calendar through the invite feature. After that. I must just get organized...

***update: this may be more that I wanted after all, it seems like a commitment sort of thing right when I am seriously thinking of dumping SUSE, and there is no BSD port. Maybe I try it, maybe I wait for the next guy to get that good. Seems like a nice product. though.

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