Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Google Calendar in Menu Bar OS X

Okay, so really, this post is almost exactly the same post as on theappleblog.com. However, their instructions won't get you the most functional calendar (the navigation is sketchy). So I thought I'd review how I was able to do this.

Do what? Well, today I got frustrated with the fact that iCal and Google calendar do not always play well. Specifically, on my Google calendar I have an all-day event every school day called "Assignments" which is a summary of what is due that day, and what lectures are being given. Because this event was created originally as a repeating event and later modified so that it was no longer a part of the series, it doesn't sync correctly with iCal. Actually, it did until about two days ago. Then something broke. So now, iCal merely has every "Assignment" event every school day, with nothing more than the generic template I used to set up the original event.

So, here was my setup: Google Calendar is my primary calendar. It syncs (along with GMail which no one told me is now push) with my iPhone. My Macbook Pro had iCal syncing with Google calendar. However, I don't like the interface of iCal, and didn't want to be bothered to browse to a new calendar each time I wanted to review my schedule. So I used iSlayer's Organized dashboard widget which seems to be the best way to access iCal quickly. And then to add events to iCal (which would then push to Google Calendar and then my phone) I would use a nice natural language parser widget QuickCal which recognizes phrases like "Dinner tomorrow with Jon at 3pm for 60 mins."

And then it all broke. To be honest, I had been having problems with the events I added through QuickCal making it from iCal to Google Calendar. It would give me an error and delete my event on the next sync. But as of two days ago, my repeating events refused to sync to iCal as separate events, so I threw it all out of the window. Now there's a gaping hole in my dashboard, and my dashboard is a whole lot less useful. Because this is what I have going on now.


Today I discovered the amazing world of Fluid and Site Specific Browsers. Basically, it is a stripped down browser window that is dedicated to one site. So now I have an icon for GMail, Google Reader, and Google Calendar. They even support badges. The only problem I have right now is that it lacks support for multitouch gestures.
So, that is all fine and dandy, and setting those up is pretty straight forward. Make sure you use "http://www.google.com/reader/" for your badges to work on reader. But I still hadn't solved the problem of having a quick reference to my schedule without going into Google Calendar. So here is how I made a menubar application for Google Calendar using the iPhone mobile version.

1. Download Fluid
2. Unpack, drag into your applications folder, and run.
3. Pick a name like "Menubar Cal" and use the URL "www.google.com/calendar/gp?source=mog&gl=us" (This is the only real step that differs from the link I used. The theappleblog article references a more generic mobile version that didn't give you any way to go back without right clicking and selecting back)
4. Use an icon from here.
5. Click create.
6. Launch your new creation.
7. Click on the "Menubar Cal" dropdown, and then "Convert to MenuExtra SSB..."
8. There you have it, a fully functional iPhone Google Calendar in your menu bar.

Tip for the Fluid apps: You may want to install a few userscripts by going clicking on the script icon in your app and then "Browse Userscripts.org" and searching for and installing:
-"Fluid Gmail Growl" - Gmail: Gives you grow notifications for new messages. Currently the only solution I have to get up to date gmail notifications since Google's notifier is quite laggy.
-"GMail without Ads" - Gmail: Self explanatory
-"Today's Date Dock Badge for Fluid" - Calendar (desktop verson): Adds a badge for the current date to your dock item.

You'll also want to go to Preferences for each app, and then Behavior Preferences, and check the checkbox for "Only hides the window" next to "Closing the Last Browser Window." This will let you Cmmd-W out of your Fluid apps, but keep the badges, growl notifications, and date badges coming.

Tip: Here are the URLS I used for my Fluid Apps:
http://www.gmail.com
http://www.google.com/calendar/render
http://www.google.com/reader/

UPDATE: I have now found a better solution. Instead use the URL "http://www.google.com/calendar/ig" which is the url for the iGoogle calendar widget. It displays a nice monthly calendar, shows you your agenda, formats your event notes with newlines (main complaint with the iphone version), and includes the equivalent of the QuickCal language parsing widget. Woot! Here's a screenshot.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I just lived a mentos commercial

Scaife is one of the medical buildings here at Pitt. They have these escalators that go down 3 flights to the library. There are also elevators, but students accessing the library are supposed to use the escalators and leave the elevators for those accessing the 7 or so floors above. Anyway, the last escalator going down has been broken and blocked for a week. And you can't see it from the floor you come in on, so you usually end up hoping it is fixed (how complex can it be?) and going down 2 flights of escalators, only to find that you can't get down to the library. Then, because the stairway system doesn't have any access to the library (there is a sign telling you to use the escalators), you end up looking like an idiot waiting to use the elevator for one floor.

So today I took the gamble as always. I came in, took two flights of escalators and BAM!, dead end. I went around to the escalator going up from the library to my floor, only to see a couple people on it. So I had to turn around and act like I had just "remembered something" and that I wasn't really going to try to run down the up escalators they were using properly. By the way, I really hate turning around and doing a 180 in front of people, cause I worry what they are thinking of me. Like, are they thinking "That guy is so indecisive, why was he just heading down the block that way, and then he turned right around and went back where he came?" Or maybe they think I am forgetful. They probably don't think anything. I guess I'm not that important.

So I stand in front of the elevators with another guy in the same situation and wait for the elevator to come. I wait. I wait... I get impatient. I turn around to glance at the up escalator again. The other guys knows what's going through my head. I wait. I glance. I go, turn the corner, and doublestep down the up escalator to the other guy's fading chuckle.

Two things were missing. 1) A pack of mentos. 2) Direct eye contact with that guy once I made it all the way down, accompanied by a gender-preferentially ambiguous smile.

It was classic. Too bad I went in the library and headed for a study room, only to see him a few paces behind me. At least I got my exercise.

Chesterfield

I love Chesterfield Rd. Why? Because I left my house this morning at 7:57 and got to class at 8:01 by foot (feet? I did use both...) And then I finished our training session at 9:10 and made it home to blog, get back to what I was doing this morning before waking up, and study before I have a meeting at 12:00pm. A meeting which, if you were wondering, will require me to leave at 11:56am.

That is why I am staying on Chesterfield, despite the concerns about finding new roommates. Craigslist has been finding a few potential guys so far, including one who just may be a professional Boxer named Muhammed Ali. But... only if he went back to school to become a doctor and needs a place to stay while he does an internship here. Anyway, I love Chesterfield.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My day has been made

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Life in the 'Burgh

I told a friend today I didn't feel local enough to use the term 'Burgh. But there it is.

School is great. It is interesting. In some ways it is a lot simpler than undergrad. There is almost no reading, and for one that was always particular about doing the reading in undergrad, that is very liberating. However, the tests are a bit tougher... kinda. I mean, I study more for them. But I'm okay with that. In some twisted way, I really like spending 9 hours of my day today sitting in a library learning about histology. Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy, but the love of learning comes in to focus here and there and I realize how awesome education is. So yeah, I love dental school. BYU was great, but it doesn't compare.

Anyway, school has been consuming much of my life. I have a Biochem test Monday, a Histo test Wednesday, a Dental Anatomy test in a little less than 2 weeks and a Microbiology test in a little over 2 weeks. Then a couple papers, another Biochem test, a take home Stats test due, a group presentation, and some other stuff, all before Nov 3 I believe. And then I think I get to breathe. But for some reason, maybe the lack of a very well developed social life, I feel like I'll be able to get it all done.

Life's been interesting in other ways too. We had a roommate move in for a week, and move out today. I think I am going to have to move in a couple months. My life also has become this social experiment in complete transparency in friendship/relationships due to a few very frank conversations. It is interesting. I guess, a little like playing pokers will all cards showing? Plus, in some areas of my life, I don't really know what I am doing. I probably just need to figure out what I want.

Okay, so maybe the transparency in my life has come at the cost of some transparency in this blog. That last paragraph was pretty vague. But that's kinda been my life. I used to share everything with friends in Utah. But now, while I still share a lot with some friends, I don't really have the type of friendships that I once did, at least not here at Pitt. So I've had to adjust to being a little more private of a person? Sometimes it kills me. I feel like I am going to burst at my seems if I can't share what is on my mind.

And then I get back to studying.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Do you think...

that there would be a market in 1.5% milk?

Life

I just saw a picture of a guy hugging a monkey. It rekindled childhood desires of owning my own golden lion tamarin.

I also just started my campaign to have someone name their child after me. With as many friends as I have pregnant, and as gender-neutral of a name as mine, let's hope I have success. But Badgers, know that you are my top pick and the only couple I have personally (through your blog) asked. Oh, and it will also be royalty-free.

I haven't been posting much lately. I realized yesterday that I posted a lot last month, and not a lot this month. Then I got to wondering if my posting frequency is proportional to the lameness of my social life and inversely proportional to the number of friends I have living near me. Maybe. I looked back over the couple years of this blog and didn't see any patterns. Although I think my social life has been relatively stable, aside from moving across country. I was going to write some sentence comparing the move to Pittsburgh with the burning of a forest and the new growth allowed, but then I realized that would be like comparing my friends to old trees and imagining them on fire. Forget I thought of that analogy.

There have been several times I've been tempted to post, but am concerned at how public my blog is. At one point, I didn't like to it from my Facebook account. It is hard to balance the desire to be open and share thoughts with others, with the need to be sensitive and consider that I don't really know who is reading my blog. So... I don't know. I'll have to think about this one.

School is going great. I love it. I really do. I love learning to work, rather than learning to apply to dental school. It is so purposeful.

I am excited to call bingo at the old folks home and carve pumpkins tonight.

It is cold.

My roommate got teargassed last week. The following night I got a text from Pitt saying "The condition in Oakland may be deteriorating. Please stay nearby your residence." I got curious and went down to see the action. So I'm not sure if that message worked.

I need to go for my rotation in dental hygiene!