Sunday 31 October 2010

.ics files on iPhone/iPad (Calendars - Part 2)

One of the rumoured new features in iOS 4.2 is support for .ics event files. This will mean that I can (finally) accept calendar invitations that arrive in my IMAP email from Outlook users.

However, today it doesn't work and I need it to. Fortunately, someone has created a simple "kludge" iPhone app called Calendar Happy. The only downside is that it doesn't work on my iPad and it costs £1.79 - but as I said, I need it now.

Again all I can say is roll-on iOS 4.2.

Saturday 30 October 2010


I've recently started work at a new company and it has become apparent to me how dependant I had become on the Outlook calendar (sync'd with my iPhone) that I had at my old company.

The new company is a small start up and we don't have luxuries like Microsoft Exchange (and probably don't want them either), but it has left me with a problem over the last month due to the lack of a calendar.  I had some (very simple - I thought) requirements:

  • I need to be able to have separate work and home calendars

  • I need to be able to access (read and write) on my iPhone

  • I need to be able to access (read and write) on my iPad

  • I need it to integrate (read and write) into a Windows mail program

  • I need it to integrate (read and write) into a Linux mail program

  • I need to be able to access (read and write) the calendar online

  • I don't want to pay anything

I have spent a lot of time searching online and couldn't find a solution that met all of my requirements.  But today I have (almost) found one.  Given the number of people who seem to have the same issue I thought it probably worth sharing.

The Calendar

I had hoped to use my MobileMe calendar.  It supports creating multiple calendars and it works well with my iPhone and iPad.  Unfortunately, using this under Windows and Linux with up-to-date, free, software proved a non-starter.  For example, MobileMe does have a CalDav server but the only (up-to-date and free) Windows and Linux mail software I can find with CalDav support is Thunderbird with the Lightning plugin.  Unfortunately for me, that plugin doesn't seem to want to do authentication with MobileMe.

Google Calendar came to my rescue.  Here is what I did:

  1. I created a Google account for my work email address and set-up a "work" calendar and set the week start, event display, and notification preferences to suit my tastes

  2. I created a Google account for my home email address and set-up a "home" calendar and set the week start, event display, and notification preferences to suit my tastes

  3. I then gave my work Google account full access to my "home" calendar and vice-versa

  4. I also added the "UK Holidays" calendar to both

  5. I set the calendar colours for the three calendars so as not to clash

I suppose the main questions people might ask about the above are:

  • Why not just create two calendars on one google account?

  • Why not just create two calendars associated with your Gmail account?

Well, I want calendar emails relating to my "work" calendar to go to my work email address and emails relating to my "home" calendar to my home email address.  I did try creating two calendars on one account, but the calendar emails only went to the primary email address for the account.  Google is even clever enough to work out that both accounts belong to the same person so both calendars appear together in the "My calendars" section of the display ("UK Holidays" remains, correctly, in the "Other calendars" section).

The Linux and Windows Software

Once I had selected Google Calendar this part was easy.  I installed Mozilla Thunderbird, the Lightning calendar extension, and the Provider for Google Calendar extension.

I then set-up Thunderbird to handle my email, and "work" and "home" calendars.  Thunderbird is available for both Linux and Windows.  I even added in the "UK holidays" calendar and adjusted the colours to give myself a consistent view between Thunderbird and the Google Calendar website.


[update 31/10/2010: I found an alternative (and possibly better) way to sync the calendars on my iPhone.  See the comments below.]

I already have email working on my iPhone so all I had to do was get both calendars on there.  My first instinct was to add them as Gmail accounts as, if you are using Gmail for email, you can also sync with a Google Calendar.  This does not work.  When you add a Gmail account is tries to log into Gmail with IMAP and this failed because my home and work Google accounts do not have Gmail enabled.

Luckily (again) there is an alternative.  You can configure the iPhone to use Google Mobile Sync.  This involves creating a Microsoft Exchange (this is no joke) account for each calendar.  Use the email address and password you use to log into Google for authentication, when given the chance to specify a server use "", and make sure that when you choose which services to use (calendar, contacts, and mail) you just choose calendar.

I also subscribed to the iCal version of Google's "UK Holidays" calendar.


[update 31/10/2010: I found an alternative (and possibly better) way to sync the calendars on my iPad.  See the comments below.]

This is the (almost) bit.  In theory this is set-up in exactly the same way as the iPhone.  In practice my iPhone is running iOS 4.1 but my iPad is running iOS 3.2.2.  The difference here is that iOS 4.x lets you have more than one Microsoft Exchange account, but iOS 3.x does not.   All I can say is roll-on iOS 4.2 (due sometime in the next month) and I will be able to meet all of the requirements I specified above.

In the meantime I need to decide which calendar I want to view on my iPad.

Saturday 23 October 2010

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-10-24

  • I've just passed the SIP School Certified Associate (SSCA) test. #fb #li #

  • I was in Moscow a few weeks ago. I took some pictures: #fb #

  • I just realised that this is the end of the fourth week in my new job. Isn't it amazing how time flies when you are having fun! #fb #

  • It's rather sad that I have nothing better to do on a Friday night than stay at work until 21:30 playing with Mobicents Sip Servlets 1.4 #fb #

Saturday 16 October 2010

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-10-16

  • My first day at the new office. Things are starting to get real here, we even have some jobs advertised on the company website! #fb #in #

  • Trying the Sloe Gin I bought at House of Bruar last month. Not had Sloe Gin before but it's now going onto my list of favourite drinks. #fb #

  • My FB, LI, & twitter picture is awful. Anyone with a reasonable (and recent) picture of me suitable for all three sites let me know! #fb #

  • “@stephenfry: 101010 today! 42 In binary, of course. Join the continuum....” #fb #

Saturday 9 October 2010

Updated CV

A wise man once told me (in fact several have told me) that you should always have an up-to-date CV.

It's good advice so, given that my job (and job title) has changed recently, I thought it was time to update mine.  If anyone is interested my new CV is here:

I also (recently) took the trouble to update my LinkedIn profile:

My new job (Crocodile RCS)

It's been a while since I wrote anything here.  This is mainly due to the fact that I rarely feel I have anything of interest that is worth sharing with the world.  However, in the unlikely event anyone bothers to read this, I thought I should mention that I have just finished the second week at my new job.  This is a big thing for me as I had been working for my previous employer (Telsis Ltd) for over ten years and it was my first job since graduating from university.

I am now working for a start-up company called Crocodile RCS Ltd ( for those interested in what it does).  The first week at my new job was nothing short of hectic as it began with a 4am wake up call (a taxi to Heathrow airport collected me at 5am) on Monday and ended after 12:30am on Saturday (a taxi from Heathrow airport dropped me off).  On the plus side I got to add another country and city (Russia and Moscow) to my long list of work sponsored "holidays".

While less hectic than the first week my second week has been nothing short of busy.  While not (yet?) working the ridiculous hours you sometimes hear associated with start-ups the days have still been quite long, and the stunning part has been how quickly they seem to go by.  The best part, from my point-of-view (I admit I am a glutton for punishment), is that there is so much needing done that it is simply not possible to get everything needed done completed each day.  Of course this means there is a lot of prioritising going on, but it does have the upshot of meaning I never get a chance to be bored.