[sociate] Mr. Sippey, iCal and various ways to munge semi-structured information

  • From: "Jerry Michalski" <jerry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Sociate News" <sociate@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2004 21:03:30 -0500

Michael Sippey has been messing around with iCal, the calendar-sharing
specification. His blog lists a LazyWeb request that someone write an iCal
plugin for Outlook, but he's also written (and borrowed) some php that turns
a simple timeline into a nice, syndicatable calendar.

Hm. Back when I used to keep my schedule using a pen and paper, I would make
all sorts of friendly annotations to remind me of what days were like. If it
was especially beautiful or rainy out, I might draw a big sun or dark clouds
and rain spatters. If some significant even occurred in the world, say an
eclipse, disaster or the President saying he was going to try to amend the
US Constitution to build a little bias into it, I would so note in my
schedule. All this not only made it easier to find things (it was a few days
before that big storm), but it also added texture that helped me relive days
gone by.

Some iCal-sharing sites exist already, like iCalShare and iCalExchange, but
they don't seem to do much. Imagine the Yahoo TV listings available as
subscribable iCal feeds, which anyone could then use as raw material to
create their own media recommendations, which I could then subscribe to (at
last! the Michael Sippey media zine!). Sync this to my Tungsten running
NoviiRemote, set it in front of the entertainment center, and a longtime
wish of mine would be fulfilled.

Or imagine the weather available as an iCal feed, or different people's
perceptions of what was newsworthy. Couple those with permalinks to blog
posts and RSS feeds for additional information and you start to get a rich
toolkit for managing semi-structured, temporal information.

Speaking of temporal information, why is the Microsoft Office suite so
pathetic at timelines and other structures involving time? Excel in
particular just sucks at charting timelines. (If you've found a way to do
it, send me some hints.) Do they think adding time smarts will kill sales of
Project? They can't actually believe that.

If you'd like a taste of iCal but you're not on a Mac (where iCal is built
into several apps), consider installing Mozilla Calendar. (In fact, first
you should install Firefox, the completely-ready-for-prime-time Mozilla
browser formerly known as Firebird. Bye-bye, IE!)

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I consulted to the INIT consortium
and wrote an issue of Release 1.0 titled Personal Data Interchange, where I
tried to describe things that eventually turned into vCards and iCal. Too
bad they're still not doing what they should do. I know vCards are almost as
awkward to use in Outlook as the Tasks function. (Just looked it up; it was
September 1993.)

posted by Jerry Michalski at 1:49 PM

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