Adding an ICS Event File to Google Calendar

If you register for webinars, conferences, meetings, etc. on a somewhat regular basis, you are probably familiar with ICS files. An ICS file is an iCalendar file; and can contain a single event or an entire calendar feed. Online registrations and event notices tend to make use of these files quite a bit, because they offer a one-click method for people to add the events to their calendars.

If you’re using Outlook, Thunderbird, iCal or just about any other desktop calendar program, you simply download the file, open it and save the event to your calendar.

However, if you’re using Google Calendar, things get a little bit trickier. There’s no simple way to open the file and have Google Calendar take over from there. Instead, you basically have to understand how Google Calendar expects ICS files to be used (why the system uses this logic is kind of beyond me; but that’s the way things are). Google Calendar, for some reason, does not seem to expect people to use ICS files to add individual events regularly. Instead, it uses the logic that an ICS file should include a calendar “feed”, similar to a website’s RSS feed, that would contain a complete list of events.

Gmail’s “Add to Calendar”

A while back, Google unveiled a new feature in Gmail that automatically scans the message currently being viewed, checks for a date and time in the message body, and, if found, adds a link allowing you to add the item directly to your Google Calendar (as shown in the image on the right). Lately, I’ve noticed that that algorithm has improved greatly. I used to see the “Add to calendar” feature only appear in very rare cases, but I am now seeing it almost every time I am viewing a message that I want to add to my calendar.

Securing Filezilla

As you may or may not know, Filezilla, the extremely popular FTP client, stores all of your FTP passwords in plain text on your hard drive. While I strongly disagree with this practice, I also understand that there are reasons not to do so. It would be really nice to have some sort of option to encrypt the passwords, but I don’t see that happening any time in the near future.

There are actually multiple levels of danger in using Filezilla (and, presumably, many other FTP clients). Unlike a Web browser, where, if you choose not to use the password manager none of your passwords are stored; Filezilla still stores all of the details from your most recent connection in a file called filezilla.xml and all of the details from your 10 most recent connections (at least, the ones you make by typing the information into the Filezilla interface; which is the only way to connect if you are not using the Site Manager) in a file called recentservers.xml, even if you choose not to use the Site Manager. These are plain old XML files with all of the information stored in plain, non-encrypted text. The format of the entries looks similar to the following.

iCal Files for Single Google Calendar Events

Over the past few months, I have been going round-and-round trying to figure out how to link to individual events in a Google Calendar, allowing visitors to add the event to their own calendars. Google does a nice job of providing functionality to add an event to your own Google calendar, but they don’t seem to offer any functionality to add an event to other calendars.

Google does, however, provide a link to an iCal file for each calendar’s feed; which allows you to add the calendar itself to your own calendar program (Outlook, etc.). The problem with that, obviously, is that, instead of adding a single event (maybe a concert or conference you want to attend, a public meeting, etc.), it adds all of the events from that calendar.

A Simple Picasa Tip

With the end of the year drawing near, I’ve been spending a lot of time reviewing and organizing my photos from the past 12 months. Every year, I put together a DVD slideshow of photographs to hand out to family and friends.

This year, I decided to use Picasa to help me identify the photos that I wanted to include in the DVD. However, once I found the photos I wanted within Picasa, I didn’t really know how to get them organized in a way that I could import them into Nero Vision.

First, I tried dragging them into a new Windows folder. I thought that worked, until I realized that the photos actually got moved from their original folders into the new folder. That was not at all what I wanted to do. I wanted to create copies; I didn’t want to move them.

After a bit of searching online, I found a helpful little tip. Once you select the photos you want in Picasa, you can go to the “File” menu and click “Export Picture to Folder“. From there, you can locate the folder to which you want to export the photo(s). I have no idea why this option isn’t available in the context menu when you select photos, but, to me, it would make a lot of sense to add that option there. Until then, I’ll keep on using the File menu to copy my photos.

Creating a New SourceForge SVN Repository

I recently started a new project on SourceForge, attempting to open the source of the content management system I’ve been developing for my current employer over the last few years. Unfortunately, the whole process of creating a new project on SourceForge caused more frustration than developing the CMS in the first place. While creating a new project is extremely simple, and uploading a packaged archive of your project’s files is easy, attempting to set up a new SVN repository so that you can begin versioning your application is beyond difficult (especially for a complete newbie to version control systems like me).

There are tutorials all over the Web that give you pieces of the information that you need, but I couldn’t really find any that gave me step-by-step instructions explaining how to turn the batch of source files I had on my hard drive to having a fully functional SVN repository containing those files on the SourceForge server.

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