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Nevis Calendars

There are four calendar software packages installed on the Nevis web server... and three sets of calendar URLs for you to remember. This web page describes the different calendars and their uses:

Meeting-room reservations

As the name suggests, the purpose of the meeting-room reservation calendars are to reserve space in the meetings rooms at Nevis and in the Nevis Annex; there's also a "room" defined to schedule when the Nevis van will make the trip from the Columbia campus to Nevis Labs.

The use of these calendars is mostly self-explanatory. If you need any assistance, click on the Help link near the top of every page.

Here are the distinguishing features of this calendar software (the MRBS package) compared to the others discussed on this page:

  • These pages are public. Everyone in the world can see them.

  • Only users with an account on the Linux cluster can add, change, or delete entries on these calendars. Use the same account name and password that you use to read your mail; if you see a message about a certificate, accept it permanently.

  • If a given user creates an event on one of these calendars, only that user can edit or delete that event.

Shared calendars via CalDAV

CalDAV is the same calendar system used at Google Calendars and Apple's iCloud. There's a CalDAV server at Nevis, which can be used if you want to synchronize your calendars on multiple devices. All the programs listed below (Sunbird, iCal, Outlook) can synchronize with a CalDAV server, in addition to most tablets and smart phones.

The key bit of information is the name of the Nevis CalDAV server:

https://www.nevis.columbia.edu/caldav/caldav.php/nevis/

If you're using Sunbird, you'll have to subscribe to each calendar individually by adding its name to the end of the above URL; e.g.,

https://www.nevis.columbia.edu/caldav/caldav.php/nevis/university-holidays

Use your regular Nevis account name and password; i.e., the one you use to login or read your mail.

If you do this, you'll be able to see all the Nevis calendars with your program, but you won't be able create a new calendar of your own. Contact me and I'll create it for you. (The issue is that if you could create your own calendar by yourself, you'd also be able to edit everyone else's calendar as well.)

Shared public calendars via WebDAV

WebDAV is an older calendar protocol which is gradually becoming obsolete, mainly because it's not as good a protocol for sharing calendars between different machines. However, it's good enough if you're only going to access your calendar with a single laptop. Among the programs that can use WebDAV are:

  • Sunbird, a free program from Mozilla, the same organization that makes the web browser Firefox and the mail program Thunderbird. This calendar software is also available as an extension to Thunderbird called Lightning. There are versions of this program available for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows.

    This is the program that I recommend for you to use; apart from cross-platform compatibility, this program is more robust than the other programs listed below. There's one exception: Sunbird cannot yet synchronize with an device like a smartphone.

To use these programs to share calendars at Nevis, you'll want to either publish your own calendar or subscribe to an existing one. For example, you can subscribe to https://www.nevis.columbia.edu/calendar/university-holidays.ics, which contains Columbia University holidays (complete through early 2013).

You may have to add the Nevis certificate to your system; follow the directions on this page.

Here are the distinguishing features of this calendar software (compared to the others discussed on this page):

  • Only users with an account on the Linux cluster can even see these calendars. They cannot be generally viewed by the rest of the world. (Use the same account name and password that you use to read your mail; if you see a message about a certificate, accept it permanently.)

  • If you want to create your own calendar files to share, you can. Just "publish" or "subscribe" to a calendar using the same naming scheme as the files above: https://www.nevis.columbia.edu/calendar/<whatever>.ics. Note that the file name must end in .ics, otherwise it will be rejected.

  • By default, anyone at Nevis can add, modify, or delete events on any of the calendars that have been published using the above method. However, unlike CalDAV, you can create your own calendars.

  • If you contact me, I can arrange for a calendar file to be restricted so only a single user (or a small number of users) can edit the calendar. However, for this kind of security, CalDAV is better (see above).

  • There's a hint of "security through obscurity" here: If you don't know the name of a calendar file, you won't be able to subscribe to it. However, you can see a list of available calendars through the calendar viewing page described in the next section. Just take the name you see on that page, add https://www.nevis.columbia.edu/calendar/ before it, add .ics after it, and you have the name to which you can subscribe.

    If this trick doesn't work, it means the calendar is hosted by CalDAV; see above.

Viewing public calendars

If you don't have access to a computer that has a program that can edit a shared calendar, at least you can view them in a web browser. The link is http://www.nevis.columbia.edu/viewcal/.

Here are the distinguishing features of viewing calendars this way:

  • Only users with an account on the Linux cluster can access the calendar viewer. They cannot be generally viewed by the rest of the world. (Use the same account name and password that you use to read your mail; if you see a message about a certificate, accept it permanently.)

  • The navigation buttons and links are not as intuitive as I would like. (I'm using the PHP iCalendar package.)

  • By default, you see everyone's calendar. You can restrict the list using the "Preferences" link on the viewer page.

  • As noted above, you can only view calendars, you cannot edit them.

  • If you have a calendar on Google Calendars, it can be displayed on this page. Send me the iCal URL (available from the Shared Settings page for the calendar) and I'll include it on the list.
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Topic revision: r9 - 2012-01-19 - WilliamSeligman
 
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