Cre­ate a clever wall cal­en­dar; edit raw files with Affin­ity Photo; power up your Plex me­dia server.


ONE STA­PLE IN FU­TUR­IS­TIC FILMS is that every­one has a handy panel on the wall show­ing their ap­point­ments for the day. While we have cal­en­dars on our smart­phones and tablets, now, thanks to the Rasp­berry Pi, it’s pos­si­ble to have an eco­nomic wall-mounted cal­en­dar in your home or of­fice.

Given that we have just ad­mit­ted that we could, for in­stance, use a cal­en­dar app on our phones in­stead, is this just a nov­elty, or are there any ad­van­tages to do­ing this? Well, mount­ing your cal­en­dar on a wall is cer­tainly more aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing than many smart­phones, but the main ad­van­tage is that it en­ables you to share a cal­en­dar with oth­ers, by putting it in a pub­lic place, such as your liv­ing room. Your fam­ily can see your own ap­point­ments, and you can make sure you sched­ule your com­mit­ments around theirs. In the work­place, you can use cal­en­dar views, such as Agenda in Google Cal­en­dars, to or­ga­nize meet­ings and as­sign tasks to col­leagues.

1 CRAFT­ING YOUR CAL­EN­DAR For this project, you need a Rasp­berry Pi with In­ter­net ac­cess [ Im­age A]. In the in­ter­ests of sav­ing on ca­bling and space, it’s best to use the Rasp­berry Pi 3, which has in­te­grated Wi-Fi.

You also need to choose a mon­i­tor. One ex­cel­lent op­tion is the Of­fi­cial Rasp­berry Pi Touch­screen Dis­play (see “Choos­ing a Mon­i­tor,” op­po­site) but any com­pat­i­ble mon­i­tor will do. This isn’t a DIY tu­to­rial, so please only at­tempt to mount the Rasp­berry Pi and dis­play if you are com­fort­able with us­ing a drill and in­stalling brack­ets. If the dis­play comes with a stand, there’s no rea­son it can’t be placed on a desk or ta­ble.

This is also a good time to start mea­sur­ing ca­ble lengths, so you can be sure both the mon­i­tor and the Pi will have power wher­ever they’re mounted.

Once your equip­ment is in or­der, you need to con­sider the type of cal­en­dar you wish to use. If you and your fam­ily or col­leagues al­ready have a cal­en­dar you share, you can start fol­low­ing the tu­to­rial right away.

If that’s not the case, you may wish to cre­ate a sin­gle cal­en­dar for this pur­pose. If you’re us­ing Google Cal­en­dars, you can fol­low the steps at https://sup­­en­dar/ an­swer/37095?hl=en to do this. For Mac users, visit https:// sup­port.ap­­cale=en_US to cre­ate a new iCloud Cal­en­dar. Out­look users can also cre­ate a cal­en­dar by vis­it­ing http://cal­en­

It’s not par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant which cal­en­dar ser­vice you use, pro­vided it can be dis­played in Mozilla Fire­fox, which we’re us­ing for this project. Try to give the cal­en­dar a dis­tinc­tive name, such as “Smith Fam­ily Cal­en­dar,” so every­one us­ing it knows it’s dis­tinct from their per­sonal cal­en­dar.

2 IM­PORT­ING CAL­EN­DARS If you do have an ex­ist­ing cal­en­dar, you may wish to im­port your per­sonal ap­point­ments, birthdays, and so on into the new one. It may not be nec­es­sary, be­cause providers such as Google and iCloud al­low mul­ti­ple cal­en­dars. Events are color-coded to show which cal­en­dar they be­long to [ Im­age B].

How­ever, if one of the peo­ple us­ing your new cal­en­dar pre­vi­ously used a dif­fer­ent plat­form—for ex­am­ple, you have de­cided that you will all use a Google Cal­en­dar, but

one per­son has been us­ing an iCloud one on their iPhone—you need to im­port it.

To im­port events from an iCloud Cal­en­dar into Google, first ex­port them into an ICS file by fol­low­ing the steps at https:// sup­port.ap­­cale=en_US. Then im­port the file by fol­low­ing Step 2 at https://sup­­en­dar/ an­swer/37118?hl=en.

To ex­port a Mi­crosoft Out­look Cal­en­dar to Google Cal­en­dar, fol­low the steps at

3 CUS­TOMIZA­TION Once you have a sin­gle, shared cal­en­dar, take some time to set it to a for­mat with which you’re com­fort­able. Most providers have the op­tion of a daily, weekly, or monthly view.

Next, feel free to fine-tune the ap­pear­ance. You can make changes to the iCloud Cal­en­dar—for ex­am­ple, to change the view­able time pe­riod—by fol­low­ing the in­struc­tions at https:// sup­port.ap­­cale=en_US.

Google Cal­en­dar’s de­fault look and feel is rather spar­tan. If you would like to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent themes, there’s a num­ber avail­able from https://user­ terms=google+cal­en­dar. How­ever, you need the Stylish Fire­fox ex­ten­sion in or­der to in­stall them, so visit https://ad­dons.mozilla. org/en-US/fire­fox/ad­don/stylish/?src=ss, then click “Add to Fire­fox” to in­stall this.

4 FULL-SCREEN AHEAD Be­cause you’ll be us­ing a much smaller screen than you’re used to, space will be at a pre­mium, so con­sider in­stalling the Real Kiosk (r-kiosk) add-on for Mozilla Fire­fox. Real Kiosk does what it says on the tin: It’s de­signed to turn your browser into the equiv­a­lent of an In­ter­net kiosk. This means the menus, tool­bars, and even the right-click func­tion are dis­abled. The chief ad­van­tage of this is that Fire­fox al­ways opens in full-screen mode, mak­ing your cal­en­dar much eas­ier to see. This also makes sure your de­vice can only be used as a cal­en­dar, be­cause peo­ple try­ing to view other web­sites are bounced back.

If you do need to close down Fire­fox for any rea­son, you can do this by con­nect­ing a key­board, hold­ing down the Alt key, then press­ing F4.

5 EDIT­ING YOUR CAL­EN­DARS Read­ing this project so far, it would seem that view­ing the cal­en­dar in the web browser is a pas­sive ex­pe­ri­ence. How­ever, if you have a cen­tral cal­en­dar on your wall, wouldn’t it be ideal to let peo­ple add and edit ap­point­ments as well?

If you are us­ing the of­fi­cial Rasp­berry Pi Touch­screen Dis­play [ Im­age C], tap­ping any­where with your fin­ger sim­u­lates mov­ing the mouse and left-click­ing in that place. You can use this to edit the time of events, and even cre­ate new ones.

Prob­lems may arise when you want to edit the text of events or cre­ate names for new ones. Nat­u­rally, you could con­nect a small wire­less key­board, and leave it near the wall-mounted cal­en­dar in case data needs to be en­tered.

A much less clumsy so­lu­tion, how­ever, would be to have the key­board built into the browser it­self. The Mozilla Fire­fox ex­ten­sion VKeyBoard [ Im­age D] is de­signed for kiosk browsers, and pops up when clicked to al­low users to en­ter text.

Sim­ply visit https://ad­­fox/ ad­don/vkeyboard/?src=search in­side the browser, and click “Add to Fire­fox” to in­stall. If you have al­ready in­stalled the r-kiosk add-on, and can’t change your web page, restart Fire­fox in safe mode, as out­lined above.

6 SHAR­ING THE DATES If you want to use any de­vice be­sides the Pi to add or change ap­point­ments in Google Cal­en­dar, you ei­ther need to sign into your Google or iCloud ac­count on that de­vice, or share your cal­en­dar with oth­ers.

To share your Google Cal­en­dar, fol­low the steps at https://sup­port. google. com/cal­en­dar/an­swer/ 37082? hl=en. You can send a link to only cer­tain email ad­dresses,





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