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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://support.google.com/calendar/ answer/37095?hl=en to do this. For Mac users, visit https:// support.apple.com/kb/PH2674?locale=en_US to create a new iCloud Calendar. Outlook users can also create a calendar by visiting http://calendar.live.com.
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.apple.com/kb/PH11524?locale=en_US. Then import the file by following Step 2 at https://support.google.com/calendar/ answer/37118?hl=en.
To export a Microsoft Outlook Calendar to Google Calendar, follow the steps at http://bit.ly/2cI17lN.
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.apple.com/kb/PH2678?locale=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://userstyles.org/styles/browse?search_ 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://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/ 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,