Monday, February 11, 2008

Look to this day

Look to this day for it is life,
the very life of life...
For yesterday is already a dream and tomorrow is only a vision.
But today, well lived, makes yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a dream of hope.

Sanskrit Proverb

It seems as though the academic year just started. New faces; old faces; the hubbub and clamour of the academic wheel starting its relentless revolution. Now it is mid-February; March is just around the corner and the end of the year is zooming towards us. What happened to the time?

Our calendars are our saviours. They measure the days, mark the passage of events and help keep our disorderly lives relatively ordered. This year, the AMIS calendar has been available on the iCal site. This means that you are able to view the calendar with all the festivals and their attendant deadlines and way-points online. Not only online, but live. One change is made in the master calendar, and it rolls out automatically to all of its subscribers. The dates for next year are beginning to appear in it. Despite being "Made on a Mac", the AMIS calendar uses an open protocol called ICS. This means that any program that can read .ics formatted files can access the calendar. One open source and free calendar program that supports .ics files is "Sunbird" from the Mozilla Organization. It is also cross platform - available for Windows, Linux and Macintosh.

Why is subscribing to calendars a "good thing"? Every time you open your calendar program, all of your calendars and the calendars you subscribe to are displayed. Vista users, there are calendars that can live in your side bar. Macintosh users, iCal is free and comes installed as part of your operating system. Also, If you are a .Mac subscriber it is a one click task to publish your calendars so others may subscribe to them. You create the calendar on your computer and publish the changes. The next time your subscribers open their calendar, your calendar is fed to them - all the latest changes automatically published. Sound useful for extra rehearsal schedules? I'm sure that you can think of a few other uses that might make your teaching life easier.

How does one subscribe? Visit the AMIS calendar. linked from the top of the News section on the AMIS web site or the web version directly. If nothing else, bookmark that page in your favourite browser and visit it occasionally. That still requires you to open the bookmark - let's go for the fully automatic version. Once on that page, in the lower left hand corner, you'll find buttons allowing you to subscribe, download, or set preferences. If a Macintosh user clicks "Subscribe", the free iCal program will automatically open and start the subscription process. Once you have subscribed to the calendar, you can then set your calendar program to automatically open when you start the computer. Macintosh users, go to "System Preferences" and open the "Accounts" pane; Windows users will depend on the version of Windows you are running.

As the academic year begins its slide on the downhill slope to the end of the year, harness the power of Web 2.0 and let your computer take some of the strain. It may even help avoid the state relished by Douglas Adams when he said, "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."