One omission from the Eee 701’s otherwise pretty wide roster of applications, is a PIM (or if you prefer, calendar) program. (Update (2009/10/29): Actually, I discovered after I published this post, that this last (first?) statement is incorrect—the Eee’s Linux OS includes KDE’s suite of PIM apps, including KOrganizer and Kontact. Apologies for this, and to do penance I’ll try and take a look at these programs in a future post. But back to my original post…)
Whilst this is not entirely surprising given the machine’s original target audience (e.g. schoolchildren—don’t they need to be organised too? 🙂 ), I’ve been looking into how best to use my 701 to help keep myself organised, and have a couple of ideas to share at this point.
There are two sides to this from my perspective:
- an Internet-hosted calendar, via a service such as Google or Ovi (both of which I use); and
- an “offline” calendar on the Eee itself, for when I’m away from an Internet connection.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: it is quite possible to access online calendars on the Eee via Firefox. Google Calendar works quite well this way, with the usual provisos of how much you can fit on an 800×480 screen.
I’d heard of Mozilla’s Sunbird project (basically, a standalone calendaring application), and this can be installed quite easily via apt-get. However, there is an easier option, in the shape of another Mozilla project: Lightning. This is an add-on for the Thunderbird e-mail application, and as Thunderbird comes pre-installed on the Linux Eee 701, there is no need to install a separate program via apt-get.
Moreover, Lightning gives you the features of Sunbird within Thunderbird, with the added benefit of integration between the e-mail and calendar facilities, so unless you have specific reasons to keep them separate, I’d be inclined at least to give Lightning a try if you want a PIM facility on your Eee.
As well as giving you a “local” calendar on your Eee, Lightning (and Sunbird) also offer CalDAV functionality, which means you can subscribe to calendar services on the Internet that have a CalDAV facility. You will need to check the service you use to find out whether it offers CalDAV; Google Calendar certainly does, so I will use them as the example here.
As Google has gone to the trouble of providing instructions for setting up Sunbird/Lightning with Google Calendar via CalDAV, I’ll just refer you to them if you need them 🙂 Once you get this set up, you can then add, edit and delete calendar items on your Google Calendar from Thunderbird, as easily as if you were using GC via the Web (with the odd caveat, but I haven’t found those yet).
As with quite a few apps on the Eee 701, the small screen means that space is at a premium, and that affects Thunderbird and Lightning. The ever-handy Eee User Wiki has a page on how to “shrink” Thunderbird, and I thoroughly recommend it (just change the point size in the chrome CSS file to 8pt!); however, you may find that certain views look a bit less ‘squashed’ than others. If I have any useful tips in that direction, I’ll be sure to let you know here.
In the meantime, if you want to use your Eee to help keep on top of your schedule, I hope this has given you a pointer or two to get you started.