Use Google Calendar with Thunderbird

Hi,

in this post it will be explained how you can use Google Calendar with Thunderbird. We do not use the “Provider for Google Calendar” plugin, which is often mentioned because it has some disadvantages.

The first thing to do is install Google Lightning which should be easy to accomplish.

Secondly, we should create a new calendar in Thunderbird and use “network” as well as “CalDAV”. Now, the tricky thing is the URL because you can not easily get it from your Google account online. There are some links but they cannot be used directly.

Well, the URL starts with:

https://apidata.googleusercontent.com/caldav/v2/

After that, we have to give the Google Calendar ID. If you have some main calendar, you can just enter your e-mail address. However, this will only work for one calendar. Instead, you can login to your Google, select your calendar and get to “Calendar details”. There, you can export an URL at “ICAL” and “private address”, for example. The exact link does not matter. It will look like:

https://www.google.com/calendar/feeds/q1djnjcrjuh60d6abcapgf517s%40group.calendar.google.com/private-4124798770731530bfd3059309c2fc01/basic

The only important thing that matters in this link is: q1djnjcrjuh60d6abcapgf517s%40group.calendar.google.com

%40 equals @.

Now, we have to add this URL to our https URL in Google Calendar and append /events. The resulting URL is:

https://apidata.googleusercontent.com/caldav/v2/q1djnjcrjuh60d6abcapgf517s%40group.calendar.google.com/events

Finally, we can hit enter, give the calendar a name and a color and assign it to an e-mail address. The nice part about this form of calendar integration is that we can accept appointments and automatically integrate them with the calendars. The way to get there is not very short, however, so hopefully this blog entry helps you.

All the best,

CM

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VLOOKUP for multiple columns

Hi,

just as the name says, MS Excel’s VLOOKUP is pretty useful to look up values. However, it only works for comparing one cell with a certain value. What shall we do when we have more than one column to compare?

The easiest solution seems to be to create a dummy cell that combines the cells which we would like to search for by string concatenation. For example, let’s say we have a table that combines colors and shapes and assigns it prices:

A B C
1 Color Shape Price in $
2 Red Circle 15
2 Blue Square 10
3 Red Rectangle 20
4 Yellow Rhomb 25

(whatever the practical implications of that model might be. Maybe, a child tinkers something and sells it for fun.)

Now, in some other cell, we would like to explore the price for a yellow rhomb. What can we do?

We insert a new column before column D “color shape combination”. We write into C2:

=A2&B2

By double-clicking the black square in the bottom-right corner of the cell we can extend the formula to all the rows. The result is:

A B C D
1 Color Shape Color Shape Combination Price in $
2 Red Circle RedCircle 15
2 Blue Square BlueSquare 10
3 Red Rectangle RedRectangle 20
4 Yellow Rhomb YellowRhomb 25

Now, if we want to look up the price for, e.g., a yellow rhomb, we can just write:

=VLOOKUP("YellowRhomb";C2:D5;2;FALSE)

And we will get the desired result: 25. FALSE should be used in general when you want to have exact results.

Maybe, this is helpful for some of you. If you have other suggestions, feel free to post them.

Have a nice day,
Michael

Set Spin Down Time on Windows

Hi,

simply setting power options in Windows will often not work to spin down a hard drive automatically after a specific time. However, it is very desirable to do exactly that because you can decrease the noise in your room significantly depending on the hard drive.

The software on the hard drive (yes, a hard drive has a software, too) most often has an option to spin down after a specific time. In Linux, you can simply set this time with

hdparm -S 25 /dev/sda

, while the number after -S depends on the hard drive.

Windows power settings do not allow to set this time which is a pity. The reason for this might be that too short spin down times might damage your hard drive and Microsoft wants to protect users from doing dangerous things. However, if you know what you do, I still recommend setting the spin down time yourself.

The tool which I found wortwhile is HDDScan: http://hddscan.com/

When you use that tool, select your hard drive and click on the button next to the hard drive drop down. Then, select “Features” and choose “IDE Features”. There, you can set an idle time on the right hand side.

You should make sure to choose a time such that your hard drive does not have to wake up often. Waking up takes a few seconds and this might slow down your performance a lot and might make working uncomfortable. Like stated before it might even damage your hard drive. Depending on your device, it might be necessary to run the tool again if you pull the power plug.

Maybe, this is helpful for others, as well. If you have comments or ideas, do not hesitate to let me know.

All the best,

Michael