Tag Archives: solved

Exporting a Google Calendar for a nicer print job — *UPDATED*

I’ve been working on exporting a Google Calendar so it can be printed. I know Google Calendar has a print option, but the results are anything but satisfactory. The events are truncated and the font is pitifully small. Also, it’s impossible to format items.

Anyway, here’s my work around solution. (This an update to this post)

1. Download and install Mozilla Sunbird. (note: Sunbird is no longer being updated, but you can still download it here.
2. Go to your Google Calendar…under “My Calendars” click on settings
3. In the calendar settings, get the ical “private address”
4. Open Mozilla Sunbird — select “File, Subscribe to Remote Calendar”
5. Enter the private address – the Sunbird Calendar will now populate with the Google Calendar Data – enter your username and password when prompted (note: edits you make will now be automatically changed on your Google Calendar – it’s two way – if you don’t want this right click on the calendar name on the left, properties, mark it “read only”)
6. Click on View, then select month
7. Edit the events to suit
8. Click on File, Page Setup, switch to landscape
9. Click on Print, insert a title if you want, change to the monthly grid layout
10. Print it

You now have a nicer looking printed calendar than you have if you print directly from Google Calendar.

Note: If all this sounds too complicated check out my post on WinCalendar.

Check out these Google Calendar related posts.

Syncing folders with Dropbox

I use Dropbox all the time. It’s one of the finest services out there and it’s free! When I got it, I moved many documents into the Dropbox folder, changed shortcuts, and changed the default save path for some of the programs I use. Some files, though, need to stay right where they are for their programs to use them.

There are some other solutions out there, but this is the hands down winner as far as I’m concerned. Install it and start using it…that’s my kind of program! If you use Dropbox you want to install Dropbox Folder Sync. Then, you go to the folder that resides outside of Dropbox, right click on it, and select “Sync with Dropbox.” Done!

As always, let me add that if you don’t have a free DropBox account account and use this link to sign up, you’ll score some additional storage for me.

Using Google Forms to Create a Contact Website Form

I wanted a simple “Contact Us” form for a couple of websites and found just want I wanted here.

Go to your Google Docs account and create the form. When you are finished with the form, click on “More Actions” and edit the confirmation to add a link back to the website. Also under “More Actions” grab the embed code.

Follow the instructions from the linked website to set up email notification, paste the embed code into the web page, and you are ready to go.

The form will spit out information to your Google Docs spreadsheet and you’ll receive an email when it is updated.

I think it’s a nifty way to add a contact form to a website.

Church prayer chain options

In the old days we used a calling list. One person initiated the prayer chain by calling, say, two people. Those two people called two more people each, and in a fairly short time the prayer request had been distributed throughout the church.

However, by the time the prayer request got repeated and discussed four or five times there’s no telling what the poor soul at the bottom of the list actually prayed about! I guess the Lord knew and he could easily sort actual prayer need from the extra material that had been added along the way.

Then, we got a nifty unit called a “Phone Tree.” Our folks loved it, and still do. I keep it in my office. When there’s a prayer request I record it and send it out. Everyone receives the same message. I’m also the “gatekeeper” of it. When the prayer need is for the immediate church family, and depending on how pressing the need is, I put out a prayer line right away. Otherwise, I collect the requests and try to not initiate a prayer line more than, at most, once a day. Generally, it works out that they are sent out maybe three days a week.

When I’m going to be away for an extended time, I used to pass the machine on to someone else who handled the requests. Finally, I decided to go with one of the newer on line services for that. A couple of people in the church have the information on initiating a phone tree using the service and it works great. We use “Call ’em all” as our backup. Anyone with a phone and the log in information can initiate a prayer line and it practically delivers all the messages at one time, rather than working through a list as our Phone Tree does. Still, the Phone Tree works great and it’s already paid for, so we use Call ’em All only as a back up.

A few years ago I asked folks if they’ed be interested in an email version of our prayer line and several said “yes.” I created an email group for our Prayer Line and removed their numbers from the Phone List. It works pretty good. I go to the computer and compose an email and then read the text from the email into the Phone Tree. I send the email and start the Phone Tree at the same time.

These days I’m thinking of adding a Twitter prayer line to the mix. Some of our real prayer warriors haven’t a clue about Twitter, but, know what? Some of our prayer warriors do…and they use texting and Twitter all the time. When I recently got my new Droid X I found out that there were at least 2 other people in the church with the same smartphone…both men in their 50’s. “Talking with your thumbs” isn’t just for teens!

One nice thing about all this is that we don’t need to be a member of a telephone prayer chain, or get calls from a Phone Tree or through Call ’em All or receive prayer request tweets to pray. God is the ultimate Communicator and he hears our prayers without the help of any technology at all!

Church prayer chain options

In the old days we used a calling list. One person initiated the prayer chain by calling, say, two people. Those two people called two more people each, and in a fairly short time the prayer request had been distributed throughout the church.

However, by the time the prayer request got repeated and discussed four or five times there’s no telling what the poor soul at the bottom of the list actually prayed about! I guess the Lord knew and he could easily sort actual prayer need from the extra material that had been added along the way.

Then, we got a nifty unit called a “Phone Tree.” Our folks loved it, and still do. I keep it in my office. When there’s a prayer request I record it and send it out. Everyone receives the same message. I’m also the “gatekeeper” of it. When the prayer need is for the immediate church family, and depending on how pressing the need is, I put out a prayer line right away. Otherwise, I collect the requests and try to not initiate a prayer line more than, at most, once a day. Generally, it works out that they are sent out maybe three days a week.

When I’m going to be away for an extended time, I used to pass the machine on to someone else who handled the requests. Finally, I decided to go with one of the newer on line services for that. A couple of people in the church have the information on initiating a phone tree using the service and it works great. We use “Call ’em all” as our backup. Anyone with a phone and the log in information can initiate a prayer line and it practically delivers all the messages at one time, rather than working through a list as our Phone Tree does. Still, the Phone Tree works great and it’s already paid for, so we use Call ’em All only as a back up.

A few years ago I asked folks if they’ed be interested in an email version of our prayer line and several said “yes.” I created an email group for our Prayer Line and removed their numbers from the Phone List. It works pretty good. I go to the computer and compose an email and then read the text from the email into the Phone Tree. I send the email and start the Phone Tree at the same time.

These days I’m thinking of adding a Twitter prayer line to the mix. Some of our real prayer warriors haven’t a clue about Twitter, but, know what? Some of our prayer warriors do…and they use texting and Twitter all the time. When I recently got my new Droid X I found out that there were at least 2 other people in the church with the same smartphone…both men in their 50’s. “Talking with your thumbs” isn’t just for teens!

One nice thing about all this is that we don’t need to be a member of a telephone prayer chain, or get calls from a Phone Tree or through Call ’em All or receive prayer request tweets to pray. God is the ultimate Communicator and he hears our prayers without the help of any technology at all!

Printing a better Google Calendar using WinCalendar

The other day I heard from the creator of WinCalendar. He’d read my multistep work-around for printing a nicer looking Google Calendar and he graciously offered me a license for his software. WinCalendar isn’t free but, on the other hand, it isn’t a work around either. Once its installed opening a fully editable version of your Google Calendar in Word or Excel is just a couple of clicks away. On my Office 2010, the software added a new WinCalendar tab. Configuration is straight forward, and once done, clicking on the new tab and then picking “Calendar Maker” makes the magic happen. Within a few seconds there’s a Google Calendar ready to edit or print. It looks much better than what I get if I use the Google Calendar print option which offers no editing capabilities at all, truncates the events, and uses a too-small font.

Now, the initial installation for me had a few rough spots, 95% of which had little to do with WinCalendar. My Microsoft Word complained about security (something well described in the WinCalendar documentation). However, I had some problems importing all day events that repeat each year, like birthdays and anniversaries. I told the guys from Sapro Systems, makers of WinCalendar, about it and within a day they updated their program so it would properly handle those events. Later on I realized that the main cause of the problem was the manner in which I imported the data into the Google Calendar in the first place, inadvertently creating, I think, a non-standard format. I think the quick response with no “it’s not our fault” attitude from WinCalendar was quite good.

At this point I think my work around for printing a better Google Calendar is okay, but for most church and school secretaries and others who generally do the real work in printing newsletters, etc. that include calendars the WinCalendar approach is the way to go. The Sapro Systems folks also tell me that they offer discounted prices to churches and other non-profits. Check it out at WinCalendar.com.

Check out these Google Calendar related posts. 

Doing a mail merge from Google Contacts in Gmail

This post has been updated…check it out here.

I’ve used Outlook for a long time and because of that I’ve always used PDAs and later on Smartphones running Windows systems so I could use the syncing capabilities between the device and my computer. However, the times are changing and I’ve finally made the move to an Android Smartphone. I’m happy with the phone but using Outlook is now rather unhandy. Once I got the calendar issues sorted out I moved my attention to printing mail labels, something that’s quite easy to do using Microsoft Word/Outlook. Still, if I want to be able to update someone’s mailing address when I’m out of the office and have it be automatically synced for doing a mail merge in Word, I need to find a non-Outlook based solution. I think I have it and it’s just one step more than what I did before.

  1. In contacts on the Android or in my associated Gmail account, I make sure everyone on the mail list is in a mail list group.
  2. Note: There’s a bug in the Gmail contacts that causes problems with the address field.  If new contacts are entered on the Android this works…if entered through the website using a computer it doesn’t work.
  3. Then, in Gmail, I go to Contacts, click on “More Actions” and then “Export” – then I pick the mail list group using the Outlook, CSV format.
  4. Let the file open in Excel, the delete all columns except for First Name, Last Name, Home Street, Home City, Home State, Home Postal Code
  5. Save the file as CSV – remember the location of it
  6. Open Word (I’m working in Office 2010 so other versions may be somewhat different)
  7. Click on the mailings tab, then “Start mail merge” then pick the wizard
  8. From here Word will take you by the hand for the actual creation of the labels

Office 2003 menu for Office 2010

Some of my Microsoft Office applications were 10 years out of date so a few months ago I decided to take the plunge and update to Office 2010.  I can tell it’s better but why Microsoft decided to dump their menu for these programs is beyond me.  I’ve spent a lot of time searching for some basic commands.  I’ve even, for the sake of office time, saved the document to the older format and moved it to my desktop computer which hasn’t been upgraded yet, and finished it there.  I had one Powerpoint presentation all finished except that I wanted the slide numbers to show.  After 5 minutes of trying to do it, I saved the presentation, opened it on my desktop in an older version of Powerpoint, turned on page numbering, saved it and walked away.

Finally I got the bright idea that out here on the internet somewhere, someone must have written an add on that restores the old menu.  Sure enough, there is.  It’s called UBitMenu and it’s a free download for private use.  Now, let me mention that I’ve not thoroughly tested this, but it appears to be just what the doctor ordered.  It adds the “classic menu” to Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.  Check it out here. Once installed, you’ll see a “menu” tab.  Click on it, and you’ll feel right at home again.

Also, I’ll mention that I’ve always liked the Windows 95 start menu.  When XP came out it had the built in option to turn that menu on rather than the “new and improved” XP version.   Then, when Windows 7 came out (I really like it, by the way) it had the Vista menu only.  Off I went to the internet and, once again, I found the problem solved, it’s called Classic Shell and it does just its name implies: it restores the Classic Menu option.

Picasa and Dropbox syncing/backup solutions

I take lots of photos and have found Picasa to be a great photo management solution. In one program I can edit the photos, give them captions, and upload them to Picasa Web Albums. However, this great program has one huge drawback as far as I’m concerned.

I use two computers, a desktop and my laptop. I basically want things to stay in sync between the two computers so I can work on a Document at home or on the run. I want my most important files to be backed up so I can recover from a crash if necessary.

One of the things I do on vacation is each evening as I wind down I off load all the photos I’ve taken during the day, cull them, edit them, and write captions for them while they’re fresh on my mind. When I’m back in internet range, I want my laptop Picasa to sync with my desktop. In other words, I want to use either computer anytime and have them stay in sync.

Picasa is the nifty photo solution, but the developers have totally ignored the basic fact of life that people use more than one computer. That’s where Dropbox comes in.

I won’t walk you through this, but instead, I’ll point you to where I got the information. Look at the post from Joel P. in this thread. I also got some good info here.

I will mention that I also moved My Photos into the Dropbox folder. Then, I told Picasa to “watch” that folder and I make sure I upload new photos to that directory.

The result of all this:
1. I can edit photos on either computer and the other will sync.
2. I have incremental backups of everything via Dropbox.

As always, let me add that if you don’t have a free DropBox account account and use this link to sign up, you’ll score some additional storage for me.

More useful tricks with Dropbox

I’ve already written about using Dropbox to put sermon audio online. Here’s another nifty use for Dropbox.

The bulk of our church bulletin is prepared in my home pastor’s study. It is then subject to final editing prior to printing at our church office. I used to update the bulletin and then email my version to the individual who finalizes it and prints it. She would copy it to her thumb drive and then take it to the church to print it.

These days I have separate Dropbox accounts for the church and for myself. Using the “share a folder” feature, I have a church bulletin/newsletter folder which is owned by the church Dropbox account that is shared with my personal Dropbox account.

It’s as simple an arrangement as you can imagine. I open the bulletin, which is in the shared Dropbox folder, put my information in it, save it, and walk away. The church bulletin is automatically updated in both the church office and sanctuary computers. If the bulletin is updated at the church office, it’s the same way. They save it and walk away. It’s automatically updated on the other computers.

The sanctuary computer’s copy of the bulletin is used for setting up announcements, etc. Most of the time it’s just a copy/paste operation from the bulletin to the worship projection software.

Okay, here are the steps:

  1. If you don’t have one yet, get a free DropBox account. Install it on all your personal computers. If you use this link to sign up, you’ll score some additional storage for me.
  2. Now, repeat the process to get a Dropbox account for your church. Install it on the church computers.
  3. Once you’ve installed that, I suggest you update to the latest forum build from this page – This isn’t required but the forum build offers some features you might want to use later on. This is no longer necessary as Dropbox has been updated.
  4. Once you’ve installed Dropbox on the church computers, create a church bulletin folder and share a it with your personal Dropbox account: inside the Dropbox folder, create the new folder, right click on the new folder, pick Dropbox, then share.
  5. Your personal Dropbox will inform you that you’ve been invited to a shared folder. Accept the invitation, put the bulletin file in that folder, along with any other documents, photos, audio files you want to keep in sync between the church and home study computers.

That’s it. Create shortcuts to the bulletin, newsletter, etc. on each computer desktop and they are now automatically synced between the computers.

Note: this is take two on this project. I think this is a more elegant way to accomplish this.