Using Google Calendar Effectively

21 September 2019

Google Calendar makes the world go 'round, especially for kids who travel between households and have lots of school events. There are a couple things you can do to get the most out of your calendar.

Set Locations

Calendar events obviously come with times and fixed reminders so many minutes before the event. It doesn’t matter where you are or where the event takes place: that notification is coming at the same time.

With a location set on each calendar event, other software, like Waze GPS, can continuously watch your current location and offer you a more useful notification giving you time to travel based on distance and current driving conditions along the way.

Set the Earliest Time

Most my calendar events have just one start time, but my kids' events aren’t that simple. A marching band performance may be at 7pm, but the bus to the stadium leaves at 4pm. Since we live by notifications, it’s important to get those notifications at the earliest time at which we need to act. The other times are likely just extra details that can go into the event title or event details. I can get a notification for 4pm and realize I don’t need to be there until 7pm, but I can’t tolerate a 7pm notification if I was supposed to be dropping a kid at the practice at 4pm.

If I find it’s important to see notifications for all the potential times of an event, then it’s probably best to break that event into more than one event: drop-off, performance, and pick-up.

Share the Calendar

This is the first and most useful collaboration feature of Google Calendar. A personal calendar benefits one person, but invite the other participants (the kids), and then they can start adding and maintaining events and following these rules as well.


Google Apps on Kindle Fire Tablet

28 June 2016

Ben’s birthday is approaching, so I picked up the inexpensive Amazon Fire Tablet from 2015. It’s running FireOS 5.1.x.

He played with it running stock for a week or so, using it to mostly read library books, and of course, to play some games from the Amazon Appstore.

Reading was the main purpose to have the tablet, but I also wanted it for communication and organization. That means getting the Google Apps installed on it. The only things available in the Amazon Appstore were these shell apps that were nothing more than a wrapper aronud a web pane, so I needed to proceed to install the Google Play framework and app store.

Before even buying the tablet, I had found some links, so I was pretty sure it could be done. I started with a post on XDA which got me the link to an all-in-one ZIP of everything I’d need.

It came with the APK files and directions to run a Windows BAT file, which obviously isn’t going to happen on any machine I have, so I cracked open the BAT, and followed the script running the important bits by hand:

  • Login to the tablet as the original login — Ben’s secondary login didn’t work.

  • Enable Developer Options — Settings → Device Options → tap serial number serveral times, and the Developer Options will appear.

  • Enable USB Debugging — Settings → Device Options → Developer Options → Enable ADB to Enabled

  • Enable Side Loading — Settings → Device Options → Developer Options → Enable Untrusted Sources

  • I was on a Mac, so the USB drivers were already good, and I had Android Developer Tools already installed.

  • Unpack the all-in-one ZIP.

  • Run the commands at the shell:

    # see that tablet device is listed
    adb devices
    adb install com.google.android.gms-6.6.03_\(1681564-036\)-6603036-minAPI9.apk
    adb install GoogleLoginService.apk
    adb install GoogleServicesFramework.apk
    adb shell pm grant com.google.android.gms android.permission.INTERACT_ACROSS_USERS
    adb install com.android.vending-5.9.12-80391200-minAPI9.apk
    
    # disable ads on cheap tablet, though I already paid to have it disabled.
    adb shell pm hide com.amazon.kindle.kso

After those couple commands, I found I had the Play Store icon, and fired it up, did the Play Services upgrade, and started installing the Gmail, Calendar, Hangouts, and Keep. I did find Inbox would crash after setup, but Gmail was fine.


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September 2019

June 2016