The case of the collapsing calendar
Going into retirement
Recently I quit my job to become 'retired'. This leads to a lot of
changes, some more predictable than others. The lock down period and
working from home during the last two years already brought some
changes, like not having to commute every day and being able to have
lunch with my wife.
One of the nice things of being retired, is that you don't have to
set your alarm clock every day. On some days you do, on most days
Not having to hurry from meeting to meeting is also fine.
The rise of the digital calendar
In the past, everybody had a paper calendar (sometimes also called
"agenda" or "diary"). When somebody wanted to make an appointment,
they had to consult you (or, if you were higher ranked, your
secretary) to check your availability. It also gave you some
control. You were in control regarding your schedule and also, to
some extend, with whom you were meeting and when.
Early in the new millennium this all changed.
The change from a paper to a digital calendar involves much more
than just the medium.
It shifts a lot of power to the person who is making the
appointment. People can suddenly see when you are available, and can
insert items in your calendar without consulting you first.
Very quickly, the time between two appointments reduced to nil. When
someone sees you are in meeting from 10:00-11:00, they will easily
put in a meeting from 11:00-12:00, and so on.
Also rescheduling meetings becomes super easy, and requires just a
few clicks. This can result in some surprises. A meeting, important
for you to get some things in motion, is suddenly suspended. Another
meeting, which requires a lot of prep work, is suddenly a week
earlier. And so on.
Collapse of the calendar
Before my retirement, my calendar was usually completely filled and
I had to be vigilant in order to keep some space between some
appointments and have some time to actually, you know, do some work.
This changed overnight. The meetings are gone, and those
appointments that are there, don't tend to shift much. As a result
of this, there is no need to keep an eye on the calendar app all the
time, to see how much time there is left and where you have to be
Now I no longer have the habit to check my calendar app first thing
in the morning and at regular intervals.
Where to put the appointments
My first thought was to say goodbye to the calendar app, with it's
data in the cloud, and move to some self managed solution. So I had
to think about an alternative.
FreeBSD calendar and Herbe
FreeBSD comes with a nice application called 'calendar'. You feed it
with a ~/.calendar file, or, it bit more flexible, a ~/.calendar
directory with a bunch of calendar files (including one with the
local holidays). At the start of X, through my ~/.xinitrc, Herbe
gives a nice notification with the calendar events for the current
I tried this first, but discovered that I don't open my FreeBSD
laptop every day in the morning. When the weather is fine, we have
breakfast in the garden, or at least coffee in the garden. Or I do
some chores in the morning, and so on.
The next thought was to put something on my smartphone (like, hmm,
an app), but the thing is, I don't open my phone that often. I never
installed that much apps and I use it mostly for some messaging with
apps like Signal. But there are days when I don't have any
It turns out that just as I don't open my laptop every morning, I
don't open my smart phone every morning.
When I now make an appointment, or want to schedule some event, I
now put it both in a file in the FreeBSD ~/.calendar directory as
well as in the calendar app on my smart phone, but I am not happy
with this outcome.
Something to think about ...
Last edited: $Date: 2022/06/24 20:19:18 $
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