Remembering Payday

Wanting to remember to run the payroll for my company, I was amazed to discover that Google Calendar does not offer any way to create a recurring calendar entry for the last day of each month. As it turns out, this is one of the examples actually quoted in the iCalendar standard — RFC2445 (on page 43) — so it’s very surprising Google has not implemented a way to manage such entries.

Fortunately Google Calendar does actually support recurring entries for the last day of a month, so it’s possible to hand-craft an .ICS file that can then be imported into Google Calendar. Baptiste Gazul’s helpful blog post started me in the right direction and I was able to craft some entries for my needs with help from the RFC. I saved the quoted text below into a plain-text file with a .ICS suffix and then used Google Calendar’s Import Calendar function to add the entry.

To have a calendar entry for Payday on the last weekday of every month, try:

DESCRIPTION:Last weekday of each month

Change DTSTART to specify the date of the first payday.

I actually have to run payroll on the Friday before the last weekday of the month; this seems to work:

SUMMARY:Run payroll
DESCRIPTION:Friday before last weekday of each month

✈ Getting Online Abroad

One of the best travel purchases I have made is an unlocked high-speed USB 3G modem. It allows me to get broadband-speed internet access for the duration of each trip abroad for a per-trip price comparable to one night of internet access at a hotel, using a locally-purchased pre-paid data SIM at each destination.

The modem I bought is a Zoom 3G Tri-Band USB Modem (that’s the UK link, looks like it’s also available in the US), and so far I have used it successfully with SIM cards for TIM Italy, Mobistar Belgium and 3 UK. In each case I inserted the SIM, selected the network provider from the software and it worked instantly, usually at the 7Mb HSDPA speeds. There’s simple and easy Windows and Mac software pre-loaded on the stick – I’ve not tried it with the EeePC and Ubuntu yet, I’d be interested to hear from people about their experiences. The SIM card I bought today from Mobistar in Belgium was €15 and gave me 275Mb of bandwidth to use over the next month – more than enough for broadband everywhere at FOSDEM.

Until we see the regulators sort out Europe’s mobile market and get rid of the ridiculous avaricious feudalism that blights us, this is a great solution for reducing the cost of getting online everywhere and I recommend it.

Update: As you’ll see from the comments, I also use this with a Zoom Travel Router (also available from Amazon in the US). I just plug the USB stick into the router (which is battery powered as well as working with a power supply) and it provides WiFi to multiple devices. It also allows you to connect to a wired ethernet and provides WiFi acces the same way Apple’s Airport Express does.

☆ Small Is Beautiful –

New Forest DonkeyOn a whim I decided to go look for a domain name for my own link shortener. Within a few minutes I’d found that was available, and even better that GoDaddy were selling it for $8.99 for the first year. I grabbed it and then went looking for something to do with it.

I have a Google Apps account for hosting some of my activities, and I discovered they have added a Google Labs link shortening service. It was very easy to set up, but its main drawback is they only allow link shortening using a subdomain. If you see any links for me on the domain they are hosted by Google.

I then spotted that my current favourite link manager,, offers a Pro service which allows you to use your own domain with – everything else is the same as the normal service and it gets used automatically. I requested access to the service and heard back from them within a few hours. It was extremely easy to set up as well – although one part took a day waiting for DNS to propogate changes that verified my domain ownership – and I’m very pleased with it. Any links on are hosted there, and I’m able to use both it and Google’s service at the same time.

The one gap in both services is what happens if (when) I decide to migrate away. I don’t intend to use these short links in any non-transient context, but it would be good to know that there is a workable export option available on both services so that I am free to leave. But for now I have a new toy to play with. It’d the small things that provide the best entertainment.

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