EMC Events Calendar
Help: General Assistance
- Click here for help on entering new events into the calendar
- Click here for help setting up repeating events and duty rotas
- Click here for the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list
Please advise any errors, omissions, or questions arising from this "help" by email to EmcHelp@macfarlane.biz
Contents: General Assistance
- About the Events Calendar
- Public Users
- Members-Only Users
- "Administrator" Users
- All about the rotas
- "It's Not Working!"
About the Events Calendar
The EMC online events calendar is intended to meet the following needs:
- to improve our "calendaring", giving better advanced notice of events
- to externally advertise club events that are of "public" interest
- to provide a single "master" calendar of club events: updated centrally, and the source from which other calendars
(such as that published in our newsletter, "AirWaves") are created
- to allow all club members (with Internet access) to update the calendar by adding events
- to make the calendar available in a variety of formats: simple listings, calendars that you can pin on the workshop wall,
or download for loading into other calendar software, PDAs, pocketPCs and so forth
- to publish the duty rotas, with the ability to "swap" rota days when necessary, making it clear who is supposed to be on duty, and when!
- to make available "personalised" duty rotas, with several ways to help circulate the rota both by eMail and by post.
- and, as a side-effect to automatically schedule the duty rotas when necessary, and to issue "reminder" notices by e-mail.
There are three kinds of user for the EMC online events calendar:
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- Public Users: The general public
- EMC Members: Members of Elmbridge Model Club, who can access additional features and information after logging-in using
a username and password known only to the members of the club.
- Administrators: "administrators" are more privileged users, who log in using a different username and password, and can then update
existing events in the calendar, set up duty rotas, and repeating events.
The online events calendar is covered under the Data Protection Act consent form that all members sign when they join the club; this allows
their information to be used in order to administer the club's business.
Events in the online calendar are marked either as "public" or "private". Those that are "public" may be viewed by the general public,
without first logging-in to the website. These events are shown within the online calendar with an unlocked padlock symbol to their left.
"Private" events are only visible to club members, after logging-in with an appropriate username and password. All "duty rota" events are
"private", visible only to other club members, and cannot be seen by the general public.
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Public users can access limited features of the online events diary without having to log-in first. Public users are able to:
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- View "public" events in the diary
- Optionally, restrict the range of events displayed, according to a limited range of criteria:
- Date range
- Section, location and event type
- Display the calendar as a list, as a "calendar", or download as a CSV data file for use in other applications, such as PDAs
In addition to all the features that are available publicly, further features are available to members after logging-in using
an appropriate username and password:
- View duty rotas in a similar variety of formats, plus:
- as letters, individually addressed to each participant in the rota, detailing their rostered participation over the
coming months. These are formatted for printing and then mailing to rota participants using "window" envelopes, catering for
those members who cannot pro-actively access this online events diary.
- Note that this implies that contact details for duty rota members are available online. This information is not available
to the public, and requires the user to have logged-in. That is, this information is only available to other members.
- View the definitions for the duty rotas - for example, who takes part in the rota, which days the rota works on, and so forth
- Swap duty rota days - intended for use by duty rota participants, so that if it is necessary to agree a "swap", you can record this in the
- Create new one-off events in the calendar (and, for the duration of that browser "session", edit or delete those new events)
Note: Members can create new events and then update them until you close your browser. You won't be able to alter or delete the
events you created earlier, if you close your browser and then open a new one. This is (admittedly) a fairly crude mechanism, but it
prevents other members from altering events that you have created. If you made a mistake, or need to change an event that you created earlier,
contact someone on the committee and ask them to correct it for you (the committee members all have access as "administrators").
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In addition to all the features that are available to the public and to members, further features are available to "privileged" users ("administrators")
after logging-in using an appropriate username and password:
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- Change or delete events in the diary, regardless of when the event was created, or who by.
- Change or delete events that were automatically inserted into the calendar as "recurring" events
- Create, change and delete duty rotas
- Create, change and delete definitions for recurring events
- Create, change or delete club "sections", "locations" and "event types"
All about the rotas
The online events calendar contains a number of features that are intended to make life easier for the duty rota participants, and for the section
secretaries and their delegates. Currently, the only people authorised to alter duty rotas are the section secretaries, and other members of their section
to whom they have delegated "rota" responsibilities.
How does it work?
- We start by setting-up a list of participants, i.e. club members that are prepared to participate in rotas. You can't be removed from this list whilst you are still rostered for duty events in the calendar, or whilst you are still listed as participating in a rota.
- Then we define a number of duty rotas, with the days of the week and months in which they operate. For example, "1st and 3rd Saturdays and Wednesdays each month, from June to January".
- Each rota has a list of participants (i.e. club members). Duties are created as events in the calendar that are generated from this list, working down the list in the given order, and then repeating from the top. You can participate in more than one rota, but you can only appear once in the list for each rota. If you are removed from a rota, your duty events will remain in the calendar until a replacement schedule is generated (see below).
- Rotas can be set-up to skip a duty if it would clash with other events in the calendar.
- If you can't attend your duty day as-scheduled, you can log-in and update the rota to show that you have swapped your duty with someone else.
When will I receive e-Mails?
You can expect to receive e-mail messages from the rota system under the following circumstances:
- If the events in the calendar are re-generated from the rota (see below)
- If you (and another participant) agree a duty swap, you will both be sent an e-mail confirming the new arrangement.
- You will receive reminder e-Mails 5-days and 3-days before each date that you are scheduled to be on-duty
In each case, the e-mail will include all future duty dates, plus a separate section detailing those that are specifically assigned to you.
I don't have an e-mail address...
If you don't have an e-mail address, the online events calendar caters for you by allowing the section secretary (or whoever is in charge of your rota) to
print the same information in the form of a personalised letter.
When are the calendar events generated from the rota?
Rather than schedule the rota forever into the future, just the next few months are scheduled at a time. Within a few
weeks of the end of the last scheduled duty, another few months will be automatically generated. This will typically be about once every 3-4 months.
If you make changes to a rota, new events will NOT be automatically generated (unless the schedule is close to running out anyway). Instead, you can re-generate the events on-demand. You might do this, for example, when someone is added or removed to the rota. This means you can replace one person with another on the rota (in the same position in the list) and then re-generate a new schedule of events: everyone else will get the same duty days as before - their duties will be unchanged.
If you need to re-generate the rota...
- You'll get the chance to include an explanatory note for e-mails sent to the rota's participants, letting them know what changed.
- By default, all future events will be removed and replaced with new new ones, but you can give a date from which the changes are to take effect.
- The new events are created by working through the list of participants in fixed order, repeating from the top.
- If any of the newly generated events end up for the same person on the same day as before, any previously agreed duty swaps will be reinstated, if both people are still participating in the rota.
- By default, the new rota events will start from the "next" person in the list, depending on whoever is on duty for the PREVIOUS event. It sounds complicated, but it just means the rotas will take up where they left off.
- BE CAREFUL: If you change the list of rota participants, the "next" person on the list might not be the same as before. So, you can tell the rota who to start with, if you need to.
Be careful when re-generating rota events. If you don't get the results you expect, you can put it right by doing it again and starting with a specific person, or with effect from a specific date. But if you got it wrong the first time, it may not have been possible to reinstate any previous duty swaps, so you might have lost them by then.
What changed recently?
During July-August 2017, there were quite a few changes and improvements:
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- e-mails are sent from a different address, which should make them look less like SPAM and they should get through more reliably.
- The "date picker" widget has been fixed, which allows you to choose dates. This had been broken for ages. To get the best from this, use an up-to-date browser (Chrome, Edge, Opera); otherwise, you have to manually enter the date in YYYY-MM-DD format (IE, Firefox)
- Added Up/Down buttons on the rota maintenance page, so that it is easier to tweak the order of participants in the rota.
- Rotas no longer take account of their participants' availability: if you're on the list, you're expected to be available on any day that the rota needs you. The old scheme was an un-necessary complication that wasn't being used, but made it hard to generate calendar events in a stable order. Calendar events are now always generated in the order defined by the rota.
- Participants can no longer appear more than once in each rota. Calendar events are always generated in the same order, because there is no ambiguity over who comes next.
- You can no longer delete a participant if they are taking part in any rotas or have any scheduled duty days (or swaps). You can delete them from a rota at any time, but that just means they're not available for swaps; their existing duties remain until replaced (or swapped).
- Swapped duties are preserved when new events are generated (replaced) in the calendar, where possible.
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