South End Zone
iCal NFL Schedules Help

West Coast Offensive with Tom Freeman

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Aug 27 2014, 10:53 am CDT

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I'm working hard to make sure these calendars work great in any calendar program in any time zone. If you're not sure how to use iCal formatted calendars, it may not work properly for you. The following information is here to help you get the most from these schedules.

Import or subscribe?

When you import a schedule into your calendar, it pulls all events from the file and puts them directly into your calendar along with any other events you already have. Once imported, there is no more interaction with the ICS file. You can then edit any of the imported events to add your own notes, change dates/times, etc. You can even delete certain events if you want, just like any other event in your calendar.

When you subscribe to a schedule, you enter the URL of the ICS file into your calendar application, which then reads the file from this web site and shows all events in your calendar. It then periodically re-reads the same URL and updates your calendar accordingly with any changes. It is expected that the schedule data may change in some way, which is indeed the case with my schedules. Game times may change, and each game is updated with scores after it's played. The most obvious change is that toward the end of the season, additional games are added to the schedules as the playoffs unfold. Since the source of the data is my schedule data, you are not able to edit these events in your calendar.

Check your calendar application's documentation to see what methods are supported. For example, the schedule of automatic updates to ICS subscriptions may vary; some programs may even require that you manually click a button to cause the update to happen.

Time Zone Handling

The raw data in these data files specifies the US Central time zone for every game. If your calendar application properly handles time zones, and if the time zone is set properly on your computer, then the game times will be automatically adjusted to reflect your home time zone.

If you're having troubles with time zones, be sure to check out the tips explained below.

Game time spans until 2145 (or 2146) in the iPhone/iPod Touch

A number of fans with an iPhone or iPod Touch have reported that all games are spanning from the game time until a date in 2145. This was a bug in the operating system on the device (not a problem with my data). Upgrade to the latest iOS to fix this problem.

Here's a Google search that shows a few web pages about the topic:

UPDATE: I found that if I follow Tip #2 below on my iPod Touch, this resolves the 2145 issue.

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What about next season?

My plan is to maintain these schedules indefinitely into the future. My program is setup to always show the current season. So when next season's schedule is announced, it'll just automatically appear on your calendar. No need to re-subscribe.

Tested Applications

I appreciate when you let me know that these schedules are working well in your application. These are the applications that you have told me about where these schedules work fine:

If your application is not listed here, then, sorry, I don't know about it. If you are using these schedules in an application not listed, please let me know. You may also be interested in this list of applications with iCalendar support.

Tips and Tricks

Tip #1: Not all calendar applications handle time zones the same way, and some, quite frankly, just do it wrong (especially Apple products). If you're in this situation, it probably means that the schedules are appearing in your calendar correctly, except that the game times are off an hour or two. Instead of just sitting here pointing fingers, I built in a small feature to help out. You can now force my web site to adjust the game time by as many hours as you want. Here's how:

Here's an example of a standard ICS link:

Here's the same schedule, with with one hour added to each game time:

Here's the same schedule, with with two hours subtracted from each game time:

I think you get the idea. Just add or subtract however many hours you need (up to 24). Just know that when you do this, the actual data is technically wrong, as it's still in the central time zone (where SEZ hails from). And if you happen to upgrade your calendar and it starts to handle time zones correctly, then your game times may be wrong again. But I figure that if it makes the game times show up correctly in your calendar for now, then great.

Tip #2: A couple of users with iPhones have resolved time zone issues this way. First, subscribe to the schedule in Google Calendar. Make that calendar public in Google. Then use Google's public ICS URL to subscribe in the iPhone Calenar. This works because Google reads the data properly, whereas Apple seems to have trouble with it (though Apple seems to read Google's data okay).

Tip #3: If you're using the iCal application on a Mac, when you subscribe, it may simply download the feed and do a one-time import. If you want a true dynamic subscription, try changing the "http" in the URL to "webcal", like this:

Tip #4: If you'd like to add a label to the beginning of each event on your calendar, so that your events would appear like this:

     NFL: Arizona at Green Bay

instead of just this:

     Arizona at Green Bay

you can add your own label to the URL like this:

That's the lower case letter "l" (for label), followed by a colon, followed by the label you want (12 characters max). I used "NFL: " in this example, but you could make it anything so that the games stand out on your calendar. If you want a space in the label, just use the plus sign (+). If you'd like the week number in the label, just use a dollar sign ($), like this:$:+/packers.ics

Many thanks to Merv Priestley, an SEZ fan in New Zealand, for asking for this feature on the South End Zone Facebook page on Aug 13, 2011. I really do listen to your feedback!

Other issues?

If you still have technical issues or questions, I want to hear from you. Please post a message on the South End Zone Facebook page and I'll help you there. You may even find other SEZ fans in the same situtation as yourself who have some tips.

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