HHAMS

HHAMS Field Calendar

Welcome to the HHAMS Field Calendar. This system is meant to be used only by paid members of the HHAMS. it is one of the three components of the HHAMS Communication System.

Table of Contents

Why Use the Calendar? (TOC)

Safety officers and members alike can organize field activities on the HHAMS Calendar. Following are the main benefits of the calendar:

Reduce texting cost and thus spam Expand uninterrupted flying hours Bonus benefits

One-time Setup (TOC)

The Field Calendar allows any HHAMS member to schedule an entry on the shared calendar. As such it needs to make sure users of the calendar are who they claim to be. The system ensure this by asking a new user to enter the cell phone number he had already registered with the HHAMS Communication System. A one-time-use secret token is then sent by text to this phone number. If the new user is in possession of this phone, he can then read the secret token, and enter it to confirm identity.

Here is where the Field Calendar is: tinyurl.com/hhams-cal. You can also get this URL by texting CAL (for calendar) to the Field Text number.

Text CAL to the system to get to the Field Calendar

The Field Calendar works on smart phones (iPhone, Android, etc.), as well as desktop computers. You will need to do a one-time setup involving the secret token mechanism mentioned above, on each device. This guide shows the use of the calendar on a smart phone. The same process applies to desktop PCs.

If you have never used the calendar on a phone or a PC before, the above link will take you to a page that explains how the calendar can only be used by HHAMS members.

Explaining the Unauthenticated page

Tap the 'login' link to get to the login page. The page will ask you for your cell phone number. Enter the number you use with the Field Texting service.

Enter cell phone number on the login page

Click on the "Send" button, and the system will text you a 4-digit secret token. If you are logging into the calendar on your PC, look at your phone now. It should have a text message from the system, as shown below.

The system sends you a secret token

Before you ask, it is OK for me to show you that token generated for me, as I wrote this user guide. That token is only good for a few minutes before it expires. By the time you read this, it has already expired. You can't use it with your own phone numbers. Now, go back to the calendar (your web browser), and enter the secret token.

Token confirmation

Creating an Icon on a Smart Phone (TOC)

Go to the calendar page for today. On an iPhone, hold your finger over the "export" symbol.

Token confirmation

Choose the "Add to Home Screen" option. You can optionally shorten the name of the icon. I would make it a short "HHAMS Cal" so that the entire name fits within the small space allocated to it by the iPhone.

Token confirmation

You now have a nice icon on your home screen. Tap it next time to launch the calendar.

Token confirmation

On an Android phone, tap the Menu button to access the "Add to Home Screen" option.

Token confirmation

Overview of Calendar Pages (TOC)

Congratulations. You should never have to login again on this device. You should now be looking at the calendar page for today. This page shows official field open/close notifications posted by the Safety Officers In Charge (SOC). Then the "calendar" of tentative events follow.

Today's calendar page

Tap the "Past" link to look at notifications and events from the past. Most recent past days are shown at the top. You can tap a date to go to a page showing just stuff from that one day. These past calendar pages are useful as evidences when settling disputes such as who opens the field most often, etc.

Past calendar pages

There is a third calendar page, the "Future" events page. It allows members to schedule events for the next 7 days.

Calendar Events (TOC)

Calendar events are simply entries that members have created on the shared calendar. Each event consists of a member name, start time, duration (implying end time), plus a comment. All events are considered tentative. In the HHAMS Communication system, only field open/close events posted by safety officers are official and definitive.

These calendar events only serve as a way for members to advertise availability and to find like-minded people. You should either call people whose event overlap with yours to finalize event details. Or use the system to send them comments, as shown below. Click on an event from someone else, and then click on "Text him about this event...".

Looking an details of an event

Enter your comment and tap the "Send" button. The event owner would get a text message that includes your name, your phone number, and your comment. A brief summary of the event is included as well to give context to this text message.

Commenting on an event

Creating and Editing Events (TOC)

You create your own event by tapping a blue hour number. Hours in the past are grayed out - you can't retroactively create a tentative event. Also, if you have an event on the calendar already, the hours it covers are also grayed out - just edit your own event if you want to expand it, instead of creating multiple overlapping events.

Creating an event

The default values for various fields on the event creation page are usually good enough. The comment field is optional. You can just click the "Save Changes" button to accept these values and create your new event.

Creating an event

You can edit your own events. Your events show up in bold on the calendar page. If you tap your own event, you'll be presented with the event editor page instead of the usual event "information" page.

Editing an event

Automatic Field Notifications on Your Event Days (TOC)

Some people text ON in the morning when they plan to fly that day. Then they text OFF after leaving the field. You may continue to do that if it serves you well.

However, you may now rely exclusively on the Calendar to automatically turn on all field notifications on the day (or days) you want to fly. When you are not flying, you will not be bothered by field notifications showing how other people are having fun at the field. To enable this automatic notification, simply do the following:

Creating your own events on the calendar on future days frees you from having to text ON, then OFF, on days you fly. You still receive the same daily field open/close notifications. At the same time you save HHAMS money, because we don't need to send you field messages when you don't care about them.

However, if you derive joy from seeing others enjoy the field even when you can't, feel free to continue to indulge in listening to field messages by remaining ON at all times.

Deleting or Canceling Events (TOC)

If you created an event by mistake, you can completely delete it. Tap the event to edit it. At the bottom of the edit page there is a link that allows you to delete this event. The event will vanish from the calendar.

Deleting an event

But in most cases, you may want to "cancel" an event, instead of completely deleting it from the calendar. For instance, if you were already part of a group of events and people, and have been involved in chats among group members, deleting your event permanently removes a piece of information from history of this group conversation. You may consider changing the type of your event to "CANCELED".

Canceling an event

A canceled event is an inactive event. It is treated by the system as if it did not exist. However, there is still a record of your event for visual inspection by people. These canceled events are shown on the calendar in strikethrough font (a horizontal line across it), and they do not affect event matching calculations. For instance, the following calendar page shows that one SO has canceled his event. As a result, the other lone SO's event is now marked as "flying alone".

Canceled event

Finding People and Talking to Them (TOC)

Any time you see someone's name on the calendar, you can tap it to see public information about this person.

Information about a person

We do not yet publicize everyone's cell phone numbers in this system. Even if we did, when you call up random members, they won't recognize who you are - they'll only see your phone number, if you are not already in their contact list. The calendar allows you, instead, to send someone an invite to chat. If a member has sent OFF to the Field Texting system and is not currently receiving field texts, the "Invite him to text me..." option would not be available.

Inviting a person to chat

The confirmation page shows what the recipient receives by text.

Inviting a person to chat

The recipient will get a message from the system with your name, and your phone number. They'll call you or text you back when they are available. On most smart phones the recipient can touch the phone number and hold. Usually a menu of actions including 'call', 'text', etc. will pop up, allowing them to easily get back to you at their own convenience.

Recipient's phone

If you do not know yourself, you can tap your own name in the upper-right corner, to open the About Me page. Note that the "logout" page is hidden here. It's not prominently advertised elsewhere on this site because you never need to log out of the calendar.

About me

From your own user account page you can access a few utility pages such as the list of safety officers, as well as all members whose phones are registered with the system. From these lists you can invite members to chat with you.

List of safety officers

Calendar and Text Scoreboard (TOC)

From the About Me page you can find a link to the calendar and field text usage Scoreboard.

Calendar and Text Scoreboard

This shows number of field messages sent by safety officers, and number of calendar matching events created by members and SOs alike. We want to encourage people to use this free calendar to schedule flying times, report field conditions, and to coordinate field hours. This allows safety officers to post minimum number of official text messages showing "field open" and "field closed" notices, while still maximizing field coverage.

Remeber that official field texts cost money to broadcast to all members, even though we do want to make sure that there are one open text and one close text on every flyable day. This scoreboard sorts members by their combined calendar events and (for SOs) field texts, to encourage more people to use the free calendar to supplement field texting.

Click on a name to see all calendar events and field messages by a person.

Calendar events and field texts by a member

Here is a usage page showing answered and unanswered requests. Tentative events met with a response from a safety officer turn green. Tentative events that went unanswered remain red. These records could serve as tools to help make more safety officers to cover hours that often go unanswered.

Requests from one user

Coordinating a Group of People (TOC)

As people schedule events that overlap with one another, a virtual "group" of events emerge. An event group is simply a bunch of events that overlap in time. The calendar uses background colors to show whether a particular hour has only one SO flying alone, or only members without a safety officer. When more than one person is flying, and there is at least one SO, the hour is colored green.

Events that overlap in a group

If "you" have an event that overlaps with other people's events, in a virtual event group, then the event page of any of these events will include an additional section showing these overlapping events in the same group. You can look at details of each of these overlapping events. You can also send a text message to all of these people in the group. This feature eliminates the need for people to manually text a group of members to coordinate flying outside of the normal window of operation. It allows anyone to join and leave the group at will.

Event page shows people who overlap

The message page is shown below. Type a short message, and it will be sent to people in the group. You can also tap a single person's name, and text them individually as appropriate. You can't seem to call up this group text page, it's probably because you do not have an event on the calendar that overlaps with the group. You can only text the group if you have an event in the group; this rule ensures that when someone replies back to the group using the calendar, you get the replies.

Texting people in your event group

The confirmation page shows you the exact text the group will receive.

Confirmation of the group message

Automatic Group Notifications (TOC)

Even though you can explicitly email people in your event group, in most cases you can rely on the system to notify everyone in a group, when major changes to the group happens. For instance, when the first safety officer adds an event overlapping with a bunch of members, the system automatically sends notification texts to all members in the group, telling them that the field will probably be open. If the last safety officer in an event group deletes his event, everyone in the group is notified of the bad news.

Imagine that member "Test Person" added an event for 9am to 11am.

A member added an event

Now, an safety officer signs up to fly with a time frame that overlaps with "Test Person".

An safety officer signs up

This triggers an automatic text notification to the member "Test Person", indicating that an safety officer has added an event in the same event group. The notification indicates the total time frame of the event group, as well as members involved in the group.

Group notification to Test Person

The safety officer also receives a confirmation text indicating that his new event has caused a positive effect.

Group notification to safety officer

Weather and Weather Forecasts (TOC)

The calendar page showing today's events. now embeds current weather conditions, showing a short description (e.g. light drizzle), current temperature, humidity, wind direction, speed and wind gust. These are obtained from a nearby Weather Underground station. Today's overall probability of precipitation is also annotated.

Current weather conditions

Calendar pages showing dates in the future include a long description of forecasted weather for that day. The forecast covers only daylight hours. Night forecasts are excluded as we don't fly at night. Along each hour row in the event table, probability of rain and predicted wind speed are shown to help members schedule and manage their flying hours.

Rain and wind forecasts are shown hourly

Today's page is special in that it shows both current conditions and weather forecast for the rest of the day.

Today's page shows both current conditions and forecast

Frequently-Asked Questions (TOC)

Every time I use the calendar, it asks me to login again
  ... aka, login token not remembered in private browsing mode
(TOC)

Did you log out every time you are done using the calendar? You don't need to do that. There is no need to ever log out of the calendar, except if you are selling your phone, or handing your phone to a 4-year-old. It costs the club nothing for you to be permanently logged in. And if you are selling your phone, you should use the phone's Settings page to wipe out the entire phone.

You do not need to ever log out

Also, you do not need to log out on your phone, in order to access this system on your desktop computer or another device. You can log onto this system from multiple devices at the same time. Each device will only need to go through the login process only once.

So, you did not explicitly log out. But when you quit your web browser and come back to the calendar, you are faced with this "Member Login Required" page. Something is not right. You should only see this page if you are trying to access the Field Calendar on a new device.

Member Login Required

If you are presented with the "Member Login Required" page every time you use the calendar on the same phone or PC, then your web browser has lost the login token you entered last time. This may happen if you frequently delete all browser data including cookies. Just login one more time, and you don't need to delete the calendar's cookies. Perhaps you have set up your browser to never take cookies. In that case you'll have to login every time - it's your choice.

It is also possible that you have been using the private browsing mode all this time unwittingly. In private browsing mode, the browser never remembers anything. It does not record your browsing history nor does it keep any cookies. On the iPhone, you can tell that you are in private browsing mode when the top and bottom part of the Safari browser shows a dark gray background border instead of the usual white background border.

Safari browser in private mode

You can switch off private browsing mode by clicking on the overlapping-sheets symbol at the bottom. Then uncheck the "Private" mode.

Turn off private browsing

If you regularly use private browsing mode, just switch out of it when using the HHAMS calendar. The calendar does not save anything other than the phone number you used to log in, and the token the service sent you to confirm that you are indeed in possession of the phone number you entered. This information is stored in a cookie. And private browsing mode does not allow cookies to be stored.

If you are paranoid and would rather enter user name and password every time you use online stores such as Amazon, you can continue to use private browsing mode with the calendar as well. But you really don't need to. It does not do anything other than storing the above info in an encrypted form. No one can actually read your phone number from the cookie even if they gain possession of your phone. After all, they have your phone physically - do you really care that they can decrypt this file using NSA-strength software? The worse the criminals can do is to add an event to the calendar as you. You have more pressing issues to deal with.

How do I join online RealFlight simulation sessions? (TOC)

The calendar allows members to schedule online events instead of field events. At this time, only RealFlight allows multi-user serssions where you can fly virtual planes and helis with your fellow HHAMS members, all from the comfort of your own home. If you are hosting a session, choose "Hosting RealFlight (Online)" when creating your event. If you are seconding a host's invitation ahead of time, choose "Joining Realflight (Online)" to let the host know someone else is interested.

Yes, this is a screenshot of the simulator showing the virtual Aerodrome

Yes, that picture above is a screenshot of the simulator with the author flying at the virtual HHAMS Aerodrome. Click on the small image to see the full-size picture. If you have RealFlight, you can download this virtual airfield at the official Knife Edge Swap Pages for RealFlight 7.5. Download the .RFX. Launch RealFlight, and use File | Import | RealFlight Archive (RFX, G3X) to load the RFX file. This HHAMS Aerodrome photofield should now become part of the list of airports you can choose from the simulator. For more information, please see this blog. Here is a YouTube video showing how the Aerodrome looks within the simulator.

Upcoming Features (TOC)

Upcoming features are listed below. These are ideas from members who have helped design, test and use the calendar. They will be added to the system over time.

Why do we Need the Field Calendar, Again? (TOC)

People continue to ask, "why do we need a field calendar, when we already have Field Texting?" It is a fair question, and is answered in this section.

TL;DR

If Field Texting were free, and members were SOs trying to field open extremely tolerant of daily text spams from groups of members to the whole club inquiring and making plans to meet at the field and keep it open, we would have no need for an online Field Calendar. But Field Texting is expensive, and people in general hate spams, except when they are the ones sending these spams. Thus the Field Calendar.

Now, the longer answer.

The Field Calendar can be accessed Records of daily field notification from desktop computers as well as smart phones. The calendar shows today's field activities, starting with today's official text messages posted by safety officers at the field. This allows any member to check the status of the field throughout the day, even if they are currently OFF in Field Texting. This page is always accurate, and makes up for occasional field messages incorrectly dropped by member's wireless carriers as spams, as the Field Texting service delivers a field notice to members one by one.

Secondly, the calendar page shows the day broken into hours. Event entries on the calendar Any member can create a personal entry on this shared calendar. Each personal entry has a name, a starting time, an end time, and a commcoming soonthe onent. Members can schedule flight time, and safety officers can indicate their estimated availability, all ahead of time, including on upcoming days. This allows people to pair up with flight buddies.

Safety officers (SOs) can create entries every few hours Event entries on the calendar during the day, indicating that the field is still open, and at the same time giving people a name to call if they have inquiries about field activities, all without incurring text cost nor spamming everyone multiple times a day. Other safety officers can indicate on the calendar, unconventional flying hours (usually after 1pm), so that members and the safety officer in charge (SOC) can anticipate today's approximate field closing time. In addition, the calendar allows people to text individuals or all those involved in a daily event, without spamming the whole HHAMS.

Without the calendar, Double field open notices and immediate reopen after close multiple SOs sometimes post overlapping field opening forecasts in the morning. The field is sometimes closed with everyone locked out of the gate, only to be reopened by another safety officer a mere 10 minutes after. Sometimes an SO can stay longer at an empty field, but closes the field early because there was no way for the SO to find out whether and when other members might show up.

With the calendar, members can place their time on the calendar, and look up field status before leaving home. If SOs, Examiners and Pilot Instructors indicate their time on the calendar, the club will find it easier to get new members to join and club, and new members will become independent faster. With the calendar, safety officers can adjust their departure from the field based on availability of other SOs, and could fly even in unconventional hours because they'll be able to find like-minded folks. With the calendar, we can also schedule lawn mowing, temporary flight restrictions, town events, field meetings, and many other events, as shown below.

Event entries on the calendar