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Minetime.ai – A Calendar for the 21st Century (minetime.ai)
113 points by turrini 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 54 comments

Hello everyone! Marco here, main contributor of MineTime. Even though I didn’t start this thread, I am very happy to see enthusiasm about the project and I am very interested in hearing your feedback.

Here are some background information and (opinionated) replies to some of the concerns:

- I know that for many 21st century means “mobile-first”. There are several great calendar apps for iOS and Android and I believe the focus on these larger markets only has prevented the progress of productivity tools for desktop environments (see, for example, lack of a fully-featured calendar application on Linux). At some point we surely want to have a mobile version but at the moment we need to focus on something, and I believe desktop calendaring has some important gaps to be filled.

- Electron vs Native. This discussion is as old as Electron itself. Everyone would prefer a native app for his/her platform but the truth is that we (and many others) don’t have the resources to do that. Electron allows us to focus on developing new features, instead of spending time porting the old ones onto different platforms. Performance are surely not optimal but MineTime can be still largely optimized in this sense. And I am sorry for your RAM, it’s either this or nothing until somebody finds a way to optimize Electron. Calendar.google.com is not always an alternative.

- Web vs Installed App. We believe web apps cannot provide the same UX of a native app. Yes, I used the term “native”, although controversial, because MineTime still uses many native OS APIs to integrate into your system, something that a web app can simply not do! But the main reason why we decided for Electron when we started this project is different: user privacy and security. Any web-based calendar application would require us to sync your calendars on our servers. Now, we want to integrate all calendars, not just the easiest ones. Microsoft Exchange is still used in many corporations and they don’t provide an OAuth mechanism . This means we would have to store the user email and password on our servers, something that is simply awful. This is also the reason why no web-based calendar synchronizes with Exchange and will never do. With MineTime, your usernames, passwords or access tokens never leave your computer. Yes, if you agree, we transfer some calendar data and provide some interesting features in return. In the future, we expect to be able to provide all these “advanced” features without any data transfer at all, thanks to the fact that everything runs on your computer.

- Advanced features and AI. This is still WIP. Besides focusing on adding and improving all the necessary and well-deserved traditional calendar functionalities, we are doing research on Visual Analytics and Assisted Scheduling. Great improvements in this direction are expected to come during the summer, so stay tuned... An important side note: the calendar data is only used to provide these features, not for monetization, definitely not for espionage.

You can download MineTime for free on Windows,macOS and Linux from minetime.ai. Feel free to use the contact form for any question, feedback, or to tell us about your use case.

I used minetime for a bit after getting frustrated with some bugs in Thunderbird with lightning. It stopped updating my calendar mysteriously on my desktop but not my laptop, but was good besides that. I'm uncomfortable sending them my data so never used any advanced features - I guess its their selling point but really the main app was fairly user friendly.

By contrast, I can't switch an event's calendar in Thunderbird successfully, gnome calendar isn't working with caldav, California didn't support click and drag last I checked, and evolution is really clunky (why is the week view not a normal week view for example?). Gnome calendar used to also move events inaccurately when click and dragging, being off by X hours...

Tempted to switch to a web calendar tbh, these apps need to team up and make a single version that works better. Each is so close to being good but none is quite there.

Edit: typo

> why is the week view not a normal week view for example?

Can you please clarify this a bit further? I'm not a regular Evolution user, but happen to have v3.22.6 installed. There's a Day, Work Week, Week, Month and List views. I couldn't find anything specifically abnormal about any of them.

I am interested in a better calendaring solution that can integrate both my work calendar (Outlook) and my personal calendar (whatever I happen to be using at the time; Thunderbird, Fastmail web calendar, paper diary). Mobile syncing via CalDav would also be nice.

Work week is the week view I'm used to I guess and needs to be configured slightly to get the weekend days included. Week view is like an upcoming events view separated by day of the week, which I'm sure many people like, but I cant get used to it personally.

(that said, I think evolution works properly and I'm glad it exists. I don't recall the specific reason I moved on from it)

I'm surprised a basic, open source calendar with a simple API doesn't exist. I've looked really hard for one and can't find it, it seems like something that should be part of the LibreOffice suite. The last thing keeping me tied to Google is a calendar and spreadsheet with a custom script that forecast my finances. The script just queries the calendar API for all events from today to a year later.

You can do that with remind[0].

[0]: https://linux.die.net/man/1/remind

Hi. Do you mind if I contact you regarding that finance forecasting? I'm developing a web app to do just that (for my own needs, mostly), and would love to hear some other use cases.

Looks pretty cool, but I would've expected a calendar for the 21st century to either be a mobile app or at least be mobile friendly on the web. Instead, I was greeted by a message telling me to visit from a desktop computer to download.

Although it might looks like a weird design choice, an installed app was the only possible choice not to store the user credentials on our servers. I have elaborated this in another post.

You have localStorage and indexedDB on the web. Web is a pretty powerful client.

It's a research product, what do your expect

I use it since some weeks and so far I noticed the following.

PRO: - best desktop calendar app I tried on Linux (which is really fed up - it's 2019 and there really isn't a good calendar???) - easy appointment typing feature is very nice and helps me to get appointments into the calendar easier even when typing and not speaking

CON: - minor glitches (sometimes just doesn't save my appointment) - cool features only available to people who give their data to everyone (that's just not me). It would be nice to have something like that without a potential whole for entities to spy on me

I'd love to have something like this as an open source desktop calendaring solution with integrations to all important services / data sources and export functionality (incl. print).

Learned by using it: It's 2019 and Linux doesn't have a decent calendar- & contact- solution :-( * mineTime even with it's bugs is by far the best (which is unsettling)

So thx for providing this app - it already helps me to stop using my nextCloud web calendar in the browser (which sometimes sucks).

- wants access to your google contacts when you add google calendar integration

It probably needs that for contact lookups and insights, since you can compose invites using natural text.

I'm not comfortable with it either to be honest, seeing that it could delete contacts according to Google's prompt.

Unfortunately Google gives no granularity to ask for read-only access. We definitely don’t delete calendars or contacts: in fact, there is no code in MineTime that can do that, neither on purpose nor accidentally.

yeah, it's not just a calendar, it also does meeting/scheduling.

While the concept sounds great, I was really disappointed with the performance of app (even for Electron) and the design needs quite a lot of polishing, multiple events happening at the same time overlap quite badly, and the positions of the buttons are confusing.

I think a webapp should've been an obvious choice, but I'll be keeping a close eye on the project, it seems promising.

Why does it need to be able to delete contacts & calendars:

- See, edit, download, and permanently delete your contacts

- See, edit, share, and permanently delete all the calendars you can access using Google Calendar

So, I am a bit paranoid, but I bet some on HN will enable this for their corporate calendars. If I were a government-sponsored entity or small organization I would definitely spend a few grand on designers & engineering to create a product like a calendar or a shiny new email client to learn some trade secrets. Just saying... why hack your way into a corp when you can ask nicely to walk in the front door.

It's not their fault that Google's permission system isn't fine-grained enough. Besides that, what trade secrets are you going to glean from a contact list or calendar entries? I doubt even your meeting agendas are going to contain much info.

good for you that you have nothing to hide in your calendar and contact list.

Then don't use the "advanced features" where your data is sent to a server? Or don't use the product at all until they open the source? I don't understand what your point is. This isn't being forced on you.

About the permission to delete contacts and calendars, as mentioned earlier, the problem is that Google does not offer a way to exclude the “delete operation” from the grant. MineTime contains no code that could ever delete contacts or calendars.

This looks awesome. If I put it on my work PC for Outlook and my personal Mac can they sync up?

Was unable to get it to authenticate with a NextCloud instance that had 2FA enabled. Will take another look into this later, seems interesting.

I think “Siri’s” integration with calendar is as good as I desire. Contact inference and calendar meeting suggestions.

I like the time analytics... I’ve missed email analytics ever since I stopped using Eudora

>Please visit this page from your desktop browser to download MineTime

Yes, it is a Desktop app. Would you like to see a download button for a Linux installer while browsing from iOS? What would you suggest to show alternatively?

how did you design the website?

I'm pretty much a noob at responsive web design and if there is a template like this, that'd be super awesome. the website itself looks really nice.

Holy shit HN is extra today. In this thread I counted maybe three responses that were meaningful. The rest were armchair quarterbacking from a lot of folks on how to do it better or how the product sucks without substantive feedback. What happened to HN? Nearly every thread is like this anymore. This quote is becoming more and more relevant here.

“You write your snide bullshit in a dark room because that's what the angry do these days”

In this spirit of this thread being completely useless to talk about the app itself I'm going to comment on your use of the word "extra" which is a decidedly recent usage for the word and, as a person born in the 20th century, I'm still getting my head around it. I love watching language evolve around me.

I assumed they made a typo. What does it mean in this context?

This is a funny word. I use it often and I'm finding "extra" difficult to explain.

My best take is that you take the general expectation or main thing about a situation -- Then when something is "extra," the magnitude of the expectation or thing is large. But usually there's an unusual spin involved too, only very slightly.

Example: My fiancee's makeup is extra. Makeup is typically accenting beauty and lightly applied, so when it's extra, it's overwhelmingly pretty and heavily applied.

In this context, Hacker News is known for mostly serious discussion and polite chains of building thoughts. The users are extra today by being dramatically serious and having impolite chains of volatile thoughts, or maybe even chains of echochambering.

That is pretty tough to wrap one's head around. I guess it requires reading into the subject from context and estimating the most likely characteristic being magnified.

Thank you for the explanation.

It was a tough one to write out too.

Hopefully more help than ramble. Thank you for coming to my TED talk :)

Does your use of it differ from the expression “over the top”, or are those the same?

Good find! "Logically" they're pretty close, "emotionally" they can be different.

If her makeup is "over the top" that's a bad thing, she's not dressed appropriately. If her makeup is "extra" it's meant to be encouraging -- it's "over the top" but the "inappropriate" change is welcomed.

"Extra" is sometimes used with that sarcastic element or downward twist (seen by OP) that chips away the welcoming bit. In that context, I think the usage is similar to "over the top".

“MineTime is a calendar built on Electron, allowing it to run natively as desktop application on Windows, Mac and - yes! - Linux.”

So, not a native app then.

AI-powered? As if calendars weren't incomprehensible enough, now you'll need to reach fourth level support (that one PhD graduate who is chained to their desk) to understand why your second Sunday every quarter, 9:00 Europe/Oslo to 12:00 next day Pacific/Auckland event now occurs every Monday.

I'm pretty sure when they say AI-powered under "Smart scheduling", it's just turning scheduling into 3-SAT.

The NLP stuff, fine, but those kinds of queries tokenize extremely well

Hey, would you mind explaining how scheduling is turned into 3-sat? I’ve read some Wikipedia and SO but I’m still not clear how scheduling generalises to solving this problem.

written using "modern web technology".

xvilka 29 days ago [flagged]

O tempora o mores. Even calendar app requires Electron. Somebody please show them Qt.

For years, people complained that Linux was left out of the equation when apps were released. Then electron came along that made it super easy to be cross-platform with a performance loss. Now people complain that it's not written natively which seems silly for a calendar app. It's not like performance or look-and-feel is a huge issue. If they made it natively, people would complain it doesn't have a command-line API.

When people asked for Linux support, I don't think they meant make poor performing apps for everyone in exchange.

There are quite a number of cross-platform GUI libraries out there, and they've been options for decades, without performance loss.

AFAIK, the only thing that Elecron brings to the equation is the ability to use web languages that more people are familiar with to work in it, instead of yet another language. This trade-off came with a pretty huge downside in the form of a bloated parser though.

To be fair...a command line API is arguably one of the easier features to add to an existing GUI program. Certainly easier than achieving cross platform compatibility.

People have suggestions to add to everything. That doesn't mean that it's bad, just that it could be better. In software, "Best" will forever be a temporary title.

Can someone help me understand why is HN so "anti"-Electron. I had installed it couple of years ago and it had sucked up my system's memory, is that still the case?

Because apparently, for a bunch of people here, their most precious resource day to day is free RAM.

Well, I don't think that's an unreasonable request. From a developer perspective there are always a couple of apps that are always running like Terminal, Browser, Email Client and if a calendar application starts taking a huge chunk of the RAM then maybe its not worth it rather one might just use calendar.google.com as a tab in the browser.

I still think the attitude is unreasonablein a wider spectrum. I can back the criticism that you shouldn't write apps targeted at developers on resource intensive frameworks, but I also am very happy that we're in a position where fairly complex app development can be in the hands of people that would otherwise see thr barrier to entry as being too high. The potential that has to bring fresh ideas and approaches into the space in almost every area is outweighed by the limitations.

I would say that I'm less generous when companies reach global scale and still use it as a crutch to lower dev overheads though.

So you don't use any Electron-based apps right now. Why not? You will then answer your own question.

How the art of desktop applications has plummeted over the last ten years or so. Used to be that cross platform releases were - often - tight, well crafted, native looking, nicely functional apps built with care on some suitable abstraction library. Qt, Gtk, whatever.

These days more and more otherwise worthy projects seem to be delivered via the monstrous deformity known as Electron.

Another half gigabyte or so gobbled up to keep a simple calendar running? I'll stick to my Osmo.

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