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This message is a little late, but I’d like to wish a sweet New Year to all of my users.

Or, perhaps I should extend an early Chag Sukkot Sameach!

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Due to some confusion with Israeli vs. Diaspora sedra schemes, I have modified the user interface on the Interactive Calendar page to make the option easier to use. Instead of a checkbox, it’s now displayed as a radio button (a choice between the two options).

You should select the appropriate option depending on where you live (Israeli sedra scheme for those living inside Israel, Diaspora for everyone else).

I have also fixed the 1-Click Shabbat service (both web and email versions) to automatically select Israeli sedra scheme for cities in Israel.

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A couple of folks using iCal reported some problems with the Hebcal export option for iCal. Apparently the iCalendar file format is slightly incompatible with the vCalendar format used by Lotus Notes and some other apps.

To address this issue, the website now offers both .vcs (vCalendar) and .ics (iCalendar) files for download. The .ics files now have a string timezone identifier (such as TZID=US/Eastern). I think I’ve got these working for the US, but I don’t yet have them working for international cities.

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Per the suggestion of a user, I’ve added Hebrew translations to the Interactive Calendar for the following 3 optional features:

  • Days of the Omer
  • Show Hebrew date for entire date range
  • Show Hebrew date for dates with some event

Here’s a sample of what it looks like:

2nd of Sivan, 5763 / ב׳ בְּסִיוָן תשס״ג
46th day of the Omer / מ״ו בְּעוֹמֶר

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Got this email from Tellme today:

Date: Thu,  3 Apr 2003 01:10:11 -0800 (PST)
From: Tellme Studio <>
To: michael@...
Subject: Tellme Studio program change
VoiceXML Developer,
Tellme has made many investments in VoiceXML over the past four years.
One of these investments was in the Extensions program, with the goal
of making VoiceXML a more utilized public standard. Now with VoiceXML
well on its way to standardization in the W3C and with hundreds of
thousands of VoiceXML applications in production,  it is clear that
investment has paid off. It is time for us to retire the Extensions
program and invest in other areas. As of Wednesday, April 9th we will
no longer host Extensions on 1-800-555-TELL or Developers can continue to build VoiceXML
applications on Tellme Studio.
Thank you for your individual contribution in making VoiceXML the most
widely-used and successful voice standard in the world.
The Tellme Development Team

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Last week I fixed a bug in yahrzeit calculations in the hebcal website.
Calendrical Calculations

According to Calendrical Calculations by Edward M. Reingold and Nachum Dershowitz, the yarhzeit of someone who passed away in Adar of an ordinary year or Adar II of a leap year is also always in the last month of the year, be that Adar or Adar II.

The website previously displayed those anniversaries as occurring in Adar I. Hebcal for Unix 3.3beta10 also contains this fix.

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We’ve added support for exporting Hebcal data to Lotus Notes and Apple iCal.

Our vCalendar export also works in Palm Desktop 4.1 now, although the native DBA export is considered superior. Previously the Hebcal vCalendar export would cause Palm Desktop to crash, but this issue appears to be resolved now.

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We’ve added next and previous links to the top of the individual Torah Readings pages. See Parashat Beshalach (this week’s parashah) as an example. You’ll see a link << Bo on the left and Yitro >> on the right.

These links have always been available at the bottom of the parashah pages, but now they’re also visible at the top for people who don’t like to scroll.

Also, the date of the reading for the current year highlighted to easily see what to year we’re in if you’re using the triennial cycle.

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Sometime before Pesach, I hope to change the Hebcal Torah Readings pages to correctly show special haftara/maftir when the Parashat ha-Shavua corresponds with a special day like Rosh Chodesh or Shabbat Shekalim.

Currently we’re displaying this message:

NOTE: This site does not yet indicate special maftir or haftarah when they occur. Always check a luach or consult with your rabbi to determine if this Shabbat has a special maftir and/or a special haftarah.

But of course it would be much better if the website actually had the proper data. This would make one step closer to being a full luach.

There are a bunch of other feature requests and bugs to fix this year, too.