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Alerting with Remind

Alerting with Remind

Back in my article on Remind, I talked about the simple power of remind to power your scheduling needs.  That is all fine and good, but how to you get it to tell you when you have an event?

In its simplest form, when you run _remind _ from the command line, it will not only display the current day’s reminders, but it will run in the background and wake up to tell you about other reminders on the screen while you work.

This is fine, but what happens if you do not have that termial open in front of you?  Well, I have two ways I approach that issue.

First, when I run under X (yeah, yeah, I know, but I use cli tools under X), I have this added to my .xinitrc:

remind -z -k’xmessage -buttons okay:0 -default okay %s&’ ~/.reminders &

Let’s look at the command line:

  • The -z tells remind to wake up every 5 minutes and reread the .reminders file.
  • The -k tells remind to run a command instead of simply printing the reminder to the screen
  • xmessage -buttons okay:0 -default okay %s& is the secret sauce of this.  This is the command run when there is an alarm.  This command line calls xmessage (which is on pretty much any box with X) to display the alert.  You could use zenity or kmessage, or winpopup, or whatever.  This is what puts the alert in your face when you are not looking at the screen.  The & is needed to make this command non-blocking by putting it in the background.

That all good if you are setting at your computer.  But, what do you do when gasp you leave to computer?  This is a little tricker.  For this, my solution needs two things: 1) a computer which is always on and 2) a way to send messages to your cell phone/pager (sms or email).  I have a cron job which checks to make sure remind is running, and restarts it if it is not (I use a hosting provider which does not like long running processes).  The command line is similar to the one for X, but with a difference:

TZ=CDT6CST ~/bin/remind -z -k”echo %s