A couple of nights ago, I was messing around with SMS alerting after checking out some websites to let me know the best times to see the Northern Lights in southern Britain. Lancaster University’s AuroraWatch UK site, has an alerting system including advice on sending emails to a phone via SMS. The exact steps are carrier-specific, however O2, who operate the network I use (Giffgaff), works with MMail (send a text consisting of the word
on to 212 and a confirmation from 21203 will tell you your email address, which should be +firstname.lastname@example.org – turn it off again with an
off text to 212). Even so, it is a risky service to leave active as each text message sent or received costs the recipient (it’s supposed to be 10p, but for me it seemed to be £0.20), so it’s possible for a spammer to run up a hefty phone bill for you… on that basis, MMail doesn’t sound so attractive.
There are a variety of SMS services available from SMS2Email but a little bit more digging around (on the Giffgaff forums), turned up reference to If This Then That (Ifttt) – a website that someone had mentioned to me recently but which I hadn’t looked at yet.
My verdict? Wow! Event-driven programming is cool.
Register at the site and build tasks that match the “if this, then that” construct, based on:
- Triggers – the this part.
- Actions – the that part.
- Channels – the “things” that triggers and actions take input from or output to .
Tasks poll for input every 15 minutes but they can be turned on/off and you can also create recipes for sharing tasks, so for example, I’ve created a task/recipe that polls the AuroraWatch UK Twitter RSS and sends an SMS message when there is a red alert (i.e. a chance of spotting the Northern Lights anywhere in the UK). I’m sure there are loads more things that can be done with Ifttt as there stacks of channels to build from – in fact, wading through the recipes that people have shared brings up some pretty cool ideas.
Ifttt is definitely worthy of further investigation…