Automation alerts and the good old system beep

29 Mar

When you make automation, for testing and other things, it can be a pain waiting for the task to complete and get results. Or be alerted for some condition.

The standard mechanism usually is email notification. Depending on if you use existing framework solutions (commercial or free/OSS) or build your own, other options might include SMS/text messaging, instant messaging, paging, or perhaps an automated phone call.

I like all those options, each has its usefulness depending on frequency of alerts and type of alert. And infrastructure and cost factors. Email is rather bland and we get too many emails these days.

One great alert mechanism if you happen to be in the vicinity of the machines doing the work is the good old computer beep. Most computers can beep even without sound card installed, though not guaranteed. And some behave intermittently sometimes beep, sometimes don’t. But the old obsolete workstations with low CPU and memory from a decade or more ago still work like a charm with the beep.

The beep is supported by most programming languages as well as can be called from command line/shell for DOS/Windows and *nix if you know the technique.

A beep is rather bland and not unique so I tend to use a beep pattern to inform me of my alerts like 2x, 3x, or 4x consecutive beeps as an alert. Has worked well for me in my jobs.

A paging (public address, speaker) system or instant messages may be nice too, but haven’t had a chance to implement those types of alerts yet for my work.

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