Smart TextMail and mobile alerts on tasks, website availability

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One of my longest mobile experiment drew to a close early this month with my rediscovery of Smart’s TextMail.

For more than a year, I’ve been trying one service after another in an effort to get my e-mails sent as text messages to my mobile phone. The answer, you might say, is simple: buy a Blackberry.

I’m not, however, prepared to spend thousands of pesos for the device and its mobile e-mail solution when I have only very specific alerts in mind: website availability and tasks reminders. For regular e-mails, I am perfectly satisfied with the GMail for mobile Java application.

Scrybe online planner ONLINE PLANNER. My current online planner of choice, Scrybe. The free service allows me to manage my tasks and get alerted of deadlines via SMS messages sent through Smart TextMail. Click on photo to enlarge image.

I run and help oversee several websites and need to know whenever the servers where these are hosted encounter problems so that I can work on fixing it or submitting a support ticket. All the sites I run are monitored by free web server monitoring services that check every few minutes or so whether these are available.

Whenever the monitoring services I use detect any of the my sites to be down, it immediately sends an e-mail to alert me of the problem. I wanted to be able to get that message as an SMS alert. Sure many of these services offer SMS alerts, but for a fee.

Tasks management

I also manage my tasks online. For projects where I work with other people, I use ProjectPier or Basecamp. But all my tasks—whether work-related, blog-related, or personal—are managed from a single online application.

I tested one application after the other, looking for one that offered SMS notification of deadlines. Google Calendar offers SMS notifications for the Philippines. The listings page says you can enable notifications for Smart, Globe, and Digitel. I have a Smart phone but have never been able to enable it. The settings page gives me an “invalid carrier” error message after I enter my Smart number.

I then decided to use Remember The Milk, a free online tasks manager that offers SMS reminders to Philippine phone numbers. The problem was that in several instances, the SMS messages came late, several hours after when I wanted to be reminded of a task. Remember The Milk is also limited to task management. I’ve also tried Backpack and it’s great for managing tasks but again, some SMS alerts are received later.

I found a better service with Scrybe. I say it’s better because it also allows me to manage my web notes. Scrybe is a really cool service for managing tasks and storing notes and it has an interface that’s such a joy to use. (Blogger’s note: I’ll write more about the service later.) Scrybe is an invitation-only service so if you want an account, leave me a note below and I’ll send you one.

Scrybe and SMS alerts

I transferred my tasks management to Scrybe because with it, I did not need to use another service for my notes whenever I need to do web research. The only problem with Scrybe is that it doesn’t offer SMS alerts for Philippine phone numbers. What it offers is sending alerts to a mobile phone e-mail address (your mobile phone [email protected] provider’s web address). For several months, I wasn’t able to use its SMS alerts.

Scrybe e-mail, sms notification E-MAIL, SMS ALERTS. Scribe notifies you via e-mail or SMS of deadlines of your tasks. I was able to activate SMS notification by using Smart’s TextMail service. Click on photo to eenlarge.

I knew the best solution was Smart’s TextMail but for several days of playing with the service a few months back, I couldn’t activate it, not even when a tech support staff from Smart guided me through it. When I still couldn’t activate the service, I gave up trying and made a mental note to try it again after a few months.

Early this month, I tried Smart TextMail again and found that it had been improved. I was told that it’s now being managed by a content provider, Mobile Arts (warning: the web site plays horrendous music so you better turn off your speaker.)

Registration

The service has also been transferred to www.mySmart.com.ph. I tried registering for the service about two weeks back and in no time, my mobile e-mail address was set up. If you don’t explicitly register for a username, your mobile e-mail will be your Smart number @mySmart.com.ph. The mobile number is in international format so if yours starts with 0918, it will be written as 63918.

To get your own personalized Smart TextMail address, send REG USERNAME PASSWORD YOURNAME to 200. The username you enter will become the first part of your e-mail address. After registration, add the e-mail address of the servers that send you alerts so that their messages are immediately sent to your phone.

If you get a message from someone not in the address book, the server just notifies you of the message and asks you to reply with G if you want to get the entire message. In my case, I added to my address book the e-mail addresses of the senders of my website availability notices and the e-mail address Scrybe uses to send reminders.

In using the service for more than a week, I find that I get the alerts as soon as these are sent. I now know immediately whenever any of the web servers I use is down. With the alert, I can then check the site and send a support request to the web host.

Scrybe notifications for tasks deadlines are also received on time and I’m now able to fully take advantage of it’s task management service.

I’m just using some of my TextMail account’s services. It is a full mobile e-mail solution if you’re comfortable with managing e-mail using text. It even generates access numbers for e-mail addresses. Any text message you send to these access numbers are processed and sent as an e-mail message to your contact. The SMS alerts are free but you are charged P2.50 each time you send a message.

I just hope that Smart TextMail maintains this quality of service. It has become an indispensable tool for me.

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73 Comments

  1. Hi Max,

    Im sure you know this, but the blackberry has one of the nicest keyboards around, and I can text or email faster than using other phones.

    the bad thing about blackberry is if you don’t have their server, you have to pay an extra 500 pesos a month for the push mail capability.

    You may be interested to know that this comes for free with windows mobile 6.0 phones which now has push mail when used with Exhcange server, or if you don’t have that, with HOTMAIL at I think no extra cost.

  2. scrybe seems like a very interesting concept and i would very much appreciate an invite to try it out. thanks!
    warm regards,
    chung

  3. Hi Max,

    I was really impressed by the functionalities of Scrybe. Would appreciate it a lot if given a free invite to make full use of it. πŸ™‚

    Thanks in advance!

    Linnor

  4. You saved my life man. I have been searching for this feature. I work in an IT company and I usually have to actively monitor the availability of the applications we support. This TXTmail feature is the best that can happen to my work. THANKS MAN!

  5. Spent the last week & a half browsing all kinds of cal/task apps. Found Scrybe and am blown away only to find out I need an invite. Are you still sharing? Thanks in advance!

  6. Hi Max,

    Came across your site via tiddlywiki – very good intro video, I will share it with friends.

    I’ve been wanting to try Scrybe, can I have an invitation as well..

    Cheers and happy new year,

    Berkan

  7. Melissa,
    Check the e-mail you used in your comment above. I sent you an invit there. πŸ™‚

    Eli,
    Check you AOL address, I sent you an invitation. Cheers!

  8. “Stumbled” on your page after 1 hour of looking for an invitation for scrybe.

    Would really appreciate an invitation.

    Thanks and Cheers!
    Navin

  9. Hi great review, very easy to understand. Would really appreciate an invite to try scrybe for myself.
    Thanks Very Much In advance!!!

  10. Hi Max, I’d really really appreciate an invitation to Scrybe; it sounds exactly right for what I need.
    Thanks so much!

  11. Very good, Max! I’d really like to try it for myself too. Can you please hit me up with an invite?

  12. Hi! Thanks for reviewing task programs, I’ve been looking at Scrybe. Do you still have any invitations left? I’d love to check it out more in-depth.
    Thanks!
    -Becca

  13. Scrybe sounds like a dream come true.

    Please be so kind as to send an invitation my way.

    Thanks in advance πŸ™‚

    /Jens

  14. Thanks a lot for the review. It seems I have to try Scrybe now…
    Could you please send me an invitation…?

  15. Gracienus, Marlao, Carl, Jan,
    Check your e-mails. I sent you Scrybe invits. Cheers! Sorry for the delay, tasks are threatening to overwhelm me πŸ™‚

  16. Hi Max,

    I would love a Scrybe invitation if this were possible. My email address is keiron (dot) nicholson (at) googlemail (dot) com. Thanks very much!

    Keiron

  17. I’m also trying to use more web apps (though I’m not so sure after reading some of your articles). I tried RTM, but didn’t like that I could not have hierarchical lists.

    If you don’t mind sending me an invite, I’d like to try Scrybe.

    Thanks

  18. Great site and review !
    Can you send me an invitation to pruggia at gmail dot com
    Thanks !

  19. Interesting info on Scrybe. Would you please send me an invite?
    cwyenberg (at) hotmail.com
    Thanks!

  20. Hi Max,

    This was a nice article.

    I had signed up for the launch but it’s not happened in a year! Please send me an invite as I’d love to try this thing out. Thanks a ton!
    ^_^

  21. Max, I just read about Scrybe in the Telegraph (London), then read your review. I’m sold! Any more invitations kicking around? Thanks for sharing. Keep on posting!
    -John

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