Scheduling A Windows Computer To Make A Wake Up Call

by on February 13, 2008

Q: My grandmother is blind and can’t set her alarm clock. That means I have to get up at 6am on Sunday to give her a wake up call so she can get to Sunday school on time. Using Windows XP, is there a way to integrate Scheduled Tasks and Phone Dialer (or even Hyper Terminal) so I can set up my PC to place this call weekly? Granny would receive her wake up, and I could still sleep in. Incorporating some type of automated voice message would be great as well; it would not absolutely necessary.

A: I am going to start off by answering your question about how to make this work with Windows XP, Scheduler, and Hyper Terminal. It is a rather simple process and then I am going to go on about how you should not do it and explain better solutions that are more reliable and will not require you to keep your computer on.

We first start by opening up Hyper Terminal. To do this go to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Communications -> Hyper Terminal. Now when you open this you might get a popup box asking you if you want to make this your default internet dialer. You probably want to select no but you HAVE to check the check box either way. If you do not check the check box to tell it not to ask you anymore the scheduler will not work because that popup will just sit there and not let the dialer dial.

If this is the first time running this it will ask you for your area code and if you have to dial any special numbers to dial out. Once you do that you should get a popup called Connection Description.

Hyper Terminal Connection Description

I put grandma into the name and pressed Ok.

From there you will get the Connect To popup.

Hyper Terminal Connect To

Here you enter in the number you want to call and how you want to connect. The how you want to connect part will be your modem.

Once you press Ok, it will dial so warn your grandmother. From here you will want to save this by going to File -> Save. By default it wants to save it in a directory about 8 levels deep but I highly suggest you save it in your root directory on your C:\ drive. It will make it a lot easier to finish this scheduling.

Now from here we can start the scheduling. To schedule a task go to Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Scheduled Tasks. This will open a new window that will have an icon for Add Scheduled Task. If you double click on this you will be brought though a wizard that will explain most things to you so you will want to read it but here are the steps as well.

To schedule a new task:

  1. Double-click Add Scheduled Task to start the Scheduled Task Wizard, and then click Next in the first dialog box.
  2. The next dialog box displays a list of programs that are installed on your computer, either as part of the Windows XP operating system, or as a result of software installation. You will want to find Hyper Terminal in this list.
  3. This next step will put in HyperTerminal as the name for the task. You can change it to Call Grandma and select Weekly then press Next.
  4. This next step will have you select the time of day and the day of the week. You will want to select 6:00 AM and Sunday and then press Next.
  5. You will then be prompted for the system username and password. The username will be filled in with the user you are currently logged in as so you will just need to type the password twice then press Next.
  6. The last window will have a check box that says Open advanced properties for this task when I click finish. You want to check this and then press Finish. You will end up with a window that looks like the one below.

Scheduled Hyper Terminal

You will see something that looks like C:\PROGRA~1\WINDOW~1\hypertrm.exe in the Run: box. You need to add on the file you saved so in my case I changed it to C:\PROGRA~1\WINDOW~1\hypertrm.exe C:\grandma.ht. I then went to the Settings tab and changed the Stop the task if it runs for 72 hours to 2 minutes. Want to make sure you don’t keep calling her over and over as that might not make for a fun Sunday.

So now you should have it all setup to call her. You will certainly want to give it a test run before the big day though.

Now let me explain why I think that was a big waste of time. You will have to make sure your computer is on on Sunday morning. What happens if the power goes out? No call for grandmother. Who wants to wake up to beeping modem noises at 6AM? Be kind to your grandmother, if it were not for her you would not be here. So I suggest you ignore everything I wrote above and check out mycalls.net or wakeupcalls.net.

For your purposes I am leaning towards mycalls.net because they have a My Minutes feature where you just pay for the minutes you use. They bill 30 cents for a call and then in 15 second increments after the call is answered. This seems to tell me that you are probably talking about 45 to 60 seconds per call and they have 50 minutes for $9.99. This means you can pay $10 for an entire year of waking your grandmother up to an automated message. This would be much more environmentally friendly too as you wont have to leave your computer on.

I hope this helps you get your grandmother up on Sundays while you sleep in!