Rethinking Parent Alert System

I broke the Visual-Pager keypad at church yesterday. This device allows workers in our nursery to notify our tech booth operators that they need to display a number on our video projection system. Each parent and child are assigned a number and parents know they are being paged back to the nursery if their number appears on screen.

Being the frugal geek that I am, I’m trying to rethink if there is a free way to replace this system instead of spending another $250 on a new keypad. I’m thinking there should be some way to setup some service so that our nursery workers could call a special phone number and type in the number. Then this number is communicated to the tech booth operators via SMS, IM, or Twitter.

The closest I’ve come up with so far is to setup a special Jott account and link that in with a Twitter account. The nursery worker calls Jott, says they want to contact Twitter, and then speaks the number and name of the parent. This would require the tech booth to be running a Twitter client to see the alerts. Here’s a sample of what I’ve got it doing so far:

I’m thinking there should still be an even easier way to do this, hopefully involving fewer internet services. This solution wouldn’t work if our phone service, internet service, Jott, or Twitter experienced any outages. And, it’s not totally straight forward for our volunteers to use.

Anyone have a simpler idea?

Sharing Things I Like

I read almost all of my news and blog content via Google Reader.  And now with a newer feature in Google Reader, I’ve started sharing news that I think others might like.  So, rather than pasting content from other blogs or news sites, I simply add them to my shared news feed.

If you share any similar interests with me, you might find that subscribing to my shared news feed is useful:

Let me know if you find this useful.

Yahoo Pipes

OK, I mentioned Yahoo Pipes back a few months ago, but never had really created anything with it till yesterday. I was trying to figure out how to sort, combine, and limit the number of items in some existing RSS feeds I manage. Enter Yahoo Pipes.

Pipes lets you do some powerful things with RSS feeds and other web content.

Check out my first three pipes:

This seems very powerful. I want to see about creating some other custom feeds from various sources.