Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Turn your computer into an SMS gateway

At about 8:30 I gave up on the UNICEF shuttle and decided today would be SMS gateway hacking day, along with RapidSMS programming day.
Tomorrow - I plan on taking a cab (thanks Chris).

Last week, during a RapidSMS demo, the AC adapter for my GSM modem blew out. Thankfully this is my only electrical malfunction in Africa to date (although I do lose electricity now and again).

What is a girl to do with RapidSMS but alas no modem with which to receive and send the SMS messages.? I figured that I would go look for a soldering iron and solder the AC adapter tip to an extra power supply. Perhaps think of some clever way to integrate it with my iGo power kit....

I did see some dodgy multi-tipped power adapters at the local market (see pictures), but they **really* looked dodgy. Would I be able to find a soldering iron in time?

This morning, I went over to the cellphone shop across the street and asked about his usb enabled phones. Amazingly, he had a wire that connects my crappy loaner Nokia 1110 to usb. I bought the wire - went back to my System76 ubuntu netbook - plugged the sucker in and guess what I see on my /dev. ttyUSB0 - Halleluja. Fantastic.

To celebrate I took myself to lunch over at mama mia and ate an entire margarita pizza - that was divine - and half a coke - there I banged out some emails, wrote some docs, and started work on the new INFSSS rapidSMS system.

I am creating two apps - a Malawi app and a INFSSS app
the Malawi app will hopefully be reusable with the Mother/Child HIV/AIDs Project.

First I am creating the data models:
patent ids, and HSA ids (finally got the IDs that the ministry of health uses) for Malawi app
muac, height, weight etc for INFSSS app

next I'm loading in the historical data - will be doing that in a bit - I just finished cleaning/rationalizing it.
then I am going to start working on the views.

I have some time to get the message parsing to work - since I am not going into the field for another week - However I want to get the web interface finished asap - so people can start navigating the data and feel good about the project.

In terms of messaging. I am thinking about building an app that uses regular expressions and callbacks - similar to There should be an elegant way that RapidSMS handles sms parsing. Another consideration is message flow. I remember back i the internet stone age, when I was programming in Java, and Tomcat did not exist and I had to use servlet exec in order to run servlets - anyway I used an xml doc that outlined application flow (most java web frameworks have this today). I am thinking of a way to adapt this for SMS messaging.

All this deep architectural thought is nice - but in the end - I just want something that works for the end user and looks nice for the web/data user - so who knows the app just be a rough and ready brute force app.

Time to load the fixtures


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