DoubleMap Engineering

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Everyone Panic! Almost Free Downtime Phone Alerts

Uptime Robot (free) + App Engine (free) + Twilio (cheap) = almost free downtime alerts!

  1. Uptime Robot notices that your website is not responding.
  2. Everyone Panic! checks Uptime Robot and sees that something is down.
  3. You get a call through Twilio telling you to panic.
  4. You get another call 15 minutes later because you still haven’t fixed the problem.

Sure, it’s easy to get emailed when your website goes down, but real honest-to-goodness phone calls have an immediacy that’s hard to beat.

Since our GPS bus-tracking system is used at all hours of the day, early on we introduced automated monitoring. But when everyone is asleep, emails and text messages go unnoticed until the morning and it sucks to not know where your bus is at 1am.

We quickly whipped an app together using Python to tie Uptime Robot and Twilio together. If one of the items in Uptime Robot goes down then the Python app will ask Twilio to call us. We made it, put it on App Engine, and haven’t touched it since. Even though our automated monitoring has grown since then, this little app, with zero maintenance, still dutifully watches Uptime Robot for any websites that are down.

Literally, there have been zero commits to the original repo since the first day. Now the code’s been cleaned up and put on GitHub. You can download it, configure it, and throw it onto App Engine or Heroku in a few minutes.

It’s not entirely free – you’ll need to pay Twilio for voice calls, but the price is $0.02 per call and it’s hard to think of a situation where knowing your website is down isn’t worth two cents. And, of course, you should keep your Twilio account balance in the black.

But for the hobbyist who doesn’t mind trying out a new app, this is a really simple way to have your phone ring when Hacker News tramples your latest pet project.

Everyone Panic! on GitHub

Comments on Hacker News