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Don't we all like braindumping important stuff with the relaxing certainty of not losing track of it?
Sending yourself an email is a possibility. But your email program doesn't remind you of that approaching deadline, automatically. Also, that email with that brilliant idea for a birthday gift doesn't pop up by itself. And finally, the link to that interesting article you could not finish reading in the subway will most likely get lost in the daily flood tide of mails we all love so much.
But still, the idea of sending a short email is charming. So, why not adding a little intelligence? It would be cool to just send a link and receive a copy of that interesting article via email. Also, a daily summary of all approaching deadlines and ideas for birthday gifts would be really helpful. That is what this collection of scripts is for.
The whole idea is to send an email to this program which then creates a reminder, stores that idea of a birthday gift, or downloads the web-article. This short introduction will focus on sending and receiving daily reminders, though.
This module manages a remind-compatible file with all reminders for important (and not-so-important) deadlines coming up. It also puts together a summary of all reminders
remind reminds you of.
what is remind?¶
From the remind wiki we learn that
remind is a
- UNIX command-line tool that reads a text file for its database
- Sophisticated tool for date calculation
- Scripting-language interpreter
remind-file may look like this:
REM 26 Mar MSG David's birthday
REM 19 Jan 2017 +3 MSG README finally finished? %x days left!
REM 6 Jan 2017 *14 MSG Go have a beer!
With those reminders you are notified about David's birthday on every 26th of March every year. Also, you are notified on that upcoming deadline for finishing this README. The deadline was set to 19th of January 2017 and notification starts 3 days in advance. On 16th of January 2017 the reminder-message will interpret to "README finally finished? 3 days left!". And finally, starting on January 6 in 2017, you will be notified to go have a beer on every second Friday (if you really need a reminder for that...).
Saving those reminders to a file and calling the UNIX command-line tool with
remind /path/to/that/file will interpret the scripting-language and output the given messages with
%-directives being replaced. Calling the above-given example on January 16, 2017, for example will output
README finally finished? 3 days left!
For a list of possible substitutions, go to the man page and look for the chapter "The Substitution Filter".
what does this 'daily'-module do?¶
This module takes your email and creates a
remind-compatible line. Also, it puts together a summary of all your reminders (based on the output of
First of all, why do I speak about "modules" all the time? Well, because
daily is only one part of my
pim-toolkit itself is only a wrapper for different modules. All modules reside as a subpackage in the Python-package
pim_modules. The submodules will be loaded dynamically at runtime. Every module needs at least two files: a
__init__.py, and a
__init__.py gives some hints on the functionality of the module, e.g. does it accept answers. The
receive.py needs to specify one method
receive(msg, isreply=False) to handle incoming mails. If a module's information should be included in a summary-mail, the
__init__.py needs to point to an additional Python-file in the field
MODULE_OUTPUT. But, let's move on to an example to illustrate its functionality:
daily-module's folder you will find the above-mentioned
receive.py, and an additional
receive.py takes an email as an argument, fetches the message text from it and creates one or more reminders. All those reminders will then be appended to
OUTFILE wich is, again, specified inside the
__init__.py in its field
MODULE_OUTPUT points to
getreminders. So, the summary of your reminders is put together by the function
getreminders.py. The summary originates from a sys-call to
remind, of course. The
getreminders task is basically to call
remind to interpret the reminders.
how to send in reminders¶
Generally, I didn't change the syntax of the
remind-scripting-language. I just added some help in creating a
remind-compatible line: Especially when sending in several reminders at once from your mobile, typing "REM" and "MSG" every time can be cumbersome. Therefore, your mail must contain an even number of lines. The first line of every pair of lines will be prefixed with "REM" and glued together with the second line seperated by that "MSG"-tag. So, for example, if you want to send in two of the above-given example reminders, put together the following email:
6 Jan 2017 *14
Go have a beer
Very important: The eMail needs to have the subject 'daily', because the module handling your eMail is selected by the subject of your mail!
Another extension is to calculate certain dates. This was motivated from being reminded of cancelation periods. Often, these are mentioned like "6 weeks before 31 Jan 2021". To being reminded on the day (or some days before) you need to cancel the contract, send in the following email:
6 weeks before 31 Jan 2021 +10
Cancel that contract %b!
If you want to do your calculations with days or years, go ahead:
132 days before 15 Feb 2020
There are 132 days until %e
3 years before 15 Feb 2028
In three years, you know what to do!
where are your reminders stored?¶
Have a look into the
/etc/pim/. It contains all configuration for the
pim-toolkit and all its modules. The
Base-section contains eMail-addresses that are allowed to send in stuff, the eMail address that receives a daily summary as well as status messages, and some other infos.
allowed_senders = email@example.com
receiver = firstname.lastname@example.org
dummy_sender = email@example.com
subject_in_reply = [reminder] Status
subject = Teux Deux
my_name = Me
title=Let yourself be reminded of some important stuff
daily-section refers to the
daily-module. The subject will be the subject of your daily summary, and your name will be used to address you. The
daily_1-section contains information about where your reminders are stored. The given file contains all reminders that you sent in. This file needs to be writable by your mailserver, by the way.
receiving reminders...and more!¶
All your reminders will be processed by
getreminders.py which puts together a nice daily summary of important deadlines and appointments. I use a
cron-job to let this summary being sent to me every morning.
But wait, there is more!
You can create reminders from iCal files and be reminded of upcoming dates as well. Therefore, add a section like this to the
title=Upcoming conference deadlines
command=/usr/bin/wget -q -O- http://wikicfp.com/cfp/servlet/event.showcal?list=50295 | #ical2rem.pl# --lead-time +90 | grep Deadline | #REMINDPIPE#
This, for example, fetches my conferences from wikiCFP as an iCal file, pipes the file to the nifty script
ical2rem.pl I found at dsoulayrol's github, selects the Deadlines from the resulting reminders, and pipes them to
remind. Everything between hashtags will be parsed by
getreminders, basically, because it knows absolute paths to the
ical2rem.pl-script, and the neccessary parameters to
This is also an example on how to add more reminders. Simply add a section
X is an ongoing number, and add the fields
command to it.
Cool, you're still here. You really want to know, huh?
To install the
pim-toolkit with the
daily-module, checkout the git repository or download the release tar-ball. In the directory of the git or the extracted (
tar -xvf pim-0.1.tar.gz) tar-archive, call
sudo make install
Use the parameters
--sysconfdir= to the call to
./configure to specify the installation directory as well as the location of the configuration file. The installation directory defaults to
/usr/local/, the local state directory to
[PREFIX]/var/, and the configuration directory to
[PREFIX]/etc/. You might want to set
Also make sure to check out
./configure --help to see what else you can adjust to your needs:
Some influential environment variables:
PYTHON the Python interpreter
RCV_BASE_PATH 'set location of log output dir'
DAILY_BASE_PATH 'set location of reminders file'
CRONPATTERN 'set cron pattern to configure sending of reminder'
MAILALIAS 'set mailalias for receiving mails'
PIM_CONFDIR 'set directory for config file'
MAIL_USER 'username of mailserver'
The installation routine will add an alias to your
pim: "| /path/to/mainreceiver"
This ensures that mails to
firstname.lastname@example.org will be handled by the
pim entry point. Of course,
pim will be set to the value of
MAILALIAS specified in the call to
- Python >= 3.5
pip3 install dateparser)
- mailserver accepting mails
a detail made explicit¶
As stated above, this whole
pim-toolkit is based upon email-communication. Therefore, this program together with the
daily-module has two main entry-points: the
mainreceiver processes emails. At this point, it takes an email from
stdin, decides which module is responsible for further processing, activates that module, and passes on the email. The decision on which module to choose is based on the subject of the email. Precisely, the subject has to be the name of the submodule. That is, to save a reminder would require an email with the subject
daily because the corresponding submodule is located in a folder with that name.
The second entry-point of the program is
sendreminder. This script doesn't take any input but puts together an email with the summary of the modules that state a method in the field
MODULE_OUTPUT of the respective
__init__.py. The output of the modules is collected and sent via a sys-call to
sendmail. The call to
sendreminder is best to be outsourced to