Alarming Macs

Birthday of the day: Happy Birthday, Rocky!

Since the sudden and unexpected demise of my Baby Ben alarm clock, I’ve been wondering whether the ever-versatile Mac could replace yet another home appliance. Apparently, it can. The simplest way to do it is to use Schedule tab of the Energy Saver preferences to set the Mac to start up at a certain time. There are certain disadvantages to this approach, though: you have to shut the mac down if you want to start it up again (and if you need to reboot your computer every day, you may as well be running Windows), and the actual behavior of the mac on starting up depends on how you have it configured. I have my login screen on, so the most I get from starting up in the morning is the startup tone. On the other hand, if you log in automatically and allow Quicktime to autorun, you can play an mp3 or some such. Detailed instructions for this approach are at Low End Mac.

Making an alarm clock that will wake your mac from sleep in order to wake you from sleep is harder. Like people, macs normally require an external stimulus to wake up - keyboard input, a phone call, administrative access by ethernet, etc. Alarm clock programs work around this difficulty by either requiring you to keep your mac awake the whole time (Alarm Clock S.E., iRooster), or by using the BSD subsystem to wake the mac up from sleep (Alarm Clock Pro). The latter is apparently what the shareware program iAlarm does as well, though details are scarce - iAlarm may just be feigning sleep.

Judging from the flaky interface of Alarm Clock Pro’s Wake from Sleep menu item, and the flakiness rumors about iAlarm, I’d say that using the BSD subsystem to wake from sleep is an iffy venture at best. I’ll see how it works out.

3 Responses to “Alarming Macs”

  1. Rocky Says:

    Thanks for the birthday wishes!

  2. Sam Says:

    I am the developer of iAlarm, I would love to know what you thought about the application in more detail and what flakiness rumors you have heard. Any feedback from you will help improve the quality of future versions.

  3. Aaron Brethorst Says:

    iRooster has supported wake from sleep for the past several months now. Just wanted to let you know :-).

    Aaron (the developer of iRooster)