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Show HN: WakeMyself. Get a wakeup call from your yesterday's self.
76 points by ether on June 14, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments
Hi guys, I built a site to solve a couple of my problems regarding sleep, and thought you guys might like it too. It's called WakeMyself, and here's the URL: http://www.wakemyself.com

Have you ever overslept despite the alarm and wished "Damn, I wish I could go back in time and tell my stupid sleeping self to snap out of it." That's the basic idea behind WakeMyself. It lets you receive a wakeup call from your yesterday's self. Just leave a message, set an alarm, and you get a call from yesterday's self.

Another problem I had: I really wanted to remember my dreams but always forget to remember. So I added a recording feature to WakeMyself. You just say something after the beep and it will record your voice, and the recording is available on the website when you come back. This way you can capture all your dreams while you still have them in your memory.

Hope you guys like it. I would love lots of feedback. Thanks!

Very cool, congrats on shipping!

Are you using Twilio to power the calls?

Some quick feedback:

1. I'd recommend having a clock selector for the "wake up time" -- right now it's not clear whether I'm setting an alarm for minutes from now, or for a specific time in the future, and what time zone it will be in.

2. Signing up initially is a friction point -- you might want to just let people set an alarm with a phone number, and then after they set a few alarms, send them a text prompting them to create an online account where they can manage all their alarms. You can use the phone number as a unique identifier before they create an account to store all the different reminders.

Congrats again on launching!

Awesome! Thanks for the feedback! Yes I used Twilio API. I went to a hackathon last weekend and built this using Twilio API, and it was cool so I decided to refine it some more and release it.

1. Yeah currently it's alarm for hours and minutes "from now" rather than actual time, because you know, time zone conversion thing is really annoying and takes up too much time. But you're right I gotta make that more clear.

2. Yeah I'm concerned about that too. I think I might actually think about doing it that way too. Thanks for the idea!

Re: 1, you can set it in the database as a UTC record and then have it visually change in the HTML (using javascript) with several options.

Eg: If I select 7am on 6/15 from your dropdown list, you render some inline HTML that shows some/all of the following:

"7am EST" "4am PST" "6am CST"


Timezones are definitely tricky, but if you search StackOverflow or other sites there might be some good recommended approaches.

I've worked in a lot of time/timezone related apps and Moment (Javascript) has treated me the best so far.


http://www.datejs.com/ has been my goto js lib for handling frontend date/time.

Was it the XHack hackathon?

Yes. By the way XHack hackathon was really awesome. Best host ever.

Cool! I showed off ViaMeme there

Oh cool man. This was originally Talk To The Future. I just refined the UI and got a new domain.

I figured as much when I saw it :)

Congratulations on the win!

Great idea! My only complaint - I copied your URL without the "www." and thought the site was broken, but apparently it's just a subdomain issue. Other than that I like the clean design and usability. Also I imagine you did the hours until time instead of time itself because of tricky time zone issues, but if you had both options it'd be even easier to use. Good luck.

I really wish we could do away with the whole "www." convention. It had a time and place, but not anymore.

Yeah I kind of struggled with time zone thing for about an hour and decided not to bother with it, just to build the minimal version. But I think for the sake of usability, I should add it in the future.

I'm curious about that. Does every major website typically have two access points, one with "www." and one without, where one is redirected to the other?

Yes, I believe this is pretty much standard practice. Keeps Google from getting confused by duplicate content and sends all the juice from links to one url rather than two.

Just fixed the www problem. Turns out I erased aname record and that was causing the problem (I was just following the tutorial by Heroku guys!!)

Just a few things:

1. Doesn't make much sense to have a link to home page on the home page - WakeMyself is a link.

2. It'd be nice to make step 1, 2 and 3 boxes to be same height, as well as vertically align the controls in those boxes, so they are on one visual line. Currently it's a bit too "jumpy" (look at big text field, then look a bit up to see time entry, then down on "wake myself" button).

3. I'd be nice to have "sign in" as either popup or just sliding area on the frontpage, without having to navigate to a separate page.

4. "remember me" does not align with actual checkbox (osx, latest chrome)

5. No error messages seems to be displayed when logging in with non-existing account.

6. When signing up, on "Fill out profile" page there seems to be a bit too much of the whitespace between the actual title ("Fiil out profile") and controls panel.

7. "Sign up" text on button on "Fill out profile" is a bit misleading - have I already signed up or not? If yes, than it should read something else. If no, then it should reflect that as well.

8. Is service US-only? It probably should say that straight away, so people from other countries don't waste their time signing up. (Actually you do already, but only on the front page - needs to be on sign up page as well I guess).

9. "Sign out" should probably mention user name somewhere, that's just a common UI convention.

That's just a cursory glance.


Really cool. To me though they should be apps and 2 separate ones at that, even if the functionality can be used in both ways. If you were to just market one app as a 'dream catcher' that is synced to an alarm that allows people to record their dreams, I think that would clarify your value proposition. Separate from that is the app that wakes you up with a previous recording you set.

They offer different things even if they both occur when someone is waking up..

Either way, well done!

This is brilliant. I would seriously pay for this service if it could use translation (edit: transcription) to keep my dreams sorted - I never remember dreaming after a few moments after waking up and this would fascinating for me.

An important request: make entries deletable, I just tried a test and the sound quality wasn't sufficient (mobile issues).

Thank you. Yeah the reason that I've made this available for free currently is because I thought if I started out charging I would be fixed with that business model, and I don't even yet know what this can be used for other than my own cases. So I just decided to release it as beta and learn from people. Please do try out and let me know if you have any feedback :)

And about translation, did you mean transcription? or translation as in language translation?

Right, transcription. I think Twilio has speech-to-text?

Yes that would not be difficult, it will be added soon.

Awesome app! I used it to wake myself up while taking a nap at a hackathon. Keep up the work!

I have this same thing as an app on my phone (that I wrote myself and is not polished but who cares, it works).

I think the idea is awesome, and it does work well to hear yourself when in that just-5-more-minutes-mom half awake state of mind.

Why a service rather than an alarm app? That strikes me as pushing the user into a less effective/usable solution to the problem that gives other parties access to personal information in order to ... I'm not even sure why, but I can't think of any reason the customer would prefer this.

How does your app do text-to-speech, if you don't mind me asking?

The reason for building this as a service is because I thought there's more to this than just a single player alarm system if enough people want to use this. I just wanted to test it out and see enough people will like this. Hope this makes sense? :)

The phone app only replays a recorded message from yourself. I have one that runs on a laptop that does text to speech (it plays my music getting gradually louder with the time spoken every minute along with any other messages you want read out (either every minute or at specific times)).

I didn't have much experience with text to speech before this so I just used the open source stuff I knew about (espeak and the mbrola voices). I want to find a good way to do this in the app because I like the functionality so much that I use the laptop app more than the phone app. I'm talking about android so there are a few options I'll look at when I get back to this project.

I can see doing it as a service if you plan to add all sorts of magic on the back end (text to speech, read news/headlines/weather to you). All stuff you could do in an app but when you have that many features you can charge a monthly fee instead of a one time app sale and you can probably monetize the user data as well somehow. So yes, it does make sense.

For some reason this kind of thing trips my privacy alarm, I would be uncomfortable sharing the messages with a third party (even if the most personal message would be something like "get your lazy ass up on time today, you haven't gone for a run in three days"). On reflection this is probably just me and wouldn't apply to most people, I have a strong bias against storing private data or messages in the cloud because I work in those industries and am aware of how common it is to trawl the user data for funny stuff to share with coworkers.

Yeah I agree that privacy is a valid issue. I will think about it some more. Thank you for the feedback!

No problem, it's cool to find someone else who thinks this type of alarm is something worth doing.

I'll be following your progress.

More than likely using the Twilio Text-To-Speech API: http://www.twilio.com/docs/api/twiml/say

One version of the app that works for iOS, Android, or dumb phones. Nothing to distribute so easy to deploy update. No need to go through Apple's approval process.

And since it's not on your phone, there's no way to get at or share your other info like Path did.

Nice. I did something like this (tho MUCH more limited!) back in the 80s. I created a little Turbo Pascal program that let you enter the wake-up time, and at that time it would make my home phone ring, which was guaranteed to always wake me up.

It used the AT commands of the modem to do a little onhook/offhook toggling and then dialing my own number and then going back onhook. The local phone company would interpret the sequence as a ring-test request and call my number.

It was fun to write and I used it for years.

Good luck!

"it would make my home phone ring, which was guaranteed to always wake me up."

That would work for me the first 5 times, maybe. After that I'll have built up an ironclad immunity to the sound.

Apparently I'm already using this for something slightly different than the intended purpose and loving it.

This may be an excellent tool for me to send myself reminders for tasks I'm doing later in the day. I often write a task list in one moment, then forget it in the midst of the day's work. It's the use of the "Call yourself after" section being a timer, rather than a clock that makes that easy to think about.

I've currently got it set to remind me to leave work on time for an evening appointment.

Great to hear that! Can you elaborate on how it being a timer rather than a clock makes it easy to think about? That might be very useful feedback for me. Thanks!

When I go to sleep, I usually end up thinking about how long I'm going to be out (usually not enough) so I'd just set the timer for 6 hours from now rather than for 6:00 AM. That's the way my brain works anyway. The best feature on my phone's alarm clock is that it says how far in the future the alarm will go of once it's set. That's also saved me a couple of times when I accidentally set the alarm for the next day.

During the day, it's not too hard to do the math (if I need to know something at 3:00 and it's 11:30, for example).

I haven't tested this yet, but I also imagine myself just setting it two hours ahead, for a time I'd likely need the reminder, but am pretty sure I'd have completely forgotten. As an example, my first message was set for 5 minutes in the future. Then I realized I was late for a meeting and got a call. I had completely forgotten that I had set the set message until I answered.

Also, I noticed that the message started to quickly that I missed the first part as I answered. A second pause or possibly a bumper "This is a message you left on WakeMyself" would help avoid that.

Thanks for the feedback! And that totally makes sense. I will add that header message.

lift iPhone up to ear


Remind me to call my mom at 3pm tomorrow.


I'll remind youuu

Maybe you just need an iPhone 4S.

> Maybe you just need an iPhone 4S.

Indeed. I got an Android device in the fall and have regretted not waiting for the 4S. A site like this at least fills the gap. I also like being able to type in my instructions on a laptop, not sure if Siri has that kind of interface.

You can't set up Siri via the mac yet, but after you've said whatever you wanted to Siri, if it's wrong you can tap on it and edit it. That's slower than if it understood you properly, but still quicker than the overall process without Siri...

I've tried services likes this before but it's too easy to know what it is and ignore it and then fall back asleep. Maybe I'm just more stubborn than everyone else.

Have you ever tried something that tells you what to do? I've tried things that wakes me up with music or all kinds of things, but the key here I think is the message you can write to yourself. If you could tell yourself all the things you need to do for the day, that would be a really good way to start the day. Because I find that even when I do wake up most of the times I just do nothing productive. I think it's great to hear a todo list when waking up.

There's still the issue that you have to answer your phone with this service (provided you don't write an Android app that automatically answers calls from this number and puts them on the loudspeaker). Once I get used to knowing the phone call will happen every day, I'll just start holding the pillow around my head until the ringing stops and return to sleep.

I'm much more tempted to write something for a Raspberry Pi with speakers attached that will immediately begin yelling at me at the proper time. More configurable, and less prone to weird phone-related issues. (The only vulnerability would be if I started unplugging the device or speakers in my sleep, but there are ways to mitigate that.)

The recording feature seems like a neat way to differentiate this from alarms, but I think I'm getting the wrong idea from your second paragraph.

I've got an alarm on my phone already. The tone is the same as my ringtone. The slide required to shut it off is identical to the slide required to answer. If it weren't for the record feature, would this really be adding anything? If not, why not emphasise the record as the primary feature?

Thanks for asking.

I think it's more about the message than the alarm itself. The problem I saw with alarms is not that I never hear them, but most of the times I do hear them but just turn it off because that's the only thing you can do with an alarm, right?

But if I can hear a message containing meaningful content, I will listen to it, because that's the intended action. And if that content tells me my todo list for today and helps me realize how busy I am and gives me the sense of urgency, it would be easier to wake up. Because as I mentioned, there are countless times where I regret not waking up and think "Damn if I was able to think rationally while I was sleeping, I would have totally waken up."

I like the dream idea a lot. In a similar vein, I made http://keepdream.me/ to help people record dreams via email when you wake up. I can definitely see how people might prefer voice recording though. Another option to consider is SMS, as a phone call requires you to know when you're waking up.

Thanks! Well I think the whole point of WakeMyself is it functions both as an alarm AND as a dream capturing tool, which means, you do know when you wake up--it's the time you set the alarm at. It's quite tricky, but I think there's a subtle but crucial difference between synchronous capturing (phone call) and asynchronous capturing (sms) and that's what makes it work. But maybe it's just me, so please try it out tonight :)

Would be cool if you could record tomorrow's message by responding to the current wakeup call - I find something like talking involves waking up more than just listening.

Although judging by my mood in the mornings, my message would be along the lines of "Don't wake up, don't do it. It's too late for me now, go back to sleep whilst you still can!"

I have developed a similar app before. Users can set up reminders through a message to a bot on AIM, gchat, MSN ... Then later they will receive a reminder message from the bot.

Does it call you?

That was part of the plan. User send a message "8:30PM call me: You look handsome today." to the bot then later you will receive a call from the bot. It is like a command-line alarm on IM.

Yeah, I think in my case the "calling" part is the most important part. It's not even about the calling itself but more about the message. If I get a call from myself and it says "Hey man you have a test today in 3 hours, you can't be sleeping! Snap out of it!" that's pretty effective for me :)

Plus my favorite part is you can respond to yourself and it will be recorded--the dream capturing part. Please try it, would love to hear your feedback on these. Thanks!

This is really interesting. It promises to help bridge the gap between conscious periods, while allowing us to capture bits of our unconscious and dream state musings.

Exactly! I actually had these two separate ideas, and they came together while I was trying to build the first idea. What was awesome was I was actually able to capture my dream on my first usage. You should try too! Would love feedback :)

I am going to try it in the next few days!

Here is a similar website. It was listed as a best website of 2010 by Time magazine. I think you'll need a different unique selling proposition. (such as the record yourself feature)


It's really awesome, but please, Europe exists...

about, time

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