Meeting Assistance for ITP

by Yang Liu on Sep.14, 2010, under Mobile Me(dia)

As we all know, we have lots of group works in ITP. Sometimes setting up the time for the group meeting is a headache for us. Here are some ways we are currently using or can be used.

  • Talking with each other face to face.
  • Talking with each other via phones.
  • Setting up meeting via email.
  • Setting up meeting via online tools.
  • (Maybe) Setting up meeting via iCal.

There are all good ways, but also have some problems. For example, somebody is not often on the floor, so he/she is very difficult to catch. Somebody is in the subway, so he/she is not reachable via cellphone. Email and online tools require internet and are not quite real-time, cause you have to check you email to get the update. Setting up a iCal Server is a good way, but it is not easy to do.

I want a way that is true real-time and easy to do, so that people can set up the meeting and get the info immediately or as soon as they exit the subway.

Introducing the Meeting Assistance(MA) for ITP.

It is an SMS service that people can set up and update the time for group meeting and send messages to group members automatically.

The basic function of MA is listed as below:

  • Setting up time for group meeting.
  • Registering group members based on cellphone number.
  • Updating the time for group meeting.
  • Sending messages (and emails) to group members.
  • Sending alert message before the meeting.

Basically, it is like writing command line through SMS. You type in something like:

<command> [<note>], <command> [<note>], <command> [<note>], …

For example, you want to set up a group meeting and register the group members so that MA can send messages to them.

You send the following SMS to 41411.

MA-setup 6pm Sat, MA-group mobileme, MA-register

This means you set up a group called mobileme which have four members including yourself and you will have the meeting at 6pm on Sat.

After you send this message to 41411, the server will save the information to the database and send messages to all of your members which are ###. What the script does is parsing the message you sent before and look for the keywords like “MA-setup”, “MA-group” and “MA-register” and write the information into different section in the database.

After that, all the members can suggest another time for the meeting by referencing the name of the group, but only the founder of the group can update it. For example, I am not available at 6pm on Sat, so I want to reschedule to  7pm on Sun. I can type in the message like:

MA-suggest 7pm Sun, MA-group mobileme

After that, other members will get a message like:

MA-mobileme-###-suggest 7pm Sun, Y/N?

You can reply the message by “Y” or “N”. The server will save everyone’s reply. If all the members are cool with the new schedule, the time for the meeting will be updated and all the members will get a message about the new time. If not, members will get a message which says suggest failed and they can try to set up another time. Or, the founder can update the time. He/She can type in:

MA-update 7pm Sun, MA-group mobileme

At last, before the meeting, all the members will get an alert sent by the server.

MA-group-mobileme-meeting-at 6pm Sat

Also, you can type in “MA-help” to get help information of MA.

These are just some initial thoughts. There must be tons of errors in it. You are welcome to give any advice.

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