The Pager

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I received an e-mail from "Claudio" that asked a few information about the f*ing pager that woke me (and the rest of the street) on so many night. He asks:

'For working reason, it could be useful to me to get something similar, that receives e-mails from nagios for example, and keep ringing until I check what the problem is. I'd like to know what kind of device it is and if it is a do-it-yourself kind of solution'

The answer turned out to be longer than I expected, so I turned into a mini-article.

A "pager" is nothing more than a device that is connected to the GSM network and is capable to receive SMS (short text messages) and display them on an LCD screen and make a sound to inform the person. Usually this "sound" is very loud and very obnoxious, specifically designed to wake up the receiver even if he is more dead than sleeping.

Now, someboy could ask why using a pager, so a specific device, instead than a simple mobile phone. The reasons are basically 3:

  1. The pager DOES NOT REQUIRE a dedicated sim-card, in fact multiple pagers can be connected to the same phone number and all of them will receive the same messages. This is useful when you need to have "backup" peoples receiving the same notification.
  2. The pager is powered by a single 1.5 volt AA battery that you can buy in every shop and that single battery can power it for a month.
  3. The pager is "Tonka Tough", it can withstand abuse and mistreating that would reduce any normal phone to dust. I personally tossed to bloody thing down the stairs a few times, when it started to ring at 3 am. And the bloody thing was still ringing afterwards.

And one last reason: the pager can only do one thing: receive an SMS. No problem about "who did those 14000 calls to red lines".

What the pager require however, is a contract with a telecom company that support it and a system to send the messages to it.

About this last part, Nagios is already capable to send mail when there are problems and sending sms instead of mail isn't that complicated, in many cases it is possible to use a mail-to-sms bridge service (Message Bird is the first that came to mind) and there is always the manual way: using a GSM modem. In that case however, the modem need its own sim-card and contract.

Ok, I hope this answer all the questions.

Comments are added when and more important if I have the time to review them and after removing Spam, Crap, Phishing and the like. So don't hold your breath. And if your comment doesn't appear, is probably becuase it wasn't worth it.

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Francesco Da Riva

By Francesco Da Riva posted 17/07/2018 12:00


    in italia il servizio era noto come teledrin o cercapersone ed è stato sospeso definitivamente il 31 dicembre 2005.

Cercapersone GSM come quelli usati da Davide non sono mai entrati in servizio.

Esiste qualcosa di simile per i servizi di emergenza ma lavora su una rete riservata.




-- Francesco Da Riva

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Davide Bianchi, works as Unix/Linux administrator for an hosting provider in The Netherlands.

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