[erlang-questions] Calling my computer from my cell

Banibrata Dutta <>
Wed Nov 2 14:47:22 CET 2011


Based on where you stay and where your servers are (i.e. if it's a country
served by Twilio), Gordon's advice is as good as gold, possibly the easiest
one. It requires very little setup, and the API's are pretty simple, well
documented. They are doing an Europe early-access (i.e. not launched for
production, yet).

However, there are several ways of achieving "calling servers", and your
options are pretty wide. When you say calling from cell, I hope you also
include sending Short text-message, and not just voice-call. With
voice-call, you'd need some sort of "Automatic Speech Recognition" (ASR for
short) engine, and those are inaccurate beasts and/or expensive beasts
(yeah, flame me if you will! :-)), in an increasingly monopolistic and
unipolar market (rant-alert!). However for short commands, very limited
vocabulary the recognition accuracy can be very close to 100%. There are
hosted service providers for ASR, but I wonder if you really want to bring
in so much complexity. OTOH, if you are happy sending text messages
(SMS's), things are extremely simple. Twilio and hundred or other SMS GW
API providers give you simple API's to receive text message, and then it is
upto your application program to act upon the commands, by parsing the SMSs
contents. You can even send an acknowledgement back. Of course, you could
do wire-up a cheap east-asian phone (or a used phone) costing around
~$25-$30, directly to a machine running Kannel (a FOSS SMS/MMS gw software,
or several other serial-line SMS command-control software, which use
something called AT-commands (between host-PC and phone) to send receive
text-messages. And then there are zone other things you could do, if you
are into embedded/microcontroller kind of stuff :-), e.g. rig up an Arduino
with a DTMF detector IC and wire it up with your fixedline phone, then use
DTMF commands to control actions.

As you can see, the possibilities are numerous, as far as connecting your
phone to your server (or server-farm) is concerned, ranging from low-level
DIY to liquorice highly-abstracted APIs, choice is yours.


On 11/02/2011 12:24 AM, Gordon Guthrie wrote:
> Yves
>  It's a telephone services provider that gives you an API so you can call
> your server from a phone.
>  Which is what you want to do.
>  Gordon
> Sent from my iPhone
> On 1 Nov 2011, at 23:06, "Yves S. Garret" <>
> wrote:
>   Dude, I have no idea what that is :-) .
>  I think I'll google around some more to find a way to 'call' my Ubuntu
> box.
> On Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 6:48 PM, Gordon Guthrie <>wrote:
>> Yves
>>  Write a twilio client in Erlang:
>> http://www.twilio.com/
>>  Gordon
>>  On 1 November 2011 22:16, Yves S. Garret <>wrote:
>>>  Hey guys,
>>>     I was just thinking, purely hypothetical, I would love to have an
>>> app that I can have running on my server that if I dial a specific number,
>>> I can change the state of that app (or set something in a database or edit
>>> a file.)  This is just a simple 'why not?' project to put a smirk on my
>>> face.  However, I'm not sure even where to begin... if someone could point
>>> me in the right direction, I would really appreciate it.  By the way, I
>>> live in the US.  Do I need to register my own phone number?  How about just
>>> a land-line going into my apartment?  Can OTP play a role here?
>>>     Yeah, going in this direction with eyes wide open and completely
>>> unaware of what I'm going to run into :-) .  Any help is appreciated.
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