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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Lack of alarm clock no excuse with wake-up call system

Published: April 1, 2005
Section: Arts, Etc.

It all started about a year and a half ago when Matthew Sachs was sitting in Shapiro Campus Center with a friend when Class of 2005 Senator Becky Fromer 05 approached with the idea of implementing a wakeup call service on the new Brandeis phone system. Sachs was immediately interested in this idea, and set out to research and create such a program, which he managed to complete on a train ride from New York.

The initial design for the Finnegan Wake-Up Call Service allowed Sachs to place only one call at a time. After the service gained some popularity, Sachs began working with ITS in order to create a program that would allow multiple calls to be made through the IP service at the same time. This was successfully completed, and an interface was also added to the menu option on the phones. Finnegan has only grown from there.

Sachs describes his creation as a super-powered alarm system. Registering for this program is simple and can be done online ( Students are able to choose from ten custom alarms, which range anywhere from a medley of wake-up songs, to the voice of Sachs mother singing wake-up sleepy heada sound most students are familiar with from their high school days. Alarms can be set to ring on a one time only basis, or in accordance with a weekly schedule. Alarms will ring until any key on the phone is pressed or else will snooze for nine-minute intervals.

There are currently 296 students registered with Finnegan, but only 107 active alarms. The program has received positive feedback from users;

however, it remains unknown to many. When Sachs was asked why he has not done any publicity for the system, he replied that he wanted to wait until all the pieces were in place before doing that. The final completion of the system, he says, has happened only recently. Sachs is also concerned about who will manage the program when he moves off campus next semester.

Finnegan is far from reaching its technological potential, however. With the addition of new phones starting next week (see related story, this page), students will receive an upgraded version of the current Cisco phones. The 7940 model will allow for more technological capabilities, such as speakerphone and headset compatibility. These phones will also greatly enhance Sachs program.

With a larger screen and a more readable font, the upgraded model will be able to better support applications like Finnegan. Sachs says that it will be much easier to access the program through the new menu display, which will create a simpler method for creating and altering alarm settings.

As for specific plans to publicize and simplify, Sachs plans to make Finnegan available through AOL Instant Messenger. With so many custom features, and such easy access (and how can it get any simpler than IMing the system to set an alarm before bed), it seems as though Sachs has found a way to invalidate the I slept through my alarm excuse for missing class.