Because I couldn’t find a little piece of software to do what I wanted, I went and made one, and I thought there might be a few other people out there who might want to use it too. All it does is display a message, which you set via command line arguments, in a windows which stays on top of any other windows. You can set the body text, title text and OK/close-button text.
The reason I wanted such a program is because when I’m at Uni on my computer, it’s too easy to lose track of time, and I’ve nearly been late for class more times than I’d like. So I wanted a program to flash up a message when it was nearly time for my next class, but because I’m using a netbook (that’s a story for a different time…) I really didn’t want to have another “Always ON” program chewing up RAM and CPU. That’s when I remembered you can do that sort of thing with Windows’ built-in Task Scheduler. I simply scheduled a task for a few minutes before I had each afternoon class, and told it to pop up a message to tell me to get moving.
But it didn’t work. Well, it did work. The task triggered and displayed a message, but it didn’t pop up, as it were. It simply opened a dialog box in the background, which I didn’t notice because (being a netbook) I was going through some lecture notes in full screen. Even when I wasn’t doing things in full-screen, it was too easy to skip past it, and not notice the dialog box while doing other things.
After being let down a few times, I decided that there had to be a better way. I had another look ,and found there was no way to force the dialog to appear over the top of any other windows, so I went looking for a simple little program that I could use, just to display a message when the program was opened. But I couldn’t find anything. I found lots of other program-specific notifiers and stuff, but nothing that just brought up a dialog with whatever you wanted in it.
And so, I decided to solve my problem the way any true programmer would: I wrote a program to solve my problem myself. It took me about 2hrs (1hr and 50mins longer that I’d said it would when I started) and does exactly what I wanted it to, no more, no less.
I call it MessagePop. And you can use it too! Here are the basics of how to use it:
- You run the program however you want, with the message as a command line parameter.
- You can also set the title text and the button text by simply putting a hash “#” with a space on either side, and then the next bit of text. So to specify all of them, it should look something like this:
This is my message. # Titles are cool! # Press the button!
- You can skip entering a message or title text if you want by hashing past it, e.g. if you don’t want to specify a title, but you do want to specify the button text, write your message, and then adding “space hash space hash space” ( # # ) and then type what you want the button to say.
- You can quickly close MessagePop by hitting either the Enter or Escape keys.
To download MessagePop, simply head over to Nitemice.net, and go to the MessagePop page (it’s under Projects). Or you could just Click Here!!
There are also instructions there to follow if you want to set up a scheduled task that uses MessagePop like I did, or you can use it however you’d like.
I’d really love to hear any feedback or alternative uses for MessagePop that you come up with, so leave them in comments, or hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc…
From your Friendly Neighbourhood