Sunday 8 June 2008

Using your computer as an alarm clock

Do you have a computer in your bedroom? May be you have a laptop and tend to travel a lot with it? If that's the case then you might want to use your laptop/desktop computer as a alarm clock. Transform your computer into an alarm clock that works better than the normal alarm clock, including the one your already have.

Why? Studies Evidence from fellow bloggers shows that waking up in the light stages of sleep is better compared to waking up when you're dreaming. If you ask me, I personally prefer not to use an alarm clock at all. I simply wake up when I feel like it, which of course ensures that I get all the sleep I need. After all I do need my beauty rest.

Sometimes though, that just doesn't work. I often need an alarm clock to wake up at 3 in the morning so that I can finish my assignment due on the very same day. I know, procrastination is bad. But hey, I've got an alarm clock that can wake me up without fail. Here's how you can make your own, for free! All you need is an internet connection, some time on your hands and of course -- free software.

How to convert your computer into an alarm clock, that is sure to wake you up

Step 1: Find a computer that you can use. This can be anything, a laptop/desktop/air. Through thorough experimentation I've deduced that the optimal placement for a alarm clock computer is about 5-6 feet away from your computer.

Placing the computer far away ensures that you are awake when you turn the alarm clock off. Any further then 6 feet away and you're likely to stumble and fall on your way to the computer.

Step 2: Software.
If you're using Windows there are a couple of good ones out there.
  • Alarm Clock 1.0 (free) - This appropriately named piece of software does exactly what it is supposed to do.
  • Daily Alarm Clock (free) - Daily Alarm Clock.
  • Alarm Clock PowerToy for Windows XP MCE (free - if you have MCE) - If you have Media Center Edition of XP then you might want to consider using this, since it's from Microsoft. However, because it is from microsoft, there is no guarantee that it's going to work.
Overall, be cautious if your computer is running Windows. It might crash minutes before waking you up.

If you're using a Mac then you might want to take a look at:
  • Alarm Clock 2 (free) - Has the built in easy wake feature described in the next step. Allows you to set a variety of different alarms.
  • Aurora (free $12 ) - A lightweight little alarm clock that does what it's supposed to do.
  • Tiny Alarm (free) - Even more 'tinier' and does exactly the same thing as all its other competitors.
All the above are great choices, and are totally free. Remember to donate a buck or two if they prove to be extremely handy.

If you're on Linux, you can probably make your own alarm clock with some basic linux commands that take advantage of audio players.

If you still happen to use MS-DOS, you should upgrade. No really, you should.

Step 3: Configure your software.

Most alarm clock software out there have a "gentle wake" or "easy wake" ability. This is where the alarm song/tune/sound is played at a low volume for a while (about 30-40 minutes is good) before is becomes loud and wakes you up.If the software you've downloaded doesn't have this feature of slowly fading the song/tune in gradually, which is the case for most windows alarm clocks, you might want to get two applications. One app can play something at a very low volume, and after some period of time the other can kick in and finally wake you up from your state of slumber without making you cranky and grumpy for ages to come.

As for the song/tune itself, this depends on the user -- you. I usually choose songs that pump me up, so that I can get out of bed and start dancing. Not a good idea though, because if your song doesn't wake your neighbours up, apparently your dancing will. There's nothing wrong with that, unless your neighbour happens to be 80 years old and has a phone handy at all times with a three digit number on speed dial. I figured that one out the hard way.

Step 4: Give yourself time to sleep.

Remember, you can only wake up in the "fresh and ready to rumble" state of mind every morning if you have enough sleep. So give yourself ample time to sleep, and only then let your alarm clock, that you built all on your own do the rest.

Got a question, tip or comment? Send them to and we'll try to answer it in a blog post!

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