We’ve been using janettxt this academic year to allow our academics to send text messages to students. This has been very successful. Students can choose to give our database their mobile number, and the lecturer can send an SMS message out to all students with registered numbers. The staff can’t get at the numbers. The message is also emailed (in case of SMS failure, or just the student not wanting to give us their number), and appended to the blog for that module.
There’s also an option to send emails, which also are appended to the module blog. This is all very painless, as there’s an tab on each module homepage which is only visible to staff allowing both these options. The email option rapidly gained a “cc to module leaders/teachers” option and a “cc to email xyz” option; many staff requested this option.
Any staff can send to any module, as it’s all logged and a closed group this allows maximum flexibility.
The costs are 4p per message per recipient, negotiated by JANET.
I have found working with the pageone service, however, frustrating.
- They provide no mechanism for checking your remaining balance with them, so you could run out unexpectedly.
- If anyone needs it, I wrote a nagios plugin that screen scrapes their web-admin console for this information.
- The SOAP interface is needlessly complex to work with and provides no value over REST.
- They allow multiple username/passwords per customer, but on ringing up they told me that to enable a second username/password for the SOAP interface would be £250 set up plus £50 per month. All I wanted was to be able to let a research project use our balance and to keep track of what they used separately. I’m going to assume they will use less than the 15,000 SMS messages a year the 2nd SOAP account would get me.
- £300 of staff time would allow me to build a local REST gateway to their SOAP interface with our own auditing to account who uses it for what.
- But I think, for now, we’ll just all use the same username/password and I’ll trust this project not to over do it.
- There did not appear to be any indication of SOAP enabled yes/no via their web admin. interface.
- When I rang them, they asked for my account username and password so they could look at my account. This makes me worry about their security practices as this is baffling.
- You bulk-buy your quota of messages, and lose any unused ones after 12 months, which is a bit annoying as you have to guess in advance your likely use, and most people will either over-estimate or end up in a situation where messages are failing to go out until they notice and buy more quota.
It’s possible that there’s been a communication error, and I’m only posting the above notes to encourage pageone to pick up its game or clarify things.
I also should acknowledge that I’m a low-volume account holder, who asks difficult technical questions. The staff have always been polite and tried to help me solve my problems.
The above represents my current understanding from phone conversations with their support staff and my direct experience. I am not recommending against using their service, just documenting my frustrations. We have no plans to stop using their service at this time.
If I have made factual errors, they are unintentional and I will make corrections to the above article. firstname.lastname@example.org