Tock notifications in macOS

Published: 3 Apr, 2019
Tags: other

Quite a while ago I’ve come across the concept of tocks on the Beeminder Blog and started using them when I work. The general idea is that you work in 45 minute uninterrupted chunks and count the number of these you do in a day. I’ve noticed it works well for me and stuck with it.

I was going about it in quite a lazy way tool-wise - I’d simply find a timer that would run in a browser tab, set it to 45 minutes and use that. However, the only way for it to notify me is if I set an audible alarm. Recently I found myself at a library without headphones and recognizing not everyone might appreciate the loud alarm going off.

I’m on a Mac, so an alert that applications can show in the upper right corner seemed like a natural solution - I looked for a CLI tool to display alerts and found terminal-notifier. It works great, but it shows a message immediately when you call it and I needed a timeout. I also quite like to be able to check how much time I have left in the current tock and be able to pause it when needed, so it would be nice to do something more clever than sleep 2700. A great solution is using another tool called termdown, which displays a nice ASCII art countdown in your terminal window and lets you pause it using the space key. You can also add a suffix to signify hours or minutes. I am calling it as

termdown 45m

When the time runs out termdown simply exits, so I was combining it with terminal-notifier like this:

termdown 45m && terminal-notifier -title "Tock" -message "Your tock is over"

This is great, but the alert simply disappears after a couple of seconds. What if I miss it? After all, sometimes when I’m not typing or reading I’m not just staring at the screen… I wanted the alert to have buttons and stick around until I explicitly close it, however, terminal-notifier doesn’t let you do that. In the README it suggests using alerter if you want this kind of functionality. Calling alerter with the same arguments as terminal-notifier gives me exactly what I want and now I’m using this:

termdown 45m && alerter -title "Tock" -message "Your tock is over"

This works well, gives me a nice countdown and I’m sure to notice the alert as it sticks around until I close it. No need to disturb my library neighbors!