March 3, 2011 11:17 AM   Subscribe

I need some sort of really "loud" notification when I have a meeting coming up at work. ("Load" is in quotes, because, ideally, it wouldn't be a sound -- it would be some sort of big, colorful visual display.) I (am forced to) use Outlook 2011. Mac OS X, Snow Leopard.

I keep missing meetings at work, and people are starting to notice and get pissed.

I miss them because I suck at multitasking. I'm a programmer, and when I'm coding, I get in the "zone" and don't notice anything except the code. I can code for hours without taking a break to eat or whatever. And if someone talks to me, it often takes me several seconds to realize it. I then have to go through this whole mental snapping-out-of-it process, and I usually have to ask the person to repeat what he said.

I have Outlook open all day, with my calendar showing, but the problem is that when I'm in code-land, I don't think to look at my calendar or at email.

I have Growl, but unfortunately my brain has trained itself to ignore growl notifications. Basically, I don't see anything that isn't in my code-editor's window. (Is there a way to (a) hook growl up to Outlook and (b) make ONLY Outlook Growls have a bright orange background or something? That would probably solve my problem!)

I've considered sounds, but I don't think they're ideal for a variety of reasons. A lot of my work involves videos with audio tracks, and I can't leave my volume up, because it will bother my coworkers (and me, frankly). I've tried to work with headphones on, but I'm only able to do that for so long before they irritate me and I have to take them off.

The ideal solution would be some sort of screen-saver-like app that would take over my whole screen (actually "screens," since I have three monitors, but even if it just took over one, that would be okay) and said "YOU HAVE A MEETING IN FIVE MINUTES!"

I've never had a job where I've had to use Outlook before. I don't know how easily scriptable it is. I don't know if external apps can hook into it. I don't know if an app like this already exists.

In case you missed it, I am using Outlook 2011 for Calendaring and I'm on OS X Snow Leopard.
posted by grumblebee to Work & Money (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Outlook has a built-in reminder that you can set for any appointment. It can be a visual or audio reminder. Unfortunately, the visual reminder window is small pop-up window, so it might not be extremely noticeable, but it may work for you.

Create an appointment in your calendar, and unless you are using some kind of custom appointment form, the reminder is one of the options you can set before saving.

What about another technique - can you keep your phone in your pocket and set an alarm that will vibrate at a certain time? That's what I do when I need a reminder for something but I'm not on a computer.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 11:21 AM on March 3, 2011

My meeting reminders are all set through Outlook and I get the reminders on both my computer and on my Android phone. I set them for 15 minutes before the meeting and 5 minutes before the meeting, because somehow I'm capable of forgetting about the meeting in that 15-minute time period and I like to be a minute or two early to meetings.
posted by The World Famous at 11:30 AM on March 3, 2011

Hmm. So Growl has different themes. But I don't think it allows you to pick a per-app theme. If you are willing to go down to only using it with outlook (does it work with outlook? I'm not clear on this)

I Thought there was a growl theme that would bubble over your entire screen. If there is not maybe you can create one?

oh and here's a way to use outlook 2011 with Growl
posted by bitdamaged at 11:41 AM on March 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think bitdamaged is on to it — the growl theme "Bezel" pops up in the centre of the screen. Perhaps of more use is that you can set growl so that only Outlook uses the Bezel theme.
posted by joeycoleman at 11:52 AM on March 3, 2011

Oh, there's also Pester, which may help (though you have to set it manually, I think).
posted by joeycoleman at 11:53 AM on March 3, 2011

Growl does indeed let you select the display style on a per-application basis – select the application under the "Applications" tab of the System Preferences panel and click "Configure...".
posted by nicwolff at 12:01 PM on March 3, 2011

In addition to the above ideas, make it a habit at the beginning and end of each day to review your calendar for the upcoming day. Not that it will help you remember when you're in the zone, but it will help put your mind in that mode to expect that there will be a meeting at X time.
posted by CathyG at 12:10 PM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: The custom Growl idea sounds PERFECT, except I can't figure out a way to get Outlook notifications via Growl. I don't know if that's possible.
posted by grumblebee at 12:13 PM on March 3, 2011

(see this:
posted by bitdamaged at 12:14 PM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: WAIT! Applescript for Growl/Outlook!!!!
posted by grumblebee at 12:14 PM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: Great minds, bitdamaged...
posted by grumblebee at 12:14 PM on March 3, 2011

yeah that might only work for incoming messages though.

You might have to do some applescript editing to get calendar stuff.
posted by bitdamaged at 12:18 PM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: I couldn't get that to work with calendar entries. As-far-as I can tell, you can't make Rules for calendar events -- only emails.

But I came up with a system that might work. I'm testing it now and I'll post the results here. It's pretty elaborate, but if it works, it works.

-- I've imported my Calendar from Outlook into iCal.

-- I found a shareware app ($12) that will announce iCal events via Growl: OmniGrowl.

I am messing with OmniGrowl now, trying to get it to STOP notifying me about stuff I'm not interested in, like the weather and CNN News.

-- I set Growl to use the Bezel sytle for OmniGowl messages.

This may be overkill, because it looks like iCal puts messages up in the middle of the screen by itself. If so, cool!
posted by grumblebee at 1:22 PM on March 3, 2011

Response by poster: This seems to be working. The only thing I can't figure out is how to turn off ALL other omniGrowl notifications. I've been through its settings and turned everything off except for iCal, but I'm still getting weather and CNN crap.

I may contact the developer and see what's what.
posted by grumblebee at 1:42 PM on March 3, 2011

Also, one of the options in for alerts is to run a script. You could have that script call Growl.
posted by JiBB at 9:47 PM on March 11, 2011

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