Doers In Action: Easy Voice Reminder with Heroku and Twilio. Kitty Approved.

We love seeing Doers in action and this API mash is a perfect example of an instant need  solved by the use of accessible APIs. Tryn Mirell needed a simple voice reminder system to make sure her kitty’s litter box was fresh and clean, so she built an app using Heroku and Twilio Voice.

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Heroku and Twilio

I don’t clean out my cat litter box often enough. It’s true. While the cats miao at me about it, they also miao about … well, anything.

So I decided to learn a bit about Heroku and Twilio.

Heroku is a service, that at least initially, allowed you to run various Ruby web applications, anything that was Rack compatible. (They have since expanded to many other software stacks, that I haven’t explored yet). It’s based on a git deployment, you create a git repo, use the Heroku client to create an application, and push your code.

Twilio basically uses a REST API to interact with phone calls. So when you get a phone call, it sends a POST request with various information. It also sends a POST when you make a phone call, so you can control the conversation as well.

The API basically consists of two parts, one which allows you to initiate actions, and the other a custom XML format that is used for phone calls.

So in order to call me, I needed two parts, something that used the Twilio API to actually call me, then a service that would respond to the POST to say something during the conversation.

twilio-heroku.git is the results of that effort, slightly sanitized.

The last piece is the Rakefile that was actually used to initiate the calls:
require ‘ripl’
require ‘twilio-ruby’

account_sid = ‘BLAH’
auth_token = ‘BLAH’
@client = account_sid, auth_token
@account = @client.account

@call = @account.calls.create({
:from => ‘+15124100439’,
:to => ‘+15127963592’,
:url => ‘’

Then this was added as a Rakefile task, and the Heroku scheduler was set up to run that task every day.

Now, I get a lady calling me lovely every day. And that is good. Despite the fact she’s a robot.

Tryn Mirell is a software engineer based in Austin, TX. Read her blog at and follow her on Twitter @mirell

  • Just

    Disgusting nose ring

  • Just

    Disgusting nose ring