Remind tip: babies ages, monthly payment
Remind is a great tool for all calendaring purposes on Unix systems. I use it as
“perpetual calendar”, i.e. something to remind me of important events that
will repeat every year (birthdays), every other year (schedule a dentist
appointement), etc. The tool is very powerful, but the syntax is fairly
simple to start with: you just need to write
REM (date specification) MSG (your
message) in a
.reminders file in your
$HOME. Then, when you type
remind in your terminal, you get the messages for today (you can get the
messages for a specific date by specifiying it on the command line after
There are several other possible usages, which I will not cover here. You can for instance use remind to store appointements, but I use Google agenda for that (which sucks, but just a bit less than other calendaring systems).
Instead of typing myself
rem everyday, of course, I set up remind on a
personal server with a mail capability, so that it sends me an email everyday
with the daily reminders. I get the number of the day in the year, the moon
phases, then the name of the people whose birthday is today (with their age).
Remind’s manpage is great, and cover most of the needs. For the rest, there are also the archives of the mailing list, where power users have answered over the years to the most complicated requests (something like “I want a reminder for my paycheck, which arrives every business day after the 10th of the month, except in leap years”).
Recently, I wanted to get a reminder of the age of babies, for which the unit is
the month, not the year (during the first three years approximately). We rather
say in France that a baby is 18 months old than 1.5 year old. Obviously, the
problem is not to know
when to remind: if the baby is born on the 20th, we
just write “REM 20 MSG Baby John’s birthday”. But what I’d like is to know how
many months it’s been since the birth. Fortunately, Remind offers the
possibility to use functions, with some built-in. For instance,
“month number”) extracts the month number of a given date. Then, the following
function computes the age of the baby:
FSET monthsince(y, m) 12*(year(trigdate()) - y) + monnum(trigdate()) - m
And I can then write :
REM 20 MSG Baby John is [monthsince(2016, 7)] months old.
(if the baby was born on July 20, 2016). On every 20 of the month, I will get the age of the baby. One can use the UNTIL directive to stop at some point:
REM 20 UNTIL 20 JUL 2019 MSG Baby John is [monthsince(2016, 7)] months old.
It will stop when the baby’s three years old.
Bonus tip: you can use it to compute the number of monthly payments you’ve made for a mortgage.