Apr 182012

A while back I set out to find a way I could control my computer through my phone with text messages.


  • Speed (less than 2 minute response time)
  • Reliability (works for the most part)
  • Expandability (features are easy to add)

How it works:

  1. Phone sends message to Google Voice
  2. Google Voice forwards a copy over to Gmail
  3. Gmail filter forwards it to Mercury mail server setup on my home computer
  4. Mercury mail rule launches a batch file when it receives a new message (based on a subject and from address)
  5. Batch file copies the mail file from the incoming mail folder over to a processing folder
  6. Batch file launches a small php app with the message as a parameter
  7. PHP app (with the help of a library) confirms that the message is from a trusted source
  8. PHP app then extracts command from body of message
  9. Body of message contains a command (with a certain symbol to indicate it is a command)
  10. The first part of the command is a function, the rest is parameters separated by a delimiting character
  11. PHP app loads “modules” from a folder. Each module contains a function
  12. PHP app executes function and passes parameters
  13. Module executes commands and returns data
  14. Data is prepared and sent out (through PHP mail())
  15. PHP app moves message to executed folder and adds a log entry

Programs used:

  • Google Voice & Gmail
  • Mercury mail
  • PHP


It’s been working fairly well so far. Right now it’s able to fetch weather data using a module I made that interacts with Weather Undergrounds API. It can also execute certain commands like ipconfig, ping, uptime.