[thelist] Automated Email Script - ideas please

James O'Donnell jimmyropes at gmail.com
Mon Aug 3 17:22:20 CDT 2009

I have used cron on an Apache server to send emails.  It is only good to a
resolution of 1 minute but if you set the time to 13:00 it will go out very
shortly after that.

It is not guaranteed to go exactly at 13:00 but my experience, and this
depends on what else is competing for resources at the time, is that it
fires within 1 second of the specified time.

Of course I am firing jobs at 23:00 and 23:55 so there isn't a lot going on
at the server at that time of night but I think you will get a job to fire
in a second any time of day.  Cron is a kernel process after all and has a
very high dispatch priority.

You will have to set up a script to actually send the email (I use Perl but
there are other ways of doing it -- google ==> perl sendmail -- to get a
script that will send email).

Sending an email every second is a bad idea and will get you blocked, and
rightfully so.


Sent: Monday, 03 August, 2009 10:18
To: thelist at lists.evolt.org
Subject: [thelist] Automated Email Script - ideas please

Hi All,

One of our clients needs us to send automated emails the body of which
will request a product be reserved for our client.  The products are
allocated on a 'first come first served' basis after a specific time of
day, say 1pm, and there can be a number of people trying to reserve
them.  The email is sent to a specific POP3 box at the supplier which is
used only by our client.  The text in the body of the email can change
on a daily basis.

Our client has missed out on reserving a number of products recently
when another buyer got an email in at 15 seconds past deadline where his
was 60 seconds past opening bid time.  This affects his business to the
tune of tens of thousands of pounds.

The current solution [read bodge] is a web page which he can open in a
browser with a meta refresh set at 15 seconds.  The page is written in
PHP and issues an email each time the page refreshes.  This solution was
implemented over a year ago and was chosen due to time and budget

We now have to come up with a reliable method to issue an email to
arrive at the dedicated POP3 box as close to 1pm as possible hopefully
at 13.00.00 or 13.00.01.

We have access to a dedicated Linux box and a shared Windows box with
PHP and the client is prepared to purchase software if required.

Current ideas/questions list includes:
- plugin for Outlook to take send emails at a given time using a plain
text file as the body - may not schedule recurring job or allow time
control to the second
- windows desktop program to send emails - found one when we were
investigating options previously but it was difficult for our client to
change the email body
- scheduled cron job on linux [I know cron can be used for scheduling
backups etc., assume it could send emails as well but know nothing about
writing the script]
- when the incoming email ends up in the supplier's Outlook mailbox what
is it that controls the timestamp on the mail - the sending mailserver
or the receiving mailserver
- if an email was sent once every second for two minutes leading up to
and following the bid opening time what are the implications of the
sender/sender's IP being flagged as spamming

Any ideas or queries please ask.



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