Can you monitor the regular use of facial cream with Zabbix? Of course, you can! Here’s how. This same method could be very useful for monitoring if the elderly remember to take their meds or so.

What the heck?

A little background story. My forehead has a tendency for dry skin, so I should be using facial cream daily. Of course, as a man, I can guarantee you that 100% of the days I remember to use the cream, I apply it, so in practice, this means about 40-50% hit ratio.

As lately I have been adding more monitored targets to my home Zabbix, one night my wife probably thought she was being snarky or funny when she said “One monitor I could happily receive data about would be how often you remember to use your facial cream.

A monitoring nerd does not take such ideas lightly.

Howdy door sensor, would you like to do some work?

I found a spare magnetic door sensor and a handy box where to store the cream.

You can see where this is going. This totally beautiful prototype of my Facial Cream Smart Storage Box is now deployed to test. If I open or close the box, the door sensor status changes, thus the facial cream mercy countdown timer resets.

How does it work? And does it really work?

Cozify smart IoT hub is keeping an eye on the magnetic door sensor’s last status change. And look, that awesome brown tape does not bother the magnets at all, Cozify reported the status as changed.

Now that I got the Cozify part working, my Zabbix can then receive the last change time as in Unix time.

On my Grafana, there’s now this absolutely gorgeous new panel, converting the Unix time to the “How long ago the last event happened?” indicator.

So the dashboard part is now working. But that is not all we need to do.

Alerting and escalation

Dashboards and monitoring are not useful at all if proper alerts are not being sent out. I now have this new alert trigger action rule in place.

In other words, if I forget to apply the facial cream, I have a one-hour time window to apply it, or otherwise, the alert gets escalated to my wife.

Will this method work? Is my prototype box reliable? I will tell you next time.

I have been working at Forcepoint since 2014 and never get tired of finding out new areas to monitor. — Janne Pikkarainen

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