Windows Home Server's Network Health

At first I thought the Network Health notification of Windows Home Server (WHS) was pretty cool, but now after using it for about a month it actually gets very annoying. Below is a screen shot showing me some of the options. On two machines the backup was not successful and I have ignored these, but the list keeps growing. I cannot find a way (via the GUI – have not mucked around to see if there is a registry setting or a command tool, etc.) to "delete" the warnings that I am OK with and choose to ignore. Also the warnings occur on every machine which is setup in WHS – like a very wanting spoilt brat Smile. Hopefully nagging things like these have been fixed in the RTM bits.

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Interesting Find #4

  1. Fastest residential uplink in the world – 40 GB/sec!
  2. Updated programmer stereotypes – updated for "today's" world.
  3. Hotmap shows where people have looked at when using Virtual Earth.
  4. Advanced Vista Codec Package (note: I have not used these yet)
  5. Vista's (little known) recovery strategies.
  6. My Picture 3D allows you to see your pictures in a 3D environment – probably a bit useless and only for those with a high speed Internet access.
  7. Outlook Extra allows to change the default path so you can easily find and delete attachments send in emails among other tweaks.
  8. Moo – they print things from your stuff.
  9. PHP121 – a php based IM – perfect for internal corporate chat where you don't (or can't) access one of the IM's.
  10. Five Tech mistakes to avoid.
  11. Visual Studio Robotics tutorial (with Mindstorms NXT of course).
  12. Free legal icons for you to leech (they are under GPL).
  13. Parking Perfection game – learn how to park! Smile
  14. Warthog anyone?
  15. Toshiba's wireless docking station – though I have had such terrible experiences with my Tecra M3 over the last 3-odd years I cannot recommend a Toshiba to anyone!

Manzana – .NET API for iPhone

Google (of all the people) have released Manzana a .NET API for interacting with the iPhone. Below is what they had to say and you can see a screenshot here. I of course don't have a iPhone to try it out.

"Simple and powerful .NET library that lets you read/write files from/to the iPhone, list directory contents and other file and directory related functions."

Interesting Find #3

  1. Office Live Basics – get it for free.
  2. Google Talk Emoticons
  3. Speaking of google, they now have hot trends
  4. Jing, what is it and how do I use it?
  5. Estetiikka – Free web gallery using PHP (v5) and MySQL.
  6. Interested in making Ubuntu look just like OS X?
  7. Zen Computing – some guys are raving about this Linux distro as better than Fedora and Ubuntu.
  8. Live Earth Videos now available.
  9. Vista Wallpapers, including the one running on the blog here.
  10. Domain Keys Identified Mail (DKIM) – tool to battle spam

Taking Windows Home Server for a spin

Even though I have been part of the Windows Home Server (a.k.a WHM) beta for a while, those bits I was mostly running in a VM and did not get to installing it on a dedicated box until RC1 came out. It certainly is quite interesting and opens up various possibilities especially in a non-techy family. Also the fact that it is "designed" to be run headless certainly makes it easy and able to hide in a corner/room/garage/cupboard/shed(?)/whatever.

I have this running on an old machine with only a gig of memory and a 80 gb hdd and it certainly has been interesting. Getting it up and running is fairly easy with very minimal questions asked during the installation. Since I only got one disk in that machine I cannot say how the setup behaves if it encounters more than one HDD. It automatically created a system partition and a data partition and forces you into certain best practices (such as strong password). For me the coolest part was the ability to easily share photos, files, music, etc "outside of the house" or in other words someone not on my home network. Since I already have a couple of NAS's running getting to this information on the local network is not new or revolutionary. But the ability to get share this externally and people with Internet access can get to it in a controlled environment is quite cool. The remote GUI (from a user's point of view) is quite easy to use and the remote management of the system is a very interesting implementation – I wish Microsoft would incorporate the same option in the other OS's.

The ability to automatically backup machines is cool (given you have enough disk space) – my 80 gb hdd does not go had on that front. While one of the laptops has been backed up once – again not enough space to get multiple backups on it yet – I really have not tried the whole restore option. Until I have some confidence after trying to restore I know I won't be using this for any data I don't have some way to reproduce. Smile

After installing it and using it one of the most obvious features which is missing (out of the box) is the ability to create and/or publish photo albums – seems like what is the whole point of providing this remote ability to users (family and friends in my case), who cannot even view photographs! Well, fear not – this is where the WHM add-in's kick in. One of the add-in's available is the Website Management Whiist which allows you to manage websites and links on both the public and personal pages of WHM.

If you can to create a photo album then you would also need Bertland Le Roy's simple and sweet photo handler (more details here)which is a simple ASP.Net 2.0 HtpHandler. It honestly is one of those things you slap you head and go "Doh! why din't I think of that"! Once you have both the bits getting the album up and running is very simple and if you want to be spoon fed, then check out Andrew's how to create a photo album in minutes.

Now if you are running this off a machine at home and you do not have a Static IP then you might want to set up a dynamic DNS and if your ISP blocks the usual port 80 and 443 (for http and https), then you might want to work around those.

Also you will get a certificate error if you have signed up for a livenode.com domain from Microsoft and that is because the WHM machine does not trust the certificate. There is a simple solution (for now – seems like MS is working on something after all this is meant for non-geek's) to fix that – though without that it will still work, except will be annoying to the user and might also scare away some of the non-techy family members.

Also quite irritatingly since Microsoft announced the $50K Code2Fame challenge, all WHM add-in's have dried up and people don't seem to be sharing what they are building any more. If in addition to having a more sensible head on your shoulder, you also have time to build some add-ins then check out the dev forum for WHM.

While WHM has gone RTM I don't see any updates bits on connect and it seems like it will not be available to us on MSDN – yet. Sad In any case you will be sure to hear more from me on this as and when I get a chance to play with this.

Some other links:

Inside Vista SP1?

An article is discussing what possibly could be part of Vista SP1 whenever it ships, either later this year or early next year. And on the topic of Vista SP1, another rumor is that Vista SP 1 Beta will be out sometime next week.

Big Security Push

As part of "Secure Tuesday" (or whatever MS calls it), there are a number of important and recommended pushes out today from MS. Better hit that Windows Update to get these. Here is what I see on Vista and Office 2007 on one of my laptops:

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Interesting Find #2

Continuing the interesting find series, here are the next set of finds.

  1. Grasshopper 2.0 – is a free VS.NET plugin that allows you to code in .NET 2.0, build for Java and run on Linux, without rewriting any code! Sweet!
     
  2. IKVM.NET – is a implementation of Java for both Mono and .NET and includes a Java VM, .NET implementation of the Java class libraries and some other tools which enable interoperability between both .NET and Java. This is more of less compliant with JDK 1.4, though there are some gaps and AWT and Swing are not implemented yet.
     
  3. EasyVMX.com – lets you create virtual machine of the free and awesome VMware Player. I know many others share the same opinion that VMware Workstation is many generations ahead than Microsoft's VPC. If you are too cheap to pony up the $189 license fee then EasyVMX might just be what the doctored ordered.
     
  4. Solid freeform Fabrication – DIY, on the cheap, and made of pure sugar! This is a project to construct a home-built three dimensional fabricator which allows for a low cost design leveraging recycled components, large printable volume emphasized over high resolution, and ability to use low-cost printing media including granulated sugar.
     
  5. SavaSocket – Allows you to power off standby appliances and as a result save money, energy and the environment! It is like any other power socket, with the exception it has a infrared receiver and can learn a specific button from any infra red remote control allowing the user to control power to the socket and as a result all devices plugged into that.
     
  6. Windows Splash Screens – a trip down memory lane showing all of Windows splash screens thus far from Windows 1.01 released back in 1985.

Reassigning Ctrl+Enter in IE

If you ever wanted to reassign what Ctrl+Enter does in IE from the default of adding http://www. before and ".com" after what you entered in the address bar. Say you wanted to change this to go to ".net" or ".co.uk" then it is  a simple registry change as shown by Ramesh. Of course any registry change for the inexperienced is a daunting task and I suggest backing it up just incase you mess it up.

Microsoft eScrum

Microsoft has released eScrum v1.0 which is an add-on for TFS and if you use Scrum then should be of interest to you.

Cumulative Update for Vista MCE

You might have noticed this via your Windows Update that Microsoft has released a cumulative update for Vista MCE! It is supposed to fix a number of issues, though I have not seen any changes (but then I was not having any issues in the first place). You can get details on what this update contains.

Which performs better – WCF vs J2EE?

Microsoft's Connected Systems Division released the results of a benchmark study that showed that applications based on WCF Web services outperformed J2EE applications running on WebSphere (ver 6.1.07) by as much as whopping 285 percent! Woah! From a cost point of view, the .NET solution is supposed to be one-fifth of the IBM Java solution. For the study four core tests were benchmarked, namely:

  1. Web Services: Remote activation of back-end services from the front-end Web application.
  2. Durable Messaging: Orders placed via transacted/durable queue in loosely-coupled architecture.
  3. Non-Durable Messaging: Orders placed via a non-durable/non-transacted queue.
  4. Monolithic: All elements of application run in a single JVM or CLR instance, no Web Services or messaging. In this mode, orders were set to be placed synchronously.

Of course, given this is released by Microsoft there will be some bit of skepticism, but feel free to check out the details (PDF) – 10.3 mb and 92 pages of both the study and the results.