Off the Top of My Head

I’ve been using my own domain in my home network for a few years now but I hadn’t tried Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) until recently. After re-organizing my network, I ended up having almost 20 virtual machines. Since most of them are running various flavours of Windows, keeping them up-to-date became an issue. That’s when I recalled the existence of WSUS. What it does is basically allowing you to download Windows updates on one of your own servers and then distributing them to other machines over LAN. So no more downloading 300M of service packs over and over again.

Installing WSUS is quite easy. You just have to open server manager and add the Windows Server Update Services role.

SQL Server Roles

Then you can select for which products you want to download updates. And also what types of updates you want to download.

SQL Server SQL Server

The most tricky part is enforcing the client machines in the domain to download the updates from your server. That goal is achieved by Group Policy Management. TechNet has a nice article describing the necessary actions: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc708574(WS.10).aspx

Normally, its target is not home users obviously. But after I’ve seen the benefits of it, I strongly recommend it to anyone running his own domain.

dev

I was planning to play around with Visual Studio Lightswitch for a while. Finally, I could spare some time. For me the best way of learning is by doing so before I started playing I had to imagine a project first.

To find an appropriate project of course we have analyse what Lightswitch is and is it good for: In a nutshell, Visual Studio Lightswitch is a fast and easy way to develop data-driven Line-of-Business (LOB) applications. As a developer, I am generally not very fond of such tools because they impose many limitations whereas while writing code we have unlimited freedom. But I also hate wasting time with boiler-plate code. Creating add/edit/search screens for some entities is such a trivial and boring task. Such forms should always be  generated by a tool to sustain consistency. Otherwise, especially in large applications and organizations. By the way, this reminded me the one of the worst forms I have ever seen in a Microsoft application. It’s the reporting form in Team Foundation Server 2010 as shown below. Even the tabs in the same form are inconsistent. But, I digress! Let’s move on.

TFS Reporting

For a long time I was looking for an nice open-source software to manage my movie collection. I tried a few but couldn’t exactly find what I wanted. So while trying to find a project idea I decided to create a simple movie manager application. It’s mainly data entry and search so it sounded an ideal project type for Lightswitch.

The result was amazing! Not that I created a complex and fully-functioning application but within minutes I had a simple database and two forms to enter movie and director information and a movie search form.

Movie Entry

Search Entry

The screens are customizable but the even the default templates create very satisfying results. They cover all the basic needs for data entry, validation and search. So having a such tool in my arsenal and always preferring to develop my own software instead of using someone else’s I decided to develop my movie and TV show management program with Lightswitch. Thinking this is only version 1.0, I think there’s great potential in it for there are so many applications to develop but not enough time.

Off the Top of My Head

Recently i decided to buy an surveillance camera to setup in my room. For two reasons mainly:

  1. Security: Shocking but true!
  2. Research: I always wondered how these devices operate, how they are installed what protocols they use etc.

I ordered one but the shipment never arrived. After waiting for two months, and a battle for refund i ended up where i started. (By the way, in this instance I was too cheap to shop at a company called TMart.com. I’m glad i finally could get a refund but I’m never ever going to shop there again. I strongly recommend everyone to stay away.)

In the meantime, it occurred to me that i had 2 laptops with webcams and a external USB webcam that i plug into my desktop PC. With 3 cameras i should be able to setup a small security system. So i started searching for some software to turn my cameras into a security system. Surprisingly i found an open-source one. It’s called iSpyConnect (http://www.ispyconnect.com). Better yet it’s written in C#. It supports cool features like uploading to YouTube. But most features that require server support requires a subscription. In the free version you are allowed to upload pictures via FTP to one server. But since I have the source code I’m planning to make my own changes.

So for now i have webcams and required software. I can’t use MacBook and it’s webcam since it’s not supported but I tested it with two webcams (One facing the door and the other facing the window) When it detected motion it started recording the video. Also uploaded pictures to my FTP server on the Internet. So even if the burglar notices the system and somehow manages to delete the local copy of the video feed, there’s still good evidence safe and sound out in the cloud.

I am planning to improve the system and I will be posting more details about it as I go along.

Resources