File Mover 1.3 Released

This new version of File Mover includes a number of snazzy new features :)

  • UNC support
  • Multiple source/destination folders
  • File wildcarding support (e.g. only move files matching *.log)

The Advanced Settings script can be used to specify multiple source/destination folders as well as wildcarding and custom script execution when a file is successfully moved.

Here’s an example situation; I’d like to move any files that appear in the completed folder into another folder called video. When a file is moved I’d also like some VBscript executed to perform some custom task. In another folder I’d also like any files called some*.log moved into a UNC network fileshare, but don’t want any VBscript executing each time. To achieve this I can use this script in Advanced Settings:

source:c:\temp\completed\*.*
dest:c:\video\
exec:wscript “c:\something\whatever.vbs” “%1”

source:c:\another\folder\some*.log
dest:\\10.1.1.20\some\share

Click on through to the File Mover page for the download.

DriveMapPro v1.5 Released

DriveMapPro has had a number of usability enhancements which have been rolled into version 1.5. If you haven’t seen DriveMapPro, it’s a tool for power users who manage lots of servers. It sits in the system tray and gives you a simple interface allowing easy access to;

  • Map/unmap a network drive on the fly
  • Explore a mapped network drive
  • Quick launch a program against the server, e.g. VNC
  • Ping the server repeatedly (useful when you’re waiting for it to reboot!)

Click through to the DriveMapPro page to download it.

Energy Usage – Results

Last night I tried out the energy meter I bought from CPC to see whether I could save money by replacing the home file server with a newer, more energy efficient model.

These are the results:

Home Server
-------------------------------------------
ASDL Router             On      On      On
Wireless AP             Off     On      On
600Mhz P3 File server   Off     Off     On
-------------------------------------------
Totals                  16w     22w     70w

I was quite surprised to see that the old P3 running at 600Mhz doesn’t actually consume as much as I’d thought it would. With that setup running 24/7 it’s costing me around £4.70 a month.

To save power at night, I have the Wireless Access Point on a timer switch (together with a couple of other power adapters) that powers down from 11:30pm until 7:30am. These consume about 6w so that saves me around £1.60 a year in electric, as well as providing a bit of security on the Wireless AP at night.

After seeing what I used on the server, I tried it out on the main TV setup:

TV
----------------------------------------------------
Wireless Client         On       On      On      On
Freeview                On       On      On      On
Amp                     St by    On      On      On
TV (32" CRT)            Sd by    Off     On      On
Xbox Media Centre       Off      Off     Off     On
----------------------------------------------------
Totals                  15w      39w     160-    205w
.                                        180w

It’s interesting to see the standby power consumption in the first column which totals 15w. Until a few months ago I used to leave everything on standby, but now switch everything off through a single switch on the power strip. This saves us around £8.70 a year.

To work out the costs, I used this Electricity Running Cost Calculator from UK Power. When I was weighing up whether to replace the file server with a more energy efficient model, I worked out the monthly cost for 2 levels of wattage, and used a quick accumulator in Excel to see how much each level would cost over the years.

Energy Meters

With all the recent electricity price increases it occurred to me that I really should know how much the appliances in my home use when they’re on standby. Therefore I ordered one of these energy meters from CPC.

At home we’ve actually pre-empted this by turning off the TV, Amp, and Freeview box at night (all on 1 switch on a powerstrip). However it’ll be interesting to see how much they’d all normally take up whilst on standby.

This web page can then be used (once you know that watts) to see how much they’d cost to run for a month:

http://www.ukpower.co.uk/running-costs-elec.asp

What really interests me is how much power my server (on 24/7) is consuming. It’s an old 600mhz P3 which does the job for a fileserver. However, maybe replacing it with a MiniITX system that consumes around 40w of power would pay for itself in a couple of years.

I’ll find out in a few days when the meter is delivered :-)

Classic Gaming: Deuteros for the Amiga

Deuteros is one of those games I vividly remember from my game-playing days on the Amiga. Due to the number of games available I guess I played it for a few weeks, then dropped it. Amiga emulators for the PC now give me the chance to play the game again, without dragging the old hardware out of the loft.

The emulator I chose was WinUAE and setting it up is pretty easy once you’ve acquired the Kickstart ROM. After that, another search will give you disk images of the actual game. Deuteros had a custom save disk & I couldn’t get it to work through the emulator… however, WinUAE can simply Snapshot the entire (virtual Amiga) memory to a PC file; perfect!

One thing I’d forgotten was how hard Deuteros got when the Methanoids started attacking. In fact, I don’t have the patience to balance my resources so perfectly, just to create enough battle drones. Instead, I decided to cheat.. but only to bypass the mind-numbing drone production process.

In the Amiga days there was the Action Replay which was a bit of hardware you could attach. This had a button that would freeze the game and allow you to tinker with the memory, etc. With the Amiga emulator running on a PC we have access to the memory through PC applications.. which is when I found Poke from http://codefromthe70s.org/

Poke is just what you need when you’re searching for values in memory which you don’t the value of. When the number of drones on a ship in Deuteros is 20, the actual value in memory isn’t 20.. it’s something else. This renders lots of memory searching applications useless. But Poke can take a snapshot of the processes memory address space, then you play the game a bit longer and then tell Poke to search for memory locations that have Remained the Same / Changed / Increased / Decreased. Easy! After a number of passes you’ll end up with the memory location you’re looking for.

Optimus OLED Mini-Keyboard.. Why Not Use a PDA Instead?

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of the Optimus OLED Mini-keybaord. If not, head over to HardOCP forums for some nice pictures.

Basically it consists of three customisable buttons on the end of a USB cable. These buttons are small OLED screens that can display pretty much anything. At the end of the day, it’s a nice thing to have but I was thinking most of us have a PDA kicking around (I use the Mio 168 for GPS)… how about hooking the PDA up to display stuff piped over from your PC??

The touchscreen on the PDA could accept user input.. perhaps to page over to another set of displays. I could imagine it’d be pretty useful whilst gaming; no need to tab out and check who’s just emailed you. Same goes for CPU temps etc etc.

Has anyone spotted anything like this for PocketPC? If there’s a market for a 3-button OLED keyboard, then surely there’s a market for someone writing a wizzy app to display this kind of info on a PDA. Drop me an email (via the contact page) if you know of anything.

Power Meter Plus v1.1 Beta Released

After some user feedback it now features messages to warn you of critical battery levels and when you switch from one type of power to another. It does this in an unobtrusive way.. unlike the standard Windows power meter! ;-)

You can also define a threshold for when your battery is effectively full, because some laptops stick at around 98%. This meant that when charging, the power meter remained on the screen indefinitely.

Let me know if you have any bugs (or feature requests) to report and I’ll get them fixed ASAP. But don’t ask me for a version for Dell laptops which warns you when your battery is about to explode :-D

Wander over to the Power Meter Plus page for the download.

Power Meter Plus – Reviewed in the Bangkok Post

After just getting back from my holidays I was really really chuffed with this review of Power Meter Plus which appeared in the Bangkok Post. If anyone has a copy of the paper edition which they can scan in and email me then I’d really appreciate seeing it :-D

http://bangkokpost.com/160806_Database/16Aug2006_datacol13.php

DSR Drop Problem – Solved??

During a conversation with USRobotics tech support they noticed that the Initialisation String I was trying was wrong.

The string they asked me to try instead was &S1. After using that, the modem carries detecting caller ID between calls. This now appears in the modem log:

– Interpreted response: Ring
– DSR state changed, But is currently high, Ignoring.
– Recv: <cr><lf>RING<cr><lf>
– Interpreted response: Ring

I’m waiting for confirmation from someone else who was experiencing the same issue before I close the support call with USR, but the results from my side are really promising :-)

[Update – Hmmm, this is still causing me (and others) problems. There’s a thread at Hexus discussing the attempts at making it work. I need to get my a.ss in gear and start posting the debug logs :-o ]

Email as an RSS Feed

This is useful if you’d like to be notified of new mail in a POP3 account that you either don’t want to monitor manually, or you can’t monitor because of restricted access to your home email.

Since doing an RSS feed of Caller Id was so easy I thought I’d code this up too, but Ryan Grove has already coded MailFeed. It took me a little while to get it all working, mainly because of PEAR for PHP.

Here are the steps I went throug to get it working:

  • Prerequisite: LAMP/WAMP (with PHP) up and working
  • Install PEAR.. there’s a great guide on this by Harry Fuecks
  • Once PEAR is working, install the Mail_Mime package (using the command ‘pear install Mail_Mime’)
  • Copy over the MailFeed script and modify it’s parameters to connect to your POP3/IMAP/NNTP mailbox. The syntax of the imap_open method was useful to me when I was wondering what parameters to set for my POP3 account.

That’s your lot.. you should now be able to connect to your home server remotely and view an RSS feed of your POP3 inbox.

DSR Drop Problem

After a bit of testing with the Caller ID RSS feed I found that a bit later, the modem wasn’t responding to incoming calls. The modem log had a line in it reporting:

“DSR drop while monitoring for calls”

This has been mentioned before on the net on some forums, but no resolution was found. There were a few suggestions…

http://hardware.mcse.ms/archive64-2006-1-274058.html

Hopefully adding the following initialisation string to the modem’s extra settings will do the trick:

AT&S0 (0=zero) [this should force DSR to remain on]

If anyone knows of another solution, please get in touch.

[Update 1 – using this initialisation string made no difference.. after taking a voice call & hanging up, the modem stops monitoring for calls. I’ve raised this with US Robotics tech support so I’ll see what they say]

[Update 2 – Hats off to USR tech support; they got back to me straight away saying that the initialisation string should be AT&S0=0 .. I’ll be giving that a try tonight! :-)]

[Update 3 – That setting didn’t make any difference and the issue has been escallated to USR’s 2nd line support. I’ve yet to hear anything back from them]

[Update 4 – 2nd line support noticed that the initialisation string was incorrect. It should read &S0. That did the trick for me & I’ll post a full description in a new blog entry]

[Update 5 – Ooops! I posted the wrong value.. it should read &S1 ]

YAC RSS Feeds

After the success of getting YAC to distribute the phone number of incoming calls to devices on my network (including my Xbox via XMBC) I wondered how I could get notification on my desktop at work. YAC broadcasts on a port, and that doesn’t gel with corporate firewalls.. but it does create a log:

****************************************
YAC 0.16 Started: 25 June 2006 – 10:13:57
Running in Server mode.

***** INCOMING CALL: 25 June 2006 – 18:04:28 *****
NAME: YAC Test Call
NUMBER: (425) 555-1212

***** INCOMING CALL: 25 June 2006 – 18:07:58 *****
NAME: YAC Test Call
NUMBER: (425) 555-1212

Since I have a webserver running at home, putting this log into the public folder of the web server made it available wherever I was in the world. This still isn’t ideal; I’d rather not have to check whether I’ve missed any important calls.

RSS feeds seemed the logical progression. I have a few RSS readers installed, and they’ll poll at whatever duration you specify. YAC doesn’t output an RSS feed and I was pulling my hair out trying to compile the YAC source even without modifications!

Instead of modifying YAC, I simply wrote a small PHP script to parse the log file and strip out what I needed. Feed Creator can then be used to create a quick RSS feed from the data.

Here’s the finished script. Enjoy!! :-D

If you find it useful, a small donation via PayPal (no matter how small) would really make my day!

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Broadband; ‘Conflicting Product’ Problem

When I moved home a couple of weeks ago everything went really smoothly. Taking over and transferring the phone number from the old line went alright, although it did take 3-4 days for our old number to be transferred to the new address.

However when it came to ordering broadband, the ISP I chose phoned me a week and a half later to say there was a conflicting product on the line. It was likely that the previous owner had broadband, and it hadn't been cancelled & removed from the line. The ISP said BT would be able to sort this out.

It took a couple of hours to find someone at BT who knew what I was on about and could sort it out. The route they took me down was:

  • Initial call to 0800 500 150 – hopeless IVR system which I found terminated at various points with an unknown number error. Went through a different route a number of times (attempting to avoid these dead ends) and eventually spoke with someone who said that 151 would know what to do.
  • 0800 500 151 – routed to India. They hadn't a clue and kept me on hold a number of times whilst they talked to a supervisor. Eventually said to raise it with broadband technical help.
  • 0845 600 7030 – the broadband tech guy said there was little they could do since they didn't know which ISP the previous product was held with. He said to ring Ofcom who would tell me & could progress it further.
  • 0845 456 3000 (Ofcom) – After navigating through the IVR an automated message said that they have nothing to do with Conflicting Product / Marker problems. BT Wholesale are the people to speak to, and gave their number.
  • 0800 169 0934 – Despite waiting in a queue for 20 minutes BT Wholesale were actually helpful & could see the problem straight away. The order to remove the old product off the line was in progress and would take a few more days to be resolved.

So eventually I got the answer I was after. The thing that really bugs me is that it took me 5 different phone numbers to get to the right people. And that it was Ofcom who told me the right number to ring.. not BT.

Overall, I must have wasted a couple of hours chasing this problem up. Rubbish!

Modems & UK Caller Id – Part 2

After upgrading the firmware and installing the latest driver I found I was getting the same problem as before, i.e. "Unknown Response" was appearing in the modem log.

The solution was to use the sound advice at the Talking Caller Id site which basically says that the modem driver doesn't see the <cr><lf> being sent by the modem as purely infomational text. To tell the driver to ignore them I added a couple of lines to the [CallerID] section of the modem driver, e.g.

[CallerID]
HKR,,CallerIDOutSide,,O
HKR,,CallerIDPrivate,,P
HKR,,VariableTerminator,,<cr><lf>
HKR,EnableCallerID,1,,"AT#CID=1<cr>"
HKR, Responses, "<cr>", 1, 01, 00, 00,00,00,00, 00,00,00,00
;00
HKR, Responses, "<lf>", 1, 01, 00, 00,00,00,00, 00,00,00,00
;00

HKR,Responses,"<cr><lf>DATE = ",1,93,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00
HKR,Responses,"MESG = ",1,97,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00
HKR,Responses,"NAME = ",1,96,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00
HKR,Responses,"NMBR = ",1,95,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00
HKR,Responses,"TIME = ",1,94,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00

After reinstalling the modem driver the log file stopped complaining about Unknown Responses and YAC popped up giving the correct number.


(example popup from YAC)

Now that YAC can identify the call I've installed the YAC listener on other computers on my network / When a call is recieved, the YAC server sends Caller ID to all the registered listeners. Simple!

There's a Caller Id script for Xbox Media Center which can receive YAC broadcast messages so that they're overlayed on the TV screen as you watch a film. The only issue I have with the standard script is that it employs no image caching & will spin up the Xbox HD whenever a call comes in.

That's why I've started coding in Python! :-D Caching the images proved a little problematical, but the other scripts available for XBMC are a good resource (e.g. Poker Timer 2 has image caching for the clock).

The script is pretty much finished and I'll release it after some testing.

Modems & UK Caller Id

To get caller id off the line & into the PC requires a modem that supports Caller Id. The one I singled out during my search for a compatible modem was the US Robotics 56K Faxmodem v.92 Model 5630B. I bought one off eBay for £5.50 (£11 if you include postage) which turned out to be brand new & still shrink wrapped.


Once hooked up & drivers from the accompanying CD-ROM were installed I gave the landline a call from my mobile. Unfortunately the caller id software (YAC) didn't identify the number.. so I tried again a few times without any luck. At first I thought it was a problem with YAC, but then I checked the modem log…

06-20-2006 19:05:01.252 – Waiting for a call.
06-20-2006 19:05:01.262 – Send: at#cid=1<cr>
06-20-2006 19:05:01.382 – Recv: <cr><lf>OK<cr><lf>
06-20-2006 19:05:01.382 – Interpreted response: OK
06-20-2006 19:05:01.392 – Send: ATS0=0<cr>
06-20-2006 19:05:01.512 – Recv: <cr><lf>OK<cr><lf>
06-20-2006 19:05:01.512 – Interpreted response: OK
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: R
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: ING<cr><lf><cr><lf>
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: D
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: ATE = 0
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: 6
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: 20<cr><lf>TIM
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: E
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: = 1905
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: <cr>
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: <lf>NMBR =
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv:
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: 0883933
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: 5
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Recv: 612<cr><lf>
06-20-2006 19:05:50.182 – Unknown Response
(note, mobile number in the log has been changed to 08839335612)

The important thing highlighted in the log are the lines saying 'Unknown Response'. This means that the incoming string (from the modem) isn't matching up with what the modem driver is expecting.

I found all this out by reading a really detailed page off the Talking Caller Id site. It goes through the steps you can take to correct the modem driver so that the incoming strings will be resolved correctly.

Before I started modifying the driver, I went over to the US Robotics support page for the 5630 and downloaded the latest driver & firmware which were more up-to-date than the ones shipped on the accompanying CD-ROM.

That was it for day 1… I'll see whether the latest driver & firmware solved the problem and post the results in the next few days.

If you have any questions, please feel free contact me (click on Contact at the top right).