Windows Home Server is in Release Candidate 1

The WHS server team released RC1 this weekto all the beta testers.  This is a huge milestone for the product, as it is now ‘feature complete’.

Just a few more bug fixes (it’s never really just a few on any software project, but I bet they are getting close), and houses around the world will be able to sleep well knowing their data is all safe and sound.  As added bonuses, they have now opened the beta to anyone who would like to try WHS, AND I will be putting ou a new relese of PhotoSync for WHS real soon!

If you have an unused PC lying around, I would highly reccomend giving WHS a look.

Google Gears – Web Applications, Disconnected

Google Announced Google Gears today, a new set of open source technologies that allows web applications to work ‘offline’ in a disconnected mode.  This could be a HUGE benefit for Google (and other Web Applications) as they compete against Microsoft with their online suite of office-like applications.

One of the biggest complaints of web-based applications is “What if my Internet connection is down, or if I am on an airplane? ”  Gears solves this problem by installing a local server and database, and allows for for ‘caching’ of data and applications for disconnected use.

This is still an early beta of the technology, but this is a great step for extending the web to mobile, offline use.  The API is available now, and allows 3rd party developers to use the Gears technology in their web application.

More Coverage:

PCWorld

ZD.Net

eWeek

New Version of MS Windows Live Writer

The Live Writer team released Beta 2 today.  It has quite a few new features, and an updated GUI that looks great.  In just a few minutes of use, I find it far more intuitive to use and it feels more ‘Vista-ey’ than the prior version.  And the new inline spell-check is a godsend for horrible spellers like myself :-).

If you are using Live Writer, be sure to upgrade to this version, well worth the 5 minutes to download and install.

And best of all, Ink Blog Plugin still works great in this version for Tablet PC blogging!

Download Live Writer Here

Release notes and info on the WLW Team blog Here

Ink Generated with Ink Blog Plugin - http://www.edholloway.com

MSDN Online Content to Offline Help File

I just came across a neat little utility called Package This that allows you to create an offline Windows Help File (.chm) from topics on MSDN.  This is a great way to get the latest SDK documentation on your local drive without having to wait for (and install)the latest refresh DVD.

The utility is available in both compiled and source, and does have a few dependicies, so make sure you read the info first.  Download Here

 

As a test, I created a local version of the Windows Home Server SDK docs, and it worked as promised.

Special thanks to MDodich on the WHS forums for pointhing this out!

UPDATE : Please note, the WHS team has created an addendum to the SDK that is not in this help file.  You may download it here


PhotoSync For Windows Home Server – Beta1

Once again, I had an itch that only some software could solve – what I wanted didn’t exist, so I wrote it…

Since our new arrival, I’ve wanted an easy, reliable and automated way to share photos with friends and family (and anyone else who wants to take a look at the cutest baby ever :-) ).

I could have just created a share on my home server and done it through IIS, but I really didn’t want to waste all the bandwidth on my cable modem, so I really needed an external server to host everything.  I usually use Flickr for this, but with all the photos coming in, it was getting hard to upload them all manually.

Since I have started using Windows Home Server (WHS) to store my home media and photos, I thought it would be really nice to have a way to automatically synchronize the photos on WHS “Photos” folder to my Flickr account. Since WHS is still in beta, there is not a 3rd party application to do this – so I decided to write PhotoSync for WHS (probably also has something to do with my constant pursuit of learning cool new products and their SDKs).

 

Some general features & notes:

  • PhotoSync will monitor your WHS Photos folder (or any sub folder you select) and automatically upload the contents of that folder (and every sub folder) to your Flickr account.
  • Since you get to select the ‘base folder’ you can, for example, create a /Photos/Private and a /Photos/Public (or /Photos/Flickr) folder in WHS and just point PhotoSync to the /Public folder – this makes sure your public photos go to Flicker and the private ones do not.
  • PhotoSync can be configured to automatically upload new photos on any scheduled basis (the minimum right now is every 15 minutes)
  • There is a WHS Console GUI Tab to configure everything, and check upload status information.

 

Installation:

  • Download the msi file (link below)
  • Follow the steps from the WHS help file to install an Add-In: (don’t worry, it looks like a lot of steps, but it is painless)
  • On a home computer, right-click the Windows Home Server task tray icon, and then click Shared Folders.
  • In Shared Folders, double-click the Software folder.
  • Double-click the Add-Ins folder.
  • Copy the .msi file to the Add-ins folder.
  • Close the Add-ins folder.
  • Right-click the Windows Home Server task tray icon, and then click Windows Home Server Console.
  • Type the Windows Home Server password, and then click Next.
  • Click Settings on the console.
  • On Windows Home Server Settings, click Add-ins.
  • Click the Available tab.
  • Click Install to install the Add-in.
  • Click OK on the Installation succeeded dialog box to restart the console.
  • Reconnect to the console. If your new Add-in includes a console tab, the new tab now appears on the console.
    • Once you have PhotoSync installed, you can go to the WHS Console Tab to configure it
    • The first time you run PhotoSync, you will need to configure it to “link” to your existing Flickr account:
      • You will be prompted with a brief instruction screen, read and hit continue
      • PhotoSync will launch the web browser to the Flickr Login screen, login as normal
      • You will be asked if it is ok to Link WHSApps PhotoSync to your account you need to verify this, and give it write permissions
      • Once you’ve done this Flickr will tell you it is Linked, and prompt you to close your browser.
      • Once you close the browser, you will see a button in PhotoSync that says “I have completed linking Flickr“, click it and you will see a message telling you it linked ok and is ready to go.
      • Note: Due to the strict security on IE7/Windows 2003 server, you may see a few alerts during the web browser step.  This is normal, just read them and respond accordingly

    Using PhotoSync:

    • Right now there are only two configurable options in PhotoSync (don’t worry, I’m already working on additional features!)
      • PhotoSync folder – this is the root folder PhotoSync will upload photos from.  It will include all sub-folders too
      • Sync Schedule – this allows you to configure how often PhotoSync will check for and upload new photos. If you enter anything here under 15 minutes, it will default to 15 minutes.
    • There is also some status information that tells how many photos total are in sync, last sync time, and how many photos were uploaded in the last sync.
    • That’s all there is too it – nice, simple, and reliable.  Simply copy your photos to your configured WHS folder, and PhotoSync does the rest!

     

    As I mentioned, I have several additional features planned for the app, but please share any suggestions or comments you have in the comments here, or send me a message.  I hope you enjoy PhotoSync!

    (Note: All the normal beta disclaimers apply here.  It seems stable and works great for me, but it could catch your PC on fire, or make your dog bark all night :-).  If you find any problems, please let me know)

    Download PhotoSync for WHS here (1.5 MB)

Announcing Baby Erin Devon Holloway

Well, I’m over a week late with this, but lack of sleep

does funny things to your productivity!

Linda & Ed’s beautiful baby girl was born this morning, May 8th, at 8:35 AM. Mom and Baby are both doing great!

 

Baby Erin Devon Holloway is 7 pounds, 8 ounces and 19.5″ long.

This is our first child, and it is an amazing experience.  I can’t believe how many things the books and classes did NOT cover, but we are learning as we go, and will figure it all out (sooner or later)

More photos at our Flickr Site!

-Linda & Ed

 

Windows Home Server goes CTP

Just got an email saying that the Windows Home Server team has released a CTP (Community Technology Preview) version today.  CTPs come after Beta’s (though it is technically still a beta) and before RTM (Release to Manufacturing). That means the WHS team must have the bits aligning nicely, and are on track for a release.

Check out the official WHS Blog for details on the CTP, and to sign up for the beta. (Hardware not included :-( )

When I first head about WHS, I thought it was a great concept, but couldn’t see it replacing the Terabyte NAS device I already had in my house.  Turns out I find myself using WHS more and more, and the NAS less and less.  With over 500 Gigs of data, the NAS device is not going on eBay anytime soon, but if I were buying today I would go with the ‘smart NAS’ (WHS) over a closed, traditional NAS.  It will be interesting to watch the market and ecosystem develop around this product…

PS – no this is not becoming ‘Ed’s WHS blog’ :-)

Using Windows Home Server for Hard Drive Upgrades or Restores

If you’re like me, you probably spend a lot of time installing and uninstalling new software – either to try the latest and greatest programs or for a project you may be working on.  As we all know, sooner or later this starts junking up your PC, and you will see Windows start to slow down.

In the past I’ve always kept a drive image using Ghost or some other imaging tool to help with this problem.  Using a drive image I could quickly revert back to a prior, clean,  version of my drive and get the performance back without spending a day (or more) reinstalling & tweaking Windows and all my applications.  This would also let me image a new drive, each time I upgraded to a larger or faster hard drive, again saving the full reinstall time.  This worked pretty well, but is still time consuming, and you have to remember to keep manually making drive images to keep everything up to date.

Since I’ve started testing Windows Home Server (WHS), I’ve thought this may be a great way to solve the problem.  And sure enough, it is. I was reading Charlie Kindel’s blog today (Charlie is the WHS PUM and founder inside of Microsoft), and he had a great post on doing just this.  In his case, he was just expanding an existing drive, but using this same concept you can upgrade a drive or revert back to a prior (cleaner) version of Windows.  Great to know!

On a side note, still tinkering with the WHS SDK, trying to find some ‘killer apps’.  Suggestions welcome :-)

Windows Home Server SDK Released

The Windows Home Server team has released a Software Development Kit / APIfor the product.  I’ve been using the beta for a while now, it’s great, but there are quite a few additions I would like to see – so I guess this opens up a lot of opportunities.  After a quick glance, this looks like a very well-rounded V1 SDK.  Nice work guys!

More Soon!

Bumping into George (HW) Bush and Bill Clinton

I was at CTIA for a few days this week, and as I was walking the floor yesterday morning I see a golf cart whiz by with a bunch of ‘black suits’ in it.  Next cart had, what I thought was my good friend Dennis Rice in it, boy has he got some clout, I thought.  When I yelled hello, and got ignored, I assumed it was just all going to his head :-)

I then realized maybe it wasn’t Dennis, and that it was Bill Clinton - another cart whizzing by full of the suits with headsets confirmed this for me.  Al the carts stopped just 20 feet away, and as I looked back, a huge mob was quickly approaching.  I quickly moved over to where they stopped (they were doing a press interview), and got right up front.

Talk about being at the right place at the right time – I was right in front and got up close with Bill & George.  Not everyday you get 10′ away from two ex-Presidents!  Pretty cool day.

But the highlight had to be as I was leaving…as I pushed my way through the crowd to leave, I heard the following conversation:

Tradeshow BoothBabe:  ”I just want to get close enough to see Bill, and shake his hand”

Random Guy in crowd: “Oh honey, he’d let you do much more than shake his hand!”

Haha too funny!