Software

QuickLogs v3.3.0 (and quickly v3.3.1) (and then v3.3.2)

Recently there was a big update the to QuickLogs product, on the face of it, it looks like the buttons have been changed a little bit. That is the small part of the upgrade, the main change is how the stats page works. Now the stats page is run by the HighCharts JavaScript engine instead of the PHP libchart that was used in the past. This takes the load of creating charts off of the server, and moves it to JavaScript  Also this increases the flexibility to add more charts in the future.

I started the new stats page (v3.3.0) with a drop down to select different types of graphs, the Activities, User, and Overall graphs were used with the drop down. A quick comment made by people at the Helpdesk was “why not use all the space available, I dont like having to navigate again after refreshing.” v3.3.1 brought back the single page, but more importantly sorted the data in the charts. By default Highcharts plots by order the data is put into it; but it was not largest category to smallest. A quick sort was put in, and then we were back to where v3.2 ws with charts but a new engine. The new engine also allows for the charts to be looked at under different time periods instead of only 30 days.

The morning the program moved to version 3.3.2, this was a pure bug fix with CAS having a certificate issue under the login page. At this time, I decided to centralize the CAS information for all pages under the ‘core.php’ page. That way if the certificate moves there is one place to do it.

QuickLogs represents a early version of my app design; these days I tend to make core.php and ajax.php heavy with most of the application functions, and subsequent pages call them with ajax. This is a older app where a lot of the functions are hard coded in the page. I have started migrating to using a wrapper on MySQL like I have with the time cards app. But I only changed it on functions I was modifying so most of QuickLogs remains doing manual queries.

Looking to the future there are many ideas for QuickLogs, yet little time to compete them. One person suggested a achievement system for different things you can do at work. Another suggestion was a Nemesis  a person who is right ahead of you for tickets, and having competition. The final suggestion was for some different types of charts. I wanted to do charts, I just have to find time.

At this point, QuickLogs is going on the shelf. (Unless I get a itch to add more charts) I am shifting to more time on Time Tracker and getting this product finished, before I leave RPI. Documentation for both products should be updated soon as well.

Windows Sudo

I am back at RPI, finishing up my degree. Recently I have been working on hour tracking software for several departments at RPI.

Recently I have run into a minor annoyance where I am in the command line in Windows and need to elevate a command or program so that I can do a administrative task. (Such as moving a file to the system32 folder), the normal solution is to right click command line short cut and “Run as Administrator”. While that works its not fast, I’m sure there are other solutions out there, but I wanted to quickly build on in .Net. I did this a while ago for Vista and called it elev, but never saved it and since I am trying to make the transition between Windows and Linux easier I called it sudo.

All you do is put this in your %windir%\system32\ folder, and then at the command line type “sudo cmd” or whatever command you want. Commands like “dir” are actually part of cmd not a separate file called so “sudo dir” wont show anything, it will output the .Net error.

Link to exe: https://github.com/daberkow/win_sudo/blob/master/sudo/sudo/bin/Release/sudo.exe

Link to project: https://github.com/daberkow/win_sudo

Quick Compare

I wrote a quick little program to solve a problem for me. If you have two algorithms in webpages and want to benchmark them to see the difference, the program will work for you. You add the the below code to a PHP page, or do he same thing in other languages, then the app will run as many times as you tell it to and find the result in time. To lower the time it takes to get a result, you can up the thread count. Averages are not returned till all threads return information.

Start of PHP Page:
$time = microtime(TRUE);
End of page:
echo "seconds " . (microtime(TRUE) - $time);


Download:
https://github.com/daberkow/QuickCompare/blob/master/WebTest/bin/Release/WebTest.exe
Git:
https://github.com/daberkow/QuickCompare/

OpenAFS @RPI Client

Recently I was told “I can’t remember anyone getting OpenAFS to work on their own”, by a staffer at my school. I took it on myself then to figure out how to get this working for students. And in the end I wrote an app that will automatically download and install the AFS client, then configure drives for you. This was an experiment in threading and using WPF instead of Windows Forms.

First the app goes and downloads the OpenAFS client, if it is a 64 bit machine it grabs the 32 bit tools first then the client. While downloading and installing these things it connects via SSH to a school server to get the location of the user’s home folder as well as verify the credentials given.

Once installation is complete the program runs ‘klog’, this goes to the AFS server and requests tokens in the cluster using the credentials given earlier. Once we are past the installing point all these actions need to be run on the campus network. When the program starts it tries to ping a couple internal servers, if it can hit more than half of them in under 75 milliseconds then it considers itself on campus; if it thinks it’s off campus, then it notifies the user. One small problem with the first release is sometimes this system gets confused by vpn taking slightly longer.

Now that we have working token the system recommends drive letters that are not in use as well as AFS spaces to mount including the users folder and ‘dept’ to start. The configure button will activate these drives, they are not set to persistent at this time.

Below is the github link, as well as the direct exe link:

Github: https://github.com/daberkow/RPI_OpenAFS

EXE: https://github.com/daberkow/RPI_OpenAFS/blob/master/OpenAFS%20Installer%20WPF/bin/Release/OpenAFS%20Installer%20WPF.exe

IPv6

As IPv6 starts to roll out more and more, and Windows to update more and more, it may be time to turn IPv6 back on your computer. I wanted to put a reminder out that the IPv6 Cleaner also has a tool built in to change the IPv6 setting of the machine. After changing the setting reboot and Windows will take the new setting. IPv6 Activator is the same code that runs in the 6to4 Cleaner, just as a standalone app.

The following options are avaible:

  • Enable IPv6 – Windows Default
  • Disable IPv6 except critical components – Use if card problem persists
  • Disable native IPv6 interfaces
  • Disable all tunnel IPv6 interfaces
  • Disable all IPv6 interfaces except for the IPv6 loopback interface

Download:

https://github.com/daberkow/daberkow.github.io/tree/master/6to4CardCleaner

Download:

https://github.com/daberkow/daberkow.github.io/tree/master/IPv6Activator

QuickLogs

One project I worked on last semester was for my job at RPI Helpdesk; we needed a system to track how many people came in, along with the general type of problem they were having. We had an old system in place that was written in python but it broke, and did not give the administration side that much information. I wanted to keep the same easy to use interface that the previous program had, along with add features. and give more information on the back end.

This system is used to be a white webpage, with 12 options on it. Then a new interface was added for the touch screen at the desk, this interface had 12 big buttons that used JavaScript to submit it. One of them was user-error, which was not recorded. There was nothing else on the page but these 12 buttons, which tracked the number of clicks per week.

An entire code rewrite was planned; MySQL was going to be used for the database, while the front end was JavaScript and PHP. JQuery was used to make JavaScript work easily across browsers.

While I was making this I was thinking of things I could add to the software, first the old options were built into the tool; instead of having the options build in the database holds available options and which ones the administrator wants active. The new version connects to the CAS (Central Authentication System) of the school; once users are authenticated they are given rights.  Administrators get a settings option given to them, which standard users don’t ever see that option.

JavaScript was used for the button submits, this way the entire page doesn’t have to refresh. At the request of the helpdesk workers, an indication was put in that the ticket was submitted successfully. The top right corner displays “Recorded, entry: #”, this starts at a black box and fades into that number.

The look started as a genetic design, but then at version 3.2 the program look on the look of the Print Queue webpage that the helpdesk hosts. This is the start to a unified look to helpdesk software. As a side note, the version numbers started at 3 because this is the third version of QuickLogs to my knowledge.  Also the main interface is in a folder called “lite” because for a time a enhanced interface was being worked on, a entire ticketing system that included full descriptions, tickets, and follow ups with students who came in.  With course work, this was scarped but the folder structure remained.

One feature that wasn’t requested but I put in for fun was ticket tracking, when a user is not logged in and hits a button then the transaction is recorded under user “default”. When a user is logged in then they are given credit for the ticket. This doesn’t effect anything with the users work, no incentives were given, just friendly competition. The system was in use for about half a semester and this feature was not used at all. Then when a handful of users started using that system, it snowballed into more and more of the users logging in. Now users wanted to beat their coworkers and thus remembered to log a lot more often then before when the data went into a black hole. Later we found in the code there was a stats page, but this was not shown to anyone but administrators who knew about it. Also the old system did not have any long-term user facing statistics, it gave the weekly number then reset. The new system graphs 30 days of problems, what percentage went to each; last 30 days tickets per user; finally, a chart of 24 hours, 7 days, 30 days, 90 days, 365 days and all time tickets recorded. That way the user gets to see their part in records recorded.

Another problem in the past for software like this has been a lack of documentation and information, after a student graduated and built a system like this all the knowledge was lost, it ran until it broke and a new person took over building a new one. Here the code was put on GitHub, all commented up.

That is a general overview of the QuickLogs project. It was a good learning experience for writing a whole web system. I got a enjoyment out of seeing people really use the system, and give feedback. At 8 months in there are around 5,000 records in the system at this point. Below is a gallery of two of the old interfaces, with 3 of the new ones.

 

GitHub: https://github.com/daberkow/QuickLogs

Summer 2012

The blog has been silent for a little while. I have been working at Cisco developing training software. Unfortunately the software is for internal use and at this time I am limited what I can say about it. But 3 months later and around 10,000 lines of code later I handed off the project to my coworkers.
Now back to school to continue studies, I think it is time for the Jukebox project to start up again. I have been researching libraries to use to play music and at this early point it may be the Mono version of XMA to play audio files. If anyone has any ideas for a java/mono/any Linux working library for mp3s that is easy pass it my way.

HTML5 Practice

One project I had the idea for and played around with is a Time Manager. I wanted to be able to track events and how much time I spent on different things. The problem is that I have a thousand classes and have to finish up things for the semester, so I put a few hours into this and I am going to shelf it for now.

A cool aspect of this (along with hindrance) is the system uses Web SQL, this is a HTML5 system; instead of using a MySQL or other centralized SQL database, your local browser is the SQL server. There are limitations to this, including the spec is new and limited. Along with it only seems to work in Chrome, Safari, and Opera; I have a spot in the code so if it fails to connect to a local data store it can switch to a more traditional method but I never got to that. It also tracks modified items to eventually it could sync those items to a central server, but that never got completed so its not in the github. Everything loads on one page and uses Javascript heavily to modify that page. I put facebook login in the system, I wanted a login system that I didnt have to worry about and I have never used facebook login before.

You can check it out at http://ntbl.co/time/ along with all the code at https://github.com/daberkow/Time-Manager

Jukebox Audio Player

I have been working on the Jukebox project while code for the Enstall project client is being worked on. I had to find a music playing library that would be fairly portable. While C# with mono can easily transport Windows, Linux, and Mac, I could not find a audio library that did that. I wanted to be able to decode mp3 files as well as other compressed audio formats.
One option I had was converting all the audio files to WAV files or OGG, but these files are significantly bigger; along with, going from a lossy format to those would be a waste of resources. After looking at around 6 audio solutions I went with the easiest. To the horrors of many, and the silent screams of some, I detect your OS, then unpack that OS version of VLC. Once unpacked it starts with only a Telnet interface; with this interface, another thread logs in and controls VLC. So I have a standardized communications language, and I don’t have to handling decoding, audio cards, audio channel selecting, ect.
If you have not used this before it is built for a program to control it, there are controls such as “get_playtime”. You get a nice computer readout from that. One downside is that there are slight differences from windows to Mac to Linux, but those are easily accounted for.
If anyone has another easier solution drop it in the comments but for cross compatibility this seems to be working well.

Enstall Project

I am working on a project called Enstall with a partner for RCOS @ RPI, it’s available at enstall.wordpress.com, the goal is to make a package management system. One may say “but Dan there are like 10 available and one or two are already open source…” That is true but most of them are aimed at IT personel, and controlling all the computers in a corporation, this is just for a student to install and get software from their school on their PERSONAL computer. That’s the dream.