New Screen Capture Website

I’ve just finished building a brand new website called ScreenDrink.com. The purpose of this site is to provide image screen captures of websites. The key differentiator for this new site is I’m providing https as well as http access to the images.
This means you can keep your sites secure without serving insecure content from services you utilize.

I am currently self-hosting the site but if there is enough interest and usage, I’ll move the site into the cloud for more space and reliability.

Visit http://www.screendrink.com to learn how to use the free service on your own website!

Content Database

Large App Icon

I’ve just added a new feature to my BigFix.me website… the Content Database!!! Come check it out!

This side-project catalogues fixlets, tasks, and analyses into one big content database (CDB). The first available feature of the CDB is the ability to search relevance statements. Type in one or more keywords like "operating system" or "exists" and you’ll get back tons of examples of how to use those inspectors or key words within your own relevance statements. The database even knows what type of data will be returned and we sort all the results by re-use count, which can be helpful in finding the most popular statements.

If you want to contribute to the database, simply logon or register and visit our import BES content page.

You can learn more here: http://bigfix.me/cdb.

Episode 181 – Karl Prosser on Portable PowerShell and v3

My PowerShell for Tivoli Endpoint Manager (http://pstem.codeplex.com) project was featured on a recent episode of the PowerScripting Podcast.

Read more… 243 more words

PowerScripting Podcast

A Podcast about Windows PowerShell.
Listen:

In This Episode

Tonight on the PowerScripting Podcast, we talk to Karl Prosser about Portable PowerShell and PowerShell v3

News

This segment is brought to you by TrainSignal

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Submitted My Windows 8 App for their Contest

This afternoon I have finally completed my Metro style Windows 8 application.  I’m still entering data into the database, but the app itself is completed.  When the app is launched it pulls that data and displays it to the users.

Here are a few screen shots of my application:

My application is based on the House of Representatives.  It allows you to quickly discover your congress person and provides you with contact information including Twitter, Facebook and other links they’ve shared on their websites.

The contest started here:  https://buildwindowscontest.com/

If I win, I will be included in the first round of apps added to the new Microsoft App store… very exciting!

Wish me luck!

Congressional District Polygons

Here I am again working on my House of Congress/Windows 8/Metro app contest when I’m wanting to show the individual districts each Congress person represents.  Using a Bing search I found myself back at the Census website.  This time looking at the congressional boundary files:  http://www.census.gov/geo/www/cob/cd110.html

I don’t know anything about the e00 or shp files, so I’ll be working with the available ascii files.

Each state’s zip file contains two dat files.  One dat contains the Long/Lat coordinates for various map-polygons which represent districts that are defined in the other dat file.  What I wanted was a way to tie together the dat files with the Districts table I’d already defined at the start of my development.

I need this information to be in the most covenant format for my application, therefore, I’ll be importing the information for each state into my SQL database.  I created a new table defined as follows:image

SNAGHTML6ef6126

Like many of my tables, I’ve setup an Id which auto increments and is the primary key for each row.  Next we have the linked DistrictID, the PolygonID identified within the dat file as well as the Latitude and Longitude values.

First thing was to download each individual ascii file, unblock (windows 7 “feature”), extract and rename each file… only took 20min.

Then using my import program, I follow the following sudo code to get into my database:

foreach DAT file
    read in dat and def files
    extract state name //will use this later to get district reference
    
    open database
    find state
   
    foreach dat file line
        parse Long/Lat and cur Polygon # if available
        if cur Polygon # found, then
            foreach def file line
                if cur polygon # then
                    district id = line
        if have district id and current polygon
            insert new coordinates into database

In the end we have a database called Boundaries that looks something like this:

image

If you have any questions or would like to see the source code for my importer mention it in the comments section below.

XML Deserialization

So, you have an XML document, your programming in Visual Studio 11 for your new Windows 8 Metro app, and you need to access the data within?  I’m here to help…

DE serializing your XML document is very simple.  First you’ll need to define a CLASS object the way your XML document is…

Here’s my example XML document:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>

<Congress>
  <Regions>
    <Region>
      <Title>Northeast</Title>

      <States>
        <State>
          <Title>Connecticut</Title>

          <Districts>
            <District>
              <Title>District 1</Title>
              <SubTitle>Larson, John B.</SubTitle>
            </District>
          </Districts>
        </State>
      </States>
    </Region>
  </Regions>
</Congress>

This is an example of an XML document I’m currently using in my contest application.  As you can see there can be multiple Regions, States or Districts.  Each organized in sub objects… I am showing you only one of each since it would get pretty long otherwise…

Now, we’ll need a few classes organized just like this XML document:

[XmlRoot("Congress")]
public class clsCongress
{
    [XmlArray("Regions")]
    [XmlArrayItem("Region", typeof(clsRegion))]
    public clsRegion[] Region { get; set; }
}

[XmlRoot("Regions")]
public class clsRegion
{
    [XmlElement("Title")]
    public string Title { get; set; }

    [XmlArray("States")]
    [XmlArrayItem("State", typeof(clsState))] 
    public clsState[] State { get; set; }
}

[XmlRoot("States")]
public class clsState
{
    [XmlElement("Title")]
    public string Title { get; set; }
        
    [XmlArray("Districts")]
    [XmlArrayItem("District", typeof(clsDistrict))]
    public clsDistrict[] District { get; set; }
}

[XmlRoot("Districts")]
public class clsDistrict
{        
    [XmlElement("Title")]
    public string Title { get; set; }
        
    [XmlElement("SubTitle")]
    public string SubTitle { get; set; }
}


As you can see form my class objects, you’ll need to specify the XmlRoot for each class as well as each XmlElement so everything maps correctly.  In my example, the elements match, but they don’t have to so long as they’re mapped with the XmlElement tag.

Now, I know you can find this code anywhere on the net… but what they don’t go into detail explaining is the array variables I have shown here. 

In my example, I have Congress which is made up of multiple Regions, which is made up of multiple States, and Districts.  In my example here, I demonstrate how to get multiple sub-objects pulled in easily and quickly.

Here is the code I use to load up the XML text, oh and I’m downloading this content using the new fancy async features from VS11 and Windows 8:

internal async Task PullRegionsAsync(Uri baseUri)
{
    string baseUrl = "https://danielheth.com/myexample.xml";

    //download the data xml
    //http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/apps/system.net.http.httpclienthandler.maxrequestcontentbuffersize(v=VS.110).aspx
    //says there is a 65k limit on the size of what this function will download...
    var client = new HttpClient();
    var response = await client.GetAsync(baseUrl + "Data.xml");
            
    //------------------------------------------------
    //convert xml into an easily digestable object
    clsCongress congress = null;
    XmlSerializer des = new XmlSerializer(typeof(clsCongress));
    congress = (clsCongress)des.Deserialize(response.Content.ContentReadStream);
    //------------------------------------------------

    foreach (clsRegion r in congress.Region)
    {
        string RegionTitle = r.Title;

        foreach (clsState s in r.State)
        {
            string StateTitle = s.Title;

            foreach (clsDistrict d in s.District)
            {
                string DistrictTitle = d.Title;
            }
        }
    }
}

There you have it… deserializing your XML document into an easily digestible object within C#.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below…

Windows 8 Metro Application–Bing Maps

I’ve entered myself into a new Windows 8 application contest.  I’ve come up with a wonderful idea which includes utilizing Bing Maps.  After an awful lot of research I’ve come up with something that works… Perfectly!!!

Since this is a Windows 8 application, I’m writing this in Visual Studio 11 express which utilizes an awesome multi-threading feature called async/await.  So I’ll be taking advantage of that here.

First thing I needed to do was acquire my Bing Map Developers key… Acquire yours free from:  https://www.bingmapsportal.com

Let’s start coding!!!

I followed the following MSDN article to setup my app for access to the Bing SOAP API’s.  http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc966738.aspx

Then added the following to the top of my code:

using HouseofRepresentatives.GeocodeService;
using HouseofRepresentatives.SearchService;
using HouseofRepresentatives.ImageryService;
using HouseofRepresentatives.RouteService;


private ImageSource _map = null;
public String Latitude = "";
public String Longitude = "";


public ImageSource Map
{
    get
    {
        if (this._map == null) UpdateMap();
        return this._map;
    }

    set
    {
        if (this._map != value)
        {
            this._map = value;
            this.OnPropertyChanged("Map");
        }
    }
}

I had two situations for my locations… in one case I knew the exact Lat/Lon, and in others I only knew an address… in my case a state name.  First I needed to turn that address into a Lat/Lon for passing onto the get map function.

private async Task<string> getLocationPoint(string address)
{
    if (address != null && address != "")
    {
        GeocodeRequest request = new GeocodeRequest();
        request.ExecutionOptions = new HouseofRepresentatives.GeocodeService.ExecutionOptions();
        request.ExecutionOptions.SuppressFaults = true;
        GeocodeServiceClient geocodeClient = 
            new GeocodeServiceClient(GeocodeServiceClient.EndpointConfiguration.BasicHttpBinding_IGeocodeService);
        HouseofRepresentatives.GeocodeService.Credentials t = 
            new HouseofRepresentatives.GeocodeService.Credentials();
        t.Token = "[[put your Bing Maps Key Here]]";

        request.Query = address;
        request.Credentials = t;

        GeocodeResponse response = await geocodeClient.GeocodeAsync(request);
        if (response.Results.Count() > 0)
        {
            return response.Results[0].Locations[0].Latitude.ToString() + 
                "," + response.Results[0].Locations[0].Longitude.ToString();
        }
    }
    return "";
}

Next I needed to actually get the Image from Bing.  Now let’s do that using the following function:

private async Task<string> GetImagery(string locationString)
{  //http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd221354.aspx
    string key = "[[insert your Bing Maps Key here]]";
    MapUriRequest mapUriRequest = new MapUriRequest();

    // Set credentials using a valid Bing Maps key
    mapUriRequest.Credentials = 
        new HouseofRepresentatives.ImageryService.Credentials();
    mapUriRequest.Credentials.ApplicationId = key;
                      

    // Set the location of the requested image
    mapUriRequest.Center = new HouseofRepresentatives.ImageryService.Location();
    string[] digits = locationString.Split(',');
            
    mapUriRequest.Center.Latitude = double.Parse(digits[0].Trim());
    mapUriRequest.Center.Longitude = double.Parse(digits[1].Trim());

    // Set the map style and zoom level
    MapUriOptions mapUriOptions = new MapUriOptions();
    mapUriOptions.Style = MapStyle.AerialWithLabels;
    mapUriOptions.ZoomLevel = 17;

    // Set the size of the requested image in pixels
    mapUriOptions.ImageSize = new HouseofRepresentatives.ImageryService.SizeOfint();
    mapUriOptions.ImageSize.Height = 240;
    mapUriOptions.ImageSize.Width = 480;

    mapUriRequest.Options = mapUriOptions;

    //Make the request and return the URI
    ImageryServiceClient imageryService = 
        new ImageryServiceClient(ImageryServiceClient.EndpointConfiguration.BasicHttpBinding_IImageryService);
            
    try
    {
        MapUriResponse mapUriResponse = await imageryService.GetMapUriAsync(mapUriRequest);

        if (mapUriResponse.Uri != null)
        {
            return mapUriResponse.Uri;
        }
        else { return ""; }
    }
    catch (Exception ex)
    {
        return "";
    }
}

Ok… now that I have my image Uri, it’s time to use it to load a picture:

public async Task<bool> UpdateMap(string address = "")
{
    if (address != "")
    {
        //then user is specifying an address instead of a specific long/lat.  
        //We need to get that info in order to proceed...
        string point = await getLocationPoint(address);
        if (point != "")
        {
            string[] p = point.Split(',');
            Latitude = p[0];
            Longitude = p[1];
        }
    }

    if (Longitude != "" && Latitude != "")
    {
        string uripath = await GetImagery(Longitude + "," + Latitude);
        if (uripath != "")
        {
            this.Map = new BitmapImage(new Uri(uripath));
            return true;
        }
        else
        {
            this.Map = new BitmapImage(new Uri(imageBaseUri, "Data/blank.png"));
            return false;
        }
    }
    else
    {
        this.Map = new BitmapImage(new Uri(imageBaseUri, "Data/blank.png"));
        return false;
    }
}

If you’ve stuck with me this far… you are a programmer… LOL.

In each of my functions I utilized the new async/await features.  This means when I call either of the two functions as below, it will load the image once the OS has downloaded and cached it.  The image will automatically appear when ready…

//calling the get-map function with an address
UpdateMap("Arkansas");

//or
UpdateMap("1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, Washington");

//or i can configure my lat/lon then update
Latitude = "39.450000762939453";
Longitude = "-98.907997131347656";
UpdateMap();

If you guys have any questions or comments, be sure to post them below!

Tivoli Endpoint Manager (BigFix) Task Properties

As a professional services engineer for BigFix, I’ve written my share of custom Fixlets, Tasks, and Analyses.  During that time I’ve learned a lot about how the home office developers fill in the blanks related to designing your custom task.

SNAGHTML1a36a914

One day I sat down to come up with a way I should categorize my custom content that would be easily recognizable to any BigFix user. 

Below is a short list of the most common custom content I design for customers:

 

BES Client Setting – These are fixlets/tasks in which the end result is to configure a client setting.  This could be simple tasks which directly configure the setting or very complicated tasks which go through many steps to determine which client setting to be configured.

BES Server/Relay Setting – Just like the BES Client Setting category, this one relates to configuring Server or Relay settings.

Common Tasks – These are tasks that need to be performed regularly.  Usually these are setup as policies when deployed.  They relate to running scanners, rotating logs, etc…

Configuration – Since I may be working with any product… like DropBox, Word, Excel, AVG, etc… I like to specify these in this category.  It lets me know I’m working with a particular product and I’m needing to configure it in some way.

Maintenance – This relates to tasks that will fix the product I’m working with some how.  Usually I put my Watchdog tasks into this category. Since the goal of a watchdog is to monitor my “thing” and fix it if it breaks.

Setting – This is a category setup specifically for changing the endpoint’s OS.  I put tasks which change Windows settings like cascading the control panel menu on the start menu or adding a host to the Windows hosts file.

Uninstall – This is pretty easy to figure out… if I’m uninstalling software or hardware… it gets this moniker.

Update – This is the opposite of Uninstall.. installations go here.  Whether it is a new installation or an upgrade.. they both go here.  I configure the task to know the difference and take the appropriate actions.

 

Other properties I’ configure for my custom content is as follows:

Download Size – Be sure to specify the download size in bytes.  If I have a download command in my action script, I’ll just copy (add up if multiple downloads) and paste that value here.

Source – Since my content is mostly customized to the customer… I like to put my email address here.  This way if they have questions, they won’t have to look far for my contact information.

Source ID – I typically put <Unspecified> here.  I don’t have an ID which I can share… so I use the cop-out value.

Source Release Date – This one’s easy… specify the date you started or last modified the task.  Specify in M/D/Y format. 

Source Severity – This greatly depends on the content I’m writing.  If I’m writing an upgrade to a software installation and if the previous version isn’t upgraded immediately it’ll cause damage to endpoints then this field deserves a “Critical”.  Each of the values depends on the content.  If I’m ever not sure or there is no priority to the content… use the cop-out value… <Unspecified>.

 

The remaining fields relate to Microsoft, patching and such… I typically leave these blank.

I hope this helps you decide how to fill in those extra fields in your customized content.  Leave comments below for any self imposed standards related to your interaction with BigFix, err Tivoli Endpoint Manager.

CountDown Timer

SNAGHTMLd734465During our last Week in Review broadcast, I realized we needed a timer which would provide us a visual queue for the start and stop of the broadcast.  Since our show is centered around the start of the hour and lasts for an hour, the programming was rather easy to accomplish.

I built an application which would count down to the hour and flash at the 2min warning and on the hour.  Since I have all these spare monitors on the wall, what better place to put it than up there.

Get it from CNET Download.com!