Monday, December 27, 2010

Panasonic Toughbook GPS

One of my GPSMonitor users just sent me a note about how he's using the software on a couple of Panasonic Toughbook notebooks with an integrated GPS. Unfortunately the notebooks didn't have GPS software, so he tracked down several packages, one of which was GPSMonitor. Now he's happily monitoring sites across 3000 acres where he works.

So if you're looking for GPS softwar for your Toughbook, give GPSMonitor a try! There's nothing to lose but a minute's worth of bandwidth since the software is free.

This struck me as the ideal combination for the software, since you have the large notebook screen (compared with a typical GPS screen at least). If you just add in a modem card, you can even pull up Google maps as you wander around with the notebook.

It's always fun to see how people are using my software in ways I couldn't imagine on projects that are just mind boggling. I've heard about everything from fishing boats to environmental monitoring. What will you folks think of next?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Use Your Router to Block Ads

No new software releases or anything today. Just a tip to make your web experience better.

Have you ever been irritated at those ads all over the web pages you go to? I try to keep the ads fairly simple on my site, but I'm sure you've seen how bad it gets with all the blinking, animated "ooh, ooh, click meeeee!" ads.

I also want to give the kids in the house less opportunities to infect our network, so I came up with a nice way to make things a little simpler. I block the ads at my router. Most routers allow you to block web sites, and it's usually meant to keep kids from browsing to places you know they shouldn't be. Well, for some of those ads I think that qualifies as exactly what I want, so I just put the ad providers in my block list.

You can build your own list of ad providers to block by just hovering over all those clickable links and ads, and looking at your browser to see where it would send you. You may notice that some don't show you and address, so you may actually have to pop open some raw HTTP to look for those.

As an example, my new Netgear router pops up a nice replacement image whenever something tries to fetch an ad from one of my blocked providers. It says "Web site blocked by NETGEAR firewall" and fills up the spot the ad would have been using. My old Actiontec DSL modem had the same sort of feature, but put up a more generic error for the blocked ads. Both work great, so I suspect most modern routers will do just as well.

You may be wondering what ad providers I block personally, but I'm not going to give you a list. First, you may want to keep particular providers and nuke others. Second, I don't want them to be able to complain that I singled anyone out. Third, they change names, and new advertisers appear fairly regularly.

Also just so we're clear, don't go blocking the ads on MY web pages, or I'll lose out on the few cents a week I glean from those who want to see who my competitors are. :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

GPSMonitor mapping update

GPSMonitor has an update to its mapping code which isn't actually a change to the executable. The current version will automatically start mapping properly for a GPS which uses commas in the latitude/longitude rather than periods.

The application itself pulls the local number formatting information correctly from the computer, but it calls out to a web site to draw the map page. That means I need my web page to be smart enough to swap both number formats into the one my Google Map connection is expecting. It's much happier now. Here's a sample map. If you click on the marker or look in the data passed to the page, you can see it's using the European comma number format.

Also I noticed a typo which I've fixed but not yet distributed. The GGL tab should be labeled GLL. The code all uses GLL as it should, but I missed the incorrect text on the tab.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

PingGraph Released

We're winding down on code changes. There are just a couple of things this pass to make logging more usable. The log file doesn't have to exist before you start logging, and the date and time have been reformatted to be easier to use by customer request.

You can download the free demo installer for PingGraph from here, or download a .zip file here in case you have a firewall that blocks executables. Give it a test run to make sure it meets your needs on monitoring your network, then buy a license to enable all the features.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

PingGraph tutorial video

I've created a short tutorial video for PingGraph to show some of the typical patterns you can see as it runs. It's great for identifying things on the network like the effects of saturated lines, large downloads, and streaming audio and video.

Speaking of streaming video, here you go:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Version is now available for download. It's got a series of small fixes and updates in it.

It turns out that you could resize the window to be too small. The next time you restarted, it would cause an error. (Thanks for the heads up, Ray!) It nudges window sizes back to something usable automatically now instead of causing an error. You can also turn off the bandwidth tests in case the routers in your path think the larger pings are a Denial of Service attack. Third, all ping data from the previous version is copied over to the new version so you don't start over on your graphs.

Each fix is a small thing that wouldn't be a big deal to most people, but I like to get the improvements out where people can make use of them. Let me know how you like it, and go here to purchase a full license after you've had a chance to evaluate it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

PingGraph version

With the help of a PingGraph user, I was able to track down a startup problem which happened on some systems. This update should behave much better for those users. Thanks, Rick! I have also changed the default time scale to be about a minute instead of the maximum year-long scale.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quick update for PingGraph

I just put an update up for download, version

I needed to fix date parsing on the message of the day for Eropean customers which use day/month/year instead of month/day/year. It broke the message of the day parsing code.

Also, I added several more error messages in case things go wrong. It should give you a reason why if it stops working. Thanks for your patience as I work through these issues as they pop up.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

User survey

I have put together a survey for current and potential users of PingGraph to identify a few things about how they do their job how to reach people who can make good use of PingGraph. Please stop by and take the survey.

Double Release Day

Both PingGraph (version and GPSMonitor (version have been updated and are available for download.

PingGraph has a whole new design. New graphs, new data storage and logging capabilities, and much faster rendering of easily scalable graphs.

GPSMonitor now allows you to save a copy of the raw NMEA data to a text file.

In honor of the new release, PingGraph is on sale for 25% off until September 15th, 2010. When ordering, just enter the coupon code "3.0 Intro" to get the discount. Please pass the coupon code around to everyone you know!

If you have purchased PingGraph in the past, your registration code is still valid for this update. In fact, if you were running version, it should automatically pull your old registration code from the previous install and use it. If you have any problems at all, the registration code for the older version is stored here (assuming windows XP):

C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Infix Technologies\PingGraph\\key.dat

As always, GPSMonitor is completely free. No coupon, no discount, just free.

Please let me know if you run into any problems with either program and I will do what I can to help.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

C# Version Numer Tip

Have you ever tried to store data in the application properties in C#? It has some really slick abilities to store settings for you. I use it for window sizes and things like that. All you do is add data to your settings (usually found in Properties/Settings.settings in your project), then reference them. You start off by getting your application set up to use settings with this "using" statement:
using System.Configuration;

You read and write them like this:

internalValue = Properties.Settings.Default.MyNamedSetting;
// modify your internal value.

Properties.Settings.Default.MyNamedSetting = internalValue;

The tricky part is that every time you update your application version number, these settings are left behind and it creates a new set for you. How do you get around such a problem? By using a couple of the more obscure features of Properties.Settings.Default.

First, you need a way to detect when it's a new version. You can do that by creating a boolean settings entry named something like FirstRun with a default value of true. You can tell if it's your very first time to run the application at a particular version number because it will have the default value of true. Then you can set the value of FirstRun to false. By using the special built-in Upgrade() function, and saving the results, you can import your previous data just like this:

    Properties.Settings.Default.FirstRun = false;

There. Now you have a system that automatically detects version bumps, and saves all your special settings from one version to the next.