Last week Microsoft launched it's Windows Home Server Technical Library and as I mentioned, I was all caught up in the excitement and started playing around with writing a Windows Home Server Add-in of my own. Well today, I am happy to announce that I've written my first Add-In for Windows Home Server, @WHSTweet.
Version 220.127.116.119 (view change log)
@WHSTweet is a Windows Home Server Add-in that monitors your WHS health status (i.e. the little messages that appear in the tray when you have "Display Network Health Notifications" turned on the in the Windows Home Server Connector). When the health status changes (i.e the color of the icon changes), the add-in will send a twitter update. Here is a sample taken from my actual WHS twitter account @DonavonsWHS.
Get your server it's own twitter account
You probably have a twitter account already, but you will want to get another one for your Windows Home Server. A computer with it's own twitter account? Strange, I know. But if your server were to use your personal account, your followers/friends would receive your WHS status updates and they probably don't want that. For my own WHS, I setup a new twitter account named DonavonsWHS. I follow that account with my personal twitter account.
- From a client PC,click the overly obvious orange Download button near the top of this article to download the MSI installer and save it to your local drive.
- Also from a client PC, open the folder share \\server\software\Add-Ins (where server is the name of your WHS). Copy the download installation file into the folder share above.
- Run the WHS Console by double clicking the WHS Connector icon in the lower right hand corner of your client PC (the little green house with a checkmark).
- Once the console is loaded, click on Settings
- Click the Add-Ins tab, then on the Available tab, then Install for @WHSTweet.
- Once the Add-In installs, the console must be closed, then reopened.
Setting up @WHSTweet
Now that the Add-In is installed, you will need to set it up. As the service uses twitter to send out updates, we need to tell the Add-in the username and password of the account to use. Most of you probably already have a twitter account, but you will want to get another one that you will dedicate for your Windows Home Server.
A computer with its own twitter account? Strange, I know. But if your server were to use your personal account, your followers/friends would receive your WHS status updates and they probably don't want that. For my own Windows Home Server, I setup a new twitter account named @DonavonsWHS. I follow that account with my personal twitter account @donavon.
New twitter account in hand, let's setup @WHSTweet!
- Reopen the console and click on Setting again
- Click on the @WHSTweet tab on the left. It should be right under the Add-Ins tab.
- Enter your newly created server twitter account username and password.
- There are also several Options that you can set to control @WHSTweet.
Include Server Name - If you have more than one Windows Home Server (don't laugh, several of my beta tester do), you may want to know which one caused the notification. Checking Include Server Name will prefix every tweet with the name of the server. This will allow you to use one twitter account for all of your servers.
Ignore Warnings - Check Ignore Warnings and you will only be alerted for critical health notifications (i.e. ignore yellow warnings such as "New Add-In ready to Install".
Direct to – This will allow you to send direct messages (DM) to a particular user, likely yourself, instead of sending public tweets or protecting your updates. This is a more secure way to get notified of your WHS status.
Enable Tweets - If you ever want to temporarily disable health status tweets (ex: you are doing maintenance on your WHS and don’t want the tweets to go out) you can do so by unchecking Enable Tweets.
- To test if your username/password were entered correctly, you can send a test tweet by clicking on the Test Tweet button. @WHSTweet will report if the tweet was successful or in error. You need not click Apply before performing the test.
- You may have noticed the Fake Error button above. Whatever you do DON'T PUSH IT! (Just kidding, I'll cover that below)
Testing @WHSTweet in a Real World Scenario
Now that you have the software installed, you'll want to see it do something, right? Here are a few things that you can do to cause a health status change. Proceed with each at your own risk.
- Let your two year old start pulling hard drives while the system is running (I DO NOT RECOMMEND that you do this)
- Temporarily disable your firewall on one of your client PCs. (again, at your own risk)
- If you have an add-in available but not installed and you are ignoring the alert, uncheck Ignore this issue. Wait 10-15 seconds, and then recheck the box. This will only work if you have Ignore Warning unchecked in @WHSTweet.
- But the easiest way is with that Fake Error button. Remember that button from above? The one you didn't push? :) What Fake Error does is simulate a critical health problem using the WHS APIs. The simulated error look like any other health problem to WHS and to the @WHSTweet service, thusly it is sent out just like any other error condition. @WHSTweet will remove the simulated error, simulating that you resolved the error (whoa, heady) in 60 seconds.
Other things to know/Best practices
When you create your server's twitter account or setup @WHSTweet, here are some suggestions.
- Single Administrator – If you are the only person administering your WHS, then you may want to enabled "Direct to" and enter your twitter username as the recipient. This will make it so that status updates go to you and you alone.
- Group of Administrators – If you share administration duties of your WHS with a group of people, you won't be able to use direct messages (i.e. uncheck "Direct to"). In this case, I suggest that you "protect your updates" (Note: this is not a @WHSTweet setting, but something you do on twitter.com). This will let only people you approve to see your status updates. You may not want to tell the whole world that your firewall is down. :)
- Give your server's twitter account a cool avatar – You will get status updates from this account, so make the picture associated with the account something related to Windows Home Server. Try one of these that I've created or make your own. Just right-click and save to your computer.
@WHSTweet has gone through many hours of testing by some dedicated beta testers. Now I'm opening it up to the general public. I have some more features planned, but I'd like to hear from you to see what you would like to see. Send your feedback to WHSTweet@domain.com (where domain = HomeServerHacks). You can also sent me a tweet at @HomeServerHacks or leave a comment below.