I started a little community project a few years ago called Melbourne Theatre Calendar with the aim of listing all of the theatre shows in Melbourne in a single place. It came out of frustration that when I wanted to go see a show I couldn’t easily see what was playing ‘today’ or ‘tomorrow’.
Now that the site has a lot of content, I want to expand how I can share the information starting with Twitter. The site is built upon WordPress with The Events Calendar plugin and that plugin provides an RSS feed of the next 10 events.
After playing around with some online services that can Tweet from an RSS feed, I decided I could get a better outcome for free by using Microsoft Flow.
My goal was pretty simple, at 8am every day (local time), tweet all today’s events as individual tweets from the RSS feed. No events today, no tweet. One small challenge is that the RSS feed contains the next 10 events regardless of event date so this needed to be accommodated.
A high level view of the resulting flow looks like Recurrence, List all RSS feed items and Apply to each.
In more detail, it it’s built as follows:
Recurrence, this is the easy part. Interval of 1 Day, running at 8am.
List all RSS feed items, also pretty straight forward. We can’t use the since option as the RSS feed could also be showing future events so we’ll do the filtering in the next step
The Apply to each action step is where things get more interesting and for me, actually started with the Condition action.
The finished result is pictured below but I’ll walk you through how it was created.
Choosing a new action below the RSS feed, I selected the Condition Control action.
You are then presented the condition statement area and If yes and If no sides of the condition.
The condition statement is just a true or false, yes or no test. If something IS something where the IS could be equal to, greater than, contains, does not contain and so forth. For me I wanted the statement along the lines of [date of RSS feed item] [is equal to] [todays date].
Starting on the left side of the statement, I chose the dynamic field from the RSS feed called Feed published on. When you do this, Flow automatically wraps an Apply to each action around the condition as it reccognises that an RSS feed has multiple items. It puts the dynamic field Body in in the select and output from the previous steps box for you too.
The test is is equal to.
The right hand side of the statement was more of a challenge to figure out and I turned to the Microsoft Flow Community for some suggestions after hitting a few brick walls.
As my test is related to the date only, I needed to first convert the Feed published on value to a date only format. This is achieved using the formatDateTime function with the yyyy-MM-dd format string. The end result on the left side of the statement therfore became:
With the feed item date now on the left, I needed to get today’s date to compare it to.
It was suggested I use the utcNow function but I found this wouldn’t work due to timezone differences. As I was running this flow at 8am UTC+10 this would return a value of 22:00 UTC the day before and never match the UTC date values of events that were afternoon and evening based.
Enter the getFutureTime function. By using this to add 4 hours to the returned value, I could ensure that converted date would always be the same date as the event. It has it’s own date format string too!
Now onto the the actions. I first built this Flow with the actions outputting to email. I reccomend this whilst you’re nutting out problems with your Flow as you can use obvious text to indicate whether the email was the result of the statement being true or false.
The If no was always going to be blank as if the feed item wasn’t for an event today, I didn’t want it tweeted.
The If yes was the Post a tweet action. As the RSS events were is UTC, I needed to convert them to the correct timezone with the convertFromUtc function. With this you set the timezone and the display format.
convertFromUtc(items(‘Apply_to_each’)?[‘publishDate’],’AUS Eastern Standard Time’,’f’)
One of my private clients is a photographer and he’s done a pretty good job at trying to keep pace with technology.
He made the jump to digital pretty early and worked through the issues with colour and digital print quality and has installed his own digital photo lab.
As camera megapixels’ increase, storage and file processing speed challenges start to crop up and a small business starts needingÂ serious technology such as storage systems and 10gbit ethernet.
His latest challenge to me was changing the way he shot his major yearly dance event.
In the past photos were taken and then staff would visit dance schools a few weeks later after the photos had been processed and do the selling.
The new approach this year was to shoot, retouch, print and sell on the same day at the venue to capitalise on the impulse buy. Simple. Yep. Kind of.
Enter the equipment. FujiFilm Frontier-S DX100 printer
Canon EOS 6D cameras
Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop
Canon EOS Utility
The FujiFilm DX100 is a stunning little 6 colour inkjet photolab. Inkjet you say, humf. Well this thing prints as good as it’s full sized (small car sized) FujiFilm brother. Now when I say little it’s twice the size of your average inkjet printer.
The cost is about 40c per print compared to 4c off the big brother.
My only gripe about this unit is the lack of onboard ethernet. It’s USB only which means you need to resort to windows printer sharing.
The Canon EOS 6D are his current stock camera and the requirement was for two to be able to shoot at the same time (he has a light and a dark background) and save directly to the computer. For this job we setup four camera bodies with WiFi shooting but also saving to card as a safety.
So this is where we found the first limitation. The Canon EOS Utility only allows you to pair a single camera at a time so in order to shoot with to cameras we had to have two different computers running the EOS Utility.
Canon WT.? I could not find any 3rd party software or Canon solution to this limitation. There is software out there but it is geared to remote triggering multiple cameras at the same time, not what we’re after here.
What we really need is a camera server edition which it’s only job is to receive photos from multiple cameras as they are taken.
Lightroom and Photoshop are the final pieces of the solution.
The original plan was to have a single computer renaming, processing and printing all the images. We originally set both EOS Utilities to save their files to the same location (via the network). The main reason for this was Lightroom can only have one auto import folder.
Due to the pace of the event, a single processing workstation couldn’t keep up with pace so we swapped out the simple laptop that was running the second EOS Utility and bought in another workstation.
Another frustration on mine is Lightroom’s lack of support for a shared catalogue. We have the same problem at his studio where he has 4 processing workstations. An image processed on one workstation means nothing to another unless the final product is exported.
I guess the same could be said with Lightroom and Photoshop. As Photoshop knows nothing of Lightroom edits, you need to export to then run Photoshop actions that Lightroom doesn’t have.
The final outcome is each backdrop (light or dark) has it’s own processing workflow.
Camera -> EOS Utility -> Lightroom crop and renumbering then EXPORTED) -> Photoshop actions then print from Photoshop.
In fact for the remainder of this job we are also adding a second printer so each backdrop is now truly independent.
TIP: On two of our computers, Norton firewall software interfered with the Canon EOS Utility network communications. Even after disabling it we had to completely re-pair the cameras and sometimes again when turning the computer on the next day.
Next year we will completely remove security software prior to this job and reinstall afterwards. Canon might need to look at improving the robustness of the software as there should not have been a need to completely re-pair cameras.
CANON: Multiple camera shooting please!
ADOBE: Lightroom Multiuser Catalogues please.
It’s that time in the hardware refresh cycle again where you have to replace laptops on mass, well at least it is for me.
Our main challenge was migrating users Firefox bookmarks and also the desire to capture Outlook signatures and auto-complete information without capturing all Office applications information (we wanted to start as fresh as possible).
I’ve never really dug in depth into the USMT and K2000 before now and I’ve found it in needed of a little massaging.
The USMT definition XML file for applications (MigApp.xml) included with USMT 5.0 does provide support for many non Microsoft productions including Firefox, Chrome and Adobe Acrobat amongst other. The only problem is Microsoft hasn’t had the inclination to keep it up-to-date.
Thanks to some clues from fellow ITNinja Jegolf, I found that the MigApp.xml is hard coded to look for Mozilla Firefox 3 (hello cira 2008).
USMT FIX: (assuming WAIK 8)
Edit the MigApp.xml files in both the “C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\8.1\Assessment and Deployment Kit\User State Migration Tool\amd64” and “C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\8.1\Assessment and Deployment Kit\User State Migration Tool\x86” folders.
You can also specifically add other components by adding them to the applications section so long as they exist in the MigApp.xml.
For Outlook 2010 this would be:
<component displayname=”Microsoft Office Outlook 2010″ migrate=”yes” ID=”http://www.microsoft.com/migration/1.0/migxmlext/migapp/microsoft office 2010/container/microsoft office outlook 2010/settings”/>
Save this file with XML file extension.
In the K2000, open your USMT Scan Template and under the Content Configuration tick Specify config file.
Browse and select the XML file you created and then Save the USMT Scan Template.
When you reopen this USMT Scan Template, the K2000 shows it in the Template GUI format but as this GUI is not aware of the Applications section of the config file it won’t be displayed. It does however exist and modifying and saving the USMT Scan Template will not overwrite it (an export of the USMT Scan Template proves this).
So, what have we learned:
a) Microsoft didn’t bother fixing this Firefox version number hard coding in the MmigApp.xml file. This is possibly a problem for Chrome and other applications mentioned in it.
b) KACE USMT Scan Template GUI is not aware of Applications section of config file.
c) KACE USMT Scan Templates are ALL or nothing for applications. Granularity of applications already built into USMT (anything listed in MigApp.xml) would be better.
d) the ‘Specify config file’ option in the KACE USMT Scan Templates is ambiguous as to the required format of the config file. I only got this working when I exported a template from the KACE (thank KACE support as I wasn’t aware you could extract the packages) and copied the XML.
The ability to directly save an example config or the current config out for modification would make it simple to add customisation.
Bug: The Dell VSM appliance doesn’t timeout or fail if it can’t register with VASA. It remains stuck in a retry loop. Ctl+C does stop it and show a failed message and point to a log file. However VASA is then reported as SET in the VSM console.
Hopefully this is fixed in future releases
Bug: Expired VMware certificate. I don’t believe I missed anything in the upgrade documentation whilst upgrading vCenter from 5.0 to 5.1 then 5.5 over the last 18 months.
Should VMware have flagged this during these processes or updated this certificate?
Well it seems that phone phishing is sadly alive and rampant in Australia.
Yet another client reported they had been cold called by a company, name given as Global Computer Solutions, claiming their computer had errors.
They mentioned that Microsoft had passed on information to them that this persons computer had errors on it along with their contact details.
Of course anyone with some privacy wits about them would know that Microsoft would probably be breaching numerous privacy laws if this was the case. Come to think of it, when was the last time you bought a computer and registered Microsoft Windows with Microsoft (eg giving them your personal details)?
When challenged as to their identity, the caller gave their name and a number that could be called to verify who they were. Funnily enought they have a Melbourne office.
Well, not really, they just have a Melbourne number: 03 90160451 which I suspect just redirect back to India where the call centre is. (am I suspecting too much?)
Using my trusty friend Google, I see that this phone number is listed on two other computer repair websites.
Funnily enough they have other numbers for other countries and also, gee, the company’s addres is in West Bengal, India.
I’d really like to hope that the ACCC and the phone companys would jump on these companys and disconnect their services promptly. (or at least their local services)
Graham Cluley and his guest Sean Richmond discussed this very issue on a podcast.
Check it out, it’s not very long.
(Sophos 05 November 2010, duration 6:15 minutes, size 4.5MBytes)
In fact I reccomend you use the Sophos Naked Security blog as a trusted source of information about security related issues in the IT world, covering Facebook and Twitter to general security issues and news.
They make it very accessable for all user levels. They’re on Facebook too.
To those in the IT industry or those that have some web sense, these scams are nothing new. To those that are new to this, I hope this helps educate you.
To Google, I hope this helps add to the information that is already out there about these frauds to assist those looking for information.
And that number again just to make sure Google picks it up: 03 9016 0451 0390160451
The final day in the roadtrip first took us east, back across the boarder to Mildura. Today was another 700 odd km day but we did make a few stops. We stopped in Mildura down at Lock 11 where we found it currently not active due to the river level being so high. I didnâ€™t release the weir on the other side of the island (Lock Island) is completely removable. Itâ€™s currently up on dry land possibly looking like itâ€™s having some repairs done to it.
Next stop was for lunch in Sea Lake and my first decent coffee in 3 weeks. Why does coffee just taste better in Victoria?
After another seemingly endless straight road, we arrived in Whycheproof which has the distinction of being the only town in Victoria where a train travels down the main street. Iâ€™m pretty sure that I travelled on a SteamRail trip about 15 years ago that did exactly that. Itâ€™s hard to find any information confirming that the line is currently in use, although in the past few years it seems it has been for grain transport. There is a K series locomotive on static display next to the old turntable and theyâ€™ve restored the station building.
Next stop wasnâ€™t until Bendigo for fuel and then on to Melbourne.
Sections of the road today were rolling fields of tumbling grass or weed. It was almost like driving through snow with drifts of this stuff piled up against fences and along the side of the road. It made the drive a lot more scenic that it otherwise would have been.
Today was the second last day of this epic roadtrip and to be honest, it doesnâ€™t really feel like I’ve been away for three weeks.
Much of todays driving did seem to be going through grain country again although that turned into pasture and then fruit tree and vine.
First detour today was up to Quorn, heading through the Pichi Richi Pass beside the Pichi Richi Railway. I did go on the railway many years ago, but canâ€™t remember much accept for Woolshed Flat where the engine is turned around using a triangle. (think triangle but with inward curving sides)
Iâ€™d forgotten how beautiful the terrain is through the pass. I guess thatâ€™s the whole Flinders Ranges. Iâ€™ll have to get that into another trip and next time when the train is running.
Back south, we headed into the Mount Remarkable National Park to check out the Alligator Gorge. A dull day for gorge visiting and absolutely no-one else there. It also seems to be the park of upside-down speed bumps.
I thought we might be heading down through the Barossa Valley today on mission to find big things but didnâ€™t get that far. We did however journey through the Clare Valley which is also wine country (Although Annieâ€™s Lane is the only winery I recognised).
I was surprised to see an F/A 18 Super Hornet fly over (it certainly looked like the super hornet) as we drove through the valley. I assume it was flying out of RAAF Edinburgh as part of the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) based there.
Todays primary big or giant object was the Big Miner in Kapunda. We found him and also found out that Kapunda is claimed to be Australiaâ€™s first mining town with the copper being mined there from 1842 until 1879.
From the Clare Valley all the way up to Morgan we seemed to be following old railway lines in various states from just the reservation existing to rails still existing. I get the impression this area used to be very rail heavy with three different gauge railways operating.
In Morgan we met the mighty Murray River and I must say Iâ€™m impressed at how high it is (certainly the highest I can ever remember seeing it).
We crossed the river by car ferry at Cadell and continued following the river through Ramco and Waikerie where we joined the Sturt Highway. Here we unexpectedly found another big object in the form of a giant Orange Tree. From a distance, my first comment was â€œthe big diseased fruitâ€.
Driving onwards, we were really in fruit country, driving through endless landscapes of fruit trees. This lead us into Berri, known for its fruit juice company but also evidently Australiaâ€™s biggest winery, Berri Estate. (on their sign) ? Iâ€™ve never heard of them.
Our primary mission in Berri was to find the Big Orange. Once again using vague directions and knowing that the fabled orange was now closed, we set about looking anyway. Success!
Weâ€™re now in Renmark for the night, a town (probably like many on the Murray) that has lots of houseboats.
Tomorrow onto more of the Murray and finally home.
The last three days have seen us cover over 2000km on our journey towards home. Thatâ€™s the problem when you travel so far, you have to travel back.
Day 18 was the longest by far at over 1000km.
Day 17, we did a two and a half hour tour of the KCGM Superpit which was very interesting. Although we didnâ€™t get right into the superpit, we did get to some of the internal lookouts and get to see the vehicles and buildings up close.
After hanging around for the disappointing 1pm blast in the superpit, we got on the, largely boring, road to Balladonia.
One very pleasant place we detoured into is Newman Rock. If I drove back to Perth, Iâ€™d definitely camp here. I could have happily stayed a while longer watching the two ducks in the pond.
Day 18 was just driving. We did detour about 20km along the old road (now a track) into Eucla before arriving in Ceduna for the night.
View from Eucla over the plain.
Sunset along the Ceduna jetty. (for a better shot, see Stephenâ€™s photo here)
Day 19, we drove down around Thevenard and then headed back to the Eyre Highway. After some kmâ€™s we detoured back on the dirt down south to Murphyâ€™s Haystacks and then back north-east to the Eyre again.
We detoured north from Minnipa to a bunch of rocks, namely Pildappa Rock.
This seems to be Wave Rockâ€™s lesser know cousin and although not quiet as impressive, it is still pretty interesting.
View from the top.
The other rock we went to was Mt Wudinna which is claimed to be the second largest rock in Australia.
Now in Port Augusta for the second last night of the trip.