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Family Diary for Windows Home Server Released

Malcolm Ball from MBALL Business Solutions Ltd. recently contacted us to tell us that his Family Diary application  for WHS V1 has been released.

First, a bit about Malcom’s business MBALL Business Services Ltd.:

Services

MBALL Business Solutions was set up in 2001 to provide staff to organisations for the management of their projects. We have many years experience in Project Management, PRINCE2, Business Analysis and building successfull client relationships.

We have managed projects for public, healthcare and private sector organisations and are confident that we can provide a quality service at a reasonable price. Check out the Previous Projects page to see details of past clients and projects.

Software Development

We have over 20 years experience in software development, database analysis, design and development and Windows application development using Microsoft technologies.

About Us

In the Beginning:

In 2001 I made the decision to set up my own company to offer project management services. I obtained my first contract with Sefton Council in Liverpool soon after. I worked on a number of interesting projects at Sefton Council not least a project to install Alley gates to alleyways around the council area. This was an interesting project working with outside agencies for the installation of the gates and maintenance of keys.

The Growing Years:

Since that very first contract I have managed to continue gaining work throughout the years and getting valuable experience in IT technologies as well as Project Management methods.

Where we’re going:

In the last year I have diversified from just doing project management to developing software for both business and pleasure. The latest product suit is Family Diary which provides a database of appointments and contacts for family and friends.

At present there is only one working member of the team which is me. If products take off in the future I may be in a position to employ other people.

Team:

Malcolm Ball

The Chief cook and bottle washer, I manage the company and do the work. I left school in 1970 and joined the Army (Royal Corps of Signals). I served in Northern Ireland, Hong Kong, Germany and Blandford and York in the UK.

I left the Army after serving over 22 years in 1993. On leaving the army, I secured a position as development manager for a small software company based in Cardiff, Wales where I built up a team of 5 people to develop a software application to manage project costs.

I left Cardiff in 1996 to join an up coming company called PWA Personnel Systems Ltd. PWA was one of the leading HR providers in the UK and was eventually taken over by Great Plains and later Microsoft.

I left Microsoft in 2001 to set up my own company and offer project management to public and private sector companies.

And a little background on Family Diary:

Description

Family Diary is a suit of applications to allow you to set up a database of appointments and contacts for family and friends. Currently the suit consists of the Windows Service, a Windows client application, an Outlook Add-in, a Windows Phone 7 application and a Windows Home Server Add-in. These programs are described in more detail below.

Windows Service

The Family Diary Service is a Windows Communications Foundation (WCF) service that is installed on your server and should run all the time. The service provides access to the database through stored procedures on the SQL Server database. When the service installation program is initially run it installs and runs the service, then creates some rules in your Windows firewall, to allow remote access on ports 8088, 8089 and 8090. Port 8089 is used for access from a workstation on your internal network with a Windows account matching a user account on the server.

Port 8088 is used by remote clients who don’t have a matching Windows account. These accounts must have a Member account set up within Family Diary with a User Name and Password, the remote client is authenticated using this User Name and Password along with the Windows Home Server secure certificate. If you have a non-standard installation of Windows Home Server such as a branded version, or you have installed your own certificate for client authentication, you may need to do some additional configuration to make the system work, (please contact us for information).

Port 8090 is used for Windows Phone 7 access using a User Name and Password in the Family Diary database.

Windows Client

The Windows Client for Family Diary is developed using the Microsoft.NET framework version 4 and requires this to be installed on your computer before installation. When the program is first run you will be requested to enter the name of the server where the Family Diary Service is running, once entered you will not be prompted for this again unless connection to the server is lost.

The product is designed with touch screen in mind, so you can navigate around the system using either touch or using the mouse. There are a number of views of appointments, these are as follows:

Day View

This view shows all appointments for the selected day and member, double clicking on an appointment allows for editing or deleting the appointment. If the appointment is a recursive one, a recursive icon will be displayed and right clicking the icon will bring up a menu to allow moving through the recursive appointments.

Month View

Month view allows you to see all appointments for the selected month and member, it is similar to day view but shows all the appointments for the month.

Member View

Member view displays all appointments for the selected member.

Outlook Add-in

The Outlook Add-in allows you to import and export appointments and contacts to and from Family Diary. Before you can carry out these operations you will need to connect to the server, each time Outlook is run you need to connect to the server. The Family Diary functions are only displayed when Outlook is in either the Calendar or Contacts pages. You first need to set up the server and connect to it using the Settings button. Once the server is set up you can set it to connect automatically when you run Outlook, however, this may slow down access to Outlook depending on the speed of your network and server. If this becomes an issue you can switch this off and connect only when you want to interface to Family Diary.

Windows Home Server Add-in & Stand alone Configuration Program

This add-in allows you to start and stop the Family Diary service and to set some communications parameters. The WCF service uses message buffering to send and receive data to and from Family Diary clients, depending on how many contacts and appointments are in your database you may need to increase the buffer sizes, you can do this on the server through the add-in.

You can change the default name for the diary to one of your choice, the default is Family Diary. You can also set a flag to disable access to Members, Categories and Contacts for the client application. This allows you to control access to these areas and only allow people with access to the add-in to create Members, Categories and Contacts.

Windows Phone 7 Applications

This client application can be downloaded from the Microsoft Marketplace and gives you access to most of the functions provided by the Windows client. This provides for appointments and reminders, contacts and members. Please see the screenshots for more details.

Right now, the suite runs on WHS v1 and a WHS2011 version is under development.

This application is intriguing and I  plan on reviewing it in the near future.  The cost is £35.  Check it out!

MBALL Business Solutions, Ltd.Family DiaryFamily Diary Downloads