Search This Blog

Tuesday, 16 June 2009 - One of our Customers is a company which sells personalized Gifts via the Internet. The personalized gifts mostly exist of a product, personalized with an image. For every order we create an order form in PDF format.

For our new website, released somewhere in 2008, we were looking for a program to automatically download the images and PDF’s and print these PDF’s on demand. From my previous internship I already knew WatchDirectory, PDF print on demand. Browsing the website of WatchDirectory I’ve noticed that they also had the program WatchFTP. So one company which solved our problems!

These images, created by the users, are automatically downloaded with WatchFTP to our local server where the gifts are created, handled and shipped. The order form PDF’s are also downloaded and printed on demand with WatchDirectory. We had some questions about tuning/configuring the products and within no time we had a reply with the solution.

In short, two top products which fit to our needs exactly.

   Niels van der Linde

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


YES! Today in Holland we celebrate "Vlaggetjesdag" (day of the flags?). It is traditionally the day the first salted herrings of the new season are sold. Most Dutch eat the Herring with raw onions, these onions were originally added to camouflage the smell of rotting fish. These days they are not really needed anymore, and Holland is divided in 2 camps about adding onions (I like my herring with onions, thank you).

The herring is sold as "Hollandse Nieuwe" (Dutch New) when it is at least 16% fat (yummie!) and prepared in the traditional way (salted and "gekaakt"). The first barrel with herring is always sold at ridiculous prices (€66,000 this year), the money goes to charity.

I lived in Denmark for a year and sadly enough, they don't sell Herring prepared the "Dutch way". Luckily, their "Sild i Karry" (Herring with a lot of herbs and Curry sauce) was super as well - actually, besides Carlsberg Porter, it is one of the main reasons for my frequent visits to Denmark.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Remotely start/stop WatchDirectory and WatchFTP services

A great free tool from Sysinternals (now owned by Microsoft) is the psexec program. With psexec you can run programs on other computers and it supports full interaction with remote command prompts. This allows you, for example, to start or stop Windows Services by running the "NET START" or "NET STOP" command.

Initial Setup

I always create a new user on the computer I want to access with psexec and name it psexec as well. I give this user administrator privileges so it can do "whatever I want". This step may not be necessary, see the psexec help (just run psexec without parameters).

Control a Service on another machine

Okay, lets assume I want to stop the WatchDirectory task "unzipbiggies" that runs as a Service on computer \\Test01. First, you need to know that when WatchDirectory creates a Windows Service, the Service name is prefixed with "watchDirectory:", so the actual Windows Service name for the task "unzipbiggies" is "watchDirectory:unzipbiggies".
WatchFTP prefixes Service names with the string "WatchFTP:".

First we need to open a command prompt on the remote computer:

C:\Users\gert>e:\bin\psexec.exe \\Test01 -u psexec -p topsecret cmd

This assumes you created a user "psexec" with password "topsecret" on the \\Test01 computer.

After a while this opens a command prompt on the remote computer, but it shows on your computer. Enter the following command to see all running Windows Services (including the WatchDirectory and WatchFTP services):

C:\Users\gert>NET START
These Windows services are started:

... snipped a lot of services....
   Terminal Services
   UPnP Device Host
   User Profile Service
   Windows Audio
   Windows Audio Endpoint Builder
... snipped a lot of services....
The command completed successfully.

To stop the WatchDirectory task, enter

C:\Users\gert>NET STOP "watchDirectory:unzipbiggies"

To start the task again, enter

C:\Users\gert>NET START "watchDirectory:unzipbiggies"

Other uses

There are a lot of other things you can do with psexec. For example when a file is detected by WatchDirectory on "this" computer, let psexec run a command on another computer. You get the idea, I guess.