Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vault-OS Core : Freeware Due January 2011 (?)

I have been making progress with my original Win32 based VOS Core service. It's been working for a long time, unfortunately until recently running my own hardcoded I2C tailored for my devices and my testing setup.

This month I am making some progress integrating a scripting language into the service, so it can be customized for other I2C setups.

This runs independently of login under any Win32 machine as a service with a display interface, whether or not anybody is logged in. It has a marquee which was also hardcoded until recently, but I've built a ring queue of strings to display which can also be customized by the operator. It can automate your entire vault running in the background and exchange VOS protocol messages on TCP-IP to supply any other devices running same with remote services.

The problem is that the scripting is running from a custom control I bought called FastScript for Borland C++ Builder. I can't release it as open source and I don't want to use some generic script plug-in because this integrates so well into the environment.

So instead of open source, what about just releasing the VOS core as copyrighted freeware to get people started in January of next year? This would get people started into the VOS system and the inventory, maintenance and archiving software would follow thereafter. The core is what runs all the time, the other software can communicate with it via IPC but otherwise are independent applications.

I just discovered how to get the Microsoft Speech API to run in a background service, so you can mark certain events and information for annunciation even before a user has logged into the computer if desired.

I will include a self-installer for the service and setup utility, they are not hard to get running, it's just configuration and script for the actual logic that the user has to enter. Still working on the code to make it friendly and flexible but it is getting there. These tools to actually edit the script are built into the core but you have to log in to use them.

The I2C sensing device I settled on is the one I spoke of many months ago that can be built for a serial port for a few dollars worth of very common parts. I also found out that with a few other parts you can turn a very common USB-to-TTL plug ($4.99 on Ebay) into a compatible I2C controller that will run on the same software. I am also working off RJ-12 phone cable for my I2C line, which is extremely cheap cabling to run throughout your shelter to connect to devices. All the components involved in this setup I am talking about are readily available, cheap to source and can be adapted/scavenged/replaced when anything breaks down. For EMP protection, you can now buy optical isolators for USB or serial ports for less than $20.00 on EBay.

This version of Vault-OS doesn't have the fanciest graphics, but it can show some very nice custom SVG monitor screens with the help of the AGG (Anti-grain geometry) library. If I make the assumption I don't have to supply the SVG graphics editor (a nice little tool like EVE would do as an external tool) then I can aim for a January release of this software.

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