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FarWatch (DS043)- Remote premise monitoring.

This is detailed guide to setting up FarWatch. If you have come here without an overview of FarWatch, you should probably read it first.

Monitor your home, business, via always-on broadband.

If you have a home or business with always-on broadband, you are not too far away from being able to check up on that location from any internet terminal, anywhere in the world. You're already paying for the broadband connection. The techniques described here give you another benefit from it, but without asking you to pay for further services.

If you have a static IP address, the whole thing is easier. Even for those of us without static IP addresses or Windows XP, there are answers.

Table of Contents...

Overview of FarWatch system, hardware and software.
Start of details
Setting up server, pt.1, Environment
Dynamic DNS- The answer to non static IP addresses
DynDnsUpdater- a neat fix
Setting up server, pt.2: Apache Web Server
What you do after server in place
Final odds and ends

The solution to the general problem is in two main parts. In what follows, "your PC" refers to the one at the premises to be monitored.

The first half of the solution....

- A program that will change a file on your PC. That file doesn't have to be a jpeg file, but as the solution is written up here, it is a jpeg. The image stored in the jpeg must give you the information you want about the monitored site. Some webcams can repeatedly store a recent view of what they are seeing. Programs can be written (if the system has a little extra hardware) to generate a jpeg showing graphs of temperatures and other environmental conditions, e.g. doors open or shut, etc. More simply, you could have just a program that changes what is in a page of html, including a bit of text with the data and time. This system would tell you that the power had not failed, at least. If you wired a standard thermostat to a joystick port, you could tell if the temperature at the monitored site was above or below whatever the thermostat was set to. Joysticks offer several inputs, so you could have several thermostats monitored, i.e. you could know if the premises were "hot", "warm", "cold" or "very cold". I offer a free program of this sort. (That link is to a zip file with the application, ready to run, in it. Even if you don't want to use its 1-Wire capabilities, though, you will have to set up the 1-Wire drivers, because the program isn't clever enough to know whether you are going to use the 1-Wire features, so it has to be sure it is ready.)

The second half of the solution.....

- You must set up an externally accessible web server on your PC. This isn't as bad as it sounds. An excellent package for Windows, Linux (and others?) is available free. (Apache). Setup details follow. The downside of setting up a web server on your PC is that you need to do it well, or your PC is accessible to bad people out there on the internet who may do things to your PC that you don't want. You need to set up your firewall to let you, or other authorized people, check the file mentioned above, but not do anything else. Not easy. I'm no expert. But "do-able". Just, perhaps, don't do it on the PC you have set up to access your bank account without the "nuisance" of typing in your password each time.

If you don't have a static IP address, you DON'T need a domain name (e.g. MyPlace.com). If you don't have a static IP address, you are going to acquire a domain name along with the service that tells everyone where to find the Good Stuff that comes from that URL. (If you DO have a static IP address, getting your own domain name is trivial... so simple that I haven't said anything about it here. Contact me if you have the static IP address and need help with the domain name thing.)

I'm not aware of many standard, freeware answers to the first part as described above. There are crude simple things you can do. Did I mention that I offer a free program of this sort? :-) Also, I'm working on fancier "try before you buy" (shareware) versions.

For the second part, there are good, free, well supported answers, and they are covered in this essay.

If you have come to this page without seeing the overview that I've posted elsewhere, you might want to visit that before proceeding into the details of setting up such a monitoring arrangement.

Doing It. The details.

If you want to do the whole thing really, really simply (crudely!), you only "need" a jpg that changes from time to time. When everything else has been set up, as explained below, you can access the jpg directly, at least with Firefox.

Assuming that "the file that changes" is a jpeg, or other graphic that html provides for, once you have it, a more elegant way to look at it across the web is as follows: Create a simple text file holding the following little bit of html. (Notepad is fine, Textpad, from www.textpad.com, offers some nice extra bits, if you edit text files often.) When you access that page, you can see what is going on at the monitored site from what is showing on the jpeg.
<img src="tmp.jpg">
One of the nice things about this approach is that you "divide and conquer". Get the html working in one step. Get whatever changes the jpg working in a separate step. If you want to upgrade what your system is reporting, it may be that only the jpg generator needs changing, the html may be fine as it is.

You can, of course, make it fancier!! Your "file that changes" could be the text file holding the html. (Detail: You should probably use a better name for the jpeg file.)

Details of the second part- setting up your web server.

1) Security. Security. Security.

I don't know enough about this important topic. The following is my best guess. Understand that no matter how much you know, adding a way into your system from the internet entails risk. The following is what I've done in an attempt to manage my risk. If you can tell me ways to do it better, I won't be offended... I'll welcome your input. You should research the topic for yourself, try to improve on what I've done.

Simple security, step A: Avail yourself of OS (Windows, etc) updates. It is a two edged sword, and you can argue the "do" and the "don't" alternatives. Me? I think it is better to do it than not.

Simple security, step B: Add a software firewall. Agnitum offers one called Outpost free for personal use. I actually like the interface it offers better than the interfaces of commercial firewalls I've used.

(Of course, there is also the whole gamut of anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-rootkit software and procedures. My web-serving PC doesn't do email, doesn't do a lot of web browsing, so SOME of the points of attack are avoided.)

I'm lucky... I attach to the internet via a gateway with a built in firewall. Remember, though, that firewalls have to be configured. You have to "open" some access to your system... but you don't want to open too much.

If you don't want to fool with a static LAN IP for the serving PC, and using a DMZ or port forwarding, you can skip down to "Static LAN IP / DMZ stuff done". I think the steps help with security, but you may not have the equipment or the inclination.

My gateway offers DHCP... it will assign IP addresses to any computers trying to connect to it.. if you want it to. It also offers DMZ. I'm going to put the PC for this project on a static IP address (within the LAN... the "outside world" of the internet won't know of it), and I was going to put that address in the DMZ... but as I struggled with things, I came to the conclusion that this was a Bad Idea... it made the DMZ'd PC more vulnerable that it needed to be. It seems port forwarding gives the outside world enough access, without opening the door farther than is necessary. (I tried the DMZ approach because I thought port forwarding wasn't working right. When, using one of the PCs on the LAN the FarWatch server was on, I tried to access the FarWatch page I didn't get it... I got the log in page for the router's configuration instead. There's more on this in the page I wrote about it. That information may also help you if you haven't done much with servers, etc, before. If you are having the "get log in page instead" problem, the work-around is to connect to the web via a dial-up connection, and access your FarWatch service that way, for testing purposes. As long as you are not using a computer on the same LAN as the FarWatch server, you should get what you want, not the log in page.

To put a PC into the DMZ or set up port forwarding, a range of local IP addresses will need to be reserved, i.e. taken out of the DHCP pool-of-available-for allocation-addresses, if your gateway hasn't already done this, in anticipation of the approach I am using.

On the DHCP front, don't be confused: There are probably two DHCP's in you life. Your gateway will need to specify it's IP address FOR CONNECTION TO YOUR ISP, or use the DHCP PROVIDED BY THE ISP. Here your gateway is a client of another DHCP service. A DIFFERENT DHCP SERVICE will probably be built into your gateway, this time as the server, serving the computers on your LAN, serving the computers your gateway connects to one another and to the internet.

To specify a static LAN IP address for the PC you are going to set up as a web server: Win98SE... and it is similar for other OSs, just the way in changes....

Right-click on Network Neighborhood. Click on Properties. Config. TCP/IP for your network interface card (NIC). Properties. IP Address. Specify. Also spec sub-net mask (use

When you think that's done, you should test that the PC connects to the internet, and to any appropriate computers on the LAN. (Note the word "appropriate"... it might be good to have the PC with the web server NOT connect to the LAN... but maybe you have to have some connections to it.) If you are new to all of this, you should know that re-booting Windows and/ or power cycling your gateway will often clear mysterious problems. (You should not have to do either routinely... but they sometimes help, even when they "shouldn't" be needed, after settings changes.)

I spent several hours getting everything on these fronts the way I wanted it. I was dealing with a second hand, full-of-junk PC, with a flavor of Windows I don't often use, a new gateway, etc, etc. One BIG sticking point was that with my router (and maybe most), if I gave a machine a static LAN ad dress, I had to set it's internet connection's gateway (to the router's local address) and DNS servers (to the IP addresses the router was using.) (I still didn't need to specify any proxies... they're another layer of complexity... for another day!)

=== Static LAN IP / DMZ stuff done ===

Right! Onward....

Software firewall... you might want to consider adding one of these, even if your router has a firewall. If you put your PC in the router's DMZ it may (I'm not entirely clear on this) be "upstream" of the router's firewall. In any case, you will be opening chinks in the firewall... not too many we hope, but you will need to open SOME to get the system to do what you want. If you do put a firewall in, and things aren't working, you can always turn it off for brief periods of testing. On the system I built while writing this guide, I included Agnitum's free Outpost.

=== DynDns (section start) ===

If you do not have a static IP address, and most home users won't, you need to avail yourself of one of the clever work-arounds that the geeks come up with for us.

What follows is an earlier attempt to discuss some matters that are core to several of the projects I discuss in various pages. Read it, by all means, but maybe first read my guide to dynamic dns services. Note that the service described as "free" below is now only available free for 14 days. After that, there's a charge of $20 per year. (Price as of 8/12).

Under it's skin, the internet works on numbers, not nice human-friendly URLs like SheepdogSoftware.co.uk. When you type that into your browser, the browser sends it out to a Domain Name Server (DNS), where it is translated into something like The DNS computers are out there on the internet, like the email "post offices" that most of us use. You don't often have to think about them. Things "just work", under the skin of the system.

The web server you are going to set up will have a nice friendly URL... let's say it will be FredsPC.dyndns.org

Because your server is accessed over the internet connection provided to you by your ISP, the DNS computers need to know the number ("IP address", like the 212... above). Then when people ask for FredsPC.dyndns.org, they (the DNS computers) can "tell" the calling program, "Oh, you'll find that at....".

Now... here's were it gets clever. Your computer will need to check from time to time to see if your ISP has changed the IP address you were using. If it sees that this has happened, it "calls up" the people helping you, tells them, and then they take care of making the relevant changes in the DNS servers. Spot the drawback? When your IP address is changed, there will be a short period during which people won't find you. If you thoughtlessly or selfishly set the "check my IP address" rate too high, your ISP and others will not be pleased, and you may find you have problems. Hey! If you want a "perfect" system, pay for a static IP address! If you are lucky, your router will have built in features to do the checking and updating. The rest of us can use a free program called DynDnsUpdater.

Anyway... for the "check IP address" software, and the service that keeps the DNS computers up to date, you have options. The one I use is at....


Go to the DNS Services page, and thence to the "Dynamic DNS" page (Look for the mention of the fact that the service is free.)

As I write this, I am going through everything for the second time, so I am merely logging into my account and adding a second dynamic DNS. I don't remember any significant issues for the first time user of the service. The first time I tried to sign up, I was just ignored if I put in a yahoo email address... there wasn't even an error message. I suspect similar things would happen with a Hotmail, and maybe a gmail account. Once you give it an ACCEPTABLE email address, you get sensible responses as you proceed.

Choose your URL...

You choose the first part, e.g. the FredsPC part, almost without restriction.

To the right of that, you have to use something from their extensive list.

During the process of choosing the hostname, the nice people at DynDns check your current IP address, and use that for a starting point.

I didn't "enable wildcard" or enter anything for "mail exchanger".

All being well, you'll get to page saying the hostname has been created.

It may be a little while before entering FredsPC.dyndns.org into your browser yields anything even half sensible. (It takes time(?) for "the word" to get out to everyone that needs to know). However, my very quick attempt to access the URL I'd set up came back after about 30 seconds with a "connection has timed out... server at FredsPC.dyndns.org is taking too long to respond." response. (You do realize that "FredsPC.dyndns.org is just a hypothetical, example name, don't you?)

"Server at mon277rr.dyndns.org is taking too long to respond" is probably GOOD news, though... notice the system didn't say "FredsPC.dyndns.org could not be found". The people at DynDns seem to have done the job of sending the request to the right IP address... but there was no server there, hence the lack of response!

Oh dear... as I write that a little worm of doubt arises. In the first system I set up, I couldn't access it from any computer running on the same gateway. The gateway "cleverly" just re-directed me to myself, and it didn't work. On that system, I was able to do tests either from a friend's PC, or by using an old dial up connection to the internet to "get in" by a different route. Maybe on the system I am using as I write this for you, my use of port forwarding is getting around the "can't talk to yourself" problems?

===DynDnsUpdater- a little program to make your DynDns account useful===

Anyway! We now have the help of the people at DynDns.org. As long as we keep them posted as to our current IP address, they will send all of FredsPC.dyndns.org's traffic there.

So... how do we keep them posted? Either we use DynDns support built into our router, if we have that feature, or....

From the DynDns site ("Update Clients" link... "clients" being in this context a term for the software you need), you can access information and a download link for "DynDNS Updater", the free program I've been using.

Read the advice they give, download the program archive. Unzip it. Run the installer.

I found the "Specify hostname group" item perplexing. It wouldn't accept nothing, but I don't think I have a use for the feature. I put in MyHostnames.

Next came a request for my DynDns.org login details. This isn't merely FredsPC.... it is your DynDns client information. Ordinarily, I'm very careful with releasing such things, but, if you think about it, the request for the information is necessary in this case.

Next came an offer to download your hostname info from DynDns. If you have just one host running, say FredsPC.dyndns.org, it makes sense to use this option. I declined, being afraid that the software would get set up to change the DNS entries for ALL of my DynDns served hostnames... which I didn't want, as they should send people to different computers!!

I was using Win Millennium (relative of Win98), so I declined "install as service". It was set up to start with Windows, and I'll need to remember to keep it running whenever I want my server visible.

Don't confuse the "update" DynDnsUpdater is all about with the more usual sort of "update". The more usual one is just looking for new releases, patches, etc, to improve the software you are running. What DynDnsUpdater is updating is your information in the DNS computers. Unless your application is critical, you might want to lengthen the time between checks. Every 5 minutes seems a little wasteful of their servers and my bandwidth. The "force update" is a good idea.

=== Excursion ===

When I first ran the program, it got confused, and changed the IP address to the machine's local address, 192.168...

I rebooted the system... always a good idea, and sometimes demanded, after any software installation.

I was able to fix the "192.168... problem by going into DynDnsUpdater's settings, IP Address Tab, Configure manually, "Detect from website that returns...". After I'd selected that, I hit the test button on that page. All seemed well again. I then used the Detect my IP button on the parent page ("DynDnsUpdater-Settings" / IP Address tab) and that too gave a good (non 192) address. Whew.

Oh. Until I went back to the main page. It said I had been put back to the 192 IP again. "Force update" didn't work, but at least a "there was an error" message popped up to warn me.

Back into the various pages, settings, options....

First stop, the log. Lots of helpful stuff.

Checked my router's public address via the web interface to the router. It appeared that DynDnsUpdater was trying to change me from the 192 IP to the right one. the message in the log was that my group wasn't properly configured...

Ah ha! I'd mis-entered my DynDns.org user name. Fixed that, all was well, even without a re-boot. Hurrah for robust software with good error reporting!!!

=== End Excursion ===

Under Windows Millennium, similar in others, I suspect....

DynDnsUpdater, when set to run when Windows is booted (which you want, I think) doesn't accomplish this with the usual shortcut in the startup group. If you go in with msconfig, you'll find an entry in the "Startup" tab of msconfig. Not a problem... I only mention it so that you don't worry if you notice nothing in the "startup" folder.

=== (End DynDns section) ===

=== Apache Web Server (section start) ===

Right! You have security. You have DynDns.org and the updater keeping the DNS computers aware of where FredsPC.dyndns.org is, in IP address terms. Now we can move on to putting a web server there!!!...

Before we talk about a web server, let's talk about what it is NOT....

A web browser (Opera, Firefox, or Bill's thing) is not a web server. Your web browser can display a page of html for you from your hard disk, but such a page is not being "served".

Adding a web server to your machine is a matter of installing and configuring some software. It is a bit like installing an anti-virus program. Once it is there, it just gets on with doing a job. The job of the web server is to notice requests arriving via your internet connection, and to respond with some html appropriate to the request received. It is LIKE using your browser to display locally a page held locally, but some extra work is being done.

The server I am going to tell you about is free, is widely used, and is called Apache.

(You can install just the Apache server. But I would commend a slightly braver move to you... install one of the excellent "WAMP" packages! Yes, you are doing more. You may be a beginner in these things, wanting to go a little way down the road at a time. Fine... install just Apache. But if you take my advice, you'll install a "WAMP" package, e.g. the one from www.wampserver.com/en/. That will give you the Apache server you need now, and the start of a MySQL installation, and a PHP server.... WAMP: Windows Apache Mysql and Php.

Having the Apache server is a great start down the next "avenue" of adventure in your computing life. Once you are on that avenue, you may well soon want access to MySQL (even if you love Open Office's database), and PHP. Might as well have them in place. The WAMP package does a good job.

If you take my advice, and install the WAMP package, read the following section with intelligence, skipping some bits, learning from others.

Whether you go the WAMP route, or the "just Apache" route, there will be some setting up to do! I did a fresh install of WAMP, onto a Windows XP machine, on 26 March 2012. I wish I could give you a full blow- by- blow account... I will try to do so one day!

The following is a hasty stab at an important issue.

At 26Mar12, when I installed a new instance of WAMP and tried to access index.htm via a browser running on another PC on the LAN. (Probably could have tried to access with same PC as WAMP was in, and get same result.). It "didn't work". I did a bunch of things right, but still: When I tried to fetch a page from the server I thought I'd set up, I got...

403 Forbidden - You don't have permission to access / on this server.

There are various things which could cause this. One thing that is probably part of your problem, even if not all of it, is that the WAMP package, at least as downloaded 26Mar12, is configured with "the door locked".

I think the nice people who put it together want to force you to unlock it. There are so many ways things can be set up, not all of them good, that the nice people need to fix things so that any problems are because YOU unlocked too much. How do you unlock "enough" without unlocking "too much"?? I DON'T KNOW!!! All I can tell you is what I did....

The WAMP control center gives easy access to editing the essential config file, httpd.conf. You just left click on the WAMP icon in the system tray, click "Apache", click "httpd.conf", and the file opens in editor. Make changes. Save. RESTART APACHE, if running (start if not).

Thanks to....


I found AN answer. A GOOD answer? I don't know. The following may open things up too much... but once I'd done it, I could access index.htm!!!!

First catch your rabbit... you need to find your httpd.conf file, and open it for editing. At 23Mar12, in a standard install from wampserver.com, it was in...

C:\wamp\bin\apache\apache 2.2.21\conf

The WAMP control panel gives you an easy way in, under the "Apache" heading.

In httpd.conf, look for....

# First, we configure the "default" to be a very restrictive set of
# features.

    Options FollowSymLinks
    AllowOverride None
    Order deny,allow
   Deny from all

Put a # in front of "Deny from all", and you will disable that line... you will "fix" this so that no one is turned away from whatever this section of the config file controls. I DO NOT HAVE THE EXPERTISE TO PROMISE YOU that you have not just laid your whole PC iopen to every bit of malware on the planet... but I've made the change shown above on my own PC...

ALSO, you need to find...

# Controls who can get stuff from this server.

#   onlineoffline tag - don't remove
    Order Allow,Deny
    Allow from all
	Deny from all

... and put another # in, again in front of the "Deny from all". Again you are "letting things happen". AGAIN: I DO NOT HAVE THE EXPERTISE TO PROMISE YOU that you have not just laid your whole PC iopen to every bit of malware on the planet... but I've made the change shown above on my own PC...

(Here ends the hasty, scruffy, unreliable "fixing 403 error" stuff. Sorry it is hasty. Sorry it wasn't here before now.)

For just Apache, (but it will probably need very similar httpd.conf work, too) go to...


... and from the front page go to the "http server project" pages. Browse around, enjoy the FAQs, etc, and when you are ready download the software. I have a confession: I haven't done the "verify download" that I should have done. I may be running a rogue server. I hope not, and appreciate the Apache people's attempt to save me from my lazy and careless self....

The software you want, assuming you are a Windows user who just wants to use the server, is the "Win32 Binary (MSI Installer)". It will work on a mere Win98SE machine.... maybe even something older! If your machine isn't set to hide extensions, you'll see that you've downloaded an .msi file.

Double-click on it.

Early on, you'll be advised to read the install.txt file. I think you have to finish the initial install before you can do this!

A little later, you are asked for a network domain and a server name. If you have a static IP address, I think you will have to register a domain name, and get the DNS set up to point visitors to that address... but these areas outside of my expertise. For those of us with dynamic IP addresses, the free-for-personal-use service at DynDns.org is the answer.

Let's say that you have the use of FredsPC.dyndns.org. I'm putting that (all of it) in to the Apache setup BOTH for "network domain", and "server name".

Ever the make-things-complicated person, I elected Custom install... if only to see what the options are....

I accepted the Apache Runtime, but de-selected the two sub features, Build Headers&Libraries, and APR Inconv...

I accepted the Apache Documentation.

I accepted the default directory.

When the installation was complete, there was an icon in the system tray. When I hovered, a message appeared: "No Services Installed". Double clicking started the Apache Service Monitor. You can (should?) exit this app- at least if you are using Win98, or, I think, WinMe.

In Win98, and, I'm guessing, in WinMe, you can't use the server the way it thinks you might want to use it.

Use the Start/ Programs/ Apache HTTP / Control Apache Server menu to launch "Start Apache in Console." I'm pretty sure you can put a shortcut to that in your Startup folder, and take the Monitor Apache shortcut out of it. That seems (mostly) to work.

You get a boring DOS window, title: HTTPD, no text in window, just a black console screen. This is fine! Don't worry about the fact it is empty.

Try accessing FredsPC.dyndns.org. As discussed above, you may need to do it from somewhere outside the LAN served by the gateway that is also serving the PC running the web server. (You can do it via a computer... even if it is on the LAN... which is accessing the internet via a dial up connection.)

You don't even need to put something on the PC to be served... The Apache install includes a default page of html, which gives you "It works!". (Does what it says on the can!)

If you don't get through, and your circumstances allow, you might try, for the moment, reducing your protection... turn off firewall... If that's not set right, things won't go in or out. When it is set "right", be sure it is not allowing TOO MUCH to go in and out!!! I had to give my PC's firewall (Agnitum) a rule saying....

"Where protocol is TCP, inbound, on local port HTTP: Allow it."

(Oh yes.. and earlier, I'd let Outpost set up a rule giving the DynDnsUpdater permission to Do Things.)

In my case, I was seeing timeouts, and connection refused... UNTIL I set the port forwarding to allow the serving PC, on it's static LAN address, to forward just port 80, just for TCP.

I'm still, after all these years, amazed by how much pleasure something like those two little words ("It works") can give.

To be sure the server was really working, I then edited the following file. (The file spec is one "line", but your computer's word wrap may display it across two lines. Similar situations exist elsewhere in this guide.)
C:\Program Files\ Apache Software Foundation\ Apache2.2 \htdocs \index.html
(Notepad will do.)

I changed the "It works!" to "Hi from what will be the FarWatch server."

I then saved my edit of index.html, and refreshed the page. Saw my edits!! And all this on a PC on the same LAN as the serving PC. (This will only work across the LAN, of course, if the machine you are using has the necessary access rights to the relevant files on the FarWatch-server-to-be. You can simple work directly on that machine for the file editing steps.) (I think the fact that the serving PC had a static LAN IP, and the others were getting DHCP services from the gateway made the difference. Remember: On my other system, I can't access my served pages via a PC on the same LAN.)


=== (End Apache Web Server section.. and of the section you read intelligently, if you went for the WAMP option!) ===

Now... suppose you can get a jpeg (MyHouse.jpg, say) into.....
C:\Program Files\ Apache Software Foundation\ Apache2.2 \htdocs \
Yes! From out on the net, just point a browser (Firefox can cope, at least) at....



Suppose it isn't easy to get the jpeg into the folder Apache defaults to? Let's say it is in
Edit the file called....
C:\Program Files\ Apache Software Foundation\ Apache2.2 \config \httpd.conf
Change the "DocumentRoot" entry. SAVE your edits back to the disc. You must also change the directory options setting section for the DocumentRoot directory, or you will get "Forbidden..." when you try to access the file.

I SUSPECT THAT GIVING ACCESS TO A FOLDER SO FAR UP THE DIRECTORY TREE IS A BAD IDEA.... but not a VERY Bad idea... maybe safe to do a quick "play", but then use a more deeply buried folder if the default is not satisfactory.

Kill HTTPD, if it is running. It doesn't seem to accept any commands from the keyboard, so just kill it, via Windows, the crude way, not worrying about the warning that you will "lose unsaved information", etc.

Restart HTTPD

Re-access the page. (If you don't see your changes, make sure that the page isn't coming from a cache. In Firefox, the way my installation is configured, using the "Go" button again doesn't seem (always) to fetch the page as it now is on the server, but the reload button does seem always to check with the server.)



The hard bits are done.

What's left is making the system robust. You need the right things to start when Windows starts, so that a reboot after a power failure doesn't need too much human intervention.

Have you heard? PCs are beginning to emerge with BIOSes which put us back to where we were before! For the past quite-a-few years, when a power failure happened, PCs didn't come back on when the power did, the way a table lamp would. They used to, in the "good old days", but then, for a while, it took a human finger to restart a computer that had been through a power failure. Now we are again seeing PCs that will restart themselves when the power comes back. You sometimes have to tell the BIOS that you want this option.

Of course, you can make WHAT is served up when you access FredsPC.dyndns.org as fancy as you like... but that's a story for another time.

So... what's needed for a smooth reboot?

a) The web server needs to restart. That, in a Windows 98 machine, is a matter of having the "Start Apache in Console" shortcut in your Start/Programs/Startup folder.

b) DynDnsUpdater needs to restart. That, unless you've changed things, happens because of something put in the registry during the install of the program

c) You anti-virus, firewall, etc, need to restart. They typically are installed in a self starting configuration. Be sure you didn't turn off and LEAVE off any of these things while you worked your way past the various obstacles to success.

d) The program which causes the examined file on your computer to change needs to be restarted. That will probably be a matter of a shortcut in your Start/Programs/Startup folder.

When you test your system, remember that most gateways take a little while to restore their link to the internet (40 seconds?) after a power cycle. Your computer may be ready, and try to use the link, before it is ready. The computer should, I hope, be able to nicely just retry later if the link isn't ready in time. Test this by leaving the gateway's power off until you've seen what the computer does.

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