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FarWatch (DS043)- Remote premise monitoring.

This is a second attempt to explain FarWatch. It goes into more detail than the first. You should probably try that first, if you haven't already read it, and decided you want to know more!

If you already understand the ideas behind FarWatch, there is also a keystroke-by-keystroke How To Guide to setting it up.

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.

This page is to give you an overview of what's needed.

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. An old Win98 PC is sufficient for the task, and the other stuff you need is free!

The first half of the solution....

- A program that will change a file on your PC. 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 date and time. This minimal system would at least tell you that the power had not failed, and be a good springboard to build out to a more sophisticated solution if it, the simple trial, worked well. 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 have released a freeware program that will "do" for what you need. There are more details about it on my details of setting up FarWatch page. It can... but does not have to... interface with a MicroLan, to report temperatures at the monitored premises.

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.

Something you might think you need....

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.)


Elsewhere, I have written up how to set up a web server... (Don't be put off (as I was)... it is not hard or expensive. An old Win98 box will do.)

- A web server running on your PC, geographically, physically, actually at the site you want to monitor. This is an order of magnitude more clever than having a web page on someone else's server. My page, the one you are reading now, is in that pedestrian camp. My office may have burned down by the time you read this, but the page will still be available because it comes to you from a server elsewhere.

Once you have your own server... and it isn't just for the Super Geeks... you can post much more immediate, interesting stuff. The instructions elsewhere will show you how to set up the respected, open source, freeware server called Apache. (Also available in Linux.)

Elsewhere, I have written about what is, and how do you set up a DynDns account...

- An account with DynDns.org. This will allow you (or anyone you give the URL to) to access your server, even if your internet service provider (ISP) does NOT supply you with a "static IP address". (If you are wondering what that is, you probably don't have one... but it doesn't matter.... DynDns solves the problem.)

Elsewhere, I have written up how to set up the DynDnsUpdaterprogram...

- A little free program which will take care of the necessary task of periodically checking to see if the IP address your ISP has assigned to you for the moment has changed, and if it has, informing the nice people at DynDns.org of the change, so that they can take care of what's needed so that people looking for your "stuff" can still find it. N.B.: You may not need the updater. Some routers have DynDns support built it... those routers can be set up to do the updating as needed.

Elsewhere, I have written up how to set up your firewall, etc...

- Your firewall, etc, in order to close some of the gaps in your defenses which will open if you undertake this project without attention those "details".

So! You have broadband? What are you waiting for? Head over to my keystroke-by-keystroke How To guide to setting FarWatch up.

Old friends... Quote server...

Old friends of FarWatch may remember that at one point there was a quote at the bottom of the page. The code for that has been removed for the time being, but, speaking of quotes....

(Something like the above can be added, free, to any webpage with one simple line of Javascript. Thank you BrainyQuote for making this available!)

To search THIS site.... (Go to the site's above, and use their search buttons if you want to search them.)... Click this to search this site without using forms, or just use...
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Ad from page's editor: Yes.. I do enjoy compiling these things for you... I hope they are helpful. However.. this doesn't pay my bills!!! If you find this stuff useful, (and you run an MS-DOS or Windows PC) please visit my freeware and shareware page, download something, and circulate it for me? Links on your page to this page would also be appreciated!
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