Tag Archives: Whiist


Whiist plans, past and future

A question I’ve been asked fairly often is “will there be a version of Whiist for Vail?”. Before yesterday, my reply has been along the lines of:
Absolutely! Infact there’s going to be two versions :) “Whiist Classic” will essentially be the current version of Whiist, upgraded to Vail and with some usability and feature tweaks. “Whiist XXXXX” (where XXXXX is a designator I haven’t thought of yet) is a different take on the same concept. It still solves the same problem – sharing your home content with the outside world – but is simpler and more elegant. It’s a complete rewrite. There’s no ETA (mostly because Vail has no ETA!), but I have most of the features working in prototype/proof of concept form on IIS7 & .NET 3.5 machines.

After yesterday’s news, this would be my answer today:

No. As it stands today, Vail is not a product I find enticing or can see being useful in my home. I believe that to deliver an excellent product, particularly one developed in your spare time, it must be something you will use on a regular basis. At this point it’s unlikely I would use Vail (if I bought a new WHS box it’d be for the hardware and I’d put WHS V1 on it), so I would not feel comfortable creating an add-in for it.

My personal thoughts:

I feel that saying “Microsoft have dropped drive extender” does not do justice to the magnitude of what’s been removed:

  • No data duplication to ensure against drive failure.
  • No “just plug in a new drive to add extra space”
  • No single-storage area.

These three features are at least 50% of what made the original WHS such a killer product, and so easy to recommend to family and friends. It would be hard to suggest these people invest in a product like Vail that doesn’t offer easy storage expansion, and will likely require a subscription to some cloud backup service to guard against data loss.

What really kills me though is that an amazing foundation for a new product range seems to have basically been sacrificed, with the marketable parts harvested for the Small Business edition. It’s hard to see where the “Home” in Windows Home Server V2 is anymore. Media Center is gone, drive extender is gone, and in return they’ve added….64-bit support? For all those machines with 8GB RAM that OEM’s will never ship?

There’s an old joke that it usually takes Microsoft until version 3.0 of a product to get it right. At the moment, Windows Home Server seems to be going in the opposite direction.

Posted via email from Andrew Live!


Life update!

It’s been a wee while, but then I’ve been a wee bit busy lately!

Part of that is because I’ve left behind the sun-drenched beaches of Los Angeles for the slightly chillier climate of the Bay Area – San Francisco to be precise. Despite dropping about 10 degrees in temperature (5.5 degrees, Celsius readers) I’m very much enjoying the change. It’s nice being back in a city where walking and public transport are a part of everyday life, definitely an improvement over the car-centric nature of Los Angeles. Also I’m living in the North Beach district which means I have a huuge number of bars, restaurants and shops just a few blocks away, which is fantastic for those summer weekends and evenings :)

And with a change of city comes a change of job! About a month ago I started at LucasArts and so far it’s been brilliant. I’m part of a team working on something that’s fantastically exciting, but also highly highly confidential and several years away. I’ve always avoided talking about work here other than in the abstract and that’ll continue, but I do look forward to the day when I can say more :)

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Whiist and Power Pack 1 / Media Smart Server

Over the weekend I uploaded a new version of Whiist that fixes an issue with Power Pack 1 for Windows Home Server, and the remaining issue with the HP Media Smart Server.

The Power Pack 1 issue was due to the use of an undocumented (oops!) interface that was removed in PP1. Thanks to Brendan for pointing that out to me.

The HP Media Smart Server issue was caused by Whiist not preserving some HP-specific markup stored in the XML file which controls the list of website links of the public / private homepages.

The HP fix has been tested by several volunteers for a few weeks now without any sign of problems. I’ve removed the warning relating to the MSS from the Whiist homepage, however please note that Whiist still remains beta software.

Aside from these two changes, and some minor bug fixes, this release is identical to the previous 0.80 release. I know it’s been a while, but stay tuned for a proper new release soon :)


Windows Home Server saves Whiist!

This week I tried installing Mac OSX 10.5 on my PC (more on this later) so I could have a play with the iPhone SDK. I’m a little underwhelmed by some of the restrictions, but there’s still a couple of ideas I’d like to prototype and see what becomes of them.

As my plan was to dual boot Vista/OSX I used GParted to shrink my main partition and create a little 20GB one for OSX. Then during the OSX install I selected this partition and formatted it with the Mac’s HFS+ filesystem.

At least that was the plan.

Somehow (and I blame the cat for distracting me) I managed to format both partitions and as a result blitzed my main Vista install. Document, settings, music, Whiist, (and most critically of all, my Counterstrike config file) all gone in the blink of an eye*. Yikes!

So, for the first time ever I found myself breaking out the Windows Home Server restore CD, placing it in my PC and rebooting with crossed fingers. And it worked, flawlessly and amazingly well. I clicked through the wizard, selected the backup from the night before, and a few hours later my PC was back in the same condition prior to my little faux pas.

Having been a Windows Home Server user since the early betas I’m well aware of its features and functions, but this is the first time I’ve ever needed it to save my bacon and it passed with flying colors. 

* Ok, I confess. I have multiple backups of these that should handle most combinations of disaster. Some of them lag by a week or so though and reinstalling and restoring everything would have been extremely tedious. And my Counterstrike file with my lovingly crafted bindings really would have been gone forever!


With a new version of Whiist available, and I supect many new owners of WHS boxes, I managed to exceed my monthly bandwidth limit which resulted in this site being offline for a few days. All should be good now. Many thanks to my hosts at AQHost for comping me extra bandwidth for the rest of the month, and Simon at dancingbear.me.uk for temporarily mirroring Whiist.


Customize your Windows Home Server homepage

From questions I’ve seen on the Windows Home Server forums one of the most sought after customizations is changing the default image on the homepage of your server.

If you’ve tried to do this yourself you’ve probably found it isn’t very easy. You need to login via Remote Desktop, find the correct file, and then use an image editing program to paste your new image into the correct place, then resave the file.

Yeah, I never found the time to change mine either :)

Anyway, one of the goals of Whiist is to make managing all of the websites on your Windows Home Server a great deal easier, and to this end the latest version of Whiist (0.8) now includes a simple editor that lets you change this image.

Go to the Whiist options page using the settings button on the menu bar and you will find the option to customize your home page, along with a preview of how the page will look. In the editor select an image and use the mouse to position/zoom as desired. When you click ‘Apply’ Whiist will generate a new image for your Windows Home Server page and save it in the appropriate place.



I’m still working one a couple of “bigger” features for Whiist that I hope to have ready in the new year. I’m not quite ready to say what these are yet, but if you like blogging and photo galleries I think you’ll be happy :)

Merry Christmas!


Whiist and HP MediaSmart Server

Since the release of HP’s Media Smart Server I’ve had emails from several users who have encountered problems while using Whiist. While many MSS owners are using Whiist trouble-free, some have encountered problems where they are either no longer able to access websites created by the HP server, or use Remote Access.

Once person has claimed that Whiist overwrites settings required by the HP MSS – I can assure you that this is absolutely false! I very much believe that Whiist behaves as a “good citizen” in respect to Home Server;

Unless you choose to add/modify/remove a website or link, Whiist does nothing.

When you DO choose to add/modify/remove a website or link, Whiist only changes the item in question.

Whenever Whiist does create/modify/remove a website it does so via the IIS interface built into Windows Server. Whenever it changes a website link, it does so according to the specs in the Home Server SDK.

If you WERE to edit or remove a website that has been created by the HP software then I can completely see that this may cause problems. Within the next few days I’ll be releasing a version of Whiist that hides the HP entries from view so they cannot be accidentally removed or altered.

Clearly there IS a problem and for that reason I would recommend that if you are a HP Media Smart Server you proceed with caution if installing Whiist – and I would certainly recommend that you do not modify/remove any websites or links you have not created yourself.

If you have installed Whiist and are experiencing problems then I deeply apologize. please follow this link and provide as much detail as possible and I’ll endeavor to help you out;



I won!?…. I WON!!!

Andrew GrantWow. Just. Wow. Out of all the entries submitted for Microsoft’s Code2Fame challenge, and from the three excellent finalists, Whiist managed to take first place!

So here’s how it went down;

Early on the Tuesday morning Liz and I flew to Seattle. Microsoft had paid for my flight so we cashed in some airmiles for Liz and then upgraded to first class – I felt it would help me get into a better state of mind for the competition :) 

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Code2Fame / Whiist 0.76

I’ve just uploaded the latest version of Whiist, v0.76. This is basically the version that I submitted for Microsoft’s Code2Fame challenge but fixes a bug where new Photo Albums would always be linked on your Windows Home Server homepage.

Speaking of which, I thought I’d post the video I put together for my Code2Fame entry. I had to cut out a lot to fit into the required five minutes, so when I get time I’m planning make a couple of “How To” videos from the footage.


New Whiist – now with new tasty website security.

For the adventurous (and Windows Home Server-owning) types amongst you there a link at the bottom of this post to a pre-release of the next version of Whiist.

Because this version features a lot of changes I’m going to wait a few days until I’m sure there are no obvious bugs lurking before I update the main page. I’m pretty sure this version is already good to go, but Whiist now has a lot of users so I figure I should be a little cautious before unleashing anything too drastic :)

Whiist Security

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