Sun 20 Mar 2005
On the cusp of ...
Category : Commentary/cusp.txt
Already, there have been a few downloads of WebServer Monitor. I hope they're all doing fine.
Actually, it's a really simple (and, maybe, limited) application but it represents a few opportunities.
For a long time, I was hoping to be able to configure my server remotely, through the Remote Login/SSH secure shell mechanism (and a Mac-like interface), but in such way that the same code will work whether I'm doing something remotely or working locally on localhost.
So, WebServer Monitor is actually a technology demonstration - that the idea can work - you use the same application to configure a server locally, as well as remotely (where the application runs on a remote roving machine).
Actually that's how it works with the Admin application on OS X Server but I'm not sure how they did it - the important thing to me is that I know how to do it myself, too.
Now, this opens up a few opportunities. One, WebServer Monitor can be improved no end - provide log analysis, graphs, real-time monitoring of the activity, etc. I'm sure I will get suggestions soon.
Also, now that we can do something to the Apache config file remotely via the user fiddling with a graphical interface, why not do more? Turn on PHP, virtual hosting, WebDav, etc...
Why stop with Apache? Do DNS, Mail, the whole ISP-in-a-box idea. I'm thinking about the Mac Mini. Once you've turned on Remote Login in the Sharing Preferences, you may never need to touch that machine anymore. You can do everything from a Mac-like interface remotely. Make it dead easy for a normal human being.
I come back to the Ultimate Business Machine idea - the Mac Mini as the Ultimate Business Machine - one that a small business can base their complete operations on.
So, we may be on the cusp of great things ...
Category : Technology/WebServerMonitor.txt
I've been using this for about two years. I built this, in AppleScript Studio, even before I built Sendmail Enabler, and way before Postfix Enabler.
I've been using it to monitor my web server log (i.e., the Apache log file) remotely from wherever I happen to be. It's been quite useful, knowing which pages people find useful on my site, as well as all the places that happen to refer to something that I've written.
But I've never released it because it was slow (if you're trying to load in more than 3000 lines of server log records using AppleScript Studio). And, also, because I think it'll bring me even more queries than I have time to answer, e.g., in order to use this, you'll have to know how to set up an auto SSH (Remote Login) connection on the command line first. Even though you only have to do it just once, it's really too difficult to explain.
But, now, I think I've solved it. Both questions. Firstly, I've re-written it in Objective-C and it's fast enough to load in, say, 10000 lines of log records reasonably quickly.
Then I've also, finally, found the time to write a utility that will help a user set up the SSH (which means Secure Shell) connection from whatever machine (an iBook, say) he wants to use to monitor his server from - with just one click and without knowing any Unix. All he needs to provide is his password for the administrator account on his server machine.
He does this in the Preferences Window in WebServer Monitor, which appears automatically when the program launches, if an SSH connection to a server machine is not yet set up :
As shown, in the picture above, you can set up a Remote Login connection to your server machine from your roving iBook, with just one click.
Once you're done, you can do one more thing from your iBook - set up the server's Apache log file so that it'll report referrer information (i.e., the pages that refer to pages on your web site). The Apache log file is not set up that way, by default, but you can change it.
With the WebServer Monitor set up to show the referrers' URLs, you're just one click away from knowing how your pages have been referred to from elsewhere :
This is one of the fun things about looking up your referrers. You never know what might turn up. For example, that referrer URL above will lead me to :
Have fun, using WebServer Monitor. You can download it from here, right now.
Category : Technology/wwdc2005.txt
Leon Chen at Apple WWDR (Developer Relations) asked me if I would have any problems putting this up on my web page.
Unfortunately, I won't be able to go. Have a great time, those who are going.