Newsbit

Continuous Running Problems
SOLUTION: AKA from NetShift Software Ltd.

Many kiosks are expected to run continuously without problems in a 24/7 manner. To get this level of service in mission critical situations requires a battery of servers, UPSes, controlled environment in secure rooms etc. A kiosk probably has none of these and maybe is even running Windows 95 which isn't even a Server Operating System.

A recent warning from Microsoft attached below points out one potential cause of problems, however NetShift Software Ltd has been aware of these types of problems for a long time and has released a Free utility for its software users.
This utility is the NetShift AKA (Automated Kiosk Attendant).

WHAT IS AKA v2.0?
(AUTOMATED KIOSK ATTENDANT UTILITY)

AKA is a free a kiosk software utility developed as a companion product to the NetShift Public Browser Interface (PBI) software. Whilst NetShift is a kiosk client front end product, AKA is designed as a kiosk client back end product to optimise both Windows 95 and NT for 24/7 operation.

Some of its many features and benefits are:

PASSWORD ENTRY INTO SHELL MANAGER
As kiosk boots up.. X seconds (customisable) are allowed for the password entry box (to the AKA Setup manager) to be on view. As a second security option Y seconds of attempts (customisable) for password text entry time.
CONTROLLED LAUNCH OF EACH STARTUP APPLICATION
As an alternative to the 'rough and ready' launch of applications from the Windows start up folder is the ability to select the EXE's to be run and allow X seconds between the launch of each EXE. This provides for a much smoother and trouble free launch of programs that may hog system resources during their launch.
DETECT EXE FAILURE AND THEN REBOOT KIOSK
AKA continually looks for EXE failure after X seconds and will automatically reboot the system for a fresh restart.
AUTOMATIC KIOSK REBOOT SCHEDULAR
Imperative for 24/7 optimization, the system must be regularly shut down and restarted to clear cache, free up resources etc This option is provided for within the AKA Setup Manager to Automatically restart the kiosk X interval/s per day at Y Hour/s time.
OPTION - TYPE OF REBOOT
There are a selection of reboot options available in the AKA setup manager to suit your particular system operation.
OPTION - SET SHELL AS..
Main option choice would be set set shell as 'AKA Shell' so that in the event of system failure or when system is rebooting the standard windows desk top (including launch icons) is not seen, but instead a safe plain blank desk top. Or you could add a message as a full screen wallpaper instead of showing a blank desk top - for further details please send a blank e-mail to support@netshift.com with the words 'Windows Startup & Shutdown screens'.
OPTION - RUN SCAN DISK IN AUTO MODE
To further optimise the kiosk system for 24/7 operation, to run scan disc at each system reboot.
OPTION - BYPASS WINDOWS LOG IN
Required option within AKA Setup manager to bypass the Network log-in dialogue box. For this to work when running Win 95 you will need to have on your system Power Toys/TweakUI, this is free from Microsoft website (not needed for NT operation).
AUTO RESTORE MINIMISED APPLICATIONS
Normally, for security reasons when running NetShift, Windows has no task bar. If another application is run from NetShift and that application has a minimise button and minimise is selected... then the minimised application will drop off the bottom of the screen making recovery impossible and halting the user operation at this point. Auto restore looks for minimised applications and auto restores them - hey presto!
OPTION - GENERATE AN AKA LOG FILE
Option - Generate an AKA log file, useful internal log file to check to see daily run routine of AKA - has various sub options
OPTION - SYSTEMS RESOURCE VIEWER
Windows Explorer/Look up style facility from within the AKA to the rest of your system without the requirement to shut AKA down
OPTION - CUSTOMISABLE MESSAGES IF TOTAL SYSTEM FAILS
If AKA detects TOTAL failure of an EXE's to launch then to prevent the AKA going into a continuous reboot loop it will halt the kiosk and display a configurable message to the user that the system has failed. The customisable message, example: 'maintenance phone number or contact details' can be displayed on the screen.
OPTION - HEARTBEAT
The ability to switch on a heartbeat from AKA that could be recognised by third party hardware reboot watchdog. This would enable the hardware watchdog to detect a total windows system freeze as no pulse is being detected from the AKA heartbeat.
OPTION - KEYBLOCKING
Brings in the NetShift style external keyboard blocking early (as NetShift is run after AKA)

Plus other industry standard options as would be expected from a high quality software OEM: 'save configuration' 'Uninstall' etc

The AKA (PBI version) only works with NetShift v4.2 and later versions.
FREE AKA EVALUATION DOWNLOAD: www.netshift.com/utilities.html
AKA is a FREE utility, please ensure it fully meets your requirements before deploying on your operational systems.

For further assistance on AKA and NetShift please register with our Support Team by downloading the very latest NetShift PBI software from our website at: www.netshift.com/tryit.html

FOR MORE DETAILS ON THE MICROSOFT PROBLEM please visit:

http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/q216/6/41.asp

Computer Hangs After 49.7 Days
The information in this article applies to:
Microsoft Windows 95
Microsoft Windows 95 OEM Service Release versions 2, 2.1, 2.5
Microsoft Windows 98

SYMPTOMS
After 49.7 days of continuous operation, your Windows 95-based computer may stop responding (hang).

CAUSE
There is a problem with the timing algorithm in the Vtdapi.vxd file.

RESOLUTION
A supported fix that corrects this problem is now available from Microsoft, but it has not been fully regression tested and should be applied only to computers experiencing this specific problem. If you are not severely affected by this specific problem, Microsoft recommends that you wait for the next update that contains this fix.
To resolve this problem immediately, contact Microsoft Product Support Services to obtain the fix. For a complete list of Microsoft Product Support Services phone numbers and information on support costs, please go to the following address on the World Wide Web:
http://support.microsoft.com/support/supportnet/default.asp

The English version of this fix should have the following file attributes or later:

For Windows 95, OSR2, OSR2.1, OSR2.5:
Date Time Version Size File name
------------------------------------------------
6/23/98 2:44pm 4.00.950 18,570 Vtdapi.vxd

For Windows 98:
Date Time Version Size File name
------------------------------------------------
6/22/98 3:48pm 4.10.2012 18,944 Vtdapi.vxd

NOTE: Due to file dependencies, the most recent hotfix or feature that contains the above files may also contain additional files.

NOTE: If this product was already installed on your computer when you purchased it from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and you need this fix, please call the Pay Per Incident number listed on the above Web site. If you contact Microsoft to obtain this fix, a fee may be charged. This fee is refundable if it is determined that you only require the fix you requested. However, this fee is non-refundable if you request additional technical support, if your no-charge technical support period has expired, or if you are not eligible for standard no-charge technical support.

Microsoft has confirmed this to be a problem in the Microsoft products listed at the beginning of this article.



Newsbit furnished by:


A: NetShift Software Ltd.
A: Hughenden Yard, Marlborough, Wilts,SN8 1LT, UK
T: +44 (0)1672 511 094
F: +44 (0)1672 511 078
E: Anna@netshift.com
W: www.netshift.com

Thanks Anna!


Thanks Kinetic!

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