On Friday the new DataSwift Helpdesk went into limited external testing with a few select clients, so it’s actually now being used for real. There are a few known bugs (and almost certainly a number of as-yet undiscovered ones) but the core functionality looks to be stable.

Still, it’s early days – hence it still being classed as a Beta release – and there is no inventory facility as of yet.  We’re going to keep to the Ticketing-only system for a while until we’re satisfied there are no more issues with it, then I’ll get started on the Inventory module.

I stumbled across this by accident, but if like me you’ve noticed that Adobe PDF files don’t show up properly in file previews in 64-bit Windows 7 or Vista, then Leo Davidson has created a handy tool that fixes the problem. It also fixes thumbnail rendering within Explorer in 64-bit Windows too (except for XP64). Although the fix needs re-applying each time Adobe Reader is updated (until they actually fix it themselves!) it’s a digitally signed application, so it should install without any issues. My Windows 7 x64 machine is at work, so I’ll have to try it on Monday and see, but by all accounts the fix is a good ‘un.

As per usual, it’s busy at work, so there’s not been much time to spend on the new help desk system. That said, the following things are now working:

  1. User creation / editing
  2. Client creation /editing
  3. Ticket creation and updates via email (including attachments)
  4. Google Maps integration for tickets (printable versions of tickets can include a map of the area, – handy for support visits!)

They may not sound like much, but a lot of the rest of the system relies on the above. In fact, the only major part missing before initial test-usage can begin is the time-management module.

Client edit form on the new Helpdesk

Client edit form on the new Helpdesk

At present, tickets created on the help desk track the time spent, but there’s no way to see how much time a particular client has used. The Contracts module will allow support agreements to be entered (along with the number of allotted hours, and the hourly rate). It will also cater for non-contract clients too.

Once the ticketing part of the system is up to scratch, the next challenge will be the Inventory module. This will link to the tickets too, so users (and support staff) will be able to look up a particular device, and see its history.

After the Inventory module will come the Knowledge Base. It will be a categorised, searchable archive of solutions to common problems. Help desk tickets will be able to link to articles (and may in time provide suggestions automatically). Users may be able to comment on articles too.

In the far distant future, I hope to provide some kind of link to our quotation system, allowing clients to access quotes on-line. Obviously this -along with most of the rest of the system- requires careful planning from a security point of view, so it may well take a while to implement.

Roundcube Webmail Logo

The developers of my favourite webmail client – Roundcube, have just announced the official release for version 0.3, which brings with it a bunch of new features and a whole heap of tweaks.

Probably the most interesting addition is plug-in support. Previously, any extra features required patching the main source of the application, which generally resulted in messy and hard-to-maintain code, which was very tricky to upgrade. Now though, there is a complete plug-in API. Hopefully this will mean a veritable deluge of useful add-ons in the not-too-distant future.

Roundcube's main mail view

The main mail view in Roundcube 0.3

For now though, I’ll happily make do with the default installation, as it already provides a handy selection of features. It may not be as versatile as SquirrelMail, but it is certainly better looking…!

Had a response from Billion support today, with a link to a pre-release version of the firmware (1.02e.RC1) which fixes the IP translation issue (and has a few other features to boot) – so far, I’m pretty impressed with the company. Assuming it’s all pretty stable now, I’ll put up a more thorough review in a week or so. Comments Off on Firmware fix!

According to a couple of people, there’s a new firmware release due shortly for the Billion BiPac 7800N (possibly 1.02e), which should fix the source IP address issue, along with adding a few extra features to the web interface. Comments Off on New firmware on the way

Not sure that we’re going to be able to get much work done at the office tomorrow morning, as we’ll be without power for a few hours. The phones should stay running (as they’ve got a decent UPS) but we’ll be without access to our servers and the Internet. Luckily, I’m planning to be on-site elsewhere for the duration! Comments Off on IT’s all a matter of power

One upshot of being a little quieter at work during the schools’ summer break is that I’ve been able to work on our new Helpdesk system. It’s now almost reached the point where we’ll be trialling the ticketing part with a few clients (there’s just a few tweaks and some more testing to go).

A screenshot of the tickets overview for the new DataSwift Helpdesk

A screenshot of the tickets overview for the new DataSwift Helpdesk

Eventually the Helpdesk will provide an integrated inventory, knowledge-base and downloads system. Much of the back-end is already present for these, but it’s getting the user-interface sorted that takes a fair amount of careful planning.

I’ve now set up my new Billion BiPac 7800N router, and it’s sitting there merrily sending packets to and fro. Only snag is that the port-forwarding doesn’t work properly – all packets appear to originate from the 7800N’s internal IP address, rather than the actual origin. I’ve logged a support call with Billion UK so we’ll see what they say.

My old Draytek 2800G router is on the way out, – it struggles to make it more than a couple of hours without resetting itself, even after reflashing the firmware. As a result, I’ve ordered one of Billion‘s new 7800N series devices to replace it. I did look at the current Draytek device (the Vigor 2820n) but it didn’t quite meet my needs, which were:

  1. 802.11n wireless
  2. Gigabit switch
  3. Built-in ADSL modem

The Draytek 2820n for some reason has only a single gigabit Ethernet port, which – seeing as I’m fairly often transferring pretty large files around – isn’t entirely helpful. The fact that the 2820n is pretty near twice the price of the Billion 7800n also was a point against it. Yes, I know the Draytek has a number of other features, such as VPNs that the Billion omits, but in my experience unless you’re working with lots of other sites using Draytek kit, it can be a pain to get things talking to each other.

In an ideal world, the new router would also support the 802.11n 5GHz standard, but as with anything technological you’ll end up waiting forever for the perfect product!

The 7800N actually arrived at work today, but since I’ve been recovering from ferry induced sleep-loss, I’ll be collecting it tomorrow. It’s actually only just been launched in the UK, so there seem to be very few reports on using it with UK ADSL connections, so I’ll put some notes up here in a few days.