Friday, May 2, 2014

Automating Crystal Reports

Crystal Reports is a very useful tool for businesses, but automating Crystal Reports can be costly if you are using tools like Crystal Enterprise or one of the other solutions/services that are out there. In this article, I am going to show you how to automate Crystal Reports for free using VBScript, Command Line code and a free eMailing solution called Febooti. Febooti must be installed for this to work properly. If you have another free emailing solution, feel free to use it of course. I choose Febooti because it's my personal favorite/preference to work with.
Firstly, with this solution the Crystal Report(s) have to have their record selection formulas hard-coded with no parameters if these are to run automatically with no human interaction. Once your report has been set up to produce the desired results just by running the report, we are ready for the next steps to automate the running, exporting and eMailing of the data.
The next step is to set up the VBScript file to run your report and export it...the following two links are to the VBScript code(s) on pastebin.com:
Crystal Report - Export to Excel
Crystal Report - Export to PDF
Crystal Report - Export to Text Delimited
Crystal Report - Export to CSV
Copy and paste the desired code and change the report paths and database log on information accordingly. Now we can create our Powershell or CMD Batch file to run our VBScript, rename the report, eMail it and archive it (if desired, any of those steps can be omitted or enhanced of course: it all depends on exactly what you want to accomplish).
Crystal Report - Run, eMail and Archive CMD
Change the batch file code accordingly - paths, output filename and extension (excel/xls in this example, change "xls" to "pdf" of course if using the PDF version), etc to accommodate your specific needs. Once you've saved your batch/powershell file, schedule it using the Windows Task Scheduler and you're all set!
Stay tuned for more helpful hints, code and projects in the making! C/O SkiyeLab

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Businesses in Pittsfield MA

Winter is a tough season in the Berkshires for local businesses. Many of the businesses on North Street in Pittsfield, MA rely on foot traffic and window shoppers for steady income. This past Saturday (04/05/2014), I walked around North Street trying to generate some business of my own by stopping into the local stores to offer my computer services. Unfortunately, it was a rather disappointing venture. There was a common refrain among the shoppe owners - that their businesses were barely surviving. As an up-and-comer to the local business scene, it was hard to listen to the majority of owners and managers tell me their hard-times story: unless they were just telling me this to get me out of their hair - but that's hard to believe since every story had that eerie similarity. It seems that even the main drag of Pittsfield, MA - the heart of the town - is not the ideal locale for a new business such as mine.
SkiyeLab is not particularly a retail business, although I do sell refurbished computers and other electronics. My business relies on the services I offer for income. I fix computers and other electronics as well as build websites, offer consulting for businesses and do networking for home or office businesses. It seems no matter which aspect of business you're in - retail, professional services or both - the town of Pittsfield, MA is a slow-going place for your business to exist; even on what is supposedly the busiest street in the city.
This saddens me greatly. It gives me little hope that my business has a chance in this town - before it has even really started to get off the ground per-se. But, this also inspires me to make my business more unique. If what I offer is like no other place around, that would maybe be enough to bring enough clientele through the doors to not only keep my business afloat, but for it to potentially thrive in a town where most of these other businesses are failing.
Maybe no matter what I do, the business will fail though. Maybe it is the local economy? Maybe it is because the local per-capita income is roughly only $20k/year and that over 15% of the families live below poverty? I don't know for sure of course: this is purely speculation. But I do know what 99% of the business owners I spoke with yesterday told me - and that is "business is tough, especially this time of year."
Anyway, if you do happen to need computer or electronics services and you reside in the Berkshires, you can count on SkiyeLab.
Thanks for checking in! Stay tuned for more...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back Up Your Files!

We all have important files, whether it's just a folder full of junk or it is priceless family photos. Many people make the mistake of trusting and relying solely upon the storage in the drive from the device they use most. If that drive were to become inaccessible for any reason, your files are in essence trapped. For convenience sake, we are going to go with the trusty old Laptop/Desktop computer scenario in this post, but even if your file cabinet is in the clouds - it doesn't mean they're safe!

Creating a shared folder backup system that's fast and reliable is hard with Windows. Using the command "xcopy" copies and replaces all files on the target - which isn't necessary unless the files are new or have been modified since last backup, right? Using an external programs like Veritas can be a lengthy process as well. The comapay we initially created this system for was backing up nearly 1TB (1000GB) of data daily. We sought out a way to avoid this using a computer built from old spare parts, an external drive made from spare parts**, and a free operating system - Ubuntu (xfce release is the one we prefer, but you could do the same with any of them).

After we got Xubuntu installed on the tower, we installed samba file sharing as our root login (sudo apt-get install samba). By this time we added the computer name and a test-user to the Active Directory and allowed it Administrative privileges. After restarting the linux machine, log in as the network user by clicking "Other" and typing the full user name - for example: "NETWORKNAME\test-user" and enter that user's password that was applied in the Active Directory user set up. Now that a local user has been created on the computer, we log off and log back in as the root to allow our new user root privileges. Once that has been done we are ready to map the network drives.

We then created folders in the /media directory to map the network folders to. We added the network paths to the "fstab" file contents (sudo gedit /etc/fstab) of the folder we wanted to map and back up. An example line from that file is:
"//192.168.0.121/E$ /media/edrive cifs username=user,password=pass 0 0"

Once you get all of them into fstab, save and close that file then run the command "sudo mount -a" - if you receive any errors, you likely have input something wrong, if not, you should now be able to browse those folders where you mounted them.

Next, we write up a quick #!/bin/bash script to run the "rsync" command for those directories to sync with our external backup drive (for example: "rsync -aq /media/edrive /media/backup/edrive"). After, we used the "chmod" command to make our file useful without without having to use the sudo prefix or enter a password so it could easily be made into a scheduled task to run automatically. For this, we used "crontab" to set up the task execution frequency/schedule (crontab -e).

With that, we're done. In summary, what we've accomplished is making a faster more efficient backup system by only copying files that are new or have changed since the last time the script was run. Just keep the computer on and let it sit and do all the work for you quickly and efficiently while you enjoy your coffee and teach someone how to toggle the "O.N. / O.F.F. Modulator".


*Please note, the examples above will have to be altered slightly to accommodate your setup and also that the first time the script is run it will perform a "full backup" from the specified locations (unless the files already exist in the destination).
**The external drive was the only cost. We purchased a "shell enclosure" and used an extra sata drive that we had from another computer whose motherboard died. Please do make sure the one that you use has enough space to perform the backup before running it and it is in relatively new condition. You don't want your backup to die too, do you??


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

SkiyeLab Computers

SkiyeLab Computers offers computer related services ranging your computer needs at competitive rates. We have over 20 years of combined computer experience to suit your needs. We understand finding a good and reliable computer tech is like finding a good mechanic - once you find one, you stick with them. So why would you switch to us? Well...simply because we're better.

Servicing computers in the Pittsfield, MA and surrounding areas.

Please contact us for more details and solutions to your computer problems.

Services Offered:

  • Computer Repair/Hardware Installation
  • Operating System Upgrade/Install
  • Virus Removal/Computer Diagnostics
  • Web Design and Coding/SEO
  • Graphic Design/Logos
  • Consulting
  • Home and Business Networking
  • Database Management
  • Crystal Reports
  • Data Services (Contact for Specific Details)
  • Server Administration
  • Simple Apps Development
  • Windows, Mac and Linux fluent.
Of course there's more - Contact us for pricing details. We promise to beat the competitors.

Also, check out our awesome PcClean app on sourceforge.net and cnet.com.