Grid computing to barcode recognition…

Sunderland University (UK), Grid Computer

The Institution of Engineering and Technology - The IET On the 9th Feb 2009 I went along to an IET evening lecture hosted by the University of Sunderland Centre for Internet Technologies. It was about the grid computer they have built there where you can read more about it on their site.

There is also a quick item about the event here (I’m at the front),

IET presentation on 3D computer rendering using the grid computing facility at the University of Sunderland.

CIT has trialled four different rendering applications on the grid - Autodesk 3DS Max, Maxon Cinema 4D, NetTek Lightwave and Blender - and the presentation focused on the outcome of the trials.

The lecture was well attended by a mixture of IET members, students, and others with an interest in the subject. Following the presentation, a practical demonstration of the grid was given to attendees.

I have to say I was really impressed at the environment the students there get to work and the grid computer facility itself was interesting. Points that stick in my mind were;

More...

WCF Multiple host headers IIS7 in a DMZ with NAT

Abstract

After some investigations I have come to the following conclusion. You can not host a WCF service in IIS7, .NET 3.5, where the host site uses multiple host headers and have the service respond to more than one of those host headers.

Scenario

IIS is in a DMZ with one internal IP address. It can also be accessed from the internet via a public different IP address that goes through Network Address Translation at the firewall. Thus effectively the site has one IP address but two possible host headers to respond to.

Configuration

In order to get the WSDL to correctly insert the IP address of the server, rather than the server machine name. Two entries were made into the site bindings, with separate host headers (IP address as host header as we have no domain name set up for this server) for each.

This creates an error from the service that you will find many reference to by searching the Internet.

This collection already contains an address with scheme http. There can be at most one address per scheme in this collection.

This is because WCF only supports one base address for each protocol, but IIS can support multiple. This is summarised nicely here: Ram Poornalingam's WebLog

If you don’t configure up both IIS bindings in the WCF configuration you get the following message as WCF does not know what to do.

No protocol binding matches the given address [blah blah blah] Protocol bindings are configured at the Site level in IIS or WAS configuration

WcfException

I set the host header as the IP address of the site as the WSDL was reporting localhost as the address of the server without it.

More...

U.B. Funkey USB Detection Example VB.NET & WPF

USB Funkey Today I was helping a college get USB detection working on a WPF application. He was using a library I wrote for another windows forms application and was trying to use it in a WPF application.

The problem is that my library overrode the WndProc method of the main application form in order to capture and route the windows messages through to the library.

WPF does not natively have the WndProc as it uses a different messaging architecture, however an interop has been provided details of which can be found in "WPF and Win32 Interoperation Overview" and more "WPF-Win32 Interop Part 2: Hosting Win32 Controls (ListBox) in WPF Windows"

I’ve mentally bookmarked this subject to come back to as it looks like it gets involved but essentially if you want to detect the removal of a USB device in a WPF application you can do it by using the example I outline in this page. The example is a get you started and I would read around the subject before using this in production code.

Read all about U.B. Funkey USB Detection Example VB.NET & WPF

UPS World Ship XML Import from Dynamics GP

Problem

The Sales Order Fulfilment (SOP) software I wrote for Microsoft Dynamics GP, deals with multiple Dynamics GP companies. You can choose the company and fulfil any available pick lists for sales orders or invoices from that company. The software implements a least cost parcel routing engine. If it decides to route to UPS or TNT carriers we wish the software to ensure that that carrier invoices the correct originating company, avoiding the necessity for intercompany transactions in the accounting system to apportion costs.

The parcel details are sent to the UPS World Ship software as XML files, generated from an XSLT against the order tables SOP10100 and SOP10200 and several custom tables for pick lists and despatch records.

History

The XML Import has been something we have used for many years, since World Ship 5.0, I think we are on 11 now. However when we enquired about having multiple shipper billing accounts it was not possible without a separate instance of world ship for each carrier account. It was something that was mooted as a feature of the next version.

Last Week

Time has moved on and UPS upgraded us recently to the current version of World Ship, so I revisited the problem.

I investigated the Openshipments.xdr schema file for the new version of World Ship to see what had changed. I found a new element definition as shown below for the shipper UpsAccountNumber, i.e. the place the cost for the shipment should be invoiced to.

<ElementType name = "Shipper" content = "eltOnly" order = "seq" model = "closed">
<element type = "UpsAccountNumber" minOccurs = "0" maxOccurs = "1"/>
</ElementType>

I then changed our XSLT to add a node in our outputted XML, and a parameter to pass into the XSLT so that I may pass the UPS account number to the XSLT.

<Shipper>
<UpsAccountNumber><xsl:value-of select="normalize-space($AccountNo)"/></UpsAccountNumber>
</Shipper>  

After ensuring the accounts were set up and activated in the Shipper Setup of World Ship, we tried it out, thankfully it just worked, the consignment was generated against the company for who the order had been fulfilled.

TNT

We also use the auto import utility with TNT Express Shipper. In this case it is a fixed length text file import, but I applied a similar upgrade for TNT with our technical representative a couple of weeks ago. This results in the account number getting passed and mapped in the TNT software so that again the correct company gets the invoice.

TNT Errors

Another advantage of the new TNT software is that it passes back the consignment number and any errors that have occurred during the import, so it does a full handshake – like UPS have done for a long time. This makes my life easier as I don’t have a job running anymore to pluck the consignment numbers from the TNT SQL database in order to populate the Dynamics GP tracking number tables in Dynamics. As it happens I’ve started using our own consignment numbers now so GP is the source of the consignment number, but having access to errors allows us to correct address records in Dynamics GP that consistently throw exceptions in Express Manager. These exceptions are usually things like town in wrong field or a post code update making a post code invalid that was entered in the past in GP. Mismatches can occur between the versions of post code PAF file on GP and on TNT.

Conclusion

My fulfilment software now passes the account numbers for the carriers through depending on the owner company of the order in GP. This account number is used by TNT or UPS to assign that consignment to the correct company for invoicing, that in turn makes the accounts department happy as the billing gets easier.

Next…

It was also mentioned by TNT that they can now provide electronic invoices, UPS have done for years but this means it is now worth importing the actual cost of carriage back into GP so we can get a better analysis of margin for individual orders.