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The day I finally got the expression builder to actually build a useful expression…

I know, a little play on words, but seriously, have you ever tried to use the expression builder found in MS Access?  I have tried it a *few times over the years, without much success.

The other day, my access customer asked me if I could place a message in a report, but only for a specific one.  Ok, sounded reasonable.  Find the form, find the event called on a certain button click, in the event code, find the referenced report, open the report, find the control in the form that is responsible for showing the value asked for, then……figure out how to *ask the question.

The question was this “how do I show this message when ever that kit number shows up in a report?

What I ended up doing was adding a text box to the report in the detail section and building an expression that actually worked.  Once the textbox was in place, I opened the properties to it and clicked the datasource – then the …., which brought up the expression builder.


I actually placed it in the kit_Number footer.  The expression looked like this:

=IIf([Kit_Number]=”ES112″,”a message about this kit….”)

Seems trivial in hindsight, but I have tried to build expressions before with this tool and have failed over and over. 

I guess it took a simple, logic need

If(test,”true”,”false”) is a pretty basic expression, but then again, basic is in the eye of the beholder.

The result is on this report, when that kit number shows up, the report looks like this:


Trying to find if error message text is editable by me….

SchoolWorld web sites… Are ok, but the more I work in the interface, the more outdated it feels. Yesterday, my customer said, actually showed me some text that comes up when something happens. She asks if she could change the text of the message. Innocent enough. I spend about 2 hrs trying to find in the abyss of the schoolWorld web master interface, trying to find the text.

Eventually, I submitted a support request asking if I could change the text. About 1 hr later, I got the response.

“Sorry James, that text is generated by the system”. In other words, you cannot touch. I am still used to be judge, jury and executioner in our old framework that we designed and in moodle, where all the code, including error messages generated by the system are editable!

This is the module in question.

schoolworld calendar

This is the message wanting to be edited…

schoolworld calendar error messafge

The page where the calendar was embedded was located in the Site paragraphs from the Webpages – Site Content section.

My laptop got upgraded from Windows xp to Windows 7

and so, i lost virtually everything on it.  In the process of putting some things back, I got to reinstall the Genetec heavy client.  This is NOT the web client, which does not require me to do anything, except create a bookmark to the site URL.

The heavy client, my customer calls it this, he is the rep from Genetec.  They write this big heavy, feature rich client that installs on the desktop locally.  Image that, a local installation of software.

It is 2.7 GB on the disk before it installs.  There are 2 components of it.

1 – Genetec Security Center 5.2 – SecurityDesk.exe

2 – Genetec Config tool – ConfigTool.exe

This software stores lots of data on disk and needs lots of other software to be installed with it so it all works.  Another way to say that is the heavy client has a lot of dependencies on other software to do it job.  The other software come part of the “install” program – that is over 2.7 GB.

Other softwareware installed by the program include:

MS SQL server 2008

MS CCR and DSS runtime

Visual C++ 2005, 08,10. (3 versions)

WinPcap – packete capture and Network analysis…

Lots of Windows stuff.

Anyway – the install went pretty smooth.  After the install, I had to specify the location of the master server and provided my login credentials and was in business.

Assigning more rights to an account in a schoolworld module

Nothing too exciting, Just a common *esque question.

One of my customers says “So and so is retiring and I will be responsible for editing stuff that she has created.”

After logging into the admin area, I pulled up the account of person A – who sent the request and person B who is retiring.

My expectation was that I would find some editing right/permission for person B that did not exist for person A.

I was close.

Specifically, the request was for a form(s) that person B had access to that person A did not. At least not that person A could see.

I noticed in the Form module, there is a more granular option that allows the account to edit and see its own stuff and well as an option to edit / see other peoples form entities.

This is the relevant admin area.  Notice the radio button All Forms is now selected.  It was set to Own Forms.


Changing the radio option here should provide access for person A to see person B’s forms.

The other common schoolworld modules that share this type of permission model are

  • Forms
  • Calendar
  • News


I can edit an account and give it more or less access to other peoples forms, news posts and calendar posts.

How I created windows readable video clips….

Yea software when it works right the first time you try it.  AND its intuitive enough to allow you to find the feature in the first place, quickly.

My customer, a high level admin. in our organization, walked into my office the other day and said

“James, I need something, perhaps you can help?”  There was a crime committed on our campus and we had found on the security camera the time when it happened.  We need to export the video and provide to the local police department.”

Keith provided the data and time and which camera had captured the action.  One of my collegues must have sat and watched the tape for awhile to spot the exact time.

I was, in 30 minutes, able to find and export in a windows playable format, two separate 2 minute video clips.  Keith said “perfect” when I sent them to him.  One each for two different cameras.

Steps I took to find and export the video

  1. In the heavy client (Security Desk) I logged in
  2. I choose the camera, adding it to the grid
  3. Selected the view in the grid
  4. Using the Panel on the right, choose the clock icon “go to a specific time”
  5. Choose the Month and then the date (there was a bookmark created at the spot)
  6. Choose the Export Video icon
  7. Choose to Export from the select tile (grid)
  8. Choose the export format (default) of g64
  9. Choose the Copy the Portable Archive Player to the export folder.
  10. Choose Create an autorun file.
  11. The video exported to a new folder at the root of my C drive with the date/time in the file name and a .g64 extension.
  12. I double clicked the file and it loaded in the heavy client Security Desk
  13. A new export option now existed saying “convert files to ASF“.


Upon selected the path and clicking OK


The final result was a Windows compatible 2 minute long, 2.3 MB size video clip.  That upon loading, comes up in the Windows Media Player





Specified the Start and end times (choosing a 2 minute interval)


SchoolWorld (blackboard notifications)

Not too exiting, but important to understand, as it could happen again.

When the webmaster account is logged into, SchoolWorld pushed information.  This information will probably cause confusion among the webmaster accounts. (people).   We have 10 schoolworld instances.  When one of our many webmasters (10 sites * 5 webmasters per site) log in they see the following message.


We decided to push a message to them (webmasters) proactively to ignore it.

How to push message upon login to webmaster accounts.

Login as ourselves in the site admin, then choose Login Messages from the Web Master Admins Only


There, we added a brief message saying to ignore the message showed above.

Now, when I log into one of the schoolwork sites, since I am a webmaster, I see the message we added.


A preemptive strike. 

We will need to turn this message off at some point in the next week or so.

Also worth noting is that the schoolwork generated message only shows up once.  The next time the account is logged into , the message does not display, it has stored with it a “isreadyet” toggle/bit.  The admin message that we added shows up until we turn it off.

Genetec web camera video reviewing

Our tech guys installed security cameras at a couple of our BOCES tech centers.  The people there, the admin. mainly, are now wanting to use the video camera footage to try to spot something that happened last week.

This seems like the right use of the recorded video age.  The center in question has about 10 cameras set up.  They have been up fore a few months now.

There are two *clients that can be used to view existing video footage.

There is what I will call the *heavy client, that only a couple people have installed, and then there is the lighter cousin, the web client.

I took a minimalist approach here.  Meaning we did not install the *heavy client at the customer site.  They admin. at the school only have access to the lighter web client.  Start simple, give out only what is necessary.  If a case arises where the customer needs more, then, consider installing the client at their location.

Other reasons to NOT install the client at the customer site

  • Its bulky – im memory
  • Its big – disk space
  • It would then have to be updated.
  • Its probably more confusing and powerful

Our customer called and said “I want to see a sequence of video from friday 5/2 from 2 pm until midnight.

OK. My customer contacts me and says “how do I access footage from …..”.  I explained to him that he probably wants to use the heavy client that I installed for him, it has more features for viewing playback like this.  Since my client is a high level admin. where I work, I went down to his office to log into the heavy client and show his around a bit.

In a nutshell, I showed him how to add a camera view to the grid and then how to pull up the calendar, which allowed us to choose a day and time in which to view video.  Once the video from that day was on the camera, I showed him how to make a bookmark, for easy return, and how to speed up the playback and zoom the camera.

In the security desk, I did have to tweak my customers connection parameter/directory, a one time change, it changed after the initial install of the heavy client.


I was able to pull up the footage from the web client almost easier than using the heavy client….go figure.  I just tested this today.  A few days after working with my customer.

I will send him this text in a message.

“Keith, I was able to access specific video footage from our day in question using the web client.  I logged into the web client as your customer and was able to add the camera to the grid and using the Dashboard, choose the date and time and pull up the desired time frame.”



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