Can a computer call up a URL automatically?

Posted on 2001-06-12
Last Modified: 2010-04-17
             Here is the scenario:
I have my Target computer hooked to my Web site computer (I'll call it HOME) via URL call. The Target system computer detects an anomaly somewhere on the Target system and needs to make a "call" to the HOME Web site computer. So the Target computer will launch the URL for HOME, send it some pre-configured/hard coded userID and password and then call for a page that is designed as an automated EVENT Handler.

I need to know if a COMPUTER can call up a URL automatically, send it login information and then launch a specific web site page and send that page specific strings about the EVENT that is taking place on the Target system.

For example: Let's say that the Target system has a Computer called CONTROLCOMPUTER1 with a 40Gig Hard drive. The control system of the Target system detects that the hard drive has just crashed. This was detected by say a Built In Test and sends an EVENT condition to the Server that talks to HOME with a mask of 0000-0001 = "Error: Hard drive." So, the Target system will now call my HOME system and automatically log in by sending a hard coded UserID and Password (say UserID = TargetSupportServer1 and Password "EMOH"). The return page from HOME says it's logged in. Now the Target system launches EVENTHANDLER.cfm and sends it the following two arguments: "CONTROLCOMPUTER1,0000-0001". Now, HOME takes the arguments in a function called:

Function CALLEVENTHANDLER(ItemName as string, ErrorByte as long) {
        Select ErrorByte {
                Case 0000-0000 {msg="No errors"}
                Case 0000-0001 {msg="Error on Hard Drive in computer " & ItemName}
                Case 0000-0002 {msg=""} etc...
        End Select

So the message displayed on HOME when the maintenance tech comes along is..."Error on Hard Drive in computer CONTROLCOMPUTER1".

Once complete the Target system alarm is sounded to call a technician. Now the tech knows to go fix the computer's hard drive.

Get it?

Need you to come up with a possible interface for this scenario.
Question by:plonergan
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Expert Comment

ID: 6187733
This does sound like a school assignment! Try to work it out and if it doesn't work, THEN tell us about your problem!

Author Comment

ID: 6192097
TrueDrake, I am long out of school. This was a copy of an email sent to me by my supervisor for a project we are working on.  This is part two of our project.  So if you don't want to offer any intelligent input save your rude comments. I offered 200 points because I am looking for serious answers.  I can see that you are a new member of EE, use the service properly.
LVL 24

Accepted Solution

SunBow earned 200 total points
ID: 6193143
You can try using VB for Win, it does case's pretty good; or else run perl/python.  I think I'd opt for one with a compiler.  For events an old favorite was using snmp traps. Alternatively, UDP wil size the bandwidth about right.

Consider, for interface to maintenance tech, use a pager. Many do this, and now some text can be included that can communicate the need. This saves time, since, of course, everything is really DOWN until

> "when the maintenance tech comes along is.."

Intermediate step could be to generate an eMail message. Many ways to do that, so it'd be easier to get that piece going. But I don't think there's much live support for that yet, for passing out handhelds that actually receive eMail (but check EE BlackBerry section if interested). Typical pager would get the tech to either leave restaurant to go home or to office to get the eMail message describing event. Although too, consideration could be given to having tech dial a phone number that has voice translation or error message recorded. A boon for handling remote sites.

In other words, I consider it a very weak part of design to just be waiting for someone to come along. But one needs to have care when telling supervisor that.

If you just have to do web, recognize that a page is no more that a file made up of text from various sources.  So consider also alternative technique of building the page on the fly, say have in middle: "Disk Error...." text included from other files (or code, like VB or Perl).
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LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 6193152
> Can a computer call up a URL automatically?

Actually, an MS-Word I got from eMail just tried to do that, looking for some picture or something on the web. Not by my own choice.

Expert Comment

ID: 6205855
The easiest solution to implement would be one using SNMP traps and hooked up to a mobile's Short Message Service with a backup call to a pager. The SMS host could be configured to duplicate all messages to an email address for backup and logging purposes.

Sunbow has presented a workable overall scenario. If you still want to present the information on a web page then create a page that displays emails of your support address.


Author Comment

ID: 6206518
Thanks for the comments, anyone else?  Keep them coming. I am currently researching Sunbow and Fenman's ideas. I will close this in a couple of days.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 6219548
Part of problem is measuring out the workload and expense for achieving proper quantity of results.


Only one server supported
So much equipment you'll have 10+ of "maintenance tech comes along"

One error message per week
10+ messages per hour

What is mechanism for closing out ("fixed"), or for prioritizing messages when the 2nd one comes in before the 1st one is responded to?

If it was mine, I'd work out more design so's to not have to through out too much code, to build what can be reused. The web interface it seems would be a good interface for reviewing, and as I am pro on logs, can also facilitate getting to histories that can help you identify recurring problems and lemons.

I am less familiar with diverse paging methods. I have heard that SMS is quite popular for some, so I ditto Fenman there. SNMP is really the standard here for supporting your network devices, so with it you could later expand beyond specific computers to the rest of your environment with minimum effort.
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 6219572
You could similarly consider ICMP and Pings, TraceRt's, but this is generally frowned upon as being intrusive and not very informative. But it is simple enough that major players still use it to validate uptime and count downtime. For example, if equipment unresponsive to ping for 15 minutes, it is then labelled as 'down', an eMail generated, and SLA is impacted.

Personally, I view that as missing the point on the first 15 minutes of downtime and prefer improved response capability.

hmm, what if webserver is among the devices down, so there is no screen for maintenance tech to view for identifying problems?
LVL 24

Expert Comment

ID: 6228023

Author Comment

ID: 6228472
Thanks, I think that the other comments were sort of a spin off of yours.  Since we currently use SNMP traps for other equipment here, I think that is my best and easiest route.  Less code and reuse is very important for this project.  Thanks!

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