Andreas U. Welcome to www.home-server-addins.com.

My name is Andreas Miceli Unverdorben and this site is all about Microsoft Windows Home Server and the add-ins I have written for it.

This is a shortened version of an interview the guys from HomeServerLand did with me back in Aug. 2009 so you can get a picture of who I am and what I do. You can read the full interview over at HomeServerLand, an outstanding community site for Windows Home Server users and enthusiasts.

Q: If you don’t mind, what is your full name and how old are you?
A: My name is Andreas Miceli Unverdorben and I am 34 years old.

Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born and raised in Germany. I’m currently living in Passau, Germany.

Q: What do you do for a living?
A: I am working as a professional software developer at DAP Systems GmbH. The software my team is working on is the standard software for TV consumer behavior analysis in Germany and Austria.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?
A: Programming, really! I’m also very interested in computer history. I have a nice collection of Commodore computers from the 70s/80s, with a CBM PET 2001-8C being the oldest machine. I’ve also been collecting and retro-evaluating beta releases of old Windows versions (Janus, Chicago, Georgia, Neptune…).

Q: How long have you been using computers?
A: I got my first computer 20 years ago. After half a year I became bored of playing games on it and started to write programs in a learning-by-doing manner.

Q: What can you tell us about your first computer?
A: My first machine was a used Commodore 64 (1984 model), equipped with a 5,25" floppy disk drive (model 1541).

Q: Do you remember the first computer program that you coded?
A: I started programming the Commodore by typing in the program listings from the manual. As soon as I understood these programs I began to modify them. So, my first program I guess was a simple program that played a short tune written in BASIC. Later in my Commodore programming "career", I wrote a speed-boot loader for the GEOS operating system and a 22 Character Font editor. The first was [called GeoSpeedBoot and] published in (then) Germany’s leading Commodore 64 magazine 64′er. The latter was [called 22 Master-Editor and] published in a disk mag called "Magic Disk 64".

Q: How or why did you decide to use the Windows Home Server?
A: When I first read about Microsoft’s plans for a Windows Server version targeted at the consumer market I was absolutely thrilled. I had been planning to build a FreeNAS-based NAS-box for our home around the time, but as a Windows enthusiast I wanted our NAS to be Windows based. I already had thoughts about customizing it by writing my own programs and tools for it. At that time I didn’t know yet that Microsoft would make WHS an open platform for addin development. Later then, after having played around for about half a day with the Windows Home Server beta release, I knew I absolutely wanted to work with it.

Q: Please tell us something about your WHS setup?
A: I have a stock Fujitsu-Siemens SCALEO Model 2204 (4x 500 GB hard drives). Nothing special there.

Q: Of course our members would like to know, which add-ins do you have installed on your Windows Home Server?
A: Advanced Admin Console 0.5.0, FRITZ!Box call list 0.7.3, Update History 0.2.0, Whiist, WHS Toolkit 1.1

Q: And now THE question: why did you make this add-in(s)?
A: The Advanced Admin Console started out as a simple C# programming exercise. I had some fairly good knowledge about how to embed Internet Explorer in my own Visual Basic 6 programs and let it display files and folders or special windows directories like "Printers and faxes" or the control panel. Some day at work I realized that I didn’t know how to do that from C#. So I started to write a little program that did just that – display the control panel. At that time I had just acquired my FuSi SCALEO and wanted to also use it as a print server. As I couldn’t control the printer settings from the WHS console I wrote a small addin to give me that functionality. That was the very first version of the Advanced Admin Console.

The FRITZ!Box call list addin (currently only available in German and only working with German AVM FRITZ!Box models) I wrote in order to have a single place of administration (the WHS console) for my home network. Every evening when I come home from work I fire up the WHS console and check the FRITZ!Box call list for any calls during my absence.

As a subscriber to the RSS feed of the Microsoft Hotfix and Issue center (http://blogs.technet.com/hot/rss.xml) (the place where Microsoft posts information about upcoming security patches and updates) I’m always informed about which updates will be installed on my home server when the next patch Tuesday comes. I wanted a simple tool which allows me to check if every update was delivered to my WHS box and installed properly. Thus I developed the Update History addin.

Q: Andreas, to perfect the WHS platform how would you improve or change it?
A: There’s a ton of stuff one could add to the WHS operating systems. Most of the things I have on my mind have been mentioned by other people before (Media Center integration, system partition image backup, fax services, etc.). From a developer’s perspective, I’d love to see Microsoft include a client side API which provides a unified communications channel between client and server. Currently, every developer of client/server addins needs to come up with his/her own means of communication between the two which is a lot of work and often very cumbersome. If Microsoft provided a client/server communications API I’m sure we’d soon see a whole new range of more powerful WHS addins.

This interview was done by Mike van den Ham from HomeServerLand.com.