Product Reviews

The Master Automator

Automate tasks with OpalisRobot 4.04.

I don’t know about you, but I have way too many things to do and way too little time in which to do them. OpalisRobot is designed to free up a bit of that time by automating some of those tasks—and it won’t even ask for a coffee break.

The first thing I noticed once I installed it was the cool interface. It seemed to have every function broken down into specific areas—such as objects, computers, logs and, of course, the workspace—from which all jobs are created.

I started poking around to see what job or task to automate first. I decided on a simple backup and began by dragging an object—in this case a date and time event—from the objects window up to the workspace window (see figure).

From there, I entered the time I wanted this event to run and named it “Test Backup.” Now all I needed to do was to build the task. I dragged the Run Program Task to the workspace and named it, “Run Test Backup.” I browsed the server for the NTBackup program and clicked OK to create the task. I then dragged my mouse pointer from the “output” arrow of the newly created Date/Time event to the “input” of the newly created task, creating a link between the two. I applied my changes (it’s not done automatically) and waited for it to work. Sure enough, at exactly the time I set, the test backup ran on its merry little way.

The backup job seemed simple enough, but I wanted to see what else this tool could do. This time, I created a file-management job that would copy a file from a floppy to the hard drive according to a schedule. I created the job using the wizard in the workspace window, browsed to the floppy as the source, and specified a folder on the hard drive as the destination. Like the backup, it worked like a charm.

Thus far, I’d been able to create a backup job and a file-management (copy) job; now I wanted to get to the nuts and bolts of the package. This time, I set up a monitoring job to check the CPU load on a server using one of the built-in samples. I picked the “Monitor CPU load > 80” sample and saw that I could use Boolean operators to modify it.

This sample is designed to increment a counter each time the CPU load is greater than 80 percent. Another event in the job resets the counter each time the load is less than or equal to 80 percent. A third event in the job then triggers a log entry and resets the counter when the value is equal to or greater than 60 on the counter—which is an indication of a CPU load of 80 percent for, in this case, a 60-second block. Just for fun, I configured a pop-up notification message to appear when it completed; as expected, it came up wonderfully. I could have just as easily set up an e-mail notification, an interactive message task or a pager task. I could have even written a Web page!

Opalis Software OpalisRobot 4.04
OpalisRobot’s simple, intuitive interface makes automating tasks a matter of dragging and dropping objects.

I like this program and found myself wanting to monitor all sorts of things. The cool thing about Opalis Robot is that it takes very little time to learn. Creating and scheduling tasks, setting up logging or notification and monitoring are basically drag-and-drop operations. Want to monitor servers or even network performance? Want to automate backups or do a little file management? Get a Robot to do it!

About the Author

Jim Idema, MCSE, CNA, is president of Idema Enterprises Computer Consulting, a West Michigan-based computer consulting firm specializing in networking solutions to business.

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