TouchControl Server as a Service
I know that many of you run TouchControl Server in a "lights-out" environment, as I do as well, and need it to start automatically with the server and run unattended. This can be accomplished in a couple of different ways. One way (and the easiest) is to add it to the startup group and set the PC/server to automatically login to Windows at startup. This works fine, but you do have to leave the computer in a logged-on state for TouchControl Server to be available to service requests. Another way to accomplish this is to set TouchControl Server up as a Windows service, so that it can start up automatically with Windows and run in the background under specified credentials, whether a user is physically logged into Windows or not.
TouchControl Server can be set up to run as a Windows service using the SrvAny.exe program available in the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=9d467a69-57ff-4ae7-96ee-b18c4790cffd&displaylang=en). Here is a link to a Microsoft support page that walks you through setting up a program to run as a user-defined service: It's pretty straightforward, but the one thing that it doesn't mention is setting the logon credentials for the service. Once you have the service defined, you'll need to use the Windows Services applet (Administrative Tools) and set the "Log on as" account to the same account that you used in TouchControl Admin when you originally set up TouchControl Server. This will give the service access to listen on the defined port as specified by TouchControl Admin. Once you do that, you will basically have a "headless" TouchControl Server that will be available whenever the PC/server is running.
Of course when running TouchControl Server in this manner, you will not have access to the user interface. So if you need to design a remote or make other configuration changes, you'll need to stop the TouchControl service, run TouchControl Server in normal mode, make your changes, then exit TouchControl Server, and restart the service. But that's pretty painless for the relatively few times you'll need to do that (after you get your remotes all designed and configured, that is).
When running in the background as a service, TouchControl Server can still run and control apps like Windows Media Center, but any apps that TouchControl Server starts itself will also run in the background, and will not have access to your desktop. So if you want to use an app like WinAmp to play music, that could work, but if you want to use WMC to watch video, for example, then you'd need to run the apps in the foreground.