Proactive Customer PC Monitoring

We are users of a cool product from Aternity for application monitoring. The Aternity app runs in the background on our PCs and monitors the end user experience. When a customer says “the system is running slow” we have a wealth of data that can confirm that is the case, quantify how slow, and correlate the slowness with a myriad of other factors (PC model, network segment, OS patches installed, etc.). There are other solutions in this space, including one from Compuware. But, we have been happy with our Aternity investment (a 6 figure expense).

There is a fair amount of setup required to train Aternity how to monitor each application. So, it is not completely magic.

To date we had used this tool to respond to customer complaints and to review monthly performance of our more troublesome applications. But recently our use of application monitoring was taken to the next level by our Field Services group (they support the technologies that our customers touch).

That group is using Aternity as a proactive monitoring tool. They are monitoring three parameters to that serve as an indicator of PC health:

  1. Boot time
  2. Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)
  3. Application launch

When a device encounters a Blue Screen or exceeds a threshold for boot time or application launch it appears on a list. Then, the Field Services team from the appropriate region will replace the device and take the old one back to the device for troubleshooting and re-imaging or disposal.

By being proactive and showing up to replace a device before an incident is reported our Field Services team is creating a “wow” experience for our customers.


For now, it is iPhone over Android

I currently carry a Samsung Infuse  Android phone. It is an AT&T phone that I have had for about a year. I am ready to replace it and I have been wrestling between the new Samsung Galaxy SIII and an iPhone.

The reviews of the SIII are tempting. The specs are impressive (quad core graphics, super high resolution screen). I want to love the Android platform, because I am predominately a user of the Google platform and I like setting up my phone with a single login. But, I think I am going to join the rest of my family in carrying an iPhone. My Infuse has been buggy (screen lockups, slow response to screen touches), although I am not convinced that a year-old iPhone would be better. Here is why I am going to the iPhone:

  • Apple forces the carriers to behave. I did not get one upgrade for my Infuse. They are available, but AT&T won’t push out the updates. Forget Ice Cream Sandwich, I just want to go from 2.2 to 2.3. Sheesh.
  • There are too many Android phones to make sure everything is universally compatible. Today I went to download the Microsoft Lync app and the Google Play Store told me that it was not compatible with my year old device. With an iPhone that would never happen where the number of devices are limited and the iOS upgrades are backwards compatible for at least 2 years back. I have had apps that would not install on an iOS device, but the device was more than 3 years old.

By the way, we are rolling out Good as a way for smartphone users to connect to our Exchange Server. This was a good move, no pun intended. I can’t see a future where BlackBerry thrives. I am just one customer – but for us that ship appears to have sailed.

After the Brainstrom

Sometimes I see people cling to old habits, even though there are clearly easier ways to do things.  I am not talking about something that would require a new computer system and a large IT project.  Just day-to-day stuff.  Here is one example…

I love whiteboards.  I love to use them to brainstorm ideas.  Once upon a time SmartBoards were popular.  They were a way cool, but expensive, way to capture those notes on paper.  They are no longer necessary.  An average digital camera can capture a large whiteboard with enough detail to preserve and share your moments of inspiration.  I find a camera needs to be at least 5 megapixel to get the desired resolution, so cameras on mobile phones (including BlackBerrys and iPhones) are less than ideal. Like most gadget lovers I upgrade cameras frequently.  So my former primary shooter becomes my work phone.

While the .jpg files straight from the camera work fine there is a free web service that will make those images even better.  You can upload your images, which will turn them into PDF files that are much more readable. [Update: on 25 October 2009 I received an email from Qipit stating that they were shutting down their online service.]


This tip applies to those giant easel pads. Don’t carry out all that paper.  Your digital camera is a great way to capture those too.

Bonus tip: if you have a whiteboard in your office, keep whiteboard wipes on your desk.