Eight years ago I walked into Avanceon for my first day at work. Like many people, I was nervous about starting a new job. My nervousness skyrocketed when a comment I made in my interview about having played softball in junior high school somehow had morphed into me being known as “the girl that plays softball” to all my new co-workers. I was flooded with questions about what position I wanted to play and when I could start and was shown the trophies the team had won in past seasons. I quickly learned that softball at Avanceon is a big deal.
Why didn’t I think of that? We’ve all been there, watching “Shark Tank” or a commercial for a new product that’s deceptively simple or ingenuously innovative, something we know we could have come up with, if only we had! Perhaps you’ve heard about a competitor’s new system or creative solution and wanted to slap your own forehead. Why didn’t we think of that?
Low energy, labor and money costs make this a great time to improve your manufacturing operations, gain efficiency and hedge future expenses. But if your operation is running smoothly, how can you spot existing opportunities to innovate and drive more value to your organization? Here are some areas to consider:
Data Analytics: Are you capturing enough data? Are you collecting the most useful data? Have you tied your historical data to financial return and impact? Innovative data analysis can shed light on where efficiency can be improved and where cash can be saved.
The Holistic, “Circular” System: Can you recycle and reuse traditionally discarded waste products? Are there redundant elements in your current system? Do all your system’s elements “speak the same language” and connect optimally and show their value impact? Thinking of your system as “circular” as opposed to “linear” and focusing holistically may inspire creative solutions.
Advanced Automation: Sensor networks, remote telemetry, vision systems and artificial intelligence aren’t as costly as they may sound. Operations of any size can scale these technologies to optimize their systems and drive value to the business.
If you feel a little stagnant, a fresh perspective is invaluable. Be it interacting with other departments in your organization, talking to your industry peers, reviewing the new offerings of your technical partners or working in consultation with a professional services firm, there are endless opportunities to leverage business value from today’s latest trends. After all, depending on your perspective from the Shark Tank, the opportunity to create value is either ‘no where’ or ‘now here.’
Many companies claim to have a great culture, but would their employees agree? I believe that Avanceon’s culture is inspiring, and I’m going to tell you what makes us different. The term culture might be often over-used, but as Avanceon’s in-house recruiter, it’s a large part of what I do. Finding candidates that fit our culture is an important part of successful hiring.
• Starting on July 29th, 2015 the newest version of Microsoft Windows was released to the public. With it the hopes of all Windows 7 and 8 users rode in the balance. The Home version is a free upgrade and Microsoft made it very easy to just click and install it. But wait, there are a number of things they don’t tell you. The Home upgrade is only available free until next July 2016 after that you need to pay. Companies will be using the Enterprise or Pro versions, the main difference is access to Domain networks. Windows 10 brings back the feel of 7 with a ton of newer features to play with. Major security upgrades and much lower resource use is very helpful for older machines.
It’s 3:00 A.M. Your phone rings. You take the call and it turns out the system you are supporting is having issues all over the place and production is down. You pull out your laptop, turn it on and cringe at the bright light that suddenly appears. You try to get your brain moving towards actually coming up with a resolution, but don’t even know where to start. Here are a few very simple tips and tricks that can save you (and your customer) with troubleshooting support requests.
Turn it Off and On Again
“Turning things off and on again” is a concept that computer geeks joke about quite often. There is, however, something magical about resetting everything back to a clean starting point. It’s not always about literally cycling power to a device – it’s more about the concept. Most of the support calls that we have ever gotten have been resolved by stopping the system that includes what’s broken, making sure all of the components (data points, etc.) line up correctly and then restarting the process, whatever it may be. This is especially useful if the system falls into a funky state and cannot automatically get itself back to a good state.
Many development environments include tools to help you troubleshoot problematic custom code. Depending on how complex of a debugger the software includes, you may be able to pause the code’s run-time execution and view live values of tags or variables. This allows you to step through each line of code and view in real time exactly what the code does and where it’s breaking. If you have debugging tools at your disposal, your troubleshooting experience will most likely be significantly less painful. Perhaps this is something to keep in mind when choosing a development environment to utilize on your next project!
If a code debugging tool is not available, log files might just be the key to restoring balance to the delicate ecosystem that is software troubleshooting. Log files allow you to potentially see a problem that has already happened in the past. Imagine supporting a system without log files. You would have to watch the system 24/7 without looking away in order to see the issue happen. I don’t know about you, but I have much more important things to do—like watch some paint dry and the grass grow. You can use your code to log important values or messages relating to an incident in order to figure out what went wrong the next time it happens. Using these values, you could trace through the code and figure out what the code would do with those values.
What other tips and tricks do you have for troubleshooting software issues? What has saved you on those late-night calls?