Help Desk Solutions HEAT

The software tool I use frequently is Heat Plus Knowledge, by Front Range.

The software helpdesk side of the tool is simply HEAT. The Plus Knowledge component is a user friendly search database to find answers to their own questions. Knowledge databases are searchable databases in which users can search for the resolution to own problems. When dealing with user support systems, these are considered level 0. (Level 1, first level helpdesk tech, level 2, troubleshooting expert, level 3, a programmer, level 4, the software vendor).

1. Users can search for do-it-yourself help to fix their own problems
2. If the user cannot resolve their own problem, the solution tied to the error they are receiving can direct them to the correct helpdesk group to fix the problem
3. Users can search the knowledge database for how to instructions for new functions not covered in their training
4. The helpdesk staff can refer to the solution database to determine the correct second level solution to use to assist the user
5. The helpdesk staffs frequently search the entire database of solutions to determine what the root cause of a user’s problem is; this can lead to users being handed off to the correct support organization immediately, rather than being sent on a goose chase.

If a user can solve their own problem, they do not need to submit a ticket via the HEAT system to one of the helpdesk. Solutions that are Level 1 or higher are also in this database, directing users to the correct diagnosis and helpdesk. The solutions documents are created and maintained as filtered HTML documents. One benefit of this is that we can create the solutions, including screen shots, in Microsoft Word. Do a file save as to filtered HTML, and you have the solution document created. Move to the correct folder, and you’re done. Easy to use for support staff, straightforward for general users, and easy to maintain. That makes it ideal as a knowledge database and ticketing system. We already have enough problems to take care of without having to fix a buggy support tool, too.

Allway Sync File Syncronizer

I am currently using a software program known as Allway Sync 7.1.2 Pro.

The software allows you to automatically track changes and additions/deletions of files. I use mine to ‘sync’ my flashdrive with my desktop. The software works flawlessly and easily and allows me to be sure that I will never lose a copy of my important files. As a special educator I have report cards, IEPs (legal student related documents), lesson plans and materials. I need to know that my years of materials won’t get lost or corrupted. Recently I actually fell in a lake while fishing and I had my flashdrive in my pocket! Fortunately the drive was undamaged, but if it was ruined I am secure knowing that my files are accurately saved throughout my workday on my desktop! I LOVE this program. The program lets you set up specific folders to ‘mirror’ or ‘shadow’. The software works well with removable drives, second hard drives, networks/servers, etc. Best of all the software is FREE up to a certain level of usage. I monitor around 3,000 files so I had to pay for it, but the program only cost me $20.00! A great value for such powerful and solid software!

Light Weight Directory Access Protocol

LDAP is a set of open protocols used to access information over a network which is centrally stored. LDAP stand for Light Weight Directory Access Protocol.

Now a directory is a specialized database designed for searching and browsing and normally has added support for basic lookup and update functions. LDAP was first designed to take advantage of the complex X.500 directory services for light weight activities. Initially, it was seen as a very good tool for email addresses lookup in the net but owing to the problem of spam, this idea was dropped. LDAP got the new life with the advent of GRID COMPUTING which is set to change the whole scenario of resource sharing over the network. The LDAP information model is based on entries which is a collection of attributes that has a globally-unique Distinguished Name(DN).

The DN is used to refer to an entry unambiguously. Each entry further has a type which are mnemonic strings, like ‘mail’ for email or ‘cn’ for common name. In LDAP, directory entries are arranged in a hierarchical tree-like structure and this structure typically reflects the geographical and organizational boundaries over which the whole grid is spread. LDAP is optimized for read access which makes it suitable for a grid environment as more often than the operations are read than write. LDAP defines operations for interrogating,adding,renaming and deleting entries and updating the directory.The LDAP search operation allows certain parts of the directory to be searched for entries matching some required criteria. It also provides mechanism for a client to authenticate, paving the road to access control to protect the information contained in the server.

Spell Check Tip

When I am writing something outside of a word processor, such as a hand written note or writing in this blog, and I run across a word I am not sure how to spell, instead of loading up Word, which can take forever, I have found that it is much faster and easier to just pop open a new email message and use the spell check feature from Outlook Express.

This is much quicker since my computer almost always has a browser window open, if not Outlook Express itself. Just click “Mail > New Message” and paste in the word and bam, I’m done. No need to wait on MS Word to load with all its fancy features when all I need is a quick spell check.


One of the most troublesome computer problems is bad memory modules and the difficultly diagnosing the bad memory.

Bad memory modules can cause a huge list of symptoms in a computer system, everything from the OS crashing often or sometimes hardly at all to problems booting and having large files become corrupted. A great tool for finding memory problems is MemTest86 that when written to a blank CD will test memory and report errors. The memtest86 program is downloaded and the “iso” CD image is burned to a blank CDR or CDRW disk. The computer is then rebooted with the cd in drive so that the computer boots from the CD and tests the subject computers memory. Many users test the memory for 24 hours straight to determine problems. If the computer has problems on reboot, let memtest86 run one pass and then use the ESC key to reboot ten times to see if errors pop up!

Darn Small Linux

Small Linux, true to its brash name, is a small and highly efficient live CD, an operating system which can be run from a CD-ROM drive or even from a flash drive (on newer computers).

DSL is based on the free Linux operating system, and is optimized to fit into only 50 megabytes of space, enough to store on a business-card mini-CD or a small flash drive. Starting up DSL is as simple as rebooting a computer with the DSL CD or flash drive inserted. It features advanced hardware detection that allows it to use almost any computer. Further, its minimalism means that it responds quickly on computers that are brand new or a decade old. Upon booting, one is shown a tutorial page, plus a desktop with icons for common applications such as web browsing (in Mozilla Firefox) and playing music (in XMMS). Right-clicking anywhere on the open desktop presents a menu which can be used to access still more applications, including a minimalist AOL Instant Messenger client and a terminal for executing text-only Linux commands. The MyDSL program allows one to download still more applications, including alternate browsers, instant messengers, games, and more. Why is DSL useful? Its intensely small design means that an otherwise useless old computer can be brought up to the tasks of playing MP3s and instant messaging. One can reboot into DSL on a strange and possibly virus-infected computer while on the go, bypassing spyware that might log information on what websites one visits. And for the knowledgeable computer user, DSL is useful for recovering files from damaged machines. You can even install it onto a hard drive to run it fulltime. While DSL may seem simple or strange, in reality it’s a powerful utility for making the most out of even the slowest computer.