Remote View
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"Your product is extremely useful and saves us a lot of time, effort, travel and mis-communications."
Harry Duam - Isfel-Outerstuff.

Remote View
(& Change) 
Monitor, Capture & Control AS/400 Displays  

The below article by Don Rima appeared in the June 2000 iSeries Magazine. It has been reproduced here since it is no longer available from their new website.


A Remote Supporter's Dream - Remote View

OK, I admit it, I've been in this industry long enough to see many things and get bombarded from numerous angles.  And the one thing that never ceases to amaze me is just how unknowledgeable some users and system operators can be.  If I had a dollar for every time someone called me and said, "My computer is down," when they're really talking about their 5250 terminal, or said, '"What should I do?--I just got some strange message on my screen, " I could retire early.

So, what's the first thing I do when I get this kind of call? I generally ask them to read aloud what's on their screen, or ask them to tell me what they entered on the screen.  Generally, this is stuff that can't be gleaned remotely from a job log.  How many users can really tell you what you want to know? Probably not many.  What if you could, in a flash, see exactly what's on the user's screen? Enter Remote View from Precosis (www.precosis.com.au), an Australian company.

The load was simple--download the Web file from Precosis's Web site (it's an automatic demonstration version that blocks out parts of the screen), unzip, FTP, and install.  Here's a pointer: For those still learning how to do file transfers from/to the Web from a Web-PC-AS/400 environment, take a look at the Word document that's in the zip file you just downloaded.  This has some examples on how to get the SAVF from a PC world to the AS/400.  Frankly, I'm keeping the install document around for reference, because there are times when the morning coffee just isn't strong enough to jolt my old memory cells.

The install went without a hitch.  Be aware that I'm running my test box at security level 30, but I'm told there are no problems running all the way up to security level 50.  If you're taking yours to a higher level, you should test first to make sure that you get all you're looking for at your security level.

To tell the truth, I haven't seen a product in a while that's easier to use.  Keep in mind, Remote View is not a very complex product, but this is falling-off-a-log simple.  I recommend going through the Web-based demo before conquering your system.

If the user is somewhere on the other side of Inner Mongolia, this is the next best thing to being there.

For those who want to watch what's going on in real time, the information is available as quickly as you can hit the enter key.

The documentation is all in the Word document that's downloaded with the *SAVF from the Web.  Also, you can go through a nice, short demo on the Web before you download.  The Web demo is done well enough that you won't need to call Down Under to get a walk-through.

Easily a no-brainer.  The product worked as advertised the first time.

Remote View can be a major league time-saver.  Also, if the user is somewhere on the other side of Inner Mongolia, and you don't have the time or budget to jump on the Concorde and travel thousands of miles to see what they've got on their screen, this is the next best thing to being there.  Actually, you are there.  It's also a really nice training tool as well as a debugging tool.

If you're one of those people who think they should have the need and right to randomly monitor what's going on in someone's e-mail or on their screen, this product does that, as well.  I was able to randomly watch screens, without the knowledge of the target.  Talk about the ultimate snoop! Personally, I'd rather watch my 2-year-old daughter, but some organizations have a need for that capability.

This group is a startup from Australia.  Support is generally by e-mail or voice mail due to the time difference from the United States.  But I didn't need support.  I received my access code quickly by e-mail.  Because we're not really talking mission-critical software, I wasn't too set back.  However, I've set the precedent in this column, so I feel I have to say Precosis should offer some kind of regional support.

Start service job and debug options--Once you're in a job, being able to initiate the debug functionality would be nice, because many times that's the reason you've been called in the first place.

Automatic refresh--Automatically refresh the image each time the other screen changes.  This would allow one to monitor the target job in as close to real time as possible.

Allow the monitored terminal to drive the refreshing cycle--This would allow you to remotely watch what's going on as the user hits the buttons, rather than waiting for your view to be refreshed.

I'd like to know how they do this.  Remote View is a remote supporter's dream.  You have no idea how many times I would have liked to have seen what was really on a user's terminal rather than deciphering what they were trying to describe.  Now I can.  Do you have any idea what this does to lower my blood pressure? By the way, I don't usually mention prices, but this one's affordable.

Once you get past the voyeuristic tendencies and back to real computing, this is a nice tool to have in your toolbox.  When you get a break, download the file and give it the smoke test.  And let me know what you think.

The Report Card




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Points given are on a scale of 0 to 4, with 4 being the highest.
Each category is assigned its own weighting from the total of 100 percent.

--DON RIMA has 16 years of experience with IBM midrange systems, in positions ranging from programmer to MIS.  For the past eight years, he has owned a consulting group.  Don has held several offices in the Washington Area Midrange user's group.  He can be reached at  dr2 AT cssas400 DOT com.