simon

Simon 2.3.2 released

I just found a bug that was inadvertently added in the previous release of SImon, where the License or Setup Assistant windows might not display. This was an unintended side effect of the change in 2.3.1 to avoid reusing the editor windows - as they and the license windows share some common code, but work in very different ways.

This was previously reported in the forums, but I couldn't recreate it till today, when I was testing something else in Simon. There were workarounds, but I felt that it was important enough to warrant a special bug-fix release. Particularly as the Simon Enterprise license will be featured on MacZOT tomorrow! (There's a tip for anyone wanting a cheap license.)

If your copy of Simon is already licensed, you could skip this update if you wish... but there's no harm in updating. For anyone who has experienced this issue, I apologize for the inconvenience.

Download Simon 2.3.2 now!

Simon tip: notify via email

I recently received a question from a potential customer, asking whether Simon has the ability to send a notification via email.

Although I do mention it in a number of places, this wasn't an unreasonable question, particularly if you just download Simon and start playing with it, as no email options appear in the list of available notifiers in the Edit Test window by default.

Why is this? Because unlike the Speech and Sound notifier plug-ins, the Email one requires some configuration before it can be used, so it can't be offered by default.

The way notifiers work is (I hope) pretty intuitive, but a little indirect. Simon provides a number of notifier plug-ins that do the work of notifications, and you configure notifiers to use those plug-ins, then choose notifiers for each test.

These levels of abstraction allow easy re-use of notifiers: a single plug-in can be used by multiple notifiers, and a single notifier can be used by multiple tests, without having to set up the same things over and over again.

For example, you can add an email notifier to yourself for some failures, another email notifier to your clients for other failures, another one for recoveries, and so on, and use whichever ones of those are desired in tens or hundreds of tests, as required, as simply as choosing them from a pop-up menu.

Test Notifiers

So, as I said, there is no email notifier set up by default, since it needs configuration, but you can easily add one. If you're editing a test and realize that you want to receive an email or SMS when this test changes, fails, and/or recovers, you can click the New Notifier... button in the Notifiers section of the Edit Test window, which will open the New Notifier window. You can then choose E-mail from the Notifier Kind pop-up menu, and the controls below will change to those for the email plug-in:

Email Notifier plug-in

You can then configure the email, and save the notifier, which will be available for that test and any others you want to use it in. Easy!

Simon 2.3.1 released

Simon version 2.3.1 is now available. This release is a bug-fix version, with just a few changes:

  • Rewrote the Port service plug-in to use a helper app to do the work, to avoid instability caused by multithreading and resource usage issues.
  • Added support for the Preview function for the Port service plug-in. It displays the session script at the top, and the actual transcript of the check at the bottom.
  • Changed editor windows to not reuse the window instances, to avoid issues with windows appears incorrectly in some circumstances.
  • Added German localization, thanks to Manfred Brandstater.
  • Updated French localization, thanks as always to Philippe Bonnaure.

I'd like to give special thanks to Manfred for his hard work in getting the German localization done, and also to the couple of German Simon customers who provided feedback on pre-release builds. If you have any feedback on the localization (issues, suggestions for improvements, compliments for Manfred, general comments), please let me know.

Also of note in this version is the rewrite of the Port service plug-in. I've had several reports of crashes and other issues with SImon, which on investigation all traced back to the Port services. There was definitely something NQR there. It's a complex plug-in, though not the most complex. I've tried patching it a couple of times in the past, without complete success, so the time had come to refactor it more significantly. I moved the checking work out into a separate helper app (aka an "agent"). The plug-in launches the background-only helper when starting the check, which does the work, then quits itself when done. This allows avoiding multithreading, which I believe was a factor in the problems, along with some other optimizations that will make it more reliable. And worst case, if it does crash, it won't take out Simon in the process. The crashes do seem to be a thing of the past, though, which is great. Thanks also to the customers who tested pre-release builds with this change.

Another benefit of this refactoring is that it has allowed adding Preview functionality. The Port plug-in did allow previewing in an older version, but I had to disable it when I changed the way the plug-ins worked (from keeping an instance around for the life of the app, to using a separate one for each check). But now I've re-enabled this functionality, and improved it. The Preview window for Port-based services now displays the session script at the top of the window, and the resulting transcript of the check at the bottom (much like for Scripts). This is very handy for ensuring that the test is doing the right thing, or seeing more detail about why it is failing - e.g. whether the session script is incorrect, or the server is misbehaving.

Download Simon now!

Simon 2.3 released

Simon version 2.3 is now in general release!

As previously discussed, this release includes a new Mount plug-in, that works both as a service and notifier, and allows mounting and unmounting local, AFP, and SMB volumes. It also extends the Script plug-in to act as a notifier too, allowing great flexibility in notifications. Plus many other enhancements and fixes. See the release notes for more information, or download now!

Simon 2.3b1 released

I'm pleased to announce a beta release of Simon version 2.3. This update adds a useful new Mount service and notifier, that allows you to check if a local, AFP or SMB volume is mounted, and optionally unmount it. The notifier can be used to mount or unmount a volume as a result of a check.

It also extends the Script plug-in to act as a notifier as well as service. This means that you can now write AppleScripts, shell scripts, Perl, Python, Ruby, etc scripts to do some custom action when a test fails, recovers, or changes. This is a very exciting feature, that expands Simon's already extensive flexibility by an order of magnitude. Not to belabor the hyperbole, but with the new Script notifier, the notification options are now limitless!

This release also includes some new test options, to allow customizing the timeout interval and offline checking, some handy new variables, a number of bug fixes, and compatibility with the current Leopard beta.

There are lots of other nifty enhancements in this release; see the release notes for the full list, or download now!

This is a free update for licensed Simon users.

Pan-Mass Challenge software auction

Seth Dillingham is hosting a Pan-Mass Challenge software auction, as a fundraising project in support of his 300-mile ride across the state of Massachusetts for a cancer care charity.

He wants to collect hundreds of software products, which will be auctioned on eBay starting in July.

This is a very worthy cause, so I am donating 5 Standard licenses for Dejal Simon, plus 5 Household licenses for Dejal Caboodle (about $400 total value). I encourage other Mac developers to join in, too.

For more information on the fundraising, click this image:

Simon tip: detect unacceptable changes

Simon's Smart Change Detection feature looks for the text in the Start text box, then the End text, then compares the text between those two against what it had the last time it checked.

This is useful to detect changes in a portion of the page, but can also be used to detect unacceptable changes.

The usual way to do that is to just provide a Start text block, and not an End one. Then if the Start text isn't found, that is a failure.

So for example, if you do a telnet Script-based check, you'd want it to be considered a success only if this is output:

Escape character is '^]'

So you'd put that in the Start text block, and leave the End block empty.

Then if that text isn't found (as would occur if telnet couldn't connect to the server), Simon will log a failure.

Simon 2.2.2 released

A second bug-fix release of Simon 2.2, this version includes the following tweaks:

  • Updated the Specific DNS service plug-in to work with the version of the dig unix tool that ships with the latest Macs.
  • Added a little more exception logging, to help with diagnosing any future issues.
  • Worked around a known bug in the OS, where resources aren't freed properly if there are no user events (e.g. while Simon is working for a long time without human interaction).
  • Fixed a possible cause of instability when closing the Preview window.

This is a recommended update for all Simon users. Download now.

Added Simon web badges

[Badge2]

These are a couple of web badges for Simon that I've just added. You are welcome to add one of these to websites that you monitor with Simon, to reassure your readers that you're watching your site for failures or comments, and help spread the good word about Simon.

[Badge1]

To use these, drag the desired image to your Desktop to download it, then upload to a suitable location on your website (please don't just link to the images on my site). Then copy the HTML code below to the part of your page where you want the badge to appear, and change the image name and/or path if necessary:

<a href="http://www.dejal.com/simon/"><img src="simon-monitor2.png" title="Learn about Dejal Simon, the essential website and server monitor for Mac OS X" /></a>

If anyone wants to create more badges, or has any suggestions for other designs, please get in touch.

Simon reviewed on mac.pocket.at

Simon has just been reviewed at mac.pocket.at (in German). Read the review, or the automatic English translation.

Simon 2.2.1 released

Simon version 2.2.1 is now in general release.

As discussed in previous blog entries, it fixes some important issues, as follows. It is a recommended update for all Simon users.

  • Fixed an issue that affected some people, particularly those who use Apple Remote Desktop or similar remote control products, where Simon would erroneously display "offline", some icons would disappear, and sometimes other cosmetic issues.
  • Improved the reliability of the Script service plug-in, so it doesn't terminate the script before all output has been received.
  • Changed the Web (HTTP) service's plug-in to not record session-only cookies, to avoid issues with servers that get confused with such cookies in a different check (session).
  • Fixed an issue with the Growl notifier plug-in that prevented it from working properly under Mac OS X 10.3.9.
  • Fixed an issue with the Specific DNS service plug-in, where it didn't report a failure for some machine configurations.
  • Added test check overlap prevention.
  • And more....

Read the release notes for details, or download now.

Simon 2.2.1b2 released

Another beta release of Simon, to version 2.2.1b2.

This release fixes two minor bugs raised in the Simon forum:

  • Changed the Web (HTTP) service's plug-in to not record session-only cookies, to avoid issues with servers that get confused with such cookies in a different check (session).
  • Fixed an issue with the Growl notifier plug-in that prevented it from working properly under Mac OS X 10.3.9.

Enjoy!

Released Simon 2.2.1b1

I have just released Simon version 2.2.1b1, which includes a number of fixes; click that link for the release notes.

Of particular note, it fixes a rather vexing issue that only affected a few people (particularly those accessing their Simon machine via Apple Remote Desktop, it seems), where Simon would eventually go into an "offline" state, with icons disappearing and other strange behavior.

I was unable to recreate this myself, but fortunately one of my customers was kind and patient enough to help me by running a series of special builds with debug logging added, which allowed me to narrow down the cause. It finally turned out to be due to a known bug in the OS, where allocated objects aren't being automatically released as they should if there is no user interaction on the machine. So I solved that by managing their release myself in all the key areas.

Everyone who experienced this issue, please download this version. If anyone still experiences this issue, please let me know ASAP. Thanks to those who helped trace it, and for everyone's patience.

MacUpdate Promo finished!

The one-day MacUpdate Promo for Dejal Simon is over. Thank you to everyone who took advantage of this great deal. Welcome! I hope you enjoy Simon. Remember to check out the User Guide, FAQ and Simon Forum if you have any questions.

Get Simon at 50% off, today only!

SimonDejal Simon is available for just $14.95 today (for a Basic license), only via the MacUpdate Promo.

Click that link for more information or to take advantage of this one-day special!

Simon 2.2 released

It gives me great pleasure to announce (again) that Simon version 2.2 is now in general release!

It's been about a year since the previous version, 2.1.1, though version 2.2 has been in development and testing for much of that time, along with my various other projects. That's too long... I want version 2.3 to be much sooner than another year away!

This version does add lots of good stuff, though, as mentioned in the press release. I'm most proud of the new Script service plug-in, but there are several other new service and notifier plug-ins, many written by Daniel Ellis. Plus the Simon Monitor now has a more modern window appearance, and is a Universal Binary.


Enjoy!

Simon 2.2c7 released

I've just released Simon version 2.2c7, which hopefully will be the last general candidate release, and the last release of 2006.

I currently plan to do the general release next week, after finishing migrating my custom PHP-driven web pages to the new host, launching my new logo, and releasing beta versions of Caboodle 1.1, BlogAssist 2.1, and Macfilink 1.4. I'll also continue work on Time Out 2. It'll be a busy week.

MacSanta says Happy Holidays

There have been a lot of promotions involving Mac software recently - MacZOT, MyDreamApp, MacHeist, MacAppADay, etc. Each with different approaches, of creating new apps, selling discounted apps, or giving them away. But the latest is MacSanta, celebrating the festive season with 20% discounts on participating Mac software. A great thing about this promotion is that it is open to everyone - all developers and all users.

Dejal is participating in MacSanta, offering discounts of 20% or more on all products. What's more, I'm offering these discounts through the end of the year!

Just visit the Dejal Store before the end of the year to take advantage of these great prices!

Simon 2.2c6 and the switch to forums

I just released another general candidate version of Simon: 2.2c6.

It updates Simon to use the new Dejal Forums instead of the contact feedback form in the Help menu and toolbar icons. The reason for this is I want to encourage everyone to use the forums as the avenue of support, so others can benefit from the questions and answers.

I pride myself on being very responsive to customer support queries. I am the developer, but currently also provide all customer support - so you know you're getting answers from the guy who knows the software best.

Using the forums won't change that philosophy: I monitor them frequently, and will answer queries there just as quickly as via the feedback form or email. But it is my hope that others will join in to provide other perspectives, perhaps tips on things they've discovered from their own use, that may not have occurred to me yet. And even if I still answer every question myself, others reading through the forums can probably solve their issue more quickly if they see someone else's question on the topic.

Forums have lots of potential... but can be a bit slow to get off the ground. Give it a try!

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