ColdFusion Troubleshooting ServicesIf you're a CF shop, admin, or developer with any server troubleshooting challenges, do you ever feel alone and stumped to resolve the problems?
Would you like someone to look over your shoulder (either remotely or on-site), who can solve many common CF server problems, often in less than an hour?
Experienced CF server troubleshooter Charlie Arehart is available and interested in helping, and may well be able to help you immediately, remotely, and quickly, therefore cost-effectively. More than just a solution, you also get an education, understanding how to better understand and resolve such problems, as previous clients have attested.
The rest of this page helps answer many of the common questions one may have in contemplating using Charlie's troubelshooting services in understanding:
- the remote troubleshooting approach he uses
- the pattern of troubleshooting techniques he typically follows
- the various rate plans and satisfaction guarantees he offers
Address: 405 Red Jacket Way, Alpharetta GA 30005 USA
You can also find Charlie on:
Troubleshooting Consulting - Short-term, On-demand, RemoteWith 15+ years experience working with ColdFusion shops and helping developers and admins solve nagging problems, Charlie Arehart can help:
- solve nagging crashes, restarts, etc
- tune poorly performing systems
- install, administer, and/or configure servers
- troubleshoot code and configuration
- recommend coding/config techniques
Contact him using any of the means above for an initial call or email discussion to determine whether he can help solve your most pressing challenges. Often he can be available to begin helping right away, via a secure, unintrusive remote connection. He's open to completing whatever confidentiality/NDA agreements you may have, of course.
He can also help with training, whether custom or packaged, including Adobe CF training and more, as discussed elsewhere.
Of course, Charlie also contributes his knowledge and experience freely to many mailing lists, forums, and user groups, for those who prefer to use those avenues to seek help from the community.
Remote Consulting: Looking Over Your Shoulder (Show/hide details)
You may be suspicious or even reluctant about remote consulting. If he's to help you look at your problem over the web, does that mean you need to open firewall holes/ports on your server or create an account, such as to use a remote desktop or VNC-type session? No! You don't need to open any ports or create any login for him. Instead, we'll use any of several desktop sharing solutions (whether one you prefer or one I can offer), which work over any browser and use a standard, secure HTTPS port. (After years of using Adobe Connect, Charlie has more recently preferred to use Join.me, which you can freely use for other screensharing sessions as well.)
"Do we have to install any software?"Only a very small plugin, if any. If you feel, "we can't install anything on our servers", that's ok: you can remote into your servers from your desktop/laptop and have the shared desktop session from your desktop while Charlie watches you remote into the server.
"But he's remoting/logging into our servers, right?" No, he does not need to "remote into" nor obtain any authentication information for your servers in order to look over your shoulder while use work on those servers. You will login into your machines (remoting in if needed), and he will just watch over the web as you do that. This is about working together, all with the goal of helping you help yourself and become more self-sufficient. (Of course, if there's some situation where you just want to give Charlie some responsibility to take care of something for you, which may involve remoting into your machine, that's an option as well.)
"Well, still, can Charlie see something on the server we don't want him to during a shared desktop session?" He sees only what you choose to let him see during a shared desktop session. If you do show him something confidential, or give him access to your servers, of course he will keep that information completely confidential. And again, he's happy to complete an NDA agreement as well if you'd like.
"OK, but what about security of the channel of communications?" The Connect session is SSL-enabled, so communications are encrypted. Only Charlie can see what's being shown on your screen. No one else.
"How will we talk?" While we'll do the screen-sharing via Connect (visit carehart.org/help when he tells you), we can speak by phone (Charlie is happy to call you, or can provide a number for you to call him if you prefer) or via VOIP, including within Connect, or using Skype, Google Talk, etc. And it's no problem to have multiple folks on your end join in from different offices or locations for both the sreen sharing and phone call(and you're free to record the phone or screensharing session if you'd like.)
What if we need help and are in another country? (Show/hide details)
Also, as for talking with each other, besides traditional phone calls, we can use either the Voice over IP solutions in the shared desktop solutions discussed above, or we can use something like Skype or Google Talk, if you'd like.
While Charlie is in the US Eastern time zone (GMT -5 most of the year), he's flexible in making arrangements (in advance) to work with you during what would be an odd hour for him.
What is the typical approach used? How is time spent? (Show/hide details)
- Review the most significant problems that have been identified by the customer, such as outages, poor performance, etc.
- Identify (together) the available diagnostics that may help provide explanation/evidence of their cause (as found in CF and elsewhere, including server, web server, and database server if needed), or in additional monitoring tools if available (FusionReactor, SeeFusion, CF Server Monitor, their alerts).
- Review (together) the diagnostics, connecting the dots between the observed problems and their root cause.
- If needed, enable (together) additional diagnostics that may provide further evidence (again, whether in CF or elsewhere). Some may require restart (and so can be delayed), others (like alerts) may require time for new evidence to be gathered.
- If needed and agreed to, implement free tools to help speed the review of diagnostic data.
- Identify possible underlying explanations for the root cause problem (whether configuration, traffic, or--generally less likely--coding issues).
- Discuss possible changes, and implement those we agree on (preferably not more than one at a time), then or perhaps overnight if a restart is required.
- Observe whether the original problem/s continue to exist, whether evidenced by user observation or diagnostics.
- Note that getting to this point can happen quite quickly (as little as an hour) for many problems, even ones that have plagued a server for weeks. Certainly some situations may be more complicated, but they're rare in the hundreds of engagements that Charlie has per year.
- Repeat the process as needed to see if perhaps new problems may arise (that could have been hidden by the other ones now solved).
- As desired by customer, review in more detail:
- how to understand and use the available (or newly enabled) diagnostics, so that customer is more self-sufficient in using them.
- how to understand the available configuration settings (CF and otherwise) that can impact performance, or aid/detract from diagnosis
- other opportunities for improvement (perhaps updates or security protections needed, or assisting with planned upgrades to new versions or new platforms)
It's in points 2-7 above where Charlie's vast experience helping so many customers really comes to the rescue. Even experienced CFers are often stunned to learn what diagnostics do exist, already. Or they saw them, but could make little sense of them. Or they had used what they saw to google for answers, and found many conflicting suggestions. Or they weren't sure of the likely effect of a configuration change, or how most safely to do it, or undo it.
Charlie's patient, calm, experienced guidance has often helped resolve even desparate situations, where income, jobs, or just a decent night's sleep were on the line. Customers report that he nearly always leaves them feeling far more confident about the problem, the solution, and how to better use diagnostics in the future.
Technical Background (Show/hide details)
Rates (Show/hide details)
|All rates include problem-solving AND training, combined|
|Short-term/hourly:||US$275/hr||15-minute minimum time increments.|
Satisfaction Guaranteed: you won't pay for time you don't feel is valuable1. Invoiced weekly, after engagement. 25% surcharge for emergency work (less than 4 hours advanced notice) and/or for work outside of 9am-8pm US ET, but again satisfaction guaranteed
|10-hour prepaid retainer, good for 12 months:||US$225/hr||10 hours, $2250, prepaid, no minimum time per session|
Invoiced in advance (but do see Engagement/Payment below if you're considering buying the retainer even before our first discussion of that). Hours expire 12 months after invoice date2. 25% surcharge may be charged for emergency work (less than 4 hours advanced notice) or for work outside of 9am-8pm US ET
|Multi-day engagement/hourly:||US$275/hr||Rate for extended short-term (remote or on-site) engagements3, plus expenses and travel time4. Invoiced weekly, after engagement.|
In considering these rates, note that Charlie's generally helping you solve a problem in an immediate (and generally very short) term. Also, where many troubleshooting consultants require a minimum number of hours (if not days), Charlie's happy to help in as little time as is needed. And he tends to be available within 4 hours of your request to start, if not sooner. Finally, you may be more used to lower rates for development consultants, but consider that you tend to hire them for weeks or months, not hours as with Charlie.
Most important, his goal is to help make you self-sufficient, so he's doing as much sharing of knowledge and educating as solving your problem, so you get more than just a solution, but an education as well. Indeed, because of this approach, Charlie tends to work himself out of the situations where he's brought in, as folks become more self-sufficient. Of course, he hopes you'll ask him back for more help on new problems when needed.
Combine the above with the fact that his expertise in solving problems helps him generally solve problems in far less time than folks who don't spend their days doing so (generally in less than an hour for most problems), and the rate actually becomes very good value. More important, keep in mind that since the approach used is to work with you, you're always in control of the time spent. No surprises.
Engagement/Payment (Show/hide details)
If you're ready to pay for an engagement, note first that Charlie does not require prepayment (except technically for the "pre-paid 10-hour retainer" engagement type.)
If you're considering the 10-hour prepaid retainer, please note that Charlie would prefer you not purchase it in advance of our engagement but wait until after an initial consultation by phone/web, to make sure that his services and approach are suited to your requirements. If, during that call, the decision is made to proceed, you can either make the purchase before proceeding, or make it after the fact, but the hours spent on that and any subsequent engagements will be deducted against the retainer once purchased. (In other words, you don't pay a penalty of the full rate for not "pre-paying" before deciding to go with the 10-hour retainer.)
For "short-term" or "multi-day" engagements, contact Charlie instead and after arranging the engagement, an invoice will be provided for services at the end of the engagement week. (See the previous section for more details on engagement types, rates, etc.)
Payment may be made either:
- by credit card (via link provided in invoice sent via email, as just discussed)
- by check (using contact details in invoice and above)
- by electronic funds transfer (favored often by those overseas. SWIFT code, acct #, and other details available on request)
Footnotes (show/hide details)
Charlie understands that it's possible on rare occasions your problem may not be solved in the time spent together, or that some of the time may not fully meet your satisfaction, so he offers a complete satisfaction guarantee. If you feel that some of the time with him was not worthwhile, just indicate so either during the call (again, you can control how much time is spent on any topic) or even after the fact, and the billing will be adjusted to your satisfaction. Fortunately this is something that rarely happens, but it has happened and the offer is sincere.
2About pre-paid 10 hour retainer:
The retainer hours must be used within twelve months of purchase (date invoice is sent). In exchange for the discounted rate, there is no refund of unused time, though an extension of time may be offered in extenuating circumstances.
3About extended short-term engagement:
While it may seem that the discounted 10-hour retainer rate could/should be used for an extended short-term engagement, that retainer is really intended for use with multiple small engagements (typically not more than a couple of hours in a day) used over an extended period of time (again, up to a year). When a single client requires an extended duration of help in a short time (several hours a day over a couple of days), that complicates serving other clients, so the discounted rate is not appropriate.
4About travel time rate:
Charlie must charge for travel time, since while he's traveling to work for you, he can't be helping others. Travel time is charged at a rate of 50% of the hourly rate, for the time spent getting from his home/office to the destination hotel/office, and returning. So for example, that might be typically about 2 hours from home/office until on boarding the plane, plus the time until landing, then about 45 minutes from landing to being in the hotel, and then the reverse returning to his home/office. Please contact Charlie to discuss challenges, concerns, or possible extenuating circumstances with respect to this travel policy. His first priority is to help you get your problem solved.