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Jerry Hofmann reviews The Troubleshooter

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Jerry Hofmann reviews The Troubleshooter
A Creative COW "Real World" Product Review



Jerry Hofmann Reviews ''The Troubleshooter'' from Intelligent Assistance
Jerry Hofmann
Jerry Hofmann
jlh productions
Denver, Colorado USA
©2002 Jerry Hofmann and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Jerry Hofmann reviews The Troubleshooter from Intelligent Assistance. If you get yourself into a bind technically with your setup whether it’s HD or DV, this Companion to the Companion is an incredibly reliable way to get yourself, say “out of jail”. It’s another clever and well-executed product from the company leading the way of interactive help and teaching of many media programs. Jerry recommends The Troubleshooter highly for anyone tired of flipping pages in a manual for a solution to their troubleshooting needs. It’s a very reasonable price too for a bunch for real honest-to-goodness professional quality help for a problem that’s usually solved with just a few clicks of the mouse.


Philip Hodgetts and company created a unique all digital “smart” troubleshooter for Final Cut Pro. As a fan of Intelligent Assistance’s products for some time now, I can say that new product is up to the quality we’ve all come to expect from Intelligent Assistance’s products. It’s a troubleshooter for your hardware/software setup. The information it supplies is quite complimentary to the company’s own “DV Companion for Final Cut Pro. Rather than help you with an editing technique like showing you how to make a dissolve, it helps you when a dissolve may not be showing you a real time preview. It’s a “companion to the Companion”, as it were.

This isn’t to say that it’s not a stand-alone product. It definitely is. The tool helps you troubleshoot your own system when things aren’t going as “advertised”.

Here’s its opening screen:
Give it a start clicking on the area of a problem, it asks you back some qualifying questions, you answer, and it starts giving suggestions right back. It gives you choices for solving the problem at each step of the way and gets deeper and deeper into your setup until it’s plain old correctly well, setup.

Here’s an example: Lets tell The Troubleshooter we are dropping frames. (Notice it’s the first thing that is listed as a common problem). Yes, Philip Hodgetts has read and answered so many questions on the boards here at the COW that he knows what to put early in the list! But never fear, if your problem is in a different area, just click on the Continue button there’s lots of other areas for you to choose from.

But we’ll just highlight the dreaded “Dropped Frames” problem and see where “Continue” leads us. The Troubleshooter gives you a 50% “Confidence Factor” that it’s a 50-50 chance that one of the four solutions presented are going to fix you right up! It also asks another question… which OS are you running? If the first four don’t do it, maybe there is something specific to the OS you are running that may be the cause of your problem. Yes folks, it’s not just a quickie question and pat answer that may or may not work in your particular setup! It’s smarter than that, and it also saves you from reading thru tons of unrelated material in case your solution is simple and common. It is always correct too. Intelligent Assistance has created a very interactive tool here that can “save” you time and time again.

So clicking on one the links (we’ll pick the first one) will reveal a slick drop down frame of information and Philip’s wise, easy to understand explanation of a possible problem and it’s remedy open up for you to read like this:


But let’s say that these solutions didn’t do the trick. So, we’ll answer the OS question, and since we are “cutting edge” sorts of folks lets say we are running on OS X.

Up pops this screen:


Another question has been asked, no extra solutions, so we’ll tell it we are capturing through a FireWire device. Click again on Continue and up pops this:

Asks us to try a different FireWire Cable… new solution, and Confidence grows… simply keep answering the next question if the presented solutions aren’t your problem and the Confidence Factor will grow and the possible solutions to your problem increase.

I kept clicking on all of the questions it asked about which Mac I was using, which version of Final Cut Pro I was using, that I was seeing the dropped frames on external monitor, capturing DV etc, etc… and each time I added another bit of information Confidence grew, and so did my options for clicking on various remedies to try. Very nice Philip and Company! This is so much more fun and more intuitive than a set of manuals, which usually don’t directly address issues that may arise because my system is either setup wrong or my settings have be setup wrong or whatever reason things are giving me a hard time.

It’s OS X native, OS 9 native, fun, informative, and will save your image so fast in front of a client, it’s scary. It’s pretty tough having a hardware problem say, or a software interface setup incorrect in front of a client, and you don’t know how to fix it. Tempers flair, clients walk out and you can be left with a very embarrassed and angry disposition… This tool will not only fix you right up by analyzing your condition you tell it your in, it will teach you to troubleshoot your own system yourself. I believe you learn by doing, and this little helper will tell you step by step in each of it’s possible solutions what to do to fix the problem. I’ll wager you won’t need to look it up again if it strikes again either… you’ll learn a lot using it. It’s everything you every wanted to know about troubleshooting Final Cut Pro systems in an interactive program that floats onscreen like a little mechanic, ready for repairs… and the little Sheriff logo pretty much says it all.

Another feature of the software is that when you run it, it checks Intelligent Assistance via the internet if there have been any updates to the software, so as things change say a new bug appears, or a new solution is found to anything related to the technical setup of Final Cut Pro, you get updated with new information for the life of this version of the Troubleshooter. In other words, all updates for Troubleshooter for FCP 3 are free. We will release a version of the Troubleshooter for FCP 4 some time after FCP 4 is released. A small upgrade price will be expected at that time, but all users of FCP 3 will have updates free.

If you get yourself into a bind technically with your setup whether it’s HD or DV, this Companion to the Companion is an incredibly reliable way to get yourself, say “out of jail”. It’s another clever and well-executed product from the company leading the way of interactive help and teaching of many media programs. I recommend it highly for anyone tired of flipping pages in a manual for a solution to their troubleshooting needs. It’s a very reasonable price too for a bunch for real honest-to-goodness professional quality help for a problem that’s usually solved with just a few clicks of the mouse.



My only wish is that it would remember my exact setup each time I ask for help, and just present me with all the possible solutions at one time. But I’m being pretty picky here, if it solves a major problem or keeps my blood pressure down, I’m all for it.I give it 4.5 COW’s.

Jerry




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