Utility software

Simon 2.1

Dejal Systems’ Simon 2.1 is a Web site monitoring utility designed to help Webmasters and system administrators keep tabs on network servers and local applications. Swift and flexible, the program comes with several built-in services for periodically checking on Web, e-mail, and other network servers. In addition, Simon’s Session Capturing tool allows advanced users to add custom services.

Simon goes beyond just monitoring for service problems, though. The program also includes a feature called Smart Change Detection, which allows for more in-depth scrutiny of items such as text updates within a specific Web page. You can also use Simon to keep track of local applications. Its tests can check whether specific programs are installed or running. Simon comes with only two example tests, both for checking Web sites. Considering the wide variety of options available for each test—proxy settings, notification preferences, report options, and more—new users may find the interface a bit overwhelming.

Notifications and reports

Simon includes numerous notification options for each test. You can set the program to play sounds, send e-mail, launch applications, or announce changes using speech synthesis based on the triggering event (change, failure, or recovery). Simon also indicates the status of recent tests by changing its dock and menu bar icons.

Each window in the Simon interface includes a Question Mark icon, which links to a related page in the program’s Web-based user guide. The online documentation describes each window’s options in detail, but here too, it would help to have more real-world examples so that new users have an easier time navigating the many choices.

Simon now includes a report-creation function: You can set reports to run at specific intervals and either have the program save them locally or upload them automatically to a Web server via FTP. There are several default report templates, or users can create customized templates to match the design of an existing Web site. The report function is ideal for Web-hosting providers or Web developers who want to offer server availability reports to their customers.

Pricing for Simon is based on the number of tests you want to run, and the licenses are somewhat expensive: A basic license ($30) allows up to 7 tests; a standard license ($60) covers up to 20 tests; and an enterprise license ($195) gives you an unlimited number of tests.

I found Dejal’s technical support to be quick in responding to questions, which is good because the company frequently updates Simon by adding new features and bug fixes.

Macworld’s buying advice

Simon 2.1 is a feature-rich tool that’s ideal for Webmasters who need to monitor a variety of Internet services. Simon’s many testing and notification options give users a great deal of flexibility, although it comes at a somewhat high price.

[ Matt Vance is a technology consultant, Web developer, and freelance writer living in Austin, Texas. ]

Simon 2’s Monitor window allows users to observe activity on a variety of Internet protocols across multiple servers.

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