(A short fictional story).
Disclaimer: All characters and events in this story are entirely fictional and any resemblance to real people and events is completely coincidental.
It’s 9.10am on Monday morning. The AV Support team receive a phone call from a cranky lecturer Prof. Bruce in the Einstein Theatre saying the AV system doesn’t work and that he needs it for his Economics lecture. He went on to say that it didn’t work last Friday either. Clearly not happy!
The Einstein Theatre had been upgraded to the latest AMX DVX digital componentry about 12 months ago and had been working flawlessly. It had the latest UI design and standardised facilities, and lecturers were generally quite comfortable with it.
Fred, the most experienced technician in the team was dispatched to the theatre to help Prof. Bruce. The theatre is on the other side of the campus and a good five minutes brisk walk from the AV Support office.
On arrival Fred was greeted by a polite but clearly frustrated Prof. Bruce – and 150 pairs of eyes watching his every move. Fortunately this sort of thing didn’t faze him anymore. “I really need this working so I can do my Powerpoint” said Prof Bruce firmly. “It stopped working halfway through my lecture on Friday afternoon”.
Rather than engage in a Q&A session with Prof. Bruce, Fred suggested Prof Bruce continue talking to the students while he sorted the problem. Fred was quite familiar with the configuration of the AV system, having been involved in its design from the outset. And his long experience in the AV field equipped him with a clear, logical approach to troubleshooting these types of faults – even under pressure.
He quickly noticed Prof. Bruce’s radio microphone was working, so the AV system was powered up and the audio system was working. But no image from the projector. A quick visual scan of the equipment in the lectern’s rack confirmed everything was turned on as it should be. The PC was on and Prof. Bruce’s Powerpoint slide was visible on the confidence monitor. The source selection on the touchpanel was all correct, ruling out user error. But a look up at the projector showed no sign of the lamp running.
Fred knew the projector was controlled via RS232 from the DVX’s port 1, and that the programmer polled the projector every 10 seconds for status information which is fed back to the touchpanel. A quick look at the DVX’s Tx/Rx LEDs showed the commands were being sent but not received – no Rx LED. That meant a couple of things could be wrong – dead projector, broken wire in the RS232 cable or faulty DVX. Fred quickly checked the RS232 plug hadn’t been bumped out of the back of the DVX in the rack, but couldn’t check the projector end because it’s 4 metres off the floor. Not looking good!
As a final check before giving Prof. Bruce the bad news, Fred looked up at the projector from below and noticed there were no standby LEDs – or any LEDs visible. No LEDs indicated no power at the projector. Fred knew there was an electrical switchboard in the corridor outside. And fortunately he has a key – because of his good standing with the Facilities Management department. A quick scan down the row of circuit breakers revealed one labelled ‘Einstein Ceiling’ (bless that sparky!) was tripped. He reset it and rushed back into the theatre to see the standby LED now lit. He reselected the PC on the touchpanel and bingo! It all worked.
After some applause from the students and thanks from Prof. Bruce, Fred left at 9.20am. Only 20 minutes lost. Plus another 30 minutes or so on Friday.
On his way back to the office, Fred reflected on how lucky he was to be able to rectify the problem so quickly. What if things were different? What if they had sent George the new guy? What if it was on a different campus with no on-site AV people? What if they hadn’t standardised the equipment across all theatres compared to the olden days when every theatre was different? What if he wasn’t so familiar with the operation of the equipment like he is now – thanks to that standardisation and design input? It all could have been so much worse!
Even though he was pleased with the quick resolution, Fred pondered how this could have been avoided. The fault had been there since Friday after all and it wasn’t about to fix itself!
As he walked, he thought about an article he’d just read in an e-newsletter from AMX by some guy named Phil Dunn. He was banging on about the benefits of centrally managing a large fleet of AV systems and about proactive maintenance – amongst other stuff. “If we had something like that, I could have known about the circuit breaker tripping on Friday. And fixed it well before Prof. Bruce’s class this morning” he thought to himself.
“Not only that, but I could watch the entire fleet of AV systems across all our campuses from the office and probably fix a lot of faults before they are even noticed. Wouldn’t it be great to get an email on my phone whenever a fault occurs? We wouldn’t be relying on lecturers reporting faults any more. Most don’t! We could spend our time doing more productive work instead of constantly running around checking systems. We could plan our maintenance better. Wouldn’t everyone be better off?”
“If only………” (sigh).