A few people have asked me recently about what I have been up to lately and I realized I have not written a post for a while. Life is going by quickly here, with the only thing slowing it down a bit is the little contact I have with friends and family back home. As many know, we just installed a much faster DSL Internet line at our house. This has been an extreme stress and frustration reliever as we no longer have to sit for 27 minutes while one small picture gets uploaded to our blog, or 18 minutes while one simple email gets downloaded! Now we can actually Skype! Its nothing like speeds in the US, and it still goes off and on, but it is better than what we had before! So, if you have a Skype account, our Skype names are on our contact page, and most of my emails. jmrwebcam and cdrwebcam.
So, recently I have been buried in technology. It’s easy to be a technology God in a country like this, so I’m enjoying the status for a while. Most of the computers here are running on 256k of ram, which is less than half the absolute minimum needed to turn them on. That makes for very long and frustrating troubleshooting. Many hours spent watching the hourglass turn or the computer to reboot. Fortunately, this is all I really do, so it’s working. Most of the technology is 8 to 10 years old, which works out really well for me cause it’s pretty much exactly what I worked with for the past 10 years too! Windows XP, Office 2002/2003, Norton Antivirus, Windows Server 2003. All quite good, but old.
I just got done cleaning up 5 pcs in our DAC (District AIDS Coordinator) office and networking them as a wireless Peer to Peer Ad Hoc network, which isn’t the best way, but it works well enough. Now the office has a good backup scheme and the 5 printers in the office are all shared and accessible to everyone, which was a huge issue before as each is either a colour printer or a scanner or a fax line. They had to continually share the one printer cable among 5 people. How ridiculous, but now I’m a hero!
When we first arrived I started working on the pc lab at Carols school, where there are 27 pcs and 3 servers. Of the 27 pcs only 2 were working and of the 3 servers only one of them was turned on! The 2 pcs were pretty much useless due to so many viruses, no internet and no networking. We got keys and authorization to help them out. We went in there one Sunday and spent 8 hours cleaning the place up (it was horrible) and inventorying and consolidating memory from non-functioning pcs to end up with 5 working, clean, networked, printer hooked-up pcs.
The school hasn’t had internet since 3/11 and no one was not sure why. I showed him the severed cable on the large satellite dish on the top of the building where some kids had stolen the connector. That alone would definately stop the internet from working. I bought a new connector ($5 US) but still could not get any signal. I think the school has simply not paid the satellite or DSL (they had both a satellite modem and a DSL modem, neither of which has a signal) bill. The Head Master insists it is the internet companies fault for not being able to repair the cable line. Anyway, we got called into the office the next day by the head master because the IT Director’s assistant came in on Monday and told him we did something bad (even though we did quite the opposite – I’m guessing she was freaked out my so many functioning computers that she had nothing to do with!) , so he, being the old, non-computer savvy headmaster that he was, basically told us to go home, enjoy our break and leave the computer lab alone. We protested and gave a plan where we could make at least 5 more pcs work for just the minimal cost of some memory, but we needed the internet turned back on. He insisted we just go home and enjoy our break. Even after we told him Carol would raise US funds to get him 25 brand new pcs and I would teach his IT director and a couple of star kids all about networking and he would have the premier computer lab in the country! I guess he is just scared of someone seeing that he is responsible for a school of 900 kids that has a pc lab with equipment just sitting there and none of it is functional. It’s so frustrating.
A while back I visited a fellow PCV volunteer, who is also a computer guy in his village and he showed me a world-wide organization that had just built a multi-million dollar campus with a brand new state of the art computer lab with a server and 25 brand new, top of the line pcs, all wired and ready to go. But no one knew how to turn them on and configure them with the server. This was October 2011. Today, 4 months later, Marion tells me the computers are still there collecting dust and have not even been turned on! Makes me sick! If it wasn’t so far away, I would probably be able to help, but it is too far for me to go.
Anyway, on the brighter side, I am currently involved in fixing computers for another Government Organization and also for a Charity Organization. I am also fixing a pc for a teacher here who is my neighbour and a couple other guys too.
I’m hoping to work with Carol on a new pc project at the local library here that has no pcs at all. We need to get a funding plan together and then all kinds of paperwork and protocols!
Its work I like to do, and I’m enjoying it!
So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately!