Into Our Second Week of IT Training

Tuesday, 15 Apr:
Yesterday we began the second week of our IT Connect training course, held in Kenya.  Thank you for praying for our IT courses and the participants!  The training is going well, covering a lot of topics useful to the IT guys who support field offices which make Bible translation possible.  The 28 participants in the course are strengthening relationships with each other as they get to know one another better and build friendships.  This is an important factor in African culture.  The participants attending the course come from a number of countries in central, south, and eastern Africa, representing SIL and Wycliffe partner organizations.

Starting this week we discussed an important topic which often gets overlooked: planning for disasters.  In Africa things like lightning, fire, extreme temperatures and unstable power conditions are common threats to IT services.  Also civil unrest is quite common in some countries where translation and language development is taking place.  When all expatriate staff have to evacuate from a country, leaving only the national translators there to continue the work, what happens to the support for computer systems, power, and Internet connectivity?

These things don’t just run on their own without ongoing maintenance and tuning from the IT staff.  So it is very important to make sure that planning is done ahead of time to be prepared for such situations.  This is part of why we are conducting this training, and as you can see from the photos a good number of the participants are nationals, working in their own countries.  These guys won’t be the ones evacuating, but will still be there to provide IT services to the translators, making the work more sustainable even in times of unrest.

Over the weekend I completed the development of a course on Cloud Computing which I taught this afternoon.  While the use of the “cloud” - Internet services where data can be stored and accessed - might not be practical in Africa today in many situations, we know that it will become more possible as better Internet access becomes available.  So my goal is to educate the IT guys about what is happening, so that when the people they support come to them asking for a cloud solution, they will know how to provide good advice and avoid some of the common pitfalls.

Our Internet access at the center where our training is taking place is not much better than last week, and is still unstable, but since I have been using a prepaid cellular data service through my Smartphone, I have been able to get to what I need online and it is working quite well.  Krista and I have even been able to connect with each other using video to say hello, which makes it feel like I am closer to home.  Today I even was able to participate in a video conference with my coworkers in the USA for a project status meeting, and the technology worked perfectly!

I am very thankful to have a solution to the problem that was plaguing me last week.  Most people will think, “No problem, who needs the Internet?”  But when it is critical for me to work, it is actually more important than having a bathroom! (The accomodations are very nice here and we have indoor plumbing by the way.)  Thanks again for your continued interest and prayers for this conference!

Below, I uploaded a picture of a cell phone SIM card which I had to cut with scissors to fit into my newer model phone. The newer phones come with "mini" SIM cards, which are smaller than the normal SIM cards which have been used for years. Fortunately it is possible to trim them down on all four sides to make them fit into a mini SIM card phone. That's something I had not done before, and of course if you cut the card wrong you can wreck the card, so it was sort of like doing surgery, being very careful and precise! The card does work fine!

The original SIM card which was in the phone is the small white one near the bottom, and the new card which I purchased in Africa is the darker color one above it.  The small scraps which I cut off are between the SIM cards and the Sharpie pen.

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