Saturday, March 04, 2006

Trials, tribulations and good news...

Another week gone by and it seems like only one day. This week has been marked by trials, tribulations and good news.

So first the good news. We have another volunteer for 2 months out here. He arrived late on Wednesday evening. He is a programmer and his job is to create a program that will take SMS messages and put them in a database and messages from the database and send them as SMS messages. This is part of our upgrading of the SMS system.

I had written a program to do this, but it suffered from two problems. Firstly the hardware we had been using for the purpose were normal domestic mobile phones connected to our servers. These proved to be too unreliable. Secondly in order to communicate with these Nokia mobile phones we had to use some software called gnokii. That was designed for talking to 1 mobile phone only. In order to get it to talk to more than one mobile phone I had to do some very complex programming, which proved to be unreliable and make the whole project unstable when using more than one phone.

We have now found some new better professional Desktop mobiles from a British company called Burnside Telecom. These appeare very much better and the task of the programmer is to write a new simpler [and therefore more reliable] program to talk to these units.

So, that't the good news... we had got a new computer ready for Michael [the programmer] to use. It was using a spare motherboard we had and we bought new components to go with it. On Thursday we turned it on for him and within 10 minutes it froze. We rebooted. Within 10 minutes it froze... again and again. We tried different configurations and new hard drive and... it froze. So that had to be taken to the computer shop for them to look at. In the meantime Michael is using an old computer we have as a 'lab' machine for testing. This is old and slow. So inappropriate for him to use for the project.

And... CYTA... [the main telephone company here on the island] decided to do an 'upgrade' to the DSL system in our town this week starting very early Wednesday morning. Upgrade? Hmmm... it took most of Wednesday to get one of our two links working again. The other, which was with a different ISP, took till Thursday evening to get working. The other ISP blamed CYTA for the disruption. And it took till late Thursday evening to get all our facilities back to normal. Yuk. I hate ISPs that cause us more work!

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