Sunday, April 23, 2006

No news for a month

I started this blog thinking people might be interested in knowing what I was doing... since a number of people support me in this. However, I have had no emails from anyone or any comments from anyone so I have kindof lost interest and find doing this a bit of a chore. If nobody wants to read it, why bother?

So what has happened in the last month? Well, the live video and audio relay went pretty well. It was much smaller than last year, but there were still about 30-40,000 listeners and about 8,000 viewers over a period of a week. So although it was much smaller, it was obviously a worthwhile exercise. Bacause of where it was coming from there were numerous breaks in the feed. As someone who used to work in professional broadcasting this is pretty frustrating, especially as there is 'off the shelf' satellite technology that w0uld make it work very well indeed.

I also visited a country in North Africa to talk to the main editor of one of the websites we developed and host. We get about 60,000 visitors a month to this site and we have just finished rebuilding it totally. Most of our websites are media oriented, ie they have a lot of audio and video content, but this one is about 98% text. We have just turned on something called 'Google Analytics' which enables us to see where people come from, which is a total of 91 countries. It even breaks it down by city so I see nearly 700 visitors from Riyadh and even a handful from Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Some of those people are now responding to the message and we've been creating a new website for those who want to go on from an initial contact and know more about what we believe.

We've had a programmer [Michael] out here for a couple of months creating a stable system to integrate SMS messages into our work. Some of you will know that I created a system about a year or so ago to do this, but there were two problems with this: Firstly the programming I did was great 'proof of concept' but really needed a professional programmer to write a cleaned up reliable system for rolling out around the world. Secondly the hardware we had been using was not really up to it and so we had to use different hardware which meant it had to be re-written from the ground up anyhow. So that was what he was doing. It's close but not finished... and it should have been finished by the end of April.

One of the problems faced was the Arabic long messages. SMS messages was supposed to be a Short Message Service, but for many people in the region it has tended to replace email and has become pretty long. Some of this was documented, some of it was covered by sections in the specification that read 'reserved for future expansion' and then Michael had to dig around and try to find out if anything was written about the future expansion that was actually being used. Anyway, he has decided to stay on for another month which should complete the porject. There is probably enough work for him to do if he came back full time... so maybe that will happen.

In between all this Peter and I have been trying to get all the servers completely moved over to the new cluster in Frankfurt. We moved another one over last week and will make that live this week and hopefully complete everything before the London contacts run out at the start of June.

We hope to be start regular weekly live broadcasts in the beginning of May and this week a Scandanavian will be flying out to discuss this project. He has been involved in running an FM station in Sweden, so his input will be valuable.

As you have probably gathered from the beginning of this post, I am somewhat fed up. The stresses over the church have really got to me and I'm currently taking a break and then kind of looking around for another place to go to church. Although there are 8 english speaking churches in our town none of them seem a good match and I will probably end up at whatever I consider to be the least bad option... which is not very motivating to say the least. I feel closer to God out sailing than I do at church right now. At least when we look at nature we don't see men leading people astray!


Fraser Edwards said...

Richard - just to let you know I've been lurking, reading and enjoying your blog! Sounds like things are tough going just now but some interesting projects in there too.

I would encourage you to keep on blogging. I was last in Cyprus in 2001 and reading the blogs from you and your family reminds me of the time there :-)

Rosemary said...

Hi - I look sometimes but just recently there's been nothing new to read :-)

It's good to feel a little bit in touch with you all so don't give up the blog unless you really want to.

Anonymous said...

yes keep going ....interesting blog