Thursday, November 29, 2007

Flashed past...

I have been back just one month and sometimes it seems like a year! Actually that's because so much has happened or rather so much has been done.

Having an administrator is definitely a blessing. They insist the administration gets done! So lots of the things that have been put on one site and hope they will go away have been found and are being done. What has become obvious is that too much of what happens around here is dependent upon my knowledge. And that's gotta change. And it is. I have set up a shared information system for the office so that instead of most files living on my computer they now live on the main shared information server.

Doing this was part technical and part administrative. Technically it involved setting up one of the office servers to be a samba server. Basically a samba server looks like a Windows server (and this one is set up to look like a Windows Domain Server as would be used in a secure office environment) but without any of the costs of actually having a Windows server! Alongside this I have added a Namazu full text search engine so that we can find any files on the shared server - it's no good having the information if we cannot find it! Alongside setting it up technically was copying the files from my computer to the right place on the server [all 1,538 of them] and sorting out with some sort of logic, which needed to be written down, for how we will all use the system.

Alongside this was the administrative task [which I had kept ignoring] of sending out all the invoices to our partner organizations, which should have been done within the last six months and which I hadn't found time for. Having an administrator also meant we had to make this more logical, so work out a proper budget and cost sheet etc. Great to have done and hopefully will mean that Paula can do most of the work in the future for these... as well as keeping lists of when they should be done etc.

Budget... yes, that has taken a lot of time, but we now have a 2008 draft budget, which Peter and I need to go through next week and agree how we will move forward in 2008. Cyprus changes to the Euro on 1 January, so that had to be taken into account and we are now working things out in Euros and Sterling so we can compare.

We now have a regular Monday morning meeting where we go through the past week and next week so that tasks are somewhat more structured. Of course in doing so we realise how unstructured we were and Peter thinks we need some way of prioritizing tasks.

Actually Peter has done a really great task this last month - he has researched and worked out a migration plan for changing our Internet connections. We met with the representative of one of the providers today and signed the agreement. Basically this will mean that we pay the same amount we are at the moment but will get 3 times the service - from 1.5M down and 256 up we go to 4M down and 756 up. This will help us in 2008 develop some of the video streaming we hope to do and also help us with better Skype and other VOIP calls around the region.

Talking of telephone calls, one thing that has been really bugging me has been the phone system in the office. Its really old and antiquated and takes a lot of time to keep working. One thing we are hoping to do is replace it with a new VOIP system next year when we get a gift from one church to pay for it. VOIP? Basically normal phone switchboards are analogue, using normal phones, whereas VOIP [which stands for Voice Over IP] uses digital phones that connect to the normal computer system and a server computer acts as a sort of exchange. We could really do with someone coming out for a month or two to set this up for us... any volunteers?

Today a couple of friends of Peter's arrived for a week as volunteers. One of them will be doing some redecoration - where we had a roof leak last winter the ceiling needs repainting, and the other person will be helping develop a structure for the short term projects. Short term projects? See if any of these interest you:
Oh, and I have also developed two Keynote presentations - one about our vision for showing to partners and guests and another for one of the churches that supports us. Keynote? Its the mac equivalent to PowerPoint and can be considered to be PowerPoint on steroids! Not that I'm biased or anything...

2 comments:

Fraser Edwards said...

An interesting list of projects Richard - I wish I was able to come out and do one!!

Regarding VOIP - have you considered outsourcing it rather than having to maintain it all yourself? I'm not sure of your specific needs but I've used http://www.gradwell.com/ for a while now.

Richard said...

Outsourcing? Interesting thought. Not met any outsourcing companies for VOIP in Cyprus though. We have talked to all the telcos and pseudo-telcos. And we want all the internal calls to be internal, and if we were routed though a UK provider what would happen if we had connectivity problems?