Monday, March 30, 2009

Back from Oz

Here is update on what is happening...

Peter and I are somewhat frustrated at the moment.

1) We are getting technical problems that interfere with going forward... Peter is trying to upgrade the security of all our systems, which involves putting in a new system called IPSEC. The server concerned keeps crashing - we suspect hardware even though its only 12 month old. Because he is testing for incoming connections, this stops incoming connections working, including our phone system!

2) This is only part of the security upgrade which we need to do this year. We had already planned this, but as a result of Peter going to ICCM in Holland earlier this year it has become a bigger priority. He met with folk from another similar group and in discussions with them security became a larger priority than it already was.

3) Coming back from Australia I am still feeling I am catching up. Australia has left me feeling I would be happy not to get on another plane for quite a few years - but expect I will have to - I really need to visit a couple of countries in North Africa soon. Australia was good - meeting with another group that is very similar to us and maybe have some projects together. However the main purpose was to meet with a group who have developed a replacement audience follow-up system which we need to replace pretty soon. It was good meeting with them, but concerning in that IF we partner with them and a group others here in the Middle East to roll out the system in Arabic it will mean committing one of our two programmers for a few years to the project.

4) The economic issues are affecting our programmers - one of our programmers is facing the challenge of trying to get a second job paying equal too or more than we pay to try to support his retired parents. There is no adequate pension in the Middle East! This means two things - firstly he will be less available to travel and secondly he aims to be working about 16 hours per day to get the money he needs. Its a nightmare really for people in this economic crisis.

5) I bought a new camera for the office in Brisbane [cheaper than UK or Hong Kong strangely] and have been getting all the extra bits needed [some on ebay] to make it do what we want since returning from Australia. I look forward to making the short pilot films we have planned for this year. I hope I don't get sidetracked by all this boring techie stuff... I am finding all the techie stuff wearing me down.

6) On a personal note, last week I sprained my arm moving the boat [I still feel 18 inside even though I'm slightly older than that] and didn't rest it and was climbing over the lighting grid at the youth theatre, and moving a table to the office guest flat and doing more lighting and then sanding down the seats for the boat... silly really... but left me with a VERY painful arm on Saturday - almost too much pain to sleep. It is getting better now, but I must rest it. Rest is not a word I really understand.

That's about it

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Email... I hate it

I was recently chatting online with a colleague from Egypt and mentioned that I had spent the trip out to a series of meetings in Australia trying to catch up with my email. Well, I've been here 3 weeks and I have just spent the evening filing some of the emails that have arrived and been dealt with since I have been here. I am beginning to hate email... and flying but that's another story...

Anyhow, he mentioned that he couldn't find a suitable way to file his email into folders. I'm sure mine is far from perfect, but Mac Mail has a great search function. Anyhow he asked me what my system was - it is firstly person name for those I deal with quite a lot, then alternatively company/organisation name for those companies that I deal with partly anonymously and partly when I don't have relationship with a person so might forget their name and finally I have some general topic folders for emails that don't fit into either of the other two categories.

But it is so big and so tiring dealing with emails. OK, so yes the emails to and from my family when I'm traveling are not tiring to deal with I like them... but the rest. I currently have about 450 individual person folders for people I deal with fairly regularly, 180 company folders and 40 general folders.

One of the things we deal with at the office is spam... creating methods of reducing it. Currently over 95% of the emails we receive at our server is spam. We have various methods that we employ to reduce that, so we get almost no spam into our email boxes. However the quantity of spam is increasing and increasing... and it looked like it might get to the stage where the world could not cope with the quantity of spam circulating and email would cease to function. Sometimes in my heart of hearts I privately hope this might happen... then at least I would not have to deal with them all!