Thursday, April 19, 2012

Problems...Solutions (Part 1)

Trying to fix the computer problems at ecole Notre Dame in Mboro, Senegal is like are remodeling job:  it's always more complicated than you think, takes longer and costs more.  The only way to find out what you "really" need is to open up the walls and see what's inside!

When I arrived here last fall (2011) I thought I was only going to be repairing and upgrading OLPC XO laptops that were installed as part of the original OLPC program here in the fall of 2009.  However, it soon became apparent that the problems were well beyond that.  There had been a large storm with heavy rain  and lightening that ended up causing a lot of problems:  the server and underground cabling were "fried" and all the wireless routers had been removed from the classrooms.  In essence, nothing was working.  Not even the internet connection into the main office.  Cables were broken or missing, and stacks and stacks of xo laptops were in need of triage.  The job just got bigger.

The hard part has been trying to figure this all out.  Which things are working and which are not? and then looking for replacement parts, equipment, etc. And what makes this even harder is that I live in Dakar with my family, and the school is in Mboro - about a 3-4 hour trip by public transport.  And there is limited computer equipment available in Mobro and even in Dakar it requires a lot of searching.  It's not San Francisco.

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