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documentation and follow up

Page history last edited by rsb 8 years, 7 months ago

Work follow up:


With regards to the business done in Sierra Leone, in the final analysis, we know what worked and what we could get done quickly.  What we could do in two and a half days per site exceeded our expectations.  This we know you can do:


  • Set up wired networking and basic networking class.
  • Set up wireless networking, including range extenders and client config, network debugging class.
  • Network cable making and repair class and repair any bad cables.
  • Shared network drive class, including groups, users, and backup strategies, config of a RAID NAS box.
  • MIS system software configuration and client configuration for networked database apps, and bug reporting class.
  • Paper based documentation and a start on the wiki based documentation.  
  • With extra time to setup network printing, some software updates, and minor security training, consulting on longer term projects like vpns, ups's etc.


If there is no gear in place on site, it will cost 1000USD to get the gear.  Of course, 2000USD will buy spares of everything.


I'm working on documenting the networks we set up, and putting together a standard one-day curriculum for it.  That's a work in progress that is initially aimed at helping ARD and SMT, but could help others.  I put some effort into making the particular gear set we used the simplest and most reliable at a reasonable price, and I think it could be generally useful in combination with some docs.  I'm going to throw together a quick wiki for that.  I'll throw a link here when I make progress on the network training wiki.


For the moment, here are some things we know need work:


  • Website modification requires a second, additional, hands-on web dev class to build confidence.
  • Even with experience writing good bug reports and knowledge of network shares, additional experience is required to build confidence in installing and debugging networked database applications (like the microfinance software used at most MFIs)
  • Check-ins and encouragement are required to form a wiki culture - some follow on training is needed.
  • In the case of catastrophic equipment failure - equivalent, alternative equipment is difficult to source locally.
  • Some additional tasks, such as porting all mail and calendar to a unified system, and additional security training, could be done fairly quickly and would be helpful. 


Finally, there are two very important considerations to take into account:


  1. You need to meet with top management on exit, explain the benefit of maintaining systems, and that the people who have been trained need to be motivated to maintain the gear, ask for help when they have problems, and train others, or that benefit will be lost.  This might be my key takeaway from the trip.  There are social problems in introducing change.  All problems have a social aspect, and it usually more important to the solution than all other aspects.  The head of the company is the consistent feature - they doen't have to solve all of the social problems to get things done - they can define jobs.
  2. Online apps (gmail, pbworks) that are designed primarily to be used online, will be much less useful if the business using them has less than 56kbits of reliable bandwidth per user.  Driving adoption will be very, very hard.


There is no solution to the bandwidth problem for most rural businesses in Africa proper at this point in time, but it's a matter of time.


Vacation Follow Up:


I hope I don't discourage people from visiting Sierra Leone.  The people of Sierra Leone are welcoming and wonderful.  The countryside itself is beautiful as well.  


The only real warnings are: First, you have to defend against mosquitos.  Second, you definitely need to watch yourself and your valuables at the airport.  Third, you shouldn't travel at night due to bad traffic/drivers/other hazards.  However, all those are solvable and it's a very safe country otherwise.  I had zero problems in Sierra Leone and got healthier due to the awesome climate.  However, as soon as I got back from Sierra Leone to San Francisco, a reckless driver talking on his cell phone rammed into my bicycle and shattered my elbow (I'm getting better).  You have to be just as careful over here as over there.


The country, as you can see, is an amazing place and it's quite an experience.  When I go back, I want to use tribe wanted as my base of operations if they will let me.


Check out the woodcutters cute doggie outside his shop at lakka: (all the pics we took are on http://richbodo.smugmug.com )


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