Our UK office had some IT gremlins that was making things a bit hard for them, so I volunteered to go out and get a train all the way to Bridgend in South Wales and stay with one of the managers there.
Going long distances on a train is very pleasant way of traveling. Gone are the days of ancient slam door trains which had some charm, even if you had to stick your hand out of the window to open the outside handle to get out. (I used to commute from Fratton to Fareham back 10 years ago) Modern fast trains means getting around the country doesn’t make the UK look like an embarrassment compared to the transport systems of the rest of Europe. Going by rail means you get to see all kinds of things you don’t see in a car or bus, peoples gardens, derelict factories, nature, mostly deer, rabbits and foxes that aren’t afraid of being close to the line, also a glimpse of the city of Cardiff with its mix of old and new architecture together blended well.
This was great as I managed to get almost everything done there (apart replace one antivirus app which I did later using remote software) The new email system was put in, and the old email addresses were merged into the new system. Google Apps, which includes the business version of the popular web based mail client Gmail is quite a pleasure to set up and use, some aspects are a little quirky maybe to get used to if you are used to a traditional Microsoft Outlook client for email, but better when you get more used to it. I will blog more on specific aspects of this another time though. The migration project was a complete success even though this was a new type of project I have not done before, plus it didn’t cost anything to our organisation either, I have had one support question to answer for this team so far which is better than I expected. The staff will not use Google’s word processor or spreadsheet app at this time, as they will stick to Word and Excel like the rest of the organisation for the time being.
I needed to go out and buy a new hard disk to replace one that was too small on one staff member’s PC, this was done just as the office closed and I fitted it and cloned everything across the next day. The rest of the time I replaced Internet Explorer with Firefox, Nero with Infrarecorder for CD burning, Windows Media Player/Quicktime with VLC player for playing all kinds of audio and video content. All these apps are just more simpler and efficient without the drag of unexpected (annoying search toolbars etc) bits included, open source can work extremely well in business, seeing as applications can be written more in mind of people who used them.
The evenings I spent in Wales were also good, I got taken out for dinner at a very old pub (at least 300+ years?) in a nearby village, this pub had a large collection of Toby Jugs hanging from the ceiling, and looking outside on to the garden there is an aviary with budgies in but also some chipmunks, which I noticed one of these furry fast movers had got out and was running around the patio. After a nice cod and chips and pint of Brains (beer from Cardiff) I did a brief bit of remoting into the office from my laptop to check on the 2800 emails to migrated over to the new system from one user which took a few hours to do. The next day we went out for a curry as well, so I was extremely well fed on this three day trip. The pictures didn’t come out right on the phone, but the beach outside had views over the sea onto Devon!