Karmiel overnight work project

Last week I had to go to our remote site in Karmiel, this required wednesday and thursday away, its a 2.5-3 hour drive away.

Packing stuff to take.  laptops, tools, CDs, iPod for the long bus journey, overnight bag and clothes.   Think I will make sure there are some tools and CDs already at this site, so there is less to carry in future.

Also my bike helmet and lights as I need to ride to the main station.

I didn’t get any pictures of Karmiel sadly, as when we finished work it was dark.

There are these amazing hills that surround this town though, as this picture I got on thursday morning before work shows.

Servers to be patched and updated, unfortunately we hit some snags that meant we need to come back and do this another time.

Me and my colleague got lots of small little problems done here, quickly visited a local PC store to get some cooling fans and mice to replace broken ones, and now one of the PCs no longer sounds like an elderly blender.  I managed to set up the remote software (UltraVNC) properly so we can remotely take control of systems from HQ to fix a majority of problems that may happen.   Also managed to write some more documentation and update our software licencing spreadsheet.  Some things like the wireless routers we didn’t have time for, so I took one back with me and I will configure it and have it shipped back.

All these things mean that our staff can carry on feeding poor families without being held back by technical issues.   Its always good to do preventative maintenance that will look out for IT problems than can cause far more trouble if left in the future.

Heading back to Tiberias, its a real joy to go along these roads, the scenery is beautiful.  From Tiberias we caught the Egged bus back to Jerusalem.

Into Tiberias, (the main city overlooking the Sea of Galilee) as traffic was hectic and it was dark once we got there.  Left: In the middle of the high street was this ruined building, but I am not sure how old it is.  I would guess Roman seeing as this city is named of a Roman leader.  Right: It may be a little hard to see past this tree, but there is a fish shop there, right opposite the sea where Jesus and his disciples used to fish.

Quick visit to Karmiel

On Wednesday afternoon I was asked to do an emergency trip to Karmiel to look at some IT problems at our food bank there.

This extra food bank warehouse is much larger than the one in Talpiyot but has only about 6 staff there.  This building operates to help Israelis from Russia or from other ex-Soviet Union countries.   As it is only about 15Km from the border with Lebanon, this area suffered much during the 2006 Lebanon war.   The food bank also sometimes supplies new immigrants with new blankets, sheets, pots, pans and kitchen things who have recently come into the country with very little.

I can normally do changes to the computers in this location using remote software (VNC or remote desktop)  but a visit in person was needed to check out problems and give users some reassurance and assess PCs for any possible future problems.   Some printer issues I quickly sorted out, some wireless routers were set up, I didn’t know we had these are they didn’t show up on my Spiceworks network management software.   These seemed all working but no-one know the wireless keys to access them as it doesn’t appear they have been used, so I had to reset them and ensure they were set up correctly so visiting senior members of staff can get on line when visiting.   The rest of the day I was working on making sure users have a secure reliable browser for internet use (getting rid of Internet Explorer 6 and move to Firefox)   and testing UPS systems (box with car batteries to keep essential equipment safe from power failures)   I had enough to keep me busy for the day, but nothing really too much to worry about.

As the drive in a colleague’s car was about 3 hours from Jerusalem, I decided against trying to get home that day by bus and stay with one of the Karmiel team at his flat about 20 minutes walk away.  The three of us got a couple of pizzas and had a few glasses of Russian beer which was in the shape of hand grenade!   I was quite amazed how my American friend speaks Russian to visitors to the office there with such ease, he has a real gift for dealing with Russian, Ukrainian and other Israelis originating from former USSR states.

This is the food bank in an industrial estate in between factory units that had a strong smell of cellulose paint at one side, and oily smell from several car garages at the other.  Sorry these are grainy phone pics, I brought my camera but left the battery in the charger in my house (bah..)

Although I only got a picture of the petrol station I went for my lunch, the town itself is beautiful.  Its only officially existed since 1964, there are nice neat gardens everywhere, with flower beds in roundabouts and by the sides of busy roads, and although some of the concrete blocks look a bit shabby, several of them have been nicely painted up recently.

View out of the window of the flat.   Looking at each side of the house, every direction reveals several mountains in each direction, its no wonder on the way home, I was not able to find a radio channel in the car that worked!   There are also some Arab towns on the outside of the town.

I definitely need to come back and have a closer look around, this place is a good base point for me (there is an empty apartment I could book out to stay there) to visit northern Israel in more depth.