More IT work in Galilee

Here is my good friend and fellow Hebrew student Jimmy, these days hes helping Bridges for Peace up in this building now loading up pallets of food that will be transported around to Israel’s most needy families.

Some of the new equipment I received has European electrical plugs on it, rather than Israeli ones which often happens.  This will work, but without a grounding pin, there is safety issues and the equipment may not be protected by surges or storms although there is a UPS system here.  As I didn’t bring any more electrical cables with me, I cut off the the plug and wire on a Israeli fitting.

Added an extra network switch here to provide more room for expansion for this building, especially as putting an extra PC for a new member of staff.   I did have some rolls of velcro but I left them behind, so it wasn’t possible to make all the wiring look neat sadly, it needs some re-jigging to enable the glass door to shut also. 🙂

I needed to change some settings on the wireless networks, so took my work Sony laptop and found I got 4 out of 5 bars at the other end of the huge warehouse here.  I was quite impressed the wireless had such good coverage.   I would like to get an extra router running as a spare sometime a bit later.

This cupboard holds our communication equipment, these mysterious warning stickers are from the previous business that was here as there was chemicals that were stored here previously.   I made some interesting discovery based on some stuff in the bible I had been reading lately….

At work, the Talpiyot food bank team, replacing LCD screen on Acer Travelmate laptop

Work has been busy this week, actually I am not often not busy, but had some trouble with a PC that sits in the Talpiyot food bank that is supposed to back up everything off servers, this essential running box was showed as off on my Spiceworks console, and after I went over and replaced the power supply, the next day it did it again.  The PC had to be replaced and took good few hours to get it running the same.

Talking of such, its been very very hot in Jerusalem, temperatures have been up to 37c (thats 100F)  so cycling 4 miles to the office in scorching heat is pretty tiring!

Other things I had to do with to set up new members of staff, get a Russian speaking colleague who is based in Karmiel access to a database, he works with immigrants from Russia and ex-Soviet states who live in the north.

But as well as this I managed to put a new screen in a friend’s (ie: not one my work’s assets) laptop.  This Acer Travelmate laptop had liquid that got in the LCD from an accident with some olive oil, great for your health but not for laptops, the screen works just has some weird blobs in between the layers of thin plastic inside the screen, this would eventually cause the LCD to fail altogether as they are fragile.   When I went back to the UK I ordered a new LCD display and carried it in a box on the plane, so I was a little nervous that this part was all right, it cost me UK£70 ($100) from a specialist laptop spares company in the UK….

Out come the little rubber pads on the screen fascia.  Then take out all four screws.  Gently prise and flex the screen fascia out, the old LCD is freed from taking out 4 tiny screws from the long steel hinges that give the top section rigidity and also double up as antennae for the wireless card, then the screen can put flat down has the ribbon cable disconnected and two little wires from the inverter that supplies voltage to the screen.  The new screen is put in its place and I put the screws in loosely and tighten them up one at a time, as it needs to be jiggled a bit into place….

Hooray it works!!!  The volunteer who asked me to fix this gave me a bit of extra money which paid for my Dead Sea trip before I went away, so it was a blessing I could get this fixed for her, and she could provide me with means to do some exploring I did with friends at a weekend a month ago.

The IT workshop has three desks and half a dozen PCs as this room has our database expert (Gilad) sat here, we also had Shirley our American-Chinese IT specialist who took care of a lot of problems at this site, but she has left now (we miss you, come back soon!!) and there is a bench with lot of stuff in pieces to be rebuilt and put back into service.  At my main desk in headquarters I just have one PC and few spare parts and a server room I look after…

There is another Acer on the pile of PCs in the background, this has a full hard disk and need some software tweaking to fix it. (change data around the two partitions on it)   I am going to order a new power supply for this as the one the volunteer as its a bit unreliable and held together with tape.

The food bank floor team are having a bit of cake and ice cream after lunch (why I look forward to site visits there)  but don’t let this deceive you, this team work very hard hauling food onto pallets, several tons a day that are shipped to some of the most poorest and needy Jewish people in Jerusalem.  People do come and go fairly often, as people come to the end of their commitment is always sad.   Here you can see these pictures shows staff ranges from the US, South Africa, Japan and Finland.   We have had people here from every continent.

Overall this week has been extra busy, but got most things done I needed to do and it has been fun.

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.