Monday, November 29, 2010

Yes, we have no computers!

... and so it came to pass, that I extracted the last of the tested to boot boxen from the warehouse, and there were.... no more....

Well, that's not quite true, since the flow is pretty constant. But the fact is there was a stock of two or three hundred, and all of those have been shifted over the year. This is helped by the fact I recently "homed" about sixty off lower spec. boxen with a project to equip the homeless with computing skills and, at the end, send them away with a computer!

I love the idea of that project and am hoping to follow it and do what I am able to make it a success...

I shall aim to post on the subject as and when...

But for now I am left to contemplate the almost impossible to imaging possibility that we BUY some computers!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

php hacking and quotes

SOOOoooo the latest news on the Comm-Tech front is that we should be sitting pretty to help with the local councils IT refresh this year. And to that end I have found myself hacking a piece of php half way to death for an applet to quote the price and email us when they give us the numbers and details to collect.

I have almost hacked it back into life - it's a shame it was nice clean code until I came along!

I shall be emailing them with a data destruct invoice an at the same time I shall let them know about the web-app and we shall see if the orders come rolling in, it would be really good if they do and especially gratifying if my App works and helps with the process (esp. since it means they can raise the PO when they make the request, so we should have no delayed invoices and payments will help with our cash flow!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Email Ettiquette

Uh Oh:- I just finished a website complete with new domain based email address.... and during the process I sent a number of emails to the addie which were, how to put it, less than tactful regarding the site ownership and development.

And now the person who I assumed would be in sole charge of the mailbox, to whom the comments I made were appropriate, has left. The mailbox, however, remains and has been turned over to a rota of people to maintain, any one of whom would be perhaps upset by what I had to say (albeit mildly) I have no idea if she deleted the emails or not.

Although I have the power to go in and remove them myself that is simply not right.

There's a lesson here - and I thought I'd post it not just for the benefit of others but also to remind myself to watch what I email sometimes!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Some big stuff...

I am hoping we'll be involved in the annual IT refresh for our local council....

There was a fifty off order recently which I thought would clear all our most venerable boxen.... but I am chasing screens at less than £20 a pop to make it....

Last but not least I am really hoping a mate secures a tender for many metric tons of REEE - and if he does that we can take a slice of the action....

Friday, May 28, 2010

For my next trick...

It has been a productive time at work, and now I am taking a weeks holiday.

To earn it there were a few jobs I had to complete last week, and the upshot was I had to put together around thirty computer systems and repair about six. It was hard work to complete, but ultimately rewarding. At the same time the recycle side of things is picking up and there is a very good take up for our cycling collection trailer service, which I intend to place prominently on the website soon.

But for now.... Holiday is the thing. I even shutdown my desktop so there could be no temptation to remote in and do a little more! I guess for the REAL guarantee of not doing so I should have to leave the data key with my work SSH encryption code behind, and that's not going to happen!

OK, I shall only post from the weeks holiday if it is relevant to tech stuff, who knows, there amy not even be wi-fi at the Beadnell Towers!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Silver Surfers and Comm-Tech

A lesser known event is the upcoming "Silver Surfer's Day" on Friday. I thought Comm-Tech were sitting pretty with an invite to the local library where we could help and give some level of presentation or at least a presence. But on Wednesday morning I find an email from the librarian which indicates we are not actually invited! This is bad news since we cannot really host an event and it is too short notice now for me to find another organisation we can piggy back on - though I shall try.

But we have still managed to come up with something. I have a one page leaflet linked from our website and the unique offering which we are hoping will appeal is not only that we offer a very affordable computer but that we shall deliver and do a basic install for £40, using our new "cycle person". I'm pretty excited about our having a cycle delivery/collection option anyway, apparently they are tech enough to do the basic install "light" option and it means I can offer them a little more for those than the measley £20 for collections.

I need to find out where we are sourcing them, but the idea is we supply these models complete with preconfigured pay-as-you go dongles so that they are online right off without the hassle of finding and ISP and doing things with their telephone or cable, and no standing bills if they do not take to it or stay a very light user. I guess the only downside would be someone with problematic mobile signal, but in our urban catchment hopefully this will not come up - and if it does we shall just have to deal with it then.

I have taken the idea a little further and am wondering if we can come up with a "Silver Surfer Special" that is preconfigured to take them to the Archers listen again site and has bookmarks for SAGA holidays and discounted insurance etc. This does seem a little like taking the mick - but to really get that right I need the input of actual Silver Surfers groups, which is now hard to get, unless I gatecrash the library event. Or maybe I shall indeed find something at the last minute - watch this space....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Open sorcery and a conceptual idea

This weekend saw the first Comm-Tech event which unfortunately I could not participate in due to double booking and child care issues. I'll find out how it went on Monday - hopefully the Ubuntu live CD's flew out and brought in £1 donations to cover their costs and the dozen or so computers and laptops we took down flew out at their knock down prices of £60 to £50 quids.

We are hoping to have two or three people joining us on a more than voluntary basis for six months under a government work placement scheme (though this seems to have been put on hold for the election which is really annoying!) and one of the roles I am keen to explore with them is getting a blog and a little social networking going for Comm-Tech.

Unfortunately I did not succeed in getting a recycling awareness leaflet ready in time after being defeated by the intricacies of "Scribus" for desktop publishing. I feel a little more inspired in that direction this morning, but with other commitments for my time - wanted to mention as an aide mémoire in my blog though that I must remember to emphasise the values of comm-tech in the closing page of such a thing and mention how we strive for maximum reuse and sometimes place items for artists or blogs.

Speaking of aide mémoire and artists - I felt inspired in one other way. Thinking of the crate of archaic RAM we have in the warehouse it occurred to me that an artist could really create something with that perhaps? It is perhaps a little trite and I am not sure how it would look as a work (needs an artist to do that part?) but the fact that all this stuff could hold memories would give you an obvious title and I liked the idea that it was memories to be and yet that would never be because the format of the stuff is unusable now - with enough dedication ROM chips could be added or boards used that carried them and these would actually HOLD memories - old programs and code no longer in use.

Anyway, I am going to email an artist who contacted us working on a sculpture and needing fifty odd old format tower alu. chassis. Eventually he went elsewhere when I told him we needed donations around a pound a pop to cover costs. But who knows, perhaps he can take that idea and run with it and we can see some unusual reuse of those memory sticks?

Monday, March 29, 2010

The need for code - work blog and server thoughts

From time to time I almost feel a physical addiction to the "need for coding" similar to the driver or motorcyclists "need for speed" (though less alliterative!) and this has been with me for a week or two now.

At the same time I may have the chance to build a new computer soon which is no doubt part of the mix. The itch gets strongest when it comes to wanting to upgrade and make my literary blog more "accessible" and at the same time I am painfully aware of the need for more marketting and a few website updates at work.

So I have come to the decision that comm-tech should have a newsletter mailing list and a blog and just maybe a portal to our customers' sites. I can see a few advantages to this although I have to admit to being uncertain how effective a marketting tool it may be. But better to try it and see than be suspicious of it and never know. Plus there is an added benefit that I shall be able to call on the resources of the Comm-Tech volunteers in a "safe" way and have them do the legwork. Rather that than set them loose on things like the hardware repairs - last week one of them managed to break an Apple G4 in for a new optical drive and it was pure luck we still had one in stock to offer replacement.

How useful it shall be getting the experience of Chyrp! version 2 from an intital setup rather than an upgrade remains to be seen - a lot of the work of upgrading my own blog is the upgrade of the tools and preservation of the data.

Moving house also presents it's own geeky challenges and I am working on those - my bright idea there is to locate a server at work and SSH Tunnel to it for access. I am taking that a step further and thinking about putting a beige tower PIII there too which was my debian box and dual boot just for photoshop - which I never seem to have used.

Anyway - between all that hopefully the "need for code" I have been feeling will be satisfied!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Disposable income beckons - thoughts on blogging

OK, this is a slight variance from the geeky theme maybe.

But I am moving out of my rennted accomodation and into a shared house situation. this means I shall, after at least four years without it, actually have MONEY to spend on STUFF. After too long without being able to build a current computer I shall be able to indulge myself with a laptop update and a new desktop... It makes me feel pretty geeky how excited I get at the prospect!

And I am thinking, having discovered other blogs in the arena, that maybe I or me and my colleagues, ought to have some sort of blog on the topic of reuse and recycling of technology to help raise the profiile of Comm-Tech where I work. then there is finding the time - this would be tough. And I know it is dumb to ask here since I am not convinced anyone much reads this blog, but the big question is whether anyone would read it, and, if so, whether it would serve Comm-Tech to good effect?

Any feedback appreciated - mainly on the latter point (but if you have any recommendations for current technology that too, since I am woefully out of date.