Some accomplishments...

It has been a very productive week. First off, there is a service that our organization has been trying to implement for a over a year now and it has never gotten off the ground. This service is video conferencing for people with a hearing disability. Basically, there is just a video camera, a TV, and an Internet connection. The IT person before me had attempted to set this up but was unsuccessful. When I started working there, I was told of this service but the equipment was put away in a closet somewhere and we didn't know if it would work or not. Well, I received a phone call from the person in charge of the national project asking for me to make it a priority. She stated that she would like to have it set up by the end of the week. So I started working on it the following day. I knew were to begin -- the firewall. Firewalls can be tricky if you don't know what you are looking for. And, as I looked through the open ports, I saw where my predecessor had attempted to open up ports for the streaming video. I closed all of those ports and deleted the entries. I then opened up the ports suggested by the manual (Yes, I'm one of those guys who actually reads the manual. It's amazing how many problems can be averted by doing this one step.). I tested the equipment. The person could see me but I couldn't see them. I kept messing with it off and on all day. I thought there might be some guidance with the firewall on the support site. And there was. It seems that you don't enable H323 (the video conferencing port) unless you are having problems. I checked our firewall and it was enabled. I disabled this and it worked! We now can offer this service to people with hearing problems.

The second accomplishment this week was installing PCLOS on a really old IBM ThinkPad A21e. This is a Pentium Celeron 600 laptop with 192MB of RAM. The onboard NIC and USB doesn't work and I could make it connect to the Internet through the PCMCIA NIC or WIFI card. The battery life is only about an hour or two. Since we couldn't use it for presentations or anything similar, I was told just to get rid of it. So, I tried putting Linux on it. There were some major issues. The old version of PCLOS, with the 2.6.12 kernel installed without any major problems -- except I had to set the video to vesa and it could not find either PCMCIA card. However, I knew that the 2.6.15 kernel would recognize my WIFI card. But I couldn't get it to boot even with the video set to vesa. However, because of the excellent Forum over at PCLinuxOS.com, I was able to get the LiveCD to boot and install! Nevertheless, upon rebooting, nothing would happen. The hard drive would stop spinning and the system would just hang up. That is one of the great things about a LiveCD. When things like that happen, you can just run your computer from the LiveCD and try and fix your problems. (For those of you not familiar with this subject, a LiveCD is a complete Operating System (OS) that runs directly from the CD-ROM drive without ever installing it on to your computer's hard drive. This way, you can check to see if the OS is going to work with your hard ware and not have to worry about losing any of your data. It is also great for trouble shooting issues.) After booting to the LiveCD again, and getting back to the Forums, I did some more searching and even started a thread (which you can read here) about my issues. To make a long story short (and this is a long story, I have worked on the laptop all week), I am posting this blog from the IBM ThinkPad A21e. I am running it from the hard drive. I am listening to streaming audio (SKY.FM) through Amarok while I'm typing this up in FireFox. I like that about my job. I am not the good at a lot of things, but working on computers is something I have been blessed with. It helps me stay focused on the task at hand and I know that things can be looked at from a logical standpoint. I make a check list and follow it. More times than not, I have success. Thank YHWH!

Along this note, I am currently working for some friends of mine on a contract basis. They need some reliable work done on their network and one job in particular is going to be a fun ride! Right now the network is a jumbled mess that the company is limping along with. However, it has the pontential to be a great little network. I am very confident that we can make it work just fine and last them for quite a while. I am also going to introduce OpenSource alternatives for their software. Since they are a non-profit organization, I'm sure they will enjoy the free resources they can have with OpenSource.

May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.

+OD

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