AFTERBURN REPORT 2008
In addition to the regular stream of broken computers, client email hiccups, printer snafus and random technical anomalies, the San Francisco Technical Support team manifested some improvements in 2008 that are very much appreciated by our office staff.
Several EVDO (Evolution Data Optimized) cards were obtained to loan out to our core staff while they are traveling. These broadband-speed internet connection cards enable them to stay better connected to email, web, and chat while working at locations around the country, and help keep them productive and projects moving while they are on the road.
To support the large number of meetings and diverse use of BMHQ's facilities (and so we didn't have to keep schlepping our projector and teleconference setup up and down the stairs), our upstairs conference room was outfitted with its own AV cart. In addition, the team posted helpful documentation for conference room projectors and office printers.
For years, the Technology Team has worked in a crowded, warm, and noisy shared office space, called the Moon Base. In order to make the setup more bearable and to minimize the noise and heat, we relocated several of our loudest in-house servers to a closet elsewhere in the building. We also installed new shelves in this room that have really helped with the organization of and access to the equipment.
Each year, there are a number of computers and other hardware that must be shipped to and from Nevada for the event. In 2008, we made improvements to the transportation infrastructure to help facilitate the move of this delicate equipment. We will continue to develop this process each year as we learn what works and what doesn't.
The Technical Support team began upgrades to Leopard (Mac OS) for our office staff late in the summer. We will continue with this project in the fall and hope to wrap up by early next year. With these installs came a new user accessible, intuitive back up system called Time Machine. In addition, we hope to leverage Leopard's iCal Client and Server software to solve some longstanding office calendar issues.
Because many returning Gerlach office staffers arrived with newer technical hardware, we saw a decrease in the amount of support needed. However, due to work we'd done on our Gerlach network, there were a few hiccups that required some extra assistance to get some of these folks back onto the network. Each year we bring in supplemental technical support staff, and with more reliable technology in place in 2008, they were able to focus mostly on gear transport to the event site. When things do come up though, having the extra staff allows us to complete projects in a much more timely manner.
We had the same number of shared computers available in the Black Rock Saloon we had in 2007, and since most of the crew bring their own laptops and use the WIFI there, the computer supply seems sufficient. Happily, very little support was needed for the crew this year.
The phone system in the Gerlach office is quite antiquated. It does not have voice mail, calls drop for no reason, and very often all six outgoing lines and all 16 internal extensions are in use. In fact, the entire phone system failed for part of a day, for no known reason. We will explore some options for replacing and upgrading the system in the off-season.
Black Rock Station had very few support issues this year, and other than adding a computer in the common shop, no other changes were made to the network. In 2009 we are considering adding a node near the shops for better WIFI reception for users who use their own personal laptops.
Ludwig Klopfer, San Francisco Technical Support
Chris Petrell (Taz), Nevada Technical Lead
Ian Starr (Bliss), Project Manager