Thursday, 12 May 2016

The big switch-over

Tuesday, more time in the office working on the inventory database for all our new equipment, now being readies for issue over the coming weekend. Our long term equipment replacement plan has been in place for a couple of years, and it's been beneficial to us, as a not for profit enterprise that the expected 4-5 year lifespan of our radio handsets has been extended, thanks to many careful users, to seven years. The government, however, has reassigned our operating frequencies to the roll-out of smart metering, and given us replacement frequencies, so our oldest radios turn into useless scrap when the original transmitter switches over to a new one, soon to be installed. 

Fortunately, our unused stocks and newer ones issued can work on different frequencies, and this has reduced significantly the acquisition of extra replacements needed. Organising the switch-over is something we've been preparing for a long time, and thanks to good housekeeping it won't cause us a financial crisis either. The challenge will be co-ordinating the front line volunteers to get the job done without interrupting the use of the network. My small part in all this is simply keeping track of equipment stocks as they arrive and are processed, and there can be 6-7 components to unite  and register before each handset, fully charged, ready for action, is fit to issue. In an office workspace temporarily inundated with hundreds of items of packaging of different sizes, this is something of a nightmare, and quite stressful. I certainly was glad of a Chi Gung session in the evening.

Same again Wednesday, except that I went into the office early by car, before going to St German's for the midweek 'class Mass', to retrieve and replace some handsets left on charge overnight, and log them into the inventory database. After church I returned to the office and spent the next eleven hours charging and logging radios, not sure how long any of this would take, given that very few arrived fully charged and most were two thirds empty. On average, high capacity long life batteries of the kind we use take around three hours to charge. We were running eighteen chargers at a time, and by the time I left two thirds of those to be issued were charged and recorded.

Today, Gary, one of our Board members joined Julie, Ashley and I, completing the detail task of assembling all the replacement equipment for issue. In the afternoon, Gary drove Ashley around the city centre issuing equipment, instructing and making test transmissions. Thus, the great switch over began! After lunch, I had an engagement to speak to the St Augustine's Mothers' Union group in Penarth, which took me away from the action for a couple of hours. There were thirty people there, including a couple of men who are members, and during the meeting the new Vicar Fr Mark was also admitted as a branch member. Sadly I didn't get to meet him apart from an introductory handshake as he left the meeting almost as soon as I'd finished. I hope that doesn't mean I went on for too long.

Back in the office, Julie had continued the work of inventory data building in my absence, only to discover, after several hours of intermittent additions, that nothing new was being saved to the OneDrive account. She'd opened the file direct from the cloud account and it appeared to behave normally. She thought she'd saved in the routine manner when closing the program, but the time displayed in the browser version of OneDrive, was four hours earlier. The browser version is usually more reliable than the version sync'd from the computer's hard drive, which not infrequently takes time to update, even on the fastest machine in the office. 

This is not the first time we've had this kind of issue with OneDrive. I now need to do some hard thinking about an alternative. Once upon a time we used Google Drive, although its quirky dealing with documents is not an easy thing for lifelog MS Word or Excel users to get used to. But, I guess there'd be no harm in using it for uploading critical data files for storage only. I'd just need to test this out for reliability and ease of access before inflicting the change on other users. Just the sort of additional hassle we didn't need right now. By the time I got home, late for supper again, I was drained and exhausted. All this, and preparing for the Danube Cruise makes me feel my age.

But nobody can say my life is dull, can they?

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