Sunday, October 14, 2012

Friend leaves after sampling alleged best coffee – Scooter moves on to other roads in Timor Leste (I just don’t know which) - Computer storage not co-operating – Local way of doing things – A+ books re-emerge after six years in a cupboard

Week ending Wednesday 10th Oct

Hmmm, I’m five days late this week, so why? Well, life has been interesting; mainly work and a bit of local flavour as well, although I don’t know whom to thank for the latter.

My old buddy from 2006-07 left town after a seven day visit, but I managed to get him to visit the Timor Plaza building and to partake of a reasonably good cafe there (there is a lot of competition here for the title of 'Best Coffee'). “Rather like New York”, he said. Worth a visit by many local families on a Sunday anyway and a good way to gauge prices. Usual story of mall shops being the most expensive and so just about anywhere else in town will be cheaper. I was fortunate to receive a parting gift of a 256GB memory stick/thumb drive that I can only get to format to 128GB, but that is still mighty impressive, considering my other two are 16GB and 4GB respectively. Hard to appreciate how technology moves on: in 2003 I paid US$100 for a 128mb model in Almaty (look that up on a world map)

Sunday morning I took my bike to the local repair shop for some mudguards and a chain clean. It took three visits before we established that a (quote) casual clean (unquote), i.e. spraying oil over the chain and giving it back, after charging me $2, was not the result I was looking for. If I had been less focused on that wee episode then I just might have noticed that my scooter had departed from its parking spot in front of the house. At 3pm I walked outside waving my key and ready to go scootering, but, like a Jeremy Beadle setup, the grass parking spot was bare. The landlord’s family live right next to me and no one had seen what happened. Next day, the children made enquiries around the neighbours, but still nothing. Maybe I upset someone, but no real clues. Back to the bicycle for transport. 

On Monday, next day, I took a couple of staff with me to the Police Station to log a report on the theft. This took about an hour and had to be written in Tetun (fair enough). I had to supply the names of my parents as well, so maybe they will be asked to account for their where-abouts on Sunday afternoon? A UN Policeman from Jamaica joined in and scribbled notes independently; must have been a quiet day. On Thursday we went back to collect the report, but had to visit investigations. They were upstairs in another building. I got there at 2pm, as requested, but found that the lunch break was from 12 until 2:30. Fortunately had my the logging number from the first report, as there was no other way to locate the case – i.e. no number, then no case. We asked for the print out, but even when this was printed out, we couldn’t actually take it away because the commander had to sign it first and he wasn’t back from…where ever he was at. Queue: 'come back another day'.

On Wednesday six of us visited Manatuto, east of Dili by about 65km. It is a regional branch and was meant to be a PR and learning trip. We did deliver a ‘surprise’ new PC, but I confirmed that a secret cannot be kept, when one of my staff told the local manager, who then immediately asked me for confirmation.  The only person who didn’t know it was an open secret was the head guy, my boss. So we had the farce of everyone knowing, but not the person who wanted it kept a secret, so everyone had to pretend they didn’t know and and…. So I told him too because it was getting a bit ridiculous and in the end we just grabbed it out of the car and set it up.
One of the other Manatuto PCs was converted to Windows 7 and I backed up the data onto a portable hard drive which then decide to fail – about 25GB worth of data; ahhh, the horror, the horror. One of my old recovery programs was started and I ran it over the errant drive all the way back to Dili except the rate of recovery was such that it would take 110 hours to produce a result and then another ‘period of time’ to actually do the recovery :-( So much for the good PR bit. Work proceeds on alternatives.

Work is 'interesting'  (Chinese meaning) due to our CEO not being on board for the past few weeks. Like a ship without the captain, we are increasingly in need of someone at the helm again. The Board of Directors are discussing their options in a few days and we should know what the future will be by the end of the week. There is a lot more to say, but it will have to wait until the dust settles.

After visiting the Police the second time I snuck over the road to the Ministerio de Saude; a place I knew from my last visit in 06-07. My counterpart (local Timorese) from that time was still there and the department had grown from the one wee room we had then, to three rooms and about six people now. I was keen to borrow some of the IT books and A+ training material I’d donated and there they were; in a cupboard, untouched – even the CDs hadn’t been removed from their original packaging. No problem on taking them away and re-loaning them to my current counterpart – he’s REALLY keen to learn, so we have a good match.

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