Category Archives: The Instrument

Information on the care and feeding on the Great Highland Bagpipe instrument.

The first week, a technical summary for all my geeks

So, this was an interesting, frustrating week filled with challenges.  I spent the better part of the week trying to resurrect the Moodle environment in preparation for Julie’s arrival Friday (since delayed a week due to illness).  Simultaneously I was training the local tech on Linux operations (basics including a lot of command line work).  By the end of the week most of the systems were tested and I was about to begin upgrades to the servers (Ubuntu upgrades then Moodle) when a few things started failing.  The server UPSs are all fried from dirty power, salt air, and who no what else so I have two desktop ones to try to protect the servers.  Then one of the servers failed.  Nothong, just would not power up.  Took it out and cleaned the internal power supplies (2 of them), removed the memory and cleaned a little crud off contacts, slid the removable power supplies back in and tried it again.  Success.  Too late in the day to start the upgrade, the generator shuts off at 4pm so I hailed it, a monitor, keyboard, router, etc., home and will attempt the upgrade today.  Might get a better 4G connection here.

About 4G, am really liking the Cradlepoint modems.  Have a 4g sim inside one, added a WiFi as wan connection to my little WiFi hotspot and set load balancing on.  Cool and very handy way to get a better throughput.

So there’s the technical update from week one.

Monrovia – August 5th, 2015

Congo Town Apartment, also parking lot overnight

Congo Town Apartment, also parking lot overnight

It may not look like it, but here’s the view of my lodging since I landed last Friday.  It’s a nice apartment with 4 bedrooms, kitchen living room, guards, razor wire, and a generator.  Also, it happens to be where the ACCEL ( parks all their vehicles for the night and then starts them all beginning at 6:30am..

I’ve three wonderful housemates, all doctors here teaching ultrasound techniques.  Very lucky that two of them are vegetarians and all three great cooks.  I earned my keep by figuring out what was wrong with the microwave an putting it back in operation.

ACCEL meeting at University of Massachusetts Medical School

Dr. V Golakai, Dean of the A.M. Dogliotti Medical College, Monrovia, Liberia, June 2015

Dr. V Golakai, Dean of the A.M. Dogliotti Medical College, Monrovia, Liberia, June 2015

Monday and Tuesday of these I had the privilege of attending the  ACCEL (Academic Consortium Combating Ebola in Liberia) meeting at the University of Massachusetts Medical School campus.  The two day event covered not only the activities to fight the outbreak from all the members of the consortium but also a special focus on the e-Learning system Julie and I installed.  Our friend and partner in the effort, Dr. Golakai, the Deam of the medical college in Liberia where we deployed the system gave several talks on the school, healthcare in Liberia, funding, and laid out his vision for how to make effective changes.  It was a great two days with representatives from several medical schools, the Massachusetts department of public health, and a several key figures from Liberia and Ethiopia.

July 1st…what can I say?


It is Tuesday and we are back in the hotel. Julie managed 4 lectures today and I spent a frustrating day with a firewall and in the end won and lost that battle.

We started our day with a huge scare (and we continue to be on guard).  There were two deaths from Ebola in the last two days. One from the hospital where the medical school students do their clinical and the other next door to the medical school.  It has put is both on edge. 


Despite or maybe because of the outbreak both Julie and I feel we really need to do more here. Part of the reason for the problem is the low medical training here.  The Liberian people are warm, smart, friendly, caring, and patriotic. We have seem this every day here.  We have gotten used to being the ‘white people’ here from the outside and really begun to get to understand the limitations everyone here faces. When we went to church here we saw compassion, love, joy, and hope  all one place.  Our friend Chacha said to is “Africa will change you” and she was right.  We are not sure what will happen next except somehow we will come back.

June 26th, Monrovia

Our colleague Dr. Jeff Bailey headed home early this morning.  I am going to miss him as he is way better than I am at Linux plus he is an avid football (soccer) fan and watching the world cup will having a few ‘Club’ beers has been a hoot!  Safe travels Jeff.


Yesterday we had a guest at the medical school computer lab, Dr. Emmet Dennis, the president of the University of Liberia and his vice president for academic affairs.  I showed them the system including an online demonstration of the Moodle system.  We were lucky he came by late enough because earlier in the day the little generator failed.

Today I am plowing through another Moodle install on the new server, this is the one Dr. Bailey configured with raid drives.  I am hoping to finish the install, back up our existing Moodle to it and test to make sure our backups are working.  Meanwhile I am continuing to setup the learning site.  I was supposed to train the faculty today but the generator failed again.  Maybe tomorrow.

My final work here will be to put in remote access.  This is critical so that Jeff and I can figure any final parts remote and so UMass Medical can provide support.  I don’t know how I will fit it all in.

More pictures coming tomorrow….