What I've Done

yesterday was a landmark day for me. Why? Because I finally was able to get a border router installed on our network.

At first I wanted to include fancy diagrams and picture of our network, but I can't in good conscience publicly post the structure of our network. But I am taking a moment to reflect.

3 years ago when I arrived here, there was a single firewall, and several network switches. The firewall was also the default router for the entire network. It was almost an entirely flat network, and we served out business machines as well as internet connection at home.

That meant, 1 mail server, 1 web proxy, one, one, one. It meant viruses spread faster, it meant a network problem affected EVERYONE.

After yesterday's installation of the first non-firewall router this place has seen, the network is MUCH more reliable, organized, secure, and stable.

We now have 4 separate major networks.
Business, Home, DMZ, and GUEST.
And the firewalls no longer handle all of the routing for the network, there are multiple firewalls and a router that handles internal traffic and a router that handles external traffic.

Also 3 years ago there was almost zero documentation on our network and nearly ZERO monitoring of our network.

If people couldn't connect they'd call, we'd run down and fix it.

NOW, after 3 years. We have TOTAL visibility on the network. We show up and repair network problems before people know they happened. I have implemented several pieces of software for monitoring and have built a Network Operations Center.

Also the network is documented VERY thoroughly using a combination of Visio documents and a Confluence wiki that we document things in.

What we have seen in 3 years, and I do not say this to either discredit my predecessors or to toot my own horn... but to let you, our partners know what your contribution has done...

We have seen in 3 years is a migration from a network that was pieced together and loosely understood and documented ... to...
a stronger, separated, secure, documented, observed, professionally designed and well maintained network.

ALL of that with minimal investment a I (and some others) were able to get equipment and software donated.

As we prepare for furlough, I look back on the past 3+ years and my baby.... (the network) and breath a huge breath of satisfaction knowing.... that there is something that will support the work here for quite a long time now. Something that other people can come in and look at, and read on and understand.

Praise be to God who took a guy like me, who didn't know anything about networking 6 years ago... taught him networking... then coupled him with people who sent him to a third world country to help them..... and then accomplished that work!

Thanks God, and thanks partners!

I'm really excited because I didn't think I could get this done before furlough.
I have some definite plans and ideas for when I return, regarding what I'd like to see.

I've gotten several comments, maybe I'll share them here.



lots and lots of rain lately.
houses are flooding
rivers are taking out gardens
roads are caving in

it's wet!

But you know, I like it...., I like the tropical rain... hard, hurts your head when it hits rain. Turns everything into a slippery messy thing.

Rugby in the mud!! WOOHOOO!!!

Something I learned today that I did not know.
While the U.S. saw El Nino as being very WET.

the pacific islands saw it as being a drought. So HERE 'EL Nino' means... 'the big drought.' 7-9 months of NO RAIN....


Cush Gig

This pic is of my son and his friend Blake. Blake is the son of a family friend. You're also seeing a VERY rare thing in this picture. A couch with soft cushions. The typical couch here is all solid wood, with thin foam pads as the cushion. They are made in country by our own joinery, and designed to not be very comfortable so you don't spend much time sitting down (-;

This particular couch happens to be from friends who bought it from a thrift store in the U.S. used it for over 5 years and then we took ownership of it.

TODAY... we had to update our Curriculum Vitae (resume) for our work permits. This year the government has implemented a new portion of the CV in which they specifically want us to list out what we've done to help PNG citizens. They want proof that we've done more than simply helped our own organization.

So I attempted to come up with everything I've done in the past quarter to help PNG citizens (why a quarter? Well I couldn't think back a whole 2 years..(-; ).

Here is what I came up with, (knowing there is a LOT more).

Training entry level helpdesk personnel in maintenance and elementary networking skills.
Have hosted training week long training classes regarding email and trouble ticket implementation for PNG employees.
Have held one on one training sessions with PNG citizens to assist in teaching troubleshooting.
Have had frequent telephone training sessions for PNG citizens in other businesses regarding DHCP and DNS and other networking protocols.
Have assisted in configuring network for STEP and TTC courses that train PNG citizens in areas of linguistics and leadership.
Have assisted BTA with wireless networking and data backup.
Have assisted with installation of VSAT in remote areas to provide internet connectivity to PNG citizens.
Have assisted Guard Dog Security Services with email configuration and dsl installation.
Have installed DSL in private homes of PNG citizens and given them basic training on wireless networking.

Have installed, configured and trained PNG citizens on how to use HFradio and HFemail in their village homes.
Have supported an educational camp for PNG children.

The thing I think I'm most proud of for helping PNG citizens, that I've done on the side, isn't the village email, it's the training.

I have put together a couple of week long training sessions with curriculum to teach basic tcp/ip and email administration skills.

As a result, even though one PNG citizen friend of mine has moved on to a public sector job, he did so because of the skills he learned here. And every now and then he runs into problems and gives me a call. Typically it's something small like how DHCP works or how to restart a DNS server... but it is interesting to me that I still get calls although he's been gone nearly a year now.


Side Purpose

My core job here is supporting the network and servers to enable Bible translation. But I have several 'side jobs'. As someone who knows technical type things, often people come to me for advice on personal issues as well.

Since we also live here.

Everyone has this. You have your core job, side things you do, and ways you help the community. Sometimes you don't even know the ways... but all of it together makes up why God put specifically the people here... here.

One such side purpose was a friend of mine who was trying to get his PhD. He contacted me a month ago and said 'I will have this interview and I want to know if it'll work over Skype?'

Knowing that anything can happen I was wary about anything that might go wrong. So we planned it for 11pm and we set up his home network so that things would work, and we had a plan B and plan C.

Last night, his interview went successfully and he will soon be known as Dr. Phil (not the famous one of course, but still a funny coincidence.)

It is these little personal successes that I enjoy doing on the side. Using technology to help people is just one of the bonuses I get out of living and working here.



What a great weekend. Got some chores done, spent some good family time.
Saturday visited a new friend and had a bit of vehicular adventure. Check this blog to see what I mean. Wacky photo!

Then, later that evening some friends carrying 10 passengers got stranded after dark about an hour away from centre. We loaded up and mounted a rescue mission and went out and got them. Driving after dark isn't always the safest idea around here so we almost never do it. Still an interesting comment...

After we arrived and I got out of the vehicle, 6 Papua New Guinean men there to help stepped back a few steps and huddled together. Obviously surprised by my size and presence and you heard words like "bikpela" and "traipela".

Many of you have probably never experienced this before, but it happens to me a lot. When people are not expecting a man of large size, they tend to betray their surprise when they discover one.

Sometimes in a store someone will bump into me, turn, and then shudder in surprise. Flinching is often a reaction, large eyes, definitely the long upward glance. I've even found cowering... or a sort of.. putting arms up and stepping back motion sometimes occurs. Giggling, hiding, running away, crying all of these things happen to me depending on who is doing the reaction.

But Saturday 6 men backing off and huddling together and murmuring was definitely a new reaction. Definitely the type of reaction you're going for when you're playing the role of rescuer, protector. They sized me up and I sized them up and we both seemed to recognize that we were each there to help not harm. Still they didn't talk directly to me, or look at me eye to eye.

We got the whole crew back safely.

Sunday on a whim I made an outside oven to go over a makeshift fire pit. a 55 gallon drum converted into a pizza oven rather nicely with the help of some used rabbit wire and some metal roofing scraps. We cooked pizza over it... not exactly a successful first try, as I scorched most of the dough, but the oven idea has promise.



We attended a sunrise Easter service this Sunday. At the end of praying for the community and the world, we put flowers on the cross after the sun rises. Turning a symbol of death into a symbol of life, like Christ did.

During one of the songs we sang "Lord of heaven and earth"... and our son quipped in under his breath "and mars....."

Today during work, a friend of ours (and partner) visiting from the U.S. needed to go off with a national co-worker to do some work.

Hisile, said to Bob "yu laik drivim ka bilong yu o bilong mi"
Bob replied "huh?"
it took me a second to realize Hisile was speaking Tok Pisin so I translated, Bob said 'let's take your car' as they headed off I said in tok pisin to Hisile

"Hisile, Bob only knows a little tok pisin, so speak to him in english"

he replied

"okay Bob, I shall talk to you in broken English...hahahahaha."

I thought that was pretty funny.... I felt bad for putting the two of them together and having them drive off without a translator, but I'm sure they'll work it out.