Happy Stress [2017-08-18]

There’s a lot in the news these days about high stress levels in the lives of Americans – too much work and not enough time, rushing from here to there with no time to relax.  Now that I’m out of the realm of paid employment, it’s interesting to note that I’m still stressed out!  As Neal and I prepare for the upcoming time in Tanzania, the work days are getting longer and I’m waking up in the middle of the night making mental lists of things I need to do – and of course worrying about things that I can’t control.  But in the grand scheme of things, we wouldn’t want it any other way.  For us, too little stress is perhaps worse than too much.

Neal finished the updates to the new server software, we got them tested out, and the hard disks are burned and ready for deployment.  I’m biased, but I think there are some amazing additions to this new version of the Reneal server!  Thanks to World Possible (www.worldpossible.org), we have added some wonderful new content from their RACHEL collection of educational material.  This should be a huge help to schools, especially those with no internet.  One exciting development is addition of a search capability to the World Possible offline Wikipedia – it really gives the students a great feeling for actual internet use, but without the internet.

The last few days we’ve been finalizing some work for our partner organization, The School Fund (www.theschoolfund.org).  We are supporting TSF in installing computer labs at five new schools in Iringa and Karatu.  We will deploy Reneal servers at two of those schools, and the other three schools will have stand-alone computers from World Computer Exchange (www.worldcomputerexchange.org).  Neal has built a complete Ubuntu image that can be installed on a stand-alone machine; actually he’s built two images, one that has a lot of educational content on-board and a “light” version without the content.  It has been a frustrating, stressful few days for him wrestling with a general-purpose script to create a one-command load of these image files onto any computer, but he has prevailed as usual.  Software is never easy…

I’ve gathered some open source software for the Windows laptops and drafted a process for installing it.  I have learned WAY more about arcane Windows commands in the last week than I ever wanted to.  Thank goodness for Google and the web!

I made a big dent on the packing last Monday with the assistance of our friend and colleague Rick Blank.  There is still a lot of touch-up to do to get boxes full and taped shut, but we’re in good shape.  We’ll be taking ten boxes of computer equipment, in addition to two duffel bags with our clothes and personal gear.  This is always a logistical nightmare when traveling to Tanzania – LOTS of stress – but we try to keep our eyes on the prize: new computer labs for students that have never seen a computer before, much less touched one!  We are counting down the days to being with Reneal School Liaison David Nyangaka and the computer teachers at the Reneal schools, working together to serve the students and teachers of Tanzania.  All the stress is going to be worth it.