Change is good … right?

Change is tough. Martha’s experience in changing email programs is one example of how God uses me to help people who are advancing His kingdom. I recently had the chance to help Martha through one of those times when you just want to throw technology out the window. She kindly agreed to write about it for you:

I recently changed assignments within Wycliffe, and that meant that I needed to change email systems. I had been using two different systems, one on my office computer, and another on my laptop. I had two different email accounts, and I did different work on each one, and did not want the two to be mixed. When I moved to an assignment with Wycliffe USA, they required that I change both my email accounts to the system that they use. Their offices are in Orlando, Florida, and I am in Dallas, Texas, so I was trying to do things from a distance.

“It will be a painless process,” I was told. “It’s all pretty intuitive.” Unfortunately, what is intuitive for a computer expert is not always intuitive for someone else. I’ve been a Bible translator and a schoolteacher, and am now doing editing, and a lot of things are intuitive, but the computer change was not intuitive for me!

Changing to a new email system required not only that someone somewhere work computer magic to make it all happen, but now I had to do things — install this program, configure that, update this. Wow! I can say all those words, but I don’t know how to do them.

I had a couple of weeks of frustration, trying to do things long-distance with the guys in Orlando, who couldn’t understand why I was having so much trouble, mostly because I couldn’t explain it well. I finally took my laptop to the computer department in Dallas, hoping that they could help. They hooked my computer up to a network so that the changes could be installed remotely. But my computer didn’t cooperate. I guess I had some type of security protection on it that prevented anyone from working on it.

After several more days, David Liddle of the Dallas computer office kindly stepped in. Being able to actually see the computer you are working with helps! He was able to turn off the security protection so that the changes could be made. He then showed me some of the features of the new email system.

As we were looking at it, I noticed that I knew a lot more people than I thought I did. On closer inspection, it turned out that my entire contact list for email had been doubled, with each person in twice. I glumly envisioned hours of work, deleting each duplicate entry. David said, “No, wait. I think I can fix this.” In just a few minutes, he had redone my contact list. All my old emails were now accessible to me, I had a little icon I could click on my computer to get to email, and I only had each person in my address list once. Since most of my work depends on being able to contact people by email, having the system up and going was a true blessing.

The behind-the-scenes people like the computer department are the unsung heroes of Bible translation. The ‘frontlines’ people, the ones who go to the villages and do language work, may get more attention, but without people like David who help keep our equipment running, the task of getting God’s Word to all His people would be slowed down.

Perhaps some of you have had a similar experience. It was my great pleasure to be able to help when help was needed. (Why? See Col 3:23-24.) If you pray for or give to our ministry, then you helped Martha, too.

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Everybody out!

Our IT department could use your prayers. There are two construction projects under way in our building. One is a renovation of all the offices that belong to the Global Publishing Services group. The other project is the replacement of the heating and cooling equipment throughout the building. During this time, ventilation will be intermittent, dust will be everywhere, and the noise will be maddening — at best.

So we’re moving out … again. We squeezed many of us into a conference room down the hall while our own office space was renovated three years ago. This time, the work is more extensive, so our move will be, too. Much of our department will work out of a recently vacated mobile home on the campus. My team, the customer service team, will probably move to two offices in one of the other buildings.

If you look at a map of the campus at Google Maps, you can see the four main buildings arranged around a small quadrangle. Our office is in the Hunt Building on the east side. My team will probably be located on two different floors in the Key Building, the large pointy-ended structure on the south side. The mobile home is in the trees just south of the pool, which is covered in the picture. (Yours truly also manages the pool, by the way. If you wonder why a bunch of missionaries need a pool, come visit us anytime from June to August.)

Please pray that we’ll be able to keep service uninterrupted and undiminished while we’re away from our normal workspaces. We won’t have all of our tools and other resources handy, but I’m determined to show the people we serve that nothing will deter us from giving them and the Lord our best. You can praise God for this opportunity to make our team more visible and accessible — sometimes we spend too much time hiding in the office surrounded by computers. We’re such geeks.

At least we’re not fleeing from a hurricane ….

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How secure are YOU?

Data security is of increasing concern within Wycliffe. From the translation project in a sensitive area of the world to the financial data center, nearly every part of our organization has information to protect. The first word in data security is encryption, the scrambling and obfuscation of data to the point of being unreadable or inaccessible without the right password(s) or key(s). It’s possible to encrypt any form of data, whether it’s your email messages, your connection to a website, a phone call, or the files on your hard drive.

On the Dallas campus, I serve a number of people who need to be concerned about the security of the information that they use and carry with them when they travel. Today, I spoke to a group of Wycliffe counselors who have legal and ethical obligations to protect their client files from prying eyes. Many of them acknowledged that they don’t do nearly enough to secure that information, and they were all interested in what counsel I could give them.

I talked to this group of counselors about two encryption solutions: TrueCrypt encryption software and the IronKey encrypted USB flash drive. The first is free and the second is, well, not so free. Both are excellent. Click on the links to see more information about each. I’ve been practicing using both products lately so that I can be equipped to advise people who need encryption and assist them in putting encryption to use. In October, I plan to present the IronKey product to my peers from around the world at our biannual technical conference. I’ve also been involved in an online discussion about data security with some of those same people. I’m not a security or encryption expert, but I know a good idea when I see it … and use it.

Do you have information that you wouldn’t want someone else to see? Encryption’s not a subject for the timid, but neither’s identity theft. Think about it. If you have a question, post a comment.

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