Training can be so much fun

My role in our IT department makes me responsible for our training room, where we have eight “student” computers and a “trainer” computer that’s connected to a projector. We and other people on the campus use this room for small groups that need to learn and practice computer-related tasks. For the past several years, these computers have been running Microsoft Windows 2000, which is approaching the end of its life, so far as Microsoft is concerned.

These computers don’t quite have enough “oomph” to handle Windows XP, which itself is no longer sold in stores, but they are still in decent condition. So I spent part of yesterday and today installing Ubuntu, a free “distribution” of the Linux operating system. Ubuntu does well on both old and new computers, and it has all of the software that the average user might need. In fact, I’m writing this post in Ubuntu, which I have installed on my office laptop.

So what are we supposed to do now if people need training in Windows, or in a program that only runs in Windows? Well, we have a special Windows server that people can log in to from another computer. It has Microsoft Office 2007 installed, as well as several other Windows programs. Our Ubuntu desktops are able to log in to this server, giving our learners the Windows environment they need.

I set up each training computer so that it automatically logs in to Ubuntu when turned on, and I created a desktop shortcut that will log the person straight into the Windows server. After logging off that server, the user can click another shortcut that immediately turns off the Ubuntu computer. The whole process is really easy, and there’s very little that can break or go wrong (famous last words, right?). This setup will allow us to put off the expense of replacing the computers for perhaps another year, while continuing and expanding the opportunities for training.

In case you haven’t guessed, my little project brought me a lot of satisfaction. I can’t wait to announce it to the folks working on the campus. Want to know more? Put your questions in a comment so everyone can benefit.

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Newsletter, June 2008

After much kicking and screaming, I finally put together a newsletter for us to mail – in one form or another – to our family, friends, and supporters. Part of the reason for starting this site is so that we can log the little anecdotes and announcements that we typically put into these letters, and then collect them into a single letter to mail. Maybe it’ll be easier.

In this letter, I write about my new role in IT, a few interesting experiences at work, my helping to build our Helpdesk system, and about this website. I hope you don’t find it incredibly dull. Would it help if I told you there were pictures of the boys?

June 2008: A Liddle Good News

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Saying goodbye to friends … for now

A few hours ago, we said goodbye to some folks who have been good friends for the past three and a half years. Loren and Kensey Ledebuhr and their two children are on the last leg of a journey that’s going to take them away from Dallas to serve Wycliffe in Papua New Guinea. Our kids have played together and learned together, and they probably don’t understand what tonight’s goodbye meant. The four of us adults have enjoyed a good friendship that spanned life at the office and in the home, and you just hate to give up something like that.

On the other hand, God desires to use His children wherever they are willing to go. Loren and Kensey’s skills will be put to good use in PNG, and I won’t grudge the Lord having and using them there instead of here. Really.

“The LORD bless you
and keep you;

the LORD make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;

the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

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