Friday, October 10, 2014

A Geek’s Log from the Congo

(Frank Gresh) When I committed to going on this trip a year or so ago, I knew that I could be doing a lot of things. David Owen from Global Ministries said they could possibly use my help with technology at the national office of the Disciple’s denomination here in Mbandaka. I thought that would be a good fit for my skill set and it seemed like there were going to be others who’s area of expertise was better suited to drilling for water than mine, so I was happy to have a job that I felt capable of doing.

Well here I sit in Mbandaka, five days in to helping with some technical challenges they are having and we haven’t made that much forward movement. As I posted on Facebook, there have been several times I wanted to run down to Best Buy, Office Depot, or maybe Lowes and pick up some simple things that would help (WiFi Router, External CD-ROM Drive, voltmeter, power strips, software, extension cords, etc.), but none of those are available anywhere here. So, back to the basics of making do with what we have and finding a way to make it work.

Connections to the Internet are very limited here. There’s really only a couple of ways of doing that, Satellite and some sort of shared WiFi service that I don't fully understand. The maximum bandwidth being offered by the local provider here is about 3Mbps down and 768Kpbs up. For those of you with a cable modem or some other high speed Internet, that is about 10 times slower than you basic service there in the US. For the maximum connection speed you would have to pay roughly $4,000 a month.

I was working with a local company here (my new friend Junior Mboyo) to get a trial Internet connection up and running (the previous Internet company went out of business, and the interim provider is painfully slow and unstable), I found myself trying to ask questions and explain things across two or three languages (words like coax cable, average ping, Quality of Service, Service Level Agreement). It was a true challenge just to get simple stuff accomplished, but with the help of Junior and his team, we have been quite successful.

When I have time to write down more of my thoughts I will, but for now, the Internet connection is back up on a new Router that they had across town at the Mbandaka Post (Mbandaka Regional Office – kind of like the Oklahoma Regional Office), so I have some more work to do…

Love and thanks to all…


1 comment:

  1. Glad that router has proved useful - next to the external CD-DVD drive, it was the lightest of the gear I carried in Feb.