Monday, February 02, 2009

Belize Mission Trip: St. Matthew's

On Monday, I went out to St. Matthew's Anglican School in Pomona (the same site that the service had been the day before) and took the hard drives with me. Brenton, the local tech guy (as well as many other things, I imagine) showed me around the computer lab. Several of the computers weren't working for various reasons: one didn't have the proper drivers installed, one only had a 3GB hard drive, and so you couldn't install anything or even patch the operating system. A few others were misconfigured in various ways. There was Internet access, and so I was able to download the proper drivers and other programs I needed (Firefox, AVG). The access was pretty slow, so it took a while. The one without drivers was the most time-consuming. I had to figure out what exactly the hardware was in order to get the proper driver. It needed drivers for the display, the network, and the sound card (though the latter was less important than the other two). It was also configured with the Egypt localization, so some of the menus were in Arabic until I figured out how to set it to Belize and English. I had been given several hard drives do deliver to this school because that was what Fr. Peter, in communicating with the principal, had determined was what was needed. In actual fact, only one hard drive was put to use (on the computer with the 3GB drive). Apparently there is some confusion as to what constitutes a "hard drive", a "CPU", and (as we computer people call it) a "box" (not to be confused with a "case"). Near as I can figure (and this is conjecture), the principal had told Fr. Peter that some of their "hard drives" weren't working ("hard drive" here meaning "the part of the computer that is not a monitor, keyboard, or mouse"). He had then gone to the local used computer supply store and purchased several hard drives for me to take down and give to the school ("hard drive" here meaning "storage device"). I was able to get a few more PCs up and running, but some had bad motherboards, and there were a couple with broken power supplies. This was not surprising, given the humid climate and iffy power grid. I didn't think to bring a screwdriver, or I might have tried swapping out some of the parts to see if I could piece together a working machine.
The computer lab Some of the kids at the school

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