May 2018 – Bishop Okullu College

Saturday – We have the Meats!!

I’m in Nairobi now.   I arrived yesterday.    I’ll be leaving Nairobi for Dubai in about 5 hours.    I should arrive home at JFK airport about the time you all will be getting up on Sunday morning.    


Last night I had dinner at a place I have been to on my previous trip here in 2017.    It’s called Carnivore.  You guest it.  Vegetarians need not apply.   It’s a place that is pretty much all meat.   Meat of all kinds; Beef, pork, chicken and Lamb.   Those are the everyday entries on the menu.   You’ve not had anything until you tried the ostrich and chrocodile.   Hey!   It’s only fair.   If I was to fall into the Mara river, a chroc would certainly make a meal out of me.    


So for now, I’m just waiting at my hotel room and will check out at 1:30 PM and make my way to the airport at 2PM.    It’s feels sad to leave.  Two weeks just goes by so quickly when you are working on a project as I was.   But I’m also glad to be started back home.   I will be great to get back to Cathy, our cats and see Alex, Abbie and Evelyn (our grand daughter) soon as well.   


Overall I’m pleased at how the thin client network went together.   I think it will give the students and staff at Bishop Okullu College many years of good service.     


Next on the ministry agenda is a trip to Kasulu, Tanzania in September.   I miss my friend in Kasulu at the Diocese of Western Tanganyika.    Kasulu is still our home away from home.   It’s been a couple of years since we were there due to Cathy’s health needs last year.    Now that she is doing well and is getting stronger, it will be a pleasure to make the trip again.    I’ve also have a lot of equipment to bring to Kasulu, which includes 20 Android tablets, a laptop or two and another new server.   They have two right now, one of them as a backup.  About a year ago, the primary server failed (which I believe is a power supply problem).   So they are running on the backup unit.   I’ll replace the failed unit and bring it home to get it repaired and then bring that that one eventually to Bishop Okullu College to use as a back for them.



Thursday 1 – About Vecmar Corp.

So this post is for the purpose of thanking our vendor Vecmar Corporation with the purchase and support of the thin client technology.    First of all, many folks don’t know what thin clienting is.   Basically, thin clienting is kind of like putting an old paradigm to work in new technology.  Back in a day, and not that long ago, the typical office computer system consisted mainly of terminals that connected to and worked from a main frame computer.   The “dumb” terminals as they were often referred to, did not have any really computer power themselves but connect to and opened up a “user” session on the main frame computer, which was the central computer doing all of the work.    Move forward to the PC era and you then had desktop computers (and eventually laptops) that are separate computer in themselves.   To work together as a team, we had to have networking which allows the computers to communicate with each other and do things like share files, printers and such.   Along with that came Server PC’s which brought the components of centralized network authentication, centralized file sharing and security along with shared applications, databases, etc..   That was not really new  as shared applications and databases were all part of the Mainframe world, but with PC’s the processing was more distributed rather than on one central computer.    With Windows Servers came Terminal Services.    This allowed multiple users to open up a full windows sessions from the Terminal Server, kind of similar to the Main Frame / Terminal days.    So with that came devices called “Thin Clients”.   Thin Clients are smart devices that can open Windows sessions to work pretty much like PC’s but running from a central Terminal Server, these days called Remote Desktop Services.


So what are the pros and cons of Thin Clients?   It depends a bit on what the computer users need to do.   If you are looking to do heavy design, graphics intensive applications, stick with a PC or Mac.   But if you just need to give a group of users access to everyday applications like word processing, spreadsheet, web browsing, etc.,  then Thin Clients are a great alternative for a number of reasons.


Let’s take the install we just did at Bishop Okullu College.   They wanted to have 15 computers for students to use for those everyday applications noted above.   In Kenya, a good, fast PC would cost about $1200 minimum.   That would be $18,000 USD.   For the Thin Client network we needed to purchase a server (about $2400) and the thin client units ($180 each) times 15 for a cost of $2700.   Add to that 15 monitors and some other peripherals and we came in with an overall budget of $8000.   That’s a huge savings of $10,000.    The thin client sessions are fast and the configuration is very easy.   What ever software we purchase and load on the server (licensed for 15 users of course) is immediately available to all users from one install.   So there is a time savings with setup for sure.   There are other benefits, but one that is particularly helpful here in East Africa is electricity usage.   The thin client network environment consumes far less electricity than a 15 PC network would.   That’s big cost savings to the college.   All in all, it’s great computer lab environment to implement in a case like this.


So why the title “About Vecmar Corp.”.  Just simply this; they are a excellent and helpful vendor for thin client technology.   We had one problem to solve with our thin client setup this week that I just could not solve.   We want to let student use their own USB flash disks to save and backup their files on.  Thin clients can to this, but for some reason, I could not get it to work properly.   I made a Skype call to Vecmar’s tech support and was serviced immediately on the issue.   They took the time to setup and test a thin client of the same model and firmware as we had and tested and got the USB flash disk problem solved for me.   With just an E-mail with some instructions and links, I was able to get the USB drives working with our thin client setup.    My thanks to Vecmar support for their prompt helpful service.    It’s sometime hard to get timely service from many hardware and software vendors, even from back home in the USA.   This was quick and excellent service from half way around the world.   I have to say, I fully endorse Vecmar as the vendor of choice for anyone looking to work with Thin Client technology.




Hello all.   I did not get a chance to post yesterday, but to be honest, there was not that much to report on.   I went through various training with Bon when I could because the electric power was on and off so much during the day that it was hard to keep to the plan.   Even so, we covered just about everything he needs to know about the Mac and Windows Server setup, along with the thin client configurations and how those work.   I did setup Teamviewer on the Mac so that I can remote control to it from home when it’s online.   With that, I should be able to help with any question they have from time to time.


I did have one problem to solve yesterday.   I found that the thin clients were not redirecting USB Flash disks to the user login sessions.   This is an important feature that they need so that staff members and students can use their own flash drive to keep their files on.   It’s normally not a problem with thin clients, but I just could not get it to work properly.   Fortunately I was able to use Skype to call Vecmar, the company I purchased the thin clients from.   Their tech support person (Chris) was very helpful and offered to setup and test some clients put back at their office that have the same firmware to see what it needs for configuration to get the USB disk to mount.    He did that and got back to me with some configuration information that they used to get the redirection to work.    Of course, it’s later at night that I got the answer so I waited until this morning to try it out.    I did just that and yes, it worked just fine.    So I reconfigured all of the thin clients as Chris spec’d out and we got the all working.


For the rest of today, I cleaned up some mac and server configuration items, otherwise, it was a pretty relaxing day.    FYI, I brought one of my UAS devices (AKA drone) to do some aerial photography of the college and surrounding area.   That was a lot of fun.   I was able to bring the device up quite high and flew it out over Lake Victoria.    It’s pretty amazing video which I will post on YouTube soon.   I also did some low altitude passes over the college at about 40 MPH.    The Mavic Pro that I have is a well built device.   Can’t wait to share the video’s with you.


Just as I finished flying the drone, Bishop Kodia arrived to pick me up to head back to Kisumu.   I’m in downtown Kisumu now, waiting in the car for him to take care of some errands before we head back home.   


Tomorrow will be a sit back and relax day, which I’m looking forward to.   I’ll probably get some more posting done with more pictures, so stop in when you can to see what I’ve put on the blog.


Have a great rest of your day!