Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Day in the Life #2

June 31, 2009

6:50am- Wake up, get ready for the day.

7:15am- Pack the car with fully charged laptops, plug in laptops that have a low battery so that they can charge while we are at our morning camp session- we did not have time to charge enough laptops to last us the whole day last night, so we will have to make a stop back at Thusanang after our first session to pick up the laptops that we plug in now. (The laptop batteries last for about 3 hours, and we hold 6 hours of camp, so we can’t use the same laptops all day.)

7:35am- Leave for Mmaweshi Primary School for our morning XO camp session.

8:00am- Begin the winter XO camp at Mmaweshi. Help 48 students with laptop projects for 3 hours (very mentally draining). Try and fail to set up the internet at Mmaweshi.

11:00am- Leave Mmaweshi, go back to Thusanang. We unload the laptops that were used at the morning session and load the laptops that have been charging. We also left too early to pick up a sack lunch from the Thusanang kitchen this morning, so we quickly make some sandwiches and each grab an apple before heading back out.

11:40am- Leave for Driehoek Primary School

12:00pm- Begin the afternoon camp session at Driehoek. Help 65 students with laptop projects for three hours (even more mentally draining).

3:00pm- Head back to Thusanang to unload the batteries that were used today and plug in a group of laptops to charge for the camp tomorrow. We can only charge about 35 laptops in at a time, and we need to charge 200 everything. Last night, we charged laptops from 3:00pm-12:00am and we still had about 30 laptops left to charge when we went to sleep (these were the laptops that we plugged in this morning). We seriously need more power strips so that we don’t spend 9 hours charging laptops each night. Unfortunately, we have already purchased all of the powerstrips in Haenertsburg (which was only 3). That means that we need to make a trip to Tzaneen, a larger town about 30-40 minutes away, to make a few purchases.

3:30pm- Leave for Tzaneen. After searching for the Tzaneen mall, we find a store that resembles a Wal Mart/Target. We buy 4 new power strips (yay!), 2 4GB USBs, 3 1GB USBs, and 5 soccer balls that will be used in our learning project at Driehoek. We also desperately need some US/EU or US/South Africa converters for the laptops that came with US chargers, but we can’t find them anywhere. We’ll have to try again another day. Buying the USBs took forever!!! The store had the strangest policy that required me to tell an employee how many USBs I wanted of each kind, take a piece of paper from the employee with the information written down, then take the piece of paper to the register, pay for the USBs (which I have not yet received), and then take the receipt back to the electronics section to actually get the USBs. Things in Africa always take longer than expected.

5:45- Leave Tzaneen, make phone calls on the car ride home:

1.) Neo- Neo ordered routers for us last week, which were supposed to arrive last Tuesday. They are now a week late, so we need to track the routers down. He tells us that he got a call yesterday saying that the routers should arrive soon and that we should be expecting them.

2.) Rueben- We have several tech questions to ask Rueben, the tech guy at OLPC, but we don’t have his number. Out of our 100 new laptops, about 20 of them will not let us update their firmware, so we are hoping that Rueben has heard of this problem before and has an easy solution. First, we call Bryan to get Rueben’s number. Bryan gives us the number, but tells us that Rueben is on a bus is Rwanda and may not be able to talk. We decide to call him tomorrow.

3.) Karel (tech guy at Mmaweshi)- We need to call him about why the internet at Mmaweshi is not working, but we don’t have his number. We call Shelley (woman at Thusanang who runs our project when we aren’t here) to get it. She tells us that we only pay for 350 megabites of bandwich each month, and that we may have used all of our bandwich for the month of June. Since tomorrow is July 1st, and our bandwich may reload and fix the problem, we decide to wait until tomorrow to call Karel.

6:30pm- Back at Thusanang. Add the new power strips to our crazy mess of chargers, unplug laptops that have a fully charged battery, and plug in more laptops to charge for camp tomorrow.
7:00pm- Dinner (finally)

7:45pm- Gordon and Carolyn head into town to e-mail donors and upload pictures for OLPC. I stay back at Thusanang to work on XO camp activities for tomorrow. We want to teach the students how to link their laptops so that they can chat and share work, but we realize that the students are not using their personal laptops for the camps so their names will not be correct when they try to chat… that would get very confusing, so we decide to wait to tackle this activity until after we assign the laptops to individual students once school resumes in 3 weeks. Instead, we decide to plan other activities, including calculator races, searching for information in Browse, and working on an Ecoschools project.

9:15pm- Continue to rotate the laptops that need to charge for tomorrow about every 30 minutes while we read/journal/blog/relax/etc.

11:00pm- Sleep, hope that we have another good day at the XO camp tomorrow.

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