Monday, 27 May 2013

NATC is STILL looking for a Head of IT Services

Contributed by Farzana Rasheed

Running a business is all about making decisions. We made the decision to hire 2 expatriates in a single month and unfortunately, not both hires were successful. We had to send one back. 

So, what happened?
What are the lessons?

As you all know we have been rather passionately looking for more qualified and experienced staff. See previous blog post:

We received an application for this post back in December and, after conducting several telephone interviews and a written test over e-mail, we decided to hired the applicant as a hardware expert since he was not qualified for the actual position. We negotiated renumeration; sent contracts back and forth; and, arranged for an airport visa and ticket. The technician, Tauseef Ahmad, arrived sometime in March from Pakistan and, has proved to have the requisite skills and work ethic. He wrote a post introducing himself. He will be handling our maintenance and servicing of equipment as per our various contracts. He is also in charge of any faulty equipment that comes to our workshop for diagnosis and repairs. All in all, it was a good hire and, we are on our way to setting up a very well-equipped workshop. Already Tauseef has upgraded our workshop with new diagnostic tools and, we can now repair faulty motherboards and parts instead of having to replace them entirely. It looks like Tauseef will be successful in his probation and, will work with us long term.

The second hire  - which was for the actual post - was not successful. Incidentally, this person is also from Pakistan. Our decision to hire this person was based on pressures from one of our biggest clients who were not happy with a recent networking job. During a meeting, we were shown the very unprofessional job our staff had done with mounting an equipment rack. Unfortunately, we had not supervised that job and, were thoroughly embarrassed. Around that time we had received an application and, conducted 1 telephone interview and one written test. The applicant passed these tests and, without doing a second and more advanced stage of interviews, we decided to take a risk since all international hires which cannot be conduced in person cannot be assessed the same way in person interviews can be. It was a calculated risk and, we made a decision to hire the applicant. 

Khayam Ali was promptly hired and, unfortunately, soon after he arrived in Liberia, it was clear that he was not the right fit. We were quite disappointed since our impression of this person's skills and attitude towards work did not match reality. Moreover, he had been introduced to all our clients. After about a month, we decided to cut our losses short and, terminate his employment. Khayam has since returned back to Pakistan. 

I must say I am rather unimpressed with the communication skills of the expatriate staff despite the fact that English is one of Pakistan's official languages and, would definitely be the language of instruction for a field of study like IT. It also makes me realise that being able to capture your work and convey it in a concise and clear report is a skill not everyone has, Liberia or not! But I will continue to demand it and encourage my staff to improve their written English. 

We are now back to square one and, are still in dire need of a network engineer who can manage all our IT services and also, be able to tackle network issues. 

Running a business requires one to take calculated risks and, make decisions. In hindsight, it is clear that we were too hasty in hiring Khayam and, should have conducted a thorough interview. For instance, with Tauseef, it was very clear that we were only going to get a hardware expert. We were also aware of his limited written English skills and, are pushing him to improve them so he provide accurate reports and call logs. With Khayam, we got over excited and, believed that the first interview and written test were good enough. 

I will have to go back to the drawing board and, try to renew my efforts to find a network engineer. It has not been easy so far and in fact, the advertisement on Escape the City did not yield a single application! Word of mouth, advertisement on LinkedIn, and advertisement on the Google Expats Group Liberia have not been useful either. It is quite frustrating! 

Meanwhile, we will do our best to deliver the most professional, technically sound and efficient services with the staff I have. Which means, I'm always a bit doubtful and, pushing my staff to do a better job. 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Our new hardware expert in action

Our new hardware expert, Tauseef,  is busy on site maintaining and repairing printers. These are some pictures of him in action:

Servicing a Canon 2318 printer

Writing the Call Log

Servicing a Canon 2318 printer

Servicing an HP M4345 printer

Servicing an HP M4345 printer

Servicing an HP M4345 printer

Servicing an HP M4345 printer

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Update from on site: relocation of an outdoor antennae

Our network technician, Jonathan, has shared some pictures from on site in Grand Gedeh County where he is stationed for 2 weeks every month to provide maintenance and support services. 

He re-located an outdoor Meraki MR58 Antennae: 

Thursday, 9 May 2013


1. Use the Ext 101 to change the Date and time of PBX. Once you change the date and time from ext 101 date and time will be automatically update.

2. Press the PROGRAM key.

3. Press * * (star, star) and enter the security code 1 2 3 4 (one, two, three, four). The LCD will show: “SYS-PGM NO?”.

4. Press 000 (zero, zero, zero). Press the ENTER key.

5. Enter the year (00-99). Press the SELECT key (AUTO ANS/MUTE key) to change the month.

6. Press the right arrow to the date.

7. Enter the date (01-31). Press the AUTO DIAL/STORE key.

8. Press the NEXT key (or down arrow).

9. Enter the hour (01-12).

10. Enter the minutes (00-59).

11. Select AM or PM. Press the AUTO DIAL/STORE key.

12. Press the END key (HOLD key functions as the END key while in programming mode).

13. Press the EXIT key to exit programming mode.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Xerox 7125 Work Centre Printer Error 010-333

Xerox 7125 Work Centre Printer Error 010-333 – By Tauseef Ahmad

We imported and supplied 2 pcs of Xerox Printers to a high profile client recently.

These machines were 110v as they were imported from the USA and therefore we purchased 2000W Step-up/Step-down transformers from the local market and informed the client to plug in the machines through the transformers since the Liberian Electricity grid is on 220v.

A few days later we got a call from the client complaining that both the machines were not working and was showing error code 010-333.

We asked the client to send the machines to our workshop for diagnostics and repairs.

We realised that this error code is caused when the fuser detects an abnormal temperature (overheats). The machine automatically shuts down and shows error code 010-333 on start-up.

Solution: The first thing that should be done is resolve the root cause of the problem. We realised that the 2000W step-up/step-down transformer was not big enough to handle this machine. We decided to get a 5000W transformer in replacement. This is how we ascertained this:

Power (Watts) = I (current) x E (Voltage). In our case current is 220v and the machine is a 15A machine. Therefore going by this we would require220x15 = 3300W minimum power for this machine. We were using only 2000W earlier which caused the problem. The 5000W would be more than enough in this case.

Now that we have resolved the root cause the next thing to do is to reset the NVM on the machine. These are the steps to follow:

1) Turn on power to the Xerox machine 
2) After it boots completely, press and hold the “0” button on the
machine’s keypad for about 5 seconds, then while keeping the “0”
button pressed, press on the “start” button. 
3) A splash screen appears where you have to enter the CE
passcode and Maintenance passcode. The default CE passcode is 6789 and the default Maintenance passcode is 1111. (In case you have changed the passcode earlier then use the changed passcode for maintenance.)
4) Then press Machine Status>Tools>Features>Maintenance/ Diagnostics> NVM Read/Write>Chain Link> 744-248>Current Value> If other than 0 then change to 0 and SAVE!

The machine reboots automatically and the error should disappear and the machine should work normally. In case this does not work then the fuser needs to be replaced.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

There is a baby in the office!

Baby sleeping on my desk

Mingling with guests

Baby being pampered by staff

Baby being cuddled by guests

Baby shows interest in my laptop

Genius baby fixes faulty Xerox machine

Baby loves to diagnose network printer issues

Baby has her diaper change on the conference room table

Baby takes a walk around my office

Baby learns the A, B, C of filing

Baby takes a tea break with management

Baby jumps and hops on her father's lap

Baby mingles with staff

Baby takes over the boss' desk

Despite strict rules, baby invites over personal guests

Baby poses with a guest
Baby has a steady stream of adoring guests
Baby and friend make a technical drawing
Baby blocking my view
Baby forces me to pose for pictures

Cute baby is too distracting!