Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Christmas at NATC

Contributed by Farzana Rasheed

NATC has been celebrating the season with lots of excitement this year. 

First of all, we sent out greeting cards and a marketing badge of our logo to all our clients and partners. The card was designed by no other than Haresh:

We also sent some gift hampers to our  premier clients. Harbel Supermarket, which happens to be across the road from us, had lots of enticing seasonal gift packages and, we decided to buy and send to our special clients and friends. Next year, though, I'm thinking of getting more locally-made items and typical Liberian souvenirs to go into these gift hampers. I'm excited thinking about it!

We decided to make our own decorations for our window space by making our own snowflakes and hanging them up with green yarn.

We put up a Christmas tree and used business cards as decorations. One of our friends suggested this idea to us. 

We also did a Secret Santa gift exchange. We opened our presents today:

We are on holiday from tomorrow, Christmas Day, until the 28th! We wish everyone a merry Christmas!

Monday, 23 December 2013

My Achievements with NATC as an IT Trainee

by Daniel Collins

  • Configuring routers and switches
  • Setting up network printers
  • Setting up scan-to-folder functions on network printers
  • Conducting LAN and WAN projects
  • Troubleshooting network connectivity
  • Troubleshooting desktops, laptops and printers
  • Software installations
  • Conducting monthly maintenance for clients

When I first joined NATC, I had almost no knowledge of computers and technology. I'm proud to say that I learned a lot by joining my senior colleagues on site and, observing them step by step as they solved problems. IT is about solving problems!

  • Amongst the first things I learned were:
  • COLOR CODING and crimping cables using Registered Jack 45 or RJ45 connectors
  • Installing OS or operating systems, anti-virus software
  • Configuring Microsoft outlook accounts

After a few months of working at NATC, I was asked to take a look at the router of our management's residence. The router of our CEO and Head of Operation'ss home was giving limited connections and they thought with few month’s experience here at NATC I could handle the job. My boss was also away and, I was rather nervous about handling this job since I was on my own. I did not refuse or say I don’t have idea on it. I disconnected it and took it to the office. Honestly, this was my very first time seeing or handling such device called Router and did not know how to even start it. I tried calling Jonathan who is the Head of IT but could not get him via mobile. I had to Google it and, figure out how to re-set it. It took me a few days and, my bosses were frustrated that I did not know it but I eventually solved the problem!

I started to devote my time and concentrate on my training and because of this my bosses selected me to assist one of our major mining clients at their Monrovia office. My responsibility was to assist end users with problem on a daily basis. This was another way I think they wanted me to improve my level of confidence and skills in handling issues. It did not only stop there. I was sent to Bomi County to setup a print server along with one of my colleagues.

A casual picture of me working on site on a server
Towards the end of 2013, I was sent to Grand Gedeh as a permanent on-site technician! This was the biggest challenge yet. It was my very first time to manage such a huge staff and for every three minutes a person would need support. I started configuring routers, backing up data on the project server, setting up scan to folder functions for individual users, setting up PABX desk phones, configuring Microsoft Outlook, and troubleshooting network connectivity. I was in my element!

But amongst all of my challenges, the backing up of data on the server, creating a mini server for print and scanning on network folder was the greatest.

I am so excited over the opportunity given me in bolstering in my IT career and highly appreciate the patience our management have borne with me and assisting me in growing up from one stage to another. With the level of trust and confidence imposed in me, I promise to devote my time and concentrate vigorously towards my training as an IT technician.

My Best Experience as Head of IT Services in 2013

Contributed by Jonathan Barwon

Installation and Configuration of DVB Receiver and DATUM Modem are one of my major achievements in 2013 as Head of IT. It was difficult understanding the system and platform, but eventually I was successful in understanding and was successful in how to configure and setup the device.  

My best moment in 2013 was when I successfully migrated the iDirect Modem Platform to the DVB SCPC Platform for a client in February 2013.

The DVB SCPC Platform is very good and easy to use if only you can understand the setup. In this setup, the Ayecka DVB Receiver works as the Receiving Modem (RX) and DATUM Modem works as the Transmitter (TX). It took me days and months to understand this Platform, even the Skyvision (a V-SAT company) technician that I was coordinating with from the UK took time to understand the Platform. Now working with DATUM Modem and the DVB Receiver has become very easy for me, I have understood the platform very well and how the devices work.

One of the good things about this DATUM Modem is that you can login to your Modem using the Modem IP Address, Username and Password. Sometime in June this year we had a break down in one of the devices (Ayecka DVB Receiver). We had to replace the DVB Receiver with a new Receiver from the UK that was sent from the ISP office (Skyvision UK). The problem on the modem was due to power failure in the modem.  

The illustrations shown above and below show the various equipments that was configured and set up for the client. The 4 port Switch is next to DATUM and under the Switch is the Ayecka DVB Receiver; The Dell Sonicwall VPN Router is placed below which serves as the DNS Server for my LAN. The CAT6 network from both the DATUM and The DVB Receiver are connected to the 4 Ports switch and from the 4 port switch to the VPN router (Dell Sonicwall) from the Dell Sonicwall (Dell Firewall) to the LAN switch, unlike the iDirect Modem that serves as both the Receiver and Transmitter.

Working with this platform is cost effective, too. I recommend it as an IT technician. Please contact NATC. We can also train your IT Department on this platform after the installation of the platform and give you tech support on the platform.
The illustration below shows the migration from iDirect to the Ayecka DVB Receiver and DATUM Modem:
Part 1: Configuration of the SR1 DVB-S2 Receiver:
I was guided by the Skyvision technician, Ben, on phone to do the configuration in this way:
Before defining the COM port, check the Device Manager of the computer (right click on "My Computer- Manage-Device Manager -Ports COM Port").

Configure the Serial session using HyperTerminal or any equivalent program to the device’s COM Port Speed – 115200 (it does not work with lower speeds)
* Connection to the management IP is done via Telnet.
The menus and configurations of the SR1 provide easy access to all functionality, as detailed in the following sections.

The main menu displays the unit details at the top of the screen, along with the two Rx ports and their status.
Select option 3 "Network."
There are 3 separate configurations:
Management IP – for remote access via LAN (can be used with a private IP LAN).
LAN IP – The LAN IP is needed for the ARP request from the router. It must be the second IP address from the provided subnet and have the router IP address configured as the first IP address of the subnet.
I changed the LAN IP Address:
LAN IP Mask                           :
Router IP Address                    :
Note this IP was giving to me by Ben the Skyvision technician. 

ARP configuration: Set it on "Automatic."

Once the router's Ethernet interface is configured properly and connected to the SR1, it will reply as the default gateway. To verify that this is set properly: check the Router Ethernet Address and compare it with the actual Ethernet port's MAC in the router.


Via the Statistics menu, you can see the amount of packets being received (to PID) and the amount being passed to the router.

Filter Table

The following options are displayed in the Rx Transport Filter table:

PID in decimal value (104)

MAC address (should be the SAT0 MAC address by default and should not be changed)

Status – Enabled

IP multicast - Pass

At this point, the SR1 is configured to get a lock and receive packets designated to the configured PID (104) and Air MAC. Configurations of the SR1 are done using the Configuration and Network menus.

Using the Configuration menu, you first need to set the redundancy option (Rx channel switching mode:

You can set Channel switching mode to "Manual" and then choose which of the ports will be active. Alternatively, you can choose "Automatic" and define the time between port switching (the device will switch ports only if there is no lock).

If you chose Manual, set the Rx channel port to be Active.

Choose which configuration set to work with (Configuration Set 1 as a standard). In the Configuration Set, only three parameters should be configured:
Tuner frequency – Provides L-Band Rx frequency
LNB power – off/13v/18v
Filter table – PID I configured along with the correct MAC address. For more information on the settings, see below:

Change the Tuner Frequency  to :  990.000 MHZ
I was on phone during this entire configuration with the technician. After the configuration, I was asked by the technician to disconnect the IDirect modem and connected RX cable from V-SAT to the DVB Receiver and the Tx cable to the DATUM Modem.

Part 2: Configuration of the DATUM Modem

Contributed by:
Jonathon Barwon
Head of IT Services
New Africa Technology Company

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Troubleshooting problems with CPT equipment, Piezo meter, inclinometers and data acquisition equipment

Conributed by Haresh Karamchandani

A Dutch engineering company was introduced and recommended to NATC by an existing iron ore mining company client who have contracted the former for consultancy on improving the port facilities for exports once they start production.

The customer walked into our swanky Randall Street office one morning and complained that his Durabook laptop was not booting. We got down to diagnosing what may be the problem. Our technician opened up the laptop and discovered that one of the RAM cards was faulty and this was causing the problem.

The RAM card was promptly replaced and the laptop was able to boot and function normally. 

One more happy client added to our ever growing list!

The same day, late in the evening, I get a call from the same client saying that they were having problems with their Data acquisition equipment and they were not able to get some important readings due to communication errors between their CPT- Inclinometer equipment and their laptop.

We set up an appointment for early the next morning and the client picked us up from our office and drove us to their site inside the Freeport. They had very conveniently set up their working space inside a 20’ container positioned right at the edge of the pier. They were conducting deep water measurements using the highly sophisticated equipment. They were supposed to present their findings and recommendation for suitability of the Monrovia port to accommodate huge 200,000 ton vessels for loading and export of the iron ore.

This was the first time we saw an inclinometer (looks like a missile) and CPT equipment. According to the client there were only 3 manufacturers for this kind of equipment. The magnetometer readings were not communicated for some reason. The client had already spent 5 hours trying to troubleshoot along with the Dutch manufacturer, to no avail or solution.

We got down to the job.

Normally this kind of problem could be resolved by manipulating the COM port settings. This did not work.

We then tried replacing the laptop with another one. Software was available. This too did not work!

The Inclinometer readings were being displayed, but for some reason the magnetometer readings were not working.

We decided to bring over the equipment to our workshop and after opening up the equipment we checked the circuit board and discovered that deep inside, a capacitor was not responsive. THIS was the problem! 

This may have been caused due to a power surge, the most common factor that damages equipment in Liberia. Unfortunately we could not replace the faulty capacitor, but the client was quite pleased with our diagnostics and would now take the faulty equipment back to Holland and have it repaired/replaced.

We strongly advise all our valuable client’s to always protect their expensive equipment with an Automatic Voltage Regular with Surge protector and Genuine APC Smart UPS available at NATC.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

How to change the windows 7 splash screen / lock screen

Contributed by Haresh Karamchandani

A Client brought a Dell Laptop that he had received as a gift from a friend in the USA. The Windows 7 Splash Screen would display the friends name and logo. Our client wanted to get this removed.

Here is a quick guide to customize the windows 7 startup screen.

1. Click start type regedit and hit "enter"
2. Right click on HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and select "find"
3. Type OEMBackground and hit "enter"

(the path should be:
Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Authentication\LogonUI\Background )
(if it is not there you need to create it*right click on background and select new DWORD name it OEMBackground set it from 0 to 1)
4. Double left click on "OEMBackground" and change the value from "1" to "0"
5. Click start and type "%windir%\system32\oobe"
6. In the oobe folder create a folder named "info"
7. In that folder create a folder named "backgrounds". Now rename your picture that you want displayed: durning logon/lock screen backgroundDefault.jpg
Everything is case sensitive so if you have to copy and paste the names. the picture needs to be under 244kb. 

The trick is to get a picture under the 244kb.

Right click on the picture and select "open" with > select paint
Press "ctrl+w"
This will bring up a box under horizontal and vertical select the amount you want to reduce the picture in %.

"Restart" the computer.
No name will appear in the start-up Windows 7 splash screen!