Thursday, 28 December 2017

Compliments of the season


Season's Greetings from New Africa Technology Company! Wishing all our friends, clients, followers and technology lovers compliments of the season and a happy new year! May 2017 end on a good note for everyone in Liberia, for business, for politics, peace and stability and, we greatly look forward to 2018. We wish you all peace and joy! 🖳📡🇱🇷✌️🙌🏿🍾

This artwork has been made by Frank Dwuye. 

V-SAT INSTALLATION, ZWEDRU CITY 📡

On the 10th of November morning, the V-SAT technician (contracted to NATC, Konah Gray) and I traveled to Grand Gedeh County to establish an internet connection via Satellite VSAT, with funding from a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) JHPiego. We loaded the equipment on a commercial vehicle. 
The beginning of the trip became very challenging after driving from Monrovia to Ganta, the commercial city in Nimba County where the main road is smoothly paved. Entering Tappita Town at night was the beginning of our nightmare. We drove that night till suddenly around 11.00 AM the car had a breakdown in the middle of a huge mud. Taking off our shoes and other belongings was a must to do. We pushed the car off the muddy road the whole morning because we were afraid of the unknown area we found ourselves but it didn't help. 
We ended up sleeping on such a lonely road where you barely hear or see anyone and neither had a network signal. I was very afraid and also angry at my colleague whom I advised that we make a stop and sleep in Ganta than pick up the next morning due to the time but he refused and told the driver to continue. I have head of ritual sacrifices, human trafficking and other inhuman acts that go on in the rural area. All that was going through my mind and I couldn’t close my eyes until the next day. 

The next morning the driver began checking the vehicle and diagnosed of few parts that needed to be replaced. He waited for along the road to find an empty car or motor bike but unsuccessful. Every single vehicle or motorbike passing by us were occupied and were mainly NGO that don’t take unauthorised passengers. We again started pushing the vehicle until we reached a small town called Zoeley. 

By then it was already night. The town chief who was a very nice man informed us that strangers don't sleep outside in his town. He provided us a sleeping place. We took our equipment and packed them where we slept until the next morning. At least I closed my eyes a bit. We arranged another vehicle that took us to Zwedru, the Capital City of Grand Gedeh County in other to meet up with the timeline.

We arrived on the client's site on Sunday morning, dropped all the equipment and left to book a hotel for the night. It was such a tiring journey but was glad that we reached safe. 






On early Monday morning we started our work immediately by mounting the satellite dish and running the network cable to the server rack. This was my very first time working on a V-SAT project and wouldn’t want to miss any in the future. In establishing internet connection using VSAT, the first and important information to gather for the satellite provider is the Geographical Coordinates of the site location, Option file, Modem iDirect x2 x3 etc., BUC, LND and the dish itself that I have learned. Uploading the Option file into the modem is the most important thing to do when the dish is set up. The file was loaded using software called iSite. Once it loads correctly your IP addresses will be identified by the service provider, ping your network and and direction.

The Option File got loaded and the internet connection was established. 
But afterward, we started to face another challenge again. The TX and RX LED on the modem blink Green when the network is stable but in our case the both LEDs started to blink Orange. My colleague reloaded the Option file over and over but the problem still remained. He quickly arranged with one of his friends in the area for a modem X3 and luckily for us it was available. The problem was fixed right after replacing the modem. We could browse the internet and be sure of creating a Wide and Local Area Network WAN/LAN for all users on the internet, by testing the speed of the bandwidth and carrying alignment on the dish for better throughput rate. 
I was so eager to know how everything works because I found interest in everything when it comes networking because my goal is to become a network engineer and that is what I’m pushing on.
Well, the network was established but that I only came over to take note on it went or learn but I had a task to complete, too. My task was to setup a Local and Wide Area Network, Bandwidth Management, Firewalling and remote login in the MikroTik device brought along with us and that’s one of the networking devices I love working with along with Cisco. All the configurations were done in the router and tested by the client. 

I was also asked to train the IT office how to use this device because many are not familiar with it. I was excited that I could train someone who claimed to be an IT person but then I realized that Information Technology is a wide and broad field. No one is a master of all accept in a specific discipline. To admit, it so nice towork with the guy. He is an expect! He does his work in a very professional way and working with him was understandable. 
I am so grateful to see myself undertaking these challenges today. All thanks and appreciations go to my employer, New Africa Technology Company, Liberia’s one stop IT solution. 
by Daniel W. Collins (Senior IT Technician) New Africa Technology Company (NATC)

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Experiences with LEC Management 🇱🇷 🔌💡⚡🔦

Our experiences with the LEC don't give us much hope that infrastructure and public services are improving. 

I wrote about the experience of a fire sparking on the pole just at eye level near our apartment's balcony and, even posted about it on the Liberia Expats Google Group. Received a lot of responses and similar frustrating experiences. 

Since then, the pole near our apartment where we live didn't spark again thankfully but it's always a lingering anxiety. What if it sparks again? Will we be at home? Who will douse it? 

Since then, I started writing to the LEC Manager, Ernest Hughes, who at first was quite apologetic and sympathetic with the poor service i.e. lack of response to our calls. His explanation for weaknesses at the LEC were: "Most of the expansion of LEC has happened through donors, hence LEC has not grown logistically to handle the increased demand. " (E-mail 24 November)

To this, I wrote a long response back providing examples of difficult it is to get assistance from Customer Service, there isn't any clearly published information and contacts, the bribes the ground crew almost always demand bribes, etc. 

I kept writing to the LEC management, including Ernest Hughes, to ask for help with issues at both our locations: apartment and office. For example, for weeks, the office LEC's voltage was too low:

1) Phase 1: 125 volts
2) Phase 2: 70 volts
3) Phase 3: 65 volts 

And, at the house, the voltage was slightly better although the 3rd phase (on which we have our security lights and 1 AC) was almost off: 

1) Phase 1: 170/180 volts
2) Phase 2: 170/180 volts
3) Phase 3: 9 volts

We kept writing seeking assistance (since 24 November) and then on 11 December a crew came over only to say they didn't have the ladder to go up on the pole. When I wrote back on the same e-mail thread and said, I was 'astonished!' to which the LEC Manager responded angrily:
"Farzana, This is going too far with your disrespect for my organization. Your emails are coming across as very rude and unsavory. I will not tolerate your constant jabs at our processes, unless you do so professionally. 

We doing the best that we can and will continue to provide you the right service. However, if you feel that our service is not good enough, as a customer you have every right to pursue other options. LEC is less than 6 years old;  it takes time to improve an organization. 
I will no longer tolerate the tone of these messages to me and my staff.
Regards" 
I was shocked at this response which told me I had no right to get frustrated and moreover, I could go find another company. I had to apologise and said I was merely frustrated. 

Our meter at the office completely went off on 18 or 17 December. We kept writing and calling Joseph Howes (Asst Managing Director | Transmission&Distribution) until he sent a crew on 27 December. The crew came over with all the equipment and manpower necessary, so it seemed. 

Photographs below are from 27 December:






At first the crew said no meter on the pole matched our meter number. Then he said the only 3-phase meter on the pole was off : "It was not powering on." We produced LEC receipts and, then he realised indeed our meter was up there. But he still confirmed that it was not coming on and, we needed to call his boss. After he left, one of my staff said, when he was on the pole, he never said the meter was not coming on. He was not interested in fixing the problem. 

Of course, all subsequent calls to Joseph Howe did not yield anything and he stopped taking my calls. I also stopped writing on the e-mail thread to the LEC Management. 

I ask our readers, are the experiences described above and elsewhere in our blog a issue of lack of logistical resources or mismanagement?

Farzana Rasheed, CEO, NATC

Saturday, 25 November 2017

LEC Mismanagement 🔌💡⚡🔦

See a message I posted below at the Liberia Expats Google Group. It's a closed Google Group which doesn't only have 'expatriate' members but also many Liberians and members of the Lebanese and Indian business communities. It's a useful forum to share and exchange information and, in this case, share frustrations. 


Dear friends,

It’s ironic that a Safe Streets Festival is being organised tomorrow but what about safety and improvement of LEC services? We have had a fire break out on our pole twice and both times we called the Emergency Hotline (Dixon on 0886 705715) and until now, no one has showed up. We rang them up again now and they said, ‘Don’t talk to much.’ 

Not only is LEC’s customer service extremely poor (it takes weeks and weeks to process a request and, we always have to tip the field technicians otherwise they will literally not do the work), but even reports of a fire will not wake them up! 

We pay some of the highest tariffs for electricity in the world but service and quality is poor. The LEC was mostly on in the rainy season but since the dry season started, voltage has been unstable (damaging equipment) and voltage is low. If you get something damaged, you will bear the costs. If the voltage is too low, you’ll have to spend extra money to run a generator. 

The LEC has been supported by donors, has its management outsourced and, money has been pumped in to restart the hydro. But it’s mismanaged, corrupt and frustrating! Our company (NATC) even shared its experiences on Bush Chicken but even such stories on public media don’t embarrass the management at LEC. 

That even requests to send technicians to check a fire did not produce any response from the LEC is shocking and scary! 

My husband had to put out the fire using a fire extinguisher, leaning out from the balcony and burnt himself. Ironically, the fire was at the same level as our balcony so he could lean out of the balcony and put out the fire. 

These are raw, frightening and disturbing experiences. Let folks know what the state of infrastructure and management is in Monrovia! 

Any advice on how to reach out to the highest LEC management will be appreciated. 

Regards, Farzana

These are responses that came up on the group:

1) Sorry but nobody is able to manage it. Maybe they're lacking resources. At the customer care center they're looking at you like is your fault. We are waiting for one month for the pole meter to be changed. Not even one reply from them. All your credit that you have on that meter is gone, nobody is talking to you. There are LEC employees who are ready to sale and install a meter for you for $350. Meter that probably was stolen before from somebody else, by themselves. It's discouraging. God bless Liberia!

2) I have eight years of bad experience dealing with LEC. I tried acquiring their service for 5yrs without success. Finally, I happened to work with a firm that managed and funded some of their activities. I discovered that I already had three separate connections, unbeknownst to me.

But fast forward to about six month ago. I needed my meter relocated from a public pole to a private pole. At customer service, yet I was the only one sitting, I had to shout my way through. They requested diagram, letter, estimate of current distance and then proposed relocation distance...plus more. Being an old unhappy customer, I had all those at hand. I was processed and asked to expect a call within two to three weeks. 

That was over six months ago. But I just needed to document my claim. I contracted some of the very workers to relocate my meter. Case closed.

Rome can a very complex city when you are from Egypt.

3) Early this month we noticed unusual brightness in all our light bulbs and many phone chargers damaged .when we tested the Voltage guess what?340 volts .-:)

4) I advise you all to install overvoltage to protect all your electrical equipment . You can buy it from powerline randall street. 

5) We experienced the same problem. As a restaurant it was double the frustratipn since we had to get a smaller generator as a back.up.for a back.up.generator. After all is done.they fix it and a mo th later they bring a new meter that on.its own.is consuming 1-2 kw per minute so now i have current but had to pay 3 times normal spending. Even when im using the generator and the lec is not connected our new meter still.consumes our credit on its own 

6) Hi Farzana
I had a court case against LEC. It started 6 years ago after they failed to connect my house in Congo Town, after having paid fees and bribes to get connected for two years, amounting to 2000 USD. The court case went on for 4 years until the chief justice ordered them to pay me back my money plus all the legal fees up to 10.500 USD now. 
Many times I had appealed to the (always changing)  management but all the consecutive CEO's didn't care.
Of all the corrupt and ineffective institutions in Liberia LEC is certainly in the top 10.
Only pressure from very high levels can make them move at all. They have a monopoly so, why should they care about the customers?
Good luck fighting the dragon

7) We all have the same or similar horrow stories. Its just blatant wicked corruption. Please let us know if this Joseph Howe does resolve yours, because we gave up on calling them since our pole has burnt so many times that it is actually out.

8) Call Joseph Howe on 0886884592. He should handle it..

Monday, 13 November 2017

Stolen cables

This morning, we saw that our cables were stolen! The cables connecting our generator and office were stolen. So, our handyman, our senior technician, Farman, ran some new cables.

What a way to start the week!

Thursday, 9 November 2017

October blog post 📝

Hello everyone,


As an IT technician, there’s a lot of amazing small and complex issues I encounter on a daily basis and I embrace them with interest as technology is improving every passing day.

On Friday evening we got call from one of our clients in Buchanan which we have a 3-day monthly ICT maintenance contract with.

They informed us that their network had been down for a day. We advised the client to informing the Internet Service Provider (ISP) as they have no IT person on site to be sure before taking an action. The ISP than confirmed that they could ping the network from their server so there was no problem from their end.

I quickly arranged the next morning with all necessary equipment (RB 951 MikroTik router, RJ 45 connectors, Crimper and pitched network cable in case there was any power failure of the core router.

I got to the customer’s Head Office at about 9:30 am. They quickly arranged a vehicle to take me to the effected site, about 1-hr drive.

They were quite happy when I arrived and welcomed me by saying ‘’NATC’’ is here.   Well, this is how most of our client/staff called me even though they know my full name but some prefer calling me that way.

I opened the server rack and found the main Juniper router on with all status led(s) linking green. That was good enough to know that internet was reaching the device but not being distributed. I started by pinging the switches IP addresses and surprisingly the main Cisco switch could not be reached, but the power adaptor led of the switch was blinking. Immediately I replaced the adaptor with a new one, I could ping the switch, desktops and laptops were connected, and network printers automatically started printing out stored job and so on. All the departments I checked were working okay accept for the Field Department. The switch was on but there were no sign of signal.

By using my cable tester found out that one of the RJ 45 connecters was damaged. I replaced both ends using my crimping tool to restore network for that department.

I informed the Site Manager and Head Office on progress made.

When heading to have my lunch, an accountant staff complained that any Microsoft Excel email attachment received in her inbox opens blank and really don’t know what could be the issue. I told her, me take a look. She turned on her computer and displayed the problem to me.

I have seen this issue several times before. So, I knew exactly how to figure it out in less than a minute. The lady insisted that I show her how to resolve this issue in case it happen and I’m not around. Though we have an ICT contract with them and wouldn’t be an issue even if she complains hundreds times. As a technician, I’m there to resolve problem. For me, she sounded very smart. I told her yes we can do it together.

Here are the few steps to go on resolving issue like this for any Microsoft version. Now, open the Excel again that opens blank.

Open Microsoft Excel.
Click the File tab and select Options from the drop-down menu.
Click Advanced, then locate the ‘’General’’ section.
Uncheck the box next to Ignore other applications that use Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE).
Click OK and restart the Excel.

In a joking and friendly manner I asked her. ‘’Now everything works fine. Anything else I could help you with? Can I get back at the canteen and have lunch now’’?

After a heavy lunch, I drove back to Monrovia the same day and resumed work at my office the next day.

Reach out for NATC, the one stop IT Solution Company!

Prepared by: Daniel W. Collins (Senior IT Technician) New Africa Technology Company (NATC)

Monday, 23 October 2017

Meeting Total Liberia's GM at our office ✍

We were honoured with a visit by Total's General Manager at our office a few weeks ago. We were connected through friends we made with folks who are working at the Salala Rubber Plantation, who in turn we met at our friends' birthday party at Libassa Ecolodge (the owners and managers of Libassa Ecolodge, in fact).

That's a good example of how so many new clients were added to our profile list. In fact, our friends at Salala Rubber Plantation also introduced us to their sister company, LAC (Liberian Agricultural Company), with whom we got the opportunity to repair a server that was damaged after a lightening strike. 

The meeting with Total's General Manager was a good moment to connect with one of the world's major oil companies. The GM is extremely professional, humble and kind. He was happy to learn about our experiences and expertise. 

During our chat we learned from him that despite the substantive expansion that Total has accomplished in Liberia, they are operating at a loss because of the currency issue. He also said growth is extremely slow at the moment but Total has committed itself to stay in the country for the long run. 

He asked us to provide a full profile to his procurement team. 

By the way, our predecessor company, NLTC, was doing regular maintenance work for Total. 

Thursday, 19 October 2017

1 year at NATC

I am happy to inform all of you that I am completing exact one year in this company on 17 October 2016. My 1st project on build an 80 feet tower for installing internet equipment at Africa Heart Wood Zannah Town. When I joined this company a year back, I was totally new in this company's culture and it was a hard time to match with it.

It was you all who had taken pains to teach me the culture and working style of this company. Because of your strong support and my CEO Ms. Farzana Rasheed and Chief Operation Mr. Haresh Karamchandani. Who had guided me time to time in my work, I could successfully complete this one year period in the company.

I am sure you all will continue to provide your support and guidance, which will help me in performing the Best in near future.


I feel proud to complete one successful year with great satisfaction. Yes, this is my 367th day as an employee. First of all, I thank God for all the good things he gave in my first year and my fantastic team members whom I work with. They are of great support and fun to be with.


I, being a very optimistic person, hope that the coming years will be full of learning, challenges and fun. One last thing, not to forget to mention is that, I always feel that, I am updated with the moving technology. Thanks NATC management and staff.

Thanks for reading.
Regards,
Farman Elahi, IT Technician



Monday, 16 October 2017

How to rebuild Canon iR 2420 CEXV14 Drum unit

Our client Monrovia City Hall brought a printer Canon ImageRUNNER 2420 with CEXV14 drum toner spots and light print issues.

 

This is one of the most common printer issues and at one time or another we’ve all sent a print command to the printer, only to be left frustrated and irritated when the printer prints something like this faded printout. 


There are many causes of light or faded prints. But in this printer the issue is due to a damaged drum. 


 


In this blog post i will tell you how to rebuild a printer drum unit and how to replace drum or change the roller in drum unit. If your printer has ink but prints faded or printing too light, we’re going to help you to find out why and help you to fix it and we’ll do it. You don’t need to buy a new printer!







How to rebuild Canon iR 2420 CEXV14 Drum unit:  General causes of print quality problems are given in the checklist below, followed by specific samples of common print quality problems. If the listed solutions do not work, call for help.

 

1. Remove the drum holding pin with electronic needle nose plier.



2. Remove the old drum. 


3. Remove the charge roller.


4. Remove the white charge roller support clip.


5. Remove the drum wiper blade by removing the 2 screws.


6. Cleanout all the reaming toner from the cartridge.


7. Reinstall drum wiper blade and the 2 screws.


8. Reinstall the charge roller support clip.


9. Clean and Reinstall the charge roller


10. Lubricate the drum with toner or the wiper blade may damage it.


11. Install the new drum securing it in place with the drum holding pin.


12. Rotate the drum.


Note:

1. If toner is visible on the charge roller dry wipe it with a soft cloth to prevent copy quality issues. 2. Clean the Charge roller with water and soft cloth and dry wipe in one direction only.
3. Be careful not to damage the recovery blade that is located to the wiper blade. If this blade is bent in any way the cartridge will leak.  Thanks for reading. We are glad that NATC finds a solution for all their IT problems.

Prepared By: Farman Elahi, IT Technician