Monday, February 25, 2008

UTS server fixed and a trip to Phoenix

Well, after working on the linux server for a couple of days, I have finally managed to get it working (I think). At least, if it's not working, they haven't come over to complain yet. I tested it last night and was sure it was working, anyway.

Technically, I'm not learning to work with Linux, so much as with MicroTik RouterOS, which is an overlay that goes on the server over the linux OS. I think...

Anyway, unless I hear different, it's fixed, and already it's showing a marked improvement. Someone in Zone 1 is really hogging all the bandwidth. REALLY.

Also, in the next day or two, I'm heading to Camp Phoenix via airplane to help the Supply Sergeant, SSGT Bobby Hall, with data entry that has to be done in timing with the computers back in the states. I don't know how long that will take. Hopefully the UTS guys can get by without me in the meantime. Also hopefully I'll have some good pictures of Kabul when I come back.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sick for the first time in Afghanistan

After almost 10 months of being in-country, I have finally come down with a head cold. It's probably just my annual bout of sinusitis, actually. It feels about the same as usual, scratchy throat, sinus pressure in my forehead, lots of nasal drainage. It makes me feel miserable for a week or so, then it goes away for a couple of weeks, comes back for another week, and then I'm done with it.

I had been wondering, in the past year or so, if it might not just be allergies, since it happens every year in the spring. However, Afghanistan is dry, there's not much pollen (although there is dust in the air, yes), and so I think I can rule out the simple allergies explanation.

Regardless, I'm pathetically under the weather for the moment. We do have the UTS server fixed, finally. Hopefully the internet will be running at a decent speed soon for everyone, and it won't take 2 weeks to upload a picture to blogspot in the future. There also is an upcoming trip to Camp Phoenix in Kabul. I hope to take pictures up there as well, so I'll have more interesting stuff to show everyone.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Whittling away the hours

So, killing time gets to be the major goal of anything you do while on guard duty. Lord knows I stay busy enough when NOT on guard duty, between EverQuest and working on the network. As I mentioned before, I've been doing some whittling.

here's a picture of the first two swords I made, and the 2x6 that I acquired as a blank for my third attempt:

Here's another picture of the three finished articles:

There, finally I've managed to upload the picture you've been wondering about all this time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My work as a UTS network engineer

Well, finally, Chief Simonsen (of the US Navy) has had enough and arranged for me to work with him to set up UTS. UTS (Universal Telecom Service) is the actual name of what I used to call "Hajji-net."

They have a Windows 2003 server, and a MicroTik linux server (which is currently in the shop). We have knowledge and expertise and a fluke NetTool for use in diagnosing problems on the network. And believe me, there are major problems!

We have tried installing and using Bandwidth Controller, but either I configured it wrong or the software is just junk, because it blocked all the users from the internet. The Linux server allegedly has built-in bandwidth control capability, though, so we might be using that as our gateway when it returns from the shop.

Meanwhile, I've spent all day today sitting in the UTS office (which is inside a shipping container), dealing with soldiers, sailors and civilians who have network issues. Part of my day has been spent compiling a database of users, listing their IP addresses and their MAC addresses, as well as which part of the FOB they are on (what "zone" they're in). And this afternoon I've been running around playing "test the cable" with most of the whole network backbone. Yay!

All of which has left me with a really tired feeling, although I haven't done any physical labor. Thinking is tough on the body.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Jack Hinks!!

Jack Hinks is the new rallying cry for me and the younger mortars. We shout it at each other when something positive happens, when we're trying to identify each other walking around the FOB at night, or when we're trying to surprise the local nationals. They look at you really strange when you shout "JACK HINKS!!" at them.

We've also decided that we're going to start an "escort service." The mess hall now requires badges for us to get service, which is good. But that will restrict some of the more attractive females who live and work on KAF from coming over and eating in the mess hall. So the "Jack Hinks escort service" will provide these lovely enlisted ladies with an escort who can get them into the mess hall.

The purpose, of course, is to provide a morale boost for the SECFOR troops living on FOB Lindsey, and to give these lovely ladies an opportunity to partake of our wonderful KBR meals, which are indeed preferable to Supreme meals.

Also, I've come up with a nifty logo for the Jack Hinks escort service. Here it is:

In addition, I've started carving swords out of pieces of wood that I find around the area. I've carved a short, gladius-type sword, and am working on a longer, Viking-style sword, but currently I've got a blister on my right ring finger, so I'll be restricted from doing any more carving while that heals.

We went on a mission to Qalat last week. Just above Qalat, there's a mountain range that was covered with snow. It looked like a wave breaking over the city. I took several pictures.