Monthly Archives: January 2008

A connected world

Today I met the accompanist for my "Accompanied Self Appraisal" (the current Methodist scheme for annual appraisal of Methodist Ministers – h’mm, just realised that I am not sure off the top of my head whether it is for Deacons and Presbyters or just Presbyters – but I digress).

As we talked over lunch (and there is another first for me, I never did my staff appraisals over lunch – much more civilised this way, even if the process will take several months) I mentioned that I had lived in Crawley before being stationed to Raunds. Immediately he asked if I knew Janet … I said yes, she had been a good friend of my parents which is how I had first got to know her. He then asked if my dad was Mike Warnock and it turned out that he had known Dad through the Questors youth group at Beckminister Methodist Church in Wolverhampton, he was about 3 or 4 years younger than dad.

Methodists in this country often joke that when we meet we will soon find a connection such as a mutual friend, but connections like this still surprise and delight me.

Getting your priorities right

Last night the house fellowship from Thrapston Methodist Church decided:

  • to meet fortnightly instead of monthly so they can go deeper into scripture more often
  • to change the night they meet (now Thursdays) so that some extra people can attend (it seems Thursdays are particularly good if you are called Sue).
  • to meet next time on valentines day.

I suppose I have mixed feelings about the last. However, we are looking at worship in Revelation so I suppose Valentines day is a good time to consider our love & response to the one who created us and always loves us.

The wonders of Thin Client Computing

On Saturday I ran a computer training course for the Nene Valley Methodist Circuit. Late on Friday I wrote a little about how it was going to fit into a hectic schedule (42: Another quiet weekend).

Now that it has happened and was well received I want to reflect on how Sun Ray thin clients helped.

I have run many IT training courses over the years, some of them in out of the way places using rented PC’s (Cyprus, Nairobi, Bangalore, Miami, Copenhagen, middle of nowhere in Norway, Reading [UK]).

I have run courses on PC’s running MsDos and on Windows 3.1 through Windows XP (Also including some using Desqview, OS/2 and Windows NT). Networks have included nothing, Novell Networks (mostly 2.x and 3.x) with both coax and cat 5 cabling, Linux servers running Samba and Windows NT Server.

This time was different.

I used our home server (a Sun Fire V20z, 2 x 64 bit Opteron processors, 4gb ram, running Ubuntu 6.10 and Sun Ray Server Software 3.1). Connected to that I had 11 Sun Ray 1G’s with a wide variety of monitors (all I could scrounge) one of which was a data projector.

All the Sun Ray 1G’s were in their original unopened packaging (2 boxes each, one for the 1G and the other for the keyboard/mouse/power cables).

From a starting point of everything in the training room, still in boxes or piles where it came out of the car to the course starting with 11 people logging in was just under two hours. That included getting tables out of storage as well as connecting and setting up broadband router, firewall, wifi router (for my laptop), server, network printer, 11 Sun Ray’s (including 2 monitors and 1 projector that I had never used with a Sun ray before). I had one person to help with the Sun Ray connections (he had never seen a Sun Ray before so I connected one and said copy that while I get all the others out of their boxes), other than that I was on my own (oh yes someone else got the chairs out).

The course ran from 10am til 4pm with 11 people using their Sun Rays continuously except for an hour for  lunch when we connected a Wii to the projector and did some bowling and tennis.

During the 5 hours of use nothing crashed, nothing failed and nothing needed restarting.

It was only at the point when they all logged in that I realised that late the previous night I had not added one person as a user, so that delayed his login for about a minute while I created him from my terminal. That was made easy because I stayed logged in with a course login on the Sun Ray with no smart card inserted, but could insert my smart card at any time to switch to my normal login with administrative rights (of course I could have opened a terminal window and via su used the command line, but the GUI is easy and works fine).

The Church Hall where we held the event turned out to not have any electrical sockets except on the stage. So we had to run all the Sun Ray’s, 1 network switch, the printer and the projector off 3 sockets using reel extension cables – two of which have automatic cut off’s if a load of 5 amps is exceeded. I don’t think that would have been possible with PC’s.

None of the participants had ever used Linux before, none had used OpenOffice and I think 2 had used Firefox – but none of these caused them any problems and did not cause any frustration.

One feature I liked was when we were looking at web page creation, as an example I installed Nvu, using the Synaptic package manager. It downloaded and installed faster than I could explain that it was one of 2800 application available for free and of course instantly and automatically appeared on everyone’s application menu.

For noise purposes I had the firewall and server running in a separate room with just two network cables coming into the hall (to printer and to network switch). That meant we only had 3 fans running (projector, switch and printer) – that was hugely better than the noise of 11 PC’s on a hard floor.

This was definitely the quickest, least stressful and most effective IT solution I have ever been able to set up for a training course. Next time it will be even quicker as I won’t have all the fiddly packaging to remove from the power cables, keyboards and mice.

Of course for people doing a lot of training the low extra cost & time of adding extra terminals compared to PC’s is fantastic as is the minimal space needed to store Sun Ray’s between courses.

In summary awesome!

Another quiet weekend

We are starting a nice gentle weekend, Jane has gone off on the District Spouses weekend (it seems with the content of 1/2 my bookshelves) and so it is an all boys house til Sunday evening.

Tonight was the usual County Training Woodwind Band practice. So we all trolled off over to Northampton, one to play clarinet and the rest of us to eat Pizza.

Now last minute preparations for tomorrow are well in hand.

Tomorrow I am leading a training day "An Electronic Circuit", with firewall, server, wifi and 10 workstations to setup before 10am it will be an early start. The aim is to help Church Members make better use of IT, particularly the internet in supporting their Churches and the Circuit.

I am taking the Wii along so we can do some bowling during the lunch break :-) They work great when you use the data projector.

That finishes at 4pm.

Meanwhile two boys will spend the morning at the local music school and the third at a Warhammer Club. Then will go and visit Grandma and some visiting family at some point in the afternoon.

Then we all go out to the Brownies quiz night with supper – I am suggesting we call our team "42 is the answer, what is the question?" Should be a packed evening from the ticket sales so far, our goal is to not come last.

Sunday the boys will go to the chapel in Raunds while I am in Ringstead morning and evening. In the evening the two older boys are on the circuit Youth Alpha course.

Meanwhile I am looking at my diary wondering when I can manage a day off but also when I can get around on some urgent visits between everything else. On the other hand I am looking forward to next weekend when we have a Raunds Away Day – actually we are only going away to our own chapel :-). The topics are the Prayer life of our Church and engaging with the process to develop the Circuit Vision. We had a great leadership team meeting on Thursday planning the whole day, really exciting ideas and volunteers to lead sessions. Some interesting challenges too – like integrating the open to public coffee morning.

Then I get some time away at the District Retreat, looking forward to that too. Maybe I’ll get a chance for my feet to touch the ground.

Hope in Thrapston

Below is the "official" report of a great evening in Thrapston. I am finding it very exciting to be involved in Churches Together in Thrapston where all four Churches are working more closely together than ever before. There is a real buzz about the Hope 08 campaign there with mover than 12 events planned already!

HOPE 08 Meeting at St James’ Thrapston 23rd Jan

Approximately 45 people met for cafe style church to celebrate
Fresh Hope, to worship & to give thanks for God’s leading &
inspiration, to be informed & to develop existing projects & events
& to brainstorm new ideas.We prayed for Christian unity in our town
& for God’s guidance to always follow his leading in all that we do.
We prayed for leaders in the field of youthwork especially men &
for God to raise up a leader for the Children’s Holiday club in the

We heard about projects that are already in the planning stage:

  1. A greetings card of Welcome to Newcomers to the town from the
    Thrapston churches with contacts who are willing to speak to &
    help with anyone’s enquiry.
  2. The Space 2 B: a drop-in listening centre to be opened on a
    temporary basis at the Thrapston Centre one afternoon a week.
  3. Holiday at Home: a week of events, visits,activities,services
    for the over 60′s during August.

Plenty more events planned:

  1. Lent course KNOW HOPE for churches together starting 13th Feb
    for 5 weeks.
  2. Good Friday March & Easter Day Celebration
  3. A Gospel concert in May
  4. Charter Fair weekend with Praise in the Park on the Sunday in

People willingly contributed ideas for further developments of
existing & new ideas & were informed as to dates of the next planning group

We watched the DVD  material from the HOPE website Fresh Hopes
& Brokenness. Many were wearing the HOPE t-shirts.

We had a joyful & blessed time together & have great HOPE for
our outreach in Thrapston.

Nene Valley Methodists

We have a new Circuit website in progress at: Nene Valley Methodists (yes it has RSS feeds so you can subscribe to it).

Just starting at the moment in preparation for "An Electronic Circuit" which is a training event I am running on Saturday as part of the circuits N:Rich programme (N:Rich = "a programme of opportunities to develop our circuit life together").

So far there will be 10 of us, that is good as I have been able to rustle up 10 monitors so I am taking our Sun Fire V20Z server and 10 Sun Ray thin clients. I got the Circuit Office broadband to work with my ethernet router and firewall today. So just got to finish the content and we will be well away. But maybe some sleep first.

Amazingly Simple Home Remedies

I love these from JOLLYBLOGGER: Amazingly Simple Home Remedies.

1. If you’re choking on
an ice cube simply pour a cup of boiling water down your
throat. Presto! The blockage will instantly remove itself.

2. Avoid
cutting yourself when slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold while
you chop.

3. Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the
toilet seat by using the sink.

For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a
few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use
a timer.

5. A mouse
trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over
and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

6. If you have
a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you’ll be afraid to cough.

7. You only need two tools in life – WD-40 and Duct Tape. If it
doesn’t move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn’t move and does, use
the duct tape.

8. Remember: Everyone seems normal until you get to
know them.

9. If you can’t fix it with a hammer, you’ve got an electrical problem