Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Technical Liaison

When your title is "technical liaison," it does not give a good impression when it takes you thirty friggin' minutes to log onto the Internet!

I have volunteered to be part of a DCN (Davis Community Network) team helping non-profit organizations get web sites up and running, using the tools developed by DCN. The idea is to create a web site which will outlast the one your brother-in-law created five years ago, before he moved to Toledo, and which will be simple to maintain by a trained team working in your office...or whatever is the facility of record for a non-profit.

Of course the team of DCN people working on this project has been developing it for years and I am a Johnny-come-lately. A 65 year old Johnny-come-lately who has sadly begun to realize that she doesn't learn things as quickly as she used to. I've been designing web pages, for myself and for other people, for ten years, but this is a new system and it takes awhile to figure it all out.

Figuring out the terminology, for one thing. I've been struggling to understand what an MOU is (finally got that one down - Memorandum of Understanding - but I have to stop and work it out each time) as well as the other host of abbreviations that are part of the common language of this group.

There are four non-profit groups who are part of the pilot program and I volunteered (because I felt that as a new member of this board, I should Get Involved in something) to work with Tree Davis, which seemed the least complicated on the list.

Unfortunately because of time conflicts (there was that little "wedding" thing, you may recall) and misunderstandings of schedules, I have missed all the one-on-one meetings up to yesterday. So the groundwork has already been laid, the groundwork that I was counting on to help me bluff my way through this "technical liaison" business, and yesterday was the meeting to collect the MOU and the outline that the Tree Davis people had put together and to start actually working on the site itself.

I met Kari, who oversees all the projects, at Peets Coffee downtown at 3 p.m. The guys from Tree Davis were coming at 4 to meet with us. She was going to bring me up to speed.

Unfortunately, there were no empty tables for 4 inside the cafe, so we set outselves up at a lovely table on the sidewalk. I went in and got a drink and the code that would let me into the Peets wi fi connection.

As we sat there, we realized that there was a horrible odor coming from...somewhere. Dog poop. Or vomit. Or rotting food in the garbage can intensified by the sun shining on it. Whatever it was, when the gentle breeze blew it our way, it was decidedly unpleasant.

So were the big black flies that flew around us.

But we gamely mushed forward and eventually the two Tree Davis guys came. After introductions, Kari suggested I fire up the laptop and we could check out what one of them had done on the site already.

That's when all of my "technicial liaison" credentials went down the tube.

First, it takes forEVer for my laptop to start. Probably five minutes. And then it looks for available internet connections. Now I should add that I almost never connect to wi fi. I can connect in my home to a network that a neighbor has (yes, I know that's a no-no, but I almost never do it. I think I've done it three times in the past two years). I connect at my sister-in-law's house, and I've connected once or twice in a motel. Otherwise, that has not been an issue. And when I am in a place where I've been before, it just automatically connects me to that network because I've used it before.

SO, I can't remember where I look or what I click to get me the box that shows what the available networks are. That was my initial problem. How to find the box that showed me where the Peets connection was, long before I ever entered the right code so that I could use it!

I was also hampered by the fact that I did not have a mouse with me and I hate...hate...HATE the fingerpad. I can never control the cursor with it. Well, I CAN, but not without a lot of cursing and frustration.

FINALLY I found the box and I didn't see anything that said Peets, so picked the top network and it brought up a log-on screen. I tried logging on using the password they had given me, but of course that didn't work. After much frustration, I went back inside to get help from the clerk, who told me I had to use the Peets network and that people outside never had trouble before.

Well, I did finally find it, but I had to log out of what I was trying to log in on...then FIND the damn box again, then find Peets and finally I was logged in. That was only the first step, and it had already taken a good 15 minutes.

Next, I had to log into the Tree Davis page and of course all my information was in e-mail on my desktop because I hadn't thought to move it to an actual bookmark so I could pick it up on the laptop. But with the help of the Tree Davis guys, I did get on and we commented on the work that had been done.

Then I decided to log into the site and see about editing, but when I did that, something happened and I was suddenly logged out of the network. And I couldn't find the damn box again. And when I did, it said I was logged into the network, but when I tried connecting to a web page, it told me I wasn't.

By now I had spent half an hour just trying to log onto the friggin' internet! Kari kept up the meeting with the guys while I sweated with my laptop and everytime she mentioned me as their "technical liaison," I could just imagine what these two guys were thinking.

We finally decided it was too late to do anything and that we were all getting sick of the smell and the flies, so we set a meeting for next week in a different location. I will bring a MOUSE next time, will make sure that everything is BOOKMARKED and, if possible, learn how to find the damn list of available internet networks before I head off to the meeting.

My one saving grace was that they are trying to recreate their current masthead, which is made up of two different graphics, and they didn't know how to do that. I asked them to e-mail me the graphics and I sent them their masthead within 5 minutes of receiving the e-mail, so I hope that I salvaged a BIT of confidence in me as their technical liaison. I may be slow in the workings of the DCN simple sites--but I'm damn good at PhotoShop!

But we'll see how it all goes next week.

1 comment:

Shannon H. said...

Hi!!! I am just visiting from "Where Are You Going Wednesday" at "That's My Answer". Have a great day!

~*~Shannon~*~