The Hound of the Wolf

For the strength of Pack is in the Wolf, and the strength of Wolf is in the Pack -Rudyard Kipling

Monday, February 16, 2009

A week full of CHITS-ing

Three days, three health centers. That's how I would describe the itinerary I've been to last week. The goals are : 1. to upgrade their CHITS version, 2. To instruct users to test the stability of the new system, 3. To ask consensus to work inside the health center during the development of the family planning module in CHITS and 4. To re-experience the health center culture which I missed for sometime. Not all went in accordance to the plan. It has been that way always, the world is truly chaotic.

Monday: Malibay Health Center's LAN infrastructure is misbehaving. There is a persistent disconnection all across the PC's. In addition, the server's memory capability is being sapped by mysterious mysql daemons (this is pronounced as 'demon'). Workaround: 1. switch cables and fortify their attachments, 2. kill KDE and switch to the more memory-friendly IceWM user interface. All is well until ... A 15-minute visit was made to Lagrosa after (i arrived 4:45 and the center closes at 5PM) and all is up and running.

Tuesday: Novaliches to Tagaytay: 5 solid hours. I am about to made a visit to the Mendez Rural Health Unit to do system checkup and to offer Dr. Auditor the new deployment setup for CHITS. I will be a salesman for the day. The travel was less challenging and tiring than the previous visits. I counted the number of Cavite towns the bus passed by before getting to Mendez. It's around 5. I also tried counting the number instances I will be seeing the word 'Revilla'. Man, it's countless. :P

Upon arriving at health center, the staff greeted me 'Good afternoon' in Caviteno accent. The relief from a tiring trip was doubled because of: 1. having somebody greeting you a 'good afternoon', 2. the distinct Caviteno accent. The relief was tripled when they offered merienda.

Dr. Auditor gleefully welcomed me. Ok, so much for pleasantries. It's time to buckle down to work and start slaying the beast. The problem is quite simple, another workstation is getting the IP address that is supposed to be for the server. 30 mins, and its all done. Now, the business pitch starts. I won't go on the details anymore due to the confidentiality of the conversation but the salesman made a sale.

The terminal for Manila is just few blocks away but their nurse, Ma'am Ellen offered a ride. I found out the both she and Dr. Auditor started working at the Mendez Health Center since 1981. That's the truest sense of dedication and teamwork in serving the people thru public health delivery. The day is generally good except that i wasn't able to see Melissa. Tagaytay scenery in the afternoon is captivating.

Wednesday: In the middle of the afternoon, Malibay health center called me up to report the deteriorating status of their network. Desktops are disconnected, CHITS is hanging up and the server freezes and all is in pending chaos. The situation was slightly been relieved because the wireless network still works. I promised to dropped by and let my black magic do the work. At the end of the day, all is back to normal without me touching anything in the setup. The LAN cables got loosed and was re-attached by the midwives while the server just did an auto system check. The black magic worked!

Lessons learned from last week's experience:

1. a small problem may not be a small problem at all if the impact is quite uncontrollable
2. sometimes, a little prayer works.
3. end-users love CHITS! otherwise, they won't care at all if anything went wrong
4. intimate interaction and laser-pointed focus are requirements in slaying any troubleshooting woes
5. Tagaytay is a good stress buster.