I’ve been in Bijawar since Thursday, so here’s what’s been going on since the last time I wrote.

I finally got Wipro to fix the broken CPU with a new hard drive (they’d previously replaced the monitor), which we still have to test to make sure it actually works. I’m not sure whether it’s got Windows installed on it, so we might have to do that as well. This whole endeavor required harassing the people at the Wipro call center a number of times, until they finally conferenced us in with the person who’s in charge of the Gwalior area of service. He sent a service engineer from Jhansi, which is about four hours from Bijawar by car. Getting to Bijawar is such an ordeal that the qualified IT personnel in bigger cities like Jhansi and Sagar refuse to make regular trips to service the computers here.

Two new batches of students were started at the Boys’ HS School on November 3, but the UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) in the computer lab stopped working less than a week later. The UPS allows the power from the mains to supply the computers until a voltage fluctuation or the power going out forces it to switch over to ten 12V external, rechargeable batteries, maintaining a steady supply of power. This turn of events has left the teacher and students (and us!) very frustrated.

We’ve been checking out a couple of places in Chhatarpur who claim to be able to identify and fix the problem, but none of them seemed willing to send technicians to Bijawar. We’ve had a hard time trying to tell which stores have people who know what they’re doing. I have a feeling that they can do some basic computer maintenance, but that they’re just saying yes to anything we ask, in the hopes that they’ll find someone to actually do the work later. As a side note, it was great to see the teacher taking initiative to try to get the UPS fixed while we were still in the US – he wasn’t successful, but then, neither were we.

The assistant principal at the school finally managed to get in touch with a service engineer who works for LG but who repairs UPS units and other electronics and appliances. He came to Bijawar today on another call (to fix a microwave, I think), and so he took a look at our UPS as well. The life of the batteries is apparently only about 18 months, less if they’re not power cycled regularly – which they weren’t for the first year or so, because they just sat in a room, gathering dust. Someone recharged these batteries yesterday with some other machine, but they need to be replaced very soon if the computers are to be run. We’re going to test the batteries tomorrow to see how long they can hold a charge, but I doubt it’s going to be very long.

We’ve also been working with some ninth and tenth grade students on conversational English and reading comprehension, but it’s late, so I’ll write about that tomorrow.