Martin Davies 9th April 1950 – 19th August 2009

Martin Davies 9th April 1950 – 19th August 2009

The above picture was taken at the memorial service for my great friend Martin Davies who passed away after fighting cancer for approximately 11 years.

I met Martin when I first travelled to Botswana in November 1996. This was my first travel to a foreign place and as you can image I was a little nervous about what would confront me when I arrived in Botswana. It was an overnight flight and recall the first person to greet me at the airport – it was Martin – this was our first meeting. I immediately felt at ease with a sense that I was not alone and would be guided through my first stay there. I still recall his enthusiasm and rigour for getting things done. This whole project was a very new venture for me, I travelled to Botswana 13 times over a three and half year period. During these visits I was regularly welcomed at Martins home by his wife Ok-keong and his two children Thomas and Sain. During these visits which were typically 2 – 3 weeks in length I grew very close to both Martin and OK-keong, they made me feel just like one of their family and that helped me deal with the inevitable feelings of loneliness which often occur when you are away form home on business for extended periods – visiting them was a welcome replacement for the solitude of the hotel room.

Professionally, Martin was a real breath of fresh air. He had so much energy and was so committed to making a real and lasting difference. We worked very closely together and travelled all over Botswana visiting Colleges of Education and Education Resource centres as we established a country wide email system – which was a first for Botswana. In the end we had 9 locations outwith Gabarone connected to the email system and installed computers (Apple Macs of course!) and software in each location so that the people there could have immediate access. In addition to this Martin was responsible for setting up a learning resources centre where teachers could access all manner of learning resources. The amount of energy Martin put into this work was nothing short of inspirational.

I learned so much through working with Martin. He made it his mission to know all the right people in the country when we needed to get permissions to get things done. Getting things done in Botswana was often a real challenge because of the government bureaucracy which was cumbersome to say the least! Because of his input the part of the project we worked on did succeed in meeting its objectives. Without his support and influence I cannot imagine how I would have been about achieve a fraction of what we did.

In addition to being a great professional Martin was a really good friend. From day one, we seemed to get on really well – as if we had along association from the first day that we met! Martin was very caring and knew what it meant to be away from home in a strange country! He and Ok-keong welcomed me to their home more times than I can recall. We had such good times together – they made me feel that Botswana was a home from home. I can not find the words to fully express my gratitude for the care they took of me, which went way beyond any expectations that I could have had.

The Botswana experience was certainly a huge influence on my professional development and that was due in no small way to the impact of one person who guided, mentored and supported me throughout the entire project, Martin.

Of course after the project came to an end, our ways parted and we kept in touch only infrequently. But at each telephone call or meeting it was like we had never been apart. We seemed to be able to pick up from the same point we left off! That is a hallmark of genuine friendship I think 😉

The picture below show the Davies family when we attended a “first communion service” of the child of another one of the in country project workers.

I was delighted to hear at the memorial service that Martin became a professing Christian just a few weeks before he died – this is sometime that we talked about a number of times both when in Botswana since then. Although we did not spend a huge amount of time together in life long terms, I will miss him and I am certain that that his close family will feel the pain of this loss for some time to come. But as Christians we should hold to the great hope of a great reunion sometime in the future after time as we know it comes to an end.

Dog walk with a difference!!!

Well for the whole of the summer we seem to have had a dog staying with us. This has made an inevitable difference to our daily routine!!!! For me this has meant a daily morning walk with the dog just after breakfast! Yesterday, Abbie went home to Glasgow with Linda so we are back to the “normal” situation with no dog to look after! Funny feeling as my body was telling me that it was time to take my morning walk – but with no dog as an excuse! I did feel the benefit of these walks to decided to go in any case…….

First, I needed to find some poo bags after heading in the direction of the cupboard I remembered that there was no dog, so no need for poo bags! Then, were is the dog lead – opps again remembered that there was no dog!!! So I put my jacket on and headed for the river as usual!! Photo of me just before I set off!!!

Michty me this dog has some pull!!!!!

Last Morning walk with Abbie

Today is the day that Abbie goes home with Linda to Glasgow. She has been staying with us in Kemnay most of the summer and came on holiday with us to Keswick. So this morning I set out for our last morning walk together until we next meet! I thought I would post a few photos of our walk today which took us long the River bank then into Kemnay village centre and the back via the river again to Ruach ( name of our house ).

Above you see Abbie striding out as we make our way along the river bank just after leaving the house.
Above is a view of the River Don – today the water level is low and very peaceful. It is the most pleasant and relaxing place to be! You can see the reflection is vivid in this photo!

In the last photo you can see the river in the foreground and Bennachie ( Mither Tap ) in the background which today was shrouded with low cloud! Of course I did take a number of other photos which I have posted in my online gallery click here to view.

Marratech – Audio issue with Plantronics 645

This is a rather geeky post!

I was involved in a Marratech meeting to test that a Glow Meeting room was properly configured and working. Marratech is an application that I used very regularly in my last job so it was interesting to come back to it after quite a long break in use – I now use WebEX daily which fufills the same purpose. They both feature the ability to conference using voice and video.

The purpose of this post is to document an issue that I experienced with using the Marratech Client and my recently purchased Plantronics Headset – 645 USB model. This headset cost about £23 including postage and is configured as an analogue device with an additional USB Analogue/Digital audio converter. The headset can be used as an analogue device plugging into a PC or Macs headphone (output) and Mic (input) ports.

I discovered that my MacBook Pro does not have a Mic input – it has a Line-in port which means that it is not compatible with the analogue signal provided by most Mics – this is why I wanted to source a USB based headset. I thought that the 645 model would be flexible in that it can be used both on the USB and analogue ports.

However, on connecting the headset to my Macbook Pro via the USB device the sound was completely wrong – my voice sounded as if the frequency has been increased making it very difficult to understand (bit like Pinky and Perky if you can recall that duo form UK childrens TV some years ago!). I did a lot of experimentation with the configuration thinking that this was a software problem. In the end I found a really simple solution as follows.

It seems that the USB device – combined with the Marratech client program may have been the source of the problem. I connected the Mic from the headset to the USB device and the headphones to the headphone output ( on the computer ) and everything worked fine. The resulting audio quality was very good in my opinion.

So it appears that the Plantronics USB A/D convertor had an issue when it was being asked to do the A/D conversion for both the Mic and Headphones concurrently. I did not try this with Marratech on a Windows machine – I will perhaps try that another day! I was able to repeat this on two Mac Laptops the Intel based Macbook Pro and my older Powerbook G4. There were no notes accompanying the headset to state any limitation in the use of the USB adapter but ther does seem to be an issue – at least when used with the Marratech Client!

Finally – I should add that I was able to use the headset in full USB mode with the Webex Connect Client(VMWare/Windows XP over MacOSX) and also with Audacity OSX native and the problem definitely does not exist there! So I am forced to conclude that the issue is specific to where the USB adapter is being used with the Marratech client ( at least on a MacOSX platform).


Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary

I wanted to use this post to wish our good friends David and Judith and Alan and Lynda all of Gods blessings on the occassion of their respective wedding anniversaries on the 4th August 2009. For D and J it’s 30 and for L and A its 36 years.

I am sure that you might be able to tell which couple has been married longer!! On the other hand they all do seem to have weathered very well!