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Locking it Down

Posted by fochta at Oct 11, 2010 05:05 PM |

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
    Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
- Ps 102:25-27

Have you ever bought an expensive piece of software and find out a week later that a newer version of that software will be released next month? Have you ever noticed how quickly technology becomes obsolete? It's often said that a computer is obsolete before you even get it home. As the psalmist says in Psalm 102, God is eternal while the things of this world are temporary at best. Few things illustrate this as clearly as technology!

Over the past couple of months, I had the opportunity to replace our email server. It was one of our oldest machines - being an "ancient" 7 years old, the server software could no longer be kept up-to-date with bug fixes or security patches. Since email is a critical service for our staff, we were eager to make sure that it was reliable and secure. God provided the tools for us to make this transition quickly and smoothly, with little impact to our staff throughout the process. The email system that we have now is indeed reliable, secure, and cares for our staff in several exciting ways!

"Spam" (unsolicited and unwanted email) is a huge problem and can drain resources as staff scan for false positives. The subject matter of much spam is often obscene, and can, in some cases, present stumbling blocks to staff. Utilizing new and more aggressive (and accurate) methods, we were able to significantly reduce spam delivered to our staff. Just for reference, we have ~55 email users. Each day our system blocks ~9,500 spam messages (roughly 175 per user) before they even get in to our network. Of the messages that make it in to our network, ~300 are flagged as spam, and ~230 of those are discarded before users even see them. That means, on average, each staff now gets 1-2 spam messages per day instead of 175! Even if it only takes about 3 minutes to scan a spam folder per person, this could save a total of about 3 hours of work per day across all staff! Since even the subject lines of spam can be obscene, this greatly cares for our staff as well!

In addition to better spam filtration, our new system allows our users more flexibility in organizing their inboxes, better prevents unauthorized use of our server, and lets our staff check from several places at once (like an iPhone and a laptop)!

For me, personally, there were some significant challenges - particularly in communication. There were a number of opportunities to communicate different details (to staff, to the other systems guys, to the office managers, etc.) ... and this is generally a challenge for me. I can often assume that everyone knows what I'm thinking or thinks the way I do. The Lord gave several instances of both good and poor communication, and it was a huge opportunity to trust Him and rest in His Grace rather than fall into despair (that I won't learn or grow in communication). Paul implores the Philippians to "look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Phil 2:2), and David proclaims "The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance." in Psalm 16. I've been consistently reminded of the opportunities to care for and consider others using technology, but also throughout the process of employing that technology. However, when I fail, I can rest in the inheritance God has provided us in Christ!

What an exciting opportunity to learn to better communicate, care for our staff and help them be more effective and focused! Praise God that He has not only blessed us with a new email server, but that He has made Himself known all the more through the project!

Photo by Darwin Bell, used under a Creative Commons license.


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