Keysoft employees contribute various articles to our quarterly newsletters. Articles are unedited and written solely by the employee. Information is unclassified and write-ups discuss his/her travel experience with Keysoft Systems. In some cases photos and quotes are provided by the Newsletter Editor to enhance the contributions.
Keysoft Systems in Australia
David Jentz Tells of His Experience
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Sydney Australia and participate in the JCDX version 5.0 JOICAUST installation. I particularly enjoyed meeting and conversing with the Australians. The Australian site reps were quite entertaining characters, yet simultaneously very knowledgeable and interested in the install. They have worked together and shared the same office for such a long time that they have developed a unique working relationship. At the end of the day they would push their office furniture and desks as hard as possible against the office walls. The first time I was a witness to this, I was completely confused. Eventually I learned that while in reality, no more office space was actually created, they just wanted to make sure they were sitting as far apart as the circumstances would permit—so as not to annoy one another.
The rational may have been simply the knowledge that they were as far apart as possible made it worth the effort. I was specifically tasked with building a maps disk for the Australians; this entailed loading maps that were purchased from the US vendor, marked as releasable to the Australians, and of regional interest or importance to this specific Australian Site. Lieutenant Cayzer was happy with the disk, but even more happy that the Australian maps they had me load simply worked. It was really a stroke of luck – both the map formats and provided (Shapefile and CADRG) were the newest ones which I had added to JCDX support recently.
My 26th birthday just so happened to fall the week of the cutover. The day of the switch from the existing to the new system (which we have affectionately dubbed cutover day) was actually originally scheduled for my birthday. I was hoping the install would go smoothly, which it did, then we could go out, celebrate the success, *and* I would be off the hook for buying any rounds, due to the whole birthday thing. Life on JCDX does not get much better than free beer and big smiles.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. The day of the cutover was postponed one day, till Wednesday. My little plan was effectively out the window. Instead, the JCDX install team got together for dinner that night before cutover. The restaurant was actually pretty ritzy. The whole crew seemed to be having a pretty good time, and, luckily for me there were no surprise birthday shenanigans. While it may have been a low key evening in advance of the cutover, it was still an enjoyable and memorable evening none the less.
While still a full day of work, the actual cutover was a complete success. I was tasked with going from client to client, and getting each one up to speed. I was finished by early evening and took it upon myself to do a pizza run for the rest of the still hard at work crew. As luck would have it, the Lieutenant would join me on my task. Not only would he join me though, he insisted on paying, and even carried half of the pizzas a mile or so back to the site. As soon as we made it through the doors to the watch floor, you'd have thought we turned the channel to national geographic. An animalistic feeding frenzy, the like of which you have not seen broke out.
As the cutover began wound down, we eventually would make it back to the hotel. The few of us who were completely sapped of energy went out for a good night of drinking. I would follow that up with some drunken suitcase packing – the following day I had just enough time to have a final breakfast with the crew before catching my flight home. What a trip!
Keysoft Systems in Tokyo, Japan
Japan was very different from anywhere I have yet been. The cars seem to have evolved into a more compact form, accommodating the smaller and cramped streets which have likely existed at least in form long before cars crowded them. I particularly enjoyed the 'squishy' food; I even ate fish so fresh it was still flopping. It felt strange purchasing food orders from a vending machine, even at restaurants. The social customs and conventions were so completely different that even after spending nearly a month there I could only begin to understand them. I did enjoy playing a game, trying to figure out what various Kanji characters mean. I think I picked about 6, only 5994 more to go.
From the Yokusuka OIC site, I was expected to get a remote connection to the MSO site in Yatsuya (near Tokyo). The connection was for purposes of site rep remote administration. The existing technology involved two routers going through cryptos and using telnet. The existing connection was just barely useable; the latency was about 10 seconds per character. Regardless, JCDX has not accredited to use telnet, instead relying on SSH. This remote link was supposed to be replaced with networked SSH through our traditional router scheme on the BISON network. However BISON was not going to be used, and I had to rig a workable solution on the fly, and also one the accredditor would be happy with. After a few days of trial and error, there was not only a solution, but a significantly faster one.
The install coincided with the North Korea missile testing crisis - which made things not only tense, but also challenging. The Japanese actually use the JCDX system as their primary method of communication with ships. They do have backup systems, but they are rarely used, a testament to JCDX's overall reliability. As such, the Japanese were extremely reluctant to allow us to take their system down for the 12 hours required for the install. If the North Koreans happened to test their missiles during the time the system was down, it would be embarrassing to say the least, not to mention the pandemonium and furor that would be directed in JCDX's direction. On the date of the actual install, there were neither any major complications nor missiles being tested.
The highlight of the trip was definitely the Mount Fuji climb. Not knowing exactly what I was getting myself into, I opted to travel light and not take a backpack and instead buy water on the way up. I also figured since it was a nice and cloudy day, I wouldn't need to use sunblock...
Both strategies were complete failures. Within the first hour of the hike we were above the clouds, and by the end of the day my skin was sunburned to a fluorescent pink. The water strategy didn't work well either - I ran out of both small change for which to buy water as well as pockets to put the trash in.
The ascent was slow. It seemed like we weren't making any progress, we would keep having to pause to regain our air, or our energy, and the path wound back and forth tightly; the grade was shallow. I could not believe we made it to the top. The majority of the group made it all the way to the top, and then again all the way back down. Sunburt, battered and blisters, even crawling at times crawling on all fours; 3750 meters, 9 hours up, and 4 hours down later - I had survived Mount Fuji.
It was truly an unbelievable experience. It is perhaps the craziest and most physical demanding thing I have ever done. While I am glad to have done it, I have no need to do it or anything like it again. Yet another great trip.