Weeknotes: Saturday 14 August

Guest wifi in the Community Centre

We’ve finished up our resiliency and soft-launch testing, and we’re finally happy to roll out guest wifi in the Community Centre! If you’re visiting us, point your phone’s camera at one of our wifi QR Code posters to get connected, or manually enter the network details.

Getting technical with Raspberry Pi, Omada, SMTP and HTTPS

We did a load of stuff with our network controller, and we wrote a whole blog post about it.

Continue reading “Weeknotes: Saturday 14 August”

Installing an Omada SDN controller on a Raspberry Pi using Docker

One of the reasons we share what we do is that others might benefit from our experience. This is hopefully one of those blog posts, which explains how we made something work. More specifically, it explains how we installed the Omada Software Controller on a Raspberry Pi using Docker, set the SMTP options to send emails through Gmail, and finally set up an HTTPS certificate for the portal.

You’ll need to be moderately confident if you’re following these instructions, although if you’re confident enough to be trying to set up a managed network you should be fine.

Huh?

Some of our networking equipment (and we’re slowly moving towards all of our networking equipment) is managed using something called Software Defined Networking. We’ve got a few reasons for this, but the upshot of this decision is that somewhere on our network we need something to orchestrate what’s going on. This is the “controller”, and since we’re using things in TP-Link’s Omada family, we need an Omada controller.

Purchasing a dedicated hardware appliance to do this job is on our list as part of some future upgrades, but to get things started we installed the Omada Software Controller on the PC on our tech desk. This had a few problems, primarily around the system going to sleep or restarting to install updates. This meant that the controller would occasionally disconnect for a few minutes, or disconnect entirely until someone manually restarted it.

We could have worked around this by adjusting schedules and configuring the application to boot on startup, but we’d still be left with one PC doing some things it wasn’t really meant to be doing in the first place.

Fortunately, there’s a solution which didn’t involve buying a new thing. We had a spare Raspberry Pi kicking around, and you can turn one into a controller. So we did. Here’s how.

Continue reading “Installing an Omada SDN controller on a Raspberry Pi using Docker”

Loving through disappointment

“Oh James, I am so disappointed in you” said his father. We are eavesdropping a scene between father and son. We don’t know what James has done but we do know that his father is disappointed.

I reckon most of us whether as a child or as a parent have heard or spoken these words. Words that are usually accompanied by a heavy sigh not spoken in anger but in sadness. “I am so disappointed in you.”

It’s one of the facts of life that whether we like it or not we are to a lesser or greater extent motivated by our relationship with our parents.

Even the child who grows up separated from their parent imagines what they might be like and how they might please them.

Even the child who grows up in an unhappy home will often promise themselves that the home they fashion for their partner and family will be nothing like the experience they have had.

And those of us fortunate enough to have had nurturing family homes all pick messages often as children, spoken and unspoken for good or for bad that shape the people we are. Amongst them those words with which I began “I am so disappointed in you.”

But why take this step into the world of therapy. Well, it’s because I have been thinking of that first reading about the death of Absalom.

It’s a strange tale, at least when heard in isolation. So let me unpack it a little.

Continue reading “Loving through disappointment”

Parish Notices: 8 August 2021

Memorial service for Kath Harwood

Tuesday 10 August at 3.00 pm
Christ Church Halton

A memorial service for Kath Harwood will be streamed live to Christ Church Halton for those who wish to attend.

Join us after the service for refreshments

You are invited to join us after the service for refreshments in our Community Centre.

For the time being we ask you to wear a face covering (unless you are exempt) whilst moving around the building, and to please stay seated whilst enjoying your drinks.

Worshipping in person

You no longer need to book in advance to attend any of our services, although we are keeping some other restrictions in place. We ask that you wear a face covering (unless exempt) whilst worshipping with us, and be mindful of people who may wish to keep some extra space between themselves and others.

As always, we are keeping a close eye on things such as infection rates, and may make other changes to our rules in the future.

We hope to see you again in person soon, but if you can’t make it or if you don’t feel comfortable we will continue to stream all our services live on our website and YouTube channel, as well as making them available to listen to later by phone or podcast.

Continue reading “Parish Notices: 8 August 2021”

Weeknotes: Saturday 7 August

Last Sunday we went for a new record for Tech Team involvement in one day, with two services and a bell ringing open day to support. Here’s what else we’ve been up to.

Taking it all down

All the things we put in place to support the YACR open day – cameras, screens, network devices and more – was only a temporary installation. So we took it all out again.

Better wifi coverage

One of the things we put in the tower was a network access point. Instead of putting it in a cupboard ready for the next time we needed one, we put it to work improving wifi coverage in the church.

Two access points in different parts of the building mean that no matter where you sit you’re now more likely to be in the range of one, and the position of the new hotspot gives much better coverage to the vestry area where people are getting ready. Since we’re increasingly using devices like tablets to read orders of service, this is a big step for the reliability of our network.

As part of our “do it right the first time” goal for rolling out tech, both access points talk to our Omada SDN controller. This means that as you move around the building the hotspots can intelligently and seamlessly pass devices between themselves without interruption, so everything behaves as one big network.

Parish Notices: 1 August 2021

YACR Bell Ringing Open Day

Today, 4.00 pm to 5.30 pm
St Mary’s Church, Whitkirk

Come join us on Yorkshire Day to learn more about our three bells and the art of bell ringing, and even have the opportunity to climb our tower and give it a go yourself!

Choral Evensong

Today, 6.00 pm
St Mary’s Church, Whitkirk

A service of Choral Evensong to end the day, featuring music written by composers born in Yorkshire.

After-service refreshments are back!

We’re delighted to once again invite you to join us after the service for refreshments in our Community Centre.

For the time being we ask you to wear a face covering (unless you are exempt) whilst moving around the building, and to please stay seated whilst enjoying your drinks.

Worshipping in person

You no longer need to book in advance to attend any of our services, although we are keeping some other restrictions in place. We ask that you wear a face covering (unless exempt) whilst worshipping with us, and be mindful of people who may wish to keep some extra space between themselves and others.

As always, we are keeping a close eye on things such as infection rates, and may make other changes to our rules in the future.

We hope to see you again in person soon, but if you can’t make it or if you don’t feel comfortable we will continue to stream all our services live on our website and YouTube channel, as well as making them available to listen to later by phone or podcast.

Continue reading “Parish Notices: 1 August 2021”

Weeknotes: Saturday 31 July

It’s weeknotes time again!

Bells on a big screen

We want people in the church to be able to see what’s going on up the tower for tomorrow’s open day, so we borrowed the big screen from the Community Centre.

A large television screen showing an image from the ringing room of three bell-ringing ropes. In the top right hand corner there is a picture-in-picture view of the three bells in the belfry.

To make this work we used OBS Studio (formerly used at Whitkirk to handle service streaming before we bought our new equipment) to pull in the video streams from both cameras and combine them into a single picture-in-picture view of both what was happening in the ringing room, and what was happening in the belfry.

Continue reading “Weeknotes: Saturday 31 July”

Parish Notices: 25 July 2021

A letter from the bishops

The bishops of Leeds, Kirkstall, Wakefield, Huddersfield, Ripon and Bradford have written an open letter to all on the subject of returning to worship now that restrictions are beginning to be lifted.

You can read the letter on our website.

YACR Bell Ringing Open Day

Sunday 1 August 2021, 4.00 pm to 5.30 pm
St Mary’s Church, Whitkirk

Come join us on Yorkshire Day to learn more about our three bells and the art of bell ringing, and even have the opportunity to climb our tower and give it a go yourself!

Worshipping in person

Following the changes to COVID-19 restrictions on 19 July, the PCC at St Mary’s has reviewed the guidelines and has made some changes to our rules for attending services.

Continue reading “Parish Notices: 25 July 2021”