Meetinghouse Webcast

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
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mkmurray
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Postby mkmurray » Sun Aug 30, 2009 9:12 am

I know a year ago it was announced that units in the US and Canada got the go ahead to get broadband for their meeting houses (pending Stake President approval of course). I was not aware of a similar announcment in areas like Australia.
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Postby jltware » Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:18 pm

http://lds.org/Static%20Files/PDF/STS/Letters/English/08253_000_notice.pdf

That's the letter from the presiding Bishopric extending the program to areas outside the United States and Canada. The rest of the info I quoted was from a newsletter from the area presidency. In fairness, it said the webcast was something "coming soon", but it said specifically that the internet was available effective immediately. It seems 8 months is a bit different to the 4 week turnaround the presiding Bishopric said to allow for. And that letter was referring only to areas outside the US and Canada, so it doesn't make sense to say it's because we're further away. Everyone that letter applied to is further away. Postage from the US to here is pretty good for everyone else, arrives in a couple of weeks, 3-4 at the very most. Why not for ICS?

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Postby lajackson » Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:25 pm

jltware wrote:That's the letter from the presiding Bishopric extending the program to areas outside the United States and Canada. . . .

Postage from the US to here is pretty good for everyone else, arrives in a couple of weeks, 3-4 at the very most. Why not for ICS?


It would appear that it is up to your area presidency, then. And since your stake president reports to the area presidency, and the FM Group reports to the area presidency . . . [hmmm]

I think I see a pattern here. [grin]

I also think that you may be working with some folks who are not sure exactly what to do or how to go about doing it. This is not unusual, especially in the Church, when something new is being put in place. I think if you work with them, ask questions, offer to help in a supporting way, you may see some progress. It may also help if they know your stake president is interested in seeing that it happens.

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Postby mkmurray » Sun Aug 30, 2009 7:08 pm

I don't read the letter from the Presiding Bishopric the same way you do.

It appears you are under the impression that every single Church unit in the US and Canada was put on broadband internet within 1 month of the announcement 1 year ago (I believe it was August or September). It also appears you are expecting the roll out in areas outside of the US and Canada to go the same way.

What I believe you are misunderstanding is that each individual stake president in the US and Canada had the option to provide broadband internet access to it's local units at their own expense and implementations. My stake took 8-9 months before finally making it happen, after planning, debating, haggling with ISP vendors, etc. We just barely got it all going 2-3 months ago, and we are certainly not using any webcasting products from Church Headquarters.

Now that I hope I've cleared up any misconceptions you may have had, I'd like to address the actual letter you linked to and how I believe you are misreading it.
jltware wrote:...I finally got a three line reply from the head of the ics department saying that these features were not available and were mentioned in the newsletter to inform us of things that would be available in the future. This contradicted the text of the newsletter from the area presidency. It also seemed to be in violation of the letter from the presiding Bishopric last December saying that internet connections were to be made available at stake expense effective immediately, and to give local support offices 30 days to make the arrangements and order the hardware firewalls etc that are necessary.

(emphasis added)

jltware wrote:In fairness, it said the webcast was something "coming soon", but it said specifically that the internet was available effective immediately. It seems 8 months is a bit different to the 4 week turnaround the presiding Bishopric said to allow for.

(emphasis added)

There's really no way to "violate" this letter, as this is not a mandatory program. Let's look at the text of the letter and I will emphasize the key words that I think you may have glossed over:
[font=Times New Roman][size=134]Broadband Internet services may now be extended to areas outside United States and Canada. Area presidencies who wish to have Internet service installed in meetinghouses in their areas may do so by contacting the Meetinghouse Technologies Team (MHI@ldschurch.org). Requests should be made at least four weeks in advance.[/SIZE][/font]

(emphasis added)

The first thing I want to point out is that there are no absolutes are mandates in this text at all. This letter discusses nothing further than the opportunity Area Presidencies may act on if they wish to. As for the last line, the Presiding Bishopric was most certainly not saying "you have four weeks to implement broadband in your units." They were saying that if you opt-in to the broadband internet program, you need to expect 4 weeks before your request can be fulfilled and the necessary equipment sent to you. In other words, don't expect Church Headquarters to get you what you need in 5 days after you decide you want broadband internet.

Hopefully this clears up any misconceptions you may have had.
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Postby jltware » Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:17 am

The newsletter from the area presidency (which is not available publicly on any church website and which I'm not sure is appropriate to publish publicly here since it was originally written for and distributed only to priesthood leaders in our local area) stated clearly that applications could be made now (back in March). I therefore conclude from this that the area presidency do wish to make this available in our area, and have authorised it at their end. Similarly, the stake presidency here are very keen to roll this out. I was not attempting in any way to ridicule any priesthood leader, or to say that I thought they should be running their stake / area to my timetable. Merely that I thought the local ics support office's timetable should more closely resemble the expected timetable handed down to us by our priesthood leaders (if indeed they have a timetable, as they haven't yet shared one with me).

The letter from the presiding Bishopric said that we should expect it to take 4 weeks to process such a request once it was authorised in our area, which it now has been by both our area presidency and our stake presidency for many months. I didn't expect it to magically appear on my doorstep the day after I spoke to them. But the quoted expected turnaround of 4 weeks is a far cry from still waiting for a reply (other than "we'll get back to you on that") in August to my phone calls and emails asking for an application form back in April. It is not our stake that is dragging the ball and chain in pushing this ahead. I am the person in the stake who was asked and authorised by the stake president to set it all up. I made this clear in my original communications with them. But we can't do it without the mandatory filtering hardware coming through ics. And they have simply said they can't do it yet and won't tell us when they will be able to do it.

It is also their policy here to not allow anybody (stake president included) a key to access any internet equipment. I queried them on this as well, and was told that it was their desire that nobody in any unit should have any need to access this equipment, and to direct any enquiries about the running of this equipent to them (ie, nobody's getting a key, so don't bother asking). While I'm happy enough for them to not trust me personally with a key if they feel so inclined, I would hope the people entrusted with priesthood keys can also be trusted with physical keys, especially as it going to be our stake budget funding this endeavour. Needless to say, I find the lack of communication somewhat frustrating, and the lack of trust in local leaders makes it somewhat difficult for me to fulfil my calling and comply with my priesthood leader's request.

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Postby russellhltn » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:18 am

jltware wrote:I am the person in the stake who was asked and authorised by the stake president to set it all up. I made this clear in my original communications with them.


As a suggestion, create a email to the stake president. Have him forward it with a CC to you. It does two things: it proves to them that you are actually authorized by the SP. It also means any "back talk" goes to the SP. You might be surprised at the difference that makes.
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Postby Mikerowaved » Mon Aug 31, 2009 11:19 am

jltware wrote:It is also their policy here to not allow anybody (stake president included) a key to access any internet equipment. I queried them on this as well, and was told that it was their desire that nobody in any unit should have any need to access this equipment, and to direct any enquiries about the running of this equipent to them (ie, nobody's getting a key, so don't bother asking). While I'm happy enough for them to not trust me personally with a key if they feel so inclined, I would hope the people entrusted with priesthood keys can also be trusted with physical keys, especially as it going to be our stake budget funding this endeavour.

Once authorized and approved, the only device the Church ships to you is one Cisco ASA firewall/router for each building receiving the Internet. There is no charge for these. They initially arrive without password protection and clear instructions on how to finalize the configuration based on your particular internet connection (DSL, Cable, static or dynamic IP, etc.) Once configured, CHQ can access it remotely to "script" it for the level of filtering desired by the Stake President, as described in the WIKI. Once scripted, it is indeed "locked", to protect it from local tampering. The internal configuration is quite complicated, and once running, there is really nothing in there we as end-users need anyway.

The ASA firewall has 8 Ethernet ports available for the stake to do with as they wish. The stake will have to decide on a topology for each building's LAN, be it wired, wireless, or a combination of both. Once a topology is decided upon, any additional cables, patch panels, routers, switches, wireless access points, etc. will be the stake's financial responsibility. Rest assured, anything the stake purchases will be under complete control of the stake STS. He will set and maintain the passwords for configuring each device. For wireless access, he will set and maintain a wireless key for each building. The only device "locked" is the Cisco ASA box, and if the STS suspects a problem with it, it just takes a quick call to CHQ's 24/7 help desk and they can access it remotely to resolve any problems.

I can't help you with your timetable, as I am obviously not in the loop. I can only echo what mkmurray said. Because of the financial burden on the stake for each installation, ours could not start the project right away, even though they were given the green light. It took a while, but once funds were budgeted, it moved rather quickly.
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Postby jdlessley » Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:11 pm

jltware wrote:I thought the local ics support office's timetable should more closely resemble the expected timetable handed down to us by our priesthood leaders (if indeed they have a timetable, as they haven't yet shared one with me).
There may be roadblocks the ICS support office has run into in getting all the hardware necessary for all the units wishing to proceed under this new authorization. They may not be communicating this down to lower levels for any number of reasons.

jltware wrote:The letter from the presiding Bishopric said that we should expect it to take 4 weeks to process such a request once it was authorised in our area, which it now has been by both our area presidency and our stake presidency for many months. I didn't expect it to magically appear on my doorstep the day after I spoke to them. But the quoted expected turnaround of 4 weeks is a far cry from still waiting for a reply (other than "we'll get back to you on that") in August to my phone calls and emails asking for an application form back in April.
I can see your frustration. I do, however, read those four weeks as being the lead time the people at Chruch headquarters would need to process the requests. There may be delays any number of places along the way. You really don't know when your stake's request was sent from the Area offices to Church HQ. There may be delays in getting the number of devices needed from the vendor. The possibilities go on. I do agree though that if there are issues that will delay, or are delaying, the orders from arriving at units requesting them that some communication should be made as to when they could be expected. Perhaps the Lord wants you to practice excercising patience. :rolleyes:

jltware wrote:It is also their policy here to not allow anybody (stake president included) a key to access any internet equipment. I queried them on this as well, and was told that it was their desire that nobody in any unit should have any need to access this equipment, and to direct any enquiries about the running of this equipent to them (ie, nobody's getting a key, so don't bother asking).
To have a policy such as this is their perogative. It does mean that some of the responsibilities normally in the perview of the STS are now in their hands. There are both benefits and drawbacks to this. In this postby a Church employee some of that was discussed. It does mean that they will have to respond to correct problems that arrise when access is needed. Perhaps after they find they cannot meet the needs of units with all the support requests that will flood in the policy may change. Having broadband access in meeting houses is new enough that not all the support issues can be handled as planned. Only time will tell. Perhaps they have studied this out and have a plan that will make Internet access transparent to the units and to their satisfaction. I only wish it were so in my stake.
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Postby jltware » Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:12 pm

Mikerowaved wrote:Once scripted, it is indeed "locked", to protect it from local tampering.


This sounds perfectly reasonable, as we have no desire to interfere with the filtering. However, in the one building in our stake that has the internet due to it having a family history centre, we do not have access to even be able to connect a computer to the internet without going through the support offices first. All configuration is done via odyssey client, and passwords to be able to install this need to come from the support offices. It seems having a simple wpa2 wireless key would make the inernet secure but still allow the stake presidency, bishoprics etc. to access it in their meetings if they so desired.

Mikerowaved wrote:The ASA firewall has 8 Ethernet ports available for the stake to do with as they wish. The stake will have to decide on a topology for each building's LAN, be it wired, wireless, or a combination of both. Once a topology is decided upon, any additional cables, patch panels, routers, switches, wireless access points, etc. will be the stake's financial responsibility. Rest assured, anything the stake purchases will be under complete control of the stake STS. He will set and maintain the passwords for configuring each device. For wireless access, he will set and maintain a wireless key for each building. The only device "locked" is the Cisco ASA box, and if the STS suspects a problem with it, it just takes a quick call to CHQ's 24/7 help desk and they can access it remotely to resolve any problems.


We would be quite happy with such a setup. Howver, this does not appear to be the case with the system already in existence. All equipment is locked and we have access to none of it. There is not a single ethernet port we can access without somebody having to make a 14 hour drive from Sydney to give us access, and you can guess how willing they will be to do that. All devices are connected wirelessly using odyssey client, and any new devices need to have odyssey installed to be able to access the internet there. My understanding is that odyssey vpns you to the church's network and automatically configures your wireless for access. As all of the stake presidency use wireless extensively elsewhere and most use other vpns for work, we would be reluctant to install a power hungry program like this that appears to hijack your windows settings as a part of its design. Even if we did, unless roaming access was authorised (which seems unlikely as it would give us access to every building in the country with the current configuration), stake presidency would still have to uninstall and reinstall at every building in the stake before they would be able to use it. This would be difficult, as the most likely time to be going from building to building is Sunday, when there is nobody in the offices to help us even if they were willing to do it.

We would also like very much to use the internet to stream conference broadcasts, as there is no satellite facility in our stake anywhere and we don't particularly like waiting for dvds while every other stake in the country watches the conference on time via satellite. But again, this is impossible unless we have at least some rudimentary access to the equipment.

While the scenario you describe sounds quite reasonable and our stake presidency would be happy to fund such a setup pretty much straight away, the current policies of our support offices are not the same as what you are describing.

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Postby jltware » Mon Aug 31, 2009 3:16 pm

RussellHltn wrote:As a suggestion, create a email to the stake president. Have him forward it with a CC to you. It does two things: it proves to them that you are actually authorized by the SP. It also means any "back talk" goes to the SP. You might be surprised at the difference that makes.


Thanks for the suggestion, I have seen such approaches make a real difference in the past. But in this case, the stake president was CCed on every letter from me and in the replies back to me. They were well aware the stake president was reading the "back talk" as they were writing it. It didn't stop them replying to my nice thousand word enquiry asking for multiple details of the current system and details on how to upgrade with a three line "we're not interested" response.


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