More than colleagues now…

Blogger: Nicolas Leonard

Nicolas Leonard

Nicolas Leonard

Hello all, it’s Niko in Lorient, the French stopover is finished now, and, as usual we are in Bump out mode.

A particular spirit is with us,  this is the last stopover for 1/2 of the Volvo IT crew. Eleven months, building IT infrastructure all over the world, providing support for thousands of  people. Working with different culture and knowledge, facing some difficult challenges, working alone or all together.

Lorient has been a great success for the Volvo Ocean Race. Local people love sailing and are really involved in this event, asking us “who will win ?” , “where are the sailors?” ..etc… all these questions that the public usually asks. And, it’s fantastic to see for this long stopover  Lorient city wearing the Volvo Ocean Race color.

Celebrating Groupama's victory in Lorient

Celebrating Groupama's victory in Lorient

All the Volvo Brands are here, and receive a lot of public, showing what Volvo is able to do.

Technically, we thought about what we have done all along these eleven month, building RF links over 6 Km and water. James and I have been in Skytower in Auckland, the highest tower in the southern hemisphere !

James

James

Working with Dilson in Abu Dhabi to connect 84 client by wire, handmade wire ! ! Or mounting antenna with Bruno in Miami by 35°C and 90% of humidity.

Bruno

Bruno

I’ve got so much memories to share with you than I need an entire web site to explain how this adventure is amazing.

But, this long trip has a price, our bodies need now to recover, our family is shouting for us to come back.  I don’t remember my closest friends, except the one I have since eleven month, James, Dilson and Bruno. We went through so many events, difficulties, laugh, cry, good and bad moments. In my mission as a team leader, more than to be THE point of contact.

the crew in Auckland

the crew in Auckland

You have to federate people around you, around the project and the goal. I need to say that in the beginning I wasn’t so confident to manage an international team coming from the 7 seas. But day after day, I manage and try to give it the rhythm that we need. I’ve learned a lot about me and the others. And I’m sure that between us  in the red team, we will stay in touch all along our life. And we are more than colleagues now.

A certain sadness flying around us, thinking that in few days we will be separated and turn back to our regular jobs. The one that we left and we don’t remember actually ! I hope you have dreamed by following our story,  and adventure. It’s a real family, where we find confident, friends, brothers. All wasn’t so nice all the time - from time to time we have some face to face, but it’s work too and you have to explain the goal, to give a sense of your work, on the task you assign. We have worked all together far away from Volvo IT in so many countries, using so many different technologies, that I think nothing is scary for us now.

To close this fantastic project, I invite you to our Facebook Challenge, by downloading specific pictures from us, and try to invent our story:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.338250239582508.74758.133483080059226&type=1&l=d31286d544

You need to use only free tool to do that, and upload the result by spigit http://apps.facebook.com/volvo-ocean-race/. I’m impatient to see your work !

Cheers,
Nicolas

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Passionate closing of life at the extreme

Blogger: Victor Wibom
Location: Galway, Ireland

Victor Wibom

Victor Wibom

After a few days back home we are now geared up for the grand finale of the 2011-12 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race. The final stopover is taking place in Galway on the west coast of the green island of Ireland. The passion about the race is obvious both amongst the crowds and local staff working for the race. Mentioning the staff, a lot of volunteers joins the forces in each port which makes them part of the crowd as well in a way.

Here in Galway, one of the main challenges are the different office locations which are spread out in the area around the docks. The situation is similar to what we dealt with in Cape Town, and the experiences from there are of course very useful. Additionally it feels good to conclude the grand finale of our own this way.

To provide our services in these different locations, we are trying out some to us new outdoor wireless bridges designed to be used in industrial environments. As the video feeds and live broadcasts has higher requirements i.e. needs more bandwidth, we are also using the MINI-LINK microwave radio links. This way, we suit the different needs of the various stakeholders in the race via providing services with high quality and availability.

Now the bump-in is done, in time for teams and staff to start arriving and us to start supporting race staff, journalists and teams as well as ensuring the services stay up and running. A key to success in this matter is monitoring the different devices that make part of the infrastructure. Especially when having the infrastructure spread out, it is necessary to be able to have a good overview.

As this is the last stopover of the 2011-12 edition of the race, it also means that it will be the last time you see many of the faces you have seen daily for the past year – at least for a while. This is sensed all over the race organization, and the vibe tells me that we are all geared up for making the last one a good one. And as the local stopover puts it “the race started in Alicante, but the party starts in Galway”, it looks promising.

Beannacht,
Victor

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Share your story with us!

Blogger: Per Berlin

Per Berlin

Per Berlin

Hi, it’s Per here, with a last request for your help in our deliveries to the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race. The race is coming to an end next week and we want your involvement from a different perspective this time – to help us celebrate the end of the mission.

It’s been quite a journey for us – many new challenges, countless hours invested, a host of new friends, and the creation of a new family…Life with the race is never boring, sometimes it’s tougher than you could ever imagine and sometimes it’s so exhilarating that you can’t believe you get to do this for work.

As we’ve traveled around the world, we’ve tried to share our experiences with you – and now we’d like your help to complete our story.

On our Volvo IT @ Volvo Ocean Race Facebook page, you will find some images taken throughout these last 9 months. We’d like your help to create a “visual story”, using one or more of these images,  that summarizes Volvo IT’s deliveries to the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race and captures the feelings and spirit of the race experience.

This story can be in the format of an animation, collage, poster, photo book, etc. The only requirement is that you need to use freeware software to create your visual story that represents Volvo IT’s delivery. Along with your submission, we would like you to tell us what freeware software you used to create it.

We’re looking for your interpretation of Volvo IT’s role in the race, through the help of our pictures. So, get creative, be innovative, have fun, and last but not least, show us how to use freeware in new and interesting ways!

To share your story:
1. Go to the http://www.facebook.com/pages/Volvo-ITVolvo-Ocean-Race/133483080059226 account and choose one or more pictures from the album called “Facebook challenge June 28th – July 4th”.

2. Use some type of freeware to create a story with the image(s).

3. Upload your story on our Facebook app here:
http://apps.facebook.com/volvo-ocean-race/

You have until 11.59 CET on July 4th to upload your story on our Facebook app.
In the meantime, thanks to you all for your support during this race. We look forward to your final input to help us summarize this amazing experience!

Cheers,
Per

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The beginning of the end

Blogger: Dilson Coelho
Location: Lorient, France

Dilson

Dilson

Hello everyone, this is Dilson writing from the Media Center in Lorient France.  And I think the title of the blog entry says everything by itself;  it is my last stopover, so I can assure there are a lot of emotions going on in my heart and head right now. After almost a year away from home, we are starting to think what to do next.

 Also, it is amazing how we were able to make friends around the world, and how even I have made some Brazilian friends out of Brasil, that maybe I would never met in another way. Also, I think I have new brothers, James, Nico, Bruno, Frank Abrao, Göran, Victor, and of course “the boss” Per. I consider you guys my real friends and brothers. An especial thanks to my red team, and even more especial for two guys, Nico and James, that helped me and supported me on the bad and good times.

Nico once told me that the race is about work, but it is also about having fun while working, and I promise you two guys make me have fun and work, even after long hours, or sad days or the day you have problems at home.

 But, my most special thanks is for my family, my wife Rafaella and my daughter Luanna. I know this blog is about Volvo IT work, but I have to do a remark here. Luanna you have a Chinese friend (Frank Wang), it is amazing how does she love this guy without meeting him before. She did drawings about you man!!! Now, Rafaella, without my wife’s support I wouldn´t be able to complete this. I love you and I’m proud to be married with you, you are the strongest, smartest and most gorgeous woman I have ever met in all over the world, and now I can say that because I have been around the world. I know it´s been hard for me, but it is even harder to you to run a house and take care of our princess all alone. Honey, soon I´m coming Home. Love you forever!

 Lorient has a lot of history, especially about the second world war. The big building in the picture is a submarine base, built by the Germans.  During the war, the allies tried to bomb intensely this place with no success. Then they gave up and bombed the city, that had 85% of it destroyed.

Submarine base in Lorient

Submarine base in Lorient

 Removing the tears in my eyes, lets talk about work  – We have deployed the wireless and wired solution, for the first time the arrival was transmitted live, and that gave us and extra work, since we have to create all infrastructure in only 5 days.

Installing the IT infrastructure

Installing the IT infrastructure

 We have to add lots of rain and also cold, very cold in France even in the Summer??!?

 The boats have arrived yesterday and Groupama is way ahead the other boats, and now the fight is almost all about the 2nd place.

Groupama's arrival into Lorient

Groupama's arrival into Lorient

 We still have lots of work to do until the Mission is accomplished. We still have some MiniLinks to mount and to support the hundreds of journalists.

Working with the Mini Links

Working with the Mini Links

 I can say this is an amazing life experience that has added a lot in my life.

See you all soon!
Dilson

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VIP support – mission accomplished!

Blogger: Frank Wang
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Frank Wang

Frank_small

Lisbon is a very nice and historic city. I’m very excited that I’m working in such a capital city of a European country.  In this stopover, Volvo Ocean Race has chosen a Medical Foundation Center to be the race office and media center.  This building has a very nice design and is close to the sea. So people are able to have a very wild view of the in-port race area from the media center. And, the important thing for us is this building has a very modern and fantastic infrastructure. We can use not only their standard server room which has 7 24 air-condition and security care, but also the existing cabling system. Especially, we don’t need to worry about the power; it’s quite stable like a hospital. (For my point of view it actually is a hospital).

View of the Lisbon port

View of the Lisbon port

Even though we have a lot of favorable conditions here,  it was still a big challenge to deliver the live feed to the big screens in Volvo Pavilion and the main stage, since there is a marina in the between of the foundation and the race village. If we didn’t deploy the link properly,  the microwave signal would be interfered with its own reflection from the surface of the sea.

To avoid this issue we negotiated with the foundation, and finally they allowed us to mount our MINI LINK in a special place on their roof. Then, our antenna got a clean view to talk to the other end, at the same time the building’s extension part blocked the reflection completely. This solution was very successful since we got the best performance of what our team got since the beginning of this project!

Frank in Lisbon

Frank in Lisbon

 In addition, the infrastructure is not the only delivery which Volvo IT should take care of. Sometimes we will be required to provide VIP support also. For example, today we were required to support a presentation for Knut Frostad, who is the CEO of Volvo Ocean Race. Knut would like to introduce the details and tips about today’s in-port race to the VIPs in team Abu Dhabi’s tent. Although it’s not a complicated job for us,  we were still not to neglect it. We arrived at the tent in 40 minutes advance, and then set-up the screen and checked the resolution and screensaver setting of the MAC according to our checklist.   And, of course, finally our CEO finished his speech smoothly meanwhile we accomplished our mission also.

Near the Abu Dhabi tent

Near the Abu Dhabi tent

Cheers!
Frank

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At home in Portugal!

Blogger: Abrão Laranjeira
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Abrao

Abrao

We are in Europe, but I am feeling very close to home! Brazil was discovered in 1500 by the Portuguese people and that´s the reason we speak the same language. We also share the same poets like Camões and Fernando Pessoa (XV and XVIII 18 Century). It´s always good to speak in English with everybody, from different nationalities, other cultures and different accents, but when it comes to basic infrastructure it´s better when you can speak the local language.

Fundação Champalimaud, location the media center

Fundação Champalimaud, location of the media center

Things have been running smoothly the last few days, as all boats arrived at the same night (Yes, during the night!). Abu Dhabi, the leg winner, arrived at 21:23:54 just 5 minutes before Groupama team. Puma boat arrived at 23:26, Camper at 01:30 and SANYA at 1:44. During the arrivals, we split the Volvo IT team to be available 24 hours to keep the IT infrastructure up and running.

People can have some calm days while the sailors and shore crews are resting to recharge their batteries for the next leg that will start next Sunday.

The Camper boat out of the water for maintenance

The Camper boat out of the water for maintenance

The local structure is good. The race office and media centre are located in a Research foundation called “Fundação Champalimaud”, a research centre of the unknown idealized by a Portuguese visionary called António Champalimaud that also believed that the progress and the freedom of thought must be together forever. Sometimes we meet some scientists around that will probably help the humanity with their discoveries. This is definitely a noble place, with a very positive atmosphere.

For us, it is time to review the infrastructure and guarantee its quality for the coming competitions that will happen this week until the boats departures on Sunday.

Microwave radio – live feed to all screens in the race village

Microwave radio – live feed to all screens in the race village

Signing off by now!
Abrão

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The European sprint

Blogger: Victor Wibom
Location: Lisbon, Portugal

Victor Wibom

Victor Wibom

After catching up on our day-to-day operations at home for a few weeks, the green team has now reunited in Lisbon, Portugal. This is the start of the “European sprint” which will end this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race – Lisbon, Lorient and Galway will be done in just about six weeks.

The stopover in Lisbon features a few things we haven’t seen before. To start with, the port of the stopover is located in an old fishing dock now expanding to a more commercial space. Part of this expansion is one of the world’s foremost research centers and hospitals for cancer, which was opened not long over a year ago. In this building, the Media Center and Race Offices are located.

This means using the existing network infrastructure in the building to deploy the infrastructure needed for our operations. Using the infrastructure of a foundation of this kind is both exciting and puts our competence on the edge, as you need to be extra careful with what you are doing. Another advantage is that the security established is already high, making it easier for us to work and feel safe with our equipment around.

In Lisbon we are also experiencing the differences of high and low tides for the first time which affects the boats height in relation to the microwave link between the Race Office and Volvo Pavilion which is crucial for the operations in stopovers in general, but also in particular this stopover as it is the only possible way for us to deliver the live broadcast feed. Six masts swinging in the middle of our line of sight, however lightweight carbon and thin it might be, is not desirable.

Race Village in Lisbon being built

Race Village in Lisbon being built

The Lisbon stopover will also be open for 24 hours on the opening day, 31st May, something that no other stopover has done before. Adding the fact that summer is around the corner, we are in the west end of the Mediterranean and the boats being expected to arrive on the same day, I doubt that there will be a lack of movement within the race village. Muito bom!

Ciao,
Victor

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Over and out in Miami

Blogger: Niko Leonard
Location: Miami, Florida 

Hello, It’s Niko here in Miami. The stopover is over, and as usual, we are now in the bump out period! This one was hard for our bodies due to the humidity. The temperature was good, but this weather made us sweat all day long. From time to time, we have some tropical storms, one of these storms destroyed the village just after finishing it!

Storm clouds hanging over the race village...

Storm clouds hanging over the race village...

 Two time works, but then again the crew wasn’t afraid to do it again. And, all the infrastructure was re-setup for a great opening. 

Bruno mounting the Mini Link

Bruno mounting the Mini Link

 During the event period, we received a lot of kids coming from schools. They have discovered how to sail and how work a sailing boat. Miami doesn’t have these sailing people like in New Zealand; they’re more interested by an engine boat than a sailing boat. But, the Volvo Open 70 has woken up the curiosity of many people. 

The school kids at the Volvo Sailing Academy

The school kids at the Volvo Sailing Academy

 And the race village has offer a lot of activities for some visitors. On this stopover, all the pavilions have been mounted like in Alicante for the start of the race. 

The Volvo Pavilion in Miami

The Volvo Pavilion in Miami

Miami offers a lot of activities, but unfortunately, we were not able to discover everything we would love to see or do. But, I’ve the ambition to go back to the USA this summer to discover more about American culture. 

Bruno has joined the team and will stay now for the rest of the race. He has been really surprised by this “mini” world and how it travels around the earth. The team made a great work again. Even though some time, there are some difficulties, we stay all together supporting each other. That’s the deal, away from our family or friends, the team is our new family for some weeks. 

James and Bruno - part of the Volvo IT family

James and Bruno - part of the Volvo IT family

Now, we need to take care of ourselves, watching forward, looking to the Lorient stopover now. The team will keep you updated when we are next in France. I’m glad to receive my colleagues in my country. Hope we will have a great stopover! Discover this when we meet next on the blog. 

Cheers!
Niko

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The most challenging stop so far…

Blogger: James McKinnie
Location: Miami, Florida

Welcome to Miami! “Where every day is like a Mardi Gras, no work all play!” -at least that is what Will Smith says in his famous “Miami” song. But, for the Volvo IT team, it has been all work and little play. This stop over has been difficult to say the least.

James and Niko working on a 40 meter cable drop

James and Niko working on a 40 meter cable drop

I personally believe it is our most challenging thus far. Heavy thunderstorms and tropical storm winds resulted in a flooded Race Village, that at one point someone was paddle boarding between the Volvo and Camper pavilions!

Water in the race village!

Water in the race village!

Across the street in the Media Center, water was pouring in, drowning the 220V power cables that supplied all the equipment.

Logistics have also been difficult as we pushed our heavy, bulky flying boxes across the six lane US1 highway in downtown Miami. Three of these flying boxes were our server rack, network rack and UPS rack. Over on the Race Office side, all of the department containers were placed in the mud, or as Nico refers to, the potato field! Ha-Ha! As you can imagine, flying boxes don’t roll in the mud. Despite the circumstances, Volvo IT has risen to the occasion, delivering on time and that’s what matters.

Bruno and Niko with the IT gear

Bruno and Niko with the IT gear

On the lighter side, my girlfriend spent a few days here in Miami with us. On my day off, she and I rented a car and drove to Key West! Following Will Smith’s advice, we rented a jet ski and toured around the island. We reached speeds of 50 MPH and took turns at 35 MPH! We finished the day with the sunset in our sights.

James with his girlfriend

James with his girlfriend

Kind Regards,
James

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A taste of France in Miami!

Blogger: Bruno Theillaumas
Location: Miami, Florida

Hi ! My name is Bruno Theillaumas and I’m from Lyon, France. This is my first Volvo Ocean Race stopover and I’m very happy to be given the opportunity to jump aboard this great adventure as new Volvo IT team member. We’re now two French guys in this team, but although the French are well known for going on strike, we have no time for this here: many challenges are just waiting for us!

Bruno working on the rooftop

Bruno working on the rooftop

 I arrived in Miami on Friday, April 27th and as Dilson already mentioned in the blog, heavy rain was awaiting us. Is this really what they call the sunny state ?

Niko working in the rain

Niko working in the rain

Luckily now most of the time we have had warm sun since then, even if we face a few storms.

 Pressure has been increasing over the past days as we had some difficulties securing bandwidth in the MPLS link we have been delivering between three different locations. It is used not only for the users to reach the Internet and our servers, but also for the high resolution video broadcasting traffic. Now, we have a few days for deploying a Cisco wireless bridge between the Volvo Pavilion and the main stage, and also the Mini-Link access to the TV compound which is 5km away.

Outside of the Technology control room

Outside of the Technology control room

 The Race Village looks like some genuine little village. We have a nice canteen where everybody can take a deserved break for lunch, and there’s even a school for the families working on the race and having their kids with them. I even saw a stall selling French crêpes, so a little bit of home is here !

Selling French crepes in Miami!

Selling French crepes in Miami!

Talk to you !
Bruno

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