Meeting the desktop support needs of the San Francisco office staff has long been recognized as crucial to the success of the Burning Man Project. This year the scope of the Desktop Support department grew beyond supporting only full time staff into providing an infrastructure available to folks involved at all levels of Burning Man’s operations. When Burning Man moved into our current office in March of 2002, the intent was to have the new facility become a resource for all Burning Man staff and volunteers. Now, nearly two years later, this intent has been realized, and there is a nearly constant stream of people showing up to make use of the available workspaces and workstations. Additional desktops mean, of course, additional desktop support, and this department has grown and expanded to meet the demand.

Over the year we have added several workstations to the office, including three general-use workstations in the Zocalo (the main central area in the San Francisco office). We’ve arranged the space to allow for as many people as possible, sometimes even building our own desks to make the most effective use of our space. In addition, several folks have received new desktops or laptops this year to replace ailing or outdated systems. Printing capacity was improved with the addition of one new full-duplex laser printer and a networked copier. The wireless LAN at the office has been improved considerably. A fire safe has been installed in the SF office for safekeeping important documents, software originals, and backup tapes.

The office backup system has been expanded from a single tape drive to a 7-tape autoloader to accommodate the volume of data that requires daily back up. In addition, Desktop Support has recently purchased three large-capacity firewire drives to be used by the SysAdmin Team to backup critical server data. A great deal of work also went into improving the unattended power failure backup and shutdown system, to make the best use of the UPS hardware we have.

Aside from direct technical expansion, the Desktop Support team also made a great start with documentation in the Extranet. There is now finally a centralized location for storing critical infrastructural information. The Extranet also provides an issue tracking system that has become invaluable for keeping up with what needs to be done.

There are many projects ahead, as well. The recent installation of a T1 line between the SF office and Burning Man’s co-location facility has given rise to plans to move some office resources off site. More work also is needed to properly organize, document and store all of the office software and peripheral hardware. New systems have been purchased and are being prepared for Gerlach.

The most significant development of the past year, however, is that we have redefined and expanded greatly the role of the office Desktop Support position. We now have a new support superstar, who moved to San Francisco from New York in order to help us. He is currently focusing his attention and skills on the happiness of the office equipment, and we look forward to running a tight ship into the 2004 season.

Submitted by,
Spanky, aka Tom Kapanka and Rob Miller
Engineer Team Lead and Tech Department Lead