San Francisco

In the Fall of 2009, our previous San Francisco Tech Support staff transitioned out of their role and a new member joined our team to take over technical support operations in Burning Man Headquarters. It’s always a bit of an archaeological dig transitioning a position like this, digging up ancient passwords and organizing piles of various techno-rubble. Once up to speed, focus shifted to some year-end acquisition and subsequent distribution of much-needed hardware upgrades for on-playa networking and for the San Francisco office and staff.

A long awaited on-line calendar system was introduced to office and senior staff in early summer. Using iCal Server, staff members can now book conference rooms, schedule meetings, share information, and plan for upcoming events with greater ease and efficiency. Plans to roll out calendars that can be viewed and subscribed to by our extended teams for scheduling are currently underway.

Other upgrades made in our support and development infrastructure include upgrades to our QuickTime Streaming service for publishing video from public workshops and speaking events, a major upgrade to our forms database server and client software, a hardware upgrade and added redundancy for the office voice over IP (VOIP) phone system, and improved remote monitoring for the servers managed by technical support.

Since the office move in 2009, we’ve grown at our current temporary location, which has necessitated occasional re-wiring and other minor changes to the infrastructure. Our office space was also expanded this year by about 50%, including office space, workstations, and conference rooms. New wire had to be run to tie our network in to the existing wiring in the new space, and new phones, printers, wireless networking equipment and Ethernet switches had to be brought in to support the new capacity of our office.

While technical support must move equipment between the San Francisco office and the event site every year, more and more equipment is being stored in our Nevada facilities year-round. As a result, this year we had fewer boxes going up to Nevada, and even less coming back this year than in years past, thanks to the improvements at our Nevada facilities.

Accounting and Finance saw improvements in payroll processing and had consistent, secure up-time on their network. The team has seen regular maintenance and upgrades to their systems keep them running smoothly throughout the year. Remote access has now been made available to all of Accounting and Finance.

Nevada & Event Operations

In 2010, Nevada and event Tech Support worked well. Support consists of doing any major upgrades and keeping the Gerlach office up and running year-round, and we make many trips to our Black Rock Station production facility to support the year-round staff there. During event setup, the Tech Support team took turns supporting the Gerlach office in addition to our playa duties. This seemed to be successful and gave overlapping coverage to the staff working both on the playa, in Gerlach, and at Black Rock Station. 

In the Black Rock Saloon we expanded our support of seasonal staff with more computer workstations set up anywhere we find room for them. Each year more and more people on our crew want to be connected to the Internet, so we do what we can to support them. It is tough to fix personal laptops since we are hours away from any sort of computer store, but we get creative and do what we can.

The Nevada support team manages our Tech Common Storage facility, where we store various departments’ event technology gear in our Gerlach location.  With help from each department, gear is given a quick clean post-event, and put away for the winter. This location is also where all of the Nevada facilities and playa infrastructure tech gear is stored, cleaned and maintained throughout the year.

Submitted by,
Eric Haugen, Chris Petrell, and Brendan McKenna