After a big year of creating, presenting and editing new Divine Truth material in 2016, 2017 has become a year for us to focus on the reviewing and updating the systems and procedures that will be required for the future growth and expansion of Divine Truth.
Despite our seeming quiet on the world wide web, Jesus and I (especially Jesus) have had a very busy 6 months. Jesus has been doing a lot of behind the scenes work essential for our future goals and desires in a number of areas.
The projects he has been researching and developing will mean that we can expand the number and type of online methods we use to share Divine Truth with the world, as well as ensuring that the data we create is reliably stored and can be readily used for a variety of purposes including database creation, subtitling videos, translation, and other features. All of this will mean that more people worldwide will be able to easily search for and benefit from the information that we have already presented, as well as ensuring that future content fits seamlessly into an efficient system.
I’ll briefly outline some of these projects in more detail below.
Firstly, Jesus and I would like to send our immense gratitude to those people who have donated to us over the past 6 months.
As always, we never take it lightly that others wish to support our work and supply us with donations to allow us to continue.
We use the donations we receive to maintain our recording and editing equipment, pay for software and hardware updates as required, pay for our overseas methods of serving Divine Truth data to the internet, and to pass on personal donations from ourselves to volunteers who work on various projects including; programming, transcribing, office assistance, sound and video recording and editing. In fact, a very small percentage of what we receive goes towards our personal living expenses.
As often happens when we haven’t released new material for a while, the last few months we have received less donations than usual. This means that we may need to review how much we donate on to volunteers for a time until we can afford to resume regular donations again.
We are grateful to those of you who have kept up regular donations to us these past 6 months. It has given us the capacity to focus on the important changes in infrastructure that I mentioned, and helped us to continue to give gifts to our volunteers who do a large amount of work with little personal reward.
Over the past 6 months, Jesus’ time has been divided between two major areas. The first has been major infrastructure upgrades and the second has been assisting the new God’s Way company to get started.
Jesus has had so much experience in the past in both computer systems engineering, programming and analysis, and in starting and running companies, that his expertise has been vital for the changes to make in Divine Truth delivery and data management. Also, God’s Way Directors have had much to learn as they incorporated the new non-profit company, including the set up and management of legal requirements, accounting, computer systems, templates, and processes for the new company.
Divine Truth & God’s Way Operations
Divine Truth operations were overdue for an overhaul and redesign of our data storage systems. As our core work and passion is to create and deliver Divine Truth materials to the world it is essential that everything we create is stored and backed-up very safely and efficiently (otherwise we risk loosing valuable recordings, documents, templates, plans, books etc). This requires Divine Truth to own and manage a lot of computer hardware. We cannot easily use Cloud based operations, since we have very poor internet bandwidth, speed and capacity in the Australian bush. Most of our computer systems are 5-7 years old, and our server systems are very slow, and at full capacity.
So, we have been overdue for not only an upgrade to our system to enable more reliable and less time consuming storage and back-up processes but we also needed to review the file management structure we have been using to organise the data we have stored and continue to create. Since God’s Way also must set up new data storage and file structures, we have decided to perform our upgrades with God’s Way in mind. This will allow Divine Truth and God’s Way to share the same infrastructure and training systems, and we hope will result in quite a number of people having a large degree of technical expertise.
We currently have around 480TB of raw video and audio data in cold storage, and 48TB of editing video and audio, along with another 16TB of general data storage, along with 3 iMac based video editing stations, 4 small linux servers, 4 windows PC’s and 3 Linux systems. All of these machines are connected to a 1Gbit network, but the video editing stations are connected via a 10Gbit network. Data is stored in many different locations, and managing it is becoming very difficult for Jesus along with managing all of his other work. We immediately need around 120TB of space to allow for Divine Truth video editing, God’s Way video editing, and the storage of data used by both companies, along with a clear upgrade path. Since our data is very important to us, we need to store it all, as well as having methods to backup the data regularly.
Jesus has put off his normal work for sometime in order to research the available hardware and software options that would meet our specialised needs for many years to come. He has had to learn learn about new technological advances (both in hardware and software). This research has taken Jesus huge amounts of time to complete, but he is now up to speed technically on creating large distributed node based clusters of data which have a high level of redundancy and the lowest upgrade cost. We hope in the near future to purchase and maintain our own hardware (4 x large servers able to upgrade to 240TB of data each, using 10Gbit connections to our network, used in a cluster which allows 2 servers to be used in rotation for a backup, and 2 servers live at all times, with each server having a copy of the data), and use open source software to maintain the clusters (GlusterFS on Centos). The proposed system will be able to grow to 240TB by adding disks, and further growth will occur by adding 3 new servers each time once God’s Way has a location of its own connected to our location by fibre (which we hope to set up in the next few years).
Cold storage backups will be produced by 2 x Linux servers with 16 drive bays backing up to large drives for individual project archival and storage. We always create two copies of all archives before we remove projects from our main editing store. These upgrades will allow for hi-speed video and audio editing at speeds that are a minimum of 4 x our current speeds, the ability to have a number of concurrent video editors working at the same time, along with reliable backups onto cold storage for years to come. This work in expanding our storage system and redesigning our file naming conventions and storage procedures is essential for our future expansion and later database creation. Obviously this amount of data needs good organisation for many reasons. The upheaval and reorganisation of our current physical system will occur after we have re-organized and categorised the data, along with producing a database which describes all of the data in detail.
In addition, we already have a team of around 80 volunteers who need to be able to communicate with each other better, and find documentation for their processes. So we are setting up a cloud based infrastructure for internal forums, wikis, and blogs to be used to keep all volunteers worldiwde up to date. God’s Way will eventually have many projects underway, all of which will also need forums, wikis and blogs.
Of course, this requires a lot of work to setup, and again, Jesus is the only person with the appropriate expertise to make these decisions and choices, as well as setup the resulting infrastructure which will be used both by Divine Truth and God’s Way. At this stage we are testing Amazon Web Services (AWS) EC2 in a load balanced solution connected to a scalable AWS RDS, running a Linux, Apache, MariaDB, and PHP software stack (LAMP) with an open source product alled Tiki Wiki running on top. Data will be backed up to AWS S3, and to our other servers in Canada and the USA.
As you can imagine, this infrastructure needs a substantial financial and time based outlay. We have been putting off making the changes we have had to make for sometime as technology usually becomes more reliable and more affordable over time, and because Jesus wanted to focus on producing information for the Assistance Groups. But we decided that we can’t put the process off any longer and so Jesus has taken the plunge to investigate extremely thoroughly before we make our purchases. At this stage we have some people who want to help financially which is great.
Obviously we need technical assistance, but unfortunately, since a major part of our system has to be local, all of this assistance needs to come from people who live locally so that proper structures and directions can be given to them. Since there a no people locally with these skills, Jesus has begun a training program with people who do live locally, and who are dedicated to living “God’s Way”, who volunteer a lot of their time to us already. Eventually, when we have the funds donated to do so, we would like to pay these people for their services. At the moment this is not possible due to the amount of donations we receive, but Jesus is still going ahead and training the people required.
New Online Delivery Services for Divine Truth & God’s Way
As I have mentioned, as a part of our technological overhaul, and in light of the changes we want to make for Divine Truth and God’s Way, Jesus has been concurrently investigating content management systems. He has been creating LAMP stacks that will allow us to run a variety of content management systems to test. Our goal is to create and maintain Cloud based communication mechanisms, backing up data to our local systems. Due to the amount of data in our Video systems, this is not possible for our video systems without spending millions of dollars. But it is possible for us to use these kinds of systems for our internal documentation, process, and forum insfrastructure.
Our requirements include:
- Private Forums for our volunteer teams to use to create and store in house procedures, keep up to date with work on ongoing projects (e.g. transcription team) and communicate within and between volunteer teams
- Wiki Pages (private pages for Volunteer team members) – for sharing of Divine procedures, creating working documents
- Wiki Pages (for public) – to share data collected by Divine Truth and God’s Way teams in a variety of fields e.g. relationships, education, construction, land regeneration, engineering, computer systems, etc
- Website and blog redesign
New Document Templates for God’s Way & Update of Divine Truth Templates
Jesus has also donated his time to God’s Way to create all of the new office templates for God’s Way company and project research documents. While he was at it he updated all of our Divine Truth office templates as well. He has updated over 100 templates in total. He makes these things look easy but they take a lot of time.
New Procedures for Clipping & New Vimeo Channels
During this period Jesus, Lena, Maureen (the volunteer who previously created the majority of clips from past talks that can be viewed on our Clips Channel) and Barbara (from the transcribing team) have been working on new proceedures for the rapid creation of Diving Truth Clips. This work started because YouTube placed some new limitations on the creation of clips via their online process. While at first this seemed like a restriction it has created an opportunity to review how clips are selected and named and to utilise completed transcripts to streamline clip creation and integrate the data in a future searchable database.
This has required a cleanup of the transcription and translation process, which Jesus has been involved in with Barbara McNair, who is the volunteer who manages our team of transcribers. Also, Jesus has guided Kate Eckersall, who has been making programs to streamline the automation of sub-title generation for videos, along with cleaning up the e-book and self-print processes.
Jesus has found ways to automate our new video clipping process from transcribed files as long as the video time data in those files is accurate. This has involved meeting with the transcription team, and beginning a process of cleaning up the time code data. In addition, he has loaded open source software that will allow for the production of around 1 video clip per second. This means that in the future, when a transcription is complete, the video clips will match the transcribed file, and can be done in a few minutes per transcription.
Of course, this has also meant that our sound in older videos must be cleaned up. Igor Shakhanov is currently using a new software product to clean up all sound from all videos, including the oldest videos where possible, and then, once the sound has been cleaned up, and the transcription time codes are accurate, we shall be producing video clips again. Jesus has worked out methods to rejoin old videos with new sound, without having to produce the entire video again from raw data. Once these processes are complete, we hope to produce around 15,000 video clips from our current videos, all with sound that is much better than our current sound on old videos. In addition, when a new video is produced, clips will also be produced when the transcription process is complete. We also wish to automate both Youtube and Vimeo uploads using software API’s.
So we have also begun storing videos on Vimeo, as well as Youtube. There is a Vimeo Divine Truth channel, which currently contains the 2016 Assistance Group material. Although we have uploaded all of the material to Vimeo, we have not yet had time to make it all publicly available.
Ongoing Programming & Transcription Team Projects
Jesus continues to meet with Kate (who is assisting us with programming of document changes and data capture from transcripts) and Barb (leader of the Transcription & Translation Team) to develop and refine new ways of presenting our data and reducing the workload of individual team members. Barb’s team has prepared new training documents, and, once we complete the testing of these new services, obviously new training will have to be delivered.
God’s Way Mentor-ship & Directorship
Jesus and I have both been involved in assisting the God’s Way company to get up and running and to focus on their core business as outlined by their constitution.
Jesus has spent considerable time in educating and donating time to Directors, members, and guests of the organisation, in the following areas:
- Creation of a company constitution suiting the requirements for a non-profit organisation in Australia
- Creation and setup of a company
- Legal aspects of running a company, including how to deal with property ownership
- Designing Accounting systems & correct accounting procedures
- Setup of the software and chart of accounts for God’s Way
- Consulting with accountants and leading meetings with God’s Way accountants to ensure they established best and legal practices for receiving gifts and donations
- How to create and protect valuable Intellectual Property
- Technical considerations for the creation of Intellectual Property
- Education and assistance to Directors with decision making for the purchase of hardware and software pertaining to data collection & storage
- Technical assistance and education to set up company email accounts, blogs and management of internet services
After Peter Lytton-Hitchins removal as Director of the company, I stepped in and became a Director to assist with day to day decision making and weighing up ethical considerations and actions in harmony with the company constitution and objectives of God’s Way. We hope Peter will return as Director after he addresses aspects of love that Jesus has identified for him.
Both Jesus and I continue to prioritise our personal progression in our relationship with God and with each other.
As you can imagine, Jesus has had limited time to focus on his personal work. My guy is busy and he sometimes makes my head spin with how much he acheives in a single day. Once he has completed a lot of the investigation work he is currently undertaking, he hopes to have more personal time for himself, along with more time to produce videos.
I have had more time and I feel that I am continuing to work through important issues relating to my acceptance of my identity, my desire to be myself in the world and in my relationships with both men and women. I am exceptionally grateful for this opportunity to focus on my own progression. I have also been working on a couple of home based projects relating to land regeneration and I have been planting out our front garden full of native plants for the birds and insects to enjoy. I thoroughly enjoy this.
The Coming Months
Over the coming months, Jesus will need to continue work on most of the projects listed above.
Both Jesus and I are missing working on the creation of Divine Truth material. We have so many projects that we would like to start recording on. If things go well we may start back in the studio sometime in June.
We are hopeful to start recording the following:
series “What Happens When You Die/ Life After Death”
series “Developing My Will to Love Q & A”
series “Fundamental Facts”
We are also hopeful that Volunteer Induction Programme will get underway sometime after June. Eloisa Lytton-Hitchins and Tristan Miller will now be leading this group. I will help with the planning and design of the programme and mentor them throughout the process. This will allow things to get started and I can be free to work on Divine Truth projects.
You may have noticed some recent changes to the layout of this blog. Until our redesign of the Divine Truth main website, Lena and I are often referring people who email our office account to some of the information that can be found on pages of this blog. The rearrangement I’ve recently done and the information I will continue to add is designed to assist people to find certain information quickly and easily.
If you do want regular up dates of changes to our schedule or of Jesus and my activities you can subscribe to the blog and you will receive an email each time I make a new post.
So that is a very brief summary of what we have been up to. Our focus has been on internal operations with the aim to expand and improve our external gifts in the coming years.
We send you all our love.
Mary & Jesus