Anything that can go wrong, will. Or so say the Irish. In Haiti, I’d strengthen the statement and say, “Every part of your plan will have obstacles, so have backup plans for everything, and backups for your backups.” As an example, the Graham & Parks kids didn’t bring in their laptops yesterday, so I won’t get to meet with them after all.

As for the Haiti pilots, the biggest bad news we could get is injury, disease, or kidnapping. Bill, Beth, and I are aware of these ever present risks, though aside from watching where we walk, getting immunizations and being careful about water and food, and sticking with our local guides, there’s not much we can do. Haiti has risks. Haiti after a major earthquake? Let’s just say it’s on all our minds.

The next biggest risk is that the laptops won’t get through customs in time. As of 10:45p last night, our laptops are cleared for travel to Haiti in the DHL gateway in Miami. I’m hopeful for a Port-Au-Prince delivery by Monday. This gives Haiti customs four days to clear the laptops for John Engle. We’re flying to Matènwa a week from next Monday, and we need at least 40 laptops on the puddle jumper to Lagonav.

“Every part of your plan will have obstacles.” Which means we have to hedge our bets. Chris has already flown down with her own 10 laptops. If Bill, Beth, and I all fly down with ten, then we have 40 backup laptops. Bill already has 10 laptops in St John. I’ve got 40 here in Cambridge, already allocated for St John in May. So yesterday was about prepping and checking 20 laptops, ten of which I FedEx’ed to Beth in Washington DC, and ten of which I’ll take today to Pennsylania. We’ll take them in our luggage, as we have done many times before, but only if the DHL laptops haven’t cleared customs by Saturday morning.

There’s a million tiny details, and a lot of mindless repetition to preparing for pilots. To prepare each laptop, we re-flash each with XO build 802, update to Etoys 4, and set the timezone, language, and jabber server. We also turn off the automatic frame by default, which is really, really annoying for the kids. After all this, we record the laptop colors and serial numbers in a spreadsheet and mark down any problems with the clock, trackpad, or keyboard. Yesterday I had two bad trackpads and one bad clock out of 20 checked.

Later, I carried two boxes of five to the FedEx Office in Harvard Square, making two trips balancing each box on my head in Haiti fashion to make the four blocks easier to walk, which was likely an odd sight for the streams of students and tourists I walked past.

So we’ve got 40 backup laptops in case the 200 don’t get through. No backups to these backups, so if these don’t work, we’ll have fewer kids or shared laptops. Fingers crossed, and on to the next risk item.
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Always double-check everything! Just called DHL. Texas forget to put John Engle’s phone number on the shipment, forgot to specify that it be held at DHL in Port-Au-Prince, and forgot to give an international routing number, which delayed five of the six packages.

The first package is in Port-Au-Prince now!

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