MLS via VPN

Discussions around using and interfacing with the Church MLS program.
aussie-p40
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MLS via VPN

Postby aussie-p40 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:22 am

Hi Guys,
I've just been called as ward clerk and would like to know if there are any plans for the church to catch up with the commercial world and allow VPN access to MLS ward computers so I can work from home during the week instead of missing Sunday meetings catching up with admin chores (believe it or not, we don't all live just around the corner from our meetinghouse downunder ;-).
I routinely use VPN and RDC in my work to access PCs at our various offices. This technology is taken for granted in the commercial world and many businesses that use it are no less conscious of security and privacy issues than the church.
Our ward also hosts a FHC so we have a church installed wireless odyssey client network which the ward MLS PC's also use for internet and MLS transmissions. As a layman I've had no luck trying to hack into this to set up the required router port forwarding for VPN access (not that I would of course ;-).
We also have a satellite dish and big screen projector in the chapel for conference broadcasts, and it would be occasionally useful to be able to plug a laptop into the projector to screen live internet sessions for classes in for example family history or ward website use.
I've read on other forums that the church will now also enable WEP/WPA access to odyssey networks so members can more easily access the network (with bishopric permission of course), but this enlighted policy doesn't seem to have filtered down to the local administration office downunder!
Any suggestions would be welcome.
Aussie Aussie

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aebrown
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Postby aebrown » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:31 am

aussie wrote:I've just been called as ward clerk and would like to know if there are any plans for the church to catch up with the commercial world and allow VPN access to MLS ward computers


First off, welcome to the LDSTech forum -- it's great to get perspectives from members around the world!

The issue you raise has been discussed at length on this forum. Here's a post I made in reply to a similar question a few months ago:

Alan_Brown wrote:Remote access to a ward/stake administrative computer has been discussed at length in the thread MLS remote access. I know of no update on the policies related to this, and I doubt that anything will change in this area (but that's just my opinion).

However, the new beta.lds.org has a link to "Leaders (Stake President, Bishop, and Clerk) Resources"; as I understand it, some bits and pieces of MLS functionality will be exposed there, and I imagine that over time, many more of the MLS capabilities will appear there.


Since I made that post, there is even more available on beta.lds.org in the Leader Resources area, and I know that ward clerks (assuming their calling is properly entered in MLS, and thus is also in CDOL) can see most if not all of what is available there at the ward level.

So you'll definitely want to sign in to beta.lds.org and see what's available. It's certainly not a full MLS yet, but it's encouraging that the Church is clearly moving more and more functionality online.
Questions that can benefit the larger community should be asked in a public forum, not a private message.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:54 am

aussie wrote:I've read on other forums that the church will now also enable WEP/WPA access to odyssey networks so members can more easily access the network (with bishopric permission of course), but this enlighted policy doesn't seem to have filtered down to the local administration office downunder!


I'm not sure of the status of Meetinghouse Internet in your area.

In the US, it's possible to replace the Odyssey client with a generic WPA setup by going though Global Service Desk. However, you'd have to update the networking on all computers that currently use the wireless network.

I'm not sure of the contact information for GSD in your area. You may want to call your area office to find out.

As for who can have access to the network, that's up to the Stake President. The Bishops only have the authority that the SP delegates to them.
Have you searched the Wiki?
Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

aussie-p40
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Postby aussie-p40 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:57 pm

Thanks for the replies.
Now that I've reviewed the other threads, seems I've come in on this debate rather late! I did do a search before my 1st post but nothing came up under 'VPN'.
Anyway, sounds like the topic has been well and truly thrashed to death and the prospect for change seems 'remote' (excuse the pun ;-). The obvious future direction is a web based real time system so no sensitive data is kept on local unit hard drive and records can be accessed and edited from any computer with net connection, but this seems a way off, hence my question about remoteing into ward computer.
Of course, it is possible to drop the entire MLS folder onto a USB stick and run it from home, but danger there is overwriting changes made by others on ward computer (aside from not being entirely in harmony with official policy!).
Unfortunately, the alternative is that our MLS will never be as current or accurate as it could be because I simply do not have the amount of time needed to spend in the clerk's office.
Cheers.

russellhltn
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Postby russellhltn » Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:33 pm

aussie wrote:Now that I've reviewed the other threads, seems I've come in on this debate rather late! I did do a search before my 1st post but nothing came up under 'VPN'.


Always gratifying to see people checking before posting. Unfortunately searches in the forum for TLAs (three-letter acronyms) doesn't work.
Have you searched the Wiki?

Try using a Google search by adding "site:tech.lds.org/wiki" to the search criteria.

ldsrussp
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Postby ldsrussp » Sun Aug 08, 2010 2:54 pm

Alan_Brown wrote:So you'll definitely want to sign in to beta.lds.org and see what's available. It's certainly not a full MLS yet, but it's encouraging that the Church is clearly moving more and more functionality online.


Hmm... This sounds very interesting. This could actually be one way to avoid some of the database problems if the true database was moved online. It would also allow church backups of your local unit data. This could be very nice if done right.

drewy
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Postby drewy » Mon Aug 09, 2010 2:02 am

Hi Aussie

In other areas of Australia the odyssey client has been replaced with LDSAccess (allows anyone with the password to connect). Check with your stake clerk / technology specialist / facilities manager (have a look on CDOL). There was a meeting a few months back with the service centre manager from NZ who said all of Australia would be running LDSAccess soon. Perhaps the eastern states will catch up soon :)

kisaac
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Getting better...

Postby kisaac » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:06 pm

aussie wrote:The obvious future direction is a web based real time system so no sensitive data is kept on local unit hard drive and records can be accessed and edited from any computer with net connection, but this seems a way off....

....the alternative is that our MLS will never be as current or accurate as it could be because I simply do not have the amount of time needed to spend in the clerk's office.
Cheers.


I find that I don't spend AS MUCH time at the clerk's office with the MLS as I did before, and can see things improving already. I can do some of the preliminary work from home. You need that ward birthday list for the newsletter? I can do it from home now! Hey, I've already changed a bunch of phone numbers and emails of ward members from my kitchen table! ( yes, I know they can do it themselves, and I tell them this, but things are slowly changing...)

Our executive secretary can now do some of his duties as well.


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