"Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present. "
On a brilliantly cool Saturday, geeks from here and there converged on TouchStone Technology to take part in the second event of Lindependence 2008.
To quote one of them speaking on a cell phone as people started coming through the door...
"Dude, you should be here."
Indeed, "Dude" should have.
The morning brought the most impressive numbers. Within the first three hours, an estimated 40-60 people wandered between two rooms that had been set up with computer stations and laptops...bearing the Linux Payloads.
To say it was fun is an understatement, to say it was a success is relative to one's expectations. While the first three hours gave us cramped conditions and over-worked volunteers, the rest of the day saw an ebb and flow of folks coming in to see and use Linux. A success? Yeah, I think so. It could have been better but we'll talk about that later. What we had is what we had... What I do want to talk to you about are the people that made this thing work.
from l-r, t-b, Dave, Helios, Larry, Chris, Tyler, Terry and Randy. And oh, why isn't helios smiling...? Cafiero is standing on his foot.
And work it did, as you will see. While we didn't bring in hundreds, the ones we brought in either left as converts or at least with a handful of disks and a goal of using them in a more "stable" environment.
It did get a bit crazy from time to time.
Dave Kaplan and Tyler Bearden were the sparkplugs for Lindependence Portland and they did a fantastic job. Dave is simply a Linux User who saw the potential for such an event and acted on it, Tyler Bearden is the Sales and Marketing Guy for TouchStone Technology...they hosted this event and a more gracious and giving bunch I have yet to meet.
Mandriva was also a popular distro and ohh'd and ahh'd over often...note to the Driva folks...we could use some up to date disks.
Randy and Terry Voshell are the owners of TouchStone Technology. Randy is probably one of the most knowlegable "Linux Guys" I've ever met. He had more knowledge of Linux in his sinus cavity than I will ever accumulate in my entire head...
And I wear a size 8 hat.
To look at them outside of their profession and work environment, you would never think they run a "Linux Shop". TouchStone Technology works almost exclusively with Novell and they sell and service "All Things Linux". Every able member of the family rides a Harley and Terry was the first to notice that my coat was a Harley-Davidson jacket. In fact, she arrived at work that Saturday Morning decked out in her Harley-Wear and carrying a Harley helmet.
Ty Bearden answering questions about Linux...he was a tad busy most of the day doing just that.
I knew I was in good company right then.
We'll talk more about TouchStone Technology in a later "Spotlight" feature. The story of this family and what they do, and more intrestingly, how they came to do it, is fascinating.
So...what happened. Initially we were swamped. People came through the door and converged on the rooms. In fact, it took most of the volunteers by surprise. Quickly adjusting, we were able to answer the many questions thrown at us and gladly demonstrated, and in many cases installed Linux on the spot.
There are lessons for us to learn however.
Ron White, one of my favorite stand-up comedians, tells the story of his newly landscaped home and two trees that had been planted in front of his house.
They were obviously dead.
Having paid a large amount of money to the landscaper, he called him and asked him to come out and look. Once there, Ron showed him the trees and asked him to please replace them. With that, the landscaper approached one of the trees, scraped the bark off of one of them and tasted it, then walked back up to Ron and said..."
This is a vibrant tree at its core, it's fine."
White looked at both bare plants and said to the landscaper...
"Hey pal, let me tell you what I'm looking for in a friggin' tree."
That's what we need to do. We need to listen to what people are looking for in a friggin' computer.
We are all eager to demonstrate the agility, speed and beauty of Linux. We know it's superior...and we want them to know that as well. However, we need to come from the angle of the frustrated computer user. The cool demonstrations can come in course. What people want to know when they come to us is simple. Will Linux meet my needs? What applications are available for me to use in the place of Windows apps. How long will it take me to acclimate to Linux?
Dave Kaplan demonstrating the Mini-Me distro...cha-ching...sale made.
Oh and as an aside...not only did we interest many in Linux...we actually created a new Python Scripter. You think I'm kidding. Take a look at Loie Atkinson. Kevin Clement is actually setting her up with her gedit environment and giving her the first "assignment" in coding. She sat there for three hours with him. It is amazing. It's also not the norm, obviously.
Kevin Clement actually teaching Loie Adkinson how to script in Python. A Three Hour session.
We tend to overwhelm some folks with spinning cubes and fancy effects when they really want to know if the .odt document they send someone can be read by a .doc user. They want to know about email and virus control...Firefox vs IE exploder...what about outlook calendering...
So yeah, we sent many people away with the sole mission of going home and putting Linux on their machines. Dave Kaplan
Mepis was a hit largely due to its much improved graphix.
received an email on Sunday morning and I now have permission to share this with you.
This is why we do what we do.
Because of my limited LINUX knowledge I was a bit apprehensive getting into LINUX, but today, thanks to you, I managed to break thru the fear barrier and actually installed the Mint disk you gave me today
So a success? Yeah, I'd call it that. We can do better and we will. Next stop? Sometime after the holidays in a little place called Taos New Mexico. First though, look for some upcoming articles and Spotlight blogs on TouchStone Technology, Loye Young of Issac and Young Computer company and of course...one of the people you might least expect to become a Python Scriptor.