There's not much wiggle room in the statement, "Linux is a Boys Club".
Always has been...
But slowly, like the acceptance of Linux on the desktop...things are changin'.
Recently, a friend of mine, a firefighter and all around nice guy mentioned that he recently had some contact with a family of a Mom, three girls and no computer.
That sounded like something we might want to look into so I took the address down and that evening, made a inpromtu call on Brenda Meiendez. Brenda is a single mother of three girls, Evelyn, Arlene and Daicy.
It didn't take long to become absolutely captured by this family. No compelling story, no tragedy, no real "hook"...just a solid all-girl family trying to make it in today's world.
Without a computer in the home.
After talking with them for a while, I felt comfortable in working with these people. Now that may sound a bit odd so let's put a bookmark in this story here and take a short side trip.
In 2008, it happened on more than one occasion. Three times actually. We had to retrieve some of the computers we donated from pawn shops. Lowlife live-ins or other ner-do wells sometimes find an opportunity to score a few bucks by hocking the kid's computers. On all occasions that this was reported to us, we dutifully reclaimed the machines, returned them to the kids and password-protected the bios so that no one but the child could log in.
I pay for that...not The HeliOS Project. You can bet I'm not going to let that happen again.
Now that sounds as if it could put the child in a clumsy situation and I suppose it could...but in every situation like this, we haven't received another call to spring one of our machines from The Dollar Pokey. That's why we "interview" the family prior to leaving one of our machines. We've developed a fairly good gut instinct on the environment there and if the machine is going to be used in the way it was intended.
I started bringing in the components and the the two oldest, Evelyn and Arlene followed me piece by piece, even carrying the smaller stuff in. The excitement was obvious as they closely watched me assemble their computer.
That should have been my first clue.
They closely watched me.
I mean "on-hands-and-knees-with-me-as-I-hooked-stuff-up" watched me. Not sitting on the couch and politely waiting...no, not these girls.
Arlene, 11 years old and by far the most inquisative, even asked about the little green light that came on when I plugged in their newly installed Time Warner Internet cable.
"Does that mean we have Internet?"
Her gaze was so steady and hopeful, I almost hugged her.
"You bet it does honey."
She looked at her older sister and they both clapped. I immediately got the impression that MySpace was about to gain two more residents.
Sound check...graphix check with the most sophisticated 3D test available...a quick run of Extreme Tux Racer...Cube spin...Sub woofer was woofin'....
Houston, we have a computer.
I sat down with Brenda and began writing out some things she needed to know and asked her about any particular filters she might want on the system. It wasn't five minutes into our talk when Arlene pulled at my sleeve.
"Which one is the DVD burner?"
I looked at her then over at the computer. Evelyn had already found K3b and had hooked her Ipod to the machine, using Songbird to manage the sync.
The computer had been on less than ten minutes.
I told her the top one was the master, both cd and dvd burners, and the bottom was cd rom/burner only. She nodded and rejoined her sister at their mixfest.
I suppose what continues to amaze me after well over 500 installs is the quickness that these kids pick up the system. There is no stodgy hesitation of adult exploration...no handling of the mouse as if it were an unstable explosive...
They drop the menu, start digging into stuff and commence learning.
And they don't stop.
And I am gratified..
In more ways than I can come close to expressing.
Monday, December 29, 2008
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 5:42 AM