There's just no other way to do it. Trust me, I've tried my heart out.
The HeliOS Project has done some good things to date, and no...I'm not hyper-extending my shoulder to pat myself on the back...
That is simply the result of unselfish work by many you who will never hear about. I'm just the guy driving their bus.
In the last 41 computer installs we've done, only 19 of them have internet connections. The two most important ones, I paid for out of my own pocket. It is disheartening to get the phone calls from our kids and their parents asking the question..."Can we get internet yet?"
We've repeatedly asked Time Warner for assistance and those requests have fallen on deaf email addresses and voicemail devices. They've not bothered to extend the courtesy of a simple "no thank you." We've talked to all the major folks who provide Internet service and to date, none of them want to do anything to work with us.
That's fine...I realize as a business owner myself that people don't go into business to give away their products and services. Our plan actually had our clients working a plan so that in 6 month's time, they had a functioning budget and could pay the entire amount themselves.
The multi-billion dollar corporations don't seem to care. I am sure they have their "charitable programs". We simply don't seem to fit into any of them. And no none will bother to call us and tell us so.
So here is what we are going to do.
The HeliOS Project is going to set aside a special fund for this purpose. We are going to work with the most agreeable of the bunch, AT&T Yahoo/DSL and make this happen. We can get their subscriptions for a limited time at ten dollars a month, but that is about to lapse. We will get to enjoy that rate for the next few months and then it is going to double. Still, twenty bucks a month for broadband ain't bad. When the families are able to pay, they will...we are not handing out our funding to just anyone. Remember, we are working with extremely disadvantaged families here, and it's only those who will receive our assistance.
We begin our project to place 12-16 computers at Space12 this Sunday. News 8 in Austin will probably cover it as well as a film crew traveling the nation, filming sustainable community efforts.
It is from this effort that we will start to build our wireless mesh. We will concentrate on donating machines to disadvantaged kids in this immediate area and build the kind of solid mesh network needed for accessible internet for the entire area. But that will take a couple of years.
It's come to the point where we fully realize that even the most heart-touching circumstances won't unbind the purse strings of these Megaliths. Again, they are under no obligation to so. We will simply build a network around them...one they cannot control, seize or negate. I've conferred with some of the brightest networking minds at Georgia Tech, UT-Austin and Arizona State University. Coupling our efforts with those of others who are doing the same thing and the city of Austin's free wireless network expansion, well...maybe Time Warner see's the handwriting on the wall and is trying to squeeze every penny out while they can. That's my S.W.A.G. I want to personally thank Don Davis for his extensive research and assistance in helping us get pointed in the right direction.
This can be done...and for those who honestly need it...it will be. It will simply take time and focus. Until then, we need to get the most disadvantaged among us wired. It was suggested prior to this edit that we were a "tin cup project" wasting resources when companies like NetZero and others exist. Man, we've tried those every 6 months to see if there has been any improvement in service and coverage. There has not. Our students need broadband for their studies and research. Saddling them with 1992 technology with 2009 equipment is oh, just a tad absurd.
Now look...I realize fully that someone in Boise Idaho or Fulda Germany really doesn't give a rat's rear about some touchy-feel-good program in Austin Texas.
But I am going to ask you to...just for now. Eventually it will benefit us all. What we learn and build, we will take to other areas and build it there.
We are in the process of applying for a few large grants that will allow us to operate autonomously and when that happens, you can bet that everything you have given will be given back to Linux/FOSS in spades.
We've set up our "Operation Wired" donation point at our Helios Project site and you can do what you feel is right there. There is no set dollar amount, no "goal". We simply need to amass some funding so those P4 computers we give to our kids are more than really bulky typewriters.
Do what you can, please. You can do so up on the left column of this blog.
We will reciprocate many times over. I promise.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
blather and mumbling provided by Ken Starks at 11:47 AM