The HeliOS Project is now.....

The HeliOS Project is now.....
Same mission, same folks...just a different name

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Linux Reaches Out To Portland - Lindependence 2008

"Let him who would enjoy a good future waste none of his present. "
Roger Babson

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 th
e place of Windows apps. How long will it take me to acclimate to Linux?

Dave Kaplan demonstrating the Mini-Me 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.

Hi David
Many thanks for your time and kindness you gave me today.

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
It's all up and running, printer and all, so I'm now having fun learning to drive the thing.

Once again "Thanks Alot"
Kindess Regards

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 of the people you might least expect to become a Python Scriptor.

All-Righty Then...


kozmcrae said...

Community meets community. I like it.

Anonymous said...

Helios...don't stress the numbers. If you drew even the low estimation the first few hours, and only half of them left with a disk, you've done more in one day than most Linux Users have done their entire lifetime. You get slammed often my friend and I not only thank you for the work you do and the time you've done it. I thank you for tolerating the occasional idiot that cloaks their obvious envy in venomous prose.

You help us all remember that we need to do our part.

Manny O

Amenditman said...

Exactly right!

All the pretty graphics in the world would never have convinced me to climb the no Microsoft mountain.

I came to Linux because 'their' product would not allow me to use "MY" computer the way I wanted to.

Once I was convinced that Linux would do what I wanted, I made the decision to switch. Not a decision made lightly, I knew there would be a learning curve and a few trade-offs. :-)

I suspect we in the GNU/Linux/FOSS community will always be most successful by demonstrating the advantages to the user.

Fancy window dressing is just a big plus.

Thanks for the man on the scene report h


Anonymous said...

So through all the hype and bull crap, you only pulled in 60 people? Maybe now you'll see just how miserably you failed and leave us alone.

Unknown said...

I just walked in the door and sat down at my computer after that marathon layover in Phoenix...yes coming from Lindependence. It's one am in the morning and this is what I find. Well, my first inclination was to just crapcan the remark because it serves no purpose but to discourage others...but I'm not going to do that. I can see why you didn't bother to leave a name...

Lindependence is a fantastic idea. It re-emerges the install-fest as a viable way to spread the word and help others.'s a novel way of doing it. Now I am going to address your point with the same sensitivity that you left yours.

Lindependence doesn't exist to increase your self worth and esteem in direct and positive correlation to the number of new Linux Users we create. Neither does it exist for your entertainment. The people that traveled from out of state did it either on their own dime or from donations freely given by others. We paid for our own hotel rooms, meals and yes, maybe a smattering of frivolity. I didn't see you digging into your ass pocket to assist with any of that.

You want honesty...ok pal, here it is.

It will take 500-750 dollars to pull off each Lindependence project and make it work the way it is supposed to. We've tried Public Service Announcements and free advertising. It just doesn't give us the coverage we need to make it happen. When the founders of the project have to continually spend over 1000 dollars of their own money on each event, I promise you, there probably won't be a third.

Specifically, one particular owner of a Linux News Site has ordered his staff to crapcan any article that mentions the need for funding a project. His insistence on that detail has fairly put a jackboot on the throat of what we do. I am guessing him and Dan Frye would be good friends. That site was our first line of announcements and we sort of hoped that the people reading the announcements would read between the lines and do what had to be done. Some did...but not near enough. Do you know the sum total of donations that came in for this project in Portland?

You couldn't operate your car for one month on what we received.

The ones that do donate are the ones that do it time after time after time. I can fairly well assume you are not one of them.

So I am terribly sorry to disappoint you. Should you want to see more numbers the next time, maybe you ought to shut up and give us what we need to do our job.

Enthusiasm and love of what we do has proved to be less than marketable when it comes to purchasing airtime.


Anonymous said...

Hello Ken,
Glad to hear you made it back home in less than two pieces ;-}

I have been one of those people who has been quietly watching from the sidelines applauding the work you and the other volunteers have done with Lindependence.

I have been working with Linux for the past 18months and have rediscovered my joy of computers. I now share that joy with as many people as I can.

I have introduced FOSS and Linux to a number of people and have donated extra computers I have to people who want to try out Linux. The response has been fantastic.

Reading about Lindependence and the other projects has convinced me to get out into the community and do something to promote and advocate for FOSS and Linux.

Thank you for showing how hands on action is worth more than words on a screen.


Anonymous said...

I've posted a link to this blog on the Mandriva Forums.

einfeldt said...

Hi Helios,

Thanks so much to you and Larry for hunkering down and doing it again with Lindependence there in Portland. Lindependence _does_ count because it reaches new users _and_ it gives hope and inspiration to the community to see your outreach picked up by the folks there in Portland. You are duplicating yourselves, you and Larry. That is a spark that we need.

I'm sorry that I couldn't come up and film it for the DTP. Money and time weren't in the cards for me. I would have faced a rebellion from my gf, and as much as I love freedom, I love her more, so I couldn't risk it.

If you need to rest for a while, please do so, because this movement is a long, long march. We have so much to do.

We are making progress. I know you are concerned about lack of corporate support for the _name_ of Linux, but consider this: Linux is growing in the mobile space, embedded space, desktops, notebooks, servers, and everywhere else. It will just take a while for people to grok the concept of freedom.

Here is a quick story. The kids at our public middle school project in SF still don't grok freedom all that much, despite a presentation I gave _in the Xubuntu lab_ that they use 3 x per week. They were sitting right there with FOSS machines in front of them, and they still didn't get it.

But they do now have a huge brand acceptance for because they see it come up every time they do their essays. And they now call Firefox "The Internet". These are the unspoken expectations that they accept as given fact. Slowly, we will match those expectations with the _concept_ of freedom.

Rest when you need to do so, my brother, but never give up.

Christian Einfeldt

Unknown said...

Hey Christian,

You were missed Brother but not for your camera but for your smile and friendship. No worries on your absence...had I not been recently, ahem...liberated, my absence would have been noted as well./


Anonymous said...

Hi Ken,

Just saw this on the Mandriva Forums and wanted to mention something if I could.

First off, Manny is right. The number of people you had come in isn't nearly as significant as the quality of folks walking through the door. Those people like what they saw and possessed it. They will show it to others and it will grow from there.

Did you just leave linux alone when you discovered it. What if helios II grows from one of those numbers? Some would shudder at the notion.

A side point if I may. The low turnout may have been more a matter of unfortunate timing than anything else. This election has taken the nation by the neck and hasn't yet let go. It may be no wonder you had low turn out in relation to your expectations. Don't sweat it. Someone was just looking for a target for their sour grapes.


Anonymous said...

Hi, guys - please send me an email at awilliamson AT mandriva DOT com with your address (I'm sure we have it somewhere, but just in case :>) and an estimate of how many discs you need, and I'll get you some 2009 discs when our stock arrives. Thanks!

Adam Williamson

FelixTheCat said...

I can just imagine who that detractor was before {{**cough-PP-cough**}}. Petards will continue to decimate their side of the gene pool while trying desperately to hurl mud over the wall at the rest of us natural-selection survivors. Others will disagree but still show respect - shake their hands and march on.

Don't let it get you down. Keep going on with this stuff and keep encouraging others to do the same. If there is a way beyond being funded by the "community", keep going!

Unknown said...

No Catman, I don't think so. Pete may not care for me much but he signs his name when he posts....IP is from Germany anyway so far as I can tell. Not losing any sleep over it...whoever it was got straightened out so if they aren't going to sign their name, I am going to assume it was some mis-guided little 10 year old girl throwing a hissy.


Anonymous said...

> I am going to assume it was some mis-guided little 10 year old girl throwing a hissy.

That's what I like about you Ken, your way with words. :)

Unless you get one a lot closer to the east coast and the timing is just right, I'll never manage to make it to one. However, I could burn some CD's of whatever distro you want and mail them to you. I'd offer my distro of choice, but I doubt you really want to start your newbies off with Slackware. :)