The HeliOS Project is now.....

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

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Operation Wired

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 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 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.

All-Righty Then


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

That is simply the results of unselfish work by many you will never hear about. I'm just the guy driving their bus.

Ken. Please.

If you went away tomorrow, this thing would fold like a house of cards. I mean I don't want to disrespect your directors and maybe with them included I am wrong.

You have hung onto this through slander, libel and personal attack and still you keep your eye on the prize. You have been relentless in making this happen. Now that the City Of Austin has vetted you and given your project their blessings and attention, I am wondering where the screams of fraud and scam are now.

Maybe HeliOS Project would flourish with you gone but something tells me that if you left, everyone would say "oh how sad..." but no one would do a thing to keep it afloat.

Thus, "The Linux Community".

Anonymous said...

Anon - I don't think that's really fair in light of what Ken has just accomplished with The World of Goo. It was his blog that mobilized "The Linux Community" to shatter all first-day sales records for 2dboys.

There is obviously a Linux Community. We just are too opinionated as Kyle said. Too many cooks spoil the operating system.

Or at least stagnate it for long periods.

Jacob F. Roecker said...

I would like to disagree. Ken's project may fold, but the results will live on. Someone will pick it up.

I didn't know this project existed and created something remarkably similar in Oklahoma. Now the Helios project isn't alone. Ken and I have talked and shared ideas.

I called my project reprise ( and want it to evolve into a student club at high schools in the area. Yes, Ken's project may die as "Ken's Project" but in some ways, what this project does will survive.

Kindness is fragile, but immortal.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean, you will repay the Linux Community? Don't you think it's us that owe you?

And that's just one example. You sir have inspired me to do things I would have never thought of doing for others. You are my model and mentor even though we've never met.

You owe no one anything helios.

Anonymous said...

@ reprise guy

I had the undeniable honor of being a HeliOS Project volunteer last summer. First off, you have my attention and respect for what you do. Let me please give you some probably unnecessary advice.

Don't let the jerks of the world get you down. I actually followed another blog a few years ago and that blogger suddenly began railing against "helios". He said that his projects were scams and just stopped short of calling him a thief. He did call him a lying bastard right on his own comments. Ken was classy enough to leave it there for all to see.

Thinking this lunatic had some idea of what he was talking about, and since I lived in Austin, I thought I would score points by "dropping in" on helios, offering to volunteer my services and in the process, validate this blogger's accusations and report back to him what I found.

What I found was one of the most caring and giving people I have met in my life. I don't know what Ken did or said to get this guy's maniacal and misspent focus but he was and remains obsessed on slamming Ken every chance he gets.

My whole point in relaying this drama is to tell you to just ignore your critics and naysayers. Ken, to my knowledge, has never publicly acknowledged this fool and that is to his credit. Lessons for all that do what he does.

I am close to finishing my Dissertation and once knighted with a Doctorate, I will bring my ever-powerful influence to bear upon efforts such as yours and Ken's

The above was hopefully seen as fully tongue-in-cheek. Some of the smartest men I know never finished high school.

Andrew Magnus

Anonymous said...

Netzero is 10hrs Month FREE!
Netzero has been offering 10 hours month of dial-up internet access and email "free", for about a decade. Linspire even got it working on Linux. I've been giving away computers for a long time and free internet from Juno or Netzero was always a no-brainer prerequisite.
Instead of another tin-cup program like Tux-500, try going for "Netzero-10" (hours).Why beg, when you can just avail yourselves of what is easily available.

Anonymous said...

Ah broadband for you, substandard access for substandard kids, right? They need broadband for their school work. That's been covered already. Screw the disadvantaged helios...take your q from Mr. Compassion

Anonymous said...

Ever notice thatpeople who are mean never sign their names?

I was going to donate ten bucks Ken. Here's 20. 10 of it in the name of Mr. Netzero.

Julie Richter

Anonymous said...

Mr. Compassion? Mr.Netzero? Oh, Broadband for you but substandard dial-up for substandard children? What's wrong with you people?

Ken goes out dumpster-diving for old computers to give away to these kids and the simple suggestion to put free dial-up on them is met with your elitist vitriol. I was on Netzero for five years, all I could afford. My mom is still on it. Maybe dial-up isn't exactly your ideal solution, but it does get these people on-line for free. It's easily, at least, an interim solution.

Oh, by the way, a new computer for you, but dumpster-dive refuse computers for these substandard children. Right? Back at you...both.

Anonymous said...

Tin cup project? This guy has done more for the foss community than anyone I know. It's obvious Tux500 still bugs you. That's kinda funny. Are you one of those bitching about "roi?" Did you catch any of the half dozen or so newspapers (like the indy star and the boston herald) that carried the tux500 story on the front of their business pages?

I think you got your "roi" in spades.

James Snyder-Muncie IN

Anonymous said...

Ken or anyone associated with his group "dumpster dives for equipment. All equipment is now donated and 100 percent refurbished by Ken personally. You diminish noble efforts and extremely hard work with your not so subtle tone. I've seen and helped Ken carry 70 lb crt's up 5 flights of stairs. He's loaded trucks in the freezing rain, covering them and leaving himself exposed. Your attempt to associate this effort with dumpsters shows your contempt.

Dialup isn't sufficient for his kid's needs. I'm glad it meets yours.

Andy Magnus

David Gerard said...

Here's to volunteerism, and the joy of turning the crank that makes the world go round! The trolls are fairly easy to ignore if you keep your eye on the mission. Keep up the fine work :-)

Anonymous said...

helios -- take a look at the Telecommunication Act of 1996. You are able to provide your own services over existing infrastructure. If you want to give $10 internet to people in an area, for example, then the ISP needs to provide you access to put your server into their switching office and to let you run the service over their wires. Hope this helps either get you thinking about selling services or gives you some ammunition in your discussions with the reluctant ISPs.

(By the way, your comment system requires cookies to get the CAPTCHA image. Annoying!)

Unknown said...

helios -- take a look at the Telecommunication Act of 1996.

That's a direction I never considered. Whether we do it or could be leverage. Thank you for correcting myopia.

The captcha system via cookies is another reason we are thinking of moving away from blogger/blogspot/google. You are not the first one to complain about it and I am powerless to alter the situation.

WordPress is serving the HeliOS Project blog may be time for a change. We simply have to be able to move all blogs over without hitch.


Anonymous said...

Helios, I've done a few Blogger-2-Wordpress migrations and It's quite a painless procedure. If you need any help, let me know.

But I agree that blogger comments suck. If you want, you can really improve the experience by switching to Intense Debate

Anonymous said...

Done. This is phenomenal what you are doing. I would love to replicate it in Philly.