The HeliOS Project is now.....

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

Search the Blog of helios and all comments


Sunday, August 21, 2011

HeliOS Teaches Computer 101 - Meet the Instructors.

When the City of Taylor donated HeliOS a 2200 square foot building for our use, we were stunned.  I had personally spend 3 years begging and pleading dozens of Austin business owners, property managers and private individuals just for a corner of some warehouse for our use.

Of course, there was always the danger of the same thing happening there that happened in the shared space at Lakeway.  As their business grew, we got squeezed into such a small space that it became unusable.  It was simply a place for us to store stuff.  We did most of our real work out of Skip Guenter's garage and workshop.

So when we began construction and renovation of the new place in Taylor, we realized we had a HUGE amount of space that would not be needed for storage or physical work.  So instead of traveling all over the greater Austin area to give classes, we set up this large left over area for our classroom.  While we do concentrate our efforts on Eastern Williamson County, anyone who wants to make the drive is welcomed to attend.

Scheduling the classes wasn't easy at first.  We wanted to hold the three day, one hour a day classes for every other week.  They run from Tuesday to Thursday, 7-8 PM.

That would have been a doable thing until Diane suffered two strokes and renal failure.  As important as HeliOS is to me, I cannot in good conscious leave her alone when she needs someone there with her.

So what were we to do?

Thanks to several community-minded folks that have worked with HeliOS in the past, we are able to offer our classes on the above schedule, with a qualified and dedicated instructor for each night.

Let me introduce you to the HeliOS Project Instructors.

David Ashley

David Ashley has almost 30 years of IT experience on a wide range of platforms. He has worked as a software developer, consultant and IT instructor during that time. David currently work for IBM in Austin as a software tools developer for AIX and Linux. He is also the project lead for the Open Object Rexx Project ( which is an open source implementation of the Rexx language and contributes to other open source projects as well. He has been married to his wife Lynn for over 40 years and they reside in Austin, Texas along with a house full of dogs and cats.

David also volunteers for the Dogtoberfest of Austin and the We Are Girls Project of Austin.  It is a common thing to see one of David's Shelties pacing the floor with David as he teaches his class.

Carolyn Smith

Carolyn is a PHP developer with Drane Associates here in Austin, She lives in North Austin with her husband Jason.  She has been an invaluable volunteer asset to HeliOS for two years now.  The term "invaluable" gets used and tossed around a lot but in our case, the term invaluable is far from hyperbole.  Carolyn has been a part of the past 7 major HeliOS events and she now teaches the Thursday evening class for our 101 offerings.  She is professional, phenomenally intelligent, witty and probably the most important to me, Carolyn is dependable.  We would be hard pressed to do many of the things we do without her.

Justin Carnahan

I know I will pay for this in the most extreme of measures but I've got to be truthful here.

In reality, Justin IS Batman.

When not fighting crime, he spends his time doing web development.

A few years ago, we were offered 65 Sony 21 inch Trinton monitors by the gaming company Edge of Reality.

Bringing those 81 lb monitors down three flights of stairs brought me to my own Edge of Reality.  Had it not been for Justin:

)1. - I would not be vertical and expelling carbon monoxide today

)2. - getting those monitors into the possession of HeliOS just would not have happened.  Justin was the only one in the position to volunteer that day to help me get them picked up.

So thankfully, we have the instructors we need.  Of course, Skip or I can fill in when needed.

If you would like to look over the pdf version of our class material, you can download it from here.

I want to personally thank these great folks for not only bringing a whole new level of professionalism to our project, but allowing me to spend more time at home with someone who needs me.

All-righty Then


Anonymous said...


If you are planning to also do LPI exams, then a PDF manual to use is at


Unknown said...

Thanks William but no, this is simply a class for the new computer user to learn some of the neat stuff they probably don't yet know and things that will unveil teh "mystery behind the computer/

There are no certs. tests or accreditation. Only lessons on how to most efficiently use a comuputer.

Santam said...

Hi Ken,
superlike !!
Quick Question: Can I put this presentation on my site through slideshare. I will obviously acknoweldge HeliOS and this blog?

Jose_X said...

If you have access to cheap digital video, try to videotape every class. If nothing too embarrassing happens, try posting those videos. Everyone can learn from this (even if it starts off ugly). The pressure of being taped (but with manual override possible) may actually help the team.

The taping can focus on the instructor, or you can have several fixed camera shots. Also, maybe only once per month do the taping, letting students know that that week will involve taping.

Volunteers that see the dynamics or the details of the lesson can contribute suggestions (Linux, teaching/speaking techniques, etc) as well as utility software, animations to parallel the lessons, etc.

Youtube will host for free I imagine.

We can write up an open lesson plan if we see the videos.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, we don't have a camera with the quality do do this...we're struggling just to put fuel in the delivery vehicles right now. Maybe at a later date, but I ain't seein' it on the horizon any time soon. Still it's a good idea. We just need to acquire a decent camera to do it.

Anonymous said...

I contacted Olympus and asked them to donate a Pen camera. It would do very well for recording your classes.

I don't know if they'll do it or not, but as a Linux Instructor and Christian who tries to help when I can. I was more than happy to make the request on behalf of the Project.

Take Care and God Bless!

Unknown said...

@ Santam,

Of course, that would be fine.