Category Archives: NGO

Looking back through my times in 2009

Looking back through my times in 2009

I’m not entirely sure where the last 12 months have gone.  I drove over 5.5 hours yesterday back to Dublin, from spending Christmas with my family in Castleconnell, Co. Limerick.  I did the drive two years to the day moving myself to Dublin for my current job.

When I was leaving the mothership was asking when I’d next be home, and already looking at my google calender I can see an opening in February, and if not then March for Mothers day. That’s 3 months into 2010 or a quarter the way through. Which made me think where had 2009 gone.

January 2009 was a quiet month, I don’t think anyone really is in the mood to do things, everyone is exhausted after Christmas and waiting on pay day! I did get the brain fart of having my own event over in Ireland for OSS events as I  was tired of always having to travel to events, and wanted one in my own back yard, and so I created OSSBarcamp.

February kicked started nicely by waiting for 6 hours for a flight to FOSDEM due to 2 inches of snow in Dublin airport, the inability to cater for a bit of snow is  baffling.  It was my first year at FOSDEM, and it was well worth the wait, I’d tried to go in the past and always other events clashed.  I’ve booked to go again this year and looking forward to seeing more of Brussels this time. Towards the end of February, Ubuntu-ie had its first big event, taking part in Global Bug jam.  We had the help of DIT sponsoring us a venue and had students come along and learn how to take part in logging bugs and triaging them. Good day out followed by a few quiet beers.

March swiftly arrived and my brain fart of OSSBarcamp turned into a reality, turns out if you organise it, set a date, book a venue folks do come! Great day was had and lots of good discussion took place.  As with organising any event, it takes it toll on you and you clearly need a holiday ( any excuse really) and I went over to London for a few days as a holiday.  Great break away and saw London again for the first time in a long time and did all the touristy things and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

April saw Jaunty release party and the Irish LoCo in full swing burning cds in the pub and handing them out to people, having a pub quiz and meeting more people off IRC land and over a drink having a chat.  I should add that once a month we all meet up in Dublin for a face to face meet up, but we did have over 20 people turn up for the Jaunty party, dinner and drinks, and a late night.

May, Kick starting the month was our first Geeknic – a picnic for Geeks. Knowing Ireland you cannot always guarantee the sunshine, but we had a nice day out and people brought along their kids and it was nice to do something different. I sponsored myself to attend UDS Karmic in Barcelona, but before I got here I went via Edinburgh for the weekend to see the Heineken Cup final, at least an Irish team won!  I’d bought the tickets Months in advance!

I’d never been to a UDS before, and it was fantastic, to quote ubuntu folks  it was AWESOME! Getting to meet people you’ve spent time talking online about the work you’re involved in, to work on projects face to face for a week and come up with ideas, solutions and a way forward is remarkable. I got to meet some great folks and I’m really glad I went.

June saw the first MySQL meet up in Dublin, not sure more were planned but it was nice and great to see more groups starting to have more meet ups and discussions take place.  I came back so energised from UDS I went for my membership which I’d been putting off as was nervous.

July moved house, bloody stressful!  Summer months tend be filled with weekend trips home and to Lahinch and visiting mates.  Ubuntu Ireland became a recognised LoCo in July, so we were rather happy as a team!

August, we had our second Geeknic in Farmleigh Park followed by drinks and meeting some of the people behind Ubuntu who were in Dublin for a sprint!  My mate TC came home from Canada for 2 weeks so was back and forth to Lahinch and Limerick. Busy month.

September, I ran another OSSBarcamp, and 3 of the presenters from Ubuntu-uk Podcast, Laura, Tony and Daviey came over!  It was a great way to celebrate Software Freedom day and meet more people.  Pretty sure there will be more of these to come. I just need to work on a venue.

October I turned 30 and fled to Canada for 12 days to see what all the fuss was about.  I had an amazing time and celebrated my birthday in multiple timezones to keep everyone happy.  Ubuntu Ireland had another Bug jam day and release party, Karmic Koala  this month so all around a busy month.

November, I got sponsored to attend UDS Lucid which took place in Dallas, USA.  It was a fun packed week, with working on Ubuntu and night time events, from firing range, ice skating, and meals out to having an afternoon in the A&E Department at local hospital.  Y’all come back now ye’ here!

December is the month, of Christmas meet ups, and working crazy to get it all done so I could take a few days off, and catch up on doing diddly squat.  I did just that!

Cripes, I did a lot, and now I know where the time went. 2009 was amazing fun packed and entertaining, I hope 2010 is just as good!  Looking forward to working on more cool projects and helping where I can.

Working my way through my to do list

Working my way through my to do list

I sat down on one of the quiet evenings this week and went through all of the Gobby documents from UDS and marked off where I had items actioned to me and made a list. Now I’m checking it twice and going to start working through things and crossing them off or adding to them if I need more detail. ( I like lists)

LoCo Directory – Event Feature
* ”’OBJECTIVE”': Implement an event handing feature.
* ”’SUCCESS CRITERIA”': LoCo teams can add events to be displayed on their LoCo directory page and view event information.
* ”’ACTIONS”':
* Ability to add an event with the following attributes:
* Event type (Jam, Presentation, Tutorial, Release Party, Installfest, Other)
* Time
* Location
* Description
* Name
* Events are visible on LoCo pages and a master list of events.

While I don’t have anything assigned to this I am following this as I worked on this last May at UDS Karmic and this week I’m seeing more developments in the progress of this. With LoCos getting involved asking how they can help.  I think this kind of feature would help more LoCos organise their events and keep track of them for approval and for re approval if they can see what has been organised at a glance.

The reason behind this feature is, it’s very hard to keep track of attendance, I can say 8 people came and it could have been 12 or 6, if the feature of replying and adding your name to it, like you do for attending UDS then you can see who came to the event.  It’s also a way of see all LoCo events across the board on the one directory.

Ubuntu NGO

– Liaising with NGOs: – I’m working on finding more NGOs for Interviews, and also this week I’ve had people mail me saying they are doing some with their Local NGOs and will mail me the interviews, so we can get these back up and running.
• document painpoints, transform into papercuts: file as bug reports, tag with ‘ngo’ (laura) –  Worked on this during the week and sent mail to the NGO mailing list.
Advocacy (need leader for this role) - I’ve added my name to this since UDS as has Penelope Stowe
–  list of existing foundations, other organisations that already work with NGOs
– list of conferences that NGOs attend specific to gathering technical assistance
– talk to docs team about export (and other loco documentation) (Laura talk to Jim Campbell, Milo Casagrande) – Need to start on this
– talk to Server team about PHP packaging  ( laura to go talk to ask) – this is going to come under paper jams

Ubuntu Women

* ”’OBJECTIVE”': Clarify the purpose of the #ubuntu-women channel.
* ”’SUCCESS CRITERIA”': A set of channel guidelines clearly communicated to #ubuntu-women participants.
* ”’ACTIONS”':
* Discuss a set of guidelines for general discussion channel about the Ubuntu Women project (Laura Czajkowski). – This will be taken to the mailing list due to time constraints from meeting held on the 8th December followed by another meeting.
* Document the agreed set of guidelines (Laura Czajkowski). – Going to work on a draft so we can work against something to discuss, as no point in just waffling without having somewhere as a base line to work from.
* Communicate guidelines outwards (Jono Bacon, Amber Graner, Laura Czajkowski). – Can only do this when the above is done

* ”’OBJECTIVE”': Appoint a leader of the Ubuntu Women team, complete with codified expectations around the role. – Well this was discussed at the Ubuntu women meeting held. And we’ve come up with a process.
* ”’SUCCESS CRITERIA”': A delegated leader in place for a set term length, complete with documented expectations around the role.
* ”’ACTIONS”':
* Documenting expectations of the role (Amber / Laura). – This has been done on the wiki and with input in from the team during the meeting.

LoCo Council

I was elected to the LoCo Council, and during UDS I said I’d look into drafting a document with outlining the re approval process. Working on that today, once I read some of the email archives  as this is all new to me.

So the above is keeping me very quiet and busy at the moment, but loving it all the same!

Qimo 4 kids – NGO Interview

Qimo 4 kids – NGO Interview

After a short hiatus I’m back with the NGO interviews.  This time I spoke with Michael and Michelle Hall of Qimo 4 kids.

LC:  Can you tell me about your organisation?

MH: QuinnCo is a very small not for profit located in Central Florida.  In fact, it’s just the two of us, Michelle and I, operating out of our house and garage.  We take in second hand computers, fix them up if they aren’t working, then put Ubuntu or Qimo on them and give them out to kids and families in need.  We given out approx. 50 computers this year.

LC: What is the mission of your organisation?

MH: We believe that every child, regardless of physical, mental or financial abilities, deserves the same access to technology and education.  A child with a computer has a much better chance of success in school, and knowledge of computers is a requirement for almost any job these days. Our mission is to provide a computer for those children in our community who wouldn’t otherwise have access to one.

LC:  So what made you get involved in this?

MH : When our son Quinn was 4, he was already showing an interest in our computers.  I had an old tower that I wasn’t using, so I installed Ubuntu on it for him along with some OSS games, and he took to it like a fish to water, teaching himself how to do things I never showed him. Because of that, I bought another computer from a yard sale, set it up the same way, and gave it to his daycare facility.  About 3 months later, I had one of the kids from his class run up to me out of the blue and thank me for their computer.  Talking about it to Michelle that night, she convinced me that we should start up a charity to do this on a larger scale, and QuinnCo was born.

LC : Can you give us a few examples of what you have done? Have some pictures you can share? (Dholbach likes pictures )

MH: We recently held a community build day, where we had members of the Ubuntu Florida LoCo and several local LUGs come out to a local children’s home to help fix up our backlog of broken computers.  We had as many kids there as adults, learning how to fix up computers and installing Ubuntu and Qimo on them.  Pictures of the event can be found on our website:



LC: Perhaps you can explain to use the issues you’ve come up against?

MH : Our initial problem was two-fold.  First we needed an operating system that was easy for very young kids, most of whom would not be reading yet, to navigate and learn to use on their own.  There were educational distros like Edubuntu already available, but their interfaces required navigating menus, and being able to read.

Second, all of our donated computers at that point were Pentium 3’s or older, with less than 256 MB of memory.  We needed an operating system that would be responsive enough on this older hardware, so that the kids wouldn’t get impatient waiting on their games to load.

Xubuntu met the second half of our needs, it ran quite well on the hardware that we had.  But we still needed an easy to use interface.  Luckily, being open source meant
that I could change that.  So I took an Xubuntu LiveCD, and following instructions on the Ubuntu Wiki, created Qimo:

LC: What are the challenges you’ve faced within this project?

MH: Our biggest task has been managing inventory.  We get lots of computers in, most are missing parts of have bad parts.  We also get a lot of boxes of parts.  We need a good way of tracking what equipment we have.  However, most of those kinds of applications are implemented as web-based server solutions.  Well we’re not that big, we don’t have an internal server for these purposes, so to use them we would have to install and run a webserver on one of our laptops.  For organizations as small as ours, desktop solutions are easier to get setup and use.

LC:  What kind of solution did you come up with to make this all happen?

MH: Aside from donated computers, we use Ubuntu Server to host our websites www.quinncoincorporated and I use Ubuntu on my personal laptop, which is the one I used to make Qimo, and Michelle has it on her netbook.  We use them when giving presentations on QuinnCo and Qimo, but for the most part they are for personal use.

LC: Do you use any proprietary software now ?

MH: We were given a tablet PC, which is running Windows XP.  It is very useful for taking hand-written notes while away from home.  It was heavily used to track
things during our children’s home build day.  I don’t know of any good tablet note-taking applications for Linux, so I haven’t tried installing it on there.

LC: What would you like to see improved in Ubuntu resources like documentation?

MH: We desperately need some good new-user documentation we can give out with our donations.  I have been including the PDF version of the Ubuntu Pocket Guide, but an intro/tour type documentation would help us.

LC: So what is your experience of this good or bad , have you picked up any nice tips?

MH: Explaining to the people we’re donating computers too that they don’t have Windows on them. How to create a custom distro!

LC: What would you suggest to our readers that are interested in an initiative like yours?

MH: Just do it.  There is no barrier to entry, you probably have or know somebody who has an old computer that isn’t being used.  You probably also know a family, school or daycare that can’t afford to buy computers.  It takes literally an hour of your time, at most, and will have a life-long impact on those you donate too.

LC: How can interested readers help your organisation?

MH: If you’re in central Florida, send us an email and we’ll let you know when we are holding build events.  If you have Pentium 4 or newer computers, we will arrange to pick them up from you.

If you’re not in central Florida, visit and find one that is near you.  If there isn’t one near you, then get one started! Again, the barrier to entry is non-existant.

LC: Finally, any good or funny stories, best lessons that you would like to tell to the world.

MH: Don’t worry about starting small.  As soon as people hear about what you are doing, they will want to help.  We went from having 3 computers to having almost 30 in about 2 week’s time.  We put out a call for volunteers to help us fix them, and our last event had 75 people come out.  Start with a single
computer, and go from there.

Thank you for taking part, it’s been very interesting!