Saturday, August 15, 2009

Geek-A-Thon



   On August 15 a bunch of geek volunteers in Grand Rapids tried to make a difference by setting up laptops to give away to underprivileged folks in the area. I was one of those geeks.
Okay, so I suck at this whole blogging thing. Here I am writing my blog almost a month after the fact. Anywho, Ellohay!, a non-profit group in West Michigan dedicated to bringing technology education to the masses had an event August 15 to set up laptops for those that are less fortunate. The goal was to set up 100 laptops to be given away.



   I got there shortly after it had started, not really knowing what to expect. There were about 20 or so people gathered around laptops and milling about, eating the provided munchies (of which there was an excellent assortment). After signing in, I was given a raffle ticket, and a zip lock bag containing a USB drive with a customized Ellohay install of Ubuntu, instructions on the install, and an Ellohay! t-shirt and sticker. I got to keep the t-shirt and sticker, which was a nice touch! I then grabbed a laptop and got to installing.
The install went really smooth (as Ubuntu installs usually do) except they accidentally left the last part off the instructions. The Ellohay! volunteers walking about were helpful and told us what to do though. After I had finished (it took a total of ~20 minutes), I went to grab another laptop, but they had all already been handed out. I don't know the exact number they had, but I think they had trouble getting the 100 donated laptops they were hoping for.
   With nothing else to do I milled about, and talked to John and Pat, that I knew from our Linux group, West Michigan Linux Users Group (wmlug.org). Ellohay then began a raffle at the top of every hour. They had neat prizes, mostly from Make: an awesome magazine for people with a DIY attitude, as I think they sponsored it quite heavily. They also had 4 Xbox 360s networked running Halo 3. I jumped on there for a little while, although Halo isn't really my bag. I'm more of a Call of Duty kind of guy myself. After getting pwned a few times I noticed they had a classic NES set up with the light gun and everything so I took a few minutes to hone my avian hunting skills.
   I noticed they were accepting applications for more full time volunteers to help teach people to use computers. I signed up, as I think I'm a fairly good teacher. I've taught Japanese to my friends and also taught my gramma to use her computer. After a while I bought another t-shirt and sticker, donated some money and left, being that there wasn't any more help I could provide and Kara had wanted me to help do some packing with her. All in all it was a really fun time and I plan on donating more money to the cause! Hopefully they will accept my volunteer application.

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