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Putting good donations to good use

As we previously blogged about, J. David Eisenberg has donated 15 good computers (with monitors, mice and keyboards) to Partimus, and since the time of that March 27 blog, we have been replacing old machines with David’s newer machines.  It has been slow, steady progress.  On April 17, David came back to the Ascend school, and he and tech teacher Abigail Rudner and I triaged 6 machines and installed Lubuntu on 5 of the machines.

Since then, we have replaced some of the slower, noisier machines with David’s newer, quieter, faster machines.  It is a constant process of installing machines, putting new machines into production, taking slower machines out of production, and then checking back with Abigail to make sure that the replaced machines are working as expected, and supporting her as she makes tweaks to the system.

Today, Sean Castro of Education for Change and I triaged some more machines, replacing two machines that had only 500 MB of RAM each with two of David’s machines, which have  1 GB of RAM each.  Until we get our PXE / proxy server in place, we are now manually installing the machines, setting up the admin accounts and the student user accounts, and placing a few important icons on the desktop of each of the machines.

A computer lab is a little bit like a garden.  I takes constant weeding to take out the “weeds” that sprout up as children explore the computers, inevitably damaging them or creating untidy desktop spaces in the process; and replacing dying machines with newer machines.  The key to making the “garden” work is having a caring teacher like Abigail create a positive environment that causes both the students and the volunteers supporting the lab to believe that the lab is a good and worthy thing that deserves nurturing and caring.

If students take good care of the machines, as the do in Abigails’ lab, then the volunteers pick up on that energy of caring, and keep the machines in good working order.  When the students see that the machines are in good working order, they in turn do good school work on the machines, and keep the machines and the physical lab environment tidy and in good order.  It all comes together like a symphony, with the players all playing their tunes to create a beautiful creation.

Thanks to Amo Kaci of Education for Change for mentoring Sean Castro and for helping to support Abigail in maintaining the lab, and thanks to Sean for his work in the lab today and in the past.  Thanks again to J. David Eisenberg for his great donation of the machines, and thanks to Jim Stockford of Systemateka for helping to get the machines from David’s donation collection site to the Ascend school.

Shining Beacons on Penguin Hill

The use of free open source software in schools is already quite big, and yet it’s still in its infancy.  Here is a story about two different people and the remarkable results they have created with free open source software in the education communities they lead.  What’s common to these stories is the educational value of involving students in the development and implementation of their technology.  If you are wondering what can be done with free open source software in education, look first to these two leaders as an example of the great thing that can be accomplished.

Screenshot from 2015-04-03 11:00:44.Charlie.Reisinger

Charlie Reisinger delivering his TEDx talk on free software in education.

 

Charlie Reisinger.  Charlie wanted to experiment with free open source software in education, and he decided to go big.  He envisioned high school kids taking home Linux notebooks.  But not just the techie kids.  All of the kids.  He eventually rolled out an install base of 1700 notebook computers in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, school district.

But the particularly cool thing about his project was the way he included students into the project.  Doing the project became an education experience in itself.  Working under close adult supervision, the kids installed Ubuntu GNU-Linux on the laptops.  And the kids are also part of the support team, with their support team blog here, and their twitter support account here.

His effort was so successful that he was invited to give a talk on it at the famous TEDx conference.  If you want to get a big picture of what Charlie is doing with his Linux in education project, click here on his TEDx presentation.  If you want inspiration about what free open source software can do in education, be sure to watch Charlie’s TEDx talk.  And you can follow Charlie on Twitter here.

Not content to rest on his laurels, after just one year of running the one-to-one laptop program in high school, Charlie is planning to roll it out to middle school students in the Autumn of 2015.

 

Screenshot from 2015-04-03 10:55:00.Stu.Keroff

Stu Keroff’s Staff Photo for the Community School of Excellence in St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

 Stu Keroff.  Stu orchestrated the acquisition of a cart of 30 Linux computers and a Linux mini-lab of 5 machines for a middle school called the Community School of Excellence in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Most of the students at the school are Hmong and Karenni.  Stu has called on the students’ common cultural heritage to foster a strong sense of community identity with his young Linux technicians, who call themselves the “Asian Penguins“.

You feel that sense of community by watching the videos on the Asian Penguins’ website.  In watching those videos, I was struck by how articulate, mature, and responsible these middle school students are, shown in this local TV news story about the Asian Penguins.  They don’t seem to be silly or giggly in doing their technology work.  They seem to understand the value of having control over their technology, of taking ownership of it.  For example, they also seem to do a good job of taking charge of the installation of Linux computers in the homes of people in the community, as shown here, where a group of girls install a Linux computer in someone’s home.  As with Charlie Reisinger, Stu Keroff understands that the practice of working on these Linux machines, managing the machines, and installing them in homes is itself a hugely valuable educational experience.  You can follow Stu here on his Twitter page.

 

 

 

Mystery Man and the Professor ride to the rescue!

Yesterday was what you would call a good day.  I met Jim Stockford in the morning at 8:00 am in San Francisco, and he drove us from San Francisco down to San Jose to meet David Eisenberg, a local college professor, to pick up some computers that David had in storage.  Fifteen computers, to be exact, all of which meet the Partimus specs, for deployment in public schools such as the Ascend school in Oakland.

We loaded all fifteen machines, with monitors, into Jim’s SUV and David’s sedan, and headed over to the Ascend school in Oakland, where we dropped off the machines with Ascend technology teacher Abigail Rudner and her volunteer assistant, Brianna Niver.

The next step for those machines will be for Abigail to install Lubuntu GNU-Linux on a few of the machines to replace some of the slower, older machines in her lab.  In the meantime, Partimus volunteer Tai Kedzierski of Help Use IT is heading up a team to prepare a PXE boot and proxy server to help Abigail mass-install a specialized version of Lubuntu on each of the students’ machines.  Here is a photo of the four of us who were still around at the very end of the delivery of the newer machines to Abigail’s Linux lab:

computerfriends

Foreground: tech teacher Abigail Rudner. Background from left to right: Professor David Eisenberg, who donated 15 machines and monitors to Partimus; volunteer Brianna Niver, and Partimus volunteer Christian Einfeldt

 

Professor Eisenberg not only acquired the 15 new machines for Partimus, he also stored them for a considerable time  and then help load, unload, and drive them to Oakland.  Thanks so much for your help and your remarkable donation, David!

But what about the Mystery Man, Jim Stockford?  He is a frequent Partimus volunteer, Systems Engineer with Systemateka.com, and has been known to rock audiences at San Francisco Bay Area venues with a punk band called The Nubs.  In fact, after graciously driving, loading and unloading machines for 3 hours that morning, he had to rush back to a head-banging band practice with said Nubs.  And all he left behind was this mysterious photograph, so I guess you are just going to have to pay to the see the Nubs to see him in action:

jim_at_mine

Thanks very much to David Eisenberg, Abigail Rudner, Brianna Niver, and Mystery Man Jim Stockford for your great help!

 

 

Coding opportunities for women and girls

Partimus was founded by two women, Cathy Malmrose and Maile Urbancic, and ever since, supporting women in STEM has been an important priority for Partimus.  So we are re-posting this email to help spread the word about upcoming coding opportunties for women and girls.

First is Girls Who Code.  If you know a girl who you think might be interested in exploring coding this summer, now would be a good time to bring Girls Who Code to her attention.  Girls Who Code provides girls with exposure to both great experience in creating with code, as well as exposure to highly successful women in technology, meaning women who run major tech organizations and companies.  Prior knowledge of coding is not necessary, and girls who are completely new to coding have created some really significant pieces of software as part of the summer program with Girls Who Code.  But time is running short, so now is the time to look at this program.

Second is the Google Summer of Code, and third is the Outreachy intership program, both of which are described below in an open email send out this week:

From: Marina
Date: Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 5:53 PM
Subject: [Womeninfreesoftware] Remote internships in Free and Open Source Software: Google Summer of Code and Outreachy
To: womeninfreesoftware <womeninfreesoftware@gnu.org>

Hi,

Google Summer of Code is a global program that offers students stipends to write code for projects from 137 participating FOSS organizations. Applicants must be able to make the project their primary focus during the summer. Participants work remotely from home, while getting guidance from an assigned mentor and collaborating within their project’s community. The application deadline for Google Summer of Code is March 27 and the program dates are May 25 to August 21. The stipend for the program is $5,500 (USD).

https://www.google-melange.com/gsoc/homepage/google/gsoc2015

In an effort to improve diversity in FOSS, a number of organizations are offering similar remote and mentored Outreachy internships through a program organized by Software Freedom Conservancy. These internships are open to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Applicants must be available for full-time, 40-hours a week, internships. The application deadline for Outreachy is March 24 and the program dates are May 25 to August 25. The stipend for the program is also $5,500 (USD). Unlike in Google Summer of Code, participants do not need to be students and non-coding projects are available. In addition to coding, projects include such tasks as graphic design, user experience design, documentation, bug triage and community engagement.

http://outreachy.org

To apply for either program, you need to connect with a participating organization early, select a project you want to work on, create a project plan, and make a few relevant contributions.

Mentorship opportunities are also available throughout the year for anyone interested in getting started contributing to FOSS outside of the internship program.

Please consider applying for Google Summer of Code or Outreachy, encourage someone else to apply, or help spread the word by forwarding this message to any interested university and community groups.

Thanks,
Marina

Celebration of Eric P. Scott’s life

As previously mentioned on this Partimus blog, Eric P. Scott, a frequent Partimus volunteer, recently departed this life.  Here is another photo of Eric that has been circulating recently on Linux email lists:

Eric.Scott

Eric P. Scott, a frequent Partimus volunteer. Thanks for all you did for Partimus, Eric!

A celebration of Eric’s life will be held on March 18 at 7:30 pm at one of his favorite pizza restaurants, Pascquales Pizzaria at 700 Irving Street, 415-661-2140, near the corner of 8th Avenue in San Francisco.  Please RSVP to Ron Hipschman at ronh at exo dot net if you are planning on attending.

pasquales.pizza

One of Eric’s favorite pizza places, 700 Irving Street, 415-661-2140, near the corner of 8th Avenue in San Francisco

 

Celebrating Eric P. Scott

I have just learned that, on January 16, 2015, the San Francisco Bay Area free open source software community suffered the loss of a dear friend, Eric P. Scott.  Eric’s passing was a setback for Partimus, as he contributed thousands of dollars worth of his time to helping Partimus on its mission of placing and supporting GNU-Linux computers in schools for students from low and modest income households.  Here is shot of Eric at a triagefest in a public charter school, the KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy:

Eric P. Scott, middle back row.  Click on the picture to see it larger.

Eric P. Scott, middle back row. Click on the picture to see it larger.

Partimus Board member Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph has written a thorough and moving homage to Eric here on her personal blog.  I cannot personally improve on that blog, and so will only speak briefly to summarize the wonderful things that Eric did from my perspective as a relatively simple end user of free open source software.

Whenever I organized an event of any kind around free open source software, I could always count on Eric to bring his deep knowledge about free open source software to the event.  From my perspective as a relatively simple end user, I always needed someone with Eric’s skill base to attend these events, because I didn’t have that kind of technical knowledge.  I would have an overview as to what the teachers wanted to accomplish with a computer network, but I was not capable of doing anything other than reaching out to others to give specific shape and form to the teachers’ needs.

Eric’s deep technical knowledge and his frequent appearance at my events meant that I always had at least one person in the room who could handle just about any technical problem that could come up.  Eric’s advanced skill level meant that he could easily charge hundreds of dollars per hour for his skills, but he was always very giving of his time to schools, teachers and ultimately children who would never be able to afford his talent.

Eric’s deep skills also meant that the job would get done quickly, and done correctly the first time, which meant that there was a lot of time to put polish and professionalism on the jobs we did.  We were not fumbling around for solutions, thanks in part to Eric’s guidance and his ability to zero in on just the right solution at the right time.  Oh, and he often also brought just the right physical tool that others might not have thought to bring, which speaks to his incredible foresight and presence of mind.

Eric was also a renaissance man, widely knowledgeable about any topic that would come up.  He always was ready with a funny comment, or an interesting bit of information on any topic.  Bringing together a group of volunteers to give generously of their time is so much easier when there is a good esprit de corps, and Eric’s bright wit, technical chops, and presence of mind helped buoy the group’s spirit to keep them going despite occasional frustrations with the challenging economic and logistical circumstances facing the schools, teachers and students we serve.

The above photograph of our group of volunteers is a fitting one to remember Eric by, as directly over our heads stands an inspirational motto taught to the children of the KIPP system.  The children are taught to do the right thing not to avoid punishment or to seek a reward, but because, as the “Level 6″ sign says almost directly over Eric’s head:  “It’s my code.  This is who I am.”  That statement fits Eric to the letter.  He gave of himself because that is the kind of person he was:  generous, thoughtful, industrious, insightful, and caring.

Eric, on behalf of Partimus.org, I want to thank you for masterful technical guidance, your considerable donation of your valuable time, and your unswerving generosity of spirit and leadership.  My life is greatly enriched for having known you, as are the lives of the students and educators you have served.

Additional discussions of Eric’s departure and remarkable giving life can be found here.

How to donate to Partimus while shopping on your computer

Hello and Happy Holidays!  If you like the Partimus mission of giving free open source software computers to educational institutions for children, and have been meaning to donate, but didn’t get around to it, we are pleased to say that giving this year can be as easy as shopping for your favorite gifts on Smile.Amazon.com.  Amazon Smile is Amazon’s way of giving back to the community.  When you shop through Smile.Amazon.com, 0.5% of your purchases will be donated to the charity of your choice.  If you would like to choose Partimus, here’s how easy it is to do that on Smile.Amazon.com:

1.  Click on the link for Smile.Amazon.com.  That will take you to a page that looks like this:

Screenshot from 2014-11-27 06:57:15.Amazon.smile.01

Click on image to enlarge.

2.  You will then have an opportunity to designate Partimus as your charity by typing the word “Partimus” in the search box as show by the big red arrow:

Screenshot from 2014-11-27 07:01:47.Amazon.smile.02.with.arrow

Click on image to enlarge.

3.  Once you have chosen Partimus as your charity, you will see Partimus designated as your charity in the upper right hand corner of your screen, as shown by this big red arrow:

Screenshot from 2014-11-27 07:01:47.Amazon.smile.02.with.arrow.2

Click on image to enlarge.

And that’s all there is too it!  Now you can go about shopping as you normally would, and Partimus will automagically receive 0.5% of your shopping expenditures as a donation.  We thank you for your donations, and our kids and their teachers thank you!

 

The continuing dedication of Boutique Academia

Partimus is thrilled and humbled to thank Partimus co-founder Maile Urbancic for another generous donation of $182.00 on behalf of her business, Boutique Academia.  As we blogged about here, Boutique Academia, a small company run by Partimus co-founder Maile Urbancic, has created some beautiful gold-colored and silver-colored earrings and necklaces created in the shape of the Ubuntu human family logo.

Maile has graciously decided to donate $10.00 from the sale of each pair of earrings to Partimus. She will send Partimus checks reflecting those earnings every time she receives enough sales to send us at least $100.00 in earnings from the earrings and from the necklaces.

The Ubuntu necklace, in gold color

The Ubuntu necklace, in gold color.

We are so proud of these earrings and necklaces, because they are beautiful, and they promote the Ubuntu theme of one human family. Partimus’ work in schools is about delivering high-quality pre-owned computers to students, but the bigger picture is teaching students and teachers about the power of sharing. The Ubuntu human family logo fits right in with this theme.

Of course, Partimus was founded by two women, Maile Urbancic and Cathy Malmrose, and women have always played a big role in the governance of Partimus and in the projects that Partimus runs.  So there has always been an important theme within the Partimus DNA about advancing and supporting girls and women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  We are happy to support Boutique Academia in providing women and girls with small motifs about the blending of jewelry with STEM themes, which is what Boutique Academia is all about.

Thanks again to Maile for her continuing inspiration in helping Partimus to go forward!

Transported computers now in use at Prescott

A couple weeks ago we wrote about the work of Partimus staff members to load up several machines for Robert Litt and schools in Oakland details here.

We’re now happy to report that those computers have been installed with Lubuntu and put to use!

dec_2013_prescott_1

dec_2013_prescott_2

dec_2013_prescott_3

Robert writes:

With these computers we were able to move into the classrooms more. The teachers are using them for Khan Academy and Xtramath

Thanks again to our volunteers who helped get these systems in the hands of students. Happy Holidays from Partimus!

More machines for Robert Litt’s genius

Robert Litt is an elementary teacher who has done some amazing things with computers running free open source software in education.  Today, he came to San Francisco with two of his own children to get some more equipment for his students and the students of other teachers also using free open source software in classrooms.  Robert and Partimus Board members Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph and Christian Einfeldt packed about 10 flat panel monitors into his van.

A monitor waiting to jump from a school bench into Robert's van

A monitor waiting to jump from a school bench into Robert’s van

We also got about 10 computers and 10 keyboards into his van.

 

Machine packed into the back of Robert's van

Machine packed into the back of Robert’s van

While we were loading and his children were running around in circles in the warm sunshine, Robert told us that he likes the green aspect of installing free software on older computers.  He lighted up when he told us that he loves to see new life breathed into old machines.  That is just one aspect of his fascination with free software.  You can go to this link a detailed discussion of why he likes free software on old computers.  And you can go here to see Robert’s presentation on how easy it is to put free software on older computers. I find Robert’s enthusiasm to be infectious and inspiring.  Working with dedicated givers like Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph and Robert Litt renews my spirits.  Thanks to both of you for all you do!

Partimus board member Christian Einfeldt caught in the computer storage cave

Partimus board member Christian Einfeldt caught in the computer storage cave