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    News for June 2007

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    TIE Conference Presentation

    The Ubuntu Linux Colorado Local Community Team (affectionately self-ascribed as CoLoCo) was recently given the opportunity to travel out to Copper Mountain in Colorado to assist one of our team members in presenting a 3 hour session at the Technology in Education Conference. Jim Hutchinson approached our team several months ago explaining that he had recently found himself converted to Ubuntu Linux and that he ran a thin-client lab at the high school where he works. From all of his experience, he quickly jumped at the opportunity to present at this conference concerning open source technology in the education realm. Jim even got so lucky as to land a personal meeting with Mark Shuttleworth and several other representatives from both HP and Canonical which led to our having enough equipment at our disposal to be able to setup a thin-client lab at the conference itself.

    The presentation was originally going to have just a small portion of Linux introduction in it, but after our team and a good friend at HP (Thanks Bryan!) worked closer with Jim, it quickly became a huge demonstration of the power of Ubuntu (specifically Edubuntu) to the teachers, administrators, and IT personnel that were at the conference. Jim opened up with an introduction into the world of free and open source software (FOSS). After explaining all of the benefits of open source software, we gave each of the session attendants a copy of “The Open CD” ( http://www.theopencd.org ) which has a large collection of FOSS software available for windows. The teachers quickly fell in love with several of the applications (especially Stellarium!) while the members of CoLoCo walked around helping people discover the wealth of software available to them absolutely free of charge and licensing restrictions. One of the session attendees even mentioned that he couldn’t wait to install GIMP on all of the computers in his labs because he didn’t have to worry about licensing restrictions and no longer had to purchase copies of Adobe Photoshop! At this point the session took a short recess to give us a chance to prepare for a little surprise we had in store for all of the attendees.

    When everyone returned, we instructed them to reboot their computers and to open the boot menu so that they could select a specific boot device. Approximately 10 people asked if they could participate with their own laptops and we quickly crimped down some extra patch cables and got them plugged into the network. What the session audience didn’t know was that while they were away we booted up a quad-processor thin-client server and had re-routed the network in the room to go through the server (which was now acting as a router). Before long, there was a pleasant orange glow coming from the room as approximately 40 laptop screens were sitting at Edubuntu Thin-Client login screens! We had transformed this windows lab into a fully functioning Linux lab in under 5 minutes! The excitement of the room buzzed as all of the attendees couldn’t wait to try out this mysterious “Linux” that they had heard so much about. After Jim explained what we had done to the computers, and that none of their existing windows installations would be damaged, we gave each attendant a login and sat back and watched each person quickly start to churn through all of the edutainment and productivity software applications that we had installed on the thin-client server. After the attendees were impressed at how easy it was to use Linux, Bryan (Our HP Rep.) gave a quick demo of the administrator capabilities of the thin-client server. He quickly impressed his audience of system administrators with the multitude of features available for controlling program and login access on each individual machine or the entire group.

    After all was said and done, we handed out well over 50 Ubuntu CDs and also at least 50 copies of “The Open CD” ( http://www.theopencd.org ) to the session attendants. Throughout the session, we had a demonstration table setup outside the room with several laptops running Ubuntu and a large stack of fliers and CDs. At least 50 Ubuntu CDs were grabbed from this table as well! 100 Ubuntu CDs in 3 hours? Not bad at all! The general consensus was that the Ubuntu session turned out to be “the cool session” amongst all of the conference attendees for that day. We were the only session to have over 30 people that afternoon, and actually completely maxed out our room at around 50 occupants! The demand for open source software and Linux in the realm of education is clear and we’re glad we could meet that demand with information and CDs. Our goal is to bring several more in-depth presentations to this conference next summer and continue to grow the interest and knowledge of Ubuntu for teachers and their co-workers.

    Click here to view the presentation slides

    There is a collection of annotated photos of the session on flickr:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/9147709@N04/sets/72157600416477484/

    June 27th, 2007  Posted in CoLoCo News, Projects, TIE, Ubuntu News | 1 Comment »
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    CoLoCo Touts Ubuntu at Big Education Conference

    Recently, several members of the Colorado Local Community Team manned a Canonical/Ubuntu booth at the Technology in Education Conference in Copper Mountain, Colorado. The conference was attended by nearly one thousand classroom teacher, administrators and technology enthusiasts from around Colorado and a surrounding states. The booth was open in the conference exhibition hall on June 20 and 21. Using our own hardware, we demonstrated Ubuntu, Kubuntu and Edubuntu, passed out CDs and pamphlets, and answered questions ranging from setting up thin-clients in schools to finding good educational applications.Edubuntu was the main focus and was run on an HP server in a thin-client configuration. Many attendees were particularly interested in using current hardware installations in a “dual-boot” environment. This involves using an Edubuntu server and desktop computers capable of PXE booting. This allows typical Windows based computers to be rebooted into a thin-client mode. In this way, computer labs that are primarily used to produce documents can now be used to access a wealth of open source educational applications. This capability was demonstrated with great success during a three-hour session on using open source software in schools which was presented by Jim Hutchinson and Bryan Gartner on June 19th with the help of several other CoLoCo members (see details in separate post). During our time in the booth, we also demonstrated various applications like Stellarium (a big hit), ran video clips, and showed how thin-client labs are set up. In true do-it-yourself Linux fashion, our “screen” was constructed from an un-ironed table cloth and power strips were daisy-chained together to accomodate all our equipment.

    00006

    The booth was visited by a wide variety of individuals who expressed interest in both Ubuntu as an operating system and Edubuntu as an educational resource. Visitors to the booth came from all corners of education – teachers, administrators, district technology personnel – and from rural and urban districts. We even entertained someone from the Colorado Department of Education. Most everyone we spoke to expressed great interest in using Edubuntu in their school or district but also concern over how to actually implement such a change when they themselves were not in charge of technology or lacked experience with Linux. Emboldened by the enthusiasm of the Colorado Local Team members, we began to collect contact information, pointed visitors to our team’s website, and assured everyone that if they only asked they would find members willing to come out and help. This has led to a current team project focused on developing a way to offer local support to schools, or anyone, interested in using any flavor of Ubuntu. The team expects to “go live” with local support options within just a couple weeks.

    Overall, the booth was a great success and many people went away with new ideas and tips on how to actually make something happen in their school or district. Too often, many great ideas are shared at such conferences, but the reality of education in the United States often prevents positive change. We not only shared great ideas, but backed it up with commitments to actually help make it happen.

    CoLoCo members Jim Hutchinson, Bryan Gartner, Leon Jaimes and Neal McBurnett worked the booth. HP provided the big server for the LTSP demo. Canonical provided funding for the booth as well as materials to hand out. Richard Weideman of Canonical was instrumental in getting everything setup. Visit http://coloco.ubuntu-rocks.org or https://launchpad.net/~coloradoteam for more information.

    June 27th, 2007  Posted in CoLoCo News, LoCo News, Projects, TIE, Ubuntu News | 3 Comments »
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    CoLoCo Radio Interview

    Today I had a call-in interview for the “Castellini on Computers” radio show, which is broadcast on the western slope of the mountains.  It was a fun experience for me, but my first chance at ever being on a radio show.  Combine that with the fact that I was ditching work for about 30 minutes to do it and I was a bit nervous and hurried.  All that aside, I felt like it was a great exposure moment for Ubuntu and the CoLoCo team for anyone that was listening.

    If you all are curious as to what I sound like on the radio (which is nothing like what I sound like in normal life) you can hear the clips from the below links.  Sorry, they’re only in mp3 from his site, but they’ll have to do for now:

    http://www.helpmerick.com/node/1529  – Part I
    http://www.helpmerick.com/node/1530  – Part II
    http://www.helpmerick.com/node/1531  -  Follow-up Comments

    Hopefully the next time around (if there is a next time) will go a bit smoother.  : )

    Rick actually has a very nice computer how-to website setup that has been featuring Ubuntu for the past week.  If you’re curious to see his tutorials and hear what he has to say about Ubuntu check it out at http://www.helpmerick.com .  I’ll be heading out his way in a few weeks I believe to give a talk to a computer group he runs in Grand Junction, if anyone wants to come with or meet me there feel free to let me know.  It would be a great chance for me to meet our friends on the western slope in person!

    June 23rd, 2007  Posted in Misc. | 2 Comments »
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    Recent Website Upgrades

    Well as a lot of you may have been noticing around the site I have started making a lot of upgrades to the website and its layout. I am hoping that you all are enjoying all the new features that have been implemented and the new looks. I just wanted to give everyone a break down of what has been done and what I have planed for the future.

    Completed/Working:

    • Round Corners
    • Side Bar Titles Updated
      • Set correct titles
      • Removed Special Font
      • Titles are now text no longer images
    • Flickr Avatar integration
      • Reduced Load time thanks to Session storage.
      • Sessions should be refreshed every 12 hours
    • CoLoCo Members Roster
    • Blinding Effect Added to Home Page Posts

    Comming Soon:

    • Blinding Effect will store to session. So when you come back to the article it will be in the last state you had it
    • Avatars added to the Roster page
    • Flickr Mash-Up to provide a Photo Gallery
    • Updated SVN with the current website build. So that other LoCos maybe able to download it and improve upon it.
    • Setup Flickr Mash-Ups to be configurable from the admin instead of editing scripts.

    Also to all you other LoCos out there that want to have a website but do have the man power to setup or the scripting knowledge to do so. I will be uploading this all to SVN on code.google.com as well as setting up some documentation on how to deploy it. If you would like to use the current structure I can provide you with a copy and some information on how to set it up. Just email me on nerdynick [at] gmail (dot) com.

    June 21st, 2007  Posted in CoLoCo News, LoCo News, Website News | No Comments »
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    Ubuntu & Open Source Teaching Lessons

    So to go along with all the great work going on with the TIE Conference and the Teaching Lessons that Jim has been putting togeather. We have posted a Digg article to help get more people interested in helping out with the teaching lessons and getting all the greate Open Source educational project into the main stream education fields.

    If you would like to help spread the word go digg the digg article at http://digg.com/linux_unix/Ubuntu_Open_Source_Teaching_Lessons/


    June 8th, 2007  Posted in CoLoCo News, LoCo News, Projects, TIE, Ubuntu News | No Comments »
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    Google Apps for OUR Domain

    Joey has installed Google Apps on Ubuntu-Rocks.org and has offered to provide free accounts to the team. The accounts provide branded Google mail (e.g.  joey@ubuntu-rocks.org) with shared contacts, team calendar, jabber via Google Talk, team documentation via Google Docs, and a start page that you can use for your browser’s default startup page. If you want an account, catch Joey on our IRC channel. His IRC nick is Rinchen.

    June 4th, 2007  Posted in CoLoCo News | No Comments »
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    Ubucon-Boulder: It isn’t hard to run a Ubuntu Conference!

    Ubucon-Boulder was born from a desire to quickly and easily get our team together to see what people can do with Ubuntu.

    Ubucon-Boulder
    Back row: Nick, Joey, Tristan, Ringo, Jim M, Bob, Ryan
    Front row: Derek, Rebecca, Kevin, Neal, Jim H, Brandan
    Not pictured: David, Mitch (taking the picture…)

    The Colorado Local Team had sponsored several release parties which were well attended and great fun. But without a projector to show everyone Ubuntu in action, it was hard to learn much. Other conferences were far away or relatively pricey.

    Neal McBurnett and Mitch Mahan had previously been active in local BarCampBoulder gatherings. Those experiences proved that all it takes to make a conference is a venue (with projector and wifi) and some folks willing to plunge in…. Joey Stanford had been at several other Ubucons. Knowing that Google was a perennial sponsor of such events, and that Google had an office in Boulder, he contacted Leslie Hawthorn of Google’s Open Source Program Office who promptly got approval, and Google’s Jim McMaster stepped up to be our gracious and helpful host.

    We wanted to hold the event quickly so we could use it to prepare for our presence at Colorado’s Technology In Education (TIE) Conference. Our teammate Jim Hutchinson had gotten a three-hour conference presentation slot to demo free software in the classroom, and Canonical stepped forward to sponsor an exhibition booth. So we just plunged ahead and set up the Ubucon-Boulder event for Saturday, June 2.

    We had about 16 participants, mostly from the Colorado Front Range (Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs). Tristan Rhodes came out from Utah. The press showed up also – Rebecca Sobol from LWN.net, one of the premier sources for technical information on Linux and free software.

    Content

    Participants registered for the event on our wiki. That meant they got a launchpad id and learned a bit about the wiki first, and allowed us to easily keep track of how many had signed up. It also gave them a chance to indicate what they were interested in and what they would be willing to present about. During the conference we used a list of topics generated from that input and just went around the table letting folks show us their stuff.

    Neal managed the schedule on the wiki in real time.

    Joey Stanford jumped in with a number of good demos for conferences. He showed us how to use avahi to discover other participants, chat sessions and other services on the local network (install service-discovery-applet). He also let us play with the collaborative text editor gobby, and Tilda, his favorite dropdown terminal. He also showed off Stephane’s new bluetooth headset integration code, and talked about Launchpad. The observation that he was registered for a launchpad group named OpenID testers prompted much speculation, but he refused to comment.

    Brandan Lloyd then did a demo of SSH Tunneling – the ever-present lightweight VPN. He showed how you can read mail, proxy thru to internal web sites, etc. His slides and examples are at http://coloco.ubuntu-rocks.org/downloads/

    Tristan Rhodes showed us some network tools, in particular NeDi, which can discover and efficiently manage networks that use managed switches via CDP and LLDP. He’s working on packaging it for Ubuntu, and could use some MOTU input.

    Kevin Fries showed us a general technique for making individual Windows applications available on an Ubuntu desktop via a 2X application server running on VMware. And Ringo Kamens did a whirlwind tour of several activist initiatives to preserve our Binary Freedom, including an effort to convince the BBC archives to support platforms other than Windows in their new system to let TV viewers “catch up” on programs they missed [*].

    When Derek Buranen was doing a demo of his GITSO script (Gitso Is To Support Others), we again ran into a complication with the way the wifi network was set up. In order to protect local wireless users, the network prevented one wireless host from directly connecting to another wireless host. So we set up an ad-hoc wireless networking session on an “ubucon” channel. It worked fine, except that network manager had a tendency to switch back to managed mode. Tips on how to avoid that would be appreciated.

    The ad-hoc mode also let Neal McBurnett demo his Nokia 770 Internet Tablet. Neal ran a VNC server on the handheld device, which runs a Debian-based distribution from Nokia. Derek logged into it over the ad-hoc wifi with his vncviewer, and displayed the screen to others with the LCD projector. Stay tuned, this is the sort of cute and handy platform that Canonical’s new Mobile and Embedded project is targeting.

    Our webmaster Nick Verbeck did a demo of the new webpage for our Colorado Local Team. He signed several folks up for the blog.

    Finally, Jim Hutchinson gave us more background and an overview of his TIE (Technology In Education) presentation and classroom lesson plans. Volunteers are needed to staff the booth, June 20-21 in lovely Copper Mountain Colorado. We’ll have an edubuntu LTSP network there, so it will be another opportunity to network with friends and learn more.

    Encouraged by our success this time, we’re planning a larger conference for the fall, before at the Gutsy release party. Stay tuned!

    And don’t be shy about planning your own Ubuntu conference. Even if you just have 5 people that just want to hang out and see how other folks use Ubuntu, you can find someone with an LCD projector and wifi, and Just Do It.

    Neal McBurnett

    June 4th, 2007  Posted in CoLoCo News, Projects, TIE, Ubuntu News | 8 Comments »
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    Canonical Loves Us

    Canonical is sponsoring a booth at the TIE conference. We’ve been hoping for this and now it’s a reality. What’s the catch? We have to man the booth ourselves. Please consider coming up to beautiful Copper Mountain and hang out for a bit. It’s also a great place to meet women. See you there.

    BTW – the dates are June 19-22 for the conference and 20-21 for the booth.

    June 2nd, 2007  Posted in CoLoCo News | No Comments »