Click a Link - We Get Money....Maybe.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

9 AM CST is the kickoff for the event noted below.  Please don't act prior to that time if at all means a lot. Thanks for helping us do what we do.

As with many non profits, discretionary funding has become hard to find.  The HeliOS Project is no different.

For those that don't know, The HeliOS Project takes broken or decommissioned computers, refurbishes them, then we give them to disadvantaged kids Austin and the Central Texas area.

Most of the grants available to us are for equipment.  I think what I find most ironic is the push to give us computer equipment for our office and logistic operations.

I believe we have that covered.

Money on which to operate has largely come from you.  But this time, we are not going to ask you for anything...not a dime.

We just need you to click a "like" button.

We have been chosen to participate in an Austin event called Rock A Charity.

Here's how it works.

Non profit contestants will have their Facebook page monitored for "like" clicks for a 48 hour period beginning on February 1st at 9 AM CST.  At the end of that 48 hour period, the top three charities with the most likes will then be invited to a party on the 18th of February.  Any clicks prior to or after this 48 hour window will not count.  The contest ends at 9 AM CST on Thursday, February 3rd. 

During that party, donors will be able to "purchase" small rocks.  There will be three conference rooms set up, each one representing a charity. Those conference rooms will have a table and a fish bowl in them.  The rock holder chooses which charity he wishes to support by dropping his rock in that non profit's bowl.

At the end of the evening, each bowl is tallied and the winner receives the total amount of money from all 3 bowls.

This is a great chance for us to gain some of the funding we badly need and all we need from you is the clicking of a "like" button.

Skip Guenter, Diane Franklin and myself will be attending the party and we will introduce donors to our non profit.  Even if we don't win, it will gain us valuable networking time with those that might be interested in funding The HeliOS Project in the future.  If you would like to come to the party and help represent us, contact me via email.  helios at fixedbylinux dott komm

You can simply click the "Like" button on the Facebook app at the top-left of this page, or you can go to our community page and do so.

It wouldn't hurt our feelings at all if you tweeted/Facebook'ed this for us.

All we need is for you to get us through the door...we'll do the rest.

All-Righty Then...

Some Shine Brighter...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I don't really know when it started...

This social acceptance of hyperbole and verbal exaggeration...not that I'm not prone to it myself from time to time.

"Folks, that was an absolute heroic effort on Tiger's part on hole 11."

"Did you see that concert? It was Awesome".

"That movie blew me away"

No, "heroic" is when 500 women and men run into a blazing skyscraper to save as many as they can, fully knowing they may not come out behind the safety of those they saved.

Awesome is the "Finger of Satan" descending down with such magnitude that it wipes out and kills every member of the community...their bodies found as far away as 60 miles in a lake...entire homes were picked up and thrown for miles...ripped right off of their foundations and turned to confetti. A demon that measured 3/4 miles across and produced constant winds of 320 mph.

That's "awesome"....albeit terribly so.

And "blown away"? I've seen "Blown Away" more than one sense.

You do not want to see "Blown Away".

So, sensitive as I may be to semantics and verbal communications, I worked at it a bit naming this site...and excuse the crappy formatting. I'm workin' on it.

From old man Webster himself:

Luminary: 2. One who illustrates any subject, or enlightens mankind; as, Newton was a distinguished luminary.

I could accept that...Linux Luminaries.

Linux Luminaries was a great title for this space on the Internet.

Our pattern is to present to you a family or child that has received one of our computers then highlight the "Walk a Kid Home" member who made that installation possible.

We're going to break from the norm from time to time...there is someone I want to bring to your attention. And if this guy isn't a Linux Luminary in the first degree, I'll buy you lunch.

His name is Andy Krell.

I first met Andy via an email he sent to me, telling me that sometime down the road, he would have some computers to donate to The HeliOS Project...but it would be a while.

That was fine...we were still working out our non profit status...a critical part of the negotiation.

When the stars and planets finally aligned almost a year later, Andy called me and said the stuff was ready to pick up. He emailed picture of the stuff his company, nFUSION Group, LLC was providing us.

Now remember, at this time, we were mostly dumpster-diving to get the stuff we needed, and were actually making it when Andy asked me to come by and pick this up, well: let's just say that I wasn't sure of what to make of it.

What you are seeing here are 13 laptops, many less than 13 months old. We're talking laptops with individual retail value of 3K each, at least some of them. Alienware, Acer 8210's and 5720's (Acer's workhorse as far as I am concerned) and a top of the line Dell Inspiron. As well, he donated to us all of the Dell Dimension 8300's up see here. All working and ready to go.

But that wasn't all...Those boxes you see there? Those are not just keyboard and mice...those boxes contain pounds and pounds of up-to-date memory, video cards, usb devices of every make and model. There were some hard to find stuff too like ide controllers sata to ide gadgets. It was a geek's treasure chest.

I was stunned beyond belief. Everything aside from two of the acer laptops worked perfectly. All of them came with 160 hard drives and 2 gigs of ram. In fact, one of the only HeliOS Project presentations of a laptop that we were able to record...that was one of Andy's/nFUSION's laptops. We couldn't have given it to a better person.

Mr. Andy Krell...he's just not some guy off the street.

Andy is the CIO of nFUSION Group,, I only mention this because Andy has done way more than give us some great computers...and oh by the way...he gives us great stuff on a fairly regular basis. When he preps them for us, he does so on his own time. So this guy isn't just some desk jockey. He runs things...important things. He keeps a multi-million dollar business alive and functioning where it counts...on the Internet.

The guys got some juice.

Which makes this even more amazing.

When the absolutely tireless and selfless Lynn Bender (you will see that name here soon) single-handedly organized Linux Against Poverty, it became obvious we were going to need top-tier techs to pull it off. Hundreds of computers were going to be showing up. Computers that needed fixing, diagnosing or repairing of some sort...we had no idea of the condition of any of them that would be arriving. We needed top of the line guys. Guess who showed up and took on the leadership role to organize the whole thing.

Andy Krell.

And Andy didn't just troop the line and bark orders...he unloaded trucks, he got his hands cut to ribbons on sharp edges and jutting screws, and he carried machines back and forth to their assigned places. His jouneyman skills were responsible for breathing life into dozens of machines I would have gutted for parts and through on the scrap heap.

So Linux Luminary...Ya Think? I think so.

I received a humbling email recently. See, I've became seriously ill recently. Diagnosed with Extreme Exhaustion Disorder. I've pushed so hard that my body has literally started eating itself so needless to say, I have to chill for a while. I am not going to be able to do the things I used to do for a long time. I wrote a blog entitled "Time to Face Some Facts...and in that blog, I stated that if The HeliOS Project is to survive, my role would be as manager for at least 90 days while I heal, and we would need dedicated volunteers to do the installs. It didn't take long for the first Linux guy to step up.

It was Andy Krell.

Linux Luminary bar none.

I owe you more than I can ever repay Andy. Bless you.


College-Bound Young Lady Gets A Hand.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Just a note to let you know we DID secure those computers in Indiana and will be leaving Sunday morning by truck to pick them up. We are extremely marginal on funding for fuel so if you are able, please think about donating a couple of dollars for diesel. You can do so on the left side of the page at blog of helios. Thanks so much...40 computers and 25 flat panels will push us over our need list for the year. - h

Martha Ochoa of Kyle Texas is in a position many American kids find themselves in. They live within a family that does pretty well, but they are caught in the "middle-class dilemma." They make too much money for student loans and grants yet they don't make enough to send their kids to college out of pocket.

It happens more often than any of us would think.

The middle-class dilemma.

We found out about Martha applying at Baylor University on a sports scholarship. From what we understand, she is in fairly good shape to receive it. Still, she is going to have to work to pay some of her way. We decided that we could help in a small way. We presented Martha with a killer laptop.

There is a short film clip of us delivering a computer to Martha. Please excuse the large mpeg file...the mp4 we uploaded to youtube is horrible and lags terribly.

In the years we've been doing this, we have found that it is not everyone who is comfortable being identified as receiving one of our machines. We make it well known that our efforts are geared toward those who are disadvantaged. Some people do not want to be identified as such and we understand that while we may do 10 installs a week, only three of them may give us permission to publish their information. We simply wanted you to know this so you do not expect a one-for-one reporting.

Now I say we...The HeliOS Project builds and delivers the computers, sure...but it's the people who support us that allow us to make it happen. I want to personally thank Gene and Wanda Lake for their continued support. Martha is extremely thankful as we told her you sponsored this laptop for her. Martha asked me to pass along my thanks to you.

Thank you Gene and Wanda Lake...thank you very much.

If you want to become a Linux Luminary and sponsor the install of a computer to a disadvantaged kid, you can do so by clicking here. The average install costs us 25.00


I Can't Let My Kids Be Stupid

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The title...It sounds like an odd statement...something that really doesn't need to be said aloud...

Unless you really think there is a good chance of it happening.

His name is Joe Pastrano. He along with his wife Eloisa and 3 children live in Round Rock. Joe works two jobs so as to allow his wife to stay home with the children.

Joe is a pretty conventional kind of guy...the kind of guy we all would be lucky to call a friend.

Word of Joe's need for a computer came from an anonymous source...roughly 40 percent of ours do. People don't particularly want it to be known that they "meddled" in someone's affairs...they just saw a need and a way to have that need met. When the situation merits, they call us.

I knocked on Joe's door after emailing him and telling him that I might be able to help him get a free computer for his kids. He was of course skeptical at first...

No one gives anything away free in these times...there is always a motive...a catch...the small print.

No...not always.

I went out to see Joe and his family on a Tuesday morning at 9 AM. Joe had a rare day off from both jobs and it was about the only time I was going to catch him and his wife at home at the same time. It is a nice home...well kept, clean to near discomfort (walk into my place for a contrast shock) and filled with the sounds of small kids playing. As Joe and his wife sat with me on the sofa, I cleared my throat and told Joe that in my opinion, his kids were just a year or two too young to receive one of our computers.

Joe nodded his head in understanding, then took a magazine from the coffee table, already opened to an article.

I believe Joe had anticipated this.

The article was a compilation of three studies showing the differences between kids who had grown up without computer skills vs. those who had. It was a 12 year study and in two cases, the differences were stark. I read about twenty seconds into the article and nodded, putting the magazine down. I had gotten the point. Joe made his case simply and clearly...just like he lives his life.

"I Can't let my kids be stupid."

Joe's kids got their computer.

Of course, I spent the next hour "younging" the computer down a bit...gcompris, Childsplay, World of Goo (thanks 2dboy)...all the things a kid could have fun with and learn with at the same time. Joe shook my hand firmly and thanked me, but I shook my head.

No, you will want to thank Ernest Rogers from Downey California. He is the Linux Luminary that made this install possible. Ernest was the first donor to the "Walk a Kid Home" program and we are proud to install this computer in his name.

Ernest, Joe's wife was softly crying when I explained that there was an entire community that let me do what I do and that you were responsible for making this possible for them.

And no...I am NOT going to pass along the kiss on the cheek...

Thank you will just have to suffice.

Thank you Ernest.


Welcome To Linux Luminaries

Friday, August 7, 2009

This is the first post of many to come.

The HeliOS Project is a non-profit organization that obtains old or repairable computers, refurbishes them and then gives them to disadvantaged kids in the Central Texas area. We have delivered our machines as far away as Wichita Falls Texas. Some of our laptop machines have been donated to people going on missions in Tonga, Eastern Europe and Africa.

To this date, we should install our 1000th computer by November 2009.

For years, I ran this project out of my own back pocket. When I was making 90K a year, I didn't mind putting 5-7 thousand dollars a year into the project...but things change.

People lose their jobs.

And so it was with me...but I didn't pout or lament for long. I began to understand that The HeliOS Project is what I am supposed to be doing. Not driving a truck and devoting time to it whenever I could. Even the most severe of pay cuts, such as this, are blunted by knowing you are doing what it is you love. That being the case, I've needed help to do what I do. A tireless and selfless asset to the Austin Tech Community named Lynn bender spearheaded a project called "Linux Against Poverty".

Lynn is a Database Guru that has done more for The HeliOS Project than any one individual to present. To host this project, Lynn spent much of his own money and hundreds of hours making it happen. This project brought roughly 50 Austin Techies together to accept, triage and repair close to 100 computers for us to give away. Lynn's efforts have launched our project into the limelight and we owe him much more than we can ever repay.

Simply stated, without Lynn's help, we would still be dumpster diving for the computer parts we use to build our machines.

Some of the people who showed up were Corporate CIO's and Fortune 500 Company Executives. They rebuilt computers, loaded trucks and did all the grunt work everyone did to make this work. It was an amazing day. It was truly a day of discovery.

But having over 100 computers presented its own unique problem. How do we get the computers to a growing list of kids? Good intentions and feeling good about this does not fuel the vehicle to deliver the computers or fix it when it breaks down. The HeliOS Project announced the "Walk A Kid Home" program. Not literally walking them home of course, but showing them the way to a brighter future through technology and Linux.

In short, it is an individual sponsorship program that allows people to donate the cost of installing 1 computer in a kids home. The average cost is $25.00.

On these pages, you will find pictures and reports of each install we do and the name of the person or entity that sponsored that child's computer. We think this is a wonderful way to both fund our effort and give credit to those who make this project possible. So bookmark us and come back often. We are going to be populating this page at a rapid rate.

You are going to be surprised at the amount of computers we install for kids...

As well as the number of people who truly care.