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Re: [Computerbank] suggestion to ponder?


I assist various non-profit groups as a volunteer and a couple of things 
come to mind that may assist or hinder THE idea. Note: I'm not sure whether 
my experience is similar, but I agree to help out with one thing, and end 
up helping out with another :)

Many of these groups have a single computer connected to the Internet. If 
they have been going long enough they may be in the running for obtaining 
another computer. They usually run MS Windows. I have often thought, that 
instead of the old computer being parked in a corner, that somebody who is 
skilled at setting up old Windoze boxes as Linux firewall/servers could 
turn this old computer into a powerful resource and boot-strap them into a 
networked and more productive office (multiuser). Other Linux computers 
could be obtained to go on the network. In addition, I thought that the 
people that are clients of these groups, could then have Internet access 
when they visit for counselling or gathering information.

The hurdle is often training. But what is interesting there, is many do not 
have enough knowledge to use their existing computer effectively and 
productively. If they only realised that the difficulties that they are 
experiencing using windows, at worst would be similar to that of using 
Linux. For example, saving and finding their documents again, recognising 
different file formats, managing email etc. What they find scary, is their 
peers saying that they will not be able to read each other's documents. 
They also do not recognise that there are better tools, e.g. graphics 
software instead of using MS Word drawing tools for creating logos.

Also, because the groups are pushed for resources themselves, such as 
people time and money, they just want to get the job done. They are not 
bothered whether it is Linux/Unix/MS Windows etc. unless they have already 
been brainwashed into noddy's computing thinking, i.e. choose Save from the 
File menu, instead of, to save my file in x directory ... Most of the 
issues are wrt un-doing the desktop metaphor, and showing them what it is 
they are actually doing.

The business model of maintenance contracts I think would be very new to 
these groups. They are used to the idea of saving up or obtaining funding 
for the computer, and that's it until they need or want another one. 
Although, demonstrating that if they were to break the upgrade cycle, they 
could afford more computer power, training and assistance may be a way to 
tackle this.

Overall, I think awareness, advocacy, and action by LUGs, Computerbank, 
Computer Angels and groups that have success stories will garner well for 
Linux consultancy businesses. Perhaps Linux consultancy businesses could 
sponsor or donate their expertise to a particular non-profit group, and 
then they could both share the success of reciprocal public relations and 

Hope this helps
Perth, Western Australia

At 01:57 PM 12/11/2001, Bruce McCubbery wrote:

> >From a private email..
> >.......................................................... wonder if
> >this can help. One of our members has been discussing getting funding to
> >set up a small consultancy offering discounted onsite assistance to local
> >not-for-profit associations. This might be one of the ways that people
> >can switch to linux but overcome the difficulty of expensive maintenance
> >contracts. Or one of the ways of keeping Linux companies afloat?
>I didn't know Linux companies (in particular) were in strife, but what
>about the consultancy idea?

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