Saturday, February 12, 2005

Scouts get a Linux insight

intro

Finding the auditorium, dubbed "nawa rangahala" meaning "the new hall", wasn't too difficult with Suchetha around. Being an old boy of Royal College, he showed the path while enticing us with his misfit school boy activities.

oilamp When we go there the presentation had already been setup on another laptop with Power Point. Fortunately there was enough time for me to boot up my linux box and replace it with Koffice. Soon is was time to start the proceedings, and the first item on the agenda was the lighting of the oil lamp. It felt quite weird when I heard my name being called to light the oil lamp. believe or not, I don't recall ever having to do that!

After a small introduction to the event by the school's principal, it was time for the BCS presentation. It was agreed that I would operate the transition of slides as Ruwan Mali would gave the presentation. This was going to be tricky indeed, as I soon learned it wasn't easy leaning against the table and switching between the screen and the presenter, looking out for a signal that it was time to move to the next slide.

The auditorium being an open one at both ends caused some problems, among which the sunlight dropping on the screen was the biggest. This was soon remedied by closing off the curtains and projecting directly at the white curtain backdrop.

Next on the agenda was the LKLUG's Linux presentation. As I took the floor, I could see a lot of enthusiastic eyes look right back. "How many of you have computers, pleas raise your hand ?", I asked them. To my surprise, just about everyone's hand went up. The surprise for me wasn't really the fact that almost everyone had computers, but that they instantly raised their hands! Sri Lankan adults are never this responsive ! "How many of you play computer games? Unreal Tournament, Doom 3?". More hands go up as Suchetha takes center stage and shouts to the crowd. Now at this point it was like the 250 or scouts were under some sort of spell or control as their full attention is directed at us. "Well Linux can do all this. May games, music, movies !", shouted Suchetha.

Once we had their full attention it was quite easy to silently talk about the importance of Free/OpenSource software. While booting off the Live Sinhala Knoppix CD, it was evident to the crowd that this certainly was a home brewed distro. I told them, "You can download and modify the source code of Linux! You can make a difference with Linux!". Their enthusiasm remained through out the one and half hour or so interactive presentation. Next we started asking questions from the crowd and giving away (some times even throwing) CDs to those who answered correctly. We even had a question that was prepared by a senior scout, who found it difficult to compose a question, perhaps because he didn't seem to have been paying too much attention, but nevertheless was answered swiftly by the younger scouts. This item was quite happening, cause once all the CDs had been given to those who answered questions, one younger scout at the front row asked, "Do you have any more Linux questions?"

The program ended with a couple of lucky draws and on a positive note that LKLUG is committed to working with BCS or who ever for that matter to educate school children on the significance and advantages of this wonderful OS platform.

scoutgrp gang

Note: I had some bad luck with the batteries on my camera dying on me. Once I get some pictures from other sources I'll have it up.

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