Saturday, March 28, 2009

And Then There Was Silence/Darkness

MT Blog, Sat. Mar. 28, 2009

James here, reporting on the events of today's Mindtriggerz session. With the first day of Fayette County Public Schools Spring Break came a record-breaking day for numbers. More on that soon.

The morning started out with Jerome and I heading over to the lab and setting up. Andy let us in and we found him in there, front door open. Setup took most of the hour, and Becky arrived at probably a quarter till ten, quickly getting down to work disinfecting the keyboards and mice.

Literally, at the crack of ten- maybe even a couple minutes before, people started showing up. I retreated into the backroom to work on some stuff while Jerome and Joyce started to teach. Around eleven thirty, things started getting pretty hectic. Jerome headed out to drop off the first of the two computers while Joyce taught and I made sure the computers didn't completely fry. After Jerome's first run, things got even more hectic. The lab was truly at maximum load- imagine nine computers and put two people at each of them, and you had what it looked like for a while. For some reason several computers starting acting. It seemed that the more people there were in the room- not even how many people were using them, but just the volume of people has some kind of weird effect on the systems. Especially our KY Trade computer. Tux kept acting up. Maybe because the kids weren't typing fast enough :)

A little before one, it got drastically silent as everybody disappeared. Joyce and I sat in the lab, her playing the Car game and me watching, until Jerome got back. At that point, we shut down all except our Ghetto-tastic sector and started packing things away. An emergency came in and Jerome had to go fix a computer out at one of the houses. When he got back, having heroically solved the situation, we packed away the final set of computers, broke the rest of the way down and bugged out.

All in all, it was a highly productive day at the Cardinal Valley Lab, one that will go down in the projects books as a record day, with how many people we had there- first, second, third timers, plus two more computers going out.

Hopefully, we will have good luck and continue our highly productive weeks.

As usual, we'll be back next week, same time, same place, at the lab, doing business as always.




Saturday, March 14, 2009

The STEM Fair (yes, we could learn to love you)

We arrived at Bryan Station High School this morning for the STEM Fair among a throng of children and adults and amid a cold drizzle. Armed with a fully-operational Mindtriggerz computer, a few spare parts and several dozen penguin candies and cookies (thank you, Sarah) - we took our place at booth 329 conveniently located next to Dunbar's table.

It took Jon, James and the fashionably late Chris about 5 and 1/2 minutes to get the machines set up and running. It took me considerably longer to rearrange but once the cookie bags were opened a steady stream of young folks and not so young folks streamed in, stopped for awhile, lingered over the treats and learned about what we are doing and why. Par for the course, "Tux Type" (aka "Type Faster") was a BIG hit among the students. We actually placed a chair by the computer and had a variety of people jockeying for their turn at the game. At one point even Thomas from Dunbar had to take his turn - he stunned the onlookers with his mad typing skillz! Several of the kids were sent flying with a Mindtriggerz business card and directions on where to find Tux Type to download from online. YEAH, OPEN SOURCE!!!

I was concerned about being emotionally strong enough to handle talking to so many people about the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust but for whatever reason (I'd like to think it was somehow Jesse) I found the resources and with the help of the "guys" we had what I consider a very successful day. Many adults stood and talked and took information and lauded the work - I even had the chance to meet one of Jesse's day-care teachers. She told me how much she loved Jesse and what a great kid he'd been to teach and I am hopeful now that her 17 year old son who LOVES computers might come join us in our work.

We met a lot of great people who want to contribute and frankly, that is more than even I could have hoped would happen today. As the event began to wind down we had a visit from Superintendent Stu Silberman who asked that I send him the link for "Tux Type" - oh and yeah, he had a penguin cookie too! Thomas cornered the Channel 13 camera man and Jon gave a wonderful interview for Fayette County School's news channel. Sarah's dad even showed up and was given full license to eat as many cookies as he wanted (he only had one).

I'm sending lots of LUVZ right now to James, Jon, Chris and everyone who is and has been part of the Mindtriggerz team. TY, ty, ty.

Meanwhile, Jerome was hopping at the Park training lab - he had six families and a total of ten kids who spent the day learning about the computers and software. The lab was busy from the arrival of the first kids at 10am to the last family that left at 1:50pm. Thankfully, Joycie was there to help him the entire time. (Side note to Joyce - thank you for your patience!) One family today showed up with a copy of the flyer that Cardinal Valley Elementary distributed - it was a wonderful informational page printed on bright yellow paper in both English and Spanish. Thank you, CVE!

We are thankful to so many - to everyone who has helped in any way. From distributing flyers, to fixing machines, to donating old systems, to allowing us to have a booth at the STEM fair. To each and every person who in some way remembers Jesse by helping us do "good stuff" in his name.

Jesse's mom

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Curly Joe is on the move

There was a great deal of laughter today at Mindtriggerz- a few inside jokes between April and Jon and while James wasn't feeling so great, Sarah looked fabulous just home on Spring Break from Ball State. She brightened up the teaching lab with her beautiful red sun dress then came by Liverpool to enthusiastic applause.

Jerome said there were two new families - one from Community Action Council and another from Cardinal Valley Elementary. April and Joyce posted flyers in nearby apartments and we are still aiming to place the 40+ systems we have ready before we get back to working at the Dunbar garden.

I've been so focused on the STEM Fair that I am little or no help to anyone. James, Chris and Jon formulated plans for the day while I obsessed on making lists because I don't quite trust my memory. Our "booth" will be set up in the center of the action. Chris suggested we have something to draw some of the younger STLP members so it was decided we'd take a Mindtriggerz computer to break down and let them help us put it back together. Demonstrating what we do hardware wise is just as important as the open-source cookies and candies, right? Right.

We continue to recieve calls and emails regularly from folks wanting to donate their older systems and that is so very heartening to us. We made pickups this Friday all over Lexington and ended up with a variety of CPU's and accessories. We are thankful to all those who spread the word and those who remember the Mindtriggerz Project when they upgrade.

Jon has great plans for our future and we are excited not only for his continued involvement but his non-stop enthusiasm. He revitalizes our energy and renews our efforts. We are of course eternally grateful that Jesse has such an incredible "best friend."

An inside to Jon and April, "yes, we will learn to love you."