Many of you may recall that two weeks ago I was lamenting our loss at Reglue of a valuable hardware donation source. The computers donated by this firm were a bit older, but we had little to do to make them ready. We just installed our KDE Mint respin and sent them out the door. The company had been generous with money donations as well. Depending upon the year’s profits, they either matched employee donations by 100% or else donated $1,000. Losing this asset was a kick in the stomach.Rick, who supervises the company’s four man tech support team in Austin, emailed me and said I could get an appointment to see some big shot VP in charge of corporate giving if I wanted to plead my case. I set up the appointment for that Friday.
We were torpedoed before I walked through the door.
The CIO had already released a memo to all tech support chiefs, stating that all retiring hardware should be placed on pallets for pick up by a soon-to-be-named reclamation and recycling vendor. The real kick? They’re paying big money to have their stuff picked up and parted out for profit — all in the name of “responsible recycling.” Rick quietly shared with me that the CIO was miffed because we were repurposing their donated computers with GNU/Linux. Because we were removing Windows, he thought the donated hardware was being wasted.
Being aware of this before I walked into the meeting gave me the satisfaction of knowing they would to lie to me in order to get me out the door. That was fine. I wasn’t going to release my inner cry baby over it. Where the hammer meets the nail, this was my fault anyway. I should have known better than to rely upon a single source for donations. Besides, no one is obliged to donate. Donations are to be accepted with grace and gratitude, and not to be expected as an entitlement. I wrote a letter to the firm, thanking them for their generous support over the past few years and wished them well. I want back to work and hoped I’d find a way to make up for the loss.
It didn’t take long. A couple of days later, the following Monday as a matter-of-fact, the scales of fate shifted decidedly in our favor when my colleague, Christine Hall, forwarded an email she’d received from Jason Spisak, who once upon a time had cofounded the Linux distribution Lycoris and is currently the CEO of Symple PC, the Arizona based company selling $89 refurbished computers in new minitowers running the latest Ubuntu LTS.
Christine had written a few articles on the Symple PC earlier, and now Spisak was reaching out to her in an attempt to reach out to me. It seems that he’d read my column on the loss of a critical funding partner and wanted to fix the problem by donating $1,000 worth of Symple PCs. He was as perturbed as I over the insistence from our ex-benefactor that kids need to learn about computers in a Windows’ environment.
“That’s like someone saying their donation can only go to feed the school kids General Mills products for lunches instead of organic, locally grown, real food because its what the well-off donor grew up on and serves to their employees,” he wrote. “Especially now that Apple and Google are such a big part of education, even if it is not FOSS, Microsoft isn’t what kids will be using in the future at work.”
On the “About” page of the Symple website, Jason says things we’ve all thought collectively. What stands out to me, personally, is his core beliefs about computers, software and the future of the next generation:
“It is my sincere belief that we can inspire a new generation of programmers and designers to create open platforms that change the world for the better. We symply need to give them the tools, unencumbered by the legacy of ideas fostered during the first technological revolution. Symple is another step on that path, and it is only the beginning.”
“…and it is only the beginning.”
It’s those few words strung together that excites me. Be it Jason Spisak with Symple, The Free Software Foundation, small grass roots efforts like Reglue or a combination of all of these like efforts. It’s an exciting time to be alive.
Many of you will take a moment to appreciate me being the one to say those few words to you: It’s an exciting time to be alive indeed!We stand on the precipice, on the verge of an age when technologies shake the bonds of proprietary limitations. We will finally share and combine our talents, our ideas and our genius under one goal: the betterment of mankind. This is how it starts. It’s Symple.
Jason Spisak is a man of his word. We received twelve computers from Symple this past Friday. Our opening volunteer was late getting Reglue ready for the day and the delivery was attempted 30 minutes before she opened the shop. Fortunately, I was able to contact the FedEx driver and convince him to return. I met that driver at Reglue a bit past 3 p.m. and took the delivery — small town living at its best.
So far, I have not unboxed those computers. Pete Salas, our 2013 Reglue “Volunteer of the Year” is meeting me early in the week to give me a hand. I am still recovering from cancer surgery and I’m a bit weak.
I emailed Jason to let him know the computers had arrived. I took the time to share with him some of the things we’ve done and some of the things we hope to do. Most importantly, I thanked him for making up for the hardware donations we’d lost.
He answered symply: “The honor is ours. Their actions cannot stand unchallenged or else no one will know it matters…and that’s just not cool.”
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