After having a bit of lay-in this morning (but not as long as I’d hoped for), I thought I should mention what we got up to at BETT last week.
Along with our friends at the OpenForum Europe and helpers from a few other Free Software or Open Source related organisations, we exhibited much of what it is best about FOSS to the international education community.
We had a couple of shiny new Samsung 2343BW widescreen monitors showing off Edubuntu/Ubuntu to full effect. There were a variety of sub-notebook class devices demonstrating various Free OSs and just what £99 can get you if you care to look.
We discussed – sometimes at great length – philosophical, financial, technical, security and educational benefits that can be had from using FOSS solutions in an education context. (Why would anyone in their right mind use proprietary software if they had a choice or a clean sheet to start from?)
We met up with colleagues old and new from various places such as: Elonex, Sirius and Alpha Plus. We found some new and interesting products. For me the most exciting was seeing first cross-platform interactive whiteboard solution being demonstrated on Windows, Mac OSX and Ubuntu live by Mimio.
As a comparison to last year, we made contact with nearly 200% more individuals, and gave away around 200 more Ubuntu Desktop CDs (and quite a few Server CDs too).
My personal take on this year’s BETT was pretty encouraging.
- I had many fewer conversations this year that started with me having to explain what FOSS is. And many schools and education authorities are familiar with and already using FOSS successfully.
- There was considerable interest in finding out more and in looking for ways to introduce FOSS into what is a very closed-shop (MS) environment currently.
- There was a really good throughput all week of teachers, ICT staff and Heads/Governors who expressed a passion for FOSS and its use in their schools and colleges.
- There was a great deal of criticism for the lack of leadership from Government regarding FOSS and the way in which the education sector is very largely tied to MS, especially with the SIMS product from Capita. This was a very frequent discussion; how to integrate non-Microsoft products such as OpenOffice.org with the almost ubiquitous Schools MIS platform.
- A healthy dose of scepticism from other visitors made us the educator for a while and hopefully we helped to open some eyes to the possibilities that FOSS can deliver.
- And I met a FAN! After looking at my business card and seeing our logo, the visitor I was talking too grabbed my hand, shook it passionately and declared with some gusto – “You are The Open Sourcerer!”. Fame at last eh. Thanks Phil, it was a pleasure to meet you.
Now the show is over, the stands are torn down, and everyone has left. This is when the real work starts. Following up with all those hundreds of educators who want our help to introduce FOSS into their environment.
My feet are still sore (and this is more than 24hrs after getting home) but it was bloody well worth it. I met some great people and feel as though we have achived a great deal more this year. All being well, next year’s BETT will be even bigger and bolder for us – the planning is already underway.
I’ll just paste a copy of this email from Alan Cocks on the Ubuntu UK mailing list.
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2008
From: alan c
To: British Ubuntu Talk
Subject: [ubuntu-uk] Desperately seeking Ubuntu Webbook – with Bolt Cutters!
In Bracknell, the Carphone Warehouse Webbook (Elonex) with preinstalled Ubuntu which is included in one of CPW’s deals is in such extraordinary demand that the recent display item in CPW Bracknell Princess Square shopping mall was stolen last week by desperate people using *bolt cutters*!
The many larger laptops with Vista installed were left untouched. Sad eh? Even thieves don’t want Vista.
The Webbook was secured using a kensington similar stranded wire lock, so I guess the culprits even had some angle grinding to do later, to remove the lock itself.
The desperate act took place in a normal shopping day in broad daylight, and the miscreants were seen making off at speed, unencumbered by antivirus or other unnecessary items which might have slowed them down!
Like most shopping malls, there is security video in operation, I trust that it will be put to good use.
Apart from the obvious bit about stealing being wrong (Hmmm, makes me think about Number 10 Downing Street again) this is a great story… I love the bit about the thieves not wanting Vista – lol.
When we first announced the Elonex webbook, you could only get the Ubuntu version by visiting one of Carphone Warehouse’s bricks-and-mortar shops. Online they only had the old XP version listed.
Today that has changed. Now you can order a webbook, with Ubuntu pre-installed without having to go out at all!
Alan Bell has a bit more detail and comment over on the webbook blog, but if you simply can’t wait and must go and order one right now, here’s the page. Scroll down a bit to the box that says “Compare our top 10 offers” and check out the top three.
The T-Mobile deal looks pretty good to me
Answers on a comment and we are looking for precision in the location here, just the city name is not good enough!