I went to a meeting at 6:00 about the RRISD IT Academy (I’m on their business advisory team). Afterwards, I spoke at length with some fascinating geeks.The educators talked at length about how students taking the innovative Intro to IT Course (which surveys everything from how to assemble a machine to MS Office to web design to networking to programming) does NOT count for state Technology credit (every student in TX needs one) and what needed to be done to change that.

The conversation also, surprisingly, turned to Linux talk and the feasibility / reasonability of transitioning away from MS products. Chip emailed the other day about doing stuff with Linux and schools. There may be an opportunity to do some pioneering work here… It sounds like there are local people who are salivating to work to implement Linux in schools as well as teachers who are comfortable enough to teach using a Linux environment and recognize the value of training students in OS software and tools (both from an LMI / market demand and IT budget standpoint).

Afterwards I stood outside talking with Steve H. and a new person i met (Chris – interested in getting involved in EFF-A….)

The conversation got very geeky, very quickly. Both of these guys are experts in networking and security, so as you can imagine, we started talking about a wide variety of gadgets (routers, etc), protocols, neat things that people are working on, measurements and statistics of networks, etc.

A couple of points I want to remember:

  • chris mentioned a mini server running on a PIC and powered by a potato! Steve mentioned a solar powered web server (that served pictures of itself).
  • chris talked about his ubergeek network at home with very expensive components…
  • Steve was caught in a raid as a youth in England at a pirate radio swap meet!
  • Chris was hacking/phreaking during what I consider to be the golden age of the geek: late 70’s through 1980’s. He was also caught hacking (and was turned in by his “friends”, but luckily he was tipped off, had some beuracratic help to get in the way of officers serving the warrant, and managed to avoid an arrest. He told a story of how he, for kicks one year, took a list of about 10000 BBS’s from around the world and verified that they all existed and were running (which meant long distance calls… thousands of dollars a month in phone bills which he “borrowed” from the phone company). This guy is the real deal (knows his stuff, knows how to tell a funny story, and is genuinely interested in building geek community (he loved the idea and volunteered for an idea that EFF-A is playing with to implement an OS brainstorming center/office) and I’m very much looking forward to working with him.
  • Chris told me about laggedout.com… My spidey-synergy-building-sense is tingling in overtime about some of the possibilities and personalities I could connect to this group
  • Steve talked about his adventures in writing a book… He told a story about getting advice from his publisher to get filthy drunk when he had writer’s block and just writing whatever garbage he could manage… He also made my mind sore by talking about how he had to build the index by hand.
  • Steve gave me a good line of advice, “Figure out what you can do that nobody else can do. Do those things first and delegate the rest (which people aren’t going to be wow’ed by, anyway).” Definitely having a problem with micro-managing work stuff… This goes right back to what I was talking about with my priorities and putting what I’m doing at my current job in perspective.