Getting down to IT in 60 Seconds.

As a member of BNI I have become intimately familiar with the weekly trial that is the 60 seconds in which I have the opportunity to  introduce myself and my business  to explain what I offer and to explain what referrals I am seeking. As this small moment occurs each week at approximately the same in the morning it is easy to become indifferent or lazy in presentation. To combat this I have taken to using the one minute spot to present various utilities, applications and websites which will be a benefit to my chapter members.

Programs which i have discussed have included

CutePDFWriter and Foxit Reader, Which Barbara Charlton of Travel Counsellors found amazingly useful since she and many associates needed the ability to send and recieve PDF files. I understand this particular utility has spread quite quickly.
Enigmail ,Hamachi and TrueCrypt, Since i am the “Data Detective” I like to ensure people are aware that they can protect their privacy , encrypt their data and share information in a secure fashion. Hamachi has proved to be a fantastically simple to implement VPN product which I wish only OpenVPN could mimic.

OpenOffice is a given when discussing Free and Open Source software and whats amazing is the amount of emotional commitment people will have to using Word or Excel despite having exactly the same requirements which could be met in Open Office. Im quite convinced Open Office could match Offices environments point for point and people would still wish to use Word. Theres something in that reaction which speaks to one of many reasons why we find it so hard to promote open source software.

Picasa and F-Spot as summer drew to a close it seemed appropriate to mention that a good photo management suite would be useful to the members and as an example of how open and propriatary applications can achive similar results.

Firefox and its Extensions, Interestingly this particular browser has quite a built in interest amongst the members whom have already voiced an awareness of the product. They were not so familar however with the extensions and the open source associations that Firefox has.

Thunderbird and its plugins, as with Firefox chapter members are aware of Thunderbird but not its benefits, values and features so presenting this certainly renewed interest.

Video Lan client, this is one of those applications people did not know they would need until they discovered it. I doubt many have even scratched the surface of what VLC can offer but I hope to return to it in a future presentation.

and of Course Ubuntu needless to say if you can offer a rescue disk prebuilt with wordprocessor, email and browser software and the ability to communicate with internal hardrives and the network oh and its free and heres a copy for each of you , well it grabs attention. Interestingly the Ubuntu CDs tend to disappear fast from the front desk when i leave them for people to take away. Keeping the pile refilled with those wonderful cardboard enclosed CDs is getting harder.

So after spending weeks where I  present about free and open source software for Windows and Linux and Apple Macs I eventually begun to receive feedback from chapter members. Taking a few moments to educate and increase awareness has resulted in the general level of trust and belief in free and open source software. The most satisfying comment I received was from Paul Shepard who said “I dont know why you would need to buy or pirate software. Just use what Nik recommends”. This slow drip, drip , drip of the message about free and open source software in terms which a end user can relate to builds the trust and the good feelings towards those concepts. It allows me the opportunity to introduce an alternative without alienating them.

Another chapter member Louise Philpott claimed to be a complete novice to using a computer and had until then never purchased one. Together with her Husband Nick we took a trip to the Blue Water Shopping mall and the Apple Store. I felt that for what she required Apple would deliver on her needs. It was going to have the right operating system for a brand new user and it was going to be backed with a level of commercial support and brand awareness that she would feel comfortable with. Louise is delighted with her choice and has found the interface to be exactly what she needs it to be.  Conversely  Paul Van Ooyen has asked me to quote to move all of his companies workstations to Ubuntu since he cannot afford the possible future interruptions and requirements that running Windows incurs. Small steps and big changes for all concerned.

This leads to the inevitable comments from a few members. Mostly that they do not know what it is I do or what it is that I want and they are not wrong. I get the opportunity then to explain to that member more about what I am after. I point out that making people aware that there is a choice and having them look at those choices more honestly is what I want and its what I do. Finding new ways to break the emotional attachment to using software based on “brand name” takes time and the meetings prove a excellent ground to discover what the end users want and need.This October I take over as the Chapter Director for BNIFlagship Gatwick and it gives me the opportunity to introduce more free and open source software without imposing requirements on the other members of my team . Mailman allows me to create the relevant mail lists for the Group and the Membership team. It does not require them to alter theyre mail clients or learn anything other than a new email address. It saves them from having to use Group CC: or BCC messages and it allows us to keep archives or all mail sent. Oh and of course its free.

With the upcoming Linux World Expo event which I will be attending and the ongoing involvement in with the British Computer Fair and Sussex Linux user group Im looking forward to having more and more interesting case studies involving peoples commitment to Open Source, especially if I can get them to Use Ubuntu.

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1 Comments on “Getting down to IT in 60 Seconds.

  1. If you do do that future presentation on Video Lan client, I hope you’ll put it online: After Firefox, it’s my most-used Portable App because WMP on my work PC has such lousy codec support.

    Courtesty of VLC I can even play DVDs at work now: Been listening to Red Dwarf & Blackadder all week 🙂