This is the 4th year the DC LoCo Team has had a table at the Takoma Park Folk Festival. In 2006, Kevin (the LoCo leader) says the table was well off the beaten path. Very few visitors. 2007 was my first year participating. That year we got a better spot, just around the corner from the lawn area where the main stage is. Anybody wanting to reach the main stage from that side of the building had to go past us. We got about 120-150 visitors. In 2008, we had the same spot, and this time the OLPC Learning Club folks got a table to our right and the hackerspace, HacDC was to our left. Again, we got about 150 visitors.
This year, though? We were on the edge of the lawn. Hard to get from the food to the main stage without passing us. Well, we lost track of pressing the button on the counter for large swaths of time because we were so swamped, but of the times that we remembered…362 visitors. Yeah, WOW!
We find that having OLPC XO laptops seems to attract folks. "Is that the laptop from the news?" and then we get to explain Free Software and oh hey look, we have CDs for another Linux distro here called Ubuntu… Mel Chua was there in the morning. She used to work on OLPC, and I heard the reason she had to leave early was to fly down to NC to Red Hat headquarters for new employee orientation. Woot for Mel! Mike Lee came in the afternoon to take her place as Resident OLPC Expert. He runs the OLPC Learning Club.
I'd say about ½ the people who came to the table last year said they either already used it or someone in their family used it or they remembered us from the year before. That's about 75 people. This year, probably 100 said that sort of thing, maybe 100 more said they'd heard of Linux in general but not Ubuntu and isn't it hard to use? That means we had at least 160 people who'd never heard of this before but know now and another 100 who got some more information. Yay! Hundreds more than last year! This is what I like about being at a folk festival instead of at a tech conference. We're not preaching to the choir, to the techies who already know all about Linux and have made up their minds about it already. We're talking to the "human beings" mentioned in Ubuntu's tagline. Several people also asked for lists of netbooks that come with Ubuntu pre-installed.
I think we went through 3 boxes of Ubuntu CDs. Unfortunately, we only got to give out 5 Kubuntu CDs because that was all Kevin happened to have lying around. It seems our Jaunty ShipIt pack didn't include any, and he didn't open up all of the boxes in advance to count.
Taking care of the booth this year, aside from Mel and Mike on OLPC duty, were Kevin Cole (runs the DC LoCo), Other Chuck (I don't know his last name, but he's known as "Other Chuck" since Chuck Frain runs the Maryland LoCo and that's not him), Daniel Chen (y'all know him by now, right?), and me (oh come on). And as in years past, Barry Warsaw (Canonical, maintains Mailman & Python) stopped by the table. He has his son trained to give double-thumbs-down to Windows, hehe!
For photos of all the fun, check out my Takoma Park Folk Festival 2009 album on Flickr. It, er, appears I need to learn about a better color setting for my camera in really bright sunlight because everything's blue-ish, except for people's brightly-colored shirts. Excuse: it's a week old, I haven't gotten used to it yet! Though I did find the setting for brightly-colored flowers. Lots of photos that'd make nice wallpapers in my Flickr now.