User group downturn?

Daniel Fussell dfussell at
Mon Dec 3 17:45:58 MST 2012

On 12/03/2012 04:54 PM, Michael Torrie wrote:
> On 12/03/2012 03:38 PM, Daniel Fussell wrote:
>> That trend has only strengthened since you left.  I blame Web 2.0 (with
>> maybe a hint of iPhone/smartphone).  It has changed the course of those
>> who would have become thoughtful, introverted geeks, and made them into
>> superficial, narcissistic dweebs instead by providing the false sense of
>> a social life.
> Could be.  I definitely have a social life, though, as evidenced by my
> many posts to PLUG.  Also ViM is better than Emacs.


>> Or it could just be that the Linux and Open Source movements have become
>> so successful, that the young are trained and employed long before they
>> hit college.  I doubt this is the case though, as a long-time friend of
>> mine from the BBS days recently told me his best programming candidates
>> take one look at the company's programming litmus test and say, "I just
>> google till I find an answer, and then copy and paste it."
> Could be.  I also had a hard time finding Windows admin help as well as
> Linux.
> As for Linux, I found that the only real experience BYU students seemed
> to have was what they were forced to do for classes.  Whether that be
> just programming in CS 240 or an IT class where they set up a LAMP
> server.  But very few of them did anything with Linux outside of class.
>   Even students who were experienced with Windows didn't seem to really
> have explored the OS at all.  Few knew what regedit was.

Most of my employees have been about the same, plus an install of Ubuntu 
or two.  On occasion we've had a few stars that worked for an 
open-source based company in high school, or had a relative do so and 
mentor them.  One of mine like that just went off to med school.

When I was in high school, my chess club advisor would take us over to 
the elementary to play chess with the 5th and 6th graders.  By so doing, 
he developed a steady stream of capable players that would practice 
between themselves through junior high, and be ready for serious 
competition by their sophomore year.  We took state once or twice while 
I was there (though I'll admit, it was not due to my ability, or rather 
lack thereof).

So I've started thinking about doing the same thing with linux, 
programming, and such.  I watch for intelligent people in their freshman 
year with a budding interest in open source.  Then I encourage them to 
join the BYU UUG list, and install a few distros.  Maybe suggest they 
run for office as well, suggesting it as a resume booster.  It feels 
like I'm weaving a web to trap them with; a web of freedom.  Or "freeing 
their minds" so to speak.

I've been thinking of starting earlier, by volunteering with a high 
school or two, to see if I can give them a little more time to play with 
Linux and such before they get to college.  But I haven't come up with 
anything besides maybe one of the various user groups hosting a series 
of activities or competitions for the high school kids.

I've seen some of the Mechanical Engineering folk doing this using Lego 
Mindstorm (which I'll admit, I've wanted to play with).  Apple and HP 
have done this kind of thing for years, it's how Steve Jobs got his 
start in the industry.

What do you think?  Does anyone have any pet projects that we might lure 
unsuspecting teens with to their ultimate success?  Would any of our 
companies be interested in sponsoring something like this?

;-Daniel Fussell

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