This morning I officially kicked off my version of Maemo community outreach efforts, by joining my first meetup of the Dallas Open Source Saturday group. We met at Los Lupe’s TexMex restaurant in Addison, north of Dallas. The seating was decent and the breakfast tacos were very good in my opinion, but drawbacks for the location included lack of wifi, too much loud music/talking and inability to use TV for presentations.
In attendance were several men from a variety of backgrounds brought together by a common interest in the power of open source. I was relieved and interested to note the number of people including Microsoft development in their backgrounds. Personally because that’s described the bulk of my work for the past twenty years, but also because it demonstrates how important it is for Maemo to include Windows as a full development platform.
The group is called Dallas Open Source Saturday and as their name implies they meet once a month to get up to speed on developments in the FOSS world. The meetup mission statement is:
Learn how to get more done for free. User focused discussions on remote control, network monitoring, truly portable office documents, PDFs, and much more…
Bring your laptop for hands on demos. Bring your problems for the hive mind to chew on.
They currently claim 161 members and aim for attendance of around 15 or so people per event.
There was no formal presentation at this event; rather, it was “bring your toys for Christmas and talk about them”. Unfortunately I did not push hard enough for an N900 replacement after the one I had broke, so sharing that device with this group will have to wait. However, there was signficant interest in the N800 and N810 I brought… more on that later.
I was a bit late arriving, and when I got there an XO from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project was being passed around and discussed. The organizer, John Fields, has taken a great interest in this venture and provided a nice background on it.
I reintroduced myself to the group and briefly explained my Nokia background and maemo.org involvement. As many already know, I’ve been working on flyers for these meetups and had one ready. The design is not official yet (I haven’t even floated this one to the maemo.org community for feedback) but I needed to have something for attendees to take away. The front and back sides are shown below (click to expand):
I printed the flyers on heavy gloss brochure stock and punched the obligatory 3 holes on the front left side for binder use. I’m not yet sure if this is the version I’ll use going forward (I would like some more guidance on the back side content especially) but it worked for now.
I passed the N800 and N810 around for everyone to play with and answered questions from the group. The basic ones were:
- “Has there been any support for industrial uses?” I answered by summing up my related blog post on MID use cases. There was interest in rubber (or similar) edge protection and I had to inform the group that, outside of Mugen’s cool battery enhancement for the under-appreciated N810, to my knowledge there has not been a lot of aftermarket activity yet around this platform [edit: see first comment below].
- “What can you do with it?” Of course that’s a loaded question given the linux computer nature of these devices. I tried to sum that up but it’s far too complex a subject to do true justice in the time I spent on it, as is evidenced by my article on the subject and the responses.
- “Why should I buy one?” Ah, the biggest of them all! One member pointed out he could not see why he needed anything like the mobile computer products and I had to agree that’s the toughest of all to answer. As we know, this tends to be highly personal and simply self-identifying as a prosumer, developer or similar is not always enough for an individual to justify making the purchase. I did point out the usual (browser, GPS, et al) but as I did various attendees would smile and hold up their device of choice– some of which perform certain singular tasks better than any given Maemo device.
Overall I was excited to finally touch base with these guys and kick off what I hope will be a long string of Texas-area meetups amongst various groups. It helped me work on my own message (which is sorely short on the developer side) and identify what more needs to be done by me as an individual but also the maemo.org community council and Nokia teams. So here are the takeways from this morning:
- I will definitely need more than one type of flyer. I can see creating separate variants for developers, testers, UI experts and enthusiasts as well as possibly a general purpose introduction to Maemo. There were developers at the table but I need to accomodate a broader audience.
- This is definitely a viable mode of spreading the Maemo message. Attendees were inquisitive and respectful, and made me feel very welcome. Many were genuinely curious about the Maemo platform.
- Nokia needs to keep working at the official “why should people buy one” message. The company’s traditional “throw a rich feature list at them and they will come” approach does not work in the US. Potential participants need to know that consumers have a compelling reason to buy the products and that Nokia is solidly behind their success. I can honestly say too many balls have been dropped in that regard, and too little progress made in reasonable time. In my opinion Maemo needs to continue staffing up.
- Maemo will ultimately need people performing outreach fulltime. For now, I will continue to do what I can and utilize the maemo.org network to cultivate increased volunteer outreach– but that will only go so far.
I will continue working on materials, processes and infrastructure (including wiki pages for outreach) as well as bringing in guest speakers such as Maemo developers or Nokia coordinators. I’m hoing to get more feedback than I’ve received so far, too. Don’t be shy about suggesting things here, at talk.maemo.org or related mailing lists. I am listening, and so is Nokia. Let’s make Maemo a success!