Imagine RIT 2011

So I've been absent for a while lately, but with good reason. I've been preparing for Imagine RIT, which was held earlier today. After pulling possibly my longest day's hack yesterday (1pm to 4am, approximately), I woke up at 9 and headed over to the Innovation Center to talk to people about FOSS. All day long, the FOSSBox was filled with curious people, looking to find out what it is we did. We had kids poking around on the OLPCs, checking out our software, and occasionally getting lost opening new programs. Every time I finished showing a group around all the different projects hosted in the FOSSBox, a brand new group would appear and start asking questions. It was tiring, especially on about three hours of sleep, but it was quite fun and exciting showing off our work to new people.

Of particular interest was Lemonade Stand, which seemed to excite many of the children who came around. Most seemed to pick up the game with minimal instruction (though it helped that by now I know very well which areas to explain... they should get tightened in the future) and most had lots of fun despite the large quantities of math involved. And the backdrop to all this was Rise Above the Crowd, the project I was spending so much time polishing yesterday. I don't know if I could explain what exactly Rise is, other than a real-time journalism and news collection framework, which doesn't really explain anything. Basically, users submit stories and photos to Rise, which in turn keep track of popular and recent content and display this information to strategically placed screens throughout the campus. After a few hiccoughs, the servers were online and serving data to the public, who then voted on their favorite stories. At the FOSSBOX, we had the projector set up serving the HD display mode so people could see what was current while they were there. Since I was the one most familiar with the system at the time, I tried to field any questions that popped up at the time to the best of my knowledge, though sometimes that wasn't much help. As the day progressed, we uncovered a few new bugs in the new system, and have some new tasks before the final release.

All in all, a very exciting and fun weekend. We made a few contacts, introduced a few more people to FOSS@RIT, and gave away at least 40 LiveCDs. I think that qualifies as quite a success.

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