Example Tours

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Please see our Tour How To page for an updated tour outline. Valerie 18:29, 3 February 2011 (UTC)

Ported from old HOWTO -- out of date.

Examples of Tour Spiels

Detailed Instructions

What's your spiel? Free Geek would not be itself without its cast of wonderful (and often strange) volunteers. As a tour guide, you're representing us, and you wouldn't be representing us if you weren't yourself. Crazy, eh? Following are some segments of tour spiel from some tour guides (if in the beginning it's mostly laurel, please forgive - i had to start somewhere!)

1. Front Doors/Welcome :

Give a quick summary of what we are.
"The FREE GEEK Community Technology Center is a lot of things to a lot of people. We're a computer and electronics re-use and recycling center, sure, and that attracts a lot of people. Some people come to us because they can learn about computers and at the same time enter the world of computer ownership. Others like applying their technical skills to making community and change, or promoting Open Source software. And some folks just like smashing computers and hanging out with the good company." [laurel, June 2004]

2. Receiving/Intro to adoption program

No snippet on this topic at this time! Got anything to add?

3. Testing/Volunteer-driven :

This is another place where adoption volunteers often spend their time. The tests are designed to be simple; helps demystify.
"Here's an example of something that sounds technical - testing computer components - where people who don't have prior computer experience do quite well. The testing scripts are designed to be sinple, so grandma, who hasn't ever even seen the inside of a computer before, can read the instructions, get some encouragement, and soon be plugging in video cards and getting useful information. People get to see there isn't any magic, they're handling the parts and even putting them together. They learn the names of things, and often come away a lot more confident." [laurel, June 2004]

4. Card & mobo sorting/Intro to build program

No snippet on this topic at this time! Got anything to add?

5. Recycling/Environmental aspects

A major part of our mission is environmental, so if we can't re-use equipment, we make sure it's recycled responsibly.
"Much of what we receive in the donation stream is either obsolete or broken, Recycling is where those machines come to rest. This is an area peopled by volunteers in the adoption program who are shown how to de-manufacture computers down to their salable parts, those parts are then sold to responsible reclamation facilities and material handlers.
We accomplish several things by doing this, the first and most important is diverting these things from our local landfill. Through re-use and recycling, Free Geek has diverted over 760 tons from local landfills since we started in the year 2000. In 2002, Free Geek was responsible for 12% of e-recycling for the entire state of Oregon, and our output nearly doubled in 2003.
The de-manufacture of these broken and obsolete machines also helps pay our bills. Materiels we reclaim from these computers have value on the scrap market as reusable resources. 24 karat gold, aluminum, copper bearing wire, motors (for their copper content), steel, and plastic are all reusable. The average computer nets about 5$ worth of salable material. Volunteer effort and our non-profit status makes it possible for us to focus more on developing relationships with responsible organizations who take stewardship of the materiels after they leave our doors. There are some unsavory practices involving the shipment of e-waste to some third-world nations who observe none of the safety and environmental practices enforced by our EPA. We are dedicated, and in fact proud to be part of the solution, and not part of the problem. Working in recycling also helps de-mystify the internal organs of the magical and wondrous computer. Recycling is the morgue, not the operating room, and ample opportunity for "exploratory surgery" without having to be concerned about the patient. Here is also a wonderful opportunity to exact revenge on every blue screen of death and obstinate VCR who would not program. Here is "payback time".
One thing we do not de-manufacture is the dreaded Cathode Ray Tube monitor. Every CRT contains 4-6 lbs of lead shielding to protect your face from radiation, Mercury, Cadmium. and Bromiated Flame Retardants to name just a few of the carcinogenic snacks within. These chemicals leak into the groundwater when they are disposed of improperly. Free Geek stacks monitors on pallets, shrink wraps them and calls a company called Earth Protection Services to take them away and recycle them responsibly in an EPA approved facility where the lead and glass are reclaimed and reused. This costs us a significant amount of money, which is why we must ask for a 10$ fee for each CRT donated." [Jhasen, June 2004]

6. Printerland & the Mac pile :

Dedication to re-use
"The great rule of freegeek stuff: if we can't give it away, we'll sell it. [pause] (If we can't give it away consistently and equitably to every volunteer who works for it, we sell it)." [Jeff, June 2004]

7. System evaluation/Self-paced education

System evaluation is a step in the build program, and a first step for systems. Spend as long as you need in these steps.
"Potential builders who, in card and motherboard sorting learned the names of components and certain criteria we use for them, are applying that knowledge to actual systems and determining which systems live and die. System evaluation 1 involves opening up a system that's new to Free Geek and applying our criteria to determine whether it's worth trying to refurbish. Systems to recycle will have parts salvaged from them for re-use. Systems to keep will be sent to evaluation 2, where they are actually turned on and we determine just how good they are, processor-wise. Hard drives in keeper systems are always pulled; we never access the contents of a hard drive or boot from it until after it has been tested, which involves overwriting it a number of times.
As you can see, the instructions and guidelines for system evaluation are pretty complicated. Evaluators are learning basic troubleshooting skills as well as familiarizing themselves with parts of computers they'll be working on later. They're encouraged to stay as long as they need in any of these steps - stay until they feel they are confident enough to teach the next beginner. There's no rush. We'd rather people feel comfortable with their new knowledge before they move on." [laurel, June 2004]

8. Build area/Cooperative and ongoing learning

There's a lot of peer teaching that goes on; volunteers can often learn something, then turn around and teach it to someone else.
"Since the beginning (when Free Geek was ALL volunteer), we've relied on volunteers to teach each other. I've learned from experience that teaching something you've just learned is one of the very best ways to learn and to solidify your knowledge. In build workshops, there are a bunch of builders, and often a couple of assistants and teachers, but builders often end up helping each other. They can end up surprised at how much they have learned! People who like teaching are encouraged to take it on on a more regular basis and become assistants or teachers themselves." [laurel, June 2004]

9. Lab/The FreekBox & Open Source

An important factor in the success of Free Geek is our use of Open Source software.
"People often ask why we're using Free, or Open Source software like Linux when most people who have used computers have been exposed to mostly Microsoft and other proprietary software. There are several reasons. The Free Software philosophy is at least partly about empowering people to use computers as tools and to understand what they are doing - and that's very close to our goals. Also, there are current versions of Open Source operating systems and other software that run well on older hardware, which (as a recycler) is what we primarily have! And finally, there are no licensing fees involved with the distribution of this software - unlike proprietary software, which we'd have to pay for with each computer we gave away if we wanted to stay on the right side of the law. If we'd been doing that, we sure wouldn't exist today! The Free and Open Source software movement has been in the news more and more; our adopters are getting in on a growing movement and may even be ahead of the curve in some ways." [laurel, June 2004]
And an important part of Open Source software is the way it's developed.
"This is our lab. It's public access internet access when it's not in use. We still teach classes in here, though that's moving shortly across those doors into our new, still in progress, classrooms. We teach the adoption class, to folks getting their new computer, we teach a class in the operating system we use, Linux, to folks in the build program so that they can work effectively in the build program, and we teach anything else people want to teach, so there have been classes in programming computers, securing computers, and other such. By being around Freegeek, you'll hear about them.
Finally, the lab is where our Coders group meets. They write all the software for Freegeek, including the database software, which tracks our gizmos, the testing scripts, which determine whether our gizmos are working, the installation software used in the build area, the terminal software which runs this lab of computers, and anything else that's needed for a functioning freegeek. All of their software, and in fact all of the software at freegeek, is Free software, Free as in liberty as well as price.
Free software, whose best known product is Linux, the operating system we use at Freegeek, is different from Proprietary software, like Microsoft's products, in a fairly simple way. With proprietary software, the person who wrote the software, or the company who owns him, says "I've written this software. It's mine. You can use it for a short period of time if you pay me a large amount of money." With Free software, the author says "I've written this software, and it helped me a lot, but it's not perfect, and it doesn't really cost me anything to give it to you, so here, have it. Make it better if you can. And when you give your revised version of it to the next person, give them the ability to make it better too.
So we at Freegeek get this huge ideological benefit from Free Software -- we're making the world a better place, one programmer at a time. But we also get two other benefits: first, we can afford it. If we gave away a microsoft windows license with every computer, we'd be bankrupt. But second, Free software runs better on older hardware. So the computer you'll be getting if you sign up for the build or adoption program will actually run nearly as fast as if you'd gotten a new computer running Windows, even though the specs are much older. This triple benefit makes all the difference." [Jeff, June 2004]

10. Classrooms/Future plans

No snippet on this topic at this time! Got anything to add?

11. Collab/Other programs

No snippet on this topic at this time! Got anything to add?

12. Store/Focus on re-use

The store is just one of the ways Free Geek generates income to stay open.
"So the tour is really about giving you folks a sense of the place, and trying to encourage you to find a niche here that you want to work in for a while, until you get a really good sense of the place and can help us run it. And over there I gave you lots of good ways to volunteer and help us out with your time. But I have to admit, Freegeek needs a little more than your time. We also, sadly, need a little of your money. Freegeek is a nonprofit, and as such is always in need of a little financial boost. There are many ways you can help:
  • anything bought in the store helps us, as it both gives us a little bit of revenue to keep the lights on, and it gets recycled hardware back out into the community.
  • In addition any money you can afford to donate at the front desk helps us, and as we are a 501c3 nonprofit, it's tax-deductible for you. And right now, we have a matching grant going on, so any money donated from now until August will help us reach our $38,000 goal, which will get us another 38 thousand.
  • Finally, even for those poor ones among us, there's a little detail: freegeek runs on donated equipment and supplies entirely, so when we run out of toilet paper, we put that up on a little list on the whiteboard at reception, a list of things that if you have around your house and don't really need, we'd much appreciate.
Now, let's go get the logistics out of the way. We'll go back to the front desk, and you can join the adnoption program if you like, I'll give the lot of you interested in the build program more information, and if you have any questions about other, more unusual ways of volunteering at Freegeek, I'll try to answer them." [Jeff, June 2004]

13. Front desk/Questions and signup

No snippet on this topic at this time! Got anything to add?