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Tech-Related Volunteer Gigs 252

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the open-source-hacking-counts dept.
jeffomatic writes "Here's a question for Service Day: what kind of volunteer opportunities are available out there for the technologically-inclined? I'm a software developer and I'm wondering if there's anyone in the field engaged in pro-bono work, like IT or teaching or web design or whatnot. I'm not at all above rolling my sleeves up and working at shelters or the local park, but it occurs to me that my professional skills might be usefully applied in the service context as well. I'd like to hear about what other people are doing, in terms of projects, time commitments, organizations, etc." Or just commit a patch to your favorite project.
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Tech-Related Volunteer Gigs

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  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:44PM (#26518473) Homepage

    ...i bet could really use some simple PHP+xSQL database for scheduling and stuff.

    Most small non-profits keep records in a smattering of paper and undocumented excel sheets, they could really use your IT expertise.

    • by flaming error (1041742) on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:46PM (#26518489) Journal

      That's a great idea, and it's also true for many charities. Pick your favorite, call them up, and talk to them. I volunteered to do database stuff for the local Habitat for Humanity.

      • by PaintyThePirate (682047) on Monday January 19, 2009 @05:01PM (#26520149) Homepage
        Very true. I help run a student organization [cmustoc.org] that helps non-profits with their technology needs. Literally every non-profit we talk to has some kind of technology problem or need, from designing a new website to simple things like figuring out how to network a printer. Call up a few local ones and see where they need help.

        You might also want to check places like TechSoup [techsoup.org], where non-profits would look for tech help.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sortius_nod (1080919)

          Agreed, I used to work for 2 different non-profit orgs in Newcastle, NSW, Australia when I lived there... was tough times, hard to find work, so I just gave my expertise to these people. I received about 6 months worth of work fixing computers, replacing equipment for cheaper to run, more efficient equipment, or even just making sure their security was up to scratch (easy to do as they were all running *nix distros of different flavours).

          Any org will jump at the chance of a free techie, the reason being tha

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rtconner (544309)

      Well I'd say websites in general. There are many non-profits who I'm sure could use a good website and/or hosting and maintenance. That is probably the number one way us nerds can donate our skills.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by mobby_6kl (668092)

        I've heard of this website that would surely welcome volunteers who are good with perl and SQL. Have a look at this, I'm confident someone here would be able to contribute something useful. They have a development-related blog here [slashcode.org]

    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Monday January 19, 2009 @03:24PM (#26518941) Journal

      It's definitely a nice idea, and I don't want to be discouraging, but keep continuing support in mind - both generally (can you commit to keeping it patched and secure for the next x amount of time?) and in emergencies (they're relying on the system, it goes down, how much of a problem is that going to cause them and how are they going to get it fixed?).

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023)
    haxors without borders.
  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:46PM (#26518485)
    A few things come to mind. You could volunteer and show a few elderly individuals how to use a computer. That sort of thing can be very frustrating or very rewarding depending on who you teach and how patient you are. You could also work on open source projects that aid the disabled. Then there is things like helping an old lady sell her stuff on ebay instead of say a garage sale. I know a lot of elderly folks have many things just laying around collecting dust and could use the extra income. Just a few ideas, I'm sure others will come up with some more inventive things.
    • by DavidTC (10147) <[slas45dxsvadiv. ... ] [neverbox.com]> on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:57PM (#26518641) Homepage

      You could volunteer and show a few elderly individuals how to use a computer.

      If you want to do this, the place to get in contact with is your local library. They'll either do the classes themselves, or know who to contact at the local school system's 'continuing education', which is the other place that might be doing it.

  • non profits (Score:5, Informative)

    by lucifuge31337 (529072) <(daryl) (at) (introspect.net)> on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:47PM (#26518497) Homepage
    All small non profits (women's shelters, food banks, volunteer fire departments, etc) always need someone who can do basic PC maintenance, install software, generally help them USE their computers with a little bit of training, and fix things. I used to do the service work on the PCs, network, and copier at a local woman's shelter when I was in the repair business. It was one of my freebies that I did simply because I was asked.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ozarkcanoer (808891)
      For the past 10 years I have been doing computer support volunteer work for a state chapter of The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit organization which has chapters in all states. I order, install, maintain software and hardware, train staff (about 30 people) throughout the state. Most states have a full time or at least part time person doing this work and at certain times of the year when big software updates have to be done could use volunteer assistance. Look up your state's locations at nature.org/ a
  • by tomtomtom777 (1148633) on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:48PM (#26518517) Homepage

    CmdrTaco gave you the answer.

    If you want to work pro-bono, why don't you just start working on an open source project, that's not big enough to pay you yet?

    Simple question. Simple answer.

    • by b4upoo (166390)

      You make a good point. Although people use open source programs and OSs for many different reasons poverty is one reason that some folks use open source materials. Any contributions to open source do somebody good whether it be for economic or other reasons. I am reminded of my neighbor who uses Windows smashing his laptop to small pieces after Windows locked up on him as he was just about done with a complicated schedule that had taken him several hours to build.

      • by Jon_E (148226)

        You make a good point. Although people use open source programs and OSs for many different reasons poverty is one reason that some folks use open source materials.

        stinginess is the main reason for me personally ..

        but OSS isn't without it's share of frustrations too - i'm reminded of the many times i've caught myself before kicking in my old pentium servers after multiple complex kernel hacks trying to get poorly written and undocumented driver code to compile cleanly

  • by MerlynEmrys67 (583469) on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:48PM (#26518519)
    Depends. I prefer education so it is volunteering for a regional science fair as a judge and giving classroom presentations for National Engineering and Technitians Month (NET Month)out here.
    I actually prefer donating labor to the environment through the local park & rec. department. Gives me a chance to get out in the big blue room and move some dirt around through tree planting, landscape maintenance and other things I don't do on a regular basis but are actually kinda fun for a day project.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by b4upoo (166390)

      If you like open air projects of great public benefit have you considered stalking and killing drug dealers? You do the world a favor and you get to rip off their cash as well. Please be certain you aren't bumping off under cover cops by accident.

      • by alta (1263)
        I'm all for this. A note to all law enforcement, take the day off on Service day. Now, when the hell is Service day? I've never heard of it. I'm much prefer sysadmin day and talk like a pirate day.
        • by AuMatar (183847)

          Today. Service day isn't an official holiday, its an idea by Obama that people should spend a day doing volunteer work. He suggested MLK day. Obviously no requirement to do so, but with so many worthwhile causes out there encouraging people to help out is a good thing, even if only a small number do so.

          • by alta (1263)
            Bah... I'm not very fond of MLK day. I think he, and Jesus are the only people in the states that get a day to themselves. Isn't today R.E. Lee day as well? Today's just another day that I either I or my wife have to take a vacation day because the damn schools are closed. AND my trash can is full and it won't be picked up till wednesday now. Why can't they put all these damn days on the weekend?
          • by Otter (3800)
            Among other problems with this date, the fact that there's a foot of freaking snow outside rules out a lot of worthwhile (albeit non-computer) volunteer activity...
        • I'm much prefer sysadmin day and talk like a pirate day.

          I am looking forward to this year's Talk Like a Somali Pirate Day! *splash* *gasp* *gurgle* *glug*

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GlL (618007)

      One of the choices here in Portland is FreeGeek. They build PCs for folks and offer classes in open source usage.

      http://www.freegeek.org/ [freegeek.org]

  • Try Craiglist: (Score:5, Informative)

    by toby (759) * on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:48PM (#26518523) Homepage Journal

    Volunteer dev in Toronto [craigslist.ca]

    • by Mishotaki (957104)

      We are seeking for few talanted VOLUNTEERS

      I hope they're looking for typecheckers too... They need one ASAP!

  • I do have a web related project (that I haven't found time for) for someone to work on for a Charity providing free education to brilliant kids in Haiti. Basically the web site is always out of date, because I'm pretty busy. But if it were to be converted to drupal/joomla/wordpress or some other content management system we could train existing staff to update it. Let me know if your interested. If someone is interested, just reply then we'll explore it min more detail.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Zsub (1365549)

      You have time to post on /. so get working on the conversion, you lazy clod!

    • What I'd like to know is: How can I find out how to set up a CMS? It isn't exactly a part of my school's CompTIA courses.
  • by tloh (451585) on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:50PM (#26518541)
    Perhaps not directly relevent to your career background, but amateur radio operators (HAMs) have played a time honored role in coordinating communication for marathons and other very spread out public events. If you happen to have some back ground in anything related to communication technology, I'm sure the local HAM club would be glad to have you, regardless of your morse coding speed (or lack thereof).
  • ...is to volunteer to do tech for local theatres and music venues.

    But if you want to actually do computer work, all your local non-profits could stand to have someone come in and work on their computers. Seriously. Half their security software will be expired, their systems will be loaded with spyware, it's a mess, even worse than a random individual computer's. They have no IT, they do not train their workers, and they have a large amount of people using each computer. It's a recipe for disaster.

    They alm

  • Commetment? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:52PM (#26518573)

    I had a similar urge some years back, so I volunteered at the local Habitat for Humanity office. They had some need for simple IT work, and I probably could have done just fine.

    But... then I got busy with other stuff. And I found my passion for helping people wasn't consistent. Before long I handed back my office key. They probably put more effort into getting me up to speed than they ever recouped from my help.

    I think this makes it hard to do good volunteer IT work. Much IT work benefits greatly from low turnover, as opposed to picking up garbage in a park, where turnover rate probably is irrelevant.

    So I guess my advice is to avoid talking up your usefulness to the people you're trying to help, until you're sure you'll have the interest and free time to really stick with it. On the other hand, even IT people can still pick up garbage in the park.

    • If you're going to be a volunteer, then your first goal should be to give service. Put away all twinkle-of-the-eye notions of saving the great masses problems through IT. If you have IT skills, then throw them in the mix, but they won't always be the most important. Remember that the other volunteers also have skills: that woman filling out forms might be a teacher, that guy moving boxes might be a lawyer. You should be prepared to provide service in other ways too: help do cleaning, change light bulbs, run
  • by plopez (54068) on Monday January 19, 2009 @02:54PM (#26518597) Journal

    I've posted a number of times on this topic. It's a good way to get tech skills and references if you are in school or just out of school and need experience.

    Start googling groups in you community.

    No kill animal shelters need people to maintain donor databases and websites. As do public radio stations. Non-profit recycling centers/thrift stores often need people to wipe and reload computers (and make sure they have the right licenses). Low income schools need tech instructors.

    I've done the tech instructor gig and the thrift store gig over the years. As far as time goes, volunteers are often given large amounts of flexibility. After all, you are not getting paid.

    You should check out the organization carefully, interview them per se. Make sure they are serious and high quality. Don't let them dump all their work on you.

    If you are doing it for the resume avoid anything too closely tied with political, religous or controversial topics. As the joke goes, explaining why you did volunteer work for the North American Marlon Brando Look-alikes Association may be embarrassing.

    HTH

    • by Krishnoid (984597) *

      No kill animal shelters need people to maintain donor databases and websites. As do public radio stations.

      One big thing I notice is that small nonprofits seem to create their own own donor database systems. I'd think that this would be a good opportunity for a free software project to fill the need, or if such a project exists, to take it and customize/generalize it for certain classes of nonprofits -- e.g., there are lots of animal shelters around the country; a dog is a dog and a cat is a cat everywhere; one would think a single donor database system would serve a significant portion of the needs of many of

  • Try joining a list that asks these questions and are looking for volunteers. https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/listinfo/nosi-discussion [mayfirst.org]
  • My brother used to collect peoples old and rejected computers, make sure they worked, clean of the hard drives, set up an operating system, and then give them to a kind of "after school help kids with their homework" place. Computers get recycled, Kids get tools they need.
  • by spasm (79260) on Monday January 19, 2009 @03:00PM (#26518673) Homepage

    My local needle exchange [homelessyo...liance.org] (don't start flaming, they're people volunteering their time to improve the health of their fellow citizens, regardless of what you think of drug use or how best to respond to it) has a couple of contracts with City and State health departments that they need to do a lot of data reporting for (how many clients, how many referrals, etc) which they were collecting slowly and tediously using paper records, then wasting even more time on every three months collating the data to send to the funder. I wrote them a simple php frontend to a mysql database to let them enter data as they go, which then automatically generates the quarterly data files they need to submit to funders, freeing them up to concentrate more on service delivery (and giving them a better sense of how their service was running as a nice side effect).

    Most non-profits I've seen in the past five years are using woeful data collection methods; almost any of them would be eternally grateful if someone would spend a few days or weeks to set something up and then maintained it on a volunteer basis.

    On a shameless plug note, the abovementioned non-profit needs a new home for its 1U server - if you're in the San Francisco bay area and can donate rackspace & connectivity, drop me a line.

  • Old People (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Samschnooks (1415697)
    I have noticed that a lot of old folks are thrilled with the internet because they can keep in touch with their kids and grand kids - they just love it! Some do have an issue with the technology and some are just intimidated by it. Anyway, volunteering at your local senior center and help them set up an email account or set up a video camera. And maybe instructing them on the hazards: both real and phony.
  • Culture Shock (Score:2, Informative)

    by Punk CPA (1075871)
    You don't even need to deploy the most advanced technology. A medical student I know created an Access database for a clinic in Zambia that brought huge efficiencies and may have saved lives. The staff there learned to use it because he modeled the input screens on the paper forms they were used to.

    Also, think about installing (and maintaining!) QuickBooks or some other accounting package. The key to helping them is to always keep in mind that you are not dealing with computer specialists. Keep it s
  • My community operates a Computers For Classrooms program, a recycling effort driven by an all-volunteer force. They're partnered with the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher program and others, including the IRS (for tax-exempt status). It is a very successful program, providing not only the hardware to schools but it also serves as a revenue stream for the school district by providing a recycling outlet for tech parts. http://www.computersforclassrooms.org/Whatdo.htm [computersf...srooms.org] I work there a few hours a week, as do
  • In UK... (Score:2, Informative)

    I'm volunteering (in between contracts) at my local Citizens Advice Bureau. Mixed Win 2003/SUSE servers, Win XP desktops, 8-10 permanent staff, 50+ volunteers. I recently achieved Linux Professional certification and wanted somewhere to gain rela-life experience. This is working out fine for me - fun, some challenges, and satisfying.
  • Oblig Joker Quote (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Coraon (1080675) on Monday January 19, 2009 @03:07PM (#26518745)
    "If your good at something never do it for free." Personally I will freely give my time to things like collecting items for a shelter but I would not do programing for free.
    • Re:Oblig Joker Quote (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rary (566291) on Monday January 19, 2009 @03:25PM (#26518947)

      If your good at something never do it for free.

      I can't even begin to comprehend that idea.

      Seriously. If I'm good at something, it's likely because I've put a lot of time and effort into perfecting it. If I've put a lot of time and effort into perfecting it, it's likely because I enjoy doing it. If I enjoy doing it, then I will do it every chance I can get.

      I'm a software developer because I love doing it. I get paid to do it, but I also do it in some of my spare time for free, and I'll happily do it for others who want me to do it for them.

      I also play guitar for free, fly planes for free, and have sex for free.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2009 @03:30PM (#26519015)

        And that is why sometimes you shouldn't take advice from comic book villains.

      • Re:Oblig Joker Quote (Score:4, Interesting)

        by homer_s (799572) on Monday January 19, 2009 @03:57PM (#26519327)
        If I enjoy doing it, then I will do it every chance I can get.

        In that case, you should do it somewhere you will get paid and then you can donate the money to the charity.
        That is much more efficient than donating your skills to a charity. The assumption of course, is that a business can make better use of your skills than a charity - or, in other words, if you are a high priced SAP consultant, you are better off earning $300 for an hours work and donating that money to get some PHP dev to work for the charity.

        It is just the principle of 'comparative advantage'.
        • by Rary (566291)

          But if I already do it somewhere where I get paid (which I do), and it's something I enjoy doing, and the charity can use my actual skills (I'm a developer, not an SAP consultant), then it makes much more sense for me to keep my money and donate my time. The charity gets expensive skills for free, and can therefore use their funds elsewhere, and I get additional opportunities to do what I enjoy, and I can spend my paycheque on myself.

          Which is not to say I can't also donate some of my pay to charity, which I

    • by vishbar (862440)

      Some of us enjoy programming but hate picking up trash. If it goes to benefit someone else and it's worth it to you, why not do it for free?

    • "If your good at something never do it for free."

      Obviously one thing 'your' not good at is grammar.

  • My company is starting to sponsor 1 to 6 months paid breaks to do your regular work for NGO non-profits. For me that would be IT work. Normally if I donate labor it would be habitat for humanity as a worker drone. But do they or others need volunteer IT support?
    • by grcumb (781340)

      My company is starting to sponsor 1 to 6 months paid breaks to do your regular work for NGO non-profits. For me that would be IT work. Normally if I donate labor it would be habitat for humanity as a worker drone. But do they or others need volunteer IT support?

      GeekCorps [geekcorps.org], my friend. See the world and make yourself useful. In fact, it would make sense to have your company talk to Geekcorps and to organise staff in groups to collaborate on a given project, in order to ensure continuity and ongoing support.

      Anyway, they do good work.

  • by stokessd (89903) on Monday January 19, 2009 @03:14PM (#26518815) Homepage

    I helped the local Humane Society get their records modernized using Animal Shelter Manager (http://sheltermanager.sourceforge.net/home.php). The sysadmin there was feeling a bit out of his depth with setting up the SQL database and such. It was easy work, and made a real tangible difference. I love these sort of freebies too, where there is a task with a clear end.

    1) I installed the software.
    2) Installed and configured the mySQL on their little server.
    3) Got the tables setup
    4) Trained the sysadmin on what I'd done and how to maintain/backup the system
    5) Got the software installed on the desktops with his help
    6) Backed out of the picture
    7) No Profit

    Sheldon

  • Check out small non-profit organizations. Many would benefit from technology help, but often do not have budget funds to make it happen. Sometimes, there will be funds for hardware or software, but not both. Every little bit helps.
  • by Rary (566291)

    If you're in Canada, check out MatchIT [imaginecanada.ca]. If you're in the UK, try IT4Communities [it4communities.org.uk].

    I don't know if there are similar sites for other countries.

  • I'm trying to get old computers for kids in Namibia high schools and a friend and myself bought a kindergarden over there. I should be going back in 2 months to check on them. If you're interested in helping, send me a note.

    Here are some photos of the preschool and the computers sent off to the high school.

    Kids in preschool:
    http://web.mac.com/zav/iWeb/Zav-O-Matic/Namibia%202008/D3A0AB87-8276-4741-8F1B-9225C7F23CF7.html [mac.com]

    Computers:
    http://web.mac.com/zav/iWeb/Zav-O-Matic/Off%20to%20Africa.html [mac.com]

  • by MountainLogic (92466) on Monday January 19, 2009 @03:31PM (#26519023) Homepage
    On a broader level consider http://www.unv.org/ [unv.org] the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program.
  • I am helping lead an initiative for a non-profit to install computer labs in 60 schools in Vietnam starting this year. This will impact about 10,000 kids and 1,200 teachers.

    As of two weeks ago, Vietnam has announced that they will be going 100% open source by next year. I am looking for anybody who has interest and experience in Linux/BSD/FOSS who can build machines, train, help develop curricula, build infrastructure (Web, Mail, DNS, VPN, file sharing (NFS, Samba), etc.) and even do some software developme

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Atheose (932144)
      I have a lot of older P4 machines that aren't special but they run fine. I'm located in Virginia; would you pay for shipping? If you're located within a reasonable distance I wouldn't mind driving them to you.
  • My fledgling Website Design company [spotswooddesign.com] recently did free design work for Banana Leaf Project [blproject.org]. It's nothing fancy, but a simple website like that can go a long way for a charity organization that's looking for small donations and government sponsorship.
  • I hope this doesn't come across as cynical, because it's not meant to be. But one very reasonable strategy is to work hard at your regular job, and donate money to charitable causes.

    I've often thought about how to put my software engineering skills to good use, and that's the best I've been able to come up with. If you can't find a great outlet to directly put your skills to use at a charitable organization, this is a pretty reasonable proxy. It lets you do what you do best, for the people that find it most

  • I like volunteering. A while back I started a group (friend/friend's friends/etc.) that would go out on Saturdays and help out.

    A major problem, though, was finding places to volunteer. Really the only place we found to reliably volunteer was at a couple of foodbanks (always happy to have people sort cans, etc.). Which is great, but quite dull to be doing every weekend.

    Obviously, there are lots of other places/people who could use some help, but since they only need it sporadically there is no way to

  • Your local public School. Leave your FOOS/Closed Source prejudices at the door and just help.

    My son is in elementary school, and let me tell you these people need all the help they can get. Even if is nothing more then cracking open a printer to clear some scotch tape out of the works or making sure some teachers machine is connected to the correct printer, every little bit helps.

    If you can commit to even a few hours a week head to the local middle school or high school and be a proctor, trust me the teac

  • Really basic stuff--certainly far beneath your capabilities and/or interests, but so important:

    1) If a group has computers, volunteer to keep them patched, updated, and malware-free. Teach someone to do the same.
    2) If a group needs a Web presence, offer to set them up with a blog or simple CMS. Commit to keep it updated and invader-free. Teach someone to do the same. Teach someone to update it/post to it.
    3) Teach some office-related skills--word processor, spreadsheet, yadda--in a friendly, non-judgmental w

  • Find or form a local group around the Nonprofit Technology Network [nten.org].
  • I'm all for volunteer work, but today is my birthday, my boss took the day off, and the work is light due to being MLK day. This is a paid vacation for me!
  • by firetech47 (1456599) on Monday January 19, 2009 @03:58PM (#26519353)
    I have volunteered my time with a local volunteer fire department for about 12 years now. I work full time as a systems administrator for a large network and donate my time to them for because their service is very valuable to my community. Fire departments all over the country are required to submit reports to their state and the federal government to be eligible for grants, etc. There is a lot of data collected for that and has to be submitted electronically in most places. If the your local department does not have the IT and database expertise in-house, they could be missing out on a lot of opportunities for funding from the federal government that could save the local taxpayers a lot of money.
  • Donate your time. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MjrWoody (763613)
    At my old job (a 12 person IT consulting firm) we closed down the entire shop in order to donate all our time to fixing up a local non-profits computer network. Perhaps a phone call to your favorite local charity group to see if they have any computer issues that could use some fixing.
  • Robotics mentor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by unkbar (693850)
    I work as a volunteer software mentor for the local high school robotics club. It's part of the FIRST robotics program (www.usfirst.org). It inspires kids to careers in science and technology, and makes better use of my 30+ years of software development than, say, picking up litter on the highway or toting 2x4's for Habitat.
  • I began helping community organisations in university and extended afterwards.

    I did 6 years very part time.

    Some points I noted at the end of it were:

    1) The community org themselves provide a service. I found the expectations of those recieving services expected bank level IT infrastucture("Have you got my reciept dated 5 years ago?).

    2) Community org = clients often disadvataged due to health issues. Hence, it will become your responsibility to provide strong, secure databases.

    3) Political. Once c
  • by Gord.ca (236984) <[ac.oolretawu.sc ... [ta] [kcollophg]> on Monday January 19, 2009 @04:54PM (#26520065)

    I'm sorry to take exception to a key tennant of open source theory, but I just don't think its so simple to 'just' commit a patch.

    I see contributing to a project as involving a significant commitment. In my thinking, high quality patches require the developer to have a fairly high level of understanding of the internals of the project and the local coding conventions. If the contributor doesn't have this, the patch will need significant rework from someone who does, or the codebase will get ugly fast.

    If I'm being too much of a perfectionist please tell me.

    I'm a software developer who'd love to contribute to some of the major projects, but I see the personal commitment to positive effect ratio as prohibitive.

  • I Hack Charities (Score:2, Informative)

    by cypherwise (650128)
    You may want to check out the I Hack Charities [ihackcharities.org] project. It was started by Johnny Long (the No Tech Hacking talk/book). Money was raised for an organization in Kenya and the Columbia Area Linux Users Group is looking to help out by donating some servers and getting some donated rack space/bandwidth to help out.
  • by Krishnoid (984597) * on Monday January 19, 2009 @05:16PM (#26520367) Journal
    If you do find yourself in a position to work on or repair unfamiliar Windows installations, you might want to consider putting together a toolkit of portable applications on a flash drive or a usb pocket drive. This would allow you to spend more of your time debugging and repairing windows systems and less time installing support software or struggling with their generic counterparts.

    Some useful sites I've found are:

    Using mostly these sites, I've come up with a very useful collection of apps and utilities totalling under 2Gb, which easily fits on a flash drive with room to spare for data. One example is winaudit [pxserver.com], which will generate an extensive report when run on a pc. You can save the reports on various pcs to your flash drive in various formats (pdf, html, text, csv), bring them home, and go over them in more detail to see what needs to be fixed or updated on the various pcs you encountered.

  • FIRST robotics competition [usfirst.org] is a great way to educate and middle school and high school kids excited about programming, engineering, and robotics.
    I'd recommend joining a group at a local school for a year or so before starting your own group, but there's plenty of opportunity out there.
  • I do the computers for an organization of group homes for developmentally disabled people (www.wingspanlife.org), basically keep them running and patched.

    They have some critical needs to put things that require recurrent paperwork on the net so that administration time can be cut, and to possibly avoid errors. Basically everything from time sheets to medication logs, simple forms that are tallied, reports generated, and the usual light duty stuff.

    The problem is HIPPA and related patient privacy laws. It has

  • Lighting and sound is geeky enough to be interesting, and easy to apprentice if you know little about the subject. There's likely a children's or community theater group in your area that can use a hand. Bog knows it's absorbed all my free time...
  • I am willing to bet that your local Public Library would be most welcoming to the concept of pro-bono tech support for their most likely ageing/not updated/not virus protected public computer terminals as well as some TLC for their network infrastructure. Many Public Libraries have been forced drastically scale back their services to the public. Offering up your time to help them keep their systems running/patched/protected and their network functional would be a huge help to them.

    I have, over the past te

  • Actually a new organization is currently being developed for just such a purpose: http://itvolunteersworldwide.org/ [itvoluntee...ldwide.org]

    Currently there is a LinkedIn group http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=1181337 [linkedin.com] you can go to for more info.

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"

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