January Notes

Well, first of all it has been too long since we had a post, I hope to improve the frequency of them this year.

 

Second Free Geek Twin Cities has changed some, mostly for the good, but like all organizations we are constantly evolving.  On big change, and what prompted me to make this post is that we now have a phone.   We have in the past used the cost or our infrequent hours to justify not having one, but it was time.   We needed a way for volunteers to contact people for rides, and have a way for people we communicate with to contact us.   But having said that, what the phone is becoming is something that will not go far.  Free Geek is a Volunteer run organization, we have staff that is unpaid and commits time to help others.   We do not consider telephone support to be part of that volunteer program, and going forward we may answer the phone (during normal hours only) if we are not busy with face to face volunteers, if you call expect to get put through to voice mail, and a response will happen when we have  staff level volunteers available to check voice mail.   The incident that prompted this post was from a person who bought a laptop, and was unhappy that it was not what he/she expected.   They had to upgrade the memory to install windows, and buy windows.   Now first Free Geek installs Linux only on our non-Apple computers.  We do not do Windows, there are big box stores all around that do.   Second this person was upset, and swore at the staff person whom he did get through to, that will be met with a quick disconnect if it happens again, swear all you want, just do not waste our time with your useless rant.

If you have a problem with a computer, call, you will be told the next time that there may (yes may, we do not pay people, so they show up when they want to) have somebody that you can bring the machine back down to Free Geek to assist you.   We are not going to solve problems over the phone as a rule, but each staff person can chose this or if they feel they have the time, and want to it is their option to try.

We have amazing volunteers, they are the only reason we can offer computers for sale at prices that are below most other similar computers, the other side of that is the fact that these units have been donated.  They each have a different reason that they are donated, but most often it is because they are having a issue, or are in need of upgrades.   We only sell donated computers, not new, not state of the art, not ones that would cost thousands elsewhere.   On average our donations start at 4 years old, and we do our best to test these units as we can.   We have many steps that each system goes through before it is put up for sale, even then there are still problems.   We note the problems we feel do not make the unit unusable, but please keep in mind that this is still a used unit, running a operating system that is not quite as burdensome as Windows.

Our goal is to provide a place to get computers that can surf the web, watch You Tube videos, perform basic Word Processing, into the hands of people who cannot afford a couple hundred dollars for a computer.   We sell working systems starting at $25 (with out a monitor, or we can provide a CRT monitor).  Our systems of course include better units, but they still are used and while they sell for more than $25, they are going through the same testing and configuration as them.

Our Thrift Store helps significantly pay our expenses, but it is not the focus of the organization, it is just part of it.   If you are expecting a Big Box Store type machine, there are several around, Richfield has the world wide Headquarters of one that sells systems that may be of your need, otherwise if you are looking to help keep electronics waste from a landfill while re-using a machine that has not quite out lived its capacity, stop  on down to 2537 25th ave south (back of the building)

Volunteering at Free Geek

A couple weeks ago I ran into somebody whom I had worked with in the 90’s, and after we got caught up a bit he asked about Free Geek.  I gave him the short version of why we exist, how we do things, and what goes on at the site.  He asked about volunteering but since he lives in St Cloud (an hour or so northwest of our site) his opportunities to get down to volunteer are limited.

So we talked about other things that Free Geek needs Volunteers to do, and here are a couple that came up.

First was to organize a neighborhood E-waste drive, collect the Electronics, and bring them down, he thought his daughter may like to help with that and I pointed him at the donations page to help them set up a flyer.  I made sure to let them know that disposal of Tube Type CRT’s have a cost, and that we generally ask for a cash donation to cover that cost.  We also talked about how they should get a feel for the why we are trying to do this, on a simple level everybody understands that recycling is good.  But most do not understand that the mercury from a CRT can pollute a significant amount of ground water and be traced back to food grown in that soil.   So that lead to the second thing that he could do remotely.

Free Geek always needs ambassadors to help us get the word out about what we do, how and why.   We have some basic hand outs that explain this, but most of our new donations can be traced back to somebody else who has donated to us before.  Just letting people know that an alternative to throwing E-waste away can make a big impact.

 

While both of these items can become long term opportunities to help, they also could be done with very little effort to.  Free Geek would not exist without the volunteers who do everything within the organization, they (we) are what keeps the process moving and allows us to do what we know makes a difference.

New Sunday Hours Starting July 15th, 2012….

Starting Sunday July 15th, we are going to be moving our open hours up to Noon and close at 5pm like every other day we are open.

Our staff Volunteer has had reason to change our hours on Sundays to open and close two hours earlier, so Starting the 15 these will be the hours.

So that means the Free Geek Thrift Store is open Wed through Sunday Noon to 5, and Volunteer hours are now Noon to 5 Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Please plan your schedule accordingly.

Again with the Updates

We are making progress on the new space!  While things are not yet fully set up, we have each area basically in place to do what it does.  This means that the build room is capable of builds, but it still needs work.

We also have expanded our Thrift Store Hours to be Wednesday through Saturday Noon to 5pm and Sundays 2pm to 7pm.  The addition of Thursday and Friday for the Thrift Store is just for the store and Donations, but the Recycle, Intake and Build rooms are closed. (until we can find volunteers to commit to supervision of those areas on a consistent basis.)

We also have Internet Access up, and are working on getting a new Volunteer Time logging tool put on place.

Starting to take form

The new digs are shaping up thanks to many hands and the carry over from the old location.    The basic layout has been chosen and we are working towards getting everything back up and running, while still trying to accept new volunteers and process donations.

Also the store is starting to take shape, all while we try to unpack the store in to temporary areas.

 

We also have heard from several student volunteers who hope to spend time down at Free Geek this summer to help grow and expand our organization.

So stop on down during a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday and check out the new digs, help clean up the remains from the move, or set up an area or just take apart some of the recycle stock.

All our stuff has been moved, but we still have much work to do..

The physical process of moving is done, thank you to all those who showed up to help move, sort, and start to set up the new space.

We still have much work to do, and our normal processes of testing and building are still not ready to start, but we will work on getting those back up by the end of May.

Stop on down to visit the new space, if you have time help us get back up and running, drop off those odd electronics and tell everybody you know about us.

Remember that if you come to volunteer, wear comfortable clothing that may get dirty.

Move in Progress – Update May 9th

We have a majority of the items moved, and would like to thanks all the volunteers who have turned out to help us lift, lug and transport items to the new space. There is still moving to be done, and then we need to set up the space to get back into the flow of things. First we will focus on getting our recycling back up to speed, there is a back log of items already, so we hope to have that aspect working in the new space by the end of this weekend, then we will work on getting testing back up and working, and lastly our build process should be up and working by the 19th or so. Plus we have a new space to set up our thrift store.

So stop in during our normal hours this weekend and help get things back up to speed, we cannot do this without our volunteers.

Free Geek in Edina May 5th at Jerrys Foods

Once again we have a remote pick up scheduled at Jerry’s Foods in Edina, last year we had a significant collection of equipment and weather permitting we hope to again gather significant quantities of gear that might end up in a landfill otherwise.

We hope to have a couple more over the summer as well, so watch the website to keep updated.

New Site is Up

Welcome to our redesigned site, just in time for our new Location. Big Changes, but still the same plan. Recycle, Educate, Re-Use, and support Open Source software.

We will be moving for the next few open days, and some in between, so there will be no Break-down, Testing or Build until mid May, the Store is being moved, and that may be limited to what we can locate in the boxes.