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[K12OSN] Letter to local schools - draft

Here's the text of the letter I just _finally_ got back to (after 10 days
of not having time to work on it!) that I'm going to send to the local
K-12 schools (Davis, California and nearby).

Please let me know of any changes/corrections you kind folks think it
could do with. :^)  I suck at English.

--- begin paste from OOo ---

My name is Bill Kendrick, and I'm with the Linux Users' Group of
Davis, a non-profit dedicated to the Linux computer operating system,
and to 'Open Source' software in general.  I'd like to bring to your
attention a variety of software which you might find useful at your
school.  Best of all, it's free.

If you're not familiar with Open Source, then allow me to explain.
What's commonly known as the 'Open Source' movement began over 20
years ago, and was simply a formalization of the tradition of sharing
information that computer programmers had been doing since the 1960s.
Software that is released under an Open Source license is available
freely to everyone.  The human-readable source-code behind the program
is available, and this accessibility allows people to fix bugs, add
features, and even create completely new software based on the
existing code.

Open Source provides people with the ability to share ideas and work
together freely.  It's like the scientific method, which works well
for physicists, doctors, and researchers.  It's ideal for software
creation too!

In fact, Open Source software is being embraced by schools,
governments[1], corporations[2], and individuals all over the world.  The
Internet itself has always been build on such open software, but today
more Open Source software is being created for 'the average person,'
including teachers and children.

Along with cost, the Open Source model has a number of other
advantages over commercial software:

* Extensibility
  Authors of Open Source software are often amazed at the kinds of
  uses other people come up with for their work.  Apple took an Open
  Source web browser and replaced Microsoft's Internet Explorer with it
  in their Mac OS X.  IBM took the Linux operating system and made it
  run in a wrist-watch.  When programmers get an 'itch,' they can easily
  'scratch' it, without paying licensing fees or worrying about asking
  for permission.

* Security
  Because the source is available for peer review, bugs and errors are
  found more easily.  Open Source software has a very good track record
  for repairing problems quickly.  (Even if the original creator of the
  software is unable or uninterested in fixing it, others are free to do
  so -- to the benefit of all of the users.)

* Interoperability
  Open Source software does not just mean programs for Linux!  Countless
  Open Source programs are available for Windows,
  Mac, Unix, and other operating systems you've probably never heard of!
  They run on all sorts of hardware, from the ubiquitous
  Intel-compatible PCs to hand-held PDAs.  And nobody likes software
  that won't work with other software; the Open Source movement is also
  about open file formats, which can be used anywhere without paying
  royalties or dealing with patents.

* Control
  Open Source software, like Linux, can't be controlled by a single
  company.  You are not at the mercy of a single vendor. There is no
  forced upgrading, and no pay-per-user licensing policy.  Your school
  is freed from the obligation of tracking license certificates, and
  freed from the risk of audits for improperly licensed software.  Open
  Source provides true free-market products -- an alternative to

I'd be happy to sit down with you and tell you more, if you'd be
interested.  Feel free to contact me via e-mail at:
bill newbreedsoftware com, or call me at home: (XXX) YYY-ZZZZ.

I'm personally involved with a non-profit in Arizona, and have created
of a number of educational Open Source programs for children.  I'll be
holding a handsn demonstration of one of them at the Davis Food Cop
later this month (Sunday, October 26th from 11am to 3pm).  I'd be more
than happy to answer any questions then, as well.

For now, I'll leave you with a small list of some useful Open Source
software that you can download today, and begin using on your
computers tomorrow!

Celestia                                  http://www.shatters.net/celestia/
  "Celestia is a free real-time space simulation that lets you
  experience our universe in three dimensions.  Unlike most planetarium
  software, Celestia doesn't confine you to the surface of the Earth.
  You can travel throughout the solar system, to any of over 100,000
  stars, or even beyond the galaxy.  All travel in Celestia is seamless;
  the exponential zoom feature lets you explore space across a huge
  range of scales, from galaxy clusters down to spacecraft only a few
  meters across.  A 'point-and-goto' interface makes it simple to
  navigate through the universe to the object you want to visit."

OpenOffice.org                                   http://www.openoffice.org/
  "OpenOffice.org 1.1 gives you everything you'd expect in office
  software.  You can create dynamic documents, analyze data, design
  eye-catching presentations, produce dramatic illustrations, and open
  up your databases. You can publish your work in Adobe Portable
  Document Format (.pdf), and release your graphics in Macromedia Flash
  (.swf) format - without needing any additional software."  (Also see

Tux Paint                         http://www.newbreedsoftware.com/tuxpaint/
  "Tux Paint is a free drawing program designed for young children
  (kids ages 3 and up). It has a simple, easy-to-use interface, fun
  sound effects, and a cartoon mascot who helps you along."  (Also see

Tux Typing                                  http://tuxtype.sourceforge.net/
  "Tux Typing is an educational typing tutor for children.  It features
  several different types of gamelay, at a variety of difficulty

Wikipedia                                         http://www.wikipedia.org/
  "Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that is being written
  collaboratively by the readers.  It contains over 165,000 articles.
  Every day hundreds of contributors from around the world make
  thousands of edits and create lots of new articles.  All of the site's
  content is covered by the GNU Free Documentation License, a form of
  'Open Source' for texts."

Thank you for your time, and enjoy

William Kendrick

[1] England, Russia, China, Japan, Korea, India, Brazil, Israel, and the
    state of Massachusetts, to name a few.

[2] IBM, Oracle, HP, Sharp, DreamWorks, Intel, AMD, Apple, Amazon, and
    Google all use the Linux Operating System, for example.

--- end paste ---

Thanks ;)


bill newbreedsoftware com                           Got kids?  Get Tux Paint! 
http://newbreedsoftware.com/bill/       http://newbreedsoftware.com/tuxpaint/

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