Hello all, My name is Max.
I was born in a little town in the middle of Colombia in South America. My first contact with a computer was when my parents bought one for my older brother when he got in college by the end of the 80s. I was mesmerized by it, all it could do, and I got very interested in programming. In high school I had my first formal computer class, and they where teaching us to program in Logo; I went nuts with it and did some interesting things. Then in collenge when I started studing computer sciences I had a very good C++ teacher, who was patient enough to answer every little silly question I had. After 2 years of that I wasnt able to keep the same college because we had to move out of the country to Dominican Republic.
By then I was 19 and my parents weren't able to support my college so I started working in other things. Finally I came by a very open minded individual that gave me the space to learn to program and create a system for his company. We did it for 4 or 5 years, and the system was very dependable at that point. Since this was the first formal job I could take that would give me some experience in the field, I didn't argue about what language or IDE to use; I went with what they had and knew which was Filemaker. It is not a real language, but you can run the client from mac or pc, and they had mixed systems.
I think we pushed Filemaker to the limit in several ways, and we did some stuff that some other FM devs told us were not possible. The result was tangible on things that used to take days with other systems they had before, but took only hours with our new in-house system.
After a while of this I left the company, and started to work freelance. I was tired of Filemaker and felt it wasn't a real programming experience. But the thing is that a lot of people already knew that I could create mac/pc applications very fast for whatever they wanted, so there was demand for my work.
Around 7 years after I arrived in the country the economical situation deteriorated a lot for political reasons, so at this point most of my clients had to cut costs and couldn't afford to pay me anymore. Since I had a lot less to do I used this time to read as much as I could about open source, linux and any programming language that would catch my eye.
I taught Java 101 and 102 for a while, worked with 3d artists to create a cluster of computers to process renders faster and also worked automating green houses using computers and sensors to control the optimal environment. I stumbled upon a lot of new people and interests, and knew some people in the NGO sector. They welcomed very much the idea of linux but were a bit scared of it because of the lack of support there.
We don't have any kind of strong linux presence in Latin America; everything is up in the air and no one is taking action. Now I'm back in my country, and I can tell that people here are a lot more open to trying linux. I offer to install it for free for my friends. Most of them do not have major issues after the initial stage of configuration of any hardware, or maybe they have some piece of exotic hardware like a new model of "insert chinese word here" usb 3g modem, but I enjoy learning how to make it work, and when on very rare occasions something just doesn't work, usually this hardware is problematic because windows emulates parts of it and we don't have that kind of emulation for linux I guess, although more and more of these manufacturers incorporate linux support.
I can tell from my own experience that people are very ready for linux. At least 10 kids under 12 are using a linux install that I know of, most of them for more than a year, and they are very happy campers; they praise that is so easy to find applications for virtually anything.
I think this computer has a lot of potential in a country like this, a potential to let people and families of very low income afford a fully functional computer, where they can learn anything they want and have fun at the same time, something like a family computer; this is an amazing dream coming true and I hope you guys let me get involved in this community as much as time allows me to. I think I can say I am fairly fluent in English although Spanish is my first language, and Linux is no stranger to me. If you need help with translations of the website, or if you ever need help in Colombia, I'm more than willing to give you a hand.