Monday, December 13, 2010

Volunteer Who's Who, Take 1

One of the reasons I started this blog is because I wanted the volunteers to get to know each other, even if they volunteer on different days or only see each other occasionally. Being a geek by nature, however, it's a lot easier for me to talk hardware than people. It's taken me a few weeks to muster the courage to start what I hope will be a series of short interviews with volunteers around the place. I started with Kirby, who many of you will know from his usual post on Tuesdays at the build bench.

Kirby does battle with Dell drive rails


Free Geek Vancouver found Kirby thanks to an Earth Day booth at Jericho Beach and he's been volunteering for about around two years. He started at the Build bench a few weeks into his tenure and has been working there ever since; according to the build binder, he's completed 73 machines, but has certainly built many more. (We've changed how builds are tracked since Kirby started.) I'd guess that this puts him somewhere around third place for the number of builds he's done. (Kim, a.k.a. The Buildinator, is still the undisputed leader, but he'd better get back in soon to defend his title. He got written up in the Vancouver Courier some time ago.)

Kirby's background is in Instrumentation Technology and while he's no stranger to high tech and electronics, he didn't have a lot of experience actually building computers. He credits Stephen and Geoff, the two Build Coordinators that he worked with, for a lot of the practical knowledge. Since graduating to build instructor, he's been helping builders on Tuesdays and drops in occasionally on other days. He's one of the most autonomous builders I've worked with -- but does sometimes bump up against a lack of prepared SATA drives for high-end machines. He's also noticed that Free Geek Vancouver occasionally scraps video cards that are fine except for noisy or broken cooling fans, when those could often be replaced for a few dollars. This is probably worthwhile for higher end video cards.

One question I always have for volunteers is motivation. I suspect the last thing Kirby needs is another computer, so obviously the adoption box doesn't play a large factor. Primarily it's the chance to learn something new, but Kirby also simply likes working with hardware, and the atmosphere and people. And the occasional bargain doesn't hurt either.

While we were talking, Kirby mentioned that he'd worked with drum memory, which reminded me of a story I read once. I promised I'd send it to him in exchange for his willingness to play guinea pig for this first interview. Here it is for the rest of you too: The Story Of Mel

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