Over the weekend of 17/18 July 2004, Dick Smith Electronics held a "computer expo" at its new Powerhouse store in Hamilton.

Several members of the WLUG attended this store as invited guests, presenting our message to interested parties.

Thanks to WLUG member GavinDenby for providing this summary.

Following a request from Chris Day and Ross Hamblin of Dick Smith Electronics; The WLUG was represented at the DSE Powerhouse Computer Expo on the weekend of the 17th of July. Under the supervision of Daniel Lawson a team of 6 were present at the Expo.
The Computer Expo had specials on a wide range of hardware, and demonstrations by Canon, Microsoft (Office) as well as members representing NZOSS and WLUG. In order to assist staff and members of the public to identify the WLUG members a simple polo shirt with Tux and WLUG was made by Ann-Maree Denby and the cost of these was met by sponsorship from Gavin and Ann-Maree Denby unless the individual felt inclined to meet this cost personally. These were worn by LUG members and seemed to be well received by the Lug members, DSE staff and the General Public.
DSE staff gave us access to a number of their display PCs to allow us to set up Linux desktops. In order to make the displays more interesting to the general public, The Fedora desktop was used to play the Chicken Run movie under Xine, and other desktops were pointed at, NZOSS and the WLUG websites. On the Sunday a copy of "Revolution OS" was brought in, and the movie played on a PC. This attracted a great deal of attention, and many people asked what was being discussed as a result. Many discussions on Microsoft and SoftWare? in general followed on from this video, DSE also provided us with 500 sets of Open Office CD's with Windows, Linux and MacOSX versions of OO 1.1.2 on it, as well as many other freeware, shareware and Open Source programs on the CD. Copies of Knoppix 3.4 and Morphix 0.4 were also made available as free giveaways. DSE also printed a large number of flyers with the WLUG logo on it and showing what the LUG offered as well as info on OpenSource and Linux. was also configured on PC's and a shockwave introduction to Open Office was left running on some of the Windows PCs. Knoppix was also booted on these, and then the PC restored to show members of the public that the PC would not be affected by running the LiveCDs.
Open Office was also installed in front of members of the public to show that open source on Windows was easy to install, and use, and could be used for a range of common home and office functions. (Next time we should make up some impress presentations to further exploit this opportunity.)
Games such as X-Maze and FrozenBubble proved popular, and children (of all ages) playing these games added to the experience for all.
Given more time, it may have been possible to set up a more professional display on Linux and Open Source software, but the enthusiasm for the CDs and flyers, the quality of discussions held with members of the public, and the willingness of DSE staff to include us in discussions with members of the public gave Linux a credibility that was higher than I would have expected.
It also became apparent that public awareness of Linux and Open Source as an alternative is growing. Questions ranged from "what can it do" and "can it do video editing and burning DVDs" to Kernel tweaking and which LinuxDistribution is best for my PC. Credit must be given to those who gave up time to help and to those who worked so hard to make the event a success. DSE and Public Feedback has been very positive, and further opportunities are being discussed with DSE and also other PC groups who are being asked about the suitability of their products with Linux.
This has been a good public exposure for the WLUG, and efforts should be made to build up some materials such as flyers, information sheets, and possibly electronic displays such as Impress (Powerpoint) presentations, and/or Multimedia CDs that can be run on any PC at future events. Based on the response to this event, it is considered very likely that further events opportunities will be offered to the WLUG and its members.