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It's Geek Heaven in Gunnings Alley

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One downtown Sandpoint location is a magnet for geeks

If you hear the terms nerd, egghead or geek, you might think of the type of person you want to shy away from, lest the topic of conversation become too dull or technical. But there is a new spot in town that is quietly drawing the attention of technical professionals who want to work in an office environment with like minded people. The building is Gunnings Alley, located at 105 N. First Avenue in downtown Sandpoint.

The first technical company to locate there was North Idaho.net, owned by Gary Garrett. NIdaho.net is an Internet Service Provider (ISP) providing high speed Internet access via wireless and frame relay, as well as standard dial-up accounts and web hosting. Garrett is experienced with Novell, Windows and Linux and has his Microsoft Network Engineer Certification (MSCE). Garrett's service is the magnet for this office location, as every tenant gets access to a full T1 (1.54 Megabit) at very competitive rates. No additional equipment is necessary, other than your mandatory firewall (if you're smart). NIdaho.net can be reached at 267-2106 or ggarrett(at)nidaho.net.

Also housed in Geeks Alley is Wendall Cada of Torus Technologies. Cada's background includes software programming, web site development, and database design. His products aim for both on- and off-line access and includes back-end applications which support dynamic websites, including multimedia training products, sound files, and database decision trees. Cada was selected to be on the PHPWebSite Content Management System Design Team because of advanced coding skills, and his ability to work well in a collaborative environment. See www.phpwebsite.appstate.edu for more information about PHPWebsite, which is a content managment system for portal websites. Examples of local portals include SandpointOnline.com and Sandpoint.com, both of which act as centralized sources of local news and events. Ironically, Cada is the only contributor who has a Windows PC (he uses Linux and Mac desktops), and the Windows PC is for test purposes only.

Cada describes himself as the "swiss knife" of webpages, as he's been expected to field a wide variety of requests. "I have to make things work together that aren't supposed to work together, like graphic interfaces, chat rooms and databases." His focus is to empower the customer to do all their own maintenance. An example is the web page www.selkirkantlers.com, which owner Willie Fletcher proudly did himself, with a little help from Cada. Another example of his work is www.idahofirst.com, Windermere Real Estate's website owned by owner/broker Ed Ostrom, Gunning Alley's landlord.

Cada has ideas for creating a Sandpoint Technology Cooperative, and hopes to work with BETA (Bonner Education Technology Alliance) to see this brainstorm take shape and develop into an incubator for technology business start-ups, with commonly shared space and resources.

The computer consulting company that first migrated to Geeks Alley is Sandpoint Computers. Sandpoint Computers supports Linux, Novell and Windows networks, and specializes in advanced networking and Internet technologies. They are currently working for a customer on a large, wide area network infrastructure utilizing Linux systems. The principals are Chris Curtis and Dawn Linendoll.

The newest entrepreneurs in the Alley are Joe, Tim and Sam Coles. The Coles brothers recently opened Digital Underground, an Internet gaming business. Open from 9 am to 7 pm Monday through Saturday, anyone can come in and game on a T1 connection, utilizing the Internet to play anyone online, or they can play one-on-one using the network connectivity in the room. This is known as LAN (local area network) gaming. People can come and just surf if gaming doesn't interest them. There are currently five PCs, and parents must sign a disclosure form for participants under the age of 18. The cost is $6/hour or $4 per half and anticipated charges are prepaid. Long term, the owners hope to set up more payment options. This is a quiet smoke free environment where young and old alike can game at high speed. You can reach them at digitalunderground(at)nidaho.net.

Larry and Regina Coles, aka Mom and Dad, did not want to miss out on the fun, so another geek tenant is Heritage Photographics and Digital Services. The elder Coles do photo restoration, portraits, and livestock and event photography. To get his geek quota, Larry participates in PLUG - the Panhandle Linux Users Group, and decided that Sandpoint needed its own "Install Fest." If you want to see and understand the evolution of the Linux/Open Source software development movement, the movie/DVD to rent is "Revolution OS." In this movie, I first learned about an Install Fest, which is a grassroots event that allows anyone to come with their PC, or to watch on a demo PC, the loading of various types of Linux software (white undershirts as Tees and greasy hair are not actually a requirement). For the not-so-geeky, Linux is an alternative (some prefer replacement) to the Windows or Macintosh operating system. It is free and includes many (quite literally thousands of) applications.

This epic event will happen on Saturday, August 9th, from 9 am to 6 pm in....Geeks Alley of course! Software manufacturers who have donated software to support this event include: Suse, Lindows (Linux for Windows), Knoppix, Gento, Red Hat, Mandrake, and Win4Lin. This event is free to the public and there will be some free software provided that day. For more information, contact Larry at 208-610-1023. Free computer support will be available (ideally bring your computer) and anyone is welcome to experiment with loading Linux.

Gunnings Alley has rental space available. To contribute to the trend, contact Ed Ostrom at 208-263-8400. To become involved in, or learn more about PLUG, contact Larry Coles. To view Linux from a safe distance, or to hop in the driver's seat, go to the basement level of the building on August 9th.

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Author info

Carol Curtis

Tagged as:

Sandpoint, Gunnings Alley, NIdaho.net, Gary Garrett, Wendall Cada, Torus Technologies, Ed Ostrom, Windermere Realty, Willie Fletcher, Sandpoint Computers, Digital Underground, Heritage Photographics and Digital Services, Revolution OS

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