Keila Banks is an inner city Los Angeles student, a coder, and a seasoned presenter, having delivered her first presentation at SCaLE 11x when she was just 11 years old. I spoke with Keila about her SCaLE 14x talk, the future of open source, and getting teens exposed to technology conferences. Following is an edited transcript of that interview.
How did you get to know about Linux and open source?
My dad was using Ubuntu and Linux Mint so I kind of got encouragement from him using it. And that’s when I installed Ubuntu and started getting into that.
What do you like about Linux?
I find it simple to use and lot easier to install applications.
Easier than Windows?
It depends. It’s lot easier going into the command prompt and without having to go through the Internet (to find and download software) as you have to do on Windows.
When was the first time you met Linux developers?
Here at SCaLE actually. This is where I got my first Ubuntu CD back in 2011. SCaLE kind of introduced me to it. I met everyone! I know a lot of people here. So I kind of just met the Ubuntu developers who were at the stand and they gave me the live CD.
Have you met Linus Torvalds yet?
Not yet. Meeting him would be awesome.
In the Linux world who is your idol?
I have a lot of them because in open source there are different levels of achievement. I can’t really pick one idol, as everyone is making great contributions.
Does your school use Linux?
No, they use Mac OS X.
Do you talk about Linux in your school?
In my personal life I don’t really tell people that I am computer savvy, they just think that I am a normal person.
Have you written any software?
Well, I do little coding, but I am going to write a mobile app in the future. I can’t really talk about it now too much.
You delivered a talk here. What was the focus of your talk?
My talk was about the automated teen — to automate our lives with APIs, apps and other stuff. You know how teenagers are at school and they need to automate their homework or something like that. So it’s about automating your life, to make it simpler.
A lot of people in the audience said they turned off their phone ringers when they enter a conference room but then forget to turn it back on. There is an app called IFTTT that stands for ‘if this then that’, like the PHP code logic [that could be used to automate a reminder to turn your ringer back on]. That’s one example. You can automate your home. There are a few gadgets that already do that: One that I know of is Nest, which is a thermostat. So those were some of the examples that I gave in my talk.
You also gave a talk about future of Linux and open source, sharing the stage with veterans like John maddog Hall and Jono Bacon. So where do you see Linux and open source in future?
I was talking about how Linux and open source, in the future, doesn’t have to be just software. It can be hardware too, and I think they can do it with things like 3D printing. One of our family friends works for Tizen, and I think Tizen can be there in the future too.
What kind of support do you get from your family?
I got a lot of encouragement from my family. My mom actually had a blog when I was 6 years old. That was when I was first started to get into tech, so I thank my mom for that. I also want to thank my dad: He pushes me to keep doing stuff when I am slacking. And also my brother just does everything.
What is your message for people of your age?
My message to people of my age is don’t be afraid of getting started because most people don’t think that they can do stuff like this. If you come to this tech event, there are a lot of teenagers walking through the hall and they are exposed to this and are much more comfortable.
SCaLE is the only conference I know that is geared toward adults and trying to get a lot of youth in. I think coming to SCaLE will be a really good option.