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Interview: Simon Gauvin of beunited.org

Filed under the:  department.
Posted by:Ryan on Sunday, 22 Sep, 2002 @ 11:53 AM
 
Interview

Technix from the BeOS Journal arranged an interview with Simon Gauvin of the now entirely lower cased version of beunited.org, and invited BeGroovy to join in the madness. We obviously accepted, and dove in to interview the head of one of the most interesting organizations on the BeOS scene. Read on for part 1 of our joint interview, and post questions for part 2 in the comments. Enjoy!

Technix (TBJ): Thanks Simon, for allowing us a moment of your time to share your thoughts and perspectives for the BeOS Community… You mentioned in our earlier communiques that you also had some special announcements, and thoughts on the direction of beunited. More on that later in the interview…

Simon (bu): Thanks for asking me, I’m very glad to be here.

Nutcase (BG): I also want to thank Technix for arranging this and for inviting me along to ask questions for BeGroovy as well. Thanks Technix!

Technix (TBJ): You’re very welcome, Nutcase. It’s always a pleasure to invite other long time members of the BeOS Community.

Disclaimer: Due to the nature of online chat with multiple parties, certain liberties have been taken to ensure the interview content reads well for our intended audience. As such, formatting and grammatical errors have been corrected in the post-interview cleanup process. These changes are slight, but are meant to provide a more consistant and better flow to the content, and to make us all look much less juvenile than we really are. ;)

In any case, the meaning is the same, so enjoy.

Technix (TBJ): So, on with the show…

Technix (TBJ): 1.) Simon… If you were to rate the “atmosphere” within the BeOS Community, and more specifically with the openBeOS effort, as a comparison to a backyard BBQ party, what would your answer be?

Simon (bu): I have always loved the feeling in this community, its sense of adventure, and how nice everyone is here.
Simon (bu): It’s a nice place to be, and people are always willing to help you out and teach you stuff they know.
Simon (bu): A real familiy like atmosphere, almost like a home is how I still feel about it

Nutcase (BG): What /is/ beunited these days? Is it an OpenBeOS distro? A Standards Group? A group devoted to licensing things for the entire community? How does it all fit together as a non-profit, avoiding conflicts of interests, but maintaining a business plan?

Simon (bu): Wow, loaded question. Let me try to answer that in this way.
Simon (bu): beunited.org is first and foremost a standards organization, a non-profit one. That’s the reason it was changed from a commercial venture back about 6 months ago.
Simon (bu): As it is non-profit, there is no business plan in the sense that a company has one, which has the ultimate vision of making money for it’s owners. This it not what beunited.org is about. Our value is in the ability to have a place to allow a great set of projects creating a new OS platfom and help them develop compatibiltiy
Simon (bu): Now that -does not- mean that beunited.org determines standards, in fact we have nothing to do with any of them.
Simon (bu): That’s by design, so that the staff of beunited.org has absolutly no voting seats on the committee that creates the standards.
Simon (bu): As for distribution of OSBOS, that’s done as a service to the community and is part of the model of providing examples to other developers of the standards that have been passed, so there really is no conflict of interest in this model…

Nutcase (BG): Let me repeat back what I heard for clarification, then do a follow up.

Nutcase (BG): You are a non-profit with no business plan towards making the owners money. You act as a gathering place for others to determine standards, and you essentially record them as a part of a “reference” OBOS distro. So my question is this:
Nutcase (BG): a) How /do/ you make money? As a non-profit, you still need a business plan to gain funding.
Nutcase (BG): b) Who /does/ sit on the standards design board, and how do they get there?
Nutcase (BG): c) What level of enforcement are there on the standards?
Nutcase (BG): I know these are essentially scattered questions, but they are all a part of the same train of thought.

Simon (bu): Sure, let me answer your 3 questions… =)
Simon (bu): a) Making money.
Simon (bu): Every organization gets money by donations, that’s it. We get donations from various sources. Each donation is a tax-deductable donation placed to the organization. In fact, it is “illegal” for us to engage in commercial activities.
Simon (bu): As all organizations that are based on people, we have members, and with that, each member is required to pay a membership fee for the services that the organization provides to its membership, which is in essence a donation as well.
Simon (bu): I am very pleased to announce here, for the first time publically, that beunited.org will be providing free membership to everyone until we have a release of OBOS R1 for the public.
Simon (bu): After that, anyone that has decided to join beunited.org will get a further 1 year extension to that membership.
Simon (bu): b) As for the Standards board, the structure is based on supporting representation of 3 groups, that being Users, Developers, and Companies, so the board is structured with representatives from all three groups.
Simon (bu): i) The users are represented by elected regional reps from all the major continents around the globe.
Simon (bu): ii) The developers are represented by a rep from each of the OSBOS projects.
Simon (bu): iii) The companies are represented by a set of elected companies that are members of beunited.org.
Simon (bu): In fact, everyone that sits on the standards commitee is a member of beunited.org, and heck why not, its free -)
Simon (bu): At the moment, it’s based on good faith.
Simon (bu): The whole point of having beunited.org in the first place is for the people in the community to gather together to create the power of the collective, and together they have the power to create this enforcement themselves, which is simply through the development of standards.
Simon (bu): If some company decides not to follow the standards, or project, then they lose the benifit of being compatible, and that’s important when everyone is following the standards.

DaaT (TBJ): First, this is very good news about the free membership, I’m sure the community will respond with great enthusiasm.
DaaT (TBJ): A small follow up, three actually:
DaaT (TBJ): a) Do you have an idea of membership costs after the “grace” period?
DaaT (TBJ): b) Can you disclose the identity of beunited’s contributors?
DaaT (TBJ): c)You mentioned the users reps get elected. How do those elections take place?

Simon (bu): The cost of membership will be compatible with the type of services that the organization can provide.
Simon (bu): What that means in terms of exact dollars is anyones guess, because it needs to be calculated based on those services, and how well we can provide the service, and if members actually want those services or not, which is something that we will be polling the community with over the next year.
Simon (bu): I can assure you that it will be ‘very’ attractive membership cost for what you get. =)
Simon (bu): As for identity of contributors, just check our home page, and you will see them there.
Simon (bu): Some are public, some are not.
Simon (bu): Last point:
Simon (bu): Reps get elected through BUGs (edit: Be User Groups).
Simon (bu): Right now we are working with all the major BUGs on the planet to collect them all together and join beunited.org. They are all very, very responsive to the idea of this representation, and want to participate in the process
Simon (bu): the voting is done through beunited.org voting system, for all the members, and each member has a ‘location’ field as part of their membership and then votes for their favorite rep. The system is being developed as we speak.
Simon (bu): For now, we have volenteer reps in the regions, like BGA in Brazil and Jason in North America.

Nutcase (BG): Can you clarify members? bug members? beunited members? People who register on the site for free?

Simon (bu): Yes, they would be members of both, and we are working very very hard right now in Asia to get reps there too, in China and Japan.
Simon (bu): fun stuff =)

DaaT (TBJ): Yes, Japan’s always been a sort of… (un)hidden BeOS source.

Simon (bu): yes

Technix (TBJ): ok… my clarification….

Simon (bu): sure

Technix (TBJ): How large did you intend for the standards committee to be, and if there is not a limit, how will you manage issues like -Final Decisions-?

Simon (bu): ahh
Simon (bu): Size, yes, the committee is made up presently of 5 regional reps, 5 OSBOS projects, and 5 commercial reps.
Simon (bu): The process also calls for a 2/3rd majority, last I remember, but I could be wrong on that.
Simon (bu): So there can never be deadlocks of 50-50.

Technix (TBJ): Can you clarify “regions”? Where are they geographically?

Simon (bu): Asia, Europe, North America, South America, and Other.

Technix (TBJ): Can you explain the vision of the Code Developer’s Portal that is in the works now?

Simon (bu): Sure.
Simon (bu): As part of our commitment to seeing BeOS come back to life, beunited.org has also taken up the task of collecting projects that were no longer being supported. This lead us to believe that it would be a good idea to actually spend time to develop this social effect, of having many developers working on the same OS, to be something that would be great to promote BeOS, and to help with generating ‘momentum’ in the development community.
Simon (bu): Having said that it became obvious to us that there was a need for a developer portal, so that all the great minds in the community could come together and work and share, and generate buzz. This effect of gravitating people together, is like having a magnet for other developers to join the community. Like people from the Linux world, or other open source groups, and take notice and say, ‘hey what’s going on over there?’, and we can show them.
Simon (bu): Otherwise, the problem is that there is no center for really finding out what the hell is going on in the community. It’s the ’strength in numbers’ type of thing, and it was a natural for beunited.org to support that.

DaaT (TBJ): “United we conquer.”

Simon (bu): Exactly.

Nutcase (BG): Ok. Got a quick one for ya.

Simon (bu): Sure.

Nutcase (BG): How many members does beunited have in the following breakdown:
Nutcase (BG): a) Members as in Companies.
Nutcase (BG): b) Members as in BUG reps.
Nutcase (BG): c) Members that are /actively/ coding on beunited stuff. (i.e.: The dev portal, voting system, etc.)
Nutcase (BG): Basically, how many people make up beunited, and how?

Simon (bu): Sure, we have about 15 member companies, 3 BUG reps so far, and about 15 coders, and there is about 10 ’staff’ that make up the executive, and board of directors. So that’s about 40-45 people -)

Nutcase (BG): Do they overlap?

Simon (bu): For the most part no, but I do write code. =)
Simon (bu): Actually I would like to write a LOT more code, but you guys keep asking me questions. ha ha =)

DaaT (TBJ): haha

Technix (TBJ): lol
Technix (TBJ): it’s our job!

DaaT (TBJ): Exactly.

Simon (bu): I’m really happy to be here to provide the answeres, believe me.

Nutcase (BG): Its not my job. I just like to make people scramble. ;P

Simon (bu): he he
Simon (bu): No problem.
Simon (bu): Everything is out in the open, we hide nothing.
Simon (bu): And, btw, it’s all volenteer too!
Simon (bu): The executive and board of directors is public knowledge and listed on the site, as well as the standards committee.
Simon (bu): The coders remain annonymous, unless you join a project and meet them =)

DaaT (TBJ): Simon, taking things forward a bit, I’d like to ask you about beunited’s projects, dividing the question in two parts (seems popular tonight):

a) I presume beunited is constantly in contact with the other OSBOS projets. Leonardo’s a bit of a mystery, what can you tell us about it?
b) About beunited’s “Application Projects”, we’ve seen PE being added and now Art Paint, what more is under your sleeve so to speak?

Simon (bu): Sure.
Simon (bu): All the OSBOS leads are members of the Standards Committee, so we are in contact with them of course.
Simon (bu): As for Leonardo, or any individual project, I would have to ask you to talk to the leads themselves about their projects since they are really the ones that know what’s going on with them.
Simon (bu): Leonardo is a great project too, and we support it.
Simon (bu): Until any one project decides to leave on it’s own, we will continue to support it.
Simon (bu): As for the other projects, we are constantly looking for apps to join the dev portal, as we would like to have more and more work to generate buzz for BeOS.
Simon (bu): We are talking to mainly projects that are important to the development of the OS itself, in terms of being a solution for users, after all, an OS is nothing without apps. =)
Simon (bu): That’s why we wanted to help bring OpenOffice and Gobe to BeOS, and there will be more that appear over time.

DaaT (TBJ): Follow up: I meant to ask at another opportunity, but this is as good as any: What is the status of those two projects?

Simon (bu): OpenOffice has been approved for us to work on it, by Sun, and we have been working on developing ssh2 to access their servers.
Simon (bu): The reason is that ssh2 is the tool they use for access to the source, and BeOS did not have that, but with the great help of our developers we have a working copy, and are now testing it.
Simon (bu): No one should be fooled into thinking OpenOffice will be ready for Christmas. It’s huge, but a worthwile project.
Simon (bu): As for Gobe, we have Tom Hoke as our lead of that project, and he’s in touch with Gobe to get the source as soon as it’s available, which could be anywhere from 3 to 6 months from now.
Simon (bu): I think it’s mainly in the hands of lawyers now…
Simon (bu): Now for the really tough questions… =)

Technix (TBJ): Are you planning on promotion, marketing angles now that you are getting everyone focused behind “one vision”, and what are your thoughts on promoting BeOS by yourself, or interested third parties at venues such as tradeshows, fairs, and expos?

Simon (bu): That’s a great question.
Simon (bu): Like everything that grows, it takes time and nurturing, and that’s what we are doing with BeOS.
Simon (bu): Right now we are focusing on the fundamentals, geting the OS done, getting standards, getting apps, etc.
Simon (bu): At the same time we are working the room, so to speak, in the technology world, to develop realtionships with companies that have never heard of BeOS.
Simon (bu): I can’t say who, but you know them.
Simon (bu): Going to public events like trade shows is very much part of that plan, one that sponsorship should allow us to do once we have a working BeOS platform to promote.
Simon (bu): We are also thinking of having an annual beunited.org conference too.

Technix (TBJ): 4.) Have any of the big players offered to assist you in some way, either financially, or codewise? Feel free to name names if you simply have to. ;)

Simon (bu): Yes, they have, like Sun for example.

Technix (TBJ): Simon (bu) : a list from the top of your head, please? ;)

Simon (bu): List?

DaaT (TBJ): Agreed, 1 is hardly a list :)

Technix (TBJ): LOL

Nutcase (BG): Sun is a big one though.
Nutcase (BG): How are Sun helping?

DaaT (TBJ): Definitely, and most welcomed

Simon (bu): I can’t list the other ones, like I said, but we all know Sun has helped us with OpenOffice.

DaaT (TBJ): Nutcase (BG), go ahead
DaaT (TBJ): I have to absent myself for about 10mns, bbiab.

Nutcase (BG): Hmmm. Ok. I still have my question… but I am curious about the open office thing… isnt open office.. you know.. “Open”? So what do you need Sun for? Just the label of “official”?

Simon (bu): Well, yes it’s open, but you need approval from Sun to distribute it.
Simon (bu): And to contribute back to the source base, which makes the difference between being an official porter, and someone with anonymous access.

Nutcase (BG): Really? Wow. Thats a crock. (sorry.. but that ain’t open imho). Oh well. Good of you guys to do it. :)

Nutcase (BG): Ok. let me get these two out of the way. Then i am done, and Technix can go. :)

Nutcase (BG): 1) You have several OS’s listed (OBOS, BlueEyed, Leonardo, Cosmoe) - most of these are /vastly/ different from each other. Some use Linux, some use NewOS, some use god knows what. How does beunited create standards across all these platforms? What level of the OS do you guys leave as open?

Simon (bu): he he, I don’t think you quite ‘get it’

Nutcase (BG): Clearly not.

Simon (bu): beunited.org does not create standards. The people in the community do.
Simon (bu): They submit them to beunited.org and then the committe votes on them.

Nutcase (BG): Ah. Let me rephrase around your dodge then.

Nutcase (BG): How does beunited expect standards to exist between those levels?
Nutcase (BG): Which version does BeUnited support? Any? all?
Nutcase (BG): What is beunited’s position?

Simon (bu): We don’t have a position, or any will to have a position on how the standards go, you see, we are 100% neutral on that, and it’s in the hands of the community to decide those issues.
Simon (bu): That’s the beauty of it. We are just the conduit for the process.

Nutcase (BG): Hmm. It will be interesting to see a standardized driver model exist between NewOS, AtheOS, and the Linux kernel. But hey, why not, right? ;)

Simon (bu): Yes, sure.
Simon (bu): That’s what make this so much fun.
Simon (bu): I think I trust the people who are part of that to make the right descisions.

Nutcase (BG): No worries. No need to push it. Just a question from curiosity. :)

Nutcase (BG): The other question I have… not really a big one, just a clarification from earlier.

Nutcase (BG): 2) beunited plans to eventually charge a “membership” fee for access to “services” provided. Tell me again how that is not a business?

Simon (bu): Sure, let me ask you a question, is IEEE a business?

Nutcase (BG): Let me put it another way.

Simon (bu): Ok.

Nutcase (BG): You guys are creating reference platforms.. presumably free… You are developing products… presumably free… You record standards decided by the community and people who pay for seats.. so there is no impetuous to pay for a seat if you can get elected… or if you just decide to go ahead and make your own standards. So what motivation is there to join and pay? What do you provide to members that they cannot get for free, as you can’t provide products (as that would be selling) - and your services essentially are those of a conduit.
Nutcase (BG): How can you make enough money to survive if you aren’t selling anything. and if you /are/ selling something, what are you selling?

Simon (bu): Right, well like IEEE we are a non-profit organization.
Simon (bu): So IEEE has membership to what…?
Simon (bu): Knowledge, people, information, and access to the community.
Simon (bu): By being a member of beunited.org we are able to provide members services and information, for their membership.
Simon (bu): this is -not- selling a product, but helps to promote and further develop the things the members want.

Nutcase (BG): What services and information? The standards? Other stuff? What?

Simon (bu): Well, for a complete list of the current services we plan to develop visit our site at http://www.beunited.org and download the vision document and read it, it’s all in there.
Simon (bu): One last point.
Simon (bu): The difference between a business, and an organization, is that a business makes ‘profit’ that is distributed to the owners of the business, but an organization does not, and all money goes back into the organization to the benefit of it’s members, and -they- are the ones who profit.

Nutcase (BG): Ok. I am not going to press my point any further. I must not be expressing it properly. Thanks for bearing with me.

At this point, we were running out of time, and decided to conclude the interview for a second part…

Nutcase (BG): How about we actually ask our readers for follow ups, then we have a second part?

DaaT (TBJ): I have 2 left, but I’m sure I can think of more up if you want. :)

Nutcase (BG): Would you agree Simon?

Technix (TBJ): Yeah, we could poll the community… A 2nd parter is wanted by me for sure.

Simon (bu): Sure, we can have part 2 as well, agreed.
Simon (bu): I can make my announcement then, in part 2. =)

Nutcase (BG): Thanks for being a good sport. I tend to be bullish. :)

DaaT (TBJ): I definitely had a great time Simon.

Simon (bu): Ok, see you all next time.

Technix (TBJ): ok Simon, thanx again!

Simon (bu): Welcome!

We all decided at the end to continue this discussion in a second part, due sometime next week when time permits us all to meet. There will be more questions asked, as well as commentary from a special guest speaker, and some announcements for the BeOS Community.



16 Responses to “Interview: Simon Gauvin of beunited.org”

  1. tb100 Says:

    Question for Simon

    Just 1 question:

    1) What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement? What’s the announcement?

    I expect this frenzy is completely unjustified, but maybe that secret Leonardo thing is actually finished, and includes multi-user networking support, a cool new UI, hardware OpenGL, yadayada???

    Sorry, just reading Michael’s reply to David has got me all exicited about the whole OSBOS idea again! I can’t wait ’till I download my new Leonardo next week ;) woohoo…

    Simon. (gr8 name, btw)

  2. scottmc Says:

    In Response To tb100 @ 09/23/2002 3:56:08 PM

    Re: Question for Simon

    Maybe it’s Zeta? Check the news on www.yellowtab.com! On schedule… Sounds like they are using a new compiler? They are offering Beta2 to devs to recompile their apps.

    -Scottmc

  3. DaaT Says:

    In Response To scottmc @ 09/23/2002 4:50:45 PM

    Re: Question for Simon

    Wrong and… wrong :)

    Sorry guys, gotta wait for part 2… tam tam tam.. can you feel the FREAKING SUSPENSE??!?! :)

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Java?

    Now that beunited has gotten into bed with Sun for OpenOffice, what is the possibility that you will be able to get premission for a Java port?

    The absence of Java is really one of the only things Im seriously missing in BeOS.

    Hmmm, for some reason my username/password dont work posting against news, but are fine for the forums.

  5. scottmc Says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 09/23/2002 8:54:11 PM

    Re: Java?

    username/password dont work posting against news, but are fine for the forums.

    Seems you need to register on the news page for news posts and in the forums for forum posts.

    -Scottmc

  6. Anonymous Says:

    In Response To DaaT @ 09/23/2002 8:15:47 PM

    Re: Question for Simon

    Dammit… Can’t wait… must.. get.. info.. now.

  7. Ichiro Says:

    Two or three questions

    My first question concerns the outcome of the brief submited on the anti-trust hearings. I was wondering if anything had come from it, or if anything was expected to.

    My second question concerns the level of relationship between Sun and beunited. As I understand things, currently, beunited is licensed to port the OpenOffice code. Is that the extent of the relationship, or is there the potential for further growth. Perhaps even a closer working relationship between Sun as a server solution, and the OBOS family as desktop clients? Finaly, as I am unfamiliar with Sun’s products, I do not know how many they have made ‘open’. Are there other products that the current level of relationship would allow for porting to the new OBOS?

    Ichiro.

  8. tb100 Says:

    In Response To DaaT @ 09/23/2002 8:15:47 PM

    Re: Question for Simon (sounds like you know already…)

    Hey daat, sounds like you know the announcement already - you can tell me now, I won’t tell anyone else - promise!

    Simon

  9. markh Says:

    Some questions

    Simon states ssh2 is working. Is that on plain R5 and if so, do they have a working openssl library that developers can use ?

    What’s happening with the driverfund ? If I’m not mistaken that’s still at beunited, but I can’t find anything about it anymore.

  10. Technix Says:

    great questions

    There are some great questions here…

    Nutcase and I will be glad to pass these on, as well as our own of course.

    All will be revealed that can be revealed.

    -Chris Simmons,
    Avid BeOS User.
    The BeOSJournal.

  11. DaaT Says:

    In Response To tb100 @ 09/24/2002 2:51:42 PM

    Re: Question for Simon (sounds like you know already…)

    Well Simon, if you read the interview, i’m sure you noticed one of the interviewers has the name DaaT.. coincidence? I think not :)

    And yes, i know what it is, knew it before the interview actually. And no, i won’t tell you :) That would spoil the surprise now wouldn’t it? :)

    Hang in there, it’ll be worth it.

    Take care,
    DaaT

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Tutorials

    What about prepareing new tuorials about programming under BeOS (or OBOS, B.E.OS, they are meant to be identical in API anyway).

    I began to use BeOS after the sale of Be Inc. and I havent bought the BeBook, some told me that it isn’t *brand* new anymore and since I don’t live in the US, it would be diffucult to find one and even if I could, it would add a lot taxes and extra charges that it would be too much for me. I have taken a look at the online BeBook but it is more like a REFERENCE GUIDE than a tutorial which could actually teach a newbie programming under BeOS (you know, chapter by chapter). Other tutorials that I’ve found, covered mostly the very basics, so studying them allowed me no more than putting new empty windows :) .

    One of the biggest goods for the community would be new, professionally structered tutorials varying in depths of knowledge (from inexperienced newbies without knowledge in any API to in-depth tutorials). If you can convince one or two BeOS gurus who aren’t at any important project right now to prepare these tutorials, it could bring lots of new developers in the near-future.

    Sorry for posting anonymous, i’m fye from BeGroovy forums, it seems I have submitted a wrong e-mail address, the pass didn’t came to me.

    fye.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 09/26/2002 3:25:56 PM

    Re: Tutorials

    damn typos! :<

    fye

  14. Anonymous Says:

    In Response To Anonymous @ 09/26/2002 3:25:56 PM

    Re: Tutorials

    Try Programming the Be Operating System
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1565924673
    You’ll need to be up to speed with C before you can use this one though.

    -scottmc

  15. Anonymous Says:

    One united Be

    Simon,

    I’m very glad that Beunited.com exists. It seems very important that the BeOS community (users and dev.) have a common ground to share ideas and code (different focus that Bebits). Because Beunited is a not-for-profit entity it shows that you have structure and vision (not to mention a unique approch).

    My questions are:
    1. How does/will Beunited handle requests to work on projects that Beunited currently possesses?
    2. How does a person become a member or a Dev. member?
    3. Does Beunited plan to host any BeOS events?

    Thank you,
    Bill Davenport

  16. Simon Says:

    Answers to questions

    To all questionairs,

    I would like to respond here regarding all the questions posted here and why I have not replied.

    I would like to let everyone know that I will answer all of the great questions that have been posted here.

    However, rather than answer them here, Nutcase and Technix are going to collect them, and then ask me each question at the next interview, Part 2.

    Thanks again for all your kind words and support for beunited.org. It shows us that we are on the right path to support all of you.

    Thanks,

    Simon Gauvin
    President, beunited.org

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