I N S I D E
"We’re one of the most wired cities in the world, but there’s still much we can do to bring the benefits of this technology revolution to all segments of our city." -Mayor Greg Nickels
"We’re one of the most wired cities in the world, but there’s still much we can do to bring the benefits of this technology revolution to all segments of our city."
-Mayor Greg Nickels
Think twice before pouring money into an old computer. If you want Windows XP, you may be better off buying new. XP upgrades can be troublesome and not worth the effort. Your hard drive needs to be wiped clean for the XP installation. Then all of your programs and personal files must to be reinstalled. A five-year-old computer may be past its useful life. If you upgrade a computer with minimum specifications, you might end up with a big investment and a slow computer.
Greg Nickels, Mayor
director, office of
D.H. CASS MAGNUSKI
“If they have the courage to walk through the door, I know I’ve got it made." These are the words of Jacque Cook, lab coordinator at Westwood Heights Computer Center in West Seattle. Jacque teaches beginner’s classes for seniors.
We sat in on one of her weekly Thursday afternoon walk-in classes at Westwood, where she fielded questions from the students, walked them through the process of buying tickets online, discussed identity theft, and explained the phenomenon of “phishing," where emails are sent from foreign countries requesting aid in “transferring millions of dollars into your personal account in exchange for a percentage of the deposit." Students were warned to avoid giving out their bank account numbers because they would likely find those accounts drained. She also discussed the issue of bogus emails from banks that include logos. The scam demands an “update" of username and password that can end in the emptying of personal bank accounts. The class serves an average of six to 12 seniors who meet once a week to use the computers and get answers to their questions.
"We focus here on training seniors, aged 50 and over, as defined by AARP. Eighty percent of the students who come here have little or no computer knowledge. Most have none," she said.
One student, Clark, shows up to stay abreast of the constant changes he encounters in computing. “For me, this is a refresher course. My first computer was a Tandy, but there is so much stuff that I have just not used. I’ve fallen behind because things change so quickly. The teacher is exceptional. I’m grateful to Jacque for bringing me up to speed. Outside of our learning a great deal, it’s a lot of fun."
Jacque brings a wide range of technical experience to the job. She first got involved as a result of working for Microsoft for six years, troubleshooting Windows 95 on the phone. She came to the conclusion that she would rather become a “preventive maintenance person than a fixer-after-it’s-broke person." This led her to talk to the folks at North Seattle Community College, where she became a trainer. After three years at that, she spent a couple of years with Northhaven, a HUD low-income community at Northgate. She later set up a lab at Hamilton House Senior Center, which eventually led her to set up and network the lab at Westwood in May, 2002. Jacque created a business, Seniors Compute, providing individuals with home tutoring, training and providing visual aids to make computer learning easier for seniors.
Westwood Heights has been very successful. As another of Jacque's senior students, Lillian, said, “I’d still be a beginner if it weren’t for this lab."
Microsoft and Bon Macy’s volunteers teamed up with Digital Promise for a United Way Day of Caring project on Friday, Sept 19. Fourteen technical professionals spent the day providing technical assistance to computer labs located in five affordable housing communities. The project was organized by Digital Promise and included the Martin Luther King Apartments, New Holly Community Learning Center, Plymouth Housing Group, Hilltop House and Mitchell Place. Working in teams of two and three, the volunteers focused their talents and energy on whatever tasks were needed at the labs, from applying software upgrade patches, to fixing printer problems to conducting general systems maintenance. Both the center staff and the volunteers who participated gained from the experience. "It was really a super exchange," said Ellen Gordon, lab Manager at New Holly, where the volunteers helped sort out some software problems. At Hilltop House, a center serving seniors, the team was able to get all five of their computers back online and running smoothly. "It was a feat none of us could do," said Administrator Darla O’Brien. Spending the day in Seattle’s diverse communities was also a positive experience for the volunteers. "All in all, it was a great day," said Microsoft team leader Dawn Wood. "It was a lot of fun. Several of the volunteers want to go back to do more at the centers." "I loved the experience," said Program Writer, Charles Cox. "It was so cool to get involved and be able to make a difference."
The Earned Income Tax Credit provides low-income working families with thousands in tax refunds. The United Way, ACORN and others are looking for volunteers to help with outreach and to help families prepare their returns, providing an alternative to commercial preparers that take a portion of their money away. You don't need to be an expert, and training is available. ECOM and the Rainier Beach Community Tech Center are teaming up to provide a site. For more info, see unitedway.org. Families can also use icanefile.org. Community computer sites can find out more about how to encourage use of icanefile.
The federal Technology Opportunity Program has just given a $436,685 green light to an exciting Refugee Web project. The Nonprofit Assistance Center (NAC), in partnership with Refugee Federation Service Center, Refugee Women's Alliance, Jewish Family Services, and 16 grass roots community-based Mutual Assistance Associations providing employment and social services to refugees in the Puget Sound region, will demonstrate the effectiveness of using web-based and mobile technology to enhance community service delivery. The City of Seattle Community Technology Program has provided some technical support and will be linking centers up with broadband cable service. For more info contact nacseattle.org or visit them at their non-profit assistance fair on October 20.
The City of Seattle Boards and Commissions meeting room now has a public telephone listen line. Up to 24 callers at a time can call (206) 684-4718 and listen to meetings taking place in the City Boards and Commissions meeting room.
The Boards and Commissions meeting room is located on floor L2 of the Seattle City Hall building, at L280. A number of City boards and commissions meet there regularly, including the Design Commission, the Planning Commission, and the Women's Commission. The City Council funded the listen line in the 2004 budget process, sponsored by Nick Licata. The funding comes from cable television franchise fees. City policy has been that these fees are used to provide citizen technology access to City services.
Deadline: Oct 27
CTCNet has announced the 2005 Youth Visions for Stronger Neighborhoods Grants program, sponsored by the Corporation for National Service's Learn and Serve America. Youth Visions Grants are designed to give youth and community technology programs the opportunity to use multimedia tools and training to engage in community decision-making to strengthen their neighborhoods. Through CTCNet's Youth Visions grants, organizations with substantial experience training youth in low-income communities will be funded to implement new or expanded community technology programs that focus on engaging youth in civic participation.
The Milagro Foundation, founded in 1998 by Carlos Santana and his wife Deborah, makes grants to community-based, grassroots organizations that work with children and youth, especially those at risk and disadvantaged due to such factors as poor health, illiteracy, or insufficient educational and cultural opportunities.
The Public Welfare Foundation supports organizations that provide services to disadvantaged populations in the areas of criminal justice, disadvantaged elderly and youth, environment, population, health, community and economic development, human rights, and technology assistance.
Deadline: November 1
The ELA Foundation funds programs that are led by, or support people with disabilities. The Foundation is interested in programs that are supported by the local community and meet the needs of people with disabilities in the areas of arts, advocacy, or education. Emphasis is given to programs focusing on women. Nonprofit organizations across the United States are eligible to apply.
Deadline: October 29
The Race and Social Justice Project awards are intended to create opportunities for meaningful interactions between Seattle's diverse racial and ethnic community members and encourage mutual understanding and respect. All races, ethnic and cultural groups are encouraged to submit a proposal. Projects should result in the creation of stronger bonds and connections between individuals and an increased sense of community. See last year's awards.
PSACT: The Library and Community Technology: Meant for Each Other SCAN: Connecting for Change Back issues of Brainstorm including techtips and linkages are now available in our online archives. Click to revisit all previous issues. To subscribe or unsubscribe to Brainstorm, please email us, and we'll add you to our email notification list, or subtract you per your request. If you have ideas for future stories, please let us know and we'll try to accommodate them. We encourage you to visit Seattle's Community Tech pages, seattle.gov/tech.
Wednesday, Nov. 17
9:30 a.m. - noon
Central Library, 4th and Madison
Conference Room 2
Annual Conference for NW Region
Alliance for Community Media (ACM)
October 28 - 30
SCAN Community Media
1125 N. 98th Street
(206) 522-4758 Register online
PSACT: The Library and Community Technology: Meant for Each Other
SCAN: Connecting for Change
Back issues of Brainstorm including techtips and linkages are now available in our online archives. Click to revisit all previous issues.
To subscribe or unsubscribe to Brainstorm, please email us, and we'll add you to our email notification list, or subtract you per your request. If you have ideas for future stories, please let us know and we'll try to accommodate them. We encourage you to visit Seattle's Community Tech pages, seattle.gov/tech.