I N S I D E
Outreach & Education Coordinator, Community Technology Program
The Washington State Communities Connect Network (CCN) is launching a new series of training for community technology providers. Web Conferencing for Community Technology Providers: Running Effective Online Trainings and Meetings (1.5 hours, online). Join us for this free webinar to find out how you can deliver a successful and engaging training session online. For those looking to host online meetings, come see how online tools can help you engage your participants and collaborate remotely.
Dates: August 23, September 26, November 15
The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just released a short new report that looks at online harassment and cyberbullying among online teens ages 12-17.
The report finds that about one third (32%) of all teenagers who use the Internet say they have been targets of a range of annoying and potentially menacing online activities, such as receiving threatening messages; having their private emails or text messages forwarded without consent; having an embarrassing picture posted without permission; or having rumors about them spread online.
For the full report, please visit the Pew web site.
The Seattle Beehive brings a new online tool: The Beehive Guide to Internet Safety, sponsored by Symantec. The Internet Safety content is separated into three main areas: Family Safety, Identity Safety and Computer Safety. The Keeping Your Kids and Family Safe section educates parents on issues such as sexual predators, cyber bullies, and online drug pushers.
The Keeping your Identity Safe section educates users on how to prevent identity theft. This section explains numerous ways in which persons can keep their identity safe, from monitoring one's credit report and credit card statements to only shopping at reliable web sites. The Keeping Your Computers Safe section empowers users with simple tactics that will help them secure computers. Theses tactics include using anti-virus software, not opening junk email, installing a firewall, and creating a strong password.
This content can be found on the Seattle Beehive in the Beehive News Flash section, under the tab called Your Guide to Internet Safety.
Learn how to protect yourself and your family from identity theft and what to do if you are a victim. The Attorney General's office is offering training throughout the state on identity theft. More than 5,000 Washington residents become victims of identity theft each year, according to reports from the Federal Trade Commission. Thieves are capitalizing on the latest technologies to commit these crimes.
See other training dates and locations, more info and register to attend at the Attorney General's web site.
Seattle MESA students build their robot.
Funded in 2006 by the Technology Matching Fund, the Seattle MESA Robotics Academy engaged students of color and girls in computer science, teaching them computer programming through a fun, hands-on, collaborative robotics project and competition. The Robotics Academy took place on nine Saturdays during the 2006-2007 school year, with MESA 11th and 12th grade students learning from industry and community volunteers, along with MESA alumni who are now college students. The students created their robots using Vex technology. Upon completion of the Robotics Academy, students participated in a local robotics competition, and brought robotics activities to youth and families at three community events in the Seattle area.
The program not only taught the students new skills, but also inspired them to continue learning. "At the beginning the students were more focused on building robots" said Executive Director, Anna-Maria de la Fuente, "but by the end of the project they all wanted to learn programming languages."
What the Students Said
Hilltop resident Marcia Dorfner celebrates her Wi-Fi
connection with Microsoft volunteer Charles Cox.
Residents of Hilltop House senior housing cheered this month as their Wi-Fi system went live. In one evening, a team of volunteers from Microsoft and the City of Seattle installed wireless cards in the first 29 residents' computers.
"We find it exciting to see the residents taking more interest in technology and being excited about the possibilities of using the wireless. And, they are saving money...very important in affordable housing," according to Hilltop building manager Darla O'Brien. Residents throughout the building can now sign up for free Wi-Fi; they pay a one-time maintenance fee of $70. This makes it affordable to the low-income seniors who may not otherwise have Internet or had only slow speed dial-up. The home Wi-Fi Internet access complements the computer learning center in the building, where Karen Lewis and volunteers provide training and additional software for residents.
Hilltop resident Serafina Gunter agrees. "It is so much easier to access the Internet and I was able to eliminate a monthly charge," she said. "Thank you!"
The Hilltop House installation completes a pair of low-income senior apartment buildings. The other building, Kawabe Memorial House, was fortunate to have super-volunteer Joe Ike, a retired electrical engineer who has been teaching computer classes in Japanese, English and Korean. Joe led the project cheerleading and installation. The Wi-Fi system is built on equipment and initial technical assistance donated by Cisco Systems. It has enabled tenant access as well as a transition to high speed Internet for staff.
The system has a wired backbone with Wi-Fi access points installed every third floor. Engineers Derrick Hall from the City of Seattle and volunteer Tom Kee from the Citizens Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board (CTTAB) also assisted. Building managers Connie Devaney from Kawabe Memorial House and Darla O'Brien from Hilltop House led the project with support from the City of Seattle's Bill Wright Technology Matching Fund and staff from Seattle's Community Technology Program. Along the way additional support was provided by Jet City Orange, Emerald City Computer Solutions and the maintenance staff at both buildings. It took a few years to complete this project, but now residents can reach out for the information they need and contact relatives in just milliseconds.
Summer tech interns Anthony, Lenda, Chisom and Tiffany.
"The people are nice and we're learning a lot," is how the summer interns are describing their experience at the Department of Information Technology (DoIT). Four students from the Technology Access Foundation's (TAF) education program are interning with the City this summer. Anthony and Chisom are working at the Help Desk, Tiffany is working in Enterprise Computing, and Lenda is doing programming for Technical Support Services. Tiffany and Anthony are also helping the City with development of Sharepoint services.
DoIT is committed to helping increase opportunities for diversity in the information technology field. The information technology skills training for youth of color, provided by TAF, provides a great talent resource for the City. The City's internship program with TAF provides exposure to public service and helps develop future employees for the City and local technology employers.
TAF is increasing their partnership with schools. In June, they announced a partnership with the Federal Way Public Schools to launch a "TAF Academy" in the Federal Way School District in September 2008. The Academy is a 6th-12th grade public school model with a mission to prepare every student for college and for life through a rigorous and relevant Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) focused curriculum.
For more information about Technology Access Foundation students and programs, go here.
pump & dump excel scams
MS Excel is the latest vehicle for 'Pump & Dump' scams. 'Pump and Dump' scams are emails that purport to be from stock traders and contain a false rumor or tip about a stock that they are recommending buying. When the criminals get enough people to purchase stock in this fashion, it results in the stock price rising ('pumping' it up) temporarily. Scammers then cash in by 'dumping' the (generally worthless) stock at its peak and making a profit. We've seen this scam for a long time in spam email, but the latest twist is that it is being sent in Excel files to fool the spam-blocking software.
Researchers at several antivirus and antispam vendors have reported 'Pump and Dump' spam in Excel files since July 21. The spam promotes stock in attachments with names like "invoice20202.xls," "stock information-3572.xls," and "requested report.xls."
Spammers are continually finding new ways to bypass spam-blocking tools. For a while, they were using images, then when the tools started blocking those, they switched over to Adobe PDF files, and now they have moved on to Excel as their newest vehicle of choice.
The City of Seattle Office of Information Security suggests that you always ignore these types of scams and let your friends and family know about them, as well. If you get one of these just delete it.
Stay abreast of security tips here.
Looking for ways to make your computer easier to use? Check out the accessibility settings in Vista and Windows/XP that are already on your PC. Microsoft offers free downloads and tutorials on how to make your computer more comfortable and easier to see, hear and use. Go here.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project released their latest U.S. Broadband Adoption report in July. The report finds that nearly half (47%) of all adult Americans now have a high-speed Internet connection at home. The percentage of Americans with broadband at home has grown from 42% in early 2006 and 30% in early 2005. See the Pew site for the full report, and sign up for their notices.
Social Justice Fund Cultural Grants
National Book Scholarship Fund
Adobe Action Grants
The Finance Project provides monthly tips for youth programs to help them finance and sustain their work.
Try this cool card game to help plan what technology programs to offer at your center and to the community. This is a few years old, but still a great planning tool. From David Wilcox in the U.K.
The Qwest sponsored Incredible Internet Safety site was developed with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It includes wireless safety tips for parents and guardians and a survey for teens on teens and technology safety.
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 the City of Seattle's Community Tech pages, seattle.gov/tech.
Free cable broadband Internet service is available for organizations providing technology training to community members. The free service is offered in the Comcast service delivery area and within the Seattle city limits, based on the City’s cable franchise agreement. For more information and to download a short form to make application, go to our tech web. If you have questions, email Derrick Hall or call (206) 233-5061.