City of Seattle Community Technology E-Zine
|Vol. 9, No. 12||December, 2010|
Join Mayor Mike McGinn at any of the six Community Forums scheduled December through February on issues concerning your neighborhood. All forums will include City resource tables and opportunity for questions and answers. Here are the currently planned dates and general locations. Actual locations are not available yet:
Donate your old PC for a tax writeoff. To learn more, go here.city budget passes
Seattle City Council adopted the City’s 2011-2012 budget. DoIT took its share of cuts and layoffs, but we are committed to maintaining a high level of service to the public and our City customers. We will issue a Request for Proposal [RFP] this spring as we look for a new and innovative model for providing public access television. More information is available here.free google surveys
Google Forms – free for those with Google accounts – can perform many of the same functions as an online tool like Surveymonkey. Because Surveymonkey charges a monthly fee for surveys over 10 questions long, it’s worth exploring Google Forms to find out if you can send out effective surveys for free.
Go to Google Docs. This requires the user to sign in with a Google account. click on the “Create New” drop down menu. Select “Form.”
From here, you can create a questionnaire or survey with a variety of answer types: text, multiple choice, check boxes, choosing from a list, scale, or grid. As soon as you start setting up your survey, Google generates a live web form with an associated URL that you can share or email to your contacts. The link is available at the bottom of the page. A number of attractive templates are available to choose from, as well.
When someone fills out your survey/questionnaire, the time-stamped responses automatically fill in a Google spreadsheet. It’s easy to export this spreadsheet into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to perform a more complex analysis of responses. Overall, Google Forms is a user-friendly, functional online survey tool.rights contest
Human Rights Banner Contest In celebration of Human Rights Day, the City of Seattle Office of Civil Rights, Councilmember Mike O’Brien and PugetSoundOff.org are sponsoring a contest for young people to create a banner for Human Rights Day. Go here.free internet hookups
Free cable broadband Internet service is available for organizations providing technology training to community members. The free service is offered within the Seattle city limits, based on the City's cable franchise agreements with Comcast and Broadstripe (Millennium). 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.sub/unsub
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.
Have a question for Mayor Mike McGinn? Join the conversation with Seattle Channel host C.R. Douglas as he sits down with the Mayor on Wednesday, December 8, at 7 p.m. for Ask the Mayor. Call (206) 681-8821 between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. or email your questions. Also, follow their conversation on Twitter or Facebook with the Seattle Channel’s accounts. You can also submit questions through Twitter and Facebook as well.
Follow the Seattle Channel on Twitter.com/SeattleChannel and become a fan of the Seattle Channel on Facebook! Friends and followers get up to the minute info on new programs, behind the scene pictures of shoots and interviews and more!archives
Back issues of Brainstorm including techtips and linkage are now available in our online archives. Previous TechTips and Linkage are also available. Click to revisit all previous issues.
adults, youth get online
Nine computer centers in central and southeast Seattle participated in Get Online! day on November 18. These centers partnered with the City and Citizens Telecommunication and Technology Advisory Board (CTTAB) in promoting and encouraging people to visit their center and learn about what resources and classes they have available in their neighborhoods. Horn of Africa Services, Neighborhood House, Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA), Seattle Urban League, STAR Center and four Seattle Parks and Recreation RecTech Centers at Garfield, Rainier, South Park and Yesler held open house demonstrations and staffed the event during extended hours.
More than 35 volunteers from the community, non-profit and government organizations provided technical and teaching support for activities that included social networking, posting and viewing photos online, paying bills online, using email, using Skype to video conference, and understanding Internet safety.
This event was tremendously fulfilling for volunteers and staff who participated in the event. A note from volunteer Karen on her experience, “It was the most rewarding volunteer experience I have had in a really long time ... I mostly worked with four adults during the session: A woman from Burundi, a man from Ecuador who heard about the event on the Internet, and an older woman who works for ReWA who has been too intimidated about computers to earn how to use them ... Now, the woman who works at ReWA will be able to create her schedules on the computer and insert pictures into documents. Now Neptali will be able to send people pictures. Now Rosa will be able to download African music and access bus schedules, and now the youth have updated their privacy settings on Facebook.”
For more information about the event and to view photos, go here.eight ways to share thoughts on broadband
Washington State Broadband Program of the Department of Information Services (DIS) and the Department of Commerce recently held a workshop in Seattle to learn about the broadband needs in our area. An article summarizes the feedback provided here. This information is valuable to the State as they continue to plan future programming that will help expand broadband use and access and help fuel economic development and job creation.
If you couldn't be present at the workshop, you can still share your thoughts on the needs and benefits of broadband. Use these eight communication tools for helping the State get the most accurate information about our broadband use.
online shopping – be aware!
This time of year, it seems like everyone has a guide to shopping safely online. Most tip sheets focus on ways to spot insecure Web sites and harden your computer against data-stealing malware, but it’s equally important to understand from whom you’re buying before it’s too late.
It’s always a good idea to shop for the best price online, but you may be sorry if you let the site with the lowest price be your only guide. If you aren’t familiar with an online merchant, take a few minutes to do some basic consumer research on the vendor. Otherwise, you could end up like the hapless consumers profiled in David Segal‘s readable and entertaining story in The New York Times last week.
The Times piece highlights what appears to be a serious weakness in the major search engines, a shortcoming that favors dodgy merchants: While an abundance of complaints against an online merchant may show up prominently in a Web search for that seller, searches for brand name items may take the consumer straight to the merchant’s site and bypass those negative comments. Furthermore, complaints and bad publicity may even increase an online shop’s standing in the search rankings, the story notes.
If you don’t know much about the seller, investigate its reputation at one or more of the following sites:
Also, it’s not uncommon for bargain basement, phantom Web sites to materialize during the holiday season and vanish forever not long afterward. If you’re buying merchandise from an online store that is brand new, the risk that you will get scammed increases significantly. But how do you know the lifespan of a site selling that must-have gadget at the lowest price? One easy way to get a quick idea is to run a basic WHOIS search on the site’s domain name.
Be careful what you agree to: Check to make sure you know how long the item will take to be shipped, and that you understand the store’s return policies. Also, keep an eye out for hidden surcharges, and be wary of blithely clicking “ok” during the checkout process. This can even be an issue in main street stores: Last night, as I was paying for a prescription at a local CVS Pharmacy, I realized after the fact that I’d agreed to add a $1 charge to my credit card for a holiday charity campaign the store was promoting. As I learned when I returned to contest the charge, the point-of-sale terminal had asked for my approval for this charge, and I’d tapped the green “YES” button after swiping my card without reading the charge request, assuming it was part of the normal process of completing the credit card transaction. [Reported by Brian Krebs, KrebsOnSecurity]
One of my favorite Ease of Access functions for Windows is Sticky Keys. It is a simple but effective way of making a standard keyboard more useable for someone with limited mobility. Simply press the Shift key five times and a dialog box will appear on your screen to ask if you want to turn on Sticky Keys. Press Enter or click Yes and you are ready to go.
Sticky Keys enables a function key like the Shift, Ctrl or Alt, and any other key without having to hold them down at the same time. So if you want to type @, instead of holding down Shift and pressing the "2" you can now, with Sticky Keys enabled, press and release the Shift key and then press the 2. To disable Sticky Keys, simply press Shift five times again or once you hold down the Shift key and press any other key simultaneously. The computer will make a noise to let you know the function has been disabled. As I said earlier Sticky Keys is one of my favorite Ease of Access functions. It’s also a really handy function if you have limited mobility or dexterity in your hands or arms. [Posted By Samantha Murphy to Washington Assistive Technology Act Program Blog]
Agree or disagree with me? Drop me a note: Derrick Hall.d.o.l.l.a.r.s
City of Seattle Neighborhood Matching Fund Small and Simple Projects The Small and Simple Projects Fund provides awards up to $20,000 to support community members in building community relationships around a project. Small and Simple Projects Fund activities may be physical projects as well as less tangible but equally significant educational, cultural, and relationship-strengthening activities.
National Endowment for the Humanities Offers Digital Humanities Start-Up Grants for Innovative Projects
Live Air Traffic Control Listen to plane traffic from around the world.
TechCrunch reports on Skype preparing for more web based browser plug-in products.
Pet of the Week Seattle Animal Shelter’s redesigned web site, where you can see the pet of the week video and watch dog, cat, bunny and critter cams. Cute.
What's coming in 2011? See Gartner's Top 10 Technologies for 2011, posted on Global Knowledge.
DigLiteracy Winners: Venezuela’s Fundación Infocentro (Infocentro Foundation) was awarded UNESCO’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education, specifically for its project “Technological Literacy for Older Adults.” UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, has also designated the National Institute of Continuing Adult Education (United Kingdom) as an award-winner of the prize. The prizes focused this year on the theme, “Digital Literacy: Preparing Adult Learners for Lifelong Learning and Flexible Employment.”c.a.l.e.n.d.a.r