826 Seattle gets a technology boost

826 Seattle student during after school time

826 Seattle student during after school time

826 Seattle is a nonprofit writing and tutoring center dedicated to empowering young people—particularly disadvantaged youth who risk academic failure due to socioeconomic or language barriers—with the confidence and skills to communicate their personal stories through writing.  Their services are structured around the belief that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that proficiency in writing helps children become more engaged in school and ultimately grow into successful adults.

With a $14,326 grant from the Technology Matching Fund last year, 826 Seattle gave their computer lab a much needed makeover.   They brought in four new iMacs, five laptops,  an iPad and a digital microphone.   Volunteers did everything necessary to get the lab up to speed, including wiping the old computers clean and recycling them.

The new technology suite benefits the students in many ways.  More than 1,000 students came to the center during the first six months of the project to participate in innovative writing workshops on topics ranging from “Snarky and Hallmark-y: Writing Your Own Greeting Cards” to “Before Texting: The Power of Historical Letters.”

More than 150 students also used the computer lab for homework completion.  Technological access is an integral part of students’ daily homework routine, whether it is checking a school website for assignments and grades, doing internet-based research for school projects, or completing mandatory online daily math practice drills.  First grader Nehemiah (pictured above)  listened to jazz and studied jazz history.

If you look for the center in the Greenwood neighborhood, you won’t find a traditional tutoring center sign on the front door.  It’s discreetly tucked away behind the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company,  a retail store that sells space-themed novelties and toys.

For more information on the project, contact Peggy Jackson.


Seattle Goodwill & Seattle get recognition, funding from Comcast for digital literacy

Seattle Goodwill’s Job Training and Education Program has received $100,000 from Comcast to support additional development and instruction in digital literacy. The funding will also help train their English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) computer instructors and roll-out the new program across 10 job training sites.  Councilmember Bruce Harrell joined with Barbara “BG” Neighbors-Glass from Goodwill, Steve Kipp from Comcast and others to celebrate the grant and recognition of Seattle as a “Gold Medal” city which is helping to increase the number of low-income families receiving internet at home through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program.  See a video of the event and links to information from Comcast and Goodwill.

King County Law Library now offers free video visits for inmates

LawLibraryThe Public Law Library of King County is now offering free video conferencing between inmates in Department of Corrections facilities and their friends or family members who are on an approved visitors list.  The conferencing can be done from the law libraries in Seattle and Kent. Each private video visit meeting room is equipped with a large flat-screen television, web camera with audio, and computer. Funding for this came from a class action law suit about inmate collect calls. It will save the families the current $12.95 cost for 30 minute visits, though they will have to pay up front and then will be reimbursed right after the visit. For more info, go here, email videovisits@kcll.org or call (206) 477-1305.

Data.seattle.gov offers new design, ways to see City data

DataSeattleGovThe City of Seattle’s data portal, data.seattle.gov, has just been redesigned so that it’s easier to explore different types of information, such as building permits, education, crime data and more. There are 271 data sets there to explore.  The City’s 2014 budget is one data set recently added. You can look up the budget for different departments and programs.  Try playing around with the More Views and Visualize buttons to see other ways of seeing the data. You can also create and save your own views of the info there.

Can I buy the cheapest computer?

If you are purchasing for a computer lab, you should NOT purchase the cheapest computer you can find.  Most computers that are marketed at a discounted price are for home use.  When you find a great deal where the computers are priced unbelievably low, that is because the parts are being phased out or they are substandard parts.  Deep deals are normally great for home users with low usage, but if you use them in a lab you will quickly learn that the deal was not that great.

When purchasing computers for a network:

  • Make sure you get the professional version of the operating system.
  • Make sure the network card is a 10/100/1GB card.
  • Hard drive size does not have to be large, get a network attached drive.

When purchasing computers for a lab:

  • Always buy a computer that has a standard three year warranty.
  • You should get monitors with 19-inch screens or bigger.
  • Expect the equipment to last for at least three years.

With all computer configurations, always have up to date antivirus software running on your computer.  Most purchased computers only come with a trial version and some will stop updating without notifying you.  In a multi-user lab environment it is best to run Deepfreeze to protect the computer as well.

Free Security Newsletter

Sign up for Microsoft’s free, monthly email security newsletter that’s packed with valuable information to help you protect your home computer. This newsletter provides practical security tips for you and your family, useful resources and links, and a forum for you to provide feedback and ask security-related questions.

Available in text and HTML formats, the newsletter is a convenient way for you to stay up to date on the latest issues, insights, and events with:

  • How-to articles and security tips
  • Security bulletins and critical updates
  • Answers to frequently asked questions on security topics
  • Information about security trials and downloads
  • Articles on helping to keep kids safe online
  • Tips from our Security Community for Home Users

View the latest security newsletter.

Ask interesting people anything

Yabbly.com, started in Seattle, has a range of experts who will answer your questions. They range from college admissions officers to tech entrepreneurs, Jeopardy winners, investors, and CEO’s who want to help others with their careers. It’s very cool; check it out and share it with students and others.