Low Cost Internet & Computer Options

Visit our Home Internet & Computers page page for your current options in low cost Internet and computers.  City of Seattle Community Technology Program, with the Communities Connect Network/EdLab Group, hosted a webinar on each of the options available to Seattle residents. This included panelists from InterConnection, CenturyLink, Connect2Compete/EveryoneOn, and Solid Ground’s ConnectUp.

You can access the webinar here.

TechTip: Password Management

If you’re like me, you have a password for this and a password for that. With most password security you’re forced to change your password once every 45 to 90 days, have eight characters or more with one being a symbol, one a number, and one being a capitalization. Today there are many password systems that you can use to store your passwords. Your main challenge, normally, is the ability wherever you are to access that password you desperately need.

Having a password format for yourself is helpful so that you can remember your password but others can’t.

Play with Words
If your favorite food is a banana, your password can be B@n@Na82013. This is a strong password and it’s hard for others to figure out but easy for you to remember. How?
You make sure the “B” and “N” in the word is always capitalized and your first two “a’s” are replaced with the “@” sign. Now the numbers is easy — just the current month and year. When it is time to change your password you only have to change the month and year to reflect the current month.
Doing this allows you to know you need to only change the month, if you forget.

To make this more complex you can use even months the word “B@n@Na” and odd months can you “@pPle” or something like that.

Another way you can have a strong password is by spelling the month out and the year at the end like @uguestBanana2013 and when you change it the next month or month after use $eptemberBanana2013. Now I know this is a long password but it helps keep your password strong, unique and most of all easy for you to remember.

Building Resident-Centered Apps: Seattle.Gov Web Team Hits the Streets

Web Team connecting with residentsAfter the successful launch of m.seattle.gov earlier this year, the City Wide Web Team hit the streets to talk to residents and found out what City mobile services are valuable to the public, including a possible City of Seattle app for iOS and Android users.

The Web Team split into teams of two and interviewed more than 50 people in “person-on-the-street” meetings in downtown Seattle, Greenwood, Capitol Hill and the Central District. Armed with a short list of questions, the teams were well received by the folks they approached. An online survey asking similar questions was also released, receiving more than 200 responses.

Based on their interviews and surveys, the Team learned the public is interested in four primary areas:

  • City and civic
  • Parks services and information
  • Public Safety
  • Transportation

With these priorities in mind, the team followed up again with more-focused interviews and surveys.

Using the results of the second round of questions, the team put together basic app prototypes that they tested with potential users. On July 30, seven Web Team members (with pizza in hand) joined 50 students from Seattle Central Community College and spent two hours listening to their detailed feedback about the prototypes.

This valuable input from residents and students at SCCC will drive further development of these native apps. To get involved in this ongoing process, please email Thomasj.Nelson@seattle.gov.


Maker Culture in Seattle

Are you a “Do It Yourselfer?” Do you enjoy creating new projects and ideas with your hands? You are not alone as the maker culture in Seattle is going strong. You can visit Makerhaus in Fremont where they offer classes on design, 3D modeling and have a 3D printer. Wood and metal shops are also available onsite. Another is Metrix Create:Space on Capitol Hill where you can use work spaces, tools and get help where needed. They offer laser cutting and engraving, as well as 3D printing and design help.

Hacker Scouts is a national nonprofit organization, focusing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) education, skill building and community engagement to help kids develop skills they are really interested in. Guild 004 is the chapter in Seattle, formerly known as Geek Scouts. They have open labs every 2nd and 4th Sunday at Metrix Create:Space.

Read more about maker culture here.

Why Don’t I Have More Cable Options?!

When it comes to cable providers in Seattle, the options are undeniably limited. Why? Many people would answer it’s because the City only allows access to the current providers. But did you know that Seattle’s City Charter (Article IV, Section 18) prohibits the grant of any exclusive franchise? That means that any cable company can apply for a franchise to set up a system and offer services in Seattle.

So why aren’t more cable companies choosing to come and compete for Seattle customers? The short answer is this; it’s expensive to build and maintain a cable system and is difficult to get enough customers to make the investment worthwhile.

Seattle’s limited cable options is not unique; it is a reality shared by many cities and towns across the nation. In fact, what happens in the cable industry typically impacts a large majority of U.S. households. This is why the industry’s regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), spends time each year researching and providing Congress with an Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming. The report is available to the public and is a good source of information on trends in the video marketplace. This includes the evolving relationships between cable, satellite and telecom video providers, as well as broadcast television stations, and the fast growing field of online video distributors (e.g., Netflix, Hulu, Crackle).

The most recent assessment report (released July 2013) looks at industry trends for years 2011 and 2012. It covers business models, pricing and competitive strategies, product offerings, revenues, investments, and much more. It is an interesting glimpse into the various factors influencing cable products and pricing.

You can access the new report here: 15th Report of Assessment of the Status of Competition in the Market for the Delivery of Video Programming. [PDF] Take a moment to look over the section titled Market Conditions Influencing Entry at the top of page 34, and read how “Economies of scale, industry profit margins, capital requirements, first-mover advantages and the reaction of competitors to new entrants all affect a firm’s ability and incentive to enter into a market.” When you’re done, it might be much easier to understand ‘Why don’t I have more cable options?’

When it comes to cable service, Seattleites can always submit comments, questions or complaints to the City’s Office of Cable Communications (OCC), via the online form www.seattle.gov/cable/comments.htm or by calling the Cable Line at (206) 684-8498. The OCC also administers the Cable Customer Bill of Rights (CCBOR). If you’re a Seattle cable customer, make sure you know your rights!

The Knight News Challenge on Health

The Knight News Challenge on Health launches Aug. 19. The challenge will focus on: “How can we harness data and public information for the health of communities?” Health providers, developers and community groups and residents are invited to share opportunities and challenges they’re facing, which data and public information might help address. Those inspirations will inform the contest and help guide our review of submissions.

BattleHack hack for good event this weekend at HUB Seattle – August 10-11

There’s a BattleHack “hack for good” event this weekend, sponsored in part by PayPal.  They’re doing it in 10 cities around the globe. Check out the web site or contact Robert Schwentker if needed.

More details:
PayPal is putting on a global hackathon for good in 10 different cities. Seattle will be weekend of August 10th.

Event details are at: http://battlehack.org/seattle

Gigabit Squared Buys Conduit from Zayo

Gigabit Squared today announced its first major investment in its Seattle fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) project, purchasing conduit along with other assets from Zayo, a leading provider of telecommunications infrastructure and services in seven countries and 45 states.

The conduit – essentially an underground pipe – runs the length of the City of Seattle from the northeast to the southwest and will carry the Gigabit fiber backbone for the Gigabit Squared Seattle project. The conduit purchase represents a multi-million dollar investment in the project and will help Gigabit Squared more effectively utilize excess fiber capacity the company will lease from the City of Seattle.

Read more here.