February 2012

Tet New Year with iPads

Tet photo.

The Vietnamese Friendship Association (VFA) and Vietnamese Student Association held a fun and fantastic gathering for Tet, the Vietnamese New Year celebration. In this year of the dragon, the VFA youth used iPads purchased through VFA’s City Technology Matching Fund project grant, to create a slideshow about what Tet means. Learn more about VFA.

Look Back, Look Ahead

by David Keyes

The City and our Community Technology staff personally feel very fortunate to be able to do our work; helping to ensure technology access and literacy for all. Our efforts to close the digital divide do more than put technology and access and skills into people’s hands. They level the playing field of opportunity for access to jobs, health and consumer information, and education. While the divide over some basic access to computers has closed, there are still many who have yet to touch a computer mouse for the first time or are challenged to use the web to look for a job, to use it to learn English, or be able to effectively comparison shop for the prices. Many of these activities for those who can afford the latest and greatest, or have the community of techie friends, are taken for granted. In 2011, we were able to apply your money–the cable franchise fees that the city collects–and provide services including the following:

  • Provided more than 2600 hours of public computer use at the City Neighborhood Service Centers. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, a few locations were closed, though we were able find a new location in Greenwood at the foodbank, thanks to Volunteers of America.
  • Fifty-three new free cable broadband connections were installed at community organizations, thanks to our agreements with Comcast and Broadstripe/WAVE.
  • Twenty-two Technology Matching Fund projects were completed, thanks to our community partners.
  • Awarded $320,000 in 23 new Technology Matching Fund grants.
  • Our new Boost mini-grants and training increased the online capacity of 16 neighborhood organizations.
  • Provided 10 public educational sessions on computer safety and security.
  • Ten community computer labs and volunteers helped us hold Get Online Week, where residents could get an orientation and training in computer and Internet use.
  • We helped launch the new CommunitiesConnect web site and the implementation of the public computing projects funded by the federal BTOP program, with the EdLab Group.

As we look to 2012 and beyond, we know that the economy is making it very tough for a lot of families and the community organizations that help people with their daily needs and paths to new opportunity. With great support from the Mayor and Council, we will keep working hard and working closely with the community to ensure technology access, skills and effective electronic public engagement for all Seattle residents.

Goodbye Broadstripe, Hello Wave Broadband

Broadstripe customers take note! On January 13, 2012, WAVE became the owner of Broadstripe’s Seattle cable franchise. WAVE will spend the next couple months working to integrate Seattle customers into their operations. During this transition time Broadstripe customers should know:

  • Your services will continue without interruption.
  • Current service packages and pricing will remain the same.
  • Payments should be submitted using the same method you have in the past.
  • 1-800-781-0947 is still the number to call for service and support.

For more information on WAVE’s plans see Welcome to Wave Broadband. For news and documents related to the Broadstripe/WAVE Cable Franchise transfer, visit the Office of Cable Communications Franchise Transfer page.

Save the Date: Technology Matching Fund Deadline is April 3

The Technology Matching Fund supports Technology Literacy & Access and Civic Engagement projects that reach technology underserved communities, with grants up to $20,000. To read more about current and past projects, review eligibility criteria, download the application, and register your organzation, visit the Community Technology TMF page.

Attend one of the informaiton sessions below for details about the Technology Matching Fund and application guidelines:

Thursday, March 1, 10:30-noon
Solid Ground
1501 N 45th St
Seattle, 98103

Saturday, March 3, 10:30-noon
Delridge Community Center
4501 Delridge Way SW
Seattle, 98106

For more information, contact Delia Burke by email or by phone at (206) 233-2751.

Tony Perez: Local Voice on FCC Diversity

Seattle’s Office of Cable Communications director, Tony Perez, has accepted a two-year term with the Federal Communications Commissions’ (FCC) Advisory Committee on Diversity in Communications in the Digital Age. The Committee’s mission is to make recommendations to the FCC regarding policies and practices that will enhance the ability of minorities and women to participate in telecommunications and related industries.

The Committee’s most recent meeting included guest speakers from Comcast, AT&T and NBC Universal outlining achievements in building a diverse workforce in their companies. The Reverend Jesse Jackson also addressed the committee, presenting on the importance of equitable and affordable access to broadband connectivity in minority communities.

If you have questions or ideas you would like Tony to forward to the committee, feel free to contact him. The Committee meets again on March 8.

Buying v. Leasing Internet Equipment

When you sign up for DSL service and some cable Internet providers, they ask you if you want to buy the equipment or just lease it at a small dollar amount per month.

Leasing your modem is normally not a good idea unless you plan to stay with that company or type of service for less than a year. Most companies charge on average $5 per month to lease the modem. The cost of this is $60 per year. Most modems only cost from $50 to $75 and you may be able to move it to another same service provider, if needed.

Agree or disagree with me? Drop me a note: Derrick Hall.

Smartphone Safety: Keeping Your Information Secure

WSYR-TV in Syracuse shares some excellent tips on keeping you information secure when using your smartphone.

Treat your smartphone like a computer: Users need to be aware that a smartphone is more than a phone. A general rule of thumb is to treat the device like a computer. Experts say that rule should apply whether you’re an iPhone user, or an Android user.

Do not connect to open WiFi: Free WiFi is not your friend. What might appear to be secure connection could be a front. A WiFi hotspot can be called whatever its creator wants to call it. What appears to be Starbucks may not be. If you are browsing on one of these connections, shopping via a smartphone app can be dangerous. Each time you enter a password or credit card number, you may be exposing it to hackers.

Never save passwords in a text document: You should never save sensitive data or passwords to a text document on your phone.

Know your app: Before you download an app, you should know what you’re getting into. You should always download apps from trusted sources. One way to research an app is to read reviews on it before downloading.

Protect your smartphone: Tim Kirk of the US Secret Service also suggests that smartphone users contact their provider to download free or low-cost malware and virus protection. He also says that the customer should use passwords to protect their networks.

Finally, you should always leave your smartphone someplace safe. The simplest form of data theft isn’t done by hacking, but by simply turning on your phone.

Hackers should be warned that criminal use of smartphones can lead to federal charges of wire fraud, computer fraud, identity theft, or other violations that can lead to fines and considerable federal prison sentences.

For the full article, click here.

For more security tips, check out the techtalk blog.