2013 Digital Inclusion Summit – Register Now!

On Thursday, March 14, the 2013 Washington State Digital Inclusion Summit will convene up to 200 people from the public, non-profit and private sectors to exchange best practices and trends in the field of work that includes digital and online information literacy, broadband adoption, and public access to information technology.  The summit will provide a forum to share policy, curriculum research and other resources and to promote digital inclusion efforts and needs in Washington State.

Join us at the Brockey Conferece Center at South Seattle Community College by registering here.  Learn more about the event and sponsorship opportunities at digitalinclusionsummit.org


Twitter Bug Allows Apps to Access Direct Messages Without Permission

Social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have become not just communication hubs, but also authentication mechanisms for third-party sites. Many sites and Web applications allow users to sign in with their Facebook or Twitter credentials rather than registering, which is a nice convenience. That is, until, it turns into a security liability. Cesar Cerrudo, security researcher at ThreatPost.com, recently discovered a bug in Twitter’s code that enabled third-party apps to access users’ private direct messages under some circumstances, even when users had not explicitly granted those apps that level of access.

Twitter, like many similar services, gives users the ability to authorize certain third-party applications to access their accounts. This includes things such as the Twitter app for the iPhone or Android devices, the buttons on Web sites that allow users to tweet a link to the site and mobile browsers on smartphones. Those apps can have differing levels of permissions on a given user’s account, depending upon the app and what the user has approved for each app. For example, some apps may request permission to read from and write to your Twitter timeline, see who you follow and update your profile. Others may have those permissions, as well as the ability to access your direct messages, which are meant to be private.

Users can check which apps are authorized to access their account and take specific actions on their behalf by going here.  Read more here.

Ethiopian Lab Offers Computer Knowledge in Amharic


Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn visits the ECS computer center during the Ethiopian New Year.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn visits the ECS computer center during the Ethiopian New Year.

The Ethiopian Community in Seattle (ECS) serves all persons of Ethiopian origin by providing help to those in need,  and empowers them to live productive lives.   With support from the Technology Matching Fund last year, the organization revitalized their computer lab.   When asked to reflect on the impact of the grant, Computer Center Coordinator Tefera Gulelat shared these comments:

What were the greatest successes of your project?

“The ECS computer center has become an invaluable resource for large number of low income people in their quest to learn new technology and to better themselves. They surf the internet for job search, tutorial services, homework help, research their class projects and engaging their friends through social media. It is really heartening to see a good number of senior citizens frequenting our facility.”

What were your most difficult challenges?

“We were challenged in several fronts when we tried to procure our native Amharic language word processor. The lack of standards in their encoding (ASCII or Unicode) scheme, compatibility with various operating systems and the varying cost made it harder for us to choose among several competing vendors. There was also an issue of finding proficient volunteers in the chosen Amharic word processor. After contacting various Ethiopian individuals and organizations, with its known compatibility issues, we settled on the ‘Power Geez’ Amharic word processor.

The other challenge was getting a firm commitment from our various volunteers and keeping them engaged for the duration of the project. We have found that counting mainly on volunteers to teach fixed classes or run core activities will lead to disappointed customers. We had to cancel classes and activities during the volunteer’s absence. To mitigate these shortcomings, we reverted back to using hired hands for tutorials, computer class instructions and computer resource center management.”

Tell us about an individual who participated in this project. 

“Mr. Bosna is a 54 year old immigrant from Ethiopia who recently arrived here in Seattle. He had never used a computer before he walked to our center. He was unemployed at the time and looking for help in acquiring a skill to apply for a job.  He subsequently attended two rounds of our computer training classes. He learned how to use the Microsoft office productivity programs. He was also taught how to write in his native language, Amharic, using the Amharic word processor. He was able to prepare his own resume and edit it any time he wants.  He createsd his own email account and sends out electronic messages. He has since applied for several jobs online by attaching his resume.

“The computer center has also become indispensable for several low income families that include a family of six that arrived here in Seattle recently.  The parents brought their children for after school programs, for homework help, research and to use the computer for general purpose. We were thankful for giving a  helping hand to those with limited resources.”

Although the grant officially ended in December, the ECS computer center continues to offer beginning computer classes, ESL, homework help and resume and online job assistance. For more information contact Tefera Gulelat at tefera_gulelat@yahoo.com or visit ecseattle.org.

Low Power FM Forum on Video

Catch Some (Air) Waves information Session, January 24

The Low Power FM (LPFM) Radio workshop, held at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center was a great success and is now available online., thanks to the Seattle Channel. The session covers the details of the new station licenses available to non-profits, assistance available, and discussion of opportunities, partnerships and operating challenges. There will be up to 8 new LPFM radio stations serving Seattle.

The session featured engineer Mike Brown, and was hosted by Sabrina Roach from Brown Paper Tickets Royal Alley-Barnes and Randy Engstrom from the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Rahwa Habte from OneAmerica, Amoshaun Toft from UW Bothell, Sara Edwards from 4Culture King County, and David Keyes of the Seattle Department of Information Technology.

Comcast Digital Transition: Attention Limited Basic Customers

Effective January 2013, Comcast completed its all-digital transition in the Seattle area. The change converted all remaining analog channels to digital format, impacting customers with older (non-digital) televisions who subscribe to Limited Basic service.

If you fall into this category, Comcast should have notified you many months ago and provided you with a free Digital Transport Adapter (DTA) box. The box allows you to view the former analog cable channels (roughly channels 2-30, 72-79, and 95-99).

Since completion of the transition, Seattle’s Office of Cable Communications (OCC) has received several reports of other functionality issues that have caught some Comcast Limited Basic customers by surprise.  You can find a list of some of the common questions/concerns at OCC website

If you’ve experienced any service issues due to the digital conversion, you can let the OCC know by submitting an on-line Comments/Complaintsform or by calling the Cable Line at (206) 684-8498.

Neighborhood Matching Fund Large Projects Fund

Neighborhood Matching Fund Large Projects Fund provides funds of up to $100,000 to support groups in building community relationships around a project.  Must attend one of the three mandatory workshops:

  • Saturday, February 9th at El Centro De La Raza, 2524 16th Ave S, 10 a.m.-noon
  • Tuesday, February 12th at Youngstown Cultural Center, 4408 Delridge Way SW, 6-8 p.m.
  • Thursday, February 21st at Aljoya Senior Living Facility, 450 NE 100th Street, .6-8 p.m.

Deadline: May 6, 2013

State Broadband Growth & Recommendations

High-speed internet access is growing across the state, according to the 3rd Washington State Broadband report. The report also contains recommendations on broadband deployment and broadband adoption policies made by the broadband Advisory Council.  Produced by the Department of Commerce State Broadband Office, the report shares data that Washington is now 10th in the nation for access at 3 Mbps and third in broadband adoption.

The report has compiled a variety of national and state data. It also highlights the success of the Evergreen Apps contest, work of Local Planning Teams, and the digital literacy work of the EdLab Communities Connect Network public computing center project and other federal  BTOP recipients.

According to the report:

  • Eighty-three (83) percent of the state’s population lives in households with Internet access.
  • 73.8 percent of the state’s population regularly use their home broadband connection.
  • Gross business income from broadband- enabled electronic shopping in Washington grew for the third straight year topping $3.1 billion in 2011.
  • Washington is second only to California in the number of “apps economy” jobs, with 49,800 in April 2012.

The recommendations of the Broadband Advisory Council published in the report, addressed to the Governor and Legislature include:

  • Continue Washington’s leadership in digital education
  • Encourage the development of training and support along with infrastructure.  This includes re-funding the Community Technology Opportunity Program (CTOP) grants.
  • Adopt best digital practice in government services
  • Enable a 21st century work strategy
  • Encourage collaboration in the planning, deployment and utilization of new networks and new services
  • Encourage and reward public-private partnerships.
  • Expand and improve local technology planning teams.