Tech Matching Fund is Now Available

Now accepting applications for the 2013 Technology Matching Fund.  Applications are due March 4.  Attend a workshop and learn about the Technology Matching Fund program and how to apply for a grant online. First-time applicants are encouraged to attend.

Joint TMF and Neighborhood Matching Fund Workshop
Thursday, Jan 17, 6 – 7:30 pm
Youngstown Cultural Arts Center
4408 Delridge Way S
Seattle 98106

TMF Workshop
Wednesday, Feb 4, 10am – 12pm
2100 Building
2100 24th Ave S
Seattle 98144

Visit seattle.gov/tech/tmf for more information

 

Youth Arts Programs

Arts education helps teens become creative critical thinkers. Youth Arts is an annual funding program that makes a difference in the lives of Seattle middle and high school youth by providing arts education beyond the regular school day in neighborhoods throughout the city.  These programs give young people a chance to shine, to express themselves and to develop positive goals for the future. Youth Arts prioritizes youth or communities with limited or no access to the arts. Funding awards range up to $10,000.

Deadline: February 4

Ultra High-speed Broadband Network Project Comes to Seattle

The City of Seattle has reached an agreement with broadband developer Gigabit Squared (GB2) to develop and operate an ultra high-speed fiber-to-the-home/fiber-to-the-business broadband network.  The plan begins with demonstration fiber projects in 12 Seattle neighborhoods and includes wireless methods to deploy services more quickly to other areas in the city (look here for a map of the 12 initial neighborhoods).  GB2 has a vigorous building plan, with a goal of beginning services in some demonstration areas in the Fall of this year (2013).

The network created in this project will be called Gigabit Seattle (www.gigabitseattle.com) and includes three pieces: Fiber directly to the home and business; dedicated gigabit broadband wireless connections to multifamily housing and offices; and next generation mobile wireless internet.

Fiber to the home and business: Gigabit Seattle plans to build out a fiber-to-the-home/fiber-to-the-business (FTTH/FTTB) network to more than 50,000 households and businesses in 12 demonstration neighborhoods, connected together with the excess capacity that Gigabit Seattle will lease from the City’s own fiber network. Gigabit Seattle’s technology intends to offer gigabit speeds that are up to 1,000 times faster than the typical high-speed connection.

  1. Dedicated gigabit to multifamily housing and offices: To provide initial coverage beyond the 12 demonstration neighborhoods, Gigabit Seattle intends to build a dedicated gigabit broadband wireless umbrella to cover Seattle providing point-to-point radio access up to one gigabit per second.  This will be achieved by placing fiber transmitters on top of 38 buildings across Seattle.  These transmitters can beam fiber internet to multifamily housing and offices across Seattle, even those outside the 12 demonstration neighborhoods, as long as they are in a line of sight.  Internet service would be delivered to individual units within a building through existing wiring.  This wireless coverage can provide network and Internet services to customers that do not have immediate access to fiber in the city.
  2. Next generation mobile wireless internet: Gigabit Seattle will provide next generation wireless cloud services in its 12 neighborhoods to provide customers with mobile access.

For more information on the City’s broadband initiatives and work of building a 21st century Internet infrastructure for Seattle, visit SeaFi Initiative Homepage.

 

Technology Matching Fund

Awards up to $20,000 in matching funds to community projects which increase resident access to information technology, increase literacy in using technology, and/or apply technology to foster civic engagement and community building. Informational workshops held January 17 at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW, Seattle, 98106) and February 6 at the 2100 Building (2100 24th Ave S, Seattle, 98144)
Deadline: March 4, 2013

Washington Ranks #1 in TechNet National Broadband Index

TechNet’s December 2012 State Broadband Index report ranks Washington State #1 in the nation. The ranking looks at how “States are actively pursuing ways to use broadband to promote economic development, build strong communities, improve delivery of government services, and upgrade educational systems. The ingredients for meeting those goals are fast and ubiquitous broadband networks, a population of online users, and an economic structure that helps drive broadband innovation and investment in new broadband uses.”

Washington’s top ranking owes in large part to our strong economic orientation toward information and communications technology and application development. The presence of companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, F5 Networks, T-Mobile, and many others, as well as Washington’s concentration of application development companies, creates a state economy which demands high speed connectivity and delivers economic success.

TechNet is comprised of CEOs and senior executives of the nation’s leading companies in the fields of information technology, biotechnology, clean technology, venture capital, e-commerce and finance. They create the State Broadband Index to show where states rank in broadband status, using the indicators of broadband adoption, network quality, and economic structure. TechNet President Rey Ramsey said “We applaud all the states at the top of this index for their leadership in building the broadband infrastructure that is helping deliver economic success and improved quality of life for millions of our fellow citizens.” You can review the 2012 State Broadband Index report here.

Donna Potter-Garcia Assistive Tech Advocate Remembered

Donna Potter-Garcia
Donna Potter-Garcia

On October 18, the assistive technology community lost a long-time friend.  Donna Potter-Garcia passed away peacefully at Center Park, her home for over 20 years.  At Center Park, Donna was serving as president of their resident council when the idea of the STAR Center was born – an assistive technology computer center, open to the public and free of any costs to use.  STAR would offer the latest in assistive technology devices, something that was difficult, if not impossible, for people living in public housing to obtain.  While not a techie herself, Donna understood the need for digital literacy and access for all people and got to work writing a grant to get funding for what would become the Special Technology Access Resource (STAR) Center.

Donna was a tireless leader, advocate, and friend.  At her memorial service, it was a pleasure to remember her with others who knew and loved her.  She was a tenacious advocate and willing to “come to blows,” for causes important to her heart. We will miss seeing Donna in her office, rolling through the community and especially at the STAR Center where she was often a strong and welcoming presence.

Catch Some (Air)Waves: An Information Session on Low Power Community Radio and What It Means for Seattle, January 24

President Obama signed the Local Community Radio Act into law in January 2011. Friday, November 30th, 2012, the Federal Communications Commission announced their regulations for the last wave of hyper-local low power community radio. These signals will reach 3 to 10 miles, have localism requirements, and will be less expensive than full power radio stations.

Find out what this opportunity means for local nonprofits and educational institutions on January 24 at 1:00 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center West Room (104 17th Ave S, Seattle, 98144). We’ll talk about what’s possible with not only a radio signal, but a studio with the potential to be a multi-platform community media hub. Register and get more information here (http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/302076)

Use it as a tool for elevating and sharing local arts and culture, as a driver of your local creative economy, as a free or low cost option for media making tools in your neighborhood, digital storytelling projects, for organizing for social change, or convening events to discuss community aspirations. There are many possibilities to explore.

This is the first of several workshops Brown Paper Tickets will produce to help nonprofits assess if they have the capacity or can reasonably build the capacity to run such a hub, navigate the application process, do a community needs assessment, develop a community engagement strategy, fundraise using traditional public media methods and emerging social and participatory fundraising, consider governance structure options, ensure ongoing FCC reporting requirements are met, recommendations on how to seek legal counsel, manage volunteers, explore youth and community development through media, and think through approaches to programming.

Jack Straw Offers Hands On English Training

Jack Straw Offers Hands on English Training
Seattle World School student reads poetry to practice English.  Photo by Nancy Peterfreund.

Jack Straw Productions, a multidisciplinary audio arts center in the University District, has been providing hands-on language and technology training to Vietnamese, Spanish and Amharic speaking youth at the Seattle World School, a public school for newcomers to the United States.

With support from the Technology Matching Fund in 2011, Jack Straw implemented a new writing, performance, and technology project with Seattle World School and the Vietnamese Friendship Association.  In this project, Vietnamese high school students worked with Jack Straw’s professional writers, vocal coaches, and audio engineers to write, perform, and record their own poetry.

The project grew out of Vietnamese Friendship Association’s concerns that their students were very shy and had difficulty speaking English in front of each other.  Jack Straw sent two actors/vocal coaches to the school twice a week to work with students in small groups reading out loud, with special attention to difficult sounds. As the students’ abilities and confidence in reading out loud began to grow, Jack Straw writers began working with the students to help with their writing and to build their English language skills by encouraging their creativity and giving the students a chance to play with the language. Listen to the student’s recording here.

Jack Straw also provided a flash drama PSA project called “Health Talk” at Seattle World School. Community partners included International Community Health Services and Refugee Women’s Alliance. The project provided literacy, technology, and school curriculum content support working with writers, actors, and audio engineers. Amharic and Spanish students learned about health and well being from an ICHS health care provider and assistant and applied that learning to produce PSAs in English. ICHS staff went over health topics and provided some information about how they can affect your overall wellbeing. The “Health Talk” PSAs are available here.

For more information about the project, contact Joan Rabinowitz at joan@jackstraw.org

Inclusive Gigabit Libraries Forum January 25

Inclusive Gigabit Libraries is an interactive forum that examines how libraries can play a leading role in building next-generation Internet applications and services designed to operate on ultra-fast broadband networks that several communities are building.   Currently, 25 cities are partners in the US Ignite initiative. This initiative brings together high-speed broadband resources to create test beds across universities and cities throughout the United States at a national scale.

The forum will be held at the conclusion of the Association for Library and Information Science Education conference on Friday, January 25 from 10:30 to noon at the Hyatt at Olive 8 (1635 8th Ave, Seattle, 98101).  You must register for the event to attend and you can do that here.

What’s What For Your Lab

When it comes to the best options for a public computer,  it can  sometimes be hard to know what to get.  You have to think about the people that would use it in your area.  Here are a few things to think about.

  • Have a good quality monitor; you want to make sure it is easy to use the magnifier in Windows features.  Having a good quality monitor helps make the text crisp when zoomed in.
  • Have on hand a USB trackball; some users are not able to use a mouse well.  You will not  always want to have it  plugged in.
  • Speakers with easy access headphone jack; users who don’t see well may prefer their text dictated back to them.
  • PC with front facing or easy access USB, headphone, and microphone port; USB port is good for personal items such as thumb drives or video cameras. Headphone/microphone ports are good for Skype or video conference needs. Headphones will also give the user more privacy.

Also it is helpful to think about what type of desk you will use.  Some desk styles are not comfortable for users who may need to sit for a long time.  Share the computer space with others (like a teacher) or use a wheelchair.

Most users at your lab will write letters and view web pages.  I recommend that you have following software on the PC.

  • Deepfreeze or equivalent; this will keep users from making permanent changes to your computer configuration.
  • Microsoft Office or Open Office; you want to ensure that a word processor and spreadsheet program is installed.
  • Adobe reader or equivalent. Most documents that you see on web sites today are in a PDF format. Ensure that your computer is able to read this format.
  •  Adobe Flash or equivalent.
  • The three major browsers to date:  Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome.
  • Skype for users who would like to video chat with friends or family around the world.
  • Graphic editing software or equivalent (like Gimp).

If you have more than one computer in your lab,  purchase your own router and switch.  Most home routers, costing between $50 and $100, would do the trick and normally provides you with built in WIFI.  You should make sure the WIFI is secured so not everyone can access your network.

You will need a switch to connect each of your computers to your network.  It is important to buy a switch that has at least two more ports than computers you have.  One of the extra ports should connect to your router and the other port should be available for future expansion or just in case one of your ports goes out in the future.

If all your networked computers are going to be located side by side, then you don’t have to worry much about cabling.  But if not, you need to be prepared to run lots of cable to each computer.  If you need to run longer than 10 feet of cable, it is best to buy cables in bulk and run them the lengths you need.  If you don’t know how to put network ends (RJ45’s) on the cable you should contract this out or find a volunteer.

Why not wireless? For mobile computers, wireless is great and it can work  for a small number of desktops but wireless technology transfers data a lot slower than wired.  You will not notice much if your users access only the Internet. Your connect to the Internet is where things will slow down. If your users are accessing shared information locally then they will notice a big difference on large files or complicated shared resources.

Servers or not? If you plan to have less than five computers or computers that don’t share the same user accounts at login,  it is better to not have a server.  Including a server in your network will cause you to have more administration needs.  Servers do have the ability to allow you to share data, control your computers with one click, and control users’ access to the computer and network.

It is best to purchase a black and white laser printer.  Most documents lab users’ print is black and white.  Good laser printers normally cost a little more up front but will save you log term.  If you have the budget, you should purchase a decent inject printer as well, but don’t have it set as your default printer.

I have confirmed that the software advised above are in the PC environment, however most of this or equivalent software should be able to be found in the Mac environment.

If you need help with configuring a lab, send me an email and I will be happy to help.

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