Computer lab network standards

Every computer lab and network should have standards that administrators must follow. If you’re a small organization with no IT staff or you know  little about your technology, you should make sure that whoever helps you follows some of the basics here.  These recommended basics  are good standards, regardless of the computer lab/network type.

Network Type

Be aware of how your network is configured.  When troubleshooting, it is helpful to know what is on your network and how those devices interact. There are two main types of networks: Peer to Peer (P2P) and Client Server (CS).  If you plan to manage or share more than just files it is best to use the Client Server model below.

Peer to Peer

To configure this, you must have a router to provide network access.  Each computer will be managed on its own.  You can have one of the computers become a file server so you can share data.  Username and passwords are not shared throughout your network causing every device that connects to have to enter their information each time.  If you have a really low budget, this is best, however you will spend more time  managing your computer lab and network.

Client Server

To configure this, you would need a server.  With a server you can allow access from both outside and inside your network.  Things a server can do are  username and password, file sharing, email, resource permissions, and much more for both inside and outside of your network.  You would then need to configure the server to provide network access through it to the Internet, or have a router on the same network that has access.

Printers

Printers can be set up where you print through a network resource or directly.  The advantage of printing through a resource, such as a server, is that it would have administrative rights by default to delete large print ques and it can store the drivers, making it easy to install a new computer.

BACKUP, SECURE, BACKUP!

Regardless of which option you choose, make sure you back up your data.  Each computer or device on your network should have antivirus software running on it.  Please note that most free antivirus software are not legal for labs.  For KIOSK type of workstations, I would recommend you install DeepFreeze on those computers.

User types

Most administrative things should be handled by an administrator account.  Each user should have the rights of the previous user.

Users
Normal or shared users of your network:

  • Have access to the computer
  • User access to application but no install rights, i.e., MS Word
  • Internet access
  • Print & and delete their own print jobs

Staff
It is best to have a different user account that has administrative rights that are used only to make administrative changes.

  • Power user
  • Install access of applications
  • Add printer

Admin
You should not have the administrator account be a normal user.  You want to ensure backdoor access to your network that you are aware of,  in case your primary account is compromised.

  • Full rights to computer

Drive Sharing
In a P2P network you can share a computer so that others can access resources.  You would have to manually map each one of these drives.  In a CS environment you can use active directory to auto configure the directories.  For organizational purposes you create drive maps that make sense for your organization.

Follow Mayor Ed Murray

There are several ways you can stay in touch with Mayor Ed Murray and follow his activities and initiatives:

On his blog: http://murray.seattle.gov/

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MayorEdMurray 

On Twitter: @Mayor_Ed_Murray Don’t forget to use the hashtag #seamayor when you tweet

On Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/109306278@N03/

On Instagram: http://instagram.com/mayoredmurray#

Also, bookmark his website http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/ for more information on his social media links, to meet his administration, view upcoming events and read his “Vision for Seattle.”

Tips for increasing online civic engagement

A mural in Seattle's Filipino Community Center computer lab captures technology for the community. Mural by ..."

A mural in Seattle’s Filipino Community Center computer lab captures technology for the community. Mural by Glen Adnag in collaboration with the Filstar Youth Program

Here are some ideas and a few tools for maximizing your use of online tools for civic engagement, with some offline suggestions too.

Plan for involvement over time: Civic work is not usually finished in a moment, and neither is engagement, so make a plan that involved awareness building and multiple opportunities for participation over time.  You’re building a community of participants.  Breaking topics into smaller questions or surveys and posting what comes next can help.

Welcome digital newcomers and use offline contact to support online engagement: Promote online opportunities at meetings and events. Set up “engagement stations” or “digital door greeters” to teach community members how and where to engage online.  Show and do something on your blog or other media as part of your meeting.  Post a sign and announce Twitter hashtags or other media being used. Hand out postcards with the online links and info on how to use them.  Tools such as Hoot Feed or Twitter Fontana (both freeware) offer a way to display tweets during your event.

Encourage quick reads and dialogue: Use attention grabbing headlines; be clear on what you are asking; make it simple to reply and put any deadlines right up front. Kick start conversations by working with other friends, volunteers or coworkers to seed topics or start commenting.

Make it easy to participate: When you post a call to action, use a short link or URL and be clear about the ways they can participate.  Put any links up top, though you may repeat them later.  It’s best to have a primary place to participate online.

Allow multiple ways to contribute and consider what’s easiest: Some may want to start with very easy ways like answering a one question poll or voting up or down. Invite people to brainstorm ideas, post photos, drawings, videos or make comments. Use polls for easy, short engagement and surveys for more depth. Tools such as Polleverywhere allow texting or web responses and immediate viewing of results.

Make it easy for people to sign up for your announcements: How can people engage: Email list, Twitter, Facebook?  Let people know how to do it in your emails, print materials and other communications, make it highly visible on web pages and enable people to sign up at meetings.

Interact regularly: Post frequently; encourage dialogue and unique entries.

Touch people in many ways: Use multiple community forums to promote your online engagement. Create and post events using e-invites or try a MeetUp, or posting to local blogs. Using traditional newspapers, radio or flyers can also let people know your online engagement is coming.

Reward and nurture contributors: Reply back to their posts and offer answers or resources, highlight contributors in tweets, newsletters or web sites or at community meetings; let them know when their content has been used; provide badges, discounts or other rewards if possible.  Highlight diversity to encourage diversity.

Go where people are: Market your opportunity with announcements, posts or ads on related Facebook, Twitter or social media, use Google ads, or announcements at events, in community blogs, church bulletins and ethnic media. Figure out where your audience is already contributing. Look at related blogs, Google or Yahoo groups, listservs or Pinterest sites, and connect them to your cause.

Let people see the results of their input: Immediate gratification is best. If you’re running an online poll or survey, display a graphic of the results. If you’ll have the answer later, let people know when

Seattle Goodwill’s ESL computer literacy program featured on Comcast Newsmakers

William Ayears, job training and education community liaison at Seattle Goodwill, speaks of their ESL Computer Literacy Program on Comcast Newsmakers.

Comcast Newsmakers is a unique local news program that airs through part of the day during commercial breaks on CNN Headline News. The short news segments feature interviews with local elected officials, community leaders and non-profit organizations.

Start 2014 as an informed cable customer!

Cable (and telecommunication) companies are always trying to find ways to get and keep customers. One method they use is having contracted sales agents canvassing neighborhoods or working at mall kiosks, marketing special promotional deals if you will join, change or bundle your service with them.  If you decide to take one of these deals, make sure you get something in writing that confirms the rates, services and period of time the promotion covers.

It’s always wise to get contract details in writing, but it’s especially important if you are accepting a special promotional deal.  It’s not unusual for the City to receive complaints from cable customers who were promised one thing by a sales agent, but then billed something different.  When they call the company to correct their bill, they are told ‘we have no promotion like that’ and are left trying to prove what they were promised.  If you have something in writing, it’s much easier to prove!

As a Seattle cable customer, you’re also wise to be familiar with your rights under the City’s Cable Customer Bill of Rights (CCBOR).  Although the City has limited authority to regulate cable rates, it can enforce the CCBOR to ensure Seattle cable customers get the best service possible.  Have you ever reviewed the CCBOR?  Do you know the rights it provides you?

The CCBOR sets standards for cable providers in these areas:

  • Courtesy
  • Accessibility
  • Responsiveness
  • Services for Customers with Disabilities
  • Customer Information
  • Customer Privacy
  • Safety, Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Complaint Procedures
  • Credits to Customers for poor service

Take time to look it over and be familiar with the service levels you can expect when dealing with your cable operator.

For more information on the CCBOR or to file a cable-related complaint, contact Seattle’s Office of Cable Communications on the 24-hour Cable Line at (206) 684-8498, or use the online comment form at http://www.seattle.gov/cable/comments.htm.

Seven tech-related New Year’s resolutions to pledge right now

Mashable brings together changes you can make that will help keep your information secure in 2014.

  1. Update Security Often: We all emit that groan of despair when our computers need to update their software, but in reality, it’s necessary to keep them running.If you don’t update your security software frequently, it’s easier to get malware or trojan horses that could steal your information and harm your computer. Most programs will schedule updates, but making it a part of your routine is helpful. Set aside ten minutes on a less busy day to update the definitions while you wait for that pizza you ordered or before you brush your teeth.
  2. Schedule Back-Ups to an External Hard Drive: Let’s be honest, backing up your hard drive is the last thing on your to-do list. The only thing that seems to jog your memory is when your computer refuses to turn on, and you realize you haven’t backed anything up for six months. Too little, too late.Like the security software update, make it a part of your routine. Set aside some time while watching Netflix or reading news online. If you use services such as Time Machine, you can schedule updates, but otherwise you’ll have to do manually.
  3. Stop Reusing Passwords: It’s easy to fall into the habit of using the same generic password for all of your online profiles and pages, especially since writing them down is ill-advised. But having the same password for every account can put your entire online presence at risk, since a person only needs to guess correctly once to access them all.Create passwords with numbers, letters and symbols to add diversity, and use a random password generator for a unique combination. If remembering them all is too much work, use one of these password tools.
  4. Use Secure WiFi Networks: The WiFi from the local coffee shop, public park or bookstore seems safe enough, but if you see a network with a dubious name (like “Free Public WiFi”) that doesn’t require a password, you’re better safe than sorry. Even if you’re using a network you can trust, there are some best practices you should adopt: Use the secure browsing extension, turn off sharing and change your settings so you don’t automatically log into WiFi hotspots.
  5. Stay Up-to-Date on Your Privacy Settings: Technology is all about change, so whenever a social network undergoes a major update, the privacy settings may have also changed. This means that your once-hidden and private profile could be out in the open for others to see.Check your own settings regularly, keep an eye out for major site changes or news of a settings update, and learn how to hide your profile again.
  6. Stop Throwing Out Busted Tech: Not only is trashing your tech terrible for the environment, it’s potentially dangerous for you. Old tech can still retain important information, so whoever picks up your old computer off the curb might able to grab sensitive information you thought you erased ages ago.A much better alternative is to recycle your products. It’s less convenient, but there are plenty of resources to help you.
  7. Keep the Clutter Off Your Computer: It’s common to let emails accumulate in your inbox or leave files on your desktop. But there will come a point in time when you’ll have to find key content hidden among the mess, and it will be significantly harder to find.With some good, old-fashioned organization skills, it’s possible to maintain a clutter-free digital life. For emails, answer or delete messages as soon as you can, sort them so you can find important ones faster and download productivity plugins. Save files to appropriate folders when you first create them, and delete duplicates or old files whenever you see them.

Seattle.gov/grants is the place to find up-to-date City grant information

City of Seattle grants portal

City of Seattle grants portal

Several city departments have announced their 2014 grant opportunities in the areas of arts and culture, community building and organizing, environment, physical improvements, technology and youth.  For current information on grant descriptions, deadlines and eligibility requirements, visit seattle.gov/grants. From there, you can link to the funding opportunity, which will take you to each area’s web page. You can also view the opportunities as a matrix and sort by deadline, department, target audience, etc., simplifying searches. You can also subscribe to the grants feed, which will notify you of any new announcements.