July 2012

Digitallearn Expansion

Digitallearn.org, a project of the Public Library Association, has just expanded the site to enable sharing ideas, best practices, and resources related to helping people attain new digital literacy skills. Go here.

The American Library Association’s (ALA) Digital Literacy Task Force just released its recommendations to advance and sustain library engagement in digital literacy initiatives nationwide.

Social Media Training in the International District

Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Seattle Chinatown International District PDA is looking for ways to help local merchants thrive. With $20,000 in support from the City’s Technology Matching Fund, the SCIDpda has begun educating local businesses on social media. The SCIDpda developed workshops with One Media Venture, a Seattle based-media and production company, on the basics of why social media is important and how neighborhood businesses can start using different social media platforms to improve economic growth and development.

In March, five local businesses attended “Intro to Social Media” and “Facebook and Twitter Basics” training. Participants received a step-by-step tutorial on how to set-up Facebook and Twitter accounts in English and Chinese. The businesses, including 705 Lofts, were able to set-up their new Facebook and Twitter business accounts.

Getting small businesses to embrace social media is not without its challenges. Language is often a barrier. Businesses also find it hard to keep up with the ongoing demands of maintaining their online presence. To help with the language fluency issues, the SCIDpda has identified a group of students from the Asian Student Association at North Seattle Community College that are fluent in Vietnamese, and will concentrate their assistance to businesses in the Little Saigon sector of the International District.

The SCIDpda has also learned that it is important to introduce social media in a way that is not overwhelming. The Community College students will work with the businesses to create videos to post on YouTube and their own websites and blogs. Volunteers will also continue to work with businesses to address their concerns.

For more information on the project contact Allison Iguchi at (206) 838-9266.

15 Organizations Awarded 2012 Boost Grants

The Department of Information Technology has awarded the 2012 Communities Online Boost grant to 15 Seattle organizations. After a very competitive review process, the following organizations were selected to receive the 2012 Boost Grants:

  • 206 Zulu
  • Afrique Service Center
  • Backpack Academy
  • Coleman Neighborhood Association
  • El Centro de la Raza
  • El Comite Pro-Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social
  • Feet First
  • Pinehurst Community Council
  • Powerful Voices
  • Raja for Africa
  • South Beacon Hill Association
  • South Park Area Redevelopment Committee
  • Southeast Seattle Education Coalition
  • Unified Outreach
  • Urban Financial Services Coalition

In 2011, the Department of Information Technology created a grant opportunity for community and neighborhood groups seeking to “boost” their online presence – the Communities Online Boost Grant. Funds of up to $1000 per organization were used to help enhance the use of online tools for community building and civic engagement. Read a short description of the 2012 Boost grantee projects here.

Seattle Proposes Excess Fiber Leasing

The Seattle City Council is considering legislation that could help increase broadband access for businesses and residents, and encourage innovative uses. The City of Seattle has more than 500 miles of fiber that we’ve already paid for, and there is unused capacity. The new ordinance proposed by the Mayor and Department of Information Technology would allow the City to negotiate with private partners to lease that excess fiber. One goal is better service in neighborhoods that have poor quality service right now. Because fiber is already there, partners could avoid some installation costs, making it easier for businesses to invest in digital infrastructure. See the proposed ordinance and the discussion of this at the June 20 City Council committee meeting. Also see Seattle’s technology advisory board letter [PDF] on this.

Promoting Video Through Social Media

Do you or your organization have a video that needs to be seen? Social media is one of the most effective ways to let people know about it. Social media has become a global force that changes how people receive and exchange information. But you can waste a lot of time with social media if you don’t know how to use it.

The Multimedia Resource and Training Institute (MMRTI) is presenting a free, two-session class in July on how to effectively use social media to promote video. This class is for both non-profit organizations and individuals, and is especially meant for people whose voices are not often heard through video: people of color, women, immigrants, young people, etc. The first session has passed, but you can still make it to the second session if you register now.

Saturday, July 21, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Part 2: Creating Social Media Content that Engages, taught by Tracey Warren. Anyone can post content to Facebook or Twitter, but the content that gets people to respond by liking, commenting, retweeting, etc., is what will effectively get people?s attention. This class covers how to engage your audience to discuss your video and create visibility, as well as how to reach beyond YouTube to other video platforms.

To register, write to Assaye Abunie. The class is free, but spaces are limited.

Kalispel Tribal Court Uses Video Conferencing

Laura Breeden from the US Department of Commerce BTOP program (on monitor via Skype) joins WA State Rep John McCoy (seated) as Evin Olson from the Kalispel Tribal Court explains their use of the BTOP funded video conference system.

Laura Breeden from the US Department of Commerce BTOP program (on monitor via Skype) joins WA State Rep John McCoy (seated) as Evin Olson from the Kalispel Tribal Court explains their use of the BTOP funded video conference system.

The Kalispel Tribe held a celebration and tour of their tribal court videoconferencing system. This system and additional public computers have been installed through the Communities Connect Network Project grant from the federal Recovery Act Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and was a goal of the state JusticeNet group. Tribal Business Council Chair Glen Nenema and tribe and court representatives welcomed Sheila Collins from the Governor’s Office, State Rep. John McCoy and others. Evin Olson has installed a large monitor, an e-machine with Skype, and links it to the court’s audio system. This has enabled video arraignments from remote jails and saved transportation and time. An add-on to Skype can record the video conference. Presiding Judge Tom Tremaine says this video system has helped them immensely and is just the beginning of applications for the court and tribe. As their broadband increases, this will also boost quality of the conferencing. See more on this event at the Communities Connect Network site.

Channel Changes: Broadstripe/Wave Alert

On July 17, WAVE will be upgrading video services, providing Seattle Broadstripe customers with access to over 60 new channels. The additional channels are being added by converting some analog channels to a digital version. This change will require some customers to now have a digital converter to view the following channels:

KCTS-Plus: Channel 18
UWTV2: Channel 25
ESPN Classic: Channel 36
NWCN: Channel 38
National Geographic: Channel 55
Cooking Channel: Channel 72
GSN: Channel 70
OWN: Channel 71
TVW: Channel 95

Will I be impacted by this? Possibly. If you are a WAVE/Broadstripe customer with an older television and you subscribe to limited basic or basic cable service.

What should I do if this impacts me? Contact WAVE/Broadstripe at (800) 829-2225. Under its franchise with the City, WAVE/Broadstripe has agreed to ensure all subscribers have the necessary equipment to view these channels in the new digital format.

WAVE’s upgrades will also be changing the following channel numbers:

KCTS V-me: Channel 711 changes to 88
KCTS Create TV: Channel 712 to 89
Live Well: Channel 253 to 90
RTV: Channel 724 to 93
HBO Latino: Channel 432 to 408

For additional information on any of these upcoming changes, please contactWAVE/Broadstripe directly at (800) 829-2225. If you have any difficulty with WAVE/Broadstripe as a result of these changes, you can contact the City’s Office of Cable Communications for assistance at (206) 684-8498.

Fiber and Network Connection Speeds

No, it is not the stuff you eat. Fiber, aka Fiber Optics, is a long thin strand of glass that sends data back and forth as light signals. This glass is smaller than a stand of hair and a typical network cable can host hundreds to thousands of cables. Because Fiber uses light, there are no real limits on how much data can be sent. Your main limitation is how pure the glass is that is sending the signal.

Types of network connections today:

The twisted pair, also known as Ethernet Cables or CatX, have a maximum speed of 1 GB/s and a maximum distance of 100 meters (300 feet).

Coaxial, commonly used with Cable TV providers, have a maximum speed of 343.04 Mbit/s/Down and 122.88 Mbit/s/Up, with a maximum distance of 300 Meters (1000 feet).

Fiber, also known as fibre or Fiber Optics, currently have no limits. Limits are based on the hardware you use. Maximum distance: Multimode 2 Kilometers (1.2 miles); Single mode 80 Kilometers (50 miles).

Cable Providers use multiple network channels to provide faster speeds. The type of hardware you use may slow down your equipment speeds, typically your internet source will be the slowest point of your network.

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