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Watch public broadband forum with Chris Mitchell

The video of the talk by Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative, presented in Seattle in October, is now available online. He discussed the realistic feasibility of a municipally-owned broadband network that delivers high-speed Internet access. This event was sponsored by the City of Seattle’s Technology Advisory Board (CTTAB) and Brown Paper Tickets, with support from the Department of Information Technology. Watch the Community Broadband Forum here.

Seattle Channel wins national Excellence in Government Programming award

Seattle Channel was named the best municipal television station in the nation when it received the prestigious Excellence in Government Programming award from the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) at the group’s annual meeting held in St. Paul, Minnesota in early October.

Additionally, the City-operated station won eight programming awards for its variety of public affairs, arts and community coverage.

NATOA honors excellence in broadcast, cable, multimedia and electronic programming produced by local government agencies. This year, NATOA received 720 entries submitted in 64 categories by local governments across the country.

This is Seattle Channel’s fifth NATOA win in eight years for programming excellence. Seattle Channel competed against other government-access TV stations with budgets over $1 million. The station was recognized with the top government-programming award in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012.

If you have a story idea for the Seattle Channel, contact Lori Patrick at 206-733-9764.

Here is a listing of Seattle Channel’s 2014 NATOA awards:

Excellence in Government Programming

First Place 
Interview/Talk Show: City Inside/Out – Human Trafficking

Election Coverage: City Inside/Out – Council Race: Bagshaw vs. Bellomio

Arts and Entertainment: Art Zone with Nancy Guppy – Casey Curran

Public Education: CityStream –  Alongthe Duwamish

Public Service Announcement: Seattle Channel Mobile App

Second Place
Arts and Entertainment: Art Zone with Nancy Guppy – Jade Solomon Curtis

Public Health: CityStream – Food Action Plan

Honorable Mention
Visual Arts: Art Zone with Nancy Guppy Calendar

CityStream: homeless tech owner teaches street skills for success

Seattle is a city known for its innovation. There are so many start-up businesses around town than you can keep track. But we all know that with every new enterprise, there is high risk and a need for real persistence just to survive. Where do you find that skill set? Well, as producer Jeff Gentes explains, it exists in one place here in Seattle–one place that you’d never think to look: CityStream: Homeless Tech Owner

Is your Comcast home Internet modem a public hotspot?

Over the years, Comcast has been developing an enhanced service feature for Internet customers called Xfinity WiFi.  This is a WiFi network comprised of three different types of “hotspots” that allow Internet customers (with Performance tier or above) to connect to Comcast Internet service, at no additional cost, even when away from home.

To create this network for customers, Comcast has deployed:

  • Outdoor Hotspots: WiFi hotspots in public locations across the country, ranging from shopping centers and commuter stations to parks, sporting venues, beaches and boardwalks.
  • Business Hotspots: Most Comcast Business Internet customers are eligible to receive a free Xfinity WiFi hotspot when they order service, allowing them to offer Internet access to their customers. Examples of businesses include restaurants, cafés and bakeries, retail establishments and office waiting rooms.
  • Neighborhood [or “Home”] Hotspots: Comcast has more recently begun providing residential customers with Arris Touchstone Telephony Wireless Gateway Modems with the ability to have a second “xfinitywifi” signal in their home which serves as a public access point. The Arris Wireless Gateways are an all-in-one device that combines a customer’s wireless router, cable modem and voice adapter.

The last type, Home Hotspots, began rolling out in the Seattle area earlier this year. They show up as “xfinitywifi” on your network list and allow Internet customers to log in to their Comcast account and use the hotspots.  For smartphone users, this means you could use your Comcast account as another source of free WiFi service, helping reduce your use of cellular data plan minutes.

While many customers will be happy for the increased internet access when traveling around Seattle, many customers are not sure they like the idea of having their home modem used as a public hotspot on this Xfinity WiFi Network.  To help you understand how Home Hotspots will work, here are some important details from Comcast:

  • The Arris Wireless Gateway Modems are capable of serving as Home Hotspot. If you don’t have this type of device, or if you purchased your own modem, then your modem cannot serve as a Home Hotspot.
  • If you have an Arris Wireless Gateway modem/router combo, but are using your own WiFi router, the Comcast device won’t broadcast the free hotspot.
  • You can always opt out of hosting a Home Hotspot (details provided below).
  • The Home Hotspot modem/router devices are designed with two internal antennae. One provides a private channel for the customer, and the other provides a public hotspot channel.
  • Each of the channels has its own data speed cap. The private channel provides whatever speed a customer already pays to get (most have 25 Megabits per second). The public hotspot channel is given 15 Mbps and allows up to five people to connect at a time.

Outsiders using the public antenna channel never get access to a customer’s private, password-protected home network channel.

Outsiders using the public antenna channel must log in to the Comcast network.  All activity on the public channel is separate from the home channel, and separately associated with the customer that logged into the public channel.

The broadband connection to your home should be unaffected by the XFINITY WiFi feature. Comcast says they have provisioned the feature to support robust usage, and therefore, they anticipate minimal impact to the in-home WiFi network.

  • Comcast’s Home Hotspot are an opt-out.  If you have one of Comcast’s Arris Modems and don’t want to host a public Wi-Fi hotspot, you can turn it off.  Here’s how:
  • Log into your Comcast account page at comcast.com.
  • Click on Users & Preferences.
  • Look for a heading on the page for “Service Address.” Below your address, click the link that reads “Manage Xfinity WiFi.”
  • Click the button for “Disable Xfinity Wifi Home Hotspot.”
  • Click Save.

Note that this ‘Disable Xfinity Wifi Home Hotspot” will only work once the hotspot is already live on your router.

  • If you opt out of hosting a Home Hotspot, you can still use others’ Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots with your Comcast login.
  • Whenever you receive a new or different WiFi router from Comcast, for your added security it is a good idea to change the admin passwords for the router from the generic one that Comcast installs.  For information on how to change the password, visit Comcast.com “Change the Login and Password on Your Router” or call Comcast at (800) 266-2278.

In addition to providing this WiFi service to customers, Comcast is also currently allowing non-customers limited use of it with two options:

  • Limited Free Trial: At select XFINITY WiFi hotspot locations, visitors are allowed two 60-minute complimentary sessions per month. You must wait 24 hours between sessions.
  • XFINITY WiFi Access Pass: Use XFINITY WiFi for an hour, a day or a week by purchasing an XFINITY WiFi Access Pass. XFINITY WiFi Access Passes are not available in all locations.

If you are a Comcast Internet customer and not sure if your modem/router might be a Home Hotspot, contact Comcast customer service at (800) 266-2278.  For a current Xfinity WiFi Network coverage map and more information about the service, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi.

Seattle cable customers should also always be aware of the consumer protections they have under Seattle’s unique Cable Customer Bill of Rights (CCBOR). You can read the CCBOR at www.seattle.gov/cable/2001_Bill_of_Rights.htm. You can also contact Seattle’s Office of Cable Communications with questions or complaints on the 24-hour Cable Line at 206-684-8498.

Exploring municipal broadband in Seattle with Chris Mitchell 10/8 at City Hall

The City of Seattle’s Citizens’ Telecommunications and Technology Advisory Board (CTTAB) is exploring implications of a municipally-owned broadband system in Seattle with a presentation and discussion with Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Mitchell is a leading national expert on community networks and speaks at conferences across the United States on telecommunications policy.

On October 8, 6:30 p.m. at Seattle City Hall (Bertha Knight Landes room, 600 4th Avenue, Seattle), Mitchell will discuss the realistic feasibility of a municipally-owned broadband network that delivers high-speed internet access, such as:

  • Case studies of successful and unsuccessful attempts to create a publicly-owned network
  • Considerations in planning and implementation of a publicly-owned network
  • Social benefits of a publicly-owned broadband network
  • Audience questions

As the City evaluates strategies to increase the availability of competitive, affordable and equitable broadband options, this session will help inform the decisions that will be made. Come to this educational event to gain valuable insight and information regarding the possible future of Seattle’s broadband infrastructure.

Are you ready for elections? Check out the Living Voters Guide & King County Elections

LVG 2014Living Voters Guide.org

Unlike voter guides generated by government, newspapers or advocacy organizations, Seattle CityClub’s Living Voters Guide.org is created by the people and for the people of Washington State. It’s your platform to learn about candidate and ballot measures, decide how to vote and share your opinions. CityClub believes that sharing our diverse opinions leads to making wiser decisions together.  In addition to pros/cons posted by citizens and on-demand fact checking provided by Seattle Public Library, LVG provides information about federal candidates through MapLight.org.

Living Voters Guide.org evolves as people use it.  The more citizens adding their perspectives, the more valuable a voter resource it becomes so please join the Living Voters Guide.org community now at LivingVotersGuide.org.

Bug to report? Have a comment? Confused? Email LVG (admin@livingvotersguide.org).

KCEKing County Elections

King County Elections has some great tools to help you in the voting process:  You can use My Voter Guide, which will give you a custom voter pamphlet based upon your voter registration information.  Ever wonder whether your ballot made it?  You can use My Ballot Tracker, which will track your ballot at three points: (1) Ballots are mailed to you from Elections by US Postal Service; (2) Your ballot is received by King County; and (3) Your signature on returned ballot is verified.

For more information on these tools or about the King County election process, contact them by email (elections@kingcounty.gov) or by phone at (206)296-VOTE (8683).

Office 365 Business/Personal Tip

If you are using office 365 business it is important to know that you will have 2 network share folders.  If you want to save data to your organizations network share you need to save your files to “One Drive – NAME OF ORG.” Saving files to just the “One Drive” folder saves to your personal one drive account.

Free workshop – Office 365 for Nonprofits

Are you interested in moving part of your IT infrastructure to the cloud? Have you registered for Office 365 for Nonprofits but are unsure what to do next? Join us for a free presentation and discussion on Office 365 for Nonprofits with the Seattle NPO Techie Group sponsored by 501 Commons, Phinney Neighborhood Association, and the City of Seattle. Office 365 is available for eligible nonprofits at free or reduced rates. In this session, we will cover:

  • Benefits of moving to the cloud generally
  • Office 365 features
  • Migrating to Office 365
  • Plus, an open Q & A with the presenters

We hope to see you there!

About the presenters:

Graham Ford is Senior Strategist and Technology Services Manager at 501 Commons. Graham applies innovation, technology, and process improvements to further the missions of both 501 Commons and its clients. For eight years, Graham has led technology design and implementation in mission critical business environments. Additionally, Graham has worked and volunteered in non-profit and governmental institutions in technical and non-technical roles. Enhancing his practical experience in technology and business, Graham has an MBA in Technology Management from the UW Foster School of Business.

Crystal Cheairs is the Technology Administrator at the Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA). In over six years at the PNA, Crystal has worn many hats including roles in development, membership, technology support, and primarily database administration. Along with co-leading the Seattle NPO Techie group with Derrick Hall (City of Seattle), Crystal has been active in the Seattle nonprofit Salesforce community for 5 years. Crystal managed the PNA migration from an onsite exchange server into Microsoft BPOS (now Microsoft 365) at the end of 2010.

Please RSVP to Derrick Hall at derrick.hall@seattle.gov or 206-233-5061

Data & Location

Phinney Neighborhood Association
6532 Phinney Ave N
Room 5 (upstairs)
Seattle, WA 98103

Tuesday September 9th 2014 at 10AM thru 11AM.

Seattle’s broadband and IT strategy

Seattle Mayor Murray recently announced three goals as the foundation for his broadband strategy. The three goals are:  1) Reduce regulatory barriers;  2) Explore public/private partnerships; and 3) Explore municipal broadband.

See more and add your comments at murray.seattle.gov/broadband/. The Mayor is also sending legislation to Council that changes the rules about placement of telecommunications cabinets and will enable an increase in buildout of broadband. This will help enable more competition in areas of Beacon Hill and elsewhere, which have had limited DSL service. CenturyLink has announced a plan to build more fiber and broadband infrastructure in Seattle, in conjunction with this.  See more on this here.

You can also see the City’s Information Technology three key objectives and supporting actions.  These are guiding the Department of Information Technology (DoIT’s) work.  See the DoIT Plan here.

Join the Central District’s tech entrepreneurial jam session

How might we create fertile ground for the African American community in Seattle to grow with the City’s current tech boom?

Let’s find out. Let’s have a hackathon!
Imagine an entrepreneurial jam session with Central District residents, business owners, community organizers, designers, and developers. An event like this can spur new and unique business creation through entrepreneurial education, community investment through collaboration, and social innovation through tech mentorship.

The Central District Startup Weekend event will be held at Garfield High School from Friday, 9/26 – Sunday, 9/28, with 40-50 students and 40-50 designers, developers, and entrepreneurs, and up to 150 total participants in the Sunday night musical celebration of the weekend’s achievements. 

Go here for more info and to get tickets.