ellohay! West Michigan

Online safety tips from Google and AARP

Posted in education, links for community, privacy and safety by forgr on October 8, 2008

I ran across this article this morning on the Official Google Blog on educating our 50+ citizens (AARP members) on online safety. Google and AARP created a series of clear and helpful informative videos that even I (27, internet savvy) enjoyed watching.

Up until now, a majority of 50+ people relied on other savvy individuals (neighbors, Best Buy’s Geek Squad, children, patient grand children etc.) to explain things to them. But the problem still remains that those explanations aren’t always captured (written down, recorded) efficiently, aren’t always as clear, or in depth as they often need to be. My mom (59) who’s pretty quick with computers and internet navigation, calls me every once to ask questions about uploading, downloading, formatting files, and the occasional email question too.

From the Official Google Blog article:

Now more than ever before, older Americans are logging on and surfing the web to stay in touch with family and friends, read websites and blogs, share photos, watch videos, and run online businesses. Like all Internet users, they’re sometimes faced with unsafe activity online, such as viruses and malware, and they’re looking for resources to learn how to keep their information on the web safe, private, and under their control.

A few of the videos that AARP and Google created together. Check out the video “Know what’s posted about you online” it’s clear, descriptive and an extremely good primer for those of us who are just starting out online.

Read more here.

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Client personas and potential use cases, part two

Photo from flickr-user mstor, for use under creative commons license

Remember Kim? 35, single mother of two, works five days a week as a physical therapist’s assistant from 8 am until 2, English is her second language.

So the question was, ‘What will she do when she gets her new laptop home?’

Kim gets her laptop home and plugs in the power cord (the battery is running low). She feeds the kids dinner, puts in their favorite movie, and sits down on the couch. She picks up her computer, opens the top, and sets in on her lap. She’s never had her own laptop before so she gets a nervous flutter in her stomach when the screen lights up.

The first thing she notices is an alert that there is an open wireless network available, she clicks “OK” and sees that the signal is strong. She then clicks on the internet browser icon in the dock at the bottom of the screen.

When the screen loads, she sees the program page that reads “Welcome to the neighborhood Kim. The Digital Inclusion in Grand Rapids, MI project is happy to see you here again.” She smiles and clicks on the email icon on the page. She’s curious if she has any new mail from her class instructor. She has two new messages, one from her instructor, and another from the program director. She reads both and replies to the one from her instructor, she thanks him for answering her questions in the orientation class earlier that day.

When she goes back to her home page, and project welcome page, she sees that there is an event calendar on the page. It has the class schedules, community events, and hours of the workshop on it. She takes a look at what’s happening next weekend.

Her kids need to get to bed, so she closes her laptop and heads up to get them ready. After they fall asleep, she heads back downstairs to wash the dishes, puts in a load of laundry and turns the tv on. The entire time she’s going thinking about her new laptop, glancing at it when she walks back and forth bringing bowls and glasses from the living room into the kitchen. It’s still slightly foreign to her.

She sits back down again to rest and watch the weather report on tv for tomorrow, she opens up the computer again and looks at the event calendar a little more. She’s more nervous that she thought she would ever be about a piece of technology. She closes the lid and sits back on the couch. Before she goes to bed, she puts the computer on the kitchen table with the folder from the workshop next to it, she’ll read and explore more tomorrow when the kids are at the neighbor’s house.

It’s Sunday afternoon the next time she’s able to get back to her computer again. The signal is strong, the program’s page is welcoming, she has no new emails. She clicks on the icon that reads “Community Resources” as she’s curious about what’s there. There are sections of links divided into different categories, and she looks at all of them. She clicks on local weather and news. The website loads and shows her that it will be raining tomorrow afternoon, she smiles knowing that that sort of information is available whenever she wants it, not just at 10:00 or 11:00 at night when the local station reports it.

She reads more resource links and ends up sitting on the computer for almost three hours. She stretches and rubs her eyes, realizing that she’s spent that much time looking at the screen. She feels more comfortable with her computer though now, and is glad that she’s in the program.

Monday work then a school play, Tuesday work and then her youngest with a high fever. Wednesday she finally gets back to her exploration. She finds YouTube, and Flickr. She sees a website advertised on tv, and for fun, goes there to see what it offers. She experiemetnsregisters for a digital scrapbook class at the workshop. She’s feeling even more confident now.

‘Hot Spots Cool City’ page solicits “Walled Garden” link suggestions

Posted in bookmarks, links for community, portal by forgr on April 3, 2008

Every once and a while I head over to the City of Grand Rapids ‘Hot Spots Cool City’ page to see if any new news has been posted. I just noticed that there’s a “Walled Garden” link suggestion field added to the page.

Hot Spots Cool City banner

I wonder what kind of plans they have over there… interesting.

Reference links for community, general audience (for portal)

Posted in clients, links for community, planning, portal by forgr on March 18, 2008

Local colleges
Tax forms
Tax help
Local event calendar
Local business directory
Local government, courthouse, Secretary of State, Police stations
Neighborhood associations
Local public and private schools
Parks and recreation
State and National Parks
School closings
Local TV station websites, WOOD TV8, WZZM 13, local cable networks etc.
Volunteer opportunities
Tutoring and mentoring resources
Flickr photos for the region
YouTube videos of the region
Public library and literary resources
Craigslist links, Grand Rapids specific
Homeowner resources
Home improvement resources
Community aid organizations
Childcare resources
Book clubs, interest meetups
After-school program resources
Job boards
Local healthcare resources
Local maps
Attractions, museums, parks, landmarks
Festivals, and city events
Local radio, public radio, local stations

What else does every community need to know? What should be common knowledge?

A Conversation with Laurie from the Community Media Center

On Thursday, I had a brief but interesting lunch conversation with Laurie from the Community Media Center here in Grand Rapids.

We first discussed some of the CMC programs in place for area nonprofits and residents, http://www.grcmc.org/nposervices and then talked about a new program coming out once the city gets its WiMax working. It’s in charge of eventually processing and granting up to 5% of the area’s residents discounted rates on WiMax. They have also taken the task of traveling to local schools and talking about the available WiMax discount to schools.

So there will be education about our new wireless access, and discounted rates from an organization in the city. I’m not meaning for that to sound small, I mean for it to sound like a step in the right direction.

I explained to Laurie about our project idea. I talked about the pilot program, the gaps in the system, and some other stuff we’re working on. She seemed genuinely excited. She all but volunteered a venue for the pilot program when I explained some of our current stumbling blocks.

I’m pretty sure she also suggested that we piggyback the CMC for the pilot so that people and companies can get tax deductions on their donations, (but I might have dreamed that part…).

Laurie agreed with several statements that I made about the large number of residents and individuals that go unacknowledged in our community. We talked about the populations of under-served, and some potential programs that aid organizations might be struggling to launch, maintain or keep afloat.

I told my two most relevant stories, Red Cross Indian Village shelter story, and next door neighbor laptop story. The Red Cross story is the one that still makes me sad to think about. I’ll tell it soon here. When I’m ready.

Laurie’s questions about the pilot and the program were great, she asked things like “So how do you avoid people from doing bad things with their computers?” and “What happens if one is lost, broken or stolen?”. I liked that she answered that in the many years that her team has been loaning out equipment, that they have had only one problem with theft. People are respectful if they know that you are a good place, and that you can trust each other.

I feel like there’s some real similarities in thoughts, missions and intent between this infant project and the CMC. It makes sense to make them part of the project family.

So that meeting went well. She gave me all of her contact info, and then headed back to her office to prepare to leave on vacation to Italy for a few weeks. She said that I could call her anytime to talk.
When I got back home, I starting drawing a revised diagram, and listing groupings of our under-served neighbors. That one’s coming soon too.

Thanks for the meeting Laurie, hope to talk with you again soon.