ellohay! West Michigan

ellohay! West Michigan officially has volunteers

Posted in support, tech support, to-do list, volunteers by forgr on January 25, 2009

I’d like to welcome Tom and Natasha to the ellohay! West Michigan team. They have both been giving oodles of time towards our growing to-do lists, helping with organization and providing a multitude of ideas and improvements.

It’s really great to see this project grow, to see people believe in it right along with me, and to know that it can and will advance, get better, get stronger.

This has the potential to be an extraordinary thing, thank you for working to make it happen.

If you have a little time and want to volunteer too, here are three ways to take the next step. Email me, Marie-Claire Camp, call me (616) 446-3622 and we can talk about what you might be interested in doing, or write a note to ellohay! West Michigan P.O. Box 1994 Grand Rapids, MI 49501.

Thanks for being awesome guys.

.org

Posted in portal, public face, website by forgr on January 11, 2009

We mocked up a version of the front page of the future ellohay.org website, I’ve posted it here, and to the live site as well. Some of the questions we asked ourselves, and aimed to answer as we sketched:

ellohay_placeholder

Who is the site for?
What is ellohay! West Michigan?
Why should I care?
How do I get involved with the organization?
Does this person have all the information he needs to take the next step?
What does she need as a potential new client?
Where does she go as a new client?
How does a guardian, a teacher, a mentor use the site?
What will an established client need?
Will a potential donor have all the information he needs to take the next step?
Would I want to come back to the site?

What do you think? Did our first attempt come close? What’s missing?

The next step will be to create an updated version with your feedback, layout an internal page (like an “about” page, or a “program” page) to see how the navigation plays out, and if the page structure makes sense.

Bringing it all together

Posted in earn-a-laptop, organization, planning, research, software, strategy, writing by forgr on January 4, 2009

In my professional life I keep everything organized in one place. One to do list, with subheadings, prioritized items, due dates, the works. At home I’m much less organized.

For this project, I’m organized in my head, but not on paper. I’m all over the place.

Let’s review the online tools list that I use:

For writing, I use: Twitter, WordPress.
For photos, I use: Flickr
For bookmarks, I use: Twitter, and the ‘links’ column in WordPress
For fundraising, I use: Fundable (success!), ChipIn (fail)
For Groups, I use: Google Groups (fail), LinkedIn (mixed success)
For video, I intend on using: YouTube

Now, a look at other on and offline tools for getting things done:

For newsletters, I intend of using: Constant Contact
For domain registration, I used: GoDaddy
For website hosting, I used: DreamHost
For email, I use: Gmail
For writing, I use: Microsoft Word
For Internet browsing, I use: Mozilla Firefox
For wire-framing and strategic documents, I use: OmniGraffle
For top of the head notes, with no paper on hand, I use: a little digital voice recorder

For getting ideas down on paper, literally:

Color-coded sticky notes
Black journal with graph paper pages
Graph Paper note pad
Giant sticky notes
Whatever happens to be lying around if/when I get an idea (receipts, empty spots on the back of brochures)

It’s so scattered right now. So, what I’m trying to do is figure out what works, and how I can quickly communicate things to the right people and in the right place. Blogging here works pretty well, but it doesn’t loan itself to versioning very well, and it’s difficult to write partial thoughts too.

BaseCamp or Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets may be the best option to keep all these things together.

picture-3 picture-4

I guess it’s time to just choose and get started. Aggregate, transcribe notes. Bringing it all together is going to be difficult, and take time, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that can understand my own notes.

On an unrelated note, we’ve got ourselves a P.O. Box, and a first draft of a budget.

An incredible vote of confidence (at Christmas)

Posted in donations, fundraising, good news by forgr on December 26, 2008

My brother-in-law, Alex and his girlfriend, Anna gave us $200 towards our startup ChipIn fund this Christmas. I was quite overwhelmed with this donation and teared up on Christmas morning.

It’s still incredible to me that others could believe in this project (and have confidence in me) to give money to us.

I am thankful to Anna and Alex for their incredible vote of confidence in us. This new year will no doubt be filled with new opportunities for the organization, and in turn the community.

ellohay! West Michigan ChipIn

If you’re feeling like you might have a few extra dollars burning a hole in your pocket, chip it in here. We’re working to make something really cool happen in the community, and your dollar can be a part of it.

$1 is the minimum amount, and trust me when I say that every dollar makes a genuine difference.

Thank you again Alex and Anna,  have a Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.

A Conversation with the Macatawa Media Center

Posted in benchmarks, conversations, players, research, sustainability by forgr on December 13, 2008

I hadn’t forgotten about my conversation with Barb Pyle from the Macatawa Media Center, honestly. I met with her back in early May in their office on E 19th Street in Holland. We discussed their current computer refurbishing program, their television and production programs, and outreach programs.

Barb was very interested in what we are starting here in the Grand Rapids area, and wanted to know how we planned on cultivating and maintaining a genuinely sustainable “business”.

If by sustainable, she’s asking if we might have the capacity to preserve a complex set of programs (earn-a-laptop, digital literacy, technical support) indefinitely, then we’re on the right path.

If being sustainable means promoting stable and healthy communities, restoring environmental quality, and increasing long-term profitability, then yes we’re pointed in the right direction.

We have a lot of planning to do, but if we at least if know what we want and what’s important to us, that brings us closer to determining how we plan on getting it, and knowing once we have it.

Thank you Barb.

OpenSolaris and Dismantling The Digital Divide For People With Disabilities

Posted in accessibility, education, programs, research, software by forgr on December 12, 2008

A recent post from Sun Federal (creators of OpenOffice, Solaris and OpenSolaris) on the digital exclusion of individuals with disabilities, information on Section 508 and a crazy statistic about unemployment.

The digital divide does not stop at mere access to IT and online information though; it is also about being able to afford access. Over 70% of blind and low vision citizens in the United States are unemployed. People with other severe disabilities have similar employment statistics. Assistive technology software costs as much as $1,095 for a screen reader that enables blind people to use their computers, which means that access to computing is out of reach for the majority of Americans with disabilities.

Read the full article here.

Brush up on Solaris, OpenSolaris, Xeon and Intel’s work with me:

Solaris

OpenSolaris

Intel’s Xeon

Section 508

GNOME Screencasts

Jaws Screen Reader

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