Friday, September 30, 2011

Productive Week: One Economy,Lunch at Google SF and CTN Connects

As the month comes to and end I'm looking back at our first month working at CTN. It has been a really productive month full of meeting new people, getting to know CTN and get used to the work flow of being a VISTA. This past week was very busy as we put a large dent into finishing CTN's directory. I feel the amount of responses this week were far more positive. On Tuesday we headed over to One Economy  We met with Leo and Rishi (a VISTA working for One Economy) to learn about One Economy and discuss what how we could benefit from what resources they have.  We learned about one economy's mission is and what current projects they are working on as well as what Rishi has accomplished in his past year as a VISTA.  One Economy has recieved a large amount of money from the BTOP grant that is being used to provide computer literacy training and internet access to communities in need of both resources. We also went to lunch at Google's SF office (which included brisket and pulled pork sandwiches).  We spoke with Matt, Debbie and our new Google mentors about what resources we could pull from them in the next year. On Wednesday Mun and I led a discussion on Cloud Computing at the monthly CTN connects meeting. On Thursday we collectively pulled our patience together to help an very stressed out older man type book reviews into an internet database.  It has been a week full of a lot of work and I'm looking to seeing some live music for free all weekend at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park! I'm looking forward to the month ahead where we will be working more hands on with our partner organizations, building curriculum to prepare ourselves to teach and began planning training's with NPOs in the future. I've feel like I've already done a lot and yet there is still 11 months to go...

One Economy, Google SF, directory calling, etc.

On Monday, at AspirationTech, Dan and I worked mostly on calling and emailing centers around the Bay Area to update our directory and to make comtacts.

On Tuesday, we had a meeting with Leo Sosa and Rishi at One Economy Corporation that also received the BTOP grant, is doing many technology-related community outreach digital literacy projects similar to CTN. Besides talking about some websites and resources that we can look into (such as,,, and, Leo also offered office space for us to use for trainings.

In the afternoon, Dan and I met Jessica and Uno to go to lunch and introduction at Google's San Francisco office at 345 Spear Street. We were greeted by Elaine Theios and Sarah, who took us to the cafe, and then to the conference room to meet with Debbie Newhouse and Matt Severson at Google, Mountain View. Debbie and Matt offered to mentor Dan and I. They also asked for ways that they may help us. Suggestions given were hosting events at their place (San Francisco or Mountain View), recruiting Google volunteers, and helping to identify NPOs in the South Bay.

In the evening, I attended the Community Leadership Awards Celebration, at Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Avenue, hosted by the San Francisco Foundation. 8 high school students and 5 community leaders were honored for their work.

On Wednesday, Dan and I facilitated the first half of the Cloud Computing presentation/discussion at the CTN Connection Event at Goodwill.

The rest of the time on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were mostly spent working on CTN network directory, helping users in the VG computer lab (including the one very "needy" elderly man!), migrating the BTOP website, and attending meetings including the staff meeting, event planning meeting, Valencia Gardens meeting, one-on-one meeting with Kami, webinar with HandsOnTech Corps, and a phone call with Lucy. I asked Lucy about the telephone. I also resubmitted the travel reimbursement request to SJ, and sent in my laptop computer for servicing after receiving the authorization and instruction to do it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Webinars, meetings, observations and CTN network directory

On Tuesday, there were meetings about the CTN Connect event (and giving a presentation about Cloud Computing), going over the draft work plan (from now until January), the BTOP database, BTOP website and updating the CTN directory network. Dan and I also attended a HandsOn Tech Corp webinar about reporting. For example, they wanted the VISTA members to complete surveys (such as stories, reflections, etc.) on the website where we enter our time card, and use their pre and post surveys as a way to measure what specific areas and groups we are working on. In the afternoon, Dan, Kami and I went to pick up a donated microwave.

On Wednesday, I went to observe Paul teach about doing mail merge in MS Word at Goodwill, 1500 Mission Street. In the afternoon, I worked on site at CTN's office.

On Thursday, Dan and I attended a HandsOn Tech Corps webinar about recruiting skilled-based volunteers. We spent the rest of the day talking about and preparing the CTN Directory Update document on Google Apps.

On Friday, Dan and I started contacting the organizations on the CTN Directory Update about their computing facilities, etc. and if they want to be listed in CTN's Network Directory. In the afternoon, we went to Aspiration for a meeting, and we spent the rest of our day working on about blog and time card.

CTN Directory

This past week has been another busy week at CTN.  We've been busily working on CTN's network directory, a map of information on computer centers located in San Francisco. Our job is to expand the map to the East and South bay.  Mun and I split up a list of nearly 175 organizations that may or may not have computer centers.  We've been researching and calling each location on the list to get more information about their computer center so they can be listed into the directory. It hasn't been an easy task and is quite tedious. However, we are gaining experience and speaking to other non profits and playing a large part in creating the directory as well as networking with other organizations throughout the bay area. It has been very difficult to figure out how to speak to specific organizations.  From the calls I've made so far, some organizations have been happy to be listed while a few others haven't been incredibly excited about being listed due to their high traffic volume in their centers already.  Like most things I don't enjoy doing it's always getting started that is the hardest part but as soon as I've started it becomes fairly easy. Now speaking of that..time to get started with some calls....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Today I spent the morning at goodwill watching Paul Fong give a lesson on how to use mail merge in Microsoft Word.  It was interesting to see how an introductory computer class is taught. Since I don't have a decent amount of experience teaching classes it was important for me to shadow Paul.  I was able to take away some ideas of how I would want to teach. One thing I've found from giving one on one instruction in the past week is how well you should know what your teaching before you actually teach it.  It may sound like a pretty simple concept, yet I've found it is really easy to believe you know a piece of software until you've gone to go give instruction about it.  I've found myself learning more about online sites and applications than I did before because I've had to fumble through them while teaching them.  Not only does it waste time but it also doesn't make you look incredibly intelligent as a teacher.  Right now it hasn't really mattered but I could see it being an issue in the future. I figure before I began teaching I'm going to run through my first lesson a few practice times before actually giving it.  I'm anticipating the time when I can finally teach a class, hopefully it will come sooner than later..

Friday, September 16, 2011

Trainings, webinars, meetings and BTOP database

On Monday, Dan and I went through how to run a computer lab with Kami. There are 6 big buckets to running a computer lab which are set up, maintenance, programming, evaluation, funding and policy. We ask went through acceptable use procedures. The rest of the day was mostly spent working on the BTOP website.

Tuesday started with a HandsOn Corps orientation webinar. In the afternoon, there were meetings to discuss the deliverables worksheet, talk with NPOs and discuss about the BTOP website. The NPOs that we talked to were Porcia of Thrive, San Mateo, Ami of the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership, Marin and Leo Sosa of 1Economy Corporation. Porcia, Ami and Leo talked about what their NPOs do, how they work with other NPOs and what classes their community are interested in.

On most of Wednesday and part of Thursday, Dan and I worked on updating the BTOP database with data from tech assessments. We also helped some people in the computer lab. At 10 a.m. on Thursday, we attended a webinar by HandsOn Corps about sustainability. Also on Thursday, Kami talked about the BTOP directory, and Kami, Dan and I talked to Jen of BAVC and Noreen of Coming of Age about the work that they do, and the needs of their community and NPO partners.

On Friday, Dan and I attended a webinar conducted by Kerri of CTN and Jane Vincent of the Center for Accessible Technology about ZoomText. We spent the rest of the day mostly working on the BTOP database and directory.

Hands on

I never thought that teaching someone how to use Facebook or print their online bank statements would be so satisfying.  The computer lab has been open for 2 days now and Mun and I have already helped a handful of people.  We are also getting a decent response on community members that would like to sign up for introductory computer classes.  On Wednesday, a woman named Mia Gonzales came by the lab and seeked my help on facebook and with printing her online bank statements.  She was a really nice woman who owns an art gallery down the street. I helped her with her business facebook page by showing her how to upload photos.  She was very interesting to talk to and showed me her various friends on facebook who are well known community members around the city.  She was a pleasure to work with and I am looking forward to seeing her in the future.  There are many problems with the lab the main issue being the computers are outdated and extremely slow. It is going to be difficult to teach when the computers are not even working correctly!  Hopefully, in the near future we will be able to replace the computers or least fix them so they are running correctly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Meetings and trainings

Week 3 is a 4-day week of meetings and more trainings. On Tuesday, all 5 staff members were at the CTN office for staff and BTOP meetings. On Wednesday, Dan and I joined Lorna, JVS, Sunset Beacon Center, Tenderloin Technology Lab, and Treasure Island for Partner's Lunch at the Tenderloin Technology Lab at 150 Golden Gate Avenue. JVS and Sunset Beacon reported students repeating classes, and Treasure Island reported computer problems.

On Thursday, we attended a webinar hosted by HandsOn Tech Corps about Community Training. We were given a bunch for forms that we are supposed to submit such as Sign-In Sheet, Pre- and Post-Surveys, Participant and Activity Rosters and Lesson Summary Sheet. Then, Kami, Dan and I went to meet Martin and Sharee of Valencia Gardens. They would like to open the computer lab more and replace the old computers. In the afternoon, I helped enter some tech assessment data into the BTOP database.

On Friday, the 5 staff and 9 board members for CTN's quarterly in-person board meeting at the Senior Action Network at 965 Mission Street. Kami presented a report of CTN. Nik and a few board members suggested populating the Network Directory on CTN website with more computer labs. We decided what CTN's mission shall be. In the afternoon, I attended BTOP staff training attended by BTOP partners or sub-grantees. Annie Yu of SHE would like the computers to be installed with Windows 7 Ultimate so that she can enable Chinese handwriting recognition on the touch screens. Delores of OMI/Exelsior, told me that seniors will come to the lab to take computer classes if the classes are taught in their language. I also talked with Tuongvi of VEMAA and Shelia of ADHC.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Week 3

          The first few weeks here at CTN mainly consist of  Mun and I get accustomed to who were going to be working with.  A lot of our time consists of meetings, shadowing of classes as well as being introduced to partners and other organizations associated with CTN. For the most part On Wednesday we had a partner lunch at the Tenderloin Technology Lab. It was nice to meet the partners of CTN and listen to the issues they were having with their tech labs.  I'm looking to working with them in the future to possibly offer some IT advice/help with their computer labs.  Thursday and Friday consisted of two training's held by Lorna and Kerri to a portion of the staff from the 26 senior centers receiving brand new computers. The department of aging (DAS) has received funding from BTOP (Broadband Technology Opportunity Program) to provide computers for 26 centers located throughout the city.  During the year it will be our job as Vistas to provide training to the staff, volunteers at the senior center and some of the members of these senior centers.  The training was very informative to the staff about how to work with the volunteers they will be receiving to help teach the seniors how to use the computers.   We also go to play with the 23-inch touch screen computers the senior centers will be receiving.  Overall, it was a productive week filled with a lot of information but useful for the coming weeks.  I can't wait to get into a set routine of teaching and training.

Second week is Google Camp!

Our training continues at Google headquarters in Mountain View. On Sunday, the gang of 4 from San Francisco (Dan, Jessica, Mun and Uno) met at the CalTrains station on King Street, San Francisco, and took the 3:15pm train to Mountain View. Two hours later, we checked into Hotel Adante and met Lucy, SJ and Lynn of HandsOn Tech Corps for the first time.

On Monday, a shuttle took us the to 1500 Plymouth Street for check-in and training at the Google campus. We met our 3 hosts/trainers who are Seth Marbin, Debbie Newhouse and Matt Severson. After a welcome, introduction and icebreaker session, we dived into "Google for Nonprofits" presented by Leslie Hernandez. NPO can apply for this program and get "free" access to some google products such as AdWords. After that, we had our first google lunch. In the afternoon, we broke out into 5 different groups to learn about 5 different google products, which are Google Apps/Forms, Google Maps/Places/FusionTable, Google Analytics, Google AdWords and Google Plus/Hangout. Finally, Kami from CTN did a workshop on nonprofit culture.

On Tuesday, we got product overviews of Google Earth, YouTube, Salesforce, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Facebook. Each of the 5 trainee groups from Monday took turn to take notes on Google Apps. We had lunch as well as dinner at Google today. We also had a bicycle tour of the Google campus and stopped by the Google store on our way to one of their "bigger" cafes for dinner.

On Wednesday morning, we heard from Seth Marbin about resource gathering, James Franklin of TechBridge and SJ of HandsOn about tech assessments. In the afternoon, we heard from Debbie Newhouse of Google about the Making the Switch, a book written by Dan Heath and Chip Heath, that we were supposed to read. Finally, SJ broke us up into 4 groups, and had us apply the concepts we learned in the book to nonprofit organizations. The book talks mostly how to facilitate changes, but not much about assessments (although the authors may have covered assessments in previous books they have written). I feel assessments are very important because they answer if changes are needed and what kind of changes.

On Thursday, Mark Ball of Google did a workshop on putting the 9 Switch strategies into use. Then, Allen Gunn of AspirationTech talked about the organizational considerations of nonprofit organizations. He stressed that technology should not the magic solution to problems, which I thought was a good counterpoint to almost everything we had heard so far, as well as a good segue to the afternoon session. In the afternoon, we broke into 5 groups to talk to 5 nonprofits organizations. We had the opportunity to practice doing a tech assessment for them, and to present our recommendations.

On Friday, Jeff Davis of Google talked about the future of Cloud Computing, followed by a debriefing, reflection and good bye session mostly led by Seth. After grabbing a lunch bag, we all head back to the hotel. The gang of 4 from San Francisco took CalTrains back to San Francisco.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Week 2: Google Complex!

                    Besides eating incredible food and being accommodated in a lovely hotel with a hot tub and pool our week a google proved to be quite the experience.  The first two days were spent riding bikes and taking googles lazy river around the campus on tubes (just kidding! however, I did suggest to many google employees the idea of a lazy river surrounding the google complex might not be a bad idea).  In reality, we spent the first day learning about googles for non-profits software package which is offered to non profit organizations that qualify free of cost.  We spent the afternoon working with google employees who showed us how to use different programs that were offered in the google for non-profits package including adwords, google docs, google analytics google sites and google plus.  On day two we heard from various organizations (google maps, youtube, microsoft, linked in and sales that also offered discounted or no cost software for non-profits.

            Wednesday was a day informing us more in depth about the book we received on Monday titled "switch." (Google Books: Switch)  Switch gave us insight into 9 basic steps on how we might help convince in our case NPO's to change up their organization.  During the year we are going to be suggesting different and new concepts using technology to non-profits.  Some of these NPO's are going to be resistant and unwilling to change. The book suggested different ways in which we can help these organizations embrace and accept change as well as how we can help them change.
             Thursday I think by far was the most informative and productive day at google.  We started the morning hearing from Mark Ball a very zened out transcendental kinda of guy who gave us excellent ways in which we can help organizations change.  He used terms from the book switch as well as put them into play showing us how appropriately and correctly address situational change.  After Mark spoke Gunner spoke with a somewhat similar message but with a completely opposite approach.  Using his non-stop ranting  as well as humorous analogies Gunner wooed and impressed our fellow vistas with his ideals on how to approach organizations who are in need of change and problems you might face while doing so.  He explained how its not all about tech but more about people and listening.  Often non-profits don't care about necessarily the best practices of technology but more about saving the world. It is important to speak their language rather than tech talk to help them achieve and succeed in the direction that will be beneficial for their organization.  Finally, in the afternoon we formed four different groups that each met with a single non-profit from the bay area.  We listened to the tech issues each organization was having and then formed up suggestions on what they could do to resolve these issues based on what he had learned from the week.  I think this activity was very resourceful yet still seemed a little bit too much for what we had just learned. I think many of my fellow Vista's were very reluctant to suggest software/tools that we had literally just learned about when they had never used it before in their life.  Going back to what gunner was talking about before never suggest anything unless you've test driven in one full cycle with an organization.  I think overall the idea of the activity the ability for us to talk to real life non-profits was great, however I still feel we weren't completely ready and a lot of us thought that just because we had been taught about new tools that week at tech camp we should automatically suggest them to non-profits.  This is kinda of a scary thought for the year.  I'm afraid that just because we learned about certain tools/"free" software at this training camp many Vista's are going to assume that it is the best.  I think other options need to be explored and not just main stream software. Overall, the week was very informative on the side that we learned excellent ways to speak listen and carryout our mission for the year.  I'm still a bit apprehensive and weary for what the year has to offer but that is me being me..however it still should an experience that I wont' forget...

First week, first blog posting

After one week of AmeriCorps Pre-Service Orientation in Fort Lauderdale, and swearing in on the last day (August 19), all the VISTA members returned to the service site they were assigned to. I am one of the 4 HandsOn Tech Corps members who were assigned to San Francisco. Dan and I are hosted by Community Technology Network. Jessica and Uno are hosted by AspirationTech.

On our first day of our service, Dan and I met Kami Griffiths, the Director of Community Technology Network. She gave us an orientation about her organization. I learned about the history, mission, projects and direction of CTN, and how my role as an AmeriCorps VISTA member fits with CTN. Kami also provided Dan and I with a Lenovo IBM Thinkpad computer to do our work. Kami introduced us to one of CTN's partner, Valencia Gardens (390 Valencia Street), who is also hosting CTN's office at 360 Valencia Street. I met Martin and Sharee of Valencia Garden. We then went to lunch and AspirationTech's orientation and training about the Publishing Matrix conducted by their director, Allen Gunn. We also met Lorna Walsh and Kerrey Shannon, the other 2 staff members of CTN, for the first time.

On our second day, the 4 HandsOn Tech Corps members of CTN and AspirationTech went to Sacramento to attend a training conducted by Misty of AspirationTech. The 10 participants learned about the Publishing Matrix and Social Dashboarding using Netvibes.

On the third day, we continued with our on-site training at AspirationTech. Allen Gunn, director of AspirationTech, talked about "People, Process and Technology". Then, he talked about the "Four Processes for Sustainable Online Impact, which are "Audience Assessment", "Publishing Matrix", "Message Calendering" and "Social Media Dashboarding".

On the fourth day, I joined the webinar training hosted by HandsOn Tech Corp at In the afternoon, Kami and Lorna talked about internet safety and how to work with new computer users. Then, Danielle, a former VISTA member talked about her experience. At 5:30 p.m., while searching for mobile phone plans for the smart phone we are going to get, the computer stopped responding. After 4-5 minutes, the blue screen came up. Subsequent attempts to reboot failed. Diagnostics indicated hard drive failure. I will be using my own computer until the given computer is fixed.

On the fifth day, Matthew Garcia of AspirationTech conducted a training session on Wordpress, attended by all 4 San Francisco VISTA members as well as Lorna of CTN and other 2 community partners. Dan and I started working on the Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) website using Wordpress. It is temporarily being hosted at

First Week of training at CTN

        Starting on August 22nd 2011 I began my first week in training as an Americorp Vista with CTN.  Since there are two other Vista's serving with the Hands on Tech Corp in San Francisco (Jessica and Uno) it seemed to make sense that we all train together.  We spent the majority of the week at Aspiration Tech's work space ( where Uno and Jessica will be serving together for the next year.
       Day one began at CTN's office at Valencia Gardens where we met with Kami who gave Mun and a run down of what to expect and what we would be doing for the next year. We then walked over to Aspiration by receiving some introductory motivational and inspiring words from Aspirations Executive Director Allen "gunner" Gunn.  Throughout the week we learned about Aspiration's  beliefs and concepts and how it applies to teaching nonprofits how to use technology. I thought it was interesting how they like to take the "techie" out of tech and how they don't want their clients to call them back after they've taught them. Aspiration goes by three basic concepts: people, process, technology.  I feel that even though our work may be slightly different than that of aspirations these concepts can be applied to our teaching techniques throughout the year.  The next day we took a trip up to Sacramento to see how one of the training's that aspiration gives works. Misty lead the training about how to create a publishing matrix (a useful chart for organizing your organizations social media) and how to use that publishing matrix to put your social media into social media dashboard or a website that lets you view your social media all at once.
     Wednesday and Thursday were spent learning more in depth about how Aspiration and CTN work as well as an overview of the work that we would be doing for the next year. On Wednesday evening Mun and I attended the monthly CTN connects meeting. The meeting was a very informative session on different inexpensive low-income families and individuals can take to get themselves connected on the internet and have access to technology.  On Thursday Kami and Lorna gave us some good insight onto web security and some important points we might teach to new users of the internet. I fond this topic particularly interesting not only from the standpoint of an experienced web user who found out about a few new tips on being careful when surfing the web, but also how important it is to teach web users the importance of security who may look past very important risk factors.
            On Friday we sat in on another Aspiration training given by Matt who taught us and a few other nonprofits how to create a word press website.  Having some experience in wordpress I was excited to see what else I might learn about creating a website. Word press is a free open source tool that can be used to either create a blog or web page.  Mun and I were assigned to create a resource center website for  BTOP (Broadband Technology Opportunity Program)  in the bay area that will be eventually be used in the future. The session was extremely helpful and helped start a great website. You can check out our progress on the website here:  The week ended with a nice start to our year.  I was really pleased on how much Mun and I were able to accomplish on the BTOP website and how it will eventually be up and running as a resource center for staff and volunteers in the bay area.  I headed into the weekend apprehensive and unsure of what to expect at our week at the Google Complex.