Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Security Essentials

One very important thing I forgot to mention were some of the new tools that I've learned about in the last few weeks that I've been starting to use to help with keeping yourself "safe" online. I say "safe" because these are just minor steps you can take to overall help with the larger picture.

If you haven't already I would highly recommend making an account on Aspirations Social Source Commons http://socialsourcecommons.org/ Not only can you see what great software and tools are using but you can create your own toolbox to show others what software you like to use. The tool box Secure & Private Web Browsing http://socialsourcecommons.org/toolbox/show/2779/ has a bundle of awesome plug ins/ applications that should not be overlooked.

Personally, I'll list the few that I feel everyone should have installed in their web browser/computer.  If your using Firefox, then you might want to install collusion https://secure.toolness.com/xpi/collusion.html  Collusion paints a nice graph that shows you who is actually tracking you in real time. Browse the web for a bit then check out who is tracking you. If this doesn't freak you then I'm not sure what will.  I would also highly recommend Priv 3 (protects you from social networks  tracking you) https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/firefox/addon/priv3/  I would also recommend ghostery http://www.ghostery.com/ (shows you who is tracking you and allows you block them if you please) Lastly, if you really want to be anonymous then downloading and installing the Tor Browser wouldn't be a bad idea. https://www.torproject.org/ The Tor Browser allows you to browse the Internet anonymously. Although, a bit slow it's definitely worth installing and playing around with. Even though this is just scratching the surface of what you can do it. The first step is the best step to when it comes to keeping yourself safe and secure. I hope these tools are helpful. I'm still in the process of learning best practices but these are the few tools that I've picked up thus far. Let me know what you all think!

Monday, November 28, 2011


This past week was one of my favorite weeks of being a VISTA so far. No I was not knee deep in service like you might have imagined however, I was truly appreciating my role as a VISTA. I received a whole lot of inspiration by the people who make want to continue what I'm doing and expand more into the NPO tech world.

Tear tear, I know I'm getting a little bit emotional but I must say it was a pretty amazing week here in San Francisco. On Tuesday, I went to down to Mountain View with Kami and Kari Grey of (Access Now/Computer help days) to participate in a “get connected” round table discussion held by CETF (Center for Emerging Technology Fund) http://www.getconnectedtoday.com/.

The set up of the conference was great, literally a round discussion room filled with various NPO's from the south bay who deal either with education or teaching digital literacy. Our friends at the Chicano/Latino Foundation were there as well as many other wonderful organizations.

The conference was very informative as well as great to meat other orgs doing similar things to that of CTN in the south bay. I was able to reach out to find partners who may be able to provide training space for Google volunteers to teach classes.

On Wednesday I headed to Preservation Park in Oakland to start my first of three days at Aspirations 3 day Non-profit Software Development Conference. The conference by far, was one of the coolest conferences I've been been to.

Not only was there a “no power point rule” but the way the conference was facilitated I found it very hard for me to loose attention which tends to happen to me quite often at large conferences. I made sure to put on the evaluation form at the end: “perfect format for people with ADD.”

The conference was based on a series of break out sessions headed by different people who attended the conference. As I expected many of the sessions were a little bit too techy for me and did not apply to me. However, I was able to find some very interesting sessions that were centered around online identity and security.

I came into this conference feeling very apprehensive that I wouldn't be able to follow. I was also afraid that I would become more paranoid due to the nature surrounding the topic of line security. I was wrong about both.

I feel sort of ignorant when I say that I never realized how large of a role technology played and is playing in the current political movements that are happening globally such as the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement.

I also never realized how vulnerable we make ourselves by putting such sensitive information online. As I learned that everything I've done on the Internet thus far in my life is permanent it made me much more concerned about my activity in future and what I choose to put about myself online.

I also learned a great deal on protecting ourselves online. I think the topic of Internet security and who is watching us is often an overlooked topic. Many people (including myself) believe that we are not in any danger and that we have nothing to hide. As technology continues to expand at such a rapid growth I think our control over who has access to our private information is going to shrink without us even knowing it.
In order for large corporations to remain to have control over the market they need to have control over their consumers. By monitoring their personal information they are able to gather valuable information about their users that will allow them to advertise specifically to them in order to keep subscribing to their services. Not to say that all advertisements are bad, yet having access to such sensitive and private information is not only unlawful but scary in the sense that it can be turned over to the wrong hands such as the government. Taking proactive measures to prevent yourself from being surveyed is extremely important not only to prevent yourself from giving out important information but protecting your online privacy as well.

As the dev summit came to a close I posed many questions to myself. I felt very empowered. I felt like I had just gotten insight on very essential information that not many know too much about. What can I do to help these people who need to know about this information? How can I put it in a way so it makes sense so they will take action to protect themselves? How can I inform them without sounding paranoid? All of these are difficult to ask as well as figure out. I also thought about where I would be next year. If possible I would really like to attend the summit next year. My goal is to be able to contribute and lead a session. How can I fit into this world of social change with out an extremely tech background?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Things are picking up

Tech assessments training, tools and templates have arrived ...
BTOP computer centers are opening...
BVAC Mac Basics class proficiency testing and curriculum...
Meeting with Aspiration and Google mentors to plan a training...
Fixing the computers in Valencia Gardens computer lab...
Meeting Henry of TechSoup and going to the Social Media For Non-Profit Conference...
Me going on vacation and dumping everything on Dan... (sorry Dan!)

I will be away from Nov 11-28. I look to coming back to work on November 29.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's been a while...planning..waiting..networking

It's been a while since my last post. Not to say I've been insanely busy, yet I think it's safe to say that nothing incredibly exciting has happened in the past few weeks. Here are the updates:

The BTOP computers that are to be issued to the 26 senior centers are finally starting to delivered. Mun and I have made a few appearances at various centers to show off the computers with the CTN staff. It's kinda nice to have little old Spanish lady's showing you their sideshow of Barcelona to you. It makes me miss Europe and want to learn Spanish.

Hands on Tech rolled out their outline for the 11 tech assessments that each of us our to complete within the next year. The outline looks extensive and possibly filled with too many questions to bother a NPO with, but overall doesn't seem that terrible. My only concern is once we've given the tech assessment how do we know who or what to recommend to the organization. This didn't seem liked it was covered in the webinar. How is this capacity building?

Lastly, this Friday Mun, Kami and I attended the social media for non-profits conference in downtown SF. My only complaint besides the “continental breakfast” being a single KIND bar was sitting down for 8 hours. I think I stood up to use the restroom 12 times just so I could stretch my legs and keep myself from dozing off.

The whole experience though was pretty awesome. Getting to see Craig Newmark the founder of craigslist speak and proclaim how he was on painkillers was hilarious. Craig wasn't my only takeaway, getting to socialize and meet other people from different non-profits in the bay area was rewarding as well. I'm a huge fan of large conferences where you get to share ideas, network and listen to what other people do to help change the world.

In general, things are starting to pick up but yet I still don't seem to be moving fast enough. I'm working on making all of the computers in the VG lab faster so I can actually teach on them. Mun and I are putting together a lesson plan for the basic mac class we will be teaching at BAVC in January. We are collaborating with Jessica and Uno at Aspiration to create a training in mid-January at Google. The training a full day split into two different parts. The first part will consist of non-profits paired with Google Skilled based volunteers to aid them in areas such as google analytics, adwords and gmail. The other part will be Aspiration will offer a series of workshops that they normally give to their clients involving areas such as creating e-mail newsletters and social media.

Well that's it for the time being. I'll post as soon as the next earthquake hits (we had three in a week two weeks ago) or when the pace starts to pick up. I'll hopefully be attending Aspirations Dev Summit next week (http://www.aspirationtech.org/events/devsummit11) so I'm guessing I'll have something more interesting to write about. For now – Selah