Quick note – if you happen to find WSB inaccessible at some point in the next few early-early mornings – we’re expecting a bit of after-midnight downtime for technical upgrades. Our 24/7 news commitment continues regardless, so if any breaking news happens during those downtimes, you’ll find info on our social-media channels, primarily Facebook and Twitter. Thanks, and sorry in advance for the inconvenience!
When we and others published the first announcement of wi-fi hotspots available to borrow from the Seattle Public Library, a long waiting list developed quickly – WSB reader Diane was on it and chronicled the wait. Now, with another grant, SPL has more than doubled the number available, as announced today:
Thanks to an additional $80,000 grant from Google, The Seattle Public Library has added 200 more Wi-Fi hotspots for Library patrons to check out. The devices provide patrons with free, mobile broadband Internet service for three weeks.
The Library used an initial grant from Google to buy 150 hotspots and launched the lending program on May 18. In the first week, nearly 1,000 patrons placed holds on the devices.
“Clearly, even in a high-tech city like Seattle, there is a huge need for additional broadband access,” said Marcellus Turner, Seattle’s city librarian. “These devices help close the digital divide for Seattle residents who live on low incomes.”
Some Library patrons had requested more devices after the initial launch. The Library now lends a total of 326 devices and librarians use another 24 hotspots during outreach programming.
Many patrons believe the Wi-Fi hotspots provide an exciting new spin on the public library system’s foundational service – ensuring equal access to information for all.
“This is the coolest thing ever,” one user commented. “Kudos to The Seattle Public
Library for carrying a traditional mission of libraries into the Internet age.”
The Seattle Public Library is the first public library in the United States to make
the hotspots available to all its cardholders. For more information, call the Library 206-386-4636 or Ask a Librarian.
We were just talking about broadband options – sort of. Here’s more to consider: Could the city offer it as a municipal utility? The $180,000 study commissioned to look at that question is now out. Here’s the city announcement:
The City of Seattle today released the City of Seattle Fiber-to-the-Premises Feasibility Study, a feasibility study originally commissioned in December 2014 as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s three-part broadband internet strategy.
And read toplines ahead in the rest of the news release:
7:37 PM: No official word from Comcast yet, but its Internet service seems to be having some trouble, not just in West Seattle but elsewhere in the metro area, and in the Bay Area too. We started hearing about it via Twitter a short time ago and it seemed widespread enough to mention here. Also via Twitter, you can see the Comcast support account responding to messages from users.
10:09 PM: Readers report service returning to normal – see comments – and @ComcastWA on Twitter also reported areas “coming back up.” No explanation from Comcast of what went wrong (aside from acknowledgment of what users had reported, that it was a DNS issue).
11:34 PM: GeekWire quotes Comcast as saying its people are “working through a root cause analysis to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
If you need broadband wi-fi at home or work or school … the library can help. Seattle Public Library unveiled SPL Hotspot today – a program through which you can check out a wi-fi hotspot and use it for up to three weeks. A grant from Google got the library system 150 of the mobile hotspots – you need your own computer to use them, but by midsummer, the system’s getting 75 hotspot-bundled laptops available for checkout too. Here’s how the program works.
A Belvidere resident was hit by a “sophisticated identity theft” that she describes as resulting from “an easily overlooked risk,” and wrote this to warn you about it:
Sometime around the end of April, someone hacked into my wireless router and stole my name, address, WDL#, and SS#. I’ve since discovered that wireless routers have two passwords – one for the wireless signal (which I had locked down), but also one for the router admin itself. The router comes from the factory with a standard login/password, and no instructions for changing it. This is something I overlooked, and this is how the thief got in.
I was first alerted to the theft when I received an email receipt from a store in University Village for a large purchase I didn’t make, on a card I haven’t used in years. I called the store, and they fortunately remembered the woman who made the purchase, and were able to provide a description – a white woman, age 30-35, with long blond hair (not a description of me). She had a WDL ID with her photo and my name and address.
I of course immediately checked my credit reports and set up fraud alerts, and discovered that over a dozen inquiries had been made with my name, and several new cards opened.
It turns out the thief also had a plan to collect the new credit cards and statements. The thief put a vacation hold on my mail at the post office on California & Oregon (using her fake ID), saying she would be back May 15 to pick up the mail. Sure enough, when I figured this out & got my mail restarted, there were the new credit cards and statements.
With further investigation, I discovered that my identity had been used in Puyallup and Everett to open store credit accounts, and that the thief was using a prepaid cell phone purchased in Everett. I also received an alert that my complete information (plus passport # & medical ID #) was for sale on a black-market website.
I’ve filed reports with both the police and postal service investigators.
Just want to emphasize this was a complex and local theft – to get into my router, the thief had to physically be close to my house. Then of course they visited the WS post office, and shopped at nearby shopping centers. Everyone, please check your wireless router admin login and secure it! If you find your information has been compromised, do report it to the police and let them know you’re aware of my case so they can put it all together. I was told the police cannot investigate this kind of fraud without more evidence, more thefts, or a higher amount of actual monetary loss.
Here’s what the Federal Trade Commission says about how to protect yourself from what happened to “Belvidere Resident.”
CenturyLink is sponsoring WSB right now to get out the word that its 1 Gig service has arrived in some areas of West Seattle. You’re invited to a special event to find out more about it this Sunday at Cupcake Royale in The Junction:
On Sunday, May 3, CenturyLink is teaming up with Cupcake Royale to celebrate West Seattle becoming a CenturyLink Fiber Lit Community. CenturyLink invites West Seattle residents to celebrate in the sweetest way possible: by enjoying one of Seattle’s best cupcakes for free (cupcakes available while supplies last). To add a cherry on top, you can also enter to win Taylor Swift concert tickets from KISS 106.1!
CenturyLink is excited to meet you and share more about bringing next-generation Internet speeds up to 1 Gig to West Seattle. The CenturyLink team will be at the West Seattle Cupcake Royale location (4556 California Avenue SW) starting at 11 a.m. on May 3. You can sign up to be notified when your address qualifies for speeds up to 1 Gig by visiting centurylink.com/fiber.
One cupcake per person, and unlimited info about CenturyLink service – just drop in any time between 11 am and 3 pm Sunday.
From the Fauntleroy Community Association:
Do you live between the Arroyos and Morgan Street? Travel through or do business in Fauntleroy? The Fauntleroy Community Association (FCA) wants to hear from you!
The FCA has prepared a new community survey seeking input to identify and rank local issues. The anonymous survey can be accessed through www.fauntleroy.net and then clicking on “FCA Survey.” The survey takes about 5 minutes, and will provide guidance to the FCA Board on where to focus their efforts during the next two years.
The results from the 2013 survey led to the FCA organizing community meetings with city officials to address crime and traffic issues. Dialogues between residents and officials were constructive and resulted in agreed-upon action plans.
Take the survey and help to shape the future of your community!
We got a note today from the West Coast regional director of the nonprofit Girls Who Code, looking for more 10th- and 11th-grade girls to apply for a free summer-immersion program. The catch – the deadline is tomorrow (Friday), so hurry!
Due to exponential growth, Girls Who Code is welcoming additional applicants for its 2015 Summer Immersion Program. Girls in 10th and 11th grade have until tomorrow, Friday, March 6th at 11:59 PM PST to submit their applications for Seattle.
Girls Who Code is partnering with Adobe, Amazon, AT&T, Expedia, Google, and Microsoft!
Go to girlswhocode.com/applynow to apply now!
The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program represents an innovative approach to computer science education, pairing seven weeks of intensive instruction in robotics, web design, and mobile development with engaging, career-focused mentorship and exposure led by the industry’s top female entrepreneurs and engineers.
Participation is free and no prior CS experience is required, just an interest in learning more about Computer Science in an encouraging environment.
Do you work in tech – software, or engineering? Can you share your expertise with a high-school teacher and her/his students? Read the letter above from West Seattle High School principal Ruth Medsker and see if you might be able to give a bit of time to boost computer science at her school; if you want to find out more about TEALS first, go here.
Something to say about tech at school? Here’s your chance:
Seattle Public Schools wants to give everyone an opportunity to provide feedback and input into the district’s Technology Vision process. To accomplish this we are scheduling five “Town Hall” meetings around the District. One in each of the five major regions …
WEST SEATTLE REGION: Monday, March 2, at West Seattle High School cafeteria
Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. so that attendees can browse sample results from the Tech Summit. The structured meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Interested individuals who are unable to attend any of the Town Hall meetings are encouraged to submit their vision, ideas, and comments to email@example.com
One month ago, we published a request for your help with a student research project – Holy Rosary School students were testing a hypothesis about how people learn about new technology. With almost 700 responses to their online survey, as noted the following week, they proceeded to modify their hypothesis, and win an award. Now, the next step – explained by their coaches:
The Holy Rosary Gator-bots will continue their journey this Sunday by participating in the First Lego League semi-finals at Shoreline Community College. Thanks to the West Seattle Blog and their wonderful readers, the Gator-bots received a lot of great ideas on the project portion of the competition asking the question, How can we improve the way people learn about Technology?
The Gator-bots considered different ways they could help people with technology from the readers responses and finally chose to made a website with step-by-step videos. Their first wave of videos are out on the site for your viewing pleasure at yourtekhelp.com. Please take a look, and we encourage you to sign into the guestbook with your comments! The boys have worked long and hard learning about website technology, video creation technology and video production. Words of encouragement are always appreciated!
And if you come out to Shoreline Community College on Sunday to watch the competition, the first 50 people to mention that they saw the Gator-bots on the blog will receive a Gator-bots button!
Thank you WSB and West Seattle. We feel blessed to be part of such a wonderful community.
Good luck, Gator-bots!
(WSB photo, November 2014 West Seattle Hack Night)
Back in November, the first-of-its-kind West Seattle Hack Night drew a bigger-than-expected turnout at WS Office Junction north of Morgan Junction – and now the date’s set for the next one. The announcement comes from OJ co-proprietor Stefan Hansmire:
The Office Junction will be hosting a FREE computer/coder hack night on Wednesday, January 14th from 6:30-9:00. Snacks and beverages provided. The agenda for the evening will be open – with the goal of fielding participants to learn what kind of applications they are working on so that we can tailor a future class with more focus.
You can RSVP now via the Meetup group set up before the November event – go here.
Again this year, we’ve rounded up the year’s most-commented-on WSB stories. These aren’t necessarily the most important stories (many stories are much-read but little-commented), but we always find it an interesting look back; hope you do too!
#11 – 4-mile, 5-hour closure after Highway 99 crash, June 10, 2014 – 121 comments
****Followup note – This much-scrutinized situation was reviewed at City Hall earlier this month; it’s led to changes including more hours of staffing at the city Traffic Management Center.
#10 – SDOT apologies for ‘scumbag hat’ tweet making fun of West Seattle Bridge drivers, May 5, 2014 – 122 comments
#9 – Barton family eviction/protest, July 18, 2014 – 131 comments
****Followup note – Their foreclosure lawsuit is still making its way through the court system at last check.
#8 – West Seattle Health Club officially open, November 4, 2014 – 137 comments
#7 – West Seattle Athletic Club closes; property owner opening WS Health Club, October 25, 2014 – 140 comments
****Followup note on the previous two – The gym’s popular swimming pool has yet to reopen; management says HVAC equipment is still on the way.
What do you think about growth? How can Seattle encourage affordable housing? These and other questions …December 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm | In Development, West Seattle housing, West Seattle news, West Seattle online | 31 Comments
The city’s been running online surveys in abundance lately. This one, though, speaks to topics that we cover often here on WSB, and after going through its questions and open-comment spaces, we thought you might be interested, given its questions about everything from housing costs to your opinions of growth. It’s being presented as part of the mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda. It’s not the usual basic online-survey format; be forewarned, you’ll find some spots requiring scrolling, and some questions where you can check as many circles as you want, others where you have to settle on one. Start the survey here (and note the open-comment thread at the bottom of the start page, if you just want to say something without taking the survey at all).
Last week, we shared a request from student researchers, asking you to take a quick survey for their project. Today – this followup, including the photo and a hearty “thank you”:
Thank you West Seattle Blog and all of your readers for your help with our research project. The Holy Rosary Gator-bots received over 680 responses to our survey in 3 days! The participation from so many readers was impressive, but what impressed us most was the level of detail provided by the readers. The Gator-bots spent a good portion of last Saturday going through the responses. Based on the responses, the Gator-bots realized that there are opportunities to enhance the way everyone learns about new Technology. So they modified their original hypothesis for the project based on your guidance!
Yesterday they presented their research and modified hypothesis to a panel of judges as part of the First Lego League regional competition in Auburn. Thanks to WSB and the survey respondents, the Gator-bots received a trophy for their research through crowdsourcing and were asked to continue their research because they were invited to attend the Semi-Finals in January! Look for an update on the Gator-bots in January!
Thank you WSB and West Seattle. We feel blessed to be part of such a wonderful community.
Arbor Heights has for some reason been a hotbed of mail theft, which ratchets up the radar for reports like this: Andi says, “Just wanted to let you know when my husband and I were driving home tonight in Arbor Heights, we saw a man riding a bike south along 30th around 7 pm rummaging around in some mailboxes that are located streetside. I called 911 and gave a description, which wasn’t much since it was dark. The best we could manage was: White, 30s, 6ft tall, wearing a checkered gray winter coat, gray pants, black stocking cap, and a black backpack. Hope they’re able to track this guy down; we’ve had some mail theft problems recently in this area.”
You can do this right here, right now: Take a moment to help five Holy Rosary School students with a research project. In connection with a project for the First Lego League, Brian Christenson explains, the students want to test a hypothesis about how people learn about new technology. To do that – they need you to answer this quick online survey. They thank you in advance. (We’ll check back to see how their project goes.)
1 1/2 months until mandatory food-waste composting: City asks about your ‘most compostable’ holiday dishNovember 17, 2014 at 6:02 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle online | 21 Comments
On New Year’s Day, the new city rules about food-waste composting kick in. To keep that top-of-mind, Seattle Public Utilities just launched a mini-survey with an incentive – asking what food you’re most likely to compost this holiday season. 14 options (or write in your own) on one page, with a chance to win a kitchen compost bin if you choose to include your e-mail address. Friday’s the deadline.
Before we get to what’s up today/tonight, here’s an advance alert about an event tomorrow night – Ben shares the invitation for the first West Seattle Hack Night:
We’re inviting local professional and amateur programmers to come out to a West Seattle Hack Night. The purpose of the meetup is to connect technologists in West Seattle, share information, network, and collaborate to make something cool or useful. We’d also welcome any non-profits or local businesses are looking for tech help or just want to pitch an idea for people to work on.
Thanks to Jeff for sharing that photo with word that CenturyLink crews were spotted installing fiber in Arbor Heights today. That led us to check back with CL on the status of its promised megafast Internet access. Regional spokesperson Meg Andrews replied:
CenturyLink is currently building out the network in the Ballard and the West Seattle area — enabling homes along the way. We are still on track to offer the service to tens of thousands of customers in Seattle by 2015.
Andrews added that if you want to get on the list to be contacted when the upgraded service is available at your house, you can do it here.
Meantime, several readers pointed out the Seattle Times (WSB news partner) report noting that Wave Broadband is rolling out service in Eastlake, expanding its CondoInternet service to all kinds of housing. Pauline looked beyond the Times story to call attention to the company’s suggestion that it might choose future neighborhoods depending on interest expressed – so if you want to tell them to come here, here’s where to go.
CenturyLink‘s plan to offer 1-gigabit Internet service in neighborhoods including West Seattle got a boost from the City Council today. Councilmembers voted to change the rules for the cabinets that are required to extend fiber service. Full details are in this city news release. A PR firm for CLink pinged us afterward, saying that the company’s local leadership is working with “aerial fiber” to extend service this year and next. We asked if they had any West Seattle specifics yet – where, when, etc. – short answer, no.
More than a year after city government invited Seattleites to take a survey about how we use technology – the Internet, cell phones, etc. – the results are out. Along with the online survey, the city says it also polled some residents by phone, and other via in-person focus groups – 2,600 participants overall. Here are the highlights (sample finding – almost everybody wants faster Internet!); here’s the full report.
1:18 PM: If you haven’t already seen this via The Seattle Times or via Reddit … someone at SDOT thought it was funny that the eastbound bridge was backed up this morning while the westbound bridge was closed for a rollover/spinout crash (as reported here), and proclaimed drivers on the eastbound side to be rubberneckers. If you use social media, you may know it’s considered cool for government agencies to use humor (major case in point, SPD/pot/Doritos). What do you think?
P.S. We have a question out to SDOT’s communications director for his thoughts. The West Seattle Transportation Coalition has already had something to say.
P.P.S. The “scumbag hat” reference is to this meme.
(You might also recall it was just a few months ago SDOT said it only had interns to staff the Transportation Management Center during peak hours – see this December story).
2:42 PM UPDATE: We contacted both SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan and Mayor Murray’s commmunications director Jeff Reading. Their responses both just came in. From SDOT’s Sheridan:
The use of the hat meme was not intended to insult drivers but to highlight a roadway problem and help drivers make decisions about their trips. We apologize to anyone that was offended by the tweet.
Our traffic management center personnel typically use humorous memes to highlight problematic situations for drivers. The staff member was trying to note that rubbernecking near a collision site was creating delays.
We have removed the tweet from our Twitter feed. The staff member’s supervisor will also reinforce the department’s standards for social media. Again, we apologize if anyone was offended.
And from Reading in the mayor’s office:
It’s never acceptable for a city employee to ridicule members of the public. I understand the tweet in question was meant humorously, but many — myself included — took it quite differently. Mayor Murray holds a high standard of respect for communications with the public across all city departments. We will ensure that this type of offending humor is not repeated in communications to the public by City of Seattle employees.
Looking for more/better police/crime info online? West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network hosts SPD Web rep TuesdayApril 17, 2014 at 2:47 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle online, West Seattle police | Comments Off
Wish you could get more/better/faster information about crime/police activity online? Have ideas for how Seattle Police could improve/beef up what they offer online now? Come talk about it in person with Shanna Christie from the SPD Web team, next Tuesday (April 22nd) at the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network. As explained by WSBWCN leaders Karen Berge and Deb Greer:
She wants our feedback about the online tools that are currently available on the SPD website, how they work and how they don’t. Are you able to find the information you need? Is the Block Watch Toolkit useful to you? She will talk about the plans in the works for a re-vamp of the precinct webpages, starting with the SW Precinct. They hope to provide better information, and more timely information, about what is happening in our neighborhoods. Your feedback is needed!
That’s 6:30 pm Tuesday in the meeting room at the Southwest Precinct (Webster/Delridge).
Quick update about the city’s Find It, Fix It app, which you can use to report various problems via your smartphone. From the announcement:
… Smartphone users now can use the app to report illegal dumping and streetlight outages, in addition to abandoned vehicles, graffiti, potholes and parking enforcement issues, which have been features of the app since it launched in August 2013. …
Since its launch last summer, Find It, Fix It has been downloaded to 6,350 mobile devices and users have submitted 6,393 requests through this new channel (graffiti, 2,551; other, 1,744; pothole, 1,012; abandoned vehicles, 558; and parking enforcement, 528).
Don’t have it? You can download it by going here.
Thanks to WSB Forums member Wakeflood for opening a discussion about this – the city is asking for your feedback right now about Comcast‘s franchise, before deciding on a potential 10-year-renewal. As Wakeflood points out, you can just answer a few quick questions here – or follow the link on that page to a full-fledged more-detailed survey (here).
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