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Virtual reality @ Chief Sealth IHS, via Google. Anybody else interested?

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Thanks to teacher Noah Zeichner and colleagues at Chief Sealth International High School for sharing that scene from today, when a Google rep was on campus to help students and teachers explore the company’s simple approach to virtual reality – something he says other schools can take advantage of, too:

Students at Chief Sealth International High School got to travel to far off places using virtual reality technology as part of Google’s Expedition Pioneers Program. Students looked through Google Cardboard viewers while their teacher controlled and narrated the expeditions from a tablet. Students visited Mexico, Japan, Dubai, India, Brazil, and several other countries around the world.

If other West Seattle schools are interested in bringing this program to their school, teachers or administrators can send an email to google-expeditions@google.com. They will be in the Seattle area during the month of February.

The photo is by Sealth librarian Katie Hubert, showing teachers trying out the systems; she also reported “hoots of amazement and delight” as students checked out what, as she described it, are “really just a cardboard box holding a cell phone.”

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SITE NOTE: Downtime later tonight

8:33 PM: Just an alert that WSB will have some downtime tonight starting around 11 pm. Last Saturday we had two rounds of downtime to switch to new server hardware, with space not only to hold our current 10-year archives but to accommodate the years ahead, following up on our recent software overhaul. But there’s one more step to take to move our live site onto the new hardware, and that’s happening tonight. Please bookmark (or otherwise save) our backup-site address, since we’ll use it for breaking news, if needed, while the work is under way – westseattleblog.wordpress.com – and of course our major social-media channels too, facebook.com/westseattleblog and twitter.com/westseattleblog. Thanks for your understanding as we continue evolving.

2:15 AM: Over now.

Late-night tech note: Overnight downtime

Two weeks have passed since WSB came out of the first stage of our first major technical overhaul in the 10 years since the site was founded (built on a foundation intended for the small personal site this originally was, and no longer able to accommodate what it had grown into). Overnight tonight (possibly Saturday night too), more work is ahead, this time including expansion of the storage space on our server, as WSB’s database of stories, photos, comments, and Forum posts continues to grow. This will mean some downtime after midnight. If wee-hours breaking news happens and we’re down, we will of course report via our backup site (westseattleblog.wordpress.com) and social-media channels (facebook.com/westseattleblog and twitter.com/westseattleblog), so please keep those links handy. Keep our number for breaking news too – 206-293-6302. Thanks for your understanding!

From the WSB Forums’ new Lost and Found section: Missing jewelry, found money

After eight years of keeping the only all-West Seattle online clearinghouse for lost-and-found pets, we’ve been asked often if WSB has any place to post lost-and-found items that AREN’T dogs, cats, chickens, etc. With our recent changes, we’ve been able to add a lost-and-found NON-pet section to the WSB Forums – see it here. Among the listings there already are two posted today – money found on California SW, and family-heirloom jewelry lost at Westcrest Dog Park. Maybe you can help!

WAS PINNED: Welcome to WSB’s next chapter!

Hello! As of tonight, January 15th, WSB is emerging from its first-ever major technical overhaul, in “beta” mode. It’s our next chapter, in partnership with you. Packing up 10 years worth of news, information, and discussion and moving it into a new shell turned out to be mightily complex; it had to be done to get to a point where we now have the ability to add, expand, improve. What you’re seeing now is just the start of WSB’s next chapter; much of what happened is “under the hood” but the look is different as well because the one we’d had since 2005 wouldn’t work with current upgrades. WSB has always been “community-collaborative news” – your tips, your comments, your events, your concerns – and now we will appreciate your collaboration on tweaking what’s live now, and then as the weeks and months go on, your ideas for what more is needed to truly serve our community. For now the biggest change is that we’re using more of the screen and surfacing more of what’s always been happening “inside” WSB – comments, forum posts, lost/found pets – and alongside in social-media channels. We look forward to talking with you here and/or via e-mail at editor@westseattleblog.com. P.S. Thanks to the thousands of readers who have joined us on our backup site as we continued covering the news there this past week.

NEXT WEEK: Cyberbullying/social media briefing for West Seattle parents

January 13, 2016 8:46 am
|       Comments Off on NEXT WEEK: Cyberbullying/social media briefing for West Seattle parents
 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle online

No matter what school your kid(s) go to, the Madison Middle School PTSA invites you to its meeting next week to find out what parents should know about “cyberbullying” and social media.

As a followup to the Finding Kind program for our students in December, school administration has put together an expert panel of representatives from Seattle Children’s, Seattle Public Schools, OSPI (Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction), and UW to help our families navigate these difficult years. Let’s have a high turnout for this panel! Everyone is busy but it is important to take time to tool yourself with the advice and input from our experts.

Here’s the flyer, shared by Madison PTSA president Carla Rogers. The event is at 7 pm Wednesday, January 20th, in the Madison library (45th SW and SW Spokane).

TECH OVERHAUL STARTING: Find WSB at our backup site

January 8, 2016 6:07 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle online

Our technical overhaul is starting – even if you can still see this! – so starting a little later tonight, you’ll find WSB coverage at westseattleblog.wordpress.com while the work is under way at our regular “address.” Thanks for your understanding!

WEEKEND WORK ON WSB: Where to find the news while we’re overhauling, starting tonight

As we noted briefly last night, WSB has some work coming up this weekend, and a curtain will go up while the overhaul’s under way. **WE’LL STILL BE COVERING THE NEWS!** You’ll just find it someplace different until the work’s done. So once the overhauling begins around 6 pm tonight, you’ll see a page here pointing you to our temporary backup site at westseattleblog.wordpress.com (which we haven’t had to use in a couple years). As we add stories, whether breaking or not, we’ll also publish the links on our main social-media sites, facebook.com/westseattleblog and twitter.com/westseattleblog (so if you aren’t among our 21,000 FB followers and 37,500 Twitter followers – consider joining, at least temporarily!). Our technical team’s not sure how long it’ll take to move our decade of data – which this creaky old shell just can’t handle any more – but once it’s over and we’re back at the regular address, we’ll send messages too.

WEEKEND ALERT: WSB will be in temp quarters for a while

If you’re one of the many readers who come here late at night to catch up – we want to let you know that you’ll find us someplace else, temporarily, tomorrow night, and for at least part of the weekend. We’ve had a sorely needed overhaul in the works for a very long time, and our tech team tells us it’s finally ready to go live. So around 6 pm Friday night, we’ll be putting up a “Pardon Our Dust” type sign here, and providing news coverage from a temporary site while our decade of data is moved. The direct link to that temp site will be in a longer note we’ll publish here around midday tomorrow, and you’ll find it pinned in our social-media channels, so if you don’t already frequent them, please bookmark those now (particularly Twitter at twitter.com/westseattleblog and Facebook at facebook.com/westseattleblog), because we’ll also directly link our temp-site-published stories there until we’re back here live with the overhaul. Thanks in advance for your understanding!

P.S. We will also post lost/found pets on the temp site while it’s in use, because that’s one of the most valued services we provide. We will not have a temporary event calendar but we WILL publish daily highlights on the temp site on Saturday and Sunday mornings, as comprehensive as we can make them.

Senior Center of West Seattle launching fundraising campaign to compensate for what it’s not getting from United Way

The Senior Center of West Seattle‘s end-of-year pitch for donations isn’t your everyday end-of-year pitch.

This year, the center is trying to make up for $60,000 it’s not getting from United Way of King County.

That was the West Seattle center’s share of $700,000 that UWKC gave Senior Services last year.

Next year, SS isn’t getting that at all, because UWKC has decided not to fund general-purpose organizations – instead, a spokesperson told us, they’re focusing on a new strategic plan with missions such as helping end homelessness and raise graduation rates.

General funding of services for senior citizens, for example, just doesn’t fit, explained United Way of King County spokesperson Jared Erlandson when we called to ask the reason for the cuts. He said the organization is focusing on spending that can have a direct effect on problems and challenges, rather than spreading the dollars thinly. But Senior Services points out that the elder population is swelling, and, SS spokesperson Karen Bystrom points out, seniors are also a vulnerable population. (SS is not the only organization affected – in all, $1.7 million in funding that goes to 30 organizations is being redirected by UWKC, and they’re not all senior-focused organizations.)

In the meantime, the West Seattle center is trying to raise $25,000 for starters by year’s end. The theme is “keeping the Senior Center thriving.” Center executive director Lyle Evans says WSSC is “responsible for raising 75 percent of the nearly $800,000 annual budget. This loss hits hard since we have counted on this stable income.”

The center is a 501(c)3 organization, so contributions are tax-deductible. Its programs include feeding dozens of local seniors every day in the center’s “Junction Diner.” The center also offers programs that help seniors deal with challenges such as finding affordable housing. And they offer fun, too, from dances to bingo to movies. Right now, they’re just hoping to rustle up the funds to keep all that going.

Site trouble: In case something seems to be missing…

Tonight we’ve been dealing with some issues related to technical trouble last night and in the process our technical assistants had to restore the site to a point that went back to about 5:40 pm tonight. We hadn’t published any new stories since then but we do appear to have lost some comments and Forum replies published since then – they might not be recoverable. The forums, which had borne the brunt of last night’s trouble, had to be restored to a somewhat earlier point. Again, please forgive us; thank you!

Man who requested Block Watch Captain, Night Out organizers’ names isn’t saying why he wants them, but says he’s requested and received the list before

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Seattle Police, like most if not all public agencies, deal with many public-disclosure requests.

But one that they are handling right now is so unusual, apparently, that they took the step of sending e-mail to thousands of people whose names will be part of it. We’ve heard from several readers, too, unsettled after receiving this message from Assistant Chief Steve Wilske, sent out by Southwest and South Precincts Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon and other CPCs around the city:

Right after receiving that, we asked SPD’s media-relations unit if they could tell us who had made the request; at the time, they couldn’t find the information, but it was in this followup that Solomon sent shortly thereafter to the original mailing list:

Dear Community Friends,

As per our legal advisor, the name of the individual who requested the names of all of our Block Captains and/or the individuals who organized Night Out events is public information. The individual’s name is Keith Gormezano. He requested names, addresses, home phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, notes and the approximate block where Night Out event was held, as well as the same contact information of Block Watch Captains (past and present). Mr. Gormezano does not have to provide why he wants the information or what he intends to do with it. He has signed a declaration stating that he will not use the list of names for commercial purposes.

As the letter from Chief Wilske states, we are only mandated to give out the names. For South and Southwest Precincts, this information was provided for current (not former) Block Watch Captains and 2014 & 2015 Night Out registrants. If you are not currently a block watch captain, or if you have not been the one to register your group’s Night Out event in the past two years, your name was not disclosed.

I’ve received dozens of responses on this. Many of you are upset, curious and some block captains have quit as a result. We understand. In my 25 years as a Crime Prevention Coordinator, I can say we have been protective of our Block Captains, to a fault. Unfortunately this could not be avoided. I am extremely sorry and saddened for the distress this is causing.

Our subsequent online search quickly turned up an e-mail address for Keith Gormezano, so we wrote to ask him why he wanted the names. His reply:

I am under no obligation to tell you why I am seeking this information.

This isn’t the first time I have requested the names and contact information for BWC and NO organizers.
The department gave me a complete list several years ago.
I would be happy to send it to you.

It is subject to the PDR.
That is the price of living in a free society.
If people are curious, they can look up my voting record or value of my Creekside condo.

If it is causing a lot of distress, one has to wonder why SPD went out of their way to inform everyone after the fact.

Looking him up via Google, you’ll find this 2006 seattlepi.com story featuring what he did to revolt against Safeway’s loyalty program, and a 2003 Stranger story about how he got sued for posting public records from a legal proceeding.

Regarding public records in general – far more is subject to disclosure than you might think. You can read the chapters of our state’s Public Records Act here.

SPAM SCAM ALERT: Beware of e-mail from ‘seattleschool’ address

October 13, 2015 10:29 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle online

With schools in the news more than usual lately, WSB reader Jade wanted to warn you about e-mail spam with a too-close-to-real address: She received e-mail tonight from an address containing seattleschool (dot) org. That’s one letter off the district’s official domain – but some might not catch that and would open it anyway. The body of the e-mail, Jade explains, contained “the ever-so-obvious ‘follow instructions for lottery payout’ instructions” in an attachment. But attachments are one of the most common ways for viruses and other problems to get passed onto your computer – don’t EVER open one you’re not expecting – so beware.

West Seattle Comcast outage: Seaview, Morgan trouble

11:38 PM: If you’ve been having trouble with Comcast service tonight in Seaview or Morgan Junction – it’s not just you. We’ve heard from people via all our channels with problems in those areas. Since Comcast itself doesn’t have a publicly accessible official outage map so far as we can tell, it’s important that you call to report it if you’re affected … let us know what you hear back in terms of a fix. While this doesn’t seem to be as widespread as the infamous June 1st outage, this is the largest number of reports we’ve received since that one.

7:51 AM: Some have theirs back, as noted in comments below. At least one person says on Twitter that theirs came back – then went away again.

WSB site note: Early-early-morning downtimes for tech upgrades

August 20, 2015 11:36 pm
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 |   West Seattle news | West Seattle online

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!

Are you on the list? Seattle Public Library has 200 more borrowable wi-fi hotspots

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.

Speaking of broadband: See what the city’s ‘municipal broadband’ feasibility study says

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.

Read the report here.

And read toplines ahead in the rest of the news release:

Read More

UPDATE: Comcast Internet trouble in West Seattle (and beyond)? No, it wasn’t just you

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.”

Free Seattle Public Library wi-fi – without being at a branch

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.

West Seattle Crime Watch: Local resident reports ripoff via router

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 1-gig questions? Info session with cupcakes Sunday

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.

Fauntleroy Community Association’s new survey is now online

March 29, 2015 6:16 pm
|       Comments Off on Fauntleroy Community Association’s new survey is now online
 |   Fauntleroy | West Seattle news | West Seattle online

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!

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