Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rent with or without digital inclusion

Any resemblance between the blog post below and actual communication with RantWoman's landlord is purely accidental. As in RantWoman USUALLY at least strives to be politer in person, but recent changes in rent collection policy are giving RantWoman interesting #privacy and #digitalinclusion headaches.

Dear landlord specializing in low-income tenants.

Thank you so much for the notices plastered all over the walls on the first of this month asking people effective immediately to begin mailing their checks to a distant out of state address. RantWoman is not a lawyer but nevertheless thinks forcing people to mail rent payments to a distant out of state address is the sort of change in conditions that under Seattle Landlord Tenant Law should at least require 20 days notice. In any case, EVERYONE will need patience during this transition.

RantWoman notes that this notice arrived on the heels of another notice urging people to begin making rent payments online. The notice urged people to take the piece of paper to their banks to begin this service. RantWoman has now lost her paper copy of the notice and will offer an another excursion to Planet RantWoman shortly. First, though, RantWoman needs to ask:

--Are you serious? Do you have any clue what percentage of your tenants do not have bank accounts and pay their rent with money orders?

--RantWoman is aware that some social security recipients have the option of a bank account for a lower fee to receive their payments direct deposit. RantWoman thanks a neighbor for info about his household's experience. Money in the account is only accessible by a debit card. Neighbor says for his household this winds up being cheaper than check fees and overdraft charges. People who need to mail payments do cash withdrawals and buy money orders and then put those in the mail. The bank used is based in S. Carolina and has no branches in our area.  In other words, no taking the online rent payments notice to a local bank and setting up an online transaction. RantWoman actually thinks that ability to do online payments through this bank would be a really good next step to add! Word!
   Dear landlord, since a large percentage of your tenants may have this kind of bank account,  any other ideas here?

--Dear Landlord, do you have any concept of what percentage of your tenants can or cannot access bank websites to do this transaction online????

--Yes, RantWoman knows from her own practices that one can set up automatic transactions and supposedly never think about it again. RantWoman has a pretty high degree of confidence in online money management but she herself still REFUSES to set up automated transactions for most of her monthly payments. RantWoman knows another person who does online banking, a screen reader user to boot. This person does not do automated transactions either. RantWoman recognizes that others' mileage may vary about this point.

--RantWoman as a denizen of a Community Technology Center, for this conversation affectionately referred to as the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing. RantWoman has a pretty good idea which of her neighbors have computers at home and which much higher percentage would be stampeding in to the Friendly Neighborhood Center if they were doing online transactions to make their rent payments. There is NO such stampede and RantWoman actually wants to offer some #privacy cautions about the idea of online banking in a public computer center.

Reality: having computers and the internet close to where one lives and having a community of helpful peers who need and use information similar to the kinds of info one uses is HUGE for many people. People start with basics like using a mouse, a browser, email. They find resources online. They accidentally and on purpose wind up doing job readiness activities. They get connected with other resources and all kinds of good results can cascade from initial steps. People get a lot done even where there is possibility of neighbors with prying eyes.

And other people struggle. It is hard for them to remember what the mouse does, They have trouble remembering their passwords. They form interesting and hard to evaluate ideas about their information getting shared or misused. But RantWoman listens to enough oddities just with email and social media to want to be VERY cautious about encouraging some customers to try online banking. Not to mention that RantWoman also wants the volunteer staff to be informed about reasonable privacy practices and extremely modest efforts to help people maintain privacy while doing financial transactions.

RantWoman is pretty awesome about a lot of things but RantWoman and the crack Friendly Neighborhood Center team plus the peer support at the computer centers in other communities cannot pull off this kind of training instantaneously. So maybe, should we TALK about options to make this work?

In the meantime, RantWoman thanks you for more reason to hang out in the air conditioning and keep cool. Thank you for your attention.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Heaven is leaking: Open House

Today the STAR Center held an open house. RantWoman is celebrating by posting such photos as she has managed first to shoot and then to shepherd from her phone to her blog. Other regulars at the Friendly Neighborhood Center ... are celebrating the occasion wrapping up the day with the sort of chatter where phrases like "heaven is leaking" are what make it past screen reader voice to RantWoman's ears.

Some Balloons to welcome people

Heaven is leaking? Maybe that explains it.

Recently eager young staffperson asked RantWoman whether people at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing do social media.

The answer slowly. Idiosyncratically. For example, RantWoman had her smartphone for over a year before pictures from the Smartphone began appearin in RantWoman's blogs. RantWoman's standards for photo tagging, as opposed to her aspirations and desire to demand such of others are also a work in progress.

Communications Strategy? What's that?
Aside from getting out  STAR Center messages, RantWoman is aware that communications strategy would probably a good thing to apply to her Twitter feed too.

Refreshments. Customers. Chatting.
But in case people are worried about anyone at the Friendly Neighborhood Center losing focus on assistive technology, a term we currently do not have a robust shared understand of, almost all the key volunteers at the Friendly Neighborhood Center... us some kind of assistive technology just to get work done!
Who put it together!

Well, there is use assistive technology to get work done. And sometimes one takes into account the randomness of focussing, identifying the photos, and tinkering with the blog post, and the time to do all of the above. Then there is use alternative methods and rules such as "Do not put the legallhy blind lady in charge of graphic design." Really.

Gotta have some display boards

Monday, June 29, 2015

Beat the heat: make a hammock

RantWoman is celebrating Seattleites' absurdly low melting point and inclination to begin howling piteously about heat the minute the temperature goes abve 80. RantWoman is celebrating by hanging out after hours and letting a few customers linger after hours at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing.

See, it's a computer center. The computers have to stay cool and the thermostat is set to ensure it. That does not unfortunately mean there is any good place, say, to hang a wonderful DIY homemade macrame hammock like the below. But MAYBE someone will be inspired.

DIY Hammock

Can a video game help prevent sexual assault? Not if it's inaccessible!

Can a video game change the way we deal wit hsexual assault (PREVENTION)?
Cool story about Decisions that Matter video game

Game is designed by two female graduate students from carnegie Mellon. Someone forgot to think about accessibility.

RantWoman wants to be interested. Really she does. In fact she went straight to the link.

Link straight to the game
Decisions that Matter video game

RantWoman with screen enlargement could navigate a little but Mr. JAWS the screen reader let out so many unhelpful bleeps that RantWoman stopped even trying visually after two screens.

RantWoman understands concepts such as "It's a demo." and "Wait for the next version." And if RantWoman starts in about #digitalinclusion, she may go quickly to more than just software accessibility, but that would be an awesome place to start!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The language of the future Neither English nor Mandarin

Reprinted nearly verbatim from RantWoman's email. Interesting assertion.

Factchecking may be warranted.

Also Mr. JAWS the screen reader sometimes autodetects foreign languages and sometimes not. RantWoman's options are change the speech synthesizer language  manually, but up with Spanish read with English phonetics or read some help files and figure out whether there are otehr options. Too much fun.

Sorry, non-Spanish speakers: this article is entirely in Spanish. However, you can read the chart. The columns are Country, Population, and % of Spanish-speakers. The article states that there are 24 countries in the world with Spanish as an official language. The chart presents figures for the 15 countries with the largest numbers of Spanish-speakers.


"This will be the language of the future, and it is neither English nor Mandarin."
Este será el idioma del futuro, y no es inglés ni mandarín
Vale la pena destacar que Estados Unidos es el quinto país con más hispanoparlantes. Como informa el Instituto Cervantes, dentro de tres o cuatro generaciones el 10 por ciento de los habitantes de la tierra se entenderá en español y Estados Unidos será el país con mayor volumen de población hispanohablante, aún por encima de México.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Field Trip, Photos, Publishing, Paths Partway there.

This post is about photos, but there may not be a single photo in the post. The post is about the uncopyrighted amateur photos, but RantWoman also needs to read up and be a more diligent blogger about things like image rights .


Meanwhile appreciate that RantWoman figured out a couple points about links in blog posts, went on a digression to learn about the nofollow attribute for links, got a headache thinking about what she would need to know or look up to work with only a screen reader, and therefore what it would mean to have a screen reader user in the workflow. Now forget all that geek stuff for now while the crack team of Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing hangers-on assembles our various photo streams.

RantWoman has MUCH to say about a recent wonderful teambuilding excursion to the
 Olympic Sculpture Park

Please note: RantWoman makes SOME efforts to maintain appropriate brand identity about things she posts of. For example, when RantWoman wants to write of the STAR of Seattle  she will focus on positive inspiring heartwarming empowering things.

And when RantWoman writes of things that make her frustrated and grumpy, she will refer to the very same community technology center by andffor people of widlye varyinv abilities and disabilities, RantWoman will often speak of The Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing. And partof the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing ambiance is increments of improvement for instance in RantWoman's--and others'--command of blogging processes, social media concepts, and social media practices.

Sometimes the place excels about having both identities at the same time. Today, while RantWoman is trying to chronicle a wonderful teambuilding trip to the Olympic Sculpture Park, is such a day.

Today's topic: photos, mobile  devices, and publication.

So far RantWoman is aware of the following photo streams:

[--No one thought to take along the separate digital camera used for classes.]

--One volunteer's photos now awaiting delivery on CD via Walgreens, Today the question of a cable with a USB port came up as an alternative. The availability of an appropriate cable, or willingness to test-drive random cables that seem to fit would be another pathway.

--RantWoman's efforts, a few of the clearer examples now haveinb been moved from RantWoman's Android phone to Gmail or to blog drafts. RantWoman REFUSES to connect her phone directly to her blog. RantWoman's efforts may appear separately.

--A staffperson's efforts now available through Dropbox with vague instructions / intentions about posting to Facebook or These photos are distinguished at least to RantWoman's wonky eyeballs by desirable qualities such as focus, appropriate lighting and reasonable composition.

--Another regular's photos lurking on a Windows phone without a data plan. Today's Mobile Plus or Minus moment featured a couple rounds of first STAR Volunteer and then RantWoman groping and swiping through settings to....connect the phone to STAR Center WiFi. Connection has been achieved. Volunteer is thrilled to have evidence of connectivity. RantWoman is now awaiting updates about actual photo transfer.

Welcome to the new digital universe, complete with #digitalinclusion tour.