back at it


Greetings and HNY. I’d like to report on what I’ve been up to lately. I have travelled to Eastern Washington to give a training and to visit some of our clubs in that area. The training went really well. We’re trying to work with a group of university students at Central Washington University to have them provide training for families who receive computers from the TAP clubs.

Comment from Matthew Garcia on January 6, 2009 - 7:30pm

I don't know if you already know about these, but if not, you should check out Opera's tutorials on HTML and CSS. They're just articles that take you through learning both languages. Good times, Great oldies:

They might come in handy to supplement the class. Holla!

Comment from Wilson Bull on January 6, 2009 - 7:36pm

Thanks, Matt. Looks like some great stuff there (I used HTML to make that

Winter Update


Most of my day is spent working on projects to boost our numbers of students and mentors (i.e. recruitment.) Now that it’s getting near the holidays, this has slowed down. When I first started here, it felt like I had a least one or two events a week I attended in order to round up more students or volunteers. Thankfully, those days have ended.

Comment from Nathan Badera on November 26, 2008 - 11:33am

Thanks Davina! It's also unseasonably freezing cold in North Carolina as well. Let's find a nonprofit conference in Miami or something -- have you discovered (or attended) one of those yet? Maybe there will be a cheap tech summit on a cruise ship in the Caribbean... that'd be ideal!

Comment from Davina Fournier on November 26, 2008 - 1:35pm

I haven't discovered/attended any though it's be amazing to see some palm trees AND call it work. Why don't we just move down that way after AmeriCorps instead? I doubt it gets to 20 degrees there in November...

Firefox 2.0 Add-ons


Firefox is currently the most popular ( tool in SSC, so it's pretty big news that Firefox 2.0 was released yesterday. I updated my version yesterday afternoon and so far it's been working great for me. More importantly, I haven't noticed any problems with SSC since I've been using it, although I will still be doing more testing.

Along with the launch of Firefox 2.0, there has been an increase in activity among blogs and bookmarking sites listing add-ons for Firefox, most of which I've encorporated in Firefox's Useful Links field (

Comment from cheryl jerozal on October 26, 2006 - 4:08pm

hmm, i wonder if my extension-thing (made from a greasemonkey script) still works. this is a good illustration of how people release open source software because they wanted something cool and so they made it but then they lose interest or get too busy to keep updating it. i wonder how many developers feel guilty about not keeping up with their software. i guess it is better to have had good software and have lost it than to never have had it at all. :p

Comment from Tony ORourke on October 26, 2006 - 9:46pm

I am really really sad that I can not use Firefox at work.  Our filters will not work on it...and I want to keep my job here.  I love the add-ons.  Particularly the weather one.  I always like peaking at the weather back home and seeing how much warmer it is out here. :)

Comment from danielle martin on October 27, 2006 - 4:20pm

I hate that our Drupal blog do tagging different than other sites, but you got to add commas between you tags or it ends up being one big ol tag. I fixed it for ya but for next time!


PS Thanks for sharing these great links! If your using Delicious, remember to tag your links with "ctcvista".


Comment from Mike Moore on April 6, 2007 - 2:24pm


"ScrapBook is a Firefox extension, which helps you to save Web pages and easily manage collections. Key features are lightness, speed, accuracy and multi-language support. Major features are:

* Save Web page
* Save snippet of Web page
* Save Web site
* Organize the collection in the same way as Bookmarks
* Full text search and quick filtering search of the collection
* Editing of the collected Web page
* Text/HTML edit feature resembling Opera's Notes

Works with:

* Firefox Firefox: 1.5 – 2.0.0.*"


I find I use it quite a bit to save how to, link and
tutorial pages. Especially useful when, so often, pages are
here today, gone tomorrow.

Towards that end, I would also direct you to the Wayback Machine (Internet Archive):

"Browse through 85 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site or page where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available. The resulting pages point to other archived pages at as close a date as possible. Keyword searching is not currently supported."

Wayback Machine

RSSin' across the Universe...


"There's newsfeeds on the starboard bow! Starboard bow! Starboard bow!" <ahem>


(If you don't get the joke, click here).


Anyway, I've been spending much of my time recently having fun with RSS. Much of what I'm doing is searching for information around the web that I can aggregate onto Social Source Commons, and naturally blogs are very helpful to this task, as are the official websites for the tools. I've also been signing up for Google Alerts, and getting e-mail whenever a new hit on Google results for my search terms.

Social Source Commons


I just wanted to give a plug for Social Source Commons, the project I will primarily be working on here at Aspiration. We're developing this website so that non-profits can find out information about various software tools of all stripes. Ideally, this website will be a source of information about new products and upsdates to existing products, as well as pointing to help and documentation about products. Hopefully, the content will be user supplied and maintained, with minimal input form us. It's still in the Beta testing phase, so we could always use some new eyes to look at it and try it out.

Questions about access control for community computer center


Hi guys,

Hope everyone's first week is going well! I was hoping to get some ideas and suggestions from those of you who have any knowledge about what I guess I am calling access control. This is an area that I am unfamiliar with and trying to utilize all of my resources to learn more about:)

We would like to find some software for our computer center that will allow us to:

-require users to login and logout

-track who logs in and when

-prevents users from accessing certain controls and settings 

-and return the computer to its original settings (so that nothing is permanently saved) upon logout 

Comment from cheryl jerozal on September 18, 2006 - 10:11am

...i will take a shot at this since no one else has yet even though i am far from an expert on this. i assume your computers are running windows.

as for requiring users to login and logout, you could just make the only account on each computer have a password and then share that account info with your users. unfortunately that will not allow you to track who is logging in.

the only decent way i can think of to track who logs in involves giving everyone their own usernames so that you can tell who has logged on by the username. if you want each user to be able to use any computer, you will need to set up a server computer which will store the account info (and it could keep records of users logging in and out - see ) and then when a user tries to login to a computer their request will go through the server. (unless you only have a few users and can manually make each of them an account on each computer they might use. or unless you decide to assign users to particular computers. and in those cases i am not sure how user logon/offs could be tracked but i bet there is a way.)

to prevent users from accessing certain controls and settings you could make the accounts they use non-administrator accounts. that may or may not be enough control for you. if not, there are software programs that can be used to block access to certain things but i only know about them from having used computers with these programs on them.

if you have separate user accounts on a server, one way to return the computers to their original settings is to have logoff scripts that erase files, undo changes etc. or you could use the server to reset their profile to a clean one at each login.

good luck and let us know how this goes.


Comment from danielle martin on September 22, 2006 - 4:35pm

Hi Andrea,

I too am useless in this area, but deep in my consciousness comes out the term "workstation protection management" and the software Deep Freeze, which might do what you need.

Also, this sounds like a very tech assistance to np question, so maybe hit up Aliya, VISTA leader for that priority area.

Also, check out Tech Soup, especially the Network section or this article "Securing Public Access PCs Without Shutting Out Users"



Comment from John Miller on October 31, 2006 - 6:53pm

I think Cheryl summed it up pretty well: usernames and passwords.

Are your workstations Windows-based? Mac-based? Linux-based? A mixture? Setting up usernames and passwords is slightly different with each. I'm guessing that you'd like a particular user to be able to log into any workstation she chooses with the same username and password. This requires a centralized username/password database.

In the Windows world, this means having one machine act as a primary domain controller. You can do this with WIndows 2000 server, Windows 2003 server, or a Linux-based Samba server. You configure all workstations to grab their username/password info from the server. All logins and logouts are monitored by the server, and should give you all the information you could ever want (username, IP address, WINS/DNS address, times, etc.).

Unix machines (Macs included) use a different sort of password database, but they can still be configured to get information from a Windows server.

As far as access control to various programs, Cheryl's again right about "administrator" access. Actually, Windows 2000 and newer have several groups to which you can add users. They're called:

System Operators, Replicators, Guests, Power Users, Print Operators, Administrators, Account Operators, Backup Operators, Users.

You can add usernames to each of these groups (to more than one group, even), and that will give them basic permissions. You'll probably want to keep things simple and mainly use the Administrators and Users groups. Everyone in the Administrators group will have full power over all systems.

As far as access control to different programs, I'm no expert, but I assume that this can be done.

As far as saving files, you'll need to decide how much control you're willing to give people. Will they get a "My Documents" folder? Will saved files stick around after logout? Should people be confined only to a USB thumb drive or CD drive? You most likely do not want to allow people to execute files from these sources, though. If you can quickly restore a computer, this may not be such an issue for you. Logout scripts can be of service in restoring settings.

Accessing the Internet: What services do you want to allow? What is your privacy policy going to be? Do you monitor network traffic? Do your workstations have public IP addresses, or do you use Network Address Translation (NAT) and private IP numbers? A proxy server would be a good way to monitor network traffic, but it brings along the headaches of having to configure web browsers, e-mail clients, IM clients, etc. If you're using NAT, and your server logs diligently, you'll know at what time a given computer is accessing a given service (website, IM, e-mail, etc.).

Good luck and let us know how it's going!