MY Hines

Posts Tagged ‘Holly Ross

I may be one of the most politically out of tune people out there. I start to cringe when it becomes election season and all the television ads begin. I actually start to watch all of the shows on a delay so I can fast-forward through the ads because I just don’t want to see the political ads. So, take all of my comments below with that knowledge – I’m not a policy nut who understands all of the legal/political jargon that I read. If I’m wrong, let me know – because I hope that I’m wrong!

However, while at NTC last week, Holly Ross mentioned the newest ruling in the ongoing struggle for net neutrality that started with Comcast vs. the FCC, it bothered me. For those of you who may not be up to speed on this issue, which I had been sadly out of the loop on too, basically several years ago Comcast was blocking or slowing down the use of peer-to-peer services for their internet customers (sounds like censorship to me), and the FCC ruled against what Comcast was doing. Comcast did stop the practice, but continued to fight the ruling. But then early this month it was ruled that the FCC had no authority to set policy on what Internet Service Providers can do.

So you might be wondering – what does this mean to me? I’m not sure what it means to me yet too. I’m still trying to figure this out in my head. But the social worker in my gets in a tizzy when there is something that feels like unfair practices that could give a provider of service a way to exclude someone from the table. On an extreme, let’s say an Internet Service Provider decided that they did not like the Wizard of Oz and they did not want their customers to have access to those materials. With this ruling it seems like they could have the right to block the content. Now it seems like a silly example, but change “The Wizard of Oz” to AIDS/HIV, disability, or any other hot topic issue. If the ruling is that FCC can’t stop Comcast from blocking peer-to-peer networks, some policy experts would assert that it means that the FCC can’t stop blocking of other things like this hot topics. Take it a step further, if Comcast acquires NBC, what stops them from blocking their customers from using the internet to get content from competitors?

Scared now?  Yeah, when thinking of the extremes of where this can take us – it can be scary. But please, read the Washington Post about this ruling because they do a much better job at explaining this – and probably without the extremes that I just mentioned.

Some would be wondering why I’m concerned about this – especially since I have been  in the middle of an installation of a Barracuda Web Filtering device at the office. It seems like I might be doing the same thing that Comcast was doing when they were blocking peer-to-peer networks. In fact, availability of the internet to do work is the reason why we are using the Barracuda device, because streaming content was hammering away at our network. But I do see a difference. I’m the customer and my agency is deciding what to block from employees. The employees are not paying for the internet, the agency is paying for the internet. I’m not providing the internet service and I’m not blocking customers from accessing materials – I’m blocking employees. In fact, we are blocking so little right now and just really monitoring because we don’t want to be “big brother”. I can count with just my fingers the websites we have blocked exclusively (Pandora, Playlist, last.fm).  The fact is, I can take the Barracuda off-line and have access to full internet again – but if our Internet Service Provider blocked, we’d need them to unblock. (And we did have this happen to us for a while with a previous provider who actually blocked us the ability to upload certain files to our former website.)

It is a slippery slope and I can see this being a hot topic for a long time. I can see the gray area issues because I am sort of in that gray area with the Barracuda. I don’t want this ruling to derail the plans that are out there to increase the availability of Broadband internet because it is so important that those continue forward. I can only hope that customer pressure on the Internet Service Providers will keep them in check while this continues to play out.

And suddenly, I find myself interest in public policy – who would have thought that?

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I have gotten several links and tweets about the decade in review. I’ve seen news stations report that it was the “decade to forget” or the “worst decade”. Yes, in some senses it was a horrible decade – but that counts on what you are specifically looking at in the decade. I read this post by Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer that made me think about things away from the “decade to forget” and more about the trends that have happened with technology since 2000.

I think it is important for reference to know where I was when 2000 started. I was an intern while I student at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Social Work. When I was that intern, I did not plan on going into technology. I wanted to be a fundraiser or a grant writer or something with social work. That younger version of me never expected to be a Technology Director by 2010.  My first day of my internship I was given a Y2K disk and told to learn who the staff were by installing the software. My fate was sealed at that first computer I installed the software on.

Here I am, almost exactly 10 years later and I have seen so many trends come and go. As the post I cited above, in 2000, there was no iPod. That thought alone is difficult to remember because I can’t live without my iPod. Facebook? That wasnt until 2004.  I have also noticed several trends that I want to share with everyone that I have noticed in th past decade, because simply, they are interesting to me!

The Rise of Terminal Server – When I was working in the middle of the decade, or around 2004, we first started to explore using Terminal Server to connect offices together to our network. It was seen as “cutting edge” and some people were completely against not having a full machine (some are STILL against it today). I did not know of many others in our region using Terminal Server. In fact, many technical people commented things like “why are you going back in technology to dumb terminals – isn’t that a step backwards?” The point that it was more cost effective didn’t seem to stand ground. Now, in 2009, I can tell you, the terminal server is here to stay – and I still haven’t need to roll everyone out onto Citrix. I guess it’s kind of like fashion – everything that is old is now new again. If bell bottoms came back, it makes sense that “dumb terminals” made a come back.

Web 2.0/Social Networks (i.e. How can you NOT have a Facebook account?) – When it became a goal of my department to assist and train staff on Facebook, that was a huge sign that this trend isn’t going away. There are pros and cons to any trend and I see them every day (such as Pandora being very bad for terminal server). But until I had heard Holly Ross from NTEN speak at TechNow in 2008, I was 100% against doing any “agency wide” Facebook or something like that. But the reality from Holly that if you don’t do it yourself, someone else would do it for you, brought my reality to me quickly. I’m a control freak and I would have the control than to hand the control over to anyone else. Since then, full speed ahead with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all other things. Makes me wonder what Web 3.0 will be?

It’s in a Cloud – So this is a trend that I haven’t completely bought into. Cloud computing does have a place and situation and it is going to help out so many nonprofits – when the board and management are committed to it. However, some boards and management are going to be scared about giving the documents up to other people. As I have admitted, I’m a control freak – so my investment in the cloud computing trend will be with creating my own cloud that I control. If my cloud has a thunderstorm – it will only be my cloud having the storm. I like the control and that has been driving by management decisions. As long as my cloud doesn’t become a hurricane, I’m in good shape.

Easy, Shmeasy Personal Technology – I think as technology has become more mainstream, it has allowed people who don’t always get technology get more technology tools without knowing anything about them. While this is great – I’m never against technology use growing – it does create a whole set of challenges of helping someone who might not even know what they are using. It also blurs the line of what is the “agency” equipment and what is the “personal” equipment. USB drives are a great example of this. There is one specific generation of USB drives that has software preinstalled on the USB drive that just makes them inoperable with our terminal server. I never buy those USB drives, but someone might bring one in from home and wonder why it doesn’t work. When they don’t understand technology it becomes difficult to explain this situation. It will just keep us hopping in the Tech Department for years to come.

SharePoint = Collaboration at a Centralized Location – I’m waiting for a SharePoint Portal Upgrade. I cannot wait to get it done. I want it right now. I’m looking forward to expanding what we hae already done on SharePoint Services 3.0 and making it even bigger and badder. It is going to be a great new tool and moving away from all these shared network drives that dot the letters in the alphabet (there is a P drive, a G drive, and S drive — and that’s just for us while another agency has the X drive and the K drive). I’ll be happy to have webaddresses to share on the intranet. Thanks to plenty of webinars and blogs (like Dux’s), I’m ready for this trend to continue to grow!

I could probably go on and on about trends – because if one trend ends, another one starts. It’s just the nature of trends. Do you know of other trends? Do you want to share? I look forward to seeing your comments!

I was inspired yesterday to finally write this blog post. It was because yesterday I got an email from NTEN titled “Best of Nonprofit Technology 2009”. Inside, it highlighted practically everything I love about the Nonprofit Technology Network. I had known of their website for a long time. I used their free resources for just as long. However, in the past year I have been able to enjoy the benefits of getting my organization to pay for a membership, and it has been worth every penny, and so much more. I think every time anyone clicks to the NTEN website, we get so much more than a click anywhere else.

So, I am going to let you know the 10 Reasons Why I Love NTEN – a’la Dancing with the Stars style  (a.k.a. in no particular order).

1. Things We Like in the Monthly Newsletters – I personally think that to work for NTEN or to even do anything with NTEN, you have to have some sort of sense of humor. It’s always a good chuckle and it is always right on target. I love the section in the Monthly Newsletters that lists the highlights from the blogs for the past month. Sometimes it a resource, sometimes it is a cute video of kittens riding a Roomba – but it’s just a great collection of blog posts that I normally have to read again. If you don’t get the monthly newsletter, you should: NTEN newsletter

2. The Blog Such a mix. I know that I can come here, get something that I will use, and know that it was posted with care and foresight. They are just like the newsletters – filledwith humor but filled with tons of information. Hey, a professional organization posted the best Muppets video on their blog. That alone is to be one of my favorite reasons to love this organization!

3. Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission book – I don’t like to read materials that are work related from home. I’d much rather pick up some easy to read “Brit-Lit” book to pass the time. But this book has broken that trend. I’m not done with it because I like to read a section, think about it, read it again, and then move on. Perfect book. It completely applies to my job!

4. Webinar mania! – There are so many good webinars from NTEN that I could spent most of my time in webinars. Better yet, I feel comfortable having my staff take a webinar and know that I don’t have to worry if they are going to get something out of the time. I don’t remember leaving a webinar without usually 10 ideas to implement. To see some of the webinars, which are also open for non-members for additional cost, you can click here.

5. Research? I don’t need too – Most often, if I have to research anything about technology, my first stop is NTEN. More often than not, NTEN research can get me started, or has it all done for me. Why would I look that kind of treasure at the end of the rainbow and not use it? I used their research on Donor Management Software when we were looking for a new option. I find their research on IT Staffing useful wtih Board Members.  In Pittsburgh, the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management really keeps me on the pulse of Pittsburgh (and the nation too), but I know for that national/global perspective, NTEN all the way.

6. Google Grants – I think secretly, NTEN is running Google Grants. They have the inside track. They have trainings about how to make the Google Grant work for you. If there is something about Google Grants that I, or my web facilitator, doesn’t understand – usually NTEN has an answer there for us.

7. NTEN must have gotten a copy of my job description to write their website – I know plenty of people that hear “Technology Director” and they would not consider Social Media, websites, Twitter, or anything remotely marketing related, to be under the Technology Director job description. But guess what, for me, it is. Well, NTEN has it all. It’s great to know that NTEN has the resources for most of the aspects of my job. Variety is what makes NTEN perfect for me.

8. I learned about Dux – I had been looking for a good SharePoint training for a long time. In fact, for months and months I’ve been asking someone to show me how SharePoint integrates with Office Suite and in a webinar by NTEN, I got to see this all from the speaker Dux Raymond Sy, that has given me such an energy for making my new SharePoint site to be a place where people are empowered to use SharePoint. Without NTEN, I may not have found Dux.

9. Office Hours – I dislike the HP online chat assistance. Don’t even ask me to use Microsoft’s. But want to know a good set of Office Hours – I guess you didn’t have to guess – NTEN Office Hours. I haven’t seen much variety of late, but I’m always checking to be sure that I don’t miss someone that I can pick their brains. Often there aren’t many people in these chats and you can really get some good answers.

10. Holly Ross Ok, so maybe there is some ranking in this list because I left Holly till the end. If you didn’t read all the way down, then shame on you! There is something to be said by keeping the best for the last. I heard Holly Ross speak at a Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management’s TechNow in 2008. Before Holly’s presentation, I was not on the social media bandwagon. I refused to get a Facebook account and don’t even mention Twitter to me. First, I had a session with Holly Ross about leadership, which made me realize that I had to step it up some at the office. Then Holly Ross gave her keynote speech. I just knew at that point, Holly Ross was one of my heroines. In fact, if I could grow up and be a quarter of the woman that Holly is, I’ll be doing great. I didn’t get to meet her that day, but in ways, I feel like I met Holly. I follow her Twitter. I read all of her blogs (especially the She’s Geeky blog post). Big kudos to Holly.

So, those are my ten for NTEN!  If you aren’t a member, check them out and use the free information that you can get your hands on. It’s amazing what NTEN does give nonmembers. If you are a member, remember that there is usually more than what you are currently using. I didn’t even get into how excited I am to be going to my first NTC this upcoming April, online groups that I haven’t been involved enough with, and so many more things.


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