Boston: TecsChange computer center GRAND OPENING PARTY! Sat. 3/13

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 4 Mar 1999 12:12:20 -0800 (PST)


FWD  Mon, 1 Mar 1999 21:41:11 -0800 (PST)
Reply-To: tecschange@TecsChange.org
Sender: owner-act-ma@igc.org

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                   act-ma Peace Events in Massachusetts
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You're invited to TecsChange's GRAND OPENING PARTY!

Saturday March 13, 2-6 p.m.
83 Highland Street, Roxbury
near Roxbury Community College
a seven-minute walk from the Roxbury Crossing T stop
on the Orange Line (see below for directions)

Come see the new TecsChange workshop & computer training/recycling
center! Take a tour, meet our new program coordinator, and enjoy snacks,
music, good company.

For more information call 617-442-4456 or email tecschange@tecschange.org
See http://www.tecschange.org for more info about us

_______________________________________
   Boston Globe story on TecsChange

At Tent City (our old location), a digital-age fix-it school

Students learn to revive hard drives

By Zachary R. Dowdy, Globe Staff, 10/13/98

Many of the patients came in critically ill, showing weak vital signs.
Understandably, their doctors wore looks of worry.

A quick diagnostic test told South Ender Lesyslie Rackard, 50, who
gingerly poked into a cavity she had pried open to examine a patient's
insides, that surgery was necessary.

The patient's memory, she determined, was bad - and its hard drive was
busted.

In this free night course at the Tent City Community Computing Center on
Columbus Avenue in the South End, students learn how to keep ailing PCs
from landing on the scrap heap.

The Earn-A-Computer program is part of a national movement toward
computer literacy for urban residents and nonprofit groups who, for lack
of money, have no access to the technological know-how that is becoming
to a global economy what a disk operating system is to any computer.

For their labor, students like Rackard leave the six-week class with one
of several computers they help revive over the term. But not before
weeks of instruction and grueling homework.

''The course is designed to demystify the computer,'' said Aram Falsafi
of Jamaica Plain, an instructor in the program, which pairs volunteer
tutors with eager students.

Falsafi is a member of TecsChange, or Technology for Social Change - a
group of civic-minded high-tech professionals formed in 1996 to serve
grass-roots groups and poor people overseas coping with critical
technology deficits. Falsafi and fellow engineer Charlie Welch founded
the computer course as part of that program.

Under TecsChange's auspices, revitalized machines, often newly juiced
with gobs of memory or a sleek serial port, are shipped to nonprofits in
developing areas in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, bringing
much-needed hardware to nations where high-tech equipment is scarce.

The group was formed in the spirit of Bikes Not Bombs in Roxbury, which
teaches youths how to repair and ship bicycles overseas.

Dozens of computers, donated by area companies with surplus stock, have
been revamped for use in the Earn-A-Computer program. Many of the
machines are old and lack the power to run sophisticated software.

Earn-A-Computer is one of many courses offered at the Technology Center,
a project overseen by community activist Mel King and supported by Tent
City, the Community Fellows Program at the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, the East West Foundation, and Roxbury Community College.

In recent months, the program has gotten more selective: New applicants
now face waiting lists, and not all computers are accepted.

Students have ranged in age from 10 years old to retirement and come to
the course with many degrees of computer proficiency.

''I came here to get a little direction about what to do,'' said
Rackard, who added that she was drawn to the course after fumbling with
computer applications that just didn't seem to run right.

She said she had once before taken apart a computer when technical
support personnel on her job in a local textile firm talked her through
the steps over the phone. But one evening last week, she was doing the
troubleshooting alone.

''Now it doesn't seem so complicated,'' she said.

Some students placed their hands on their hips and peered into or
pointed at characters on monitors with error messages, contemplating the
next step in their lessons or cursing the ghost in the machine. Others
sat before the screen with furrowed brows before taking out a
screwdriver to apply their newly acquired skills.

The air in the brightly lit, garden-level unit where the program is
based buzzed with crisp keyboard taps and the low drone of variously
sick machines on operating tables.

The banter was about RAM and megabytes, DOS and motherboards, BIOS and
loop-back connectors.

Loop-back connectors?

Velma Cousins of Mattapan didn't know that term a few months ago, when
she heard about the Earn-A-Computer program as she finished up Operation
ABLE, a program designed to give people over age 55 solid skills to move
back into the workplace.

''I had never opened a computer,'' she said, as tutors Paulette Houston
and Paula Ann Ross of Roxbury monitored her handling of a disabled 486
computer that needed a new port. ''I had only seen the outside, the
pretty part.''

But Cousins was anything but squeamish as she wielded the screwdriver,
opening the machine and attacking the bug in the computer's disk
operating system.

She said her knowledge of the computer, after seven sessions in the
program trying to revive other old models, rivals the expertise of her
son, an engineer, who now consults his mom for help with his own
computer glitches.

Declared Cousins: ''He said he's really proud of me.''

This story ran on page B03 of the Boston Globe on 10/13/98. ) Copyright
1998 Globe Newspaper Company.




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Directions to TecsChange

We are located at 83 Highland St. in Roxbury (corner of Cedar St.), two
blocks from Roxbury Community College.



By subway

Take the orange line to Roxbury Crossing.

>From the Roxbury Crossing T Stop:
Coming out of the subway station, take a right on Columbus Ave. Roxbury
Community College will be across the Street on the left. Go past the
college and take the next left onto Cedar Street. Go up two blocks
(counting streets on the left side). The second street is Highland
Street. We are at the intersection of Highland and Cedar, on the left.
It is the store front on the main floor of the yellow brick building.

It is a half mile walk from the Roxbury Crossing T stop on the orange
line.



By car

>From downtown Boston:
Take Tremont St. through the South End across Mass. Ave. into Roxbury.
Go past the new police station and then the Ruggles T stop. The next
major intersection is Roxbury Crossing. Continue going straight and the
street changes name to Columbus Ave.

Follow the directions above (from Roxbury Crossing).

>From Longwood Ave. (Hospitals):
Take Longwood Ave. across Huntington Ave. After you cross Huntington,
the street curves to the right. Go up to the next major intersection
which is Tremont St. Take a left onto Tremont. Take the first right past
the Roxbury Crossing T Station (Orange Line).

Follow the directions above (from Roxbury Crossing).

>From the Southeast Expressway (I-93):
Please note that due to the "big dig" construction project, there may be
detours on this road. Take the Mass Ave. exit. Take a right at the
lights. Go straight across Mass. Ave. onto Melena Cass Blvd. The road
curves to the right and in about a mile it meets Tremont Street. Take a
right onto Tremont and in about a half mile you will come to Roxbury
Crossing, where the road will change names to Columbus Ave.

Follow the directions above (from Roxbury Crossing).

>From Dudley Station:
Take New Dudley St. Take the left fork to Roxbury Street and go to
Elliot Square. Swing around the circle and take a right onto Highland
St. Continue on to the intersection of Ceder St. We will be on the right
hand side.

>From the Mass Pike (I-90), eastbound:
Take the Copley Square exit. On the exit ramp take the right fork for
Copley Square, Stay to the right and take the first right onto Dartmouth
St. Go through the first major intersection, which is Columbus Ave. Take
a right at the next major intersection onto Tremont St. Follow the
directions above (from downtown Boston).

>From Jamaica Plain:
Take Center Street to Columbus Ave. (at the Jackson Square T stop). Take
a left on Columbus. In about a half mile you will see Roxbury Community
College on the right. Take a right at the Dunkin Donuts sign onto Ceder
Street. Go two blocks up the hill (counting Streets on the left only) to
the intersection of Highland Street. We are located on the left hand
side.



By bus

The following busses go near the building.
41 Dudley to Jamaica Plain (via Centre St.)
46 Dudley to Heath (via Centre St.)
22 Ruggles to Ashmont (via Columbus Ave.)
42 Ruggles to Forrest Hills (via Washington St.)

The following busses all go along New Dudley St. (a longer walk)
66 Dudley to Harvard Square
15 Ruggles to Kane Square
23 Ruggles to Ashmont
28 Ruggles to Mattapan Station
44 Ruggles to Jackson Square



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