One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Posts Tagged ‘digital excellence

Linux: How to Avoid Linus Tech Tips’ Mistakes

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Linux is receiving greater exposure in response to news about Windows 11 updates and possible concerns. Capitalizing on this, the Linus Tech Tips YouTube channel engaged in a 30-day Linux challenge. As someone with ten years of experience working with Linux across several different laptops, I watched with interest to see how they would perform. After all, Linux is getting more attention thanks to the media as an option for people and organizations looking to reuse older hardware. The results of Linus Tech Tips’ challenge were…well, let’s watch for ourselves:

How it All started

Other tech-oriented YouTubers like Chris Titus and Techhut have chimed in with their takes. It’s easy to poke holes in Linus’ video (and at the end, he admits his mistakes), and there are those who either have outdated tech that cannot be upgraded to Windows 11 or wish to make the change to Linux. This is not a simple process but requires some thought and preparation. But unlike Linus Tech Tips, a simple Google search shouldn’t be your only option. Here’s a preliminary list of the first steps towards making the switch to Linux.

Getting Started With Linux

Before transitioning any machine to Linux, you will need to take an inventory and ask yourself some key questions. This can help guide your decision towards Linux adoption:

What Software Do You Need, and Is There An Open Source Equivalent: Looking at how you use your computer can help you determine what software you need and if there is an open-source solution that can run on Linux. If you need an office suite, LibreOffice is a full-featured alternative to Microsoft Office. For image manipulation, GIMP is a great alternative to Adobe Photoshop. It’s less about “can I run a Windows program in Linux” and more about “can I do the same things with Linux that I can with a regular computer?” (Although there are ways to run Windows software on Linux like WINE software or virtual machines). Whether using it for simple office processes or gaming, knowing why you’re using your computer can guide your Linux selection.

Refurbished Thinkpad T530 for Linux
Photo by Gordon Dymowski

A good example is a laptop I’m writing this post on – it’s a Lenovo Thinkpad T530 running Linux Mint 20.2. I use it primarily for writing both the blog and my fiction, so I rely primarily on LibreOffice and the built-in text editor. Since I am exploring the possibility of self-publishing, I also have several software packages that are alternatives to commercial packages or open-source alternatives like Calibre, Sigil, and Scribus. The only money I spent was on the laptop itself and a solid-state drive to replace the hard drive. (Total cost was approximately $200). Everything works well, the battery has a long life (almost four hours on a single charge), and Linux runs very smoothly.

Inventory Your System – One of the first things anyone should do before upgrading their system to Linux is learning their system requirements. On Windows 10, that information can be acquired in the matter of a few keystrokes, and you’ll need to know these key system processes:

  • Processor – This drives the desktop or laptop computer’s activity;
  • RAM – This is where the computer’s processes run (and can be expandable in some units)
  • Storage – How much data can your device hold and should you replace it with an SSD (solid-state drive)?
  • Video Drivers – Although Linux can work with a variety of peripherals, some that require special drivers like NVIDIA can be especially challenging for Linux.

Two Key Decisions – After being used to Windows and its various quirks, the decision to switch to Linux may be daunting. However, there are two very important preferences that you need to examine before making a final decision:

  • Stability vs. Immediacy – if you prefer your software to remain relatively stable with few quirks, you want something that derived from Debian or Ubuntu (like Linux Mint, MX Linux, Linux Lite, Pop OS, and others). If you want to be “bleeding edge” and are willing to dedicate time to precise configuration and tweaks, an Arch Linux-based distro like Manjaro might be your ideal option.
  • Workflow Style – Many people prefer a Windows-style layout and others prefer a Mac-style layout. Many Linux distros offer a variety of desktop environments. These are ways to interface with the main software, and can be preset with various levels of configurability.

Researching Linux Distributions


One key mistake that Linus Tech Tips made was a simple Google search of “best Linux distros” which are geared primarily to tech enthusiasts and those with advanced knowledge. Knowing where to start once you’ve decided to explore Linux can be challenging, but here are some easy first steps.

Toughbook Running Linux Lite
Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Check Out Their Website – Google can lead to a simple reading of a distribution website to learn its strengths and functions. Every distro has some manner of community forums that can allow you to investigate potential problems. (Also, please be warned if anyone seeking advice is being told “RTFM” – that is a huge red flag)

Distrowatch Is Also Good, But With a CatchDistrowatch is a site that focuses on recent updates to Linux distros. However, it does come with a slight warning: you will see a hierarchy of distros along the right side of the page. It’s only a ranking of unique web visits to that distro and not a ranking of the “best distros ever.” But the site provides links to both downloads and reviews to get a clearer sense of distribution features and functions.

Video Is Your Best Research Tool – Searching YouTube and Odysee for videos about Linux distros can be especially helpful as they sometimes provide screen captures of actual use. Besides Techhut and Chris Titus Tech (who has a great 30-day-switching-to-Linux playlist), other good channels include Linux for Everyone and Explaining Computers (more hardware-focused but with the occasional foray into Linux).

Linux & Windows Side-By-Side Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Test-Driving Linux Distros

This is the other major mistake that Linus Tech Tips made in their video: you never do a full switch on your computer without trying the distro first. (Plus, saying “yes” to something you’re not sure you should do is never a good idea). There are some great methods for “test driving” a Linux distro before deciding to perform a full install. This can save your computer, your time, and your patience.

Get a Feel at DistrotestDistrotest is an “online virtual machine” containing many types of Linux distros. Simply select one, wait for it to load, and working with it online can give you a great sense of how a distro “feels” in use. It’s also a great way to get a practice run as you’re deciding whether or not to switch over.

Create a USB Live Key – Running a distro off of a USB drive can be very helpful in getting a feel for Linux on your particular machine. (In fact, that’s how I test-drove several distros before deciding on Linux Mint). Explaining Computers has a great how-to video on installing and running Linux off of a USB drive. (Some distros for lower-spec machines are developed to run solely from USB drives). The other advantage is that most distros have an “install” icon on the desktop, making it easier to switch when ready.

Find/Purchase a Used/Refurbished Machine – If you have an older, less frequently used laptop lying around, that would be a great test run for any Linux distro. This would allow you to get a handle on Linux while maintaining your current operating system on your main desktop or laptop. If you’re looking for a low-cost alternative (or don’t have a spare laptop), consider checking out a digital recycling center or organization like Free Geek Chicago to purchase a low-cost laptop (and in FGC’s case, some units have Linux pre-installed).

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to poke holes in Linus Tech Tips’ attempt to install Linux, since installing and working with any operating system brings specific challenges. However, Linux has many advantages for individuals and organizations (especially community-focused ones): it is available to download free, provides flexibility in computing, and brings out the best in any particular machine. This is the “latest, but not last” word from this blog on Linux, but we are curious to see where the conversation heads next…

Speaking of conversation, we encourage you to join the conversation via the comments section below. You can email me privately via this contact form, or join the conversation on our Facebook group.

And as always, thanks for reading!

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Written by gordondym

November 15, 2021 at 10:25 am

Telehealth & COVID-19 in Chicago: A Follow Up

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Back in April, we highlighted a West Monroe Partners Healthcare & Life Sciences Survey focusing on the use of telehealth services in Chicago, Seattle, and Minneapolis. Although the initial study was completed on the cusp of the COVID-19 outbreak, West Monroe Partners used the March results as a touchstone to document changes in Chicago resident attitudes towards medical telehealth services in the wake of the state’s fight against COVID-19. (You can read West Monroe Partners’ summary here).

West Monroe Partners recently released the results of their July follow-up study in telehealth services. Focusing on a smaller respondent base (500 Chicago residents compared to 1,000 residents of three cities including Chicago), the July West Monroe Partners telehealth study focused on documenting not just changes in telehealth adoption, but how the current COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping overall health care delivery. (Almost two-thirds of respondents reside in Cook County) The West Monroe Partners provides some key insights into how attitudes towards telehealth are changing, and how other healthcare-related attitudes and behaviors are being shaped.

  • Not only are people increasing their use of provider telehealth services, but they are also adopting more positive attitudes towards those services: Although 18% of March respondents indicated that they had used telehealth services in the past year, that number rose to 86% in July. Attitudes towards telehealth have also improved, with respondents who were unwilling to engage in any telehealth services dropped from 47% in March to 38%. Respondents also reported increased trust and positive experiences when working with providers via telehealth services; however, providers need to maintain a level of flexibility and transparency with patients.
  • Telehealth usage will continue post-pandemic whether alone or integrated with in-person services: Twenty-five (25) percent of Chicago respondents stated that they would utilize telehealth services over in-person visits after the current pandemic ends. Thirty-seven (37) percent of respondents would take a mixed approach to access health care services, integrating both in-person visits (for more involved issues) and telehealth for basic follow-up visits. Although convenience and access to health care will be a constant concern post-COVID-19, telehealth will continue to be a channel for patients to access health care services.
  • Healthcare providers face multiple challenges in providing thorough quality of care and appropriate “bedside manner” through telehealth: Approximately 26% of respondents over 65 years of age indicated that they would “never” opt for telehealth over in-person visits due to concerns around overall quality of care and provision of services. (Accessibility is also a key issue, as one respondent indicated that telehealth is “pointless” for people who are deaf or have specific hearing issues). Understanding the nature of challenges for telehealth adoption can provide providers an opportunity to gain insight into ensuring a more “personal” touch and overall quality of care.
  • Generational differences provide some insight into attitudes and behaviors towards telehealth adoption. Twenty-six (26) percent of respondents over the age of 65 reported that they would never choose telehealth over in-person visits while fifteen (15) percent would schedule more in-person appointments after the pandemic due to lack of interpersonal contact. Although more respondents indicated a greater trend towards frequently checking their out-of-pocket expenses, the number of Gen Z respondents who felt “in control” of their health care dropped by 15 percentage points. Gen Z respondents were more likely to have lost health insurance as well as engage in telehealth.

Telehealth services are reshaping health care access and delivery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although health care providers are learning to adjust to these changes, understanding and adopting more effective strategies can ensure the quality of care and satisfaction for people and communities to stay healthy.

If you have comments or questions, please leave them down below or join the conversation via our Facebook page. If you wish to enquire privately, you are welcome to use this email contact form.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

September 30, 2020 at 11:31 am

[VIDEO] Linux Laptop Screencast

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A few weeks ago, I wrote about tuning up my Linux laptop for writing.

Via YouTube, here’s a very quick (20 minute) screencast.

Enjoy!

Written by gordondym

January 21, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Tuning Up the Linux Laptop for 2020

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Between increased caregiving responsibilities for my mother, looking for freelance work, and the holidays, my Linux-powered HP laptop went by the wayside. (It’s not my only laptop, thankfully, but the keyboard is great for writing). However, the past few months have seen me slowly repair and upgrade the laptop to the point where my Linux laptop is working very efficiently and becoming my go-to writing computer. It’s a good argument for adopting open-source computing, and my Linux-powered HP 8530p Elitebook laptop is a great example of reusing and repurposing technology. (I’m writing this post on the HP laptop)

Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Two of the most pressing issues for my laptop were long booting time and overheating resulting in slower response time. The former was easier to handle; after some experimentation within Linux Lite, I switched to Linux Mint 19.3 with the XFCE desktop environment. (My Linux-powered Panasonic Toughbook CF-29 was relegated to “emergency backup” unit and was switched to MX Linux). Both laptops had low RAM (the HP laptop has 4 GB, the Toughbook was upgraded to 1.5 GB) and were over ten years old, so I chose operating systems that worked in lower spec machines but had the processing power to spare).

Overheating was a more complicated issue…after checking out various YouTube how-to videos, I opened my laptop, removed some of the cooling apparatus (including a large wad of dust in my fan) and replaced the thermal paste. (Part of the delay was finding the right paste for the job and waiting for the order to arrive…it was hard finding a local place that sold thermal paste. In retrospect, perhaps I should have checked out Free Geek Chicago).

freegeek01

So other than the pride of repurposing and recycling a machine, why would anyone switch towards adopting open-source computing via Linux? There are three reasons why I have adopted Linux for my creative writing and blogging:

Dependability – Both Linux Mint and MX Linux are distros that work well once installed with a minimum of tweaking. (We’ll talk about that in a later point). With the diverse range of Linux distros available (as well as a site where you can test Linux distros online), there is a Linux distro for anyone that works well out of the box, and that provides excellent performance especially in older hardware.

Adaptability – Not only can a user customize the appearance and functionality of the Linux distro to their specification (the desktop screenshot was a photo from a Beverly-area restaurant), but Linux provides multiple open-source software options for a variety of computing needs. By integrating LibreOffice, GIMP, Calibre, and Scribus, I have easily configured my Linux laptop to become a production machine for blogging, creative writing, editing, and self-publishing. (Many distros integrate a package manager/software center that makes it easy for users to download software). With privacy and data issues around Windows 10, Linux has some edge in that many distros do not share user data.

c-now-linux-02

Productivity – The major advantage of my Linux laptop (especially when writing) is that I spend more time getting things done. The software works smoothly, I am not dealing with major glitches in my operating system, and I’m enjoying the process. My HP Linux laptop does very well for an over-ten-year-old machine, working as well as a regular laptop. (My Toughbook also performs well with MX Linux, but that laptop will only be used in an extreme emergency). Although I’m reliant on Windows 10 for freelance work, I find Linux an easier, more user-friendly operating system to use.

As a strong advocate of open-source software, I believe that Linux adoption can promote greater digital literacy and digital excellence. With Windows 7 ending security updates and greater numbers of older computers going to waste, Linux provides an opportunity to extend computing ability and provide a needed resource for underserved communities. And all this resulted from wanting to turn an older, slower machine into fully-functioning writing and publishing Linux laptop.

What your thoughts and perspectives on Linux and open-source computing? Please join the conversation via Facebook or leave them in the field below. Please use this email contact form to contact me privately.

As always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

January 9, 2020 at 11:50 am

Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition Wins Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition

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 Last week, I wrote about the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition and their efforts to drive both digital and healthcare literacy in the city. In my previous post, I mentioned that the CCLC focuses on digital literacy as well as workforce development and healthcare literacy. As I mentioned in last week’s post, technology is at the forefront of their activities.

… the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition uses a blended model of community-based centers using technology. Although the CCLC does use apps to assist learners in developing their skills, providing a social/interactive environment not only allows those users to thrive but provides them with the support and motivation to stay on track.

The Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition demonstrates a strong determination to integrate technology, community, and literacy in their work. It was that determination to make an impact that led the CCLC to apply for – and win a milestone award in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communites Competition.

image001

As a global leader in designing and operating innovative competition models, XPRIZE focuses on efforts to make a positive impact on the world. With its focus on reaching the underserved adult learner community (only 2 million of the 36 million adults in need are served by existing adult literacy programs[1]), the CCLC thought the Communities Competition would be a method to increase its capacity. Although the CLCC believes it is only reaching ten percent of its total capacity, it also sees huge potential in integrating technology solutions for adult learning and encouraging the development of mobile apps to allow people to improve their skills independently. As a result of being a competitor in the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition, next week CCLC will give individuals a code to download and use the Learning Upgrade mobile app to use for building their literacy skills.

With three million adults in Illinois lacking education beyond high school, the economic and social benefits of the CCLC’s work cannot be understated. It is expected that more than 67% of jobs in Illinois will require postsecondary education or training by 2020. Adult literacy and education can provide $2.50 in return for every $1.00 of Illinois tax money spent, saving the state millions and reducing the need for state-funded programs like Medicaid, corrections, housing unemployment, SNAP, and public aid.

Join the conversation by making a conversation on our Facebook page, or make comments below. And as always, thanks for reading!

[1] Source: Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education. 2018, August 15

Living the Linux Laptop Lifestyle Revisited

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When I wrote about my Linux-powered laptop awhile ago, things were going well, tech-wise. My refurbished Windows 10 laptop was a powerhouse, allowing me to blog and write, as well as keep up with my freelance work. (Writing includes my recent essay in The Joy of Joe: Memories of America’s Fighting Man from Today’s Grown-Up Kids). With my formerly-Ubuntu-now-Linux Lite-powered Panasonic Toughbook providing a great backup machine, it seemed like I was unstoppable. But then, something happened…

My Windows 10 laptop started overheating. It also become extremely slow, often grinding to a near halt when browsing or using software. After performing the necessary virus and malware checks, I discovered that much of the hardware in my HP laptop (including the motherboard) was nearly ten years old. Of course, I should have known better – I bought it refurbished three years ago, and In addition, my Panasonic Toughbook was  a Pentium-M machine that, even upgraded to 1.5 GB RAM (which is all you can upgrade it), was a bit slow. It was a tough decision, but I made a very critical decision…img_20161016_080249630

I needed a new laptop for freelance work, and my HP laptop was going to be converted into a Linux box.

Thankfully, since I had enough of a freelance income, I did some shopping for a new laptop. Although my ideal laptop (an Acer) was not available, my second choice – an HP that was much slimmer, had a larger hard drive and was more current. (Although I considered sticking exclusively to Linux, much of my software is Windows-based, and past experience with clients favors a Windows environment). My Toughbook would still keep Linux Lite 3.6, but would be officially “retired” and put in storage. Although I considered making the old HP laptop a dual boot, I decided against it.

You have to know what you’re doing to dual boot Windows 10 and Linux, and I was – and am – strictly amateur when it comes to Linux. c-now-linux-01

But then came the critical decision – what Linux distro to load onto the old HP laptop? I really love Linux Lite’s usability, and that many of the software packages were easily downloadable. (When it comes to laptops, I just want to set it and forget it). Linux Mint looked really good, and I was hearing great things about Manjaro Linux. For a few moments, I even considered using LXLE, but realized that I already had my heart set on a distro, and that the others would only be follow-ups.

However, I did what anyone considering adopting Linux would do: watch a ton of YouTube videos (including my now favorite Linux-centric YouTube channel, Switched to Linux) and test-drove various distros except Manjaro. (Manjaro is based on a different flavor of Linux, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with the learning curve. However, I intended to play with it on the soon-to-be-Linux-powered-HP8530P-Elitebook once I had another installed. Think of it has test-driving a Porsche while owning a Mustang).

So moving full steam ahead, I installed Linux Lite 3.8, and it worked near-beautifully. I say “near” because there were a few adjustments to make – the WiFi indicator was blinking, the battery wasn’t charging, and there were some display glitches. But one major glitch was that the software indicated that it hadn’t been updated in two days (right after I did a full install)…yet, when I attempted to update it, Linux Lite informed me that the software was up-to-date.

However, what I hadn’t realized was that I had installed version 3.8 a few days before the latest version – Linux Lite 4.0 – was formally released. So last night, I did what any enterprising person would do in this situation: install and modify the latest version. And it works beautifully….except for the battery. (However, I had problems with the battery leading up to the installation, and I cannot blame Linux. I will probably, at some point, need to purchase a new battery).

c-now-linux-02But I know that right now, you’re probably thinking, “Gordon, why are you so fixated on Linux?” Part of my fascination with Linux – and open source software in general – is the idea that it’s based on community needs, and that it is (in theory) easy to modify towards a particular function. One of the things I love about installing Linux on hardware is that it not only extends the usability of technology, but allows it to perform at a higher level. (As much as I would love to think that the Toughbook could remain my backup, even during its prime with Windows XP it would never be considered “lightning fast”). Rather than recycling or junking an old unit, it now becomes extremely usable and valuable, even if it’s just for “basic” use.

But Linux – and open source software – really emphasize the importance of digital excellence: that software, hardware, and digital tools allow us greater access into the larger world. Despite its recent repeal, it is still important that people understand the implications of net neutrality and contact their legislators. But more importantly, it’s important to remember that technology serves people, and not vice versa. Open source software allows individuals and communities an opportunity to grow, learn, and access resources and information.

But more importantly, it allows communities to gather, helps individuals to develop skills, and provides great resources for those seeking low-cost technology.

If you would like to learn more about Linux or open source technology, please check out Free Geek Chicago. They provide training and sell Linux-driven hardware.

If you have comments, please join the conversation either via the comments below or our Facebook page. If you wish to email me privately, please use this contact form.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

June 13, 2018 at 12:50 pm

Red Alert: 48 Crucial Hours for Net Neutrality

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With a potential Congressional vote to end Net Neutrality, it is imperative that people contact their Representatives to urge them to vote against the FCC’s recommendations. (And you can learn more via http://www.battleforthenet.com)

But why should we support Net Neutrality? You may be thinking…and here are some good reasons:

Still unsure? Here’s a recent conversation about issues surrounding Net Neutrality:

If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out via Facebook or e-mail.

 

How Net Neutrality Impacts Chicago Nonprofits

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Why we need net neutrality from Vimeo Staff on Vimeo

With the February 27th  #OneMoreVote campaign on February 27th to overturn the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality, many organizations – including Chicago nonprofits – may not understand the full implications of not taking action. And with the FCC repeal entering the Federal Register, it is easy to assume that online headline announcing “Net neutrality is dead”  are true. After all, many nonprofits are struggling to “make do with less”, and this might be just another situation to simply accept as part of their workload…but net neutrality is not just about the cliche “pay-five-extra-dollars-for-Twitter”.

Net Neutrality is still alive and kicking…and recent events have revealed that Ajit Pai, chairman of the FCC, has focused on prioritizing digital access for businesses and corporate interests over the greater community. And many Chicago nonprofits would advocate that digital access is a basic human right.

ajitpai01

First, thanks to Ajit Pai’s dismantling of Net Neutrality, programs that provide broadband services to underserved communities will lose funding. Although there are efforts (notably in the Woodlawn neighborhood) to establish local broadband communities, many states (including Illinois) are suing and/or enacting laws to preserve net neutrality. Many Chicago nonprofits that provide needed services to our communities will find it more difficult to engage their constituents online. (And for those who support Ajit Pai’s efforts, the Chicago Public Library’s Internet-to-Go program would also face potential funding issues).

Since many Chicago nonprofits use online tools and strategies to engage their supporters, having limits on their access also means making tougher marketing and outreach decisions. Nonprofits that focus on recovery issues around substance abuse and domestic violence may shift to a more web-based strategy because access to social media engagement would cost extra. Many nonprofits have filed a joint lawsuit against the FCC to restore net neutrality…and what makes these actions more reprehensible is that Ajit Pai is being investigated for possible collusion with Sinclair Broadcasting.

But right now, there is hope: currently, Senator Ed Markey has introduced a repeal through the Congressional Review Act, and a similar measure was introduced in the House. As it stands, the CRA has up to 60 legislative days to move forward, and they need one more vote in the Senate. Despite the “Net neutrality is dead” headlines, there is still an opportunity to take action – and you can find all sorts of tools via http://www.battleforthenet.com/onemorevote

Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Photo by Gordon Dymowski

On February 27th, Chicago nonprofits should encourage every level of staff – from leadership to administration to front line – to contact their legislator in support of the CRA. (Obviously, this means following IRS guidelines for appropriate political action and lobbying). In preparation, you are all more than welcome to share this post via social media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn – there’s plenty of information to share with your colleagues (and would not count towards “substantial” effort towards influencing legislation). Chicago nonprofits can also adopt strategies for “pushing back” when their Internet service provider (ISP) engages in less-than-favorable behavior.

But Chicago nonprofits really need to take action sooner rather than later. At a time when our city is seen (erroneously) as excessively violent, we need to strengthen our community and fight for our principles. Net neutrality may seem like a relatively insignificant issue, but for those Chicago nonprofits who are struggling with serving a large number of people with a lack of resources…it’s no longer about productivity.

It’s about survival.

Join the conversation by leaving a comment below or joining our Facebook page. If you wish to reach out to me privately, please check out the resources on this blog’s About page.

And as always, thanks for reading!

Written by gordondym

February 25, 2018 at 12:23 pm

Net Neutrality Next Steps

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Ubuntu-Powered Toughbook - Net Neutrality

Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Net Neutrality is one of the key issues driving conversation – and activism – in early 2018. (For an overview of the issues involved, check out this recent radio appearance). Thanks to two recent forums on Net Neutrality – one held this past Tuesday at Center on Halsted; the other driving Netsquared Chicago’s February meeting, there are plenty of options and opportunities for Chicago citizens to get motivated, get active, and ensure a free Internet for all. (NOTE – I’m a former Netsquared Chicago organizer, so yes, I have some bias). Net Neutrality is no longer just a business issue but touches on a wide range of issues from free speech to digital excellence, digital access, and social justice.

And this blog has gone on record in stating that digital access and digital excellence are basic human rights.

Because the FCC’s actions have been clearly driven more by ideology than public concern. Amidst questions about the validity about various public comments (various identities were “borrowed”, including Barrack Obama, Patty Duke, and one of my friends), the FCC has repealed the Open Internet Order of 2015 and pushing the Restoring Internet Freedom Act, which would effectively perform several tasks, including:

  • Reclassify Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from telecommunication services to Information providing services, meaning that the FCC does not have the authority to regulate them;
  • Eliminates the 2015 Open Internet Order and weakens disclosure requirements, and
  • Pre-empts state and local efforts to regulate ISPs and ensure Net Neutrality

    Photo by Gordon Dymowski

    Photo by Gordon Dymowski

Although there are efforts to stop this through the Congressional Review Act (the same mechanism that Republican leaders used to remove broadband privacy protections), this can’t be accomplished alone. Although states like California, Washington, and Illinois (currently in process) are assembling legislation, there is no easy way to resolve this situation. After all, digital access is as much a part of our business, social, and civic infrastructure as roads, bridges, and several more “visible” signs of progress. In Chicago, there are still many communities where the primary source of online access is the library. (There’s a good reason why the Chicago Public Library’s “Internet to Go” hotspot program is centered on several key neighborhoods). But the work still needs to be done…so what can we do?

I thought you would never ask…

  • Keep monitoring the news and learn what’s happening – Net neutrality is a very complicated issue because of its implications for business, economics, and free speech. Knowing the issues involved and tracking them is the best first step in fighting for net neutrality.
  • No candidate, legislator, or other government officials should proceed unless they are asked about their position on net neutrality– With 2018 midterm elections and an Illinois gubernatorial race on the horizon, this is the most important; it means doing it in public and getting it on the record. And yes, I consider the gubernatorial candidates fair game, although I doubt Governor Bruce Rauner will respond since I’ve reached out to him twice with no response.
  • Thank your state’s attorney general for joining in lawsuits against net neutrality – many states (including Illinois) have joined in filing lawsuits against current policies that remove net neutrality; this is one strategy for ensuring that our digital freedoms are protected, and Attorney Generals serve as the primary consumer protection office; they deserve your support and thanks.
  • Find a Way to Stay Active – whether you get involved in contacting your legislators through Battle for the Internet, volunteer/advocate for a local organization, or join a local protest, get your hands dirty and get in the game, because this isn’t a battle fought from behind a keyboard.

    If you think that net neutrality is an issue that isn’t worth worrying about, let me place it in a context you might understand: Chicago Now has a wide variety of blogs focused on a diverse range of voices in the Chicago area. One of Chicago Now’s strengths is that it gives those voices equal footing and access. Net neutrality would impact your ability to, say, read about being a property owner, or learn about comedy, or even read about the Cubs.

    Net neutrality affects us all. And no, we’re not going to keep quiet about it.

    What do you think? Feel free to leave your comments about net neutrality down below. or join the conversation via our Facebook group. If you wish to contact me privately or arrange a media appearance, please do so either via LinkedIn or my personal contact page.

    And as always, thanks for reading!

    Written by gordondym

    January 11, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Fight for Net Neutrality – Now!

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    Net neutrality isn’t just a good idea – it’s the very concept that keeps us connected.

    When the current head of the FCC jokes about being a “puppet” chair while threatening to revoke prior protections, he’s not just being unprofessional – he’s showing contempt for the free expression of ideas and digital access for everyone.

    The next forty-eight hours are critical…but here’s what you can do.

    First, call your legislators – visit battleforthenet.com and you will receive a script and an auto-dialer. If you get a filled inbox, keep calling. When I called, I spoke with my representatives (Rush, Lipinski) and senators (Durbin,
    Duckworth) and mixed results outside the state…but I called. As you should, too.

    Tuesday, December 12th, there will be a massive protest called Break The Internet. People are being asked to flood their social media streams (including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) with messaging. Clicking on the Break the Internet link will take you to a page where you can sign up and get all sorts of pre-written Tweets, Facebook posts, etc.

    Because this isn’t just about paying for the Internet…it’s about ensuring that everyone has equal access to the net. It ensures that the greater community doesn’t have to “pay to play” online.

    Last Thursday saw a series of protests at Verizon stores…in the next 48 hours, let’s bring the protest to the Internet itself and make ourselves heard.

    Written by gordondym

    December 11, 2017 at 5:36 pm