TechMan: Grassroots effort to give computers to those who can't afford them

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One of the most ambitious programs to rehabilitate used computers and get them back into the community at low or no cost is concentrated here in Western Pennsylvania.

Computer Reach has worked with 824 volunteers over more than 13 years and has refurbished more than 5,700 computers. It has distributed computers in 14 countries and seven states -- but a majority of the work is in Pittsburgh area neighborhoods.

The effort began in Pittsburgh in 2001 with eight volunteer computer techs, engineers and teachers working out of Dave Sevick’s garage rebuilding used Apple computers donated by local schools. To get them into the hands of underserved communities. members traveled to urban and rural food banks around Western Pennsylvania, seeking out people in need of technology.

TechMan met Mr. Sevick in connection with his partnership begun in 2007 with Goodwill of Southwestern PA. Finding a treasure trove of donated computers within Goodwill’s vast warehouse, the team recycled these computers into working condition and placed them on Goodwill’s shelves to be sold back to the community at a reasonable cost.

In 2009, volunteers began buying computers from Goodwill’s shelves at wholesale prices to provide for free or at low cost in Western Pennsylvania and around the world.

Computer Reach is an example of a grassroots effort to help people that mostly flies below the radar. A tip of the TechMan toque to them.

For more information or to volunteer go to www.computereach.com.

Images of WWII: The National WWII Museum in New Orleans has released 150 oral histories and 5,000 wartime images, including rare color photos. These materials are the nucleus of a repository of WWII materials accessible to all at ww2online.org. Included is an hour-long interview with Henry Ettlinger, one of the famed Monuments Men who saved Europe’s cultural treasures, the subject of a film of the same name.

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It’s here, the laser cannon: Speaking of things military, the Navy is preparing to deploy its first laser cannon, according to arstechnica.com. When it puts to sea this summer, the USS Ponce will be equipped with the Laser Weapon System.

The Navy will still depend on missiles and guns to defend against bigger targets, but the LaWS system is designed to cost about a dollar a shot. The laser can be used to direct enough energy at the target to set it on fire or explode fuel or to blind a drone or missile’s imaging sensors.

Shut up Steve: Bloomberg Business Week reports that Steve Ballmer’s famous temper got him fired after he berated Microsoft’s board so loudly about their not backing his Nokia buyout plan that his shouts could be heard outside the closed doors of a conference room. After Mr. Ballmer yelled at them, the board decided to back the Nokia purchase. A Pyrrhic victory for Steve.

Be my friend or buy my gun: People on Facebook like to talk about guns, the New York Times reports. The social network is one of the world’s largest marketplaces for guns.

Under pressure from law enforcement and advocacy groups, Facebook took steps last week to regulate gun sales on its site as well as on its photo-sharing app Instagram. Pages advertising guns for sale will be shielded from minors.

Craigslist and eBay prohibit the sale of weapons.

Send comments, contributions and corrections and condemnations to pgtechtexts@gmail.com.


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