Innovate Chatham is the world’s only non-profit focused on improving the lives of Chatham, NC residents through technology. Our network of members and friends provides guidance and help to students, adults, non-profits, schools, and government. We are helping with digital inclusion, STEM education, and public presentations on STEM topics. This is our monthly report on what we have been doing.
The sky is bluer, the trees are greener, and the temperatures are perfect. Is it hard to concentrate? Yes! Can I remember what has been going on with Innovate Chatham? Mostly.
Chatham Tech Talk
It was a busy month for Tech Talk doings.
May opened the new 79°West building and the giant meeting room we will use for our Tech Talk events. The first one in the new space was by Dr. Jennifer Platt. Ticks are of particular interest to folks in Chatham, judging by the turnout, and they should be of particular interest given Chatham’s excessive number of tick disease cases. Dr. Platt gave us a highly-professional, detailed presentation. I compiled 17 Facts about Tick-Borne Diseases in Chatham based on her talk. Follow that link to her presentation slides and the Chatham Journal’s video taken at the event. Stay safe out there!
And, on June 8 we had another Tech Talk by Kevin Flynn, a patent attorney living in Chatham. The topic was Intellectual Property Protection. Kevin is a talented speaker and kept us enthralled with his stories. Kevin started as an engineer, which helps him connect with people across the whole spectrum of creators, entrepreneurs, inventors, and businesses. Check out my summary, 5 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Protect Their Intellectual Property, which also includes links to Kevin’s slides and to Chatham Journal’s video capture of Kevin’s talk.
The next Tech Talk will be July 13, when Tim Steiner will talk about cybercrime prevention as an Ethical Hacker, aka white-hat hacker. Tim has a local business, and just reading the outline of his presentation has raised quite a few profound and exciting points.
On August 17, we will have a very special Tech Talk in the brew room of Havoc Brewery in downtown Pittsboro. Michael Pipkin will explain the Science of Brewing. Sign up early. Space will be limited.
Have you seen an excellent presentation? Do you know a talk that you would like to hear? Is it something related to tech, sort of? If you have suggestions for future Tech Talks, please let me know!
More information about Tech Talks is on our website here.
Digital Inclusion Plan
Last month I told you that the Digital Inclusion plan was going for review to TriangleJ Council of Governments, NC-DIT, and the Institute for Emerging Issues. We received kudos from IEI. TriangleJ thought it was good and gave some relatively minor feedback. And Maggie Woods, Digital Equity Manager for NC-DIT, told us it was great and started giving us suggestions for grants in each section. The Chatham County Manager will route the next version through all the departments for final feedback.
I’m still waiting for a version to share, but (again) maybe next month.
Digital Inclusion Help
We had two more meetings with the County, Conterra Networks, and Insight but did not make much progress. The County Manager sat in on the last meeting and briefed everyone on the history of various grants and what we can do to get ready to apply. All agreed that mapping areas in need was an essential step on the critical path. The County has raised this to the NC DIT. And Maggie Woods said that the State understands and is working on those maps.
So, we are all in violent agreement. We have to get moving and keep moving.
Jesse Bradley is not waiting. He is a Digital Navigator giving basic computer tutoring lessons at 79°West and will start teaching two basic computer classes in Siler City in the next few weeks. Let us know if you are interested.
Jesse was in the news this month, also!
You can help gather data for the NCDIT. Fill out these surveys and get your friends to do so, too.
Erin Denniston has finished 6 sessions of STEM Club at the Pittsboro Boys and Girls Club. Each session was for 2 hours, for about 20 elementary and middle school children. In every session the children are given projects to complete. The projects are always creative but with rules and constraints, just like real engineering projects. Each session we have the children building things like towers, bridges, roller coasters, cars, houses, electric circuits, airplanes, and bristle-bots.
I assumed we would go to the Siler City Boys and Girls Club next. The Bad News is that they don’t want our help. The Good News is that they don’t want us because they already have so much planned for the kids there this summer. We will try again in the Fall. This summer, we are looking for other opportunities, starting with Communities in Schools.
Let me know if you know an organization that might like some STEM Club engineering projects this summer.
Miscellaneous Tech Notes
Marc Andreessen has written a thoughtful and primarily positive article about AI. Have a look.
Don Kallgren gives a perfect example of the use of ChatGPT here.
ChatGPT solved a long-running web page problem for me that defied many attempts searching with Google and StackOverflow.
Some other AI tools I have been using:
DALL-E: An AI art generator. Overall, I’m not that impressed. It can make an attractive picture but refuses to follow some simple directions about positioning objects. The humans in the pictures have apparent mutations.
Bing: Simple and provides references. It’s a good place to start. It only seems to work with the Microsoft Edge browser.
Adobe Firefly/Adobe Express Beta: It’s free at the moment and I like the results better than DALL-E. Look for “Text to image”.
HeyPI.com: Purely a thing to have a conversation with. You can argue with it and convince it with facts. It will respond with statistics. It seems to want to keep talking. If you like to argue and your family and friends don’t, this is your best AI buddy.
Are you having fun with AI? What are you using and doing? Please send me your story!
The Board may have found two new members: Treasurer and Secretary.
We are always interested in having additional volunteers. In most cases, we prioritize opportunities based on volunteer interest. So, let me know if you would like to help with any of these things, or you can suggest possibilities for us to help:
- Technical topic presentation – we need topic and presenter suggestions
- STEM Club – we need volunteers to help in the Fall, maybe this summer
- Instructor’s aides for basic computer classes
- Tech Career Fairs – always need a list of people to describe and discuss their tech careers at various high schools.
- Science Fairs Judges – needed for Fall and spring to judge science and engineering projects while encouraging kids
- Help with an ACP event – we would like to hold a few events to help folks complete the Federal discount program for internet access. This requires a couple of hours of free online training.
- Congressional App Challenge – we would like to help middle and high schoolers build their own simple software app that they can submit for recognition in a contest.
- Search engine optimization help, and social media help
Please let me know, and we can chat further about your interests.
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Innovate Chatham President