Tech Support Scam

A common “tech support” internet scam is on the rise, and educating yourself may be the best defense against it.

Say you’re browsing the internet. Suddenly, you get an unexpected pop-up, call, or other urgent message about a problem or virus on your computer. The urgent message or suspicious website also locks up your browser so you can’t leave the webpage.

Pause for a moment. Remember you’re still in control. No one has stolen your information yet. These attackers sometimes claim to be “tech support” from well-known companies like Microsoft or Apple, but they are trying to steal your information, infect your computer, or take your money.

Most frequently, these scams begin when you visit a malicious website whose code locks up your web browser. A popup then appears that says you have a virus, please call Microsoft at this number: ###-###-####. If you were to call the number, the people on the other end may ask to connect to your computer. They may call it screen sharing, remote access, or remote control. Or they may ask you to follow their instructions to send them information or make changes to your software. Eventually, they’ll diagnose a non-existent problem, find a “fix,” and ask you to pay for unnecessary, even harmful, software services.

So how do you beat these scammers? Don’t click any links, call unknown numbers, or give people from the website or popup remote control of your computer.

The important thing to know is that you can close these popups and exit the webpage without ever calling the number listed on your screen. First, click the Back button (arrow pointing left) several times quickly. If that doesn’t work, try to close the browser with the X button in the corner.

Stick stuck? Windows Task Manager allows you to override these popups and webpages with minimal risk.

To access Task Manager press the keys Ctrl+Alt+Delete simultaneously. (Mac users, press Command+Option+Esc keys simultaneously to access the Force Quit Applications dialog.)

This opens a new screen where you can choose to open Task Manager or shutdown and restart your computer. Opening Task Manager will allow you to select the program(s) you wish to force closed. From the list of currently running programs, select those you suspect are connected to the popup attack and click end task. This should cripple the attackers’ efforts.

If you frequently encounter these “tech support alert” popups, asking you to call a support number to fix your device, it may be a sign that you have a potentially unwanted program installed on your computer. Close all open programs and run a virus and/or malware scan on your computer.

If you are concerned that your computer or personal information may have been compromised, contact a tech support or virus defense agency that you trust.

For further reading, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s webpage on Tech Support Scams.

Seth Mueller is a tech writer, blogger, and creative consultant, who is passionate about technology and learning. He specializes in creating user-friendly guides to explore technical concepts and processes. When he is not writing, he enjoys experimenting with new recipes, collecting fossils, and teaching Latin dance.

Kramden Receives Spectrum Digital Education Grant

We are thrilled to announce the Kramden is one of the nonprofit organizations that Charter Communications chose to receive the Spectrum Digital Education Grant. The funding will be used to offer 6 rounds of our digital literacy classes to senior citizens in Orange, Wake, and Durham counties in 2018.

To learn more about the Spectrum DIgital Education Grant, check out the press release from Charter below.

STAMFORD, Conn.Nov. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: CHTR) today announced winners of its Spectrum Digital Education Grants, a new philanthropic initiative designed to support nonprofit organizations that educate community members on the benefits of broadband and how to use it to improve their lives. These grants totaling approximately $400,000 are part of a $1 million commitment to provide digital education in Charter communities through financial grants. Additionally, Charter is committed to PSAs, workshops and webinars to local nonprofit organizations.

Charter received more than 200 eligible grant applications and awarded Digital Education grants to 17 nonprofit organizations.

Below is a complete list of award winners:

  1. Austin Free-Net
  2. Central Florida Urban League
  3. Connected Nation
  4. DANEnet
  5. E2D, Inc. – Eliminate the Digital Divide
  6. Keystone Community Services
  7. Kramden Institute
  8. LA’s BEST
  9. LULAC National Educational Service Centers, Inc.
  10. San Diego Futures Foundation
  11. Shenango Valley Urban League, Inc.
  12. St. Louis Arc
  13. The Oasis Institute
  14. Urban League of Greater Kansas City
  15. Urban League of Rochester, NY, Inc.
  16. Waipahu Community Association
  17. Westcott Community Center

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the interest generated and the quality of the submissions received for the Spectrum Digital Education Grant Program,” said Rahman Khan, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Charter Communications. “After careful review, we are confident that the selected organizations will help further our mission to provide communities in need with the necessary tools to grow and prosper in the digital age.”

Spectrum is committed to improving communities and impacting lives where our customers and employees live, work and play.  We do this through our two signature programs, Spectrum Digital Education – focusing on helping families and seniors learn more about digital technology in underrepresented communities, and Spectrum Housing Assist – with the goal of making 25,000 homes safer and healthier by the year 2020.

The latest news, resources, and information regarding Charter Communications’ philanthropic initiatives and events, can be found at


Eric has been part of the Kramden team since 2013 and currently serves as the Director of Development and Marketing.

I have Windows 10, now what?

If you’re new to the Windows 10 operating system, here are a few tips to make your life easier and your computer use more productive. Taking just a little time to set up your computer now can save you a lot of headache down the road.

1. Do some button mashing
Create strong passwords. Although memorable, a pet’s name or street address just won’t cut it.  Strong passwords keep your computer files safe and hackers out. Besides that, they’re easy to create and simple to manage.

Use a combination of random letters, symbols, and numbers. There’s no better time for button mashing than in password creation. A few swipes at the keyboard and voila, you will have created a masterpiece: *(23nMKO3t5#. The password is virtually un-guessable.

Passwords are only useful if you can remember them when you need them, so be sure to write your passwords down on paper or save them in a password-protected computer file or password manager for personal reference and security.

2. Rescue Robinson Crusoe

No PC is an island—connect to the internet. Your computer works best when it’s connected to the world wide web. An internet connection allows you to access critical updates that keep your computer running smoothly and safely.

Windows 10 has a basic internet security program called Windows Defender. Be sure to enable it before connecting to the internet.

3. Renovate your windows

Once you’re connected to the internet, you’ll want to acquire the latest security updates to keep you safe online. In the search bar at the bottom left of your screen, search “check for updates” (see below). The option to check for updates will appear in the search results. Clicking it will open your System Settings and allow you to update your PC. 

4. Chrome, Firefox, or Edge

Many programs exist for browsing the internet. Different browsers can operate at different speeds and have their own unique advantages. Chrome, Firefox, and Edge are good choices. I personally recommend Chrome because if you own a Gmail account (an email account through Google), then Chrome links to your email and provides access to a host of Google Apps like Google Docs, Calendar, Maps, and Google Drive.

5. Where’s Waldo

Organize your files. Nothing’s worse than losing your red hat and striped shirt in last week’s laundry. Find a good home for any old files you may have transported from your old PC to your new one, and create a plan for organizing new files in the future.

Open File Explorer to browse Windows 10’s built-in file organization system. Under the Quick Access Bar, you’ll find a list of folders to which you can easily navigate.


Click on My Documents, for instance, and create new folders within it to group your files into even more specific categories and subcategories. Within My Documents, right click in a blank space. From the drop-down menu that appears, select New > Folder. After you create and name your folder, you can fill it with files. Files stored in folders with recognizable names will be easier to find later.

 6. Use a green mushroom

Backup your computer files. Second tries are a life-saver. A backup copy of all your files and programs can help you recover critical information if your computer is lost, stolen, or crashes. Be sure to backup your email and contacts as well.

Many backup programs exist. Some are free. Others may require membership or purchase. Cloud-based backup systems are affordable and convenient. However, if you are not comfortable entrusting sensitive documents or personal files to a remotely located computer server, an external hard drive may be the better choice for you. External hard drives give you the most control, physically and digitally, over where and how your information is stored.

7. Gone “phishing”

Free downloads, sketchy websites, suspicious emails—they can be big, shiny hooks. Be careful what you click online and in your email. Computer hackers have myriad ways to target and steal your information. Setup security software and run anti-virus and spyware scans regularly. At Kramden, we use the built-in Windows Defender along with Malwarebytes.

Smart web browsing can also reduce the need for expensive security software. Learn how to recognize a hook when you see one.

8. To buy or not to buy

Now that your computer is in good working order, install essential Apps and software. Depending on what your needs are, you may want to install Microsoft Office for word processing and reports or you may need PowerPoint to create presentations.

Before buying that expensive software, however, check out free, safe applications that allow you to create very similar presentations and documents, but without the price tag.

9. Home sweet home

For easy access, give your favorite programs a home on the taskbar. To do this, simply open one of your favorite applications, locate its icon on the taskbar, right-click, and select pin to taskbar to give it a permanent home where you can always see it. 

Image Sources:

Seth Mueller is a tech writer, blogger, and creative consultant, who is passionate about technology and learning. He specializes in creating user-friendly guides to explore technical concepts and processes. When he is not writing, he enjoys experimenting with new recipes, collecting fossils, and teaching Latin dance.

AFTRR Member 2016 Report



Kramden is proud to be a member of the The Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse (AFTRR). AFTRR is made up of nonprofit technology refurbishers across the United States working together to raise awareness of the digital divide and the work of nonprofit computer refurbishers to address it.

AFTRR is also a venue through which organizations can share information on best practices for computer refurbishing and serving students and adults that have been left on the wrong side of the digital divide. As part of this process, AFTRR collects data on the number of computers its member organizations work on each year. Here is a snapshot of the data for 2016 (78% of AFTRR members reporting):



Coders Club Celebrates 18 months

Last February, Kramden volunteers Ashlyn VanDine and her father Ken began Kramden Coders Club. After 18 months, 12 club meetings, and 2 Intro to Programming workshops, more than 100 middle school students from all over the Triangle have taken part in fun programming projects. Ashlyn, who is entering 8th grade at Rogers-Herr Middle School and is a Kramden SuperGeek, writes:
“In Coders Club, we’ve had some great fun with the Raspberry Pi computers, learning about Python as well as physical computing. We’ve built a laser tripwire using light sensors and LED lights. We’ve worked with buttons, lights, resistors, and buzzers. We’ve learned how to interface with Minecraft Pi using Python, making a teleport button which would teleport the player to a location when the physical button is pushed. We’ve created puzzle boxes and games using the motion sensors and LEDs on the Sense HAT attachment, and programmed music in Sonic Pi.”
 We’re grateful to the Raleigh ISSA chapter for donating 10 Raspberry Pi computer kits, and to the many volunteers who have helped out at club meetings. Coders Club meets again this month.

Kramden Computers in Kentucky


25 Kramden computers are being put to use by the Housing Authority of Bowling Green. Check out the article below from the Bowling Green Daily News to learn more.


“Housing Authority Gets New Computers” by Justin Story

In an effort to increase accessibility, the Housing Authority of Bowling Green received 25 new computers for its two computer labs.

Charter Communications donated the desktop computers, and an event Thursday at the housing authority’s learning center marked the occasion.

Kathye Gumm, project manager for the housing authority, said the new computers, which have been installed in the labs, are essential for children and adults who rely increasingly on the internet.

 “The kids all have homework they have to do and adults come in to do job searches,” Gumm said. “These computers will get a lot of use.”

In addition to the many after-school and summer learning programs for students, the learning center computer labs are often used by people who file their taxes in the early months of the year, Gumm said.

The Reach Higher Welfare to Work Program also makes use of the computer labs.

Participants in the program work in a housing authority department for 30 hours a week and take part in four weekly hours of job and life-skills training at the lab.

“If you don’t have access to the internet, you’re going to fall behind,” Gumm said.

 Along with the donated computers, Charter announced the introduction of a high-speed broadband internet service aimed at low-income households.

Spectrum Internet Assist will be available to families with students who participate in the National School Lunch Program and seniors 65 or older who receive Supplemental Security Income program benefits.

“We have a lot of people who have access to the internet but don’t have the financial means to get it,” said Jason Keller of Charter, which is partnering with the housing authority to launch the service.

Gumm said several residents rely on wireless internet hot spots such as the Graham Drive branch of the Warren County Public Library for internet service.

“After the library closes, you’ll see kids sitting outside and it shouldn’t be like that,” Gumm said. “They should be safe in their homes online instead of outside looking for a hot spot.”

Find the original article here



Embrace Your Geekness Day 2017


Next Thursday (7/13) is Embrace Geekness Day and to celebrate we are holding a social media contest. Show and tell us how you embrace geekness and you will be entered to win a Geek Prize Pack.

To enter, post a photo and description showing how you embrace geekness to Kramden’s Facebook page or post a photo on Instagram or twitter and tag @kramden. Don’t forget to include #embracegeekness in your post.

Remember, being a geek isn’t necessarily about loving computers. Geek icon Wil Wheaton put it best when he said “It’s not about what you love. It’s about how you love it.”  Show us how you pursue your passion, whether it’s video games, playing trumpet, or even knitting socks.

For Wil Wheaton’s full speech, watch the video.

Here are some creative “Embrace Geekness” Ideas:

  • Take a picture with a geeky shirt/coffee mug/item of any kind
  • Show off your collection of the items that allow you to pursue your passion (instruments, outdoor gear, video game consoles, etc.)
  • Take a photo of a geeky creation you’re proud of making.

Official Rules:

  • Promotion Description: “Embrace Your Geekness” Competition (“Giveaway”) will run from July 5, 2017 until July 13, 2017 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time. By participating in the Giveaway, each participant unconditionally agrees to comply with these Official Rules and the stipulations provided by Kramden Institute (“Kramden”). Kramden is responsible for collecting and reviewing all eligible entries. Participants may reach out to Kramden with any comments or concerns about the Giveaway.
  • Eligibility: In order for a participant’s entry to be deemed eligible, the participant must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada, and must be at least 13 years old. Posts must be posted to Kramden’s Facebook wall with #EmbraceGeekness, or tag @Kramden and be tagged with #EmbraceGeekness on Instagram or Twitter. All entries must showcase a way in which the poster is embracing geekness. If there are any entries that have disputable eligibility, Kramden will make the final decision about whether the participant is eligible and the decision is non-negotiable. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.
  • Ineligible Entries: Any entries from ineligible participants (those who are not 13 or older/those who are not residents of the U.S. or Canada) will immediately be discounted for prize selection by Kramden. Any entries from spam accounts or duplicate entries on the same or different platforms will not be counted. One entry per person.
  • Winner Selection: Kramden will randomly choose a winner from all eligible participants. Participants may not dispute the selection by Kramden. The winner will be announced via a Facebook announcement and/or a Kramden blog post on 7/14/17. By submitting an entry, all participants provide Kramden permission to use their name in the announcement/post. The winner has 48 hours to respond to Kramden’s status announcement, blog post, or private Facebook message, to claim their prize. If the winner does not claim it within this timeframe, Kramden will select another winner. The winner will need to either pick up their prize from the Kramden office in Durham, NC, or privately provide a shipping address to Kramden for the prize to be mailed. Please allow 30 days for shipping.
  • Prize: The prize for this Giveaway is a Geek Prize Pack. The prize cannot be substituted or redeemed for cash by the winner. Kramden provides no warranty on this prize, and is in no way liable for any damages after it is initially shipped/picked up from Kramden. If the winner does not comply with the Official Rules, they forfeit their prize.
  • Privacy: All participants agree to allow Kramden to use their name and entry image, if they are selected as the winner, on a Facebook announcement post and/or a Kramden blog post. By posting from personal profiles to Kramden’s profiles (or using the designated hashtag on Instagram or Twitter), participants do not provide their personal contact information to Kramden.
  • Limitation of Liability: Kramden is not responsible for any incorrect information. Kramden assumes no responsibility for any mechanical, technological or human error that prevented a participant to submit an entry to the Giveaway. Kramden is not responsible for any entries that are reported to/deleted by Facebook because of the entry’s inappropriate nature. If the Giveaway is unable to run due to any virus, mechanical/technological/human error from Kramden, then Kramden reserves the right to cancel or terminate the Giveaway at any time. If this is the case, Kramden will draw a name from the eligible entries collected to the point of termination. The winner will be selected in the method outlined in section 4 of the Official Rules.
  • Sponsor: The official sponsor of this Giveaway is the Kramden Institute.
  • Facebook Disclaimer: This promotion is managed by the Kramden Institute. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Any information or content you provide, you are providing to the Kramden Institute and not to Facebook. By participating in this promotion you agree to a complete release of Facebook from any claims. Participation in this promotion is subject to the Official Rules.
  • Instagram Disclaimer: This promotion is managed by the Kramden Institute. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. Any information or content you provide, you are providing to the Kramden Institute and not to Instagram. By participating in this promotion you agree to a complete release of Instagram from any claims. Participation in this promotion is subject to the Official Rules.



Kramden Computers in Belize

Working with our longtime partner Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now), 15 Kramden computers are in Belize. The systems are set up in a computer lab at Silk Grass Methodist School in the Stann Creek district of southern Belize. Southern Belize has a significantly higher rate of poverty than the northern part of the country and in the Stann Creek District, only 6 of the 36 primary schools had computers for the students to use.

A representative from KidzKonnect4Jesus, the local organization Rise Against Hunger partners with for their work in Belize, had this to say:

“For the vast majority of the 350 students at Silk Grass Methodist School in southern Belize, they touched the keyboard of a computer for the very first time thanks to the donation of much needed computers.  This includes children 13 and 14 years old.  The basic math and spelling programs preloaded captivated their attention like nothing we’ve ever seen before.  The teachers were amazed at the unusually calm and patient behavior as they waited quietly for their turn.  While we are early on with this program, everyone is very excited about this being a real “game changer” to drastically improve our learning process and literacy rates.”




Eric has been part of the Kramden team since 2013 and currently serves as the Director of Development and Marketing.

A Kramden Super Geek won a STEMmy Award!

One of our awesome Super Geek volunteers, Ashlyn VanDine, was presented with the STEM Student of the Year 7-12 award at the Second Annual STEMmy Awards. The STEMmy awards, hosted by STEM in the Park, recognize students, educators, and organizations for the great work they are doing in STEM fields. Congratulations Ashlyn!

A full list of this year’s winners and pictures from the ceremony can be found here.

Geek of the Week – Sam Smith



Sam Smith is Geek of the Week! Sam is a regular at our Mini Geek-A-Thon (MGAT) events and an expert ‘runner’, helping set up computers for the demonstration part of the award and helping families get everything loaded into their cars. He is a truly dependable volunteer, always ready to help out with whatever task is needed and is a key part of making our weekend events run smoothly and is a great example of a Kramden Super Geek. Thank you, Sam for all of the help you give Kramden!


Favorite Geek Books: The City of Ember (childhood memories)

Favorite Geek Movie: Star Wars series

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? I like to feel that I’m making an impact on others. I have the privilege of using a computer every day, for school and recreational purposes. It’s truly one thing that can majorly impact one’s life.

Best Kramden Moment? During an MGAT, I was a runner for a very gracious family. They were very friendly, kind people. It seemed to me they felt a bit of assurance for their son’s future with the addition of a computer in their household. It made me feel all “warm-inside” to know they were grateful for everything Kramden did for them.

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? Besides school and the occasional video game, I experiment with new hardware and software for the server room in my house. I’ve set up full-on database servers to simple media servers. I enjoy taking something apart, understanding how it works or what was wrong with it, and reconstructing it for reuse.