Take Control of Your Passwords

Our passwords are the keys to our lives in the 21st century. We use them to access our email accounts, online banking, fantasy football, and much more. With passwords piling up for so many sites and each site having slightly different requirements, it gets tough to remember them all.

So what do most of us do? We use the same password for multiple websites, maybe adding a number or changing a letter here or there. And that basic password often is pretty simple, like the name of a pet or favorite sports team.

This creates two problems. First, short or simple passwords are very easy for hackers to guess. Hackers use automated programs that quickly guess millions of common English words, phrases, and generic passwords like ‘abcd1234’.  Second, if you use the same password on multiple sites, a hacker you also make it easy for them to break into multiple sites once they break into one.

So how do you make your passwords better?  Start by creating a unique password for every site. Then make sure those passwords are all complex (*_23nMK03t5#) and/or very long (mydeskchairisbigandred). This nerdy comic from the website xkcd.com does a great job of explaining why long passwords are a good idea.

So stronger, unique passwords increase your security significantly. But now there’s a new wrinkle – how do you remember them all? There are three simple ways to get around this conundrum.

  • Write all of your passwords down on paper and keep them in a safe place. This is a good option if you don’t use many websites and usually log in from home. It’s not as convenient if you browse on mobile devices – or, if you’re like me, you have terrible handwriting and can’t tell if that last character is a zero or a capital O.
  • Store all of your passwords in a password-protected document on your computer or phone. This works only if you the file with you. If your hard drive dies without a backup, or if your device is stolen, you lose all of your passwords.
  • Use a password manager like LastPass or Dashlane. This is the best way to go if you have a lot of passwords and connect from many devices.

What is a password manager?

A password manager is an app that stores your passwords in a secure file and retrieves them automatically. It will even type them for you. All you need to do is enter your username and master password. That’s right – all you have to do is remember one password. They also have tools that help generate strong passwords for you whenever you set up a new account. If you have a weak or duplicate password, they will let you know.

Another nice thing about password managers is that you can securely store all sorts of sensitive information beyond passwords. Everything from answers to security questions to banking information and more.

What are the drawbacks of a password manager?

Like anything involving computers and the Internet, there are some tradeoffs, though they are pretty small in this case. If someone finds out your master password, they can access all of your other passwords. For this reason, most password managers employ multi-factor authentication such as texting a code or scanning your fingerprint. The other risk is that a hacker will breach the password manager’s central system. The most popular services are very good about encrypting all user data.

You’ve convinced me. Now what?

Great! It’s now time to choose a password manager. There are a ton of different services out there, each with its own pros and cons. For me, it ultimately comes down to a balance of features and cost. Several offer great free versions. CNET has put together this great list of their favorite password managers to help you compare them. I encourage you to read it before making a decision. LastPass (free with a $24 paid version) and Dashlane ($39.99) are two that are frequently recommended and work on all sorts of devices.

Want even more information? This article from Consumer Reports has tons of information about password managers, their security, the risks, how to choose a service, and how to set them up.

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

Rocky Mount Students Receive Computers

By Corey Davis, Staff Writer, Rocky Mount Telegram

It was a promise fulfilled.

Dorothy Hinton, director of Community Partnerships and Programs of Communities in Schools of the Rocky Mount Region, said she talked about how the state could bring more resources to the area with Secretary of Information Technology and State Chief Information Officer Eric Boyette during his visit last year to deliver school supplies to D.S. Johnson Elementary School.

After some brainstorming, Boyette and his staff connected with the Kramden Institute, a nonprofit organization that collects, refurbishes and awards computers to students and families without a computer in their home, to work out a plan to help students through the use of computers.

On Friday, 50 second-grade students at Fairview Elementary School received refurbished desktop computers from the Kramden Institute. Hinton thanked Boyette, who is a native of Eastern North Carolina, for keeping his word in helping bring more resources to Nash-Rocky Mount schools in Edgecombe County.

Boyette said technology is the equalizer that erases geographic barriers.

“Whether we’re talking about economic growth, civic engagement, education or health care, technology is the key to the future,” he said. “Placing computers in the hands of these students will not only help them today, but it positions them for success in an interconnected, global world that is only limited by their imaginations.”

Hinton said factors like socioeconomics and students that had the greatest need for desktop computers went into the decison on who received the computers. Ann Edge, chairwoman of the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education, said giving students computers is an opportunity to decrease the digital divide and help them get connected to the 21st  Century online economy and society.

Hinton said providing students with access to technology in this digital age is more critical than it has ever been.

“At CIS, our mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life,” she said. “For many children, a laptop expands opportunities for learning and helps them to understand that people in this community and around our state believe in them and want them to be successful. That is incredibly encouraging for a young person in challenging circumstances.”

The computer distribution was underwritten by a contribution from AT&T, which has a history of supporting and expanding educational opportunities that help students succeed both inside and outside the classroom, said Robert Doreauk, regional director of external affairs for AT&T North Carolina.

“We strongly believe that every child has the potential to achieve something great, regardless of your neighborhood or economic situations,” Doreauk said. “For a student, a computer is the key to unlocking the future and to fulfilling hopes and dreams. We are pleased to support the staff and volunteers of CIS as they work to make a difference in the lives of students and families.”

Story originally published in the Rocky Mount Telegram

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

Public housing residents bridging the digital divide

Digital learning instructor Beverly Williams, who is a resident of public housing, gives some hands-on help to Mattie Clay at the Wilson Housing Authority’s first digital learning class at Whitfield Homes Community Center. Clay, 86, said the chance to learn about computers and get the laptop when she was done with the classes pushed her out of the house to attended the digital training.

Mattie Clay wants to be able to do the same things that her children and grandchildren do.

Gloria Whitley wants to go back to school.

Her husband, Bobby Whitley, wants to do away with all of the paperwork that he has accumulated around their home.

For all of them, the key to unlocking their dreams is to learn how to use the computer to do the same tasks that many people now consider part of their daily lives.

The difference for them and for thousands of people like them in Wilson County is that computers aren’t part of their daily lives. The wealth of information and resources that are available at the simple click of mouse to anyone who has a computer isn’t available to those who don’t have one and don’t come in daily contact with them.

This split is known as the digital divide and to help residents of public housing in Wilson overcome it, the Wilson Housing Authority has partnered with the Kramden Institute of Durham to teach basic computer digital classes — 15 people at a time.

The classes are taught in four two-hour sessions and start with the basics, right down to how you properly turn a computer on and off. In addition to learning how to navigate your way around the computer and become familiar with it, other sessions teach residents how to use basic office programs, browse the internet, use social media and share information.

Anyone who attends all four sessions will receive a refurbished laptop computer, one year of technical support and a USB drive to store their information, all from Kramden.

The computers are being provided by a grant that was awarded to Kramden Institute. Kramden also provided training late last year to two people from the Wilson Housing Authority to teach the classes. One of the teachers is Cathy Kent, the housing authority’s resident services director, and the other is a public housing resident, Beverly Williams. Both of the teachers are receiving a stipend from Kramden for teaching the classes.

Kent recruited Williams to be the second teacher. Kent knew Williams was used to dealing with technology and has a good way with people, and felt she felt that Williams could use those skills to teach these computer skills to her fellow residents.

“I have grown up with all of this,” said Williams. “It is a beautiful opportunity for the people in housing and I am happy to be part of it.”

The classes are being taught at the Whitfield Homes Community Center and there will be two four-week sessions. The first session is underway and is full and there is a waiting list for the second session. If both sessions go well, there is a possibility of partnering with Kramden to offer more classes at a later date.

“There are many obstacles to overcome when creating programs to bridge the digital divide,” said Cari DelMariani, the director of programs for the Kramden Institute. “This partnership between Kramden and the Wilson Housing Authority is especially effective because it provides residents with not only devices but access to training and low cost internet. I believe this program will be a model we can easily replicate in many more N.C. communities.”

Offering the digital literacy classes is a continuation of the push that the Wilson Housing Authority has made in the last couple of years to improve the access that its public housing residents have to high-speed broadband services and to resources that will help them be able to take advantage of this access.

In 2016, the housing authority partnered with the city of Wilson’s Greenlight service to provide low-cost high-speed broadband access to nearly all of the Wilson Housing Authority’s public housing units. Currently, the deal, which includes high-speed broadband for $10 a month and a free Wi-Fi modem, is available to 591 public housing units and 235 families are taking advantage of it.

“Now that we have high-speed broadband available to most of our public housing units the next step is to help our residents become more digital literate so they can take advantage of all of the resources that are out there,” said Kelly Vick, president and CEO of the Wilson Housing Authority. “Partnering with the Kramden Institute and making this training and classes available is an important part of making sure that our public housing residents have the same opportunities that other people have.”

Gloria Whitley said the class and the chance at the free computer was enough to convince her that it was time to complete her GED and go back to school. The 61-year-old said she has worked and volunteered in schools much of her life, but that she would like to get more education so she could possibly work for Wilson County Schools.

As motivated as she is to complete the classes, she said her husband Bobby wanted to go before she did.

“He wants to get all of our paperwork and finances on the computer and do away with a lot of our paperwork,” Gloria said.

For Mattie Clay, 86, the chances to learn more about using computers is solely for her.

“I want to be able to use email and go on the internet,” Clay said. “I am glad that I am not too old to try something new.”

This story was produced by Wilson Housing Authority staff

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

Durham public housing community gets free high-speed internet Google Fiber access


Reposted from the Herald Sun. Read the original story here

In the Laurel Oaks neighborhood, if it happens, Shaqueelah Shaw knows about it.

That’s why she was first in line when she heard Google Fiber was coming to her neighborhood.

Google, the tech company best known for its online search engine, is bringing its high-speed internet service to Durham one neighborhood at a time.

This time Google paired with the Durham Housing Authority to offer its high-speed service free to a public housing neighborhood — the first in Durham and in the state, according to Google officials who were at an unveiling on Saturday at Laurel Oaks. They said more public housing neighborhoods would receive the free service in the future.

Shaw said having Google as an option for internet service was a huge blessing. She was switching from a pay service to the free Google service and will save about $70 per month, which is the cost of the company’s Fiber 1000 plan.

“I knew about Google but not Google Fiber,” Shaw said. “When they came to my house and talked about it with me, I knew it was going to be good for my family and all the residents here. I’m one of the most active residents out here and I let others know what’s going on. I try to keep everyone aware because there are so many changes we’re seeing.”

Laurel Oaks, which is near the intersection of East Cornwallis Road and Alston Avenue, has 30 apartments that all received the Fiber internet connection. It was chosen because of its proximity to Google’s main Fiber line and for the high number of families with school-age children living there.

Daniel Hudgins, who is chairman of the DHA board of commissioners, said Laurel Oaks was an ideal candidate for the program.

“This broadband access will be such a benefit for the families with school-age children,” Hudgins said.

Laurel Oaks, which is one of 16 Durham Housing Authority neighborhoods in the city, is one of the smaller communities.

It took about 18 months for the project, which is part of a federal HUD program called ConnectHome Community, to become a reality.

“This is the first Durham Housing Authority neighborhood to receive Google Fiber,” said Sam Wicks, who works with ConnectHome for the Durham Housing Authority. “The whole point of this is to eliminate the digital divide.”

Wicks said this is a national initiative and Durham was chosen to be among the first cities to participate.

Faster internet is not the only service being offered. Residents are receiving digital literacy training and support, too.

The non-profit Kramden Institute is offering free refurbished computers so that they can get online.“We’ve done more than bring internet,” said Google community impact manager Tia Bethea. “We’ve had digital literacy training as well as followup classes for residents. We’ve made sure everyone has a device in their home and now we’re bringing service to them and the neighborhood. There are so many benefits of having a faster internet connection for people looking for jobs and helping their children with their homework.”

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel said Google’s presence in Durham will continue to grow beyond its program with the DHA.

“This is wonderful,” Schewel said. “This neighborhood is receiving the highest speed internet Google offers. And as Google expands into Durham, they’re going to be continuing to wire other neighborhoods, including more Durham Housing Authority communities.”


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

Kramden partner receives Goodmon Award

Angela Caraway, the founder of the Caraway Foundation, has helped Kramden put computers into more than 500 households in Anson County. She was recently presented with the Goodmon Award for Strategic Partnerships by Leadership Triangle.
In this short video, she talks about how she became involved with Kramden and the impact of our partnership. Thank you, Angela, for everything you do!



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

Fort Bragg soldiers’ children receive computers through giveaway program


Reposted from the Fayetteville Observer. Read the original story here

Caiden and Kinsley Thompson were attentive as a technician showed them different parts of their new computer, which parents Jessica and Shawn said would be put to good use for homework assignments this year.

“They’re always asking me to be on the computer,” said Jessica, explaining the family has one laptop computer that is mostly used for her husband’s work.

Now, through a computer giveaway program, the family will have another option to help the children complete their own assignments.

Two hundred children of Fort Bragg soldiers received refurbished computers through a computer giveaway program last week. The program, made possible by a partnership between Lenovo, Kramden Institute Inc. and Fort Bragg’s Army Community Service and Child and Youth Services, benefits children in grades kindergarten through 12.

Donated computers are refurbished by Lenovo and Kramden Institute, which then work through Fort Bragg and other military installations in North Carolina to distribute to children of military families. More than 1,250 computers have been donated through the program.

“What matters is we’re putting technology in the hands of folks,” said Scott Ottman, vice president of Lenovo sales operations.

Before receiving their computers, families met with experts for a tutorial on usage.

It’s the sixth year Lenovo and Kramden Institute have donated computers to Fort Bragg children. Families are selected through an application process.

The donated computers help children tackle homework assignments without competing for time on the family computer, said Gerhard Guevarra, a school liaison officer for Fort Bragg’s Children and Youth Services. He said he understands children count on computers to complete assignments, but not every child has access to computers at home.

“When a family doesn’t have a computer at home, they can still do things, but that’s an inconvenience,” he said, noting that children can stay after school to use the computer labs. “This program tries to level the playing field for all kids in school.”


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

Bailey students get computers


By Mark Cone. Read the original story here

Sixty students at Bailey Elementary who did not previously have a computer in their home now have access to one thanks to a recent partnership between the Kramden Institute of Durham and Southern Bank.

The partnership worked directly with the Kramden Tech Scholars program, which is a program that helps the institute donate computers to students in grades 3-12 who do not have one at home.

Funding assistance provided through Southern Bank insures no family incurs any cost to receive a computer.

Mandatory training sessions were held for all students who received one of the computers at the school before being allowed to take the computer home. The training covered basic operations of the computer and a parent was required to pick the computer up to take it home.

Children receiving computers were selected through a survey that was done of the school’s fourth and fifth graders to determine home computer needs. Once all of the responses were collected and processed, it was determined that fourth grade had the higher need.

Earlier grades were not considered because they do not utilize computer-based end of grade testing like the fourth and fifth grade levels do. Fifth grade students already have digital devices through the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools 1:1 digital initiative.

“We are so grateful to receive this grant, as it will provide our students more digital educational opportunities.” said Bailey Elementary School Principal Mary Jones. “I would like to thank the Kramden Institute and Southern Bank for funding this program and making it possible for families in our school to become more digital.”

“Ensuring students have the digital resources they need in order to succeed in the classroom is critical, so we thank the Kramden Institute and Southern Bank for providing the needed resources for many of our students,” Said NRMS Superintendent Dr. Shelton Jefferies.

“We appreciate their generosity and are thankful they have allowed our district to be part of this program on many occasions,” he said.


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

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 responsibility.spectrum.com.


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. Learn more in this blog post.

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.