Ashlyn VanDine is Geek of the Week!

 

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Ashlyn VanDine is Kramden’s Geek of the Week! Ashlyn has been volunteering with Kramden for the last year and a half and is a regular at our Wednesday Work Nights. For her Girl Scout Silver Award project, she helped launch the Coders Club at Kramden, a monthly meeting for students in grades 6-8 to learn the basics of coding. Ashlyn’s volunteer work was recently featured in an article she wrote for opensource.com.

 

Favorite Geek Books: The Found series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Favorite Geek Website: www.opensource.com

Favorite Geek Movie: Hunger Games

Favorite Geek TV Show: Doctor Who

What is the Geekiest Think About You? I love books and often choose to read instead of socializing

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? The fact that the computers that we refurbish go to kids that need a computer. 

Best Kramden Moment?My first time doing Triage and learning from my dad how everything worked. 

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? I play softball for my school team (Rams ROCK!), hanging out with my friends, sleeping or reading. 

 

 

 

Supporter Spotlight – Peter Eckhoff

Kramden is an organization that depends on the generosity of our donors and the hard work of our volunteers. It is their support that enables thousands of students to bridge the digital divide every year. Each month, we like to take a moment to get to know one of our longtime supporters and share that conversation with our community.

This month we sat down with Peter Eckhoff.  Peter has been a fixture in our warehouse for the past two years. Part of our regular group of daytime volunteers, he often helps out with special projects and shows off his Super Geek skills while leading volunteers during corporate work days. He can usually be found near the Triage benches with a big smile on his face.

We asked him to share a bit about his experiences as Kramden volunteer.

 

 

How did you first get involved with Kramden?

I first became aware of Kramden when I was dropping off used computer equipment at semi-annual recycling events held at the old Nortel site in RTP.  After retiring, I looked Kramden online and made a point of participating in a Wednesday Work Night session.  I really liked the program. I was hooked.

What keeps you coming back? 

There are a number of qualities about the Kramden program.  It is well organized with very congenial staff.  The core mission of refurbishing computer systems for vetted but needy school age kids is something that is needed.  The recycling of e-waste in the near triple digit tonnage keeps a lot of this material out of our landfills.  To me, the whole program is a win-win-win situation.

I’ve done computer programming for a long time and I am well aware of the positive impacts that computers have made on our society.  This program affords kids the opportunity who would not have that opportunity to explore the use of computers and to discover their own positive uses along the way.

What do you like most about volunteering at Kramden?

I find the tasks challenging but not daunting and I like working with the staff and other volunteers.

The whole program has been designed so that someone without much experience with computers can walk in off the street and not be overwhelmed by a lot of technical hurdles.  There are tasks that are non-technical in nature to somewhat technical but very doable by a neophyte.  The Wednesday Work Night program is a great way to be introduced to Kramden and its mission.

While I’ve been designated a “Super Geek”, I find the staff a lot more knowledgeable and accommodating.  Between the staff and online resources, I can generally find a solution to any stray issue that comes along.

Is there something about Kramden’s work/mission in particular that you connect with? (e.g. computers for kids, recycling old computers, etc.).

I think it is in seeing the kids eyes light up especially when they were not expecting a system. I like the idea of doing something for a student who does not have the means to buy a system but has earned the respect of a teacher says a lot about us as a people.  It’s payback for all those who have done something for someone else who at the time was not in a position to repay a kindness.

Any fun / geeky facts about yourself you would like to share?

I purchased an Apple back in ’78 and wrote a simple program in BASIC. I used it to teach my kids to type their names and spell before they could even write words on paper. The kids enjoyed it a lot.  It was fun watching their eyes light up and seeing them have a sense of accomplishment.

I purchased an A to D converter board for the Apple.  I intercepted and recorded a weather FAX signal off a HF radio station.   I wrote an assembly language program to process the signal and send it to a printer “in real-time”.  I was able to actually read part of a weather chart but the problem was that the signal faded in and out.   It was a great exercise, learned a lot, but the signal was not all that reliable.  I’ve been hooked on computers and their capabilities for a long time.

Before retiring, what did you do?

I worked as an Environmental Scientist with the US EPA.  I did some related computer programming and compared modeling results with ambient measured air pollutant concentrations.  I was always surprised at how well the models did overall.

When not at Kramden, what do you like to do?

I like to read and there is a wealth of information on the internet. This helped me to track down a lot of my high school classmates for a 2001 multi-class reunion and later, for my class’s 50th high school reunion. I also like studying up on our energy and transportation situations, and in finding some fantastic minds out there with a great deal of insights and varied opinions.

I still like to program and have been slowly learning Python.  However, it’s easier for me to revert back to BASIC (and Fortran) but the capabilities of Python far exceed the capabilities of BASIC.  Once into Python, I can see having a lot of fun with various Make[magazine]-type STEM projects.

Anything else you would like to share?

I always wanted to find employment where I loved the work and got paid.  This is the next best thing.  P.S.  They’re promising to double my salary!! 😉

Thank you Peter for all of the amazing work that you do!

 

Troy DeSpain is Geek of the Week!

 

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Troy DeSpain is Kramden’s Geek of the Week! Troy is a high school senior at Franklin Academy and has been volunteering with Kramden Institute since 2012. Most recently, Troy organized a computer equipment drive at his school and collected 29 desktops, 33 laptops, 19 monitors, and many other peripherals which will support Kramden’s computer programs.

Favorite Geek Website: www.cnet.com

Favorite Geek Movie: Star Wars – The Force Awakens

What is the Geekiest Think About You? I enjoy computer programming and I am taking AP Computer Science this year.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? My favorite thing about volunteering at Kramden is awarding the computers to students. I enjoy teaching them how to use the new software and being able to see how grateful they are to receive a computer.

Best Kramden Moment? The first time I took a computer apart by myself. I had always worked on the software side of computers, so hardware was completely new to me.

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? Besides computer programming, I also enjoy photography and playing the piano. My favorite types of photography are landscapes and macro/close-up.

 

 

 

The White House Offers a Look at The Digital Divide in the United States

WH peek at the digital divide in the US

Source: https://www.whitehouse.gov/share/heres-what-digital-divide-looks-united-states

Katie Wassell is Geek of the Week!

 

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Katie Wassell is Kramden’s Geek of the Week! Katie has been volunteering at Kramden since July and is our newest Super Geek. This volunteer stands out because of her positive attitude and willingness to lend a hand wherever help is needed most. We are thrilled to have Katie as a dedicated member of our volunteer team! Thank you, Katie.

Favorite Geek Book: Ender’s Game

Favorite Geek Website: xkcd.com (web comic)

Favorite Geek Movie: How to Train Your Dragon

What is the Geekiest Think About You? I graduated from NC State with degrees in Computer Science (game design concentration) and English (creative writing concentration).

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? My favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden is knowing that the computers we build will go to children who wouldn’t be able to have one otherwise. I do high school and middle school outreach activities to get kids interested in STEM, and programs like Kramden give kids the tools to help grow that interest.

Best Kramden Moment? The first time I took a computer apart by myself. I had always worked on the software side of computers, so hardware was completely new to me.

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? I work as a Test-focused Software Engineer in IBM’s Watson division. I work on Natural Language Processing algorithms for Watson. (Basically, I teach a computer how to read and understand books and research papers). In my free time, I read, swim, and juggle.

 

 

 

Glen Harmon is Geek of the Week!

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Glen Harmon is Kramden’s Geek of the Week! Glen has been volunteering with Kramden since June of 2014 and is the most recent addition to our Management Team. In just a little over a year, Glen has contributed 500+ hours of service to Kramden and often volunteers two or more days week. Glen recently made a huge contribution to Kramden by funding and implementing a new hose reel system for our air compressors. It is this dedication and initiative that makes Kramden so successful. Thank you, Glen!

Favorite Geek Book: Lord of the Rings

Favorite Geek Website: Lifehacker

Favorite Geek Movie: Star Wars

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? My favorite thing about volunteering at Kramden is threefold: 1) I enjoy the opportunity to serve others, especially those that do not have the technology to learn. Kramden gave me the chance to help undeserved students obtain computers to use for homework completion as well as the internet to learn about the world around them. 2) I really appreciate the impact that Kramden has on the environment by recycling technology. 3) -Certainly not the least- The staff at Kramden have a strong commitment to serving the technology needs of the community. They are always very generous with their time and they don’t mind answering questions no matter how many times you ask!

Best Kramden Moment? Becoming a Super Geek!

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? I enjoy watching pro football, college basketball, walking, building computers for myself and friends, seeing a good movie, and reading.

 

 

Erik Shuster is Geek of the Week!

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Erik Shuster is Geek of the Week! Erik has been volunteering with us since 2013 and stands out as a dedicated volunteer who isn’t afraid to take on any task assigned. Erik has recently begun a summer internship with Kramden. During this internship, Erik will work on a variety of projects and will manage summer volunteers. Congrats and thank you for all you do!

Favorite Geek Book: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien

Favorite Geek Website: www.twitch.tv

Favorite Geek Movie: The Princess Bride 

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? I love the idea that I can help people with a skill I really enjoy.

Best Kramden Moment? The volunteer appreciation night last year was really fun!

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? I practice Tae Kwon Do and I am training for my second degree black belt. I am also a part of a robotics team which is very busy in spring. I like to tinker with things or play games in my free time.

 

Mitchell Geiss is Geek of the Week!

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Mitchell Geiss is Geek of the Week! Mitchell has been volunteering with Kramden for a few months now and just finished a 3 week internship with Kramden. In the 3 short months he has been a volunteer, he has racked up over 100 hours of volunteer time. These 100+ hours have been spent not only refurbishing computers, but completing other projects for the Kramden staff. Thanks for all your hard work, Mitchell!

Favorite Geek Book: The War of the Worlds – H.G. Wells

Favorite Geek Website: YouTube

Favorite Geek Movie: Transformers Movie Saga

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? Helping donate computers to students and families who couldn’t afford one.

Best Kramden Moment? Putting an Xbox One together. I only have a PS3 and never got to put an Xbox together.

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? When I am not volunteering I am studying or working on school work. Also, I like to play golf with my family and watch movies with friends.

 

Lois Thompson is Geek of the Week!

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Lois Thompson is Geek of the Week! Lois has been volunteering with Kramden since February of 2014 and is a wonderful member of the Kramden volunteer team. This Super Geek can usually be found in the back of our warehouse tearing apart old computers and recycling their components. Lois is not afraid to get her hands dirty and can dismantle any computer she is given! Thank for all you do, Lois.

Favorite Geek Book: I am Pilgrim – by Terry Hayes

Favorite Geek Website: Fine Woodworking

Favorite Geek Movie: Star Wars

What is the geekiest thing about you? I wear my Super Geek t-shirt to Jazzercise!

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? I especially like the upbeat attitude and can do approach of the staff at Kramden.

Best Kramden Moment? There was this one power supply (the long one that has a littlejog to the left at the top – the one that looks like it’s flipping you the bird), well I finally was able to liberate it from the case! And, I’ve managed to do it again and again.

 

Louis Jacobowitz is Geek of the Week!

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Louis Jacobowitz is Geek of the Week! Louis has been volunteering with Kramden since May 2013 and is a great addition to the Kramden volunteer team. While Louis has done many things at Kramden, he can usually be found testing LCD monitors during Wednesday Work Nights. Thank you Louis for your consistent support and dedication to Kramden Institute!

Favorite Geek Book: Les Misérables

Favorite Geek Website: The Cave of Dragonflies

Favorite Geek Movie: Don’t watch enough to have a favorite.

What is the geekiest thing about you? My absurd amount of Pokémon knowledge. I’ve been into Pokémon for a very long time, and have completed the Pokédex, and also ventured into the competitive scene, where I’m only mediocre.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? It’s four hours of not having to think about the troubles in the rest of life. A nice time to relax while doing repetitive work for a cause that I believe in.

Best Kramden Moment? Volunteer Appreciation Night last November.

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? Mostly play video games and watch YouTube videos of people playing video games. Sometimes trying to code programs.