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.

Geek of the Week – Keith Ertel



Keith Ertel is Geek of the Week! One of our newest Super Geeks, Keith is a regular at our Open Monday volunteer sessions and has become an expert at breaking down old computers. He is a huge help to our warehouse team and always willing to lend a hand on special projects.

Favorite Geek Books: Sherlock Holmes mysteries; currently working my way through the Agatha Christie series

Favorite Geek Website: Depends on what I am into at the time: Pinside, Modern Vespa, CRAN

Favorite Geek Movie: Hard to pick one but I like Star Trek IV

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? I have learned some things and it gives me a feeling that I am giving something back.  I have also met some very nice people.

Best Kramden Moment? Finally having an opening so I was able to sign up for a volunteering event – the first one was a mini Geek-a-Thon.

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? I started a consulting business that keeps me fairly busy and gives me a chance to keep my hand in science.  I taught myself R programming and next want to learn to work with Image J.   I also try to get out and take advantage of the Capital Area Greenway as much as possible.


Susan Sperbeck is Geek of the Week




Susan Sperbeck is Geek of the Week! Susan has been a dedicated Kramden volunteer since February and was most recently awarded Super Geek status. Not only does Susan regularly help new volunteers through the refurbishing process, she also acts as an assistant instructor for job readiness classes in Chapel Hill. A huge THANK YOU to Susan for giving her time and talents to Kramden!

Favorite Geek Books: The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy (she has read them several times)

Favorite Geek Movie: Lost in Austen (If you are a Jane Austen fan, you have got to check out this movie!)

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? Kramden offers an amazing opportunity for techies to use their skills for such a valuable and needed program. I enjoy all the people who work there and the other volunteers – I notice when new people learn new things and they feel good about what they are able to accomplish at Kramden. I see that people feel a sense of accomplishment when an order is completed.

Best Kramden Moment? Working as an assistant for the Job Readiness classes. It was so rewarding to see the folks in the classes improve their computer skills.

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? Raising two teenage daughters! I am also job hunting and taking classes.


Embrace Your Geekness Day 2016


Tomorrow (7/13) is “Embrace Your Geekness Day” and to celebrate, Kramden is holding its first ever social media giveaway! If you post a photo of how you “Embrace Geekness” on our Kramden Facebook Timeline (or on Twitter/Instagram using #EmbraceGeekness), then you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a Lenovo S8-50 8″ tablet!

Here’s some important information about the competition:

When is it?: July 13, 2016 at 8:00 a.m. until July 20, 2016 at 11:59 p.m.

Who can participate?: Any U.S. resident who is 13 or older and who posts a picture to the Kramden Facebook page, or posts using the #EmbraceGeekness on Twitter or Instagram. You can find the official rules here.

How to enter: Post a picture of how you “Embrace Geekness” to the Kramden Facebook wall, or use the #EmbraceGeekness hashtag on Instagram or Twitter. We love embracing our computer/tech geekness but feel free to embrace your other geeky sides, too! Only one entry per person will be counted for the contest.

Winner: Kramden will randomly choose a winner from all eligible participants and announce the selection on Facebook and here on the blog on July 21st.

Here are some creative “Embrace Geekness” Ideas:

  • Take a picture with a geeky shirt/coffee mug/item of any kind
  • Rock your favorite geeky t-shirt next to your other favorite geeks
  • Take a photo of a geeky creation you’re proud of making.




Allison Forbes is Geek of the Week



Allison Forbes is Kramden’s Geek of the Week! Allison has spent the last 3 months as a volunteer intern at Kramden and has contributed over 180 hours of service. The internship has allowed Allison to get hands-on experience while she preps for her CompTIA A+ certification. Allison is a wonderfully dedicated volunteer and we are so thankful that she donates her time and skills to Kramden!

Favorite Geek Books: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Favorite Geek Website:

Favorite Geek Movie: Batman and Robin (1997)

What is the Geekiest Think About You? I use command line to open programs on my laptop.

What is your favorite thing about volunteering with Kramden? Being able to learn about different aspects of computer hardware from the staff and the hands-on assembling and disassembling.

Best Kramden Moment? When I was trying to take a heat sink fan off a processor and ended up taking the processor with it and damaging the computer I was trying to fix. Kramden staff informed me of alternative measures to prevent that from happening in the future and reassured me that it was okay. Kramden is always promoting fearless learning!

When you are not volunteering at Kramden, what do you do? When I’m not volunteering, I am studying for the CompTIA A+ certification.




Kramden Hosts Tech Fair for Durham Public Housing Residents


In 2015, Secretary Castro from the Department of Housing and Urban Development came to Durham to announce the ConnectHome Initiative. The goal of this program is to accelerate broadband adoption by children and families living in HUD-assisted housing across the United States. HUD is taking a three-pronged approach, focusing on growing broadband infrastructure, providing residents with free, local digital literacy training, and support programs providing devices and technical support to residents.

Locally, Google Fiber is providing free broadband internet service to families in Durham Public Housing, addressing the first piece of the ConnectHome program. To address the other two, Google Fiber recently awarded Kramden Institute and the Triangle Literacy Council with grants to provide digital literacy training and job readiness classes.


On Saturday, community members from McDougle Terrace were invited to attend a Tech Fair hosted by Kramden Institute and the Durham Housing Authority. Community members were encouraged to stop by numerous tables staffed by community organizations who shared opportunities for both adults and children to become engaged in computer training, online learning, robotics clubs, and more. Kramden held a free raffle for a laptop and an all-in-one computer during the event.

During the event, Kramden collected information from community members interested in participating in our digital literacy classes. Participants will take a series of four digital literacy classes covering topics from computer basics to internet safety and word processing. Participants who successfully complete the program will be awarded a free desktop computer.

WillowTree Selects Kramden as Local Nonprofit Partner


WillowTree, a Charlottesville-based app development company, celebrated the opening of its new office in Durham on Tuesday. During the event, guests heard remarks from Durham Mayor, Bill Bell; the Kramden Institute’s Executive Director, Michael Abensour; American Underground’s Chief Strategist, Adam Kline; the Durham Chamber’s Senior VP for Economic Development, Ted Conner; WillowTree’s CTO and Founder, Michael Prichard; and WillowTree’s CEO, Tobias Dengel.

Kramden was selected by WillowTree as their local nonprofit partner. They sponsored our January Mini Geek-A-Thon and presented Kramden with a check during the ribbon cutting ceremony. We are excited about the new partnership with WillowTree and look forward to working closely with them in the future.

To see the full press release, click here.

10% of Americans Lack Access To Broadband Internet


Last week the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a draft of the 2016 Broadband Progress Report. This report summarizes the nation’s progress at broadband deployment and is of particular interest as it is the first report since the FCC redefined broadband. Under the current definition, connections must hit speeds of 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads to be considered broadband.

While the report acknowledges that our nation is making progress in broadband deployment, the deployment is not happening in a “reasonable and timely fashion to all Americans.”

Here are the key findings from the report:

  • Approximately 34 million Americans still lack access to fixed broadband
  • A persistent urban-rural digital divide has left 39 percent of the rural population without access to fixed broadband
    • By comparison, only 4 percent living in urban areas lack access
    • 10 percent lack access nationwide
  • 41 percent of Tribal Lands residents lack access
  • 41 percent of schools have not met the Commission’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students/staff.
  • These schools educate 47 percent of the nation’s students,
  • Only 9 percent of schools have fiber connections capable of meeting the FCC’s long-term goal of 1 Gbps per 1,000 students
  • Internationally, the U.S. continues to lag behind a number of other developed nations, ranking 16th out of 34 countries

To view the full report, click here.

Costa Rican Schools Receive Kramden Computers

Kramden Institute recently partnered with East Chapel Hill Rotary Club to deploy 105 Kramden laptops and 30 XO tablets to nine schools in Costa Rica. The project, made possible by a grant from Goodwill Community Foundation International, provides on-going technical support by the Rotaract Club in Puntarenas.

The Rotary Club distributed the computers during a trip in March and Kramden’s Director of Technical Operations, Jason Ricker, made a follow-up trip last week to provide technical support and training to Roterac Club members. The laptops, equipped with the open-source Ubermix operating system in Spanish, will have access to internet provided by the Ministry of Education.

Although the schools have only had the computers for a short time, they are already making strides to implement technology into the curriculum. One teacher is using Google Earth to teach geography to her classroom. Without access to physical maps, the computers have been able to bridge this gap in resources. In addition, the teachers are able to access GCFAprendeLibre. This Goodwill program provides free educational resources to Spanish speaking communities.

IMG_2117 (1)

IMG_2105 (2)

With Free Computers, CHCCS Helps Families Connect

Originally published May 5, 2013