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CTC Association at Connecting Up11


CTC managers are accidental techies. Most of them come from community work type backgrounds. They run centres that are Jack of All Trades for community and economic development projects in rural and …

CTC managers are accidental techies. Most of them come from community work type backgrounds. They run centres that are Jack of All Trades for community and economic development projects in rural and regional NSW. The run on a shoestring that is nanometres thick.

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  • HelloI amI work forCTC Association isCTC’s areWhat I’m going to go into today is how I put together a weekly newsletter to help this incredibly diverse and divergent network keep up to speed with the very fast moving pace of technological change.
  • Before I start though, I’d like to introduce you to some super geeks. These are the geekiest geeks for hundreds of kilometres.
  • This is Jodi. Jodi is the biggest geek for hundreds of kilometres from .
  • Walgett - Jodi manages CTC@Walgett, Walgett is in the north West, near the junction of the Kamilaroi and Castlereigh Highways.
  • This is the main street of Walgett. It has a population of around 1700 people, about half of them indigenous.
  • Walgett is a HIGHLY disadvantaged community.
  • She manages CTC@Walgett. You can see the security screening on the centre, because Walgett has very high rates of crime
  • Less than half the homes in Walgett – only 39% in fact – have access to the internet. Jodi keeps a network going that is the only means for people to do the Drivers Knowledge Test, book a flight or a bus ticket, find a course or a job, buy a fridge, find a grant for a community development project, write a letter to their local MP, etc etc. For hundreds of kilometres. She manages both physical and digital security in a network that is pretty vulnerable. And one of the characteristics of highly disadvantaged communities is that they are really vulnerable to cyber crime, get rich quick schemes, phishing, and online gambling, so she does a lot of community education as well.
  • This is Grahame Cherrett, who is CTC Technical Supervisor at CTC@Old Bar.
  • Old Bar
  • Main street Old Bar
  • This is the age structure in Old Bar, currently and projected. As you can see, Old Bar is a town of seniors.How many of you are grandma’s techspert? Graham does training, repairs, upgrades, builds, virus removal, troubleshooting …. He keeps a town of seniors connected.
  • This is Jackie and Carol, and they are the biggest geeks, by a long way, for hundreds of kilometres around Tambar Springs.
  • Tambar Springs
  • This is the main street of Tambar Springs – population around 200 in the town, but centre of an important agricultural region, - wheat ,sorghum, barley, maize, sunflowers, cotton , oats, canola, soybeans, mung beans, chickpeas and safflower. It’s also a coal district.
  • And there is no ADSL internet in town, no next G reception, no satellite installers. So Jackie and Carol (who’s the local school bus driver really and a volunteer geek) set up an ISP. In the pic with the antenna we are checking the signal strength of the wireless connection from the SES shed to a house on the edge of the village. By relaying, Jackie and Carol have connected wireless broadband for a distance of hundreds of square kilometres around Tambar.
  • This is Colin. He’s the biggest geek in Bowraville
  • This is the main street in Bowraville, and it’s not a great shot because it’s from a street cam.
  • Bowraville is another highly disadvantaged town.
  • This is Wilga.
  • This is Sussex Inlet. It has a population of around 2,500.
  • Sussex Inlet
  • One of the things they do is publish the weekly town newspaper, both as an online and a printed edition. Wilga, with a mob of volunteers, does the whole thing.
  • This is the age structure of Sussex Inlet. Like Old Bar, it has a retired population, and seniors tend to need a lot of tech support.
  • This is Josh Dawes (up the back) Josh is 21 and has been in this position since he was 16. has just completed his traineeship.
  • Main street Grenfell.Grenfell is a little town of about 2000 people - no traffic lights or parking meters and it’s still the sort of place where people don’t lock their doors and they leave their keys in the car’s ignition while they do their shopping.
  • GrenfellJosh deals with all sorts of questions from how to turn on a mobile phone to advising what sort of internet security people should purchase, and everything in between.  Similar services are available in towns at least a half hour drive away and these services are from commercial entities trying to sell product, whereas Josh will assist someone even if they don’t actually buy anything. Josh maintains the community website - without him and the service he provides, many local events would not have an internet presence.
  • I have a whole state full of these unlikely geeks. They are accidental techies. Most of them come from community work type backgrounds. They run centres that are Jack of All Trades for community and economic development projects.They have no funding. They’re social enterprises. They run on what they can raise from people coming in and project grants. So that’s a shoestring that is nanometres thick. No money to buy in solutions to problems. Pentium 4s running XP are the most common hardware, kept going like keeping a Datsun Sunny on the roadThey are absurdly busy. Those that are paid are usually paid part time and work ridiculous hours. They wear ten hats at once. They have no time for PD, even if they had local sources of training, networking, mentoring, support. They have committees and volunteers, but no IT department or even in most cases an IT shop.They are the “go to” people in their community for anything to do with technology : “has my computer got a virus”, “how do I get a webpage up”, “what's this odt file” and “is it better to get satellite or next G broadband?” . They run internet café services, cyber safety training, seniors computer courses, homework club, community geographic domain sites, visitor information etc etc. You would call them late early adopters of technology. They serve their communities by staying abreast of new developments, making decisions about which innovations are useful and relevant, and developing enough competence with new technologies to diffuse them.  It is easy to see how critical this role is in isolated rural and remote communities. My job to filter information overload and keep the network abreast of fast moving changes in ICT, funding, management, governance and media.The main way I do this is by producing a weekly newsletter which is emailed out to every member centre. The content from it is also indexed and kept on an extranet.
  • The interesting challenge in sending out a weekly newsletter to people who are that stretched is making sure it’s not bacn. Bacn is a really interesting word.  Wikipedia: The name bacn is meant to convey the idea that such email is "better than spam, but not as good as a personal email.”Bacn is email that has been subscribed to but it’s often not read - "email you want but not right nownot quite  spam because the recipient has signed up to receive it. These days, we are all "in-box challenged" - being inundated by a high volume of emails. - the result is pounds of bacon in the inbox.
  • While I was thinking about this presentation, an article popped up in one of my feeds:Are You Feeding Your Supporters Bacon?It talked about how to avoid sending out bacn, in terms of: 
  • So I started to think about what I use, both tools and strategies, to do this.
  • Before I go on:
  • Stay relevant – if you aren’t sure if you are relevant to your key supporters get to know them better through email analysis; online surveys, focus groups, etc. are several options for free survey tools out there. Survey Monkey is one that is often recommended. But my favourite, by far is Google forms.Survey tools - google forms – short and sweet. Nice templates – i like a very simple uncluttered one.
  • You get all your results as a very nice spreadsheet, that you can save access share online as a google doc, or download as an excel spreadsheet and analyse in all the ways that you can analyse data with a spreadsheet.
  • also use skype to talk to centre managers, and so they can fire questions off to me easily. Love skype. Not as demanding and instant as a phone call – when you’re busy, that drop everything and talk to me that the phone does isn’t always helpful. And we all work part time.
  • Understand the medium – Email isn’t postal mail – these are different vehicles that require separate strategies, content and deliveryThe big challenges are:That spammers use email as a weapon of choice too, so there are lots of barriers in place to block spam, and you don’t want to get caught in them. And That everybody uses a different email system – Gmail, yahoo, hotmail, outlook, outlook express, livemail, eudora, thunderbird, whatever mac’s do...On a different operating system, on a different computer. So what looks lovely on your computer does a game of Chinese Whispers as it flies down the wire as 1s and 0s and come out the other end looking very scrambled. If you’re going to email our a newsletter, your basic choices are:Plain text email newsletter – which is easy and beats the spam filters, but hard to scan – and very busy people need headings.Pdf newsletter – which beats spam filters and holds its formatting, but it’s a big file to download, and people tend to leave it to download later and don’t get to it, and it needs another program open to read it. Link to a web page – but again it’s another program open, and people put it off and they can’t easily file it.Or html newsletter – which is the nicest solution by a long way, but the hardest. I choose html emailWith only one picture – the headerIn-line styling using texterDownloadable pdfSent to listSent from outlookOnce again one by one:
  • Html newsletter goes in their inbox. It has a bit of colour, which attracts the eye in preview. It can be flagged, sorted, saved, indexed, cut and pasted, printed etc. BUT, you need to do it right;Emailing a billion people (or just 25 or so) through your Outlook BCC line can put you on a spam list . Emailing a group of people the same message is a big deal in the security of the internet. At best your emails will go straight to spam. At worst, it will trigger spam detectors at your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or email provider not only flagging your individual email address but also your entire domain, meaning that not only will your emails be labeled as spam but anything else coming from the same domain.. Option 1: bulk email tool. Whatever it is called, the idea is that these services have agreements with email providers like Yahoo and Google and ISPs that say “The people who send email through our service are not spam. They’re legit. Trust us.”
  • If you have no coding ability (I didn’t either) another choice is a web application to do it for you. These guys are mostly a monthly subscription service, for which you get a choice of nice templates to use, that they have tested in all sorts of browsers and email clients. You can add your text (an images if you want) and your mailing list. Mail Chimp is free, but the free version has their advertising at the bottom. This round up review of the best ones (by Wild Apricot) is a good place to start. (On Delicious)
  • There’s 2 parts. Both are in Delicious links.
  • Another option, if you have less than 50 addresses to send to in your mailing list, is 1 and 1 Mail. Send even from Gmail.Once download on your Windows machine, the software allows you to create and send mass emails for upto 50 people with free version.The built-in WYSIWYG email editor lets you create HTML emails without worrying about the code behind it and many annoying formatting issues. You can add text, create hyper-links, insert images, align your content with a few clicks and if too adventurous even edit the actual HTML code. For a nominal fees, you can remove the 50 recipients per email cap and send emails to unlimited users.
  • Whether you code yourself or use a service:No imagesIf you have used Outlook or Gmail, you’ve seen that “Images in this email are not displayed” message many times. In many of the major email clients, your images will not be shown by default. Images use bandwidth. They get picked by spam filters. They take a lot of time to find and format.If you do use images, or even one image (like I do)Host the Image yourself and use an absolute path. Don’t use other people’s images, even if they aren’t copyright. They only need to change or remove the image, and your formatting is gone. If they replace it with something that’s 10 mebabytes…Make the image you send to the host the right size before you upload it. And make it as low a resolution as you can without looking bad . Don’t use your html program to make the image the right size. Remember the image may not load. Make it optional to the design. Have an alt text. Stick with the HTML commands align=”left”, align=”right” or align=”center”.
  • In-line styling . Some email clients strip CSS out, and some just render it really wierdly. Your CSS will come out different for every viewer, Don’t use it. Use in-line styling. It’s slower to code, but it travels. Texter is a great little tool for coding like this. (in the Delicious links)Nested tables are more reliable than padding and margins.So you need some html coding ability. But once you have a template, you can just use it over and over – change the text.
  • Sent to list They should set up a list to send newsletters, because it helps reduce risk of getting labelled as spam You can set up a list from CPanel or similar email admin with many/most hostsIt's a relatively simple process that a moderately technically competent person can do.Then you can send your newsletter to "all@ your domain" and it will go to all the email addresses in the list.
  • Downloadable pdf
  • Make your message compelling (especially your subject line)They skim So: simple design, lots of white space, clean simple sans serif font, only two colours – our branding colours.Keep it short - 3 pages pdf – hardest part of the whole thingShort items – headings – linksStuff of enduring value on extranetDon’t make them go somewhere else just to see what it’s about – enough info to know whether they want it or not.Offer value: provide useful, actionable information
  • Personalize your message –  consider your email recipients and determine if you need to segment your list into groups to offer the most targeted, effective messagingEncourage two –way conversationsJokeAdopt a toneJoke of the week
  • Offer value Subscribe and filterWherever possible by RSS or newsletter
  • I’m going to let Sandra from Coonamble have the last word. Here’s Coonamble. It’s up in the Orana region, about two hours drive north west of Dubbo. It has a population of about 2,500 people.
  • This is the main street of Coonamble, and you can see the RTC that Sandra manages.
  • This is Sandra, who is the biggest geek in Coonamble.
  • And Leonie.This is Leonie. Leonie is the biggest geek in Holbrook open to the public 4 days a week and compile and produce our community newsletter on the other dayworking with the RTA to provide online computer license testing,senior’s kiosk “Broadband for Seniors”,the usual computer classes, online we White Card, First Aid, RSA & RCG courses, the “Holbrook Happenings” a community newsletter funded by local advertising, providing web development to allow local businesses and organisations gain a web presence, printing and publishing, taking Passport Photos is Life as a CTC manager is both hectic and exciting, but we have a passion to provide our district with services The CTC Holbrook is vibrant and busy because of the fantastic and continued support of our committee and volunteers. There may be only one paid staff member but it is not a one man job.
  • And that’s Sally from Trundle


  • 1. Linda Woodrow
  • 2. Meet Some Super-Geeks
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  • 8. Graph 2 - Malicious damage to propertyWalgett was ranked 153 out of 155 Local Government Areas that have populations greater than 3000*
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  • 33. Stay relevant – if you aren’t sure if you are relevant to your key supporters get to know them better through email analysis; online surveys, focus groups, etc.
    Understand the medium – Email isn’t dead, but it isn’t postal mail – these are different vehicles that require separate strategies, content and delivery
    Make your message compelling (especially your subject line)
    Personalize your message –  consider your email recipients and determine if you need to segment your list into groups to offer the most targeted, effective messaging
    Offer value – so recipients want to read on and open your next email!
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  • 43. <imgsrc=" " alt=“CTCA Connect Header">
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  • 52. Hi Linda
    Not sure if Geeky is the right word for us but maybe Variety and Entertainment would suit better –  we really need to be counselors, solicitors, cleaners, mediators etc etc in out little RTC.
    Anyway here’s what we really do – we continually fight, sometimes successful and sometimes not, to retain and improve services in our community. We provide modern internet services, Centrelink services, Seniors services as well as Westpac Bank Instore services. 
    With our very multi skilled staff, we act as a general information centre for our community, most of it is without financial reward but certainly with personal rewards because we are working so hard to keep our community alive. Hope this might help.