We have an excellent July continuing in the Laptop Upcycle lab. Our Introduction to Computing class for prior recipients of laptops from our program, those who GET laptops, is now in the middle of its third week and the 5 High School students are spending the week learning Android Studio. Next week they will be working on developing an app for us to track our laptops as they are received, worked on, and then distributed to students in our schools. We have also enjoyed the volunteer work of other interns as we work through the large GIVE (donation) from our partner the Electronic Access Foundation. Today, Ben is combining three nonworking models into one functioning one and after class we'll image some laptops, make some cat5 cables, and take apart an iMac to clear it of the dust that's causing it to overheat.
On Common Sense -
We like to pride ourselves on our savvy technical skills. We're proudly geeks in may ways. If we don't know something, we will seek out that knowledge and then apply it to the task at hand.
So it was frustrating to us when the refrigerators in our lab kept failing. We run on a tight budget, so our equipment is generally something we obtain from donation or trolling Craigslist. If you doubt us, come by and look at our mish mash of chairs here. Anyhow, we had a large full size fridge we picked up in Glen Ridge a few months back and a dorm size one for water a friend had donated. With our activities (above) and the other meetings we host such as the Northern NJ Wordpress group, we need to keep beverages cool.
We would come in to the lab, open each fridge, the lights would be on, but they wouldn't be cool. Finally, the Wordpress folks lost patience with us and they bought their one fridge. It was used and beat up, so when even it wouldn't keep their beer cold, I threw up my hands and called "a guy". The day before he was set to stop by we had a Board meeting where the topic was discussed and we lamented our poor choice in equipment.
It was then that our co-founder John Wisniewski mentioned that he knew what the problem is. He walked over to the light switch for the lab, turned them out and the opened the fridge door. You guessed it - no light. The power outlet we had been using for the refrigerators is switched and tied in to the lab lights circuit. So when ever we turned out the lights and left the lab, we also were turning off the fridges. It's not obvious, but we felt pretty dumb and were humbled. Sometimes it pays to think "outside of the box".
We switched to a different non-switched outlet and we are all cool.
The Laptop Upcycle team is excited to provide a number of educational and volunteer opportunities to get you or your young adult out of the house and engaged in our project to provide laptops to kids in Montclair that need them. As our student “gets” of laptops have increased, our mission of closing the technology gap for kids in our schools requires a larger group of passionate volunteers who understand technology and can help us repair and renovate the donations we receive so we can get them out to students. We hope to train new volunteers, build the team, and have fun doing it.
For students in the Montclair Public Schools, we offer community service hours that can be applied towards your school requirement. You’ll also learn some tech and have an opportunity to share what you know or get involved in other areas of the project. Each of these activities will be held in our lab in the United Way building (60 South Fullerton Ave, lower level) in Montclair. We’re next door to the library, so it’s easy to walk or bike to.
The Summer program will run from July 9, 2018 until August 3, 2018. Please see each project area below for specific days and times.
Laptop Upcycles Introduction to Computing Class
This 4 week class meets Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM until Noon in the lab (July 9 – August 3). The class has been created and will be run by two Laptop Upcycle interns from last Summer, Ethan Che and Alex Rovalino. In addition to helping us as interns for the last year and a half, they are rising seniors at Glen Ridge High School. The course will present will the basics of computers and coding with the final goal of creating an application that Laptop Upcycle will use to track and manage its inventory. Topics will include Scratch, Java, Android Studio. This is not only a course, but also an internship opportunity. As such, we expect that those who attend be hard, diligent workers. Ideally, those who take the class this Summer will follow in Ethan & Alex’s footsteps and give back to Laptop Upcycle in the future.
Middle and high school students will be accepted. So, be prepared to learn, work, and have fun! Board members Jon Bonesteel, Mike Brown, and Mark Zbucki will be rotating as the official Laptop Upcycle proctors of the class. Please note that space in this class is very limited. There is no fee for this class, but donations to Laptop Upcycle to defray the cost are certainly accepted.
Laptop Upcycle Laptop Basics and Repair Intern Sessions
Each day after the Introduction to Computing class finishes, the lab will remain open for no more than 90 minutes and volunteers will work on our laptop stock. This Summer we have been lucky to receive two large donations, but we need techies to test, repair, and install systems on them. Our team will assist and coordinate volunteers on this task. If you want to learn how laptops work and at the same time get them ready for students in the Fall, join us! We will post an event each day on our Laptop Upcycle Volunteer facebook group so you will know if the day is “on”. Please sign up for the event there so we know how many to expect.
Laptop Upcycle Ad Hoc Technology Meetups
The team will also offer ad hoc technology meetups during this time frame as scheduling allows. Topics will include 3d printing, soldering with basic circuits, and Raspberry Pi projects. For these special classes, we ask that you join our meetup group here (link will be added) for announcements.