IT issues and facilities
Follow the trail
We give some pointers on what could be of use to small to medium size organisations in terms of technology, facilities and keeping abreast of this stuff. This is not intended to be a comprehensive approach, more what we have found, or know is, useful.
- Sector sources of technology info.
- Some issues raised on specialist lists.
- Other (mainly American) useful stuff.
- Translation and text related services.
- Use and checking of IT equipment, including Virus Hoaxes.
Note: ICT and IT are treated as largely the same thing on this web site (ICT = Information and Communications Technology).
- A separate Web Tips page - Getting started , web site development etc. Also see Web Development for Organisational Management tools.
- Relevant software books can be found on the Amazon IT page.
- Software and IT support are covered on the Computer Services page.
- Sample IT Policy for voluntary organisations which should be a useful starting point on clarifying how IT is used (in particular internet/email).
- If you are looking for systems to help you manage activities (eg membership, accounts, volunteer management) see Specialist Software, which also covers developments such as Open Source and ASPs.
Circuit Riders. Lasa are closely involved in developing this concept in Britain (the terminology is American but the idea has been around here for a while - IT support shared amongst a range of voluntary organisations). There's a UKRiders discussion forum which those with this responsibility may well find useful.
Co-operative Systems do a monthly IT InfoBulletin that is aimed at the NGO sector, emailed to their user base, and also available online.
Lasa (a support organisation in London) runs an ICT knowledgebase with advice on various IT and internet issues. Also publishes a number of ICT publications, including Computanews targeted mainly at those involved with advice work, but is of wider relevance.
- See the Functional Support bodies listed under IT.
The following have been sourced from email lists as UKRiders, NACVS's ITnet. Currently in order of processing:
- Bristol Wireless A community network using wireless technology, in Bristol. See Links page for resources.
NB Mainly American in origin.
TechSoup appears to have removed its comprehensive information/resources for nonprofit staff at Jan. 2013.
Nonprofit Tech You may find particular tech tips more quickly on this site, but not as well-produced info.
NetAction's explanation of why data encryption is of relevance, and how to use it.
TechTarget is a good place to find explanations of techie terms.
Translation and language services
Microsoft's Bing Translator has taken over from Yahoo's Babel Fish. Put in the address of the web page you want to translate, or it can also translate (a limited amount of) plain text (do a copy and paste from a document).
We are reliably informed that ajeeb will translate into Arabic - you will need Arabic fonts installed. Will process whole pages and web sites apparently.
Braille HotBraille As the web site no longer seems to function, this is probably out-of-date. Was a free Braille service , using the US Postal "Free Matter for the Blind" Service (sends items Third Class - 2 to 15 working days worldwide). Up to 2 pages of Braille, approx 250 words, can be converted free.
Displaying different alphabets/languages
The following have been suggested on a charity forum:
It is now possible to display pages in multi-byte and bi-directional languages, for example Japanese and Arabic, by selecting different character sets. Unicode includes practically all the characters for every language, but results in larger file sizes. Also see WorldWideWeb Consortium International section.
See Multikulti as an example of a multi-lingual information service.
Text Reader ReadPlease 2000 (link problem Jan. 2013) is free text-to-speech software for PCs running Windows. The download is 6.9Mb. We've tried it out a little - acceptable quality, although it didn't recognise accents (maybe Pro version does).
Adobe has a downloadable MakeAccessible Plug-in that creates a tagged Adobe PDF (Acrobat) file from an untagged PDF file which makes it readable by a screen reader.
Using basic PCs LowEndPC was a useful web site for those with, or considering accepting donations of, old computer equipment, but seesm to have gone, summer 05. (LowEndMac has existed for some time). Information on available software, for example the Arachne web browser which works on DOS (pre-Windows) machines. A little knowledge of the jargon (with a US flavour) may be necessary to get the best from the site.
Check your connection There's a good set of tools for measuring your Internet connection speeds at PC PitStop, alogn with others to check out PC performance.
Check your systems to see how open they are to attack via the internet. Qualys (provider of BrowserCheck) has some free tools to check system weaknesses that would enable somebody to gain access your computer - probably best to be selective on the tests and resulting action. SecuritySpace - a more thorough check of internet access in terms of how somebody could get entry to your network/computers.
Check Software Identify odd files when trying to sort out hard disk problems. Filext gives you an alphabetical list of file extensions and which programs they are associated with. Windows/DOS only from a quick look.
Check Virus Hoaxes at Sophos.