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VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism

TECH TIPS
with Michael Lee Stills

Learn tips and hints to use a variety of electronic and technical equipment to enhance work with volunteers.

Computer Image

~ February 2004 ~ Topics

It’s Here! Part II

Well my new home computer just arrived. It took a few days to set it up and load additional software that I had on my old computer. All went relatively smoothly and I did not have to call tech support for help.

Dell USB Memory Key

I now have a new computer both at work and at home. I really like the Dell USB Memory Key. USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. You will find lots of new devices with this rectangular looking plug. Most computers now have Plug-and-Play connections. Thus you plug your USB device into the computer. The computer detects the connection, prompts you to install the software that operates the device and away you go.

My Dell Memory Key has 64mb of memory. I was able to load most of the files I wanted to transfer from my old computer to my new computer onto the Key. Basically it worked like this. I plugged it into my old computer, copied all the files I had on my D: drive to the G: USB Memory Key by using Windows Explorer in one fell swoop. Then I plugged in the Key to my new computer and copied all the files to My Folder on my new Hard Drive.

Since most new computers have a USB port, using this key to transfer files will be a snap. However, I learned that old Windows 98 computer needed to have a special software program called a Driver to make it work. Divers are the programs that allow the hardware work with the software on the computer. You may need to upgrade the Drivers on you computer and they usually can be found at the hardware manufacturer’s website. However, for my Memory Key I had to do a Google Search on 64mb Dell Memory Key Driver to find a third party site that developed a driver for Windows 98.

Comcast DSL Features

As you may recall from the OCT 2003 Tech Tips, I had lost my DSL. Well Comcast just installed Cable DSL. Wow is my internet connection fast! They say in about a month it will be twice as fast! Transferring large quantities of data will be awesome and practical.

My wife has Comcast DSL at work. You should look into a Broadband connection for your organization. Even if you are a small organization the price is relatively cheap particularly if you rely upon your internet connection to maintain communication with your volunteers.

Here are some of the features that Comcast is providing with my connection.

  1. Online Support 24/7. I can get help anytime of the Day.
  2. News and Information. Learn about My Doom, the latest virus attack.
  3. Personal Web Page. Set up your organizations webpage here.
  4. Online Storage. Store files online and access them from any internet connection.
  5. Free additional email. Create special emails for communication with your volunteers.
  6. Access to Newsgroups.

It is almost a one-stop shop for me online and they have partnered with Google for their search feature.


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Using Google to Keep Volunteer Records Accurate

Speaking of Google, here is another quick tip involving Google.

I have been recruiting teen volunteers this last month. I am appalled at how many fail to review their applications. Many are missing zip codes or you can not read them because they can’t print clearly.

Often I go to Google and enter addresses to turn up phone number and enter phone numbers to get addresses. For example:

Enter your phone number like this: (area code) 123-4567 and unless you have asked for your phone number to be private, it will return your name and address. I have used this many times to get an accurate address. Many times the City given by a volunteer is not the one associated with the Zip Code.

Doing the Phone Number search has enabled me to complete mailings.

What if you don’t have the correct Zip Code? Enter the address and the City and State like this:
123 Maple St., Our Town, CO. Google will return both a Map Quest and a Yahoo Maps link. Try the link and you will see the Zip code included.

Try including Last Names in combination with the others and see just how much information you can get on a prospective volunteer. At the very least you can gain a measure of accuracy in your data base and have less returned mailings.


Do you know of a better way? Or do you have any questions?
Drop me a note at Michael@MichaelStills.com.

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