Test Driving

"America, is this correct?"
-excerpt from Ginsberg's "America"


“Okay.... I went to the library and asked one of the technology resource
people the librarian questions.  She said that homeless people do come in
to use the computers some times.  While you do have to give your address to
use the computers at my library, she said that if they give the address for
a mission then they let them use the computers.  They give them minimal
assistance with learning how to use the computers.  Since they don't
monitor your internet usage, they don't know what they use the internet for.

As far as the other questions go...
       1) The site is easy to access if you know the URL... but I don't know if I
could find it any other way.
       2) The site was easy to use, but there was no link back to the homepage on
the FAQ page.
       3) My library has a very modern computer system, so question 3 doesn't
apply to me.
       4) The site is very user friendly in my opinion.  Big buttons and
prominent links make it pretty simple.
       5) I don't really feel qualified to answer the last question.  The tone
certainly isn't condescending, but it really is kind of hard to tell it's
geared for them except on the resources page.  It is very useful for
learning the internet, but I don't get the impression that it's
specifically gearde for homeless people.”
 -Jeromie Rand (10:01 pm, 11-28-99)

“I talked to the librarian, and she said that the only thing needed to
access the Internet was a library card.  I then asked her if homeless
people ever come in and use the Internet, and she replied, "Anyone that has
a library card can use the machines."  This wasn't really a direct answer
to my question, so I asked her again.  Like a machine, she repeated the
words she had just said to me.  I didn't want to be rude and was in a
hurry, so I moved on to another question.  After asking if they (the
homeless, or in her case "anyone that has a library card") ever ask for, or
receive help when on the computers, she replied, "Once people are on the
computer, they do their own thing.  We generally do not help them."  If
found the same information Jeromie found: "Since they don't monitor your
Internet usage, they don't know what they use the Internet for."  Also, she
said she didn't really have any opinions about putting a paper tent with
info on how to use the Internet on top of, or by the computer.

Any ways, after typing in my library card number and getting connected, I
went straight to BeHeard.  I guess I should have tried to find it from a
search engine, but I was pressed for time.  The site looked better than I
thought.  On the index page there was a strip of different coloring that
stuck out right next to the center button.  I thought that the Clemson seal
was a little large and took away from the rest of the site.  In terms of
the buttons, I really don't know what to think.  I like how they are big
and easy to read, but not the fact that I have to scroll down to see all of
them.  I think we should work on putting back links on all of the pages,
because I only found two that had them.

A couple of notes on some of the pages:
On the Myth/Fact page, the title appears a little too far to the right.  If
you want to align it on the right side, it might look better if it was
aligned with the edge of the text (like on the FAQ page).  The same is true
on the bibliography page.  After hitting the connect button on the index
page, I was taken to a page that talks about forums.  It might be helpful
to have a link to the glossary or more explanation because I doubt a
homeless person knows what a forum is.  I really liked the Under the Bridge
forum, but wasn't too sure about the bathroom wall.  Is there any way of
making that forum look more like our site?  Perhaps a background color in
addition to the logo would help.

I am currently working on the Resource and Bibliography pages.  Please post
any sites you have used that should be on the bibliography and if you find
time, give feedback on the resource page.  I put an updated version on the
share drive, but it is not on the nutball site yet.

Also, here is some feedback I got in emails:

To: Adam Weeks <aweeks@CLEMSON.EDU> Subject: Re: a favor
Web site easy to access, very user friendly and is easy to use for all very
good site helpful because shows multiple sites to use.

To: "Adam Weeks" <aweeks@CLEMSON.EDU> Subject: Re: a favor
-I found the large icons easy to read and understand, making it easy for
someone who hadn't been on the internet before.
-I think that you offered a lot of information that would be valuable to
anyone, even those who have homes.
-I'm working on an ethernet computer, but I had no problem accessing the
hope that helps

To: Adam Weeks <aweeks@CLEMSON.EDU> Subject: Re: a favor

hey adam, i went to the site, and it was very informative! i wasn't sure
what response youre looking for so ill just answer some of your questions:
1. it was very accessible ( the address was already highlighted any)
2. it was easy and simple to navigate through
4. i'd say this was a user friendly site
5. and i think a homeless person would probably like it-- its very
imformative and would clear up a lot of confusion about the internet.”
 -Adam Weeks (10:47 am, 11-30-99)

“Over Thanksgiving break, I visited the local Sharonville Library which is a suburb of Cincinnati.  Every library in Hamiltion County is connected together as a network, and Sharonville has one of the biggest ones besides the downtown Cincinnati library.  Like I said, Sharonville is a suburb of Cincinnati, so most of the people who would use the library facilities are middle class.  I explained to one of the librarians behind the desk about our Be Heard web page and it's purpose.  I then asked her if homeless people ever came in to the library to use the computers.  She looked at me for a second with a blank stare, and I knew what she was thinking the whole time, "There aren't many homeless people in Sharonville."  Instead, she said she wasn't sure, but that she did know that people without internet access have come in to use the computers.  I asked her if they asked for help and she said that most people just sat down, but it was obvious that others had friends with them to show them how.  She didn't seem very interested in what I was talking about and paused a lot before she spoke-- I guess she never really thought about this.  I asked about posting something by the computers giving our URL and she said I'd have to get in contact with the Hamilton County office.
    I went to the Be Heard site both at home and the library.  I was impressed with what we had for the most part, and could see some needed improvements which were mentioned by Chris all ready.  Both times I visited, I was on a recently new machine that was fast, so there was no problems with getting to the site or anything.  At the library, they only had five or so machines, and it seemed like they were there pretty much for research and that was it.  There was no rules about the machines, but the impression I got was that they were there to expand the information in the library, not give people oppurtunities to do other stuff.  I am anxious to see what the final product is like.  “
 -Nick (3:18 pm, 11-30-99)

“Over thanksgiving I decided to visit the local Mauldin library. Unfortunately, Mauldin isn't exactly that big of a city and the homeless population varies in the range from zero to nothing. But the fact remains the same that the library does have access to the internet. Personally I believe we are kicking a dead dog when we ask the local librarian any questions about the internet. I don't mean to stereotype, but from my experience and from what I have read from other people's posts, the librarians don't have a clue. I doubt that the person that I talked to even knew what a computer was. What I see as our biggest problem is exposure. The first thing that we must accomplish is to let people know about our site. Some of you have mentioned having the libraries placing our url next to the computer. It is going to take something like this for this site to work. Unfortunately from what I encountered and from what I have heard from you guys, we will probably have to go through a long process of bureaucracy and crap to get our url posted in the library. The fact remains that we need our url in plain site. On the other hand, I had more success over the holiday in dealing with the Community Foundation of Greater Greenville. I talked to the director and she mentioned that she knew of several groups right in Greenville that were doing the same thing that we are attempting to do. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization that just might be a place to secure more funding from in the future. More importantly, we can use the Foundation to get into contact with some of the groups that work directly with the homeless. The best part is that Greenville is only an hour away. I think that this might be a good place for the next class to start. I sent a letter to the director, so contact has been initiated. I think that we have left the project in good condition for the next class to hit the ground running. I'd like to thank everyone for their hardwork and dedication. “
Justin (3:40 pm, 11-30-99)

“Well, although there aren't many homeless people in my town, I checked out
the public library and pretended to be such a homeless person over
Thanksgiving break. I walked in and asked the librarian where the computers
were (even though I knew) and was led to a seat. I noticed that there was
someone who's only job it seemed was to patrol around the computers and
give help, or keep surveillance, in my opinion. I looked at the desktop and
was happy to see that the librarians had kept the desktop simple--only 4
icons to choose from, and only one was not related to library stuff. So I
clicked on the IE icon (I wish they'd titled it "Internet" so that it would
be even clearer that that was the Internet icon) and brought up a window. I
typed in our URL and went straight to the page. It loaded really fast,
surprisingly...I know the machines at our library are really low-end, so no
one was more shocked than me when the page loaded fast. It didn't fit
totally on my screen though, and I had to scroll down AND over to check out
the entire page. I think the site we had up during the break wasn't the
newest revision, so I hoped that was fixed.

       The navigation of our site is pretty awful, or at least it was during the
break. I had to keep clicking backbackback to get anywhere, which would be
REALLY confusing to someone who doesn't know much about navigating through
sites. Just for fun I tried saving the page to the hardrive, but a message
box came up that asked me to please insert a disk into the disk drive if I
wanted to save anything. So basically homeless people better have a dollar
for a disk or they can't take anything from the Net. The colors looked
alright together, but the orange was this awful brownish color. Could be
the crappy monitors.

       I had made a few flyers on my dad's computer, and so I asked the librarian
at the desk if I could post them up. She said she didn't mind, and she
didn't think any of the other librarians would care either. So I posted
them in the computer room...hoping some people would see them and go to
that site, not just homeless people, but anyone in the community who might
use those computers. I asked her about putting something up on the actual
desks or on top of the computer monitors about our site, but she said she
would have to ask for permission from her boss or something. I said thank
you and left.

       I also showed my dad our page on his computer. The page didn't look that
much better, although the colors were nicer on his nicer monitor. The page
loaded faster, but it wasn't that slow to begin with on the public library
terminals. Since he does graphic and web design work for people, he wasn't
all that impressed, although he thought the idea for the site (to help the
homeless and just plain non-computer people learn how to use the Internet)
was a great one. We definitely need to keep in mind that our page is going
to be on a slow machine with a small, limited-color monitor, and work on
the navigation so it's clear and easy to follow...other than that..the page
looked good!

Good work SSMinnows.”
 -Ama (5:15 pm, 11-30-99)

“In answers to the questions asked:
-The site was not at all easy to find without knowing the url, but I think
that it could be if the url was posted somewhere in the library.

-The site was relatively easy to navigate through, although I must say that
it was kind of annoying to have to keep on pushing the back button.  An
inexperienced user would definitely have trouble with this part of the project.

-My library actually has a relatively fast connection (as far as modems go)
so it loads pretty well.

-I think some tone changes would definitely be a good thing along with more
introduction and explanation of various topics that are discussed in the site.

-Not too many poor people use the library to access the internet in Aiken
County's library.

-I'd have to agree with my classmates that this site is definitely rough to
navigate for an inexperienced user.  I think it's a lot like Chris was
talking about today in class.  Just like it's a really tough thing to dumb
down writing styles to make it really easy to understand for an experienced
reader, it's also tough to dumb down our web page making skills to make it
appeal to someone who isn't as experienced at using the web as we
are.  That's probably the biggest reason that this project has stretched me
(in a good way).  It has made it so that I have to seek to understand the
perspective of people who are coming from a totally different culture as
far as we're concerned.  I think I kinda like that.”
-Joel (7:42 pm, 11-30-99)

“Well, to answer all of the questions:
It was not easy to access the site, unless you knew the address.
It was fairly easy to use, except for the fact that the buttons are so
large, as are the images.
The page loaded easily on any type of machine.
The site is user friendly, but the color schemes are not exactly beautiful.
The site has a lot of good content, if the way it looks is revised, it will
look great.
Homeless people use the computers sometimes, but there is not a large number
of them in my town.
There is not much help provided other than a small piece of paper beside the
computer giving a minimal tutorial.

These are my personal feelings about the site.  It has some really good
content, and will be great after some revision.”
-Chris (8:55 pm, 11-30-99)

“I went to my local library over the break to examine our site. It was not
extremely difficult to access it, though, as many people have said, the
buttons looked really big on the older machines. At least the ones that were
at my library. I had to do a lot of scrolling to get to other parts of the
page. The speed of the pages wasn't too much of a concern. I checked on my
computer at home as well, and it was not that difficult to load the pages.
It's not like there were massive Coldfusion templates to deciver right?

I was browsing through the site at a pretty good clip and everything looked
fine, but then I remembered that the site was designed for people who were
not as experienced with the Internet. I had been right clicking the whole
time because the browser was not set with the tool bar on the top. If I had
not known about the way the browser worked, I wouldn't have been able to
navigate. (This did remind me to put a footer on all of the pages however).
This problem therefore would make the site extremely difficult to navigate
for someone that was not experienced with the Internet.

Commenting on aesthetics: I thought that the Orange looked alright on the
screens. (Except the one cell of the table which was colored incorrectly.
Sorry about that. My Bad.) I think that the new color scheme with the blue
and beige will look fine as well. I didn't encounter the "crappy brownish
color" which has been discussed. I'm not sure if this was because of
different monitor settings or what. The computers on the library do not
allow you to access the display properties to set them or even find out what
they are. I think that some cross links between FAQS, Myths, and Tutorials
would make the site better than it is already. That way people could jump
all over the place and not have any problems.

It was really hard for me to imagine myself as a homeless person working on
the comptuer. I guess I'm just not that creative. I did however notice that
you were not allowed to save to the hard-drive. This would make it really
hard to design a webpage I think. Problems would probably arise from that. I
guess that you could save the files on a disk and then upload them from the
disk. Is that a method suggested in the tutorials? Also, I don't really know
about how the page would help homeless people. I didn't really look at where
the resource links went, I guess that could be why, but it does look like it
will be able to expand the knowledge of those who are not extremely familiar
with the Internet.

That really summed up my library Internet experience. To be honest, I was
glad to get back here to my big monitor and T1 connection. I guess I'm just
-John (10:57 pm, 11-30-99)

“Okay, so I didn't exactly get to go to the library -- I hate being
sick.  But I spent a couple of minutes on the site on my mom and dad's
computer.  From what I saw everything ran very quickly, and everything
seemed to be quite simple in layout.  My parents have a huge monitor, so
every page fit on one screen horizontally.  But I didn't like having to
scroll down on the index page to get to all the buttons on the side.  Make
the buttons smaller, maybe?

I didn't quite have the problems that everyone else had with links back to
the previous page -- I tend to use the browser's back button anyway.  Even
still, we need links to each section in the site on each page.  It makes
navigation smoother and easier.  That's about it for me guys.  Sorry.”

Matt B. (10:54 pm, 11-30-99)

“First of all ... sorry this is late ... I've been working on this darn comp
sci program all night ...

OK... I went to the library in tiny little Warwick NY.  Needless to say,
there isn't much of a homeless population.  However, I spoke to the
librarian about the site and gave her the letter I printed out, and
although there are very few homeless in Warwick, there are of course plenty
of technologically illiterate users.  The library only has two computers
(small town, ya think??), but both have internet access, and I'm not aware
of a necessity for a card or disk to use it.  I've never used the computers
there myself, and there were people using both of them when I went.  When
after I looked around for a while and checked again, the two people were
still on, I left, and decided I'd check at home and have friends give me
some feedback to the site.

From home the site looks good ... my friend agrees that the concept is a
noble one ... but that the site could use some work.  We've all pretty much
touched on the same things.  My complaint over the weekend was that it
still wasn't as "aesthetically pleasing" as i had hoped ... but we took
care of that in class.  The one thing that did come up to just about
everyone I showed the site to was, "How are people who don't know how to
use the Internet going to know enough to find and use our site?"  Which
makes sense ... we could have the libraries bookmark it ... but that's not
going to help someone who doesn't know how to use the net.  We could put up
posters around terminals in the libraries that say, "Type in under
"Location" http://www.nutball.com/beheard if you need help learning the
ropes of the Internet".  Something to think about anyway.

I think that although the site has a lot of bugs, that we did a lot of hard
work on it, possibly even on the hardest part, the development, and it's
something we should look at in a positive light.  I don't know about the
rest of you guys, but even though this project has been a lot of work, it's
easily my favorite thing we've done in this class this year.  I've never
done anything like it, and I had fun learning through it.  It'll be
something to be very proud of when we're done and when the rest of the
classes finish with it.  So even though it's not perfect ... I'm glad we
did it :)”
-Jen (12:25 am, 12-1-99)


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