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Statewide Broadband Summit Scheduled in Wyoming

in News/Technology
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By Cowboy State Daily

Spurred by poor state rankings for broadband connectivity, a federal official has organized a “broadband summit” to be held later this month in Casper.

Wally Wolski, the new state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s office of Rural Development, said the Wyoming Rural Broadband Summit on Oct. 10 will give elected officials,  broadband service providers, engineers and others a chance to discuss the obstacles to statewide broadband internet service.

“In certain areas of our state, the connectivity is as good as any place in the country,” Wolski said. “However, in our state because of our population, there are areas that don’t have any connectivity.”

Wyoming is ranked 46th in the country for broadband connectivity, according to a recent study by BroadbandNow — a self-described watchdog group which “helps consumers find and compare Internet service providers in their area.”

Wolski said it is a priority of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue to help rural states get connected.

Wolski said the disparity between urban and rural areas for broadband connectivity is similar to the “electrification gap” in the US back in the 1920s and 1930s.

“It was a real case of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’,” he said. “We have the same issue today with broadband. Electrification didn’t just provide lights to rural areas, it empowered people and look at all the things that came about because of electricity.”

Wolski said the key to having a successful outcome is to put people who have the power to implement decisions in the same room and to share ideas, experiences, and solutions.

For more information on the summit, to be held at the Casper Events Center, visit the USDA Rural Development Office website at https://www.rd.usda.gov/wy or call (307) 233-6700.

Ransomware attack shuts down computer network at Campbell County Health

in Health care/News/Technology
Randomware virus
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Gillette — A “ransomware” virus shut down the Campbell County Health computer system on Friday, forcing the Campbell County Memorial Hospital to direct incoming emergency patients to other facilities, according to the health system’s website.

According to the CCH website, “All CCH computer systems have been affected, which impacts the organization’s ability to provide patient care.”

“We have processes in place to continue to treat inpatients appropriately and safely,” Colleen Heeter, Chief Operating Officer, said in the statement. “We will continue to update this information as it becomes available.” 

CCH first became aware of the ransomware attack about 3 a.m. Friday morning. As of Friday night, there was no information as to when computer systems would be restored. 

Services disrupted at at CCH include:

  • No outpatient lab, respiratory therapy and radiology exams or procedures;
  • No new inpatient admissions;
  • Some surgery cancellations;
  • Patients coming to the emergency department and walk-in clinic will be triaged and transferred to an appropriate care facility if needed.

Patients are urged that before coming to appointments, to contact their clinic or department to see if they still scheduled. Phone systems remain operational.

According to Dame Joslyn, CCH Public Information Spokesperson, current patients are being treated as normal, but new patients are being diverted to hospitals in Casper, Sheridan and Rapid City, South Dakota. 

“We have transferred six patients since 11:30 Friday morning.” “We (CCH) have enlisted numerous local, state and federal officials,” added Joslyn.

Grow With Google reaches Wyoming

in Community/News/Technology
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A national program aimed at teaching people how to improve their digital skills reached Wyoming last week.

“Grow With Google” teams appeared at the Natrona and Laramie county libraries to lead classes in how people can use online tools to improve their computer skills, making them increasingly attractive to employers.

Officials with Grow With Google said a private study shows that eight out of 10 middle-skill jobs paying an average of $20 per hour now require some digital skills.

Google public affairs manager Katherine Williams said the classes help teach people how to find information that will help them find jobs or boost their own businesses.

“We’re looking to help educate folks on how they can get to that next level on their education so they can continue to grow with the economy as it does shift and change,” said Katherine Williams, a public affairs manager with Google.

Computers have become an increasingly important tool in business and Grow With Google helps people learn how to use that tool, she added.

“It’s increasingly important to understand, in today’s economy, how to use computers and the Internet to find information to further your career, to grow your small business,” she said.

Google has invested $1 billion in the program, which was launched in 2017, and usually partners with libraries to offer its courses.

Carey Hartmann, executive director of the Laramie County Library, said it made sense for Google to work with local libraries because that is where people go on their own to further their educations.

“And now we need to grow our digital skills and they’re changing so quickly that it’s natural for Google to want to parter with libraries and for libraries to want to partner with Google,” she said.

Microsoft contributes to computer science training

in Education/News/Technology
Microsoft contributes to computer science training
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By Becky Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Microsoft Corp. will provide more than $95,000 in grant money to the Wyoming Department of Education to provide computer science training for the state’s school districts.

The grant money is part of Microsoft’s TechSpark Initiative to offer computer science program implementation and training through the organization CSforAll — Computer Science for All.

CSforALL strives to make computer science a part of every student’s K-12 education.

The help from Microsoft is especially important now, given that the state Legislature passed a bill in 2018 that districts must offer computer science education to every K-12 student, said Laura Ballard, the Education Department’s supervisor for its student and teacher resource team. The goal must be reached by the 2022-23 school year.

“The timing is perfect,” she said. 

Training will involve several self-assessment and goal-setting activities.

“It will give districts the opportunity to think strategically about how to implement a high quality education in the districts,” Ballard said. 

Dennis Ellis, the manager of Microsoft’s TechSpark program in Wyoming, said in a news release that computer skills will be essential for students seeking jobs in the future.

“Making computer science education an opportunity within reach of every student ensures that Wyoming’s children can be future ready and will make our state attractive to public and private investments that can drive economic growth,” Ellis said.

Computer science education will be the first content area that educators and education officials in Wyoming will implement from the ground up, according to Ballard.

The task can be overwhelming to think about, she said Tuesday.

“When I was talking with some of our partners with Microsoft, they pointed me in the direction of CSforALL training,” she said. “It really is intended to help districts take a systems approach to create a plan to implement computer science.”

This training will help educators create a vision of computer science education and how it fits in their district’s vision for education, Ballard said.

Districts have to apply to attend the training, which will take place one of five locations around the state.

Locations and dates are:

·  Casper:  May 14-15; Oct. 15; and May 20, 2020.

·  Rock Springs: June 4-5; Nov. 14; and June 4, 2020

·  Cheyenne: June 11-12, 2019; Nov. 19, 2019; and June 11, 2020.

·  Worland: Aug. 5-6, 2019; Jan. 7, 2020; and Aug. 6, 2020.

·  Gillette: Sept. 24-25, 2019; Feb. 25, 2020; and Sept. 24, 2020.

Casper to host ‘Global Game Jam’ event

in News/Technology
Man playing computer games in a gaming forum, ALT=Global Gaming jam
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By Brady Brinton

Wyoming game designers will come together in Casper this weekend to collaborate on new video game creations as part of a national “Global Game Jam.”

During the event, to begin Friday evening at the Wyoming Technology Business Center, programmers and designers of all skill levels will collaborate to create playable video games.

What exactly is a Game Jam? A Game Jam is a two-day session where people collaborate together to create playable video games. Attendees will form groups to program the code, design the art and graphics, fashion a musical score, create sound effects and architect the gameplay. The objective is two part; create a functional and emersible game, and to create synergy and provide experience in the game design field.

At the same time participants are working in Casper, others will be working at hundreds of locations around the world.

According to organizers, the event encourages people with all kinds of backgrounds to participate and contribute to the global spread of game development and creativity.

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