Second week in Buthan - from Excel to PowerPoint & Computer Security

Monday 25.01

We started our second week in high spirits, now with the whole course plan outlined. After some Excel repetition, we stressed in the first class the importance of formatting and presentation. For blind, it is very common to forget that a spreadsheet must be presentable and readable for a visual end user. This is actually quite like working with sysadmins...

We also explained for the students how an end user will judge a spreadsheet based on how it looks. There is no point of creating an advanced spreadsheet if a user can't read it, or don't believe it's made by a professional.

Tuesday 26.01

After a rough week with intense, work related training we started summarizing. For our students' sake, this was our last day with teaching in Microsoft Excel. After lunch we started working with Microsoft PowerPoint.

PowerPoint can be an ever bigger challenge for a blind person than Excel. In Excel, it is hard to get a complete coverage, but in all, it's just rules. For an example; if(b1>=100,POSITIVE). PowerPoint however is a bit more difficult. For a normal sighted person it is very easy. But to change and know the different layouts, color schemes and styles is for blind extremely difficult. It requires a sharp mind were the user always remembers what types of settings being used, what type of information being written and to be able to think what it look likes.

In addition to creating a good presentation with styles, text length and colors, they must think of so much more. In addition, JAWS, the screen reading software has a lot of bugs, making PowerPoint much harder than it should have been.

In the evening we went out with some of the teachers in the resource group. Here we were able to meet the teachers under different circumstances and this I hope was very good for all of us.

Wednesday 27.01

The first half of the day I teached Srimann and Wangchuk in computer security, while the rest of the students made presentations. In Bhutan, there is a huge amount of computer viruses, and computer security is a overlooked problem. The local computers all use old unpatched versions of Windows XP, and some also use pirated software. This combined with a low knowledge in computer security means that Bhutan has a serious IT-problem.

First I showed Srimann and Wangchuk how to use an Ubuntu Live CD to read from a crashed Windows machine. I explained the difference between operating systems, and their weaknesses and strengths. The ability to retrieve files from a broken or virus infected windows computer is very important for our resource group. We then showed the group how badly infected some of the local computers were.

I had a spare USB memory stick which I connected to a PC at the school. 15 seconds later I disconnected it and mounted it on my PC running Ubuntu. At that short time span three different viruses had infected the memory stick. I then showed them how to clean the data, format the drive and how to avoid getting viruses in the first place.

Since pirating is a big problem in Bhutan I have stressed at many occasions the high risk of entering and using internet pirate sites. A lot of the viruses on the local machines are, regrettable enough, obtained from these pirate sites. After lunch we continued using PowerPoint and the students were yet again tasked with creating another presentation.

Thursday 28.01

Today we started with working further with PowerPoint. We worked much more with layout, styles and different ways creating animations. The students were then given the task of creating a small presentation each about Bhutan. These presentations would later be presented to the other students.

It is important for us to teach these students not only the program itself, but also how to use it in a realistic job situation. We therefore used some time in explaining how to connect a VGA-cable, how to easily switch to clone view, extended and the different uses of these settings. The students then presented their presentation and we could comment on what worked well and what didn't. This was also a good chance for the students to see what worked well with Jaws under a presentation, and what that didn't work so well.

We also worked with protecting documents and files. Some of the participants of the course are singers and artists that want to protect their files from thieves. I then showed them how to protect files using an encryption program. For one quick and eager participants regret, I failed to specify the importance of remembering the encryption password. However no important files that couldn't be retrieved were lost.

Saturday 30.01

The first half of Saturday was used for having exams. Roar and I had prepared assignments and between 9 and 11 the students had their exams. After the exam was completed we corrected the papers and gave each student an individual feedback. In the evening we had a social get-together at a smaller bar were all our students and some of the resource group participated.

Sunday 31.01

On Sunday Roar and I felt like recharging our batteries after two weeks of constant work and meetings. We spent the day on the front porch, listening to music and reading. In the evening we went out with the resource group and some of the students for an informal get-together. This was a very pleasant experience and we enjoyed meeting everyone away from the social settings. The students had spent the day writing evaluation of the course, teachers and etc.