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January 23rd, 2011 by Admin

Hello, and welcome to the partial list of project pages for the UIUC engagement with The Lessie Bates Davis Center in East St. Louis, IL.  For their official website, please visit


May 3rd, 2007 by Admin

The week after our lab installation the final e-mail was sent to Brad.  We wanted to outline exactly what we did with the computers and the printer.  The e-mail included what was on the computers, how to do simple troubleshooting, and a reminder to replace the toner cartridge in the printer.

E-mail Sent

Hello, Brad,

We wanted to send a note to follow up on last weekend’s visit to the Lessie Bates Davis Center.  We’d like to thank you and your colleagues for being so hospitable during our last two days in East St. Louis.

As you have seen we set up 8 new computers on the far wall.  We purposely kept them spread out so people will be able to have books, notepads, or other items open while they use the computer.  These computers are networked to the printer.  We noticed that the toner cartridge will need to be replaced soon.  Here is a link for the printer:

There are a number of online vendors (, or you can go to an office supply store to purchase the cartridge.

After turning on the computers, you should notice that it produces a sign-on screen.  We did not install passwords, so the user will only need to hit the return key (or click on enter).  We installed Windows 98 on every computer.  In addition, we installed Open Source Software.  This software is identical to Microsoft.

The 6 computers on the wall closest to your office are also networked to print from the printer.  Similarly, they do not have a password, either.  The computers that were previously there (and passwords were not known) had to be wiped clean of all software and reinstalled with Windows98.

Additionally, we were able to salvage four computers from the pile of computers that were staked against the wall.  We placed masking tape with notes about their operating system (Win95, Win98, or WinXP) on the top.  We also left two monitors, two keyboards, and two mice.

There were four computers that we were unable to get working.  We placed masking tape on top with notes saying as much.

Educational software was installed on all of the computers. This includes spelling, typing, and math programs.

We hope that the summer school students will enjoy using the computers.   We also hope that the adults in the community will find the computers resourceful and helpful.

One issue we wanted to bring to your attention is that on a rare occasion a computer may not boot successfully.  If that happens, the user should shut the computer off and restart.  The initial screen will show you a list of options including “Start in Safe Mode” and “Start in Normal Mode” among others.    It will default to “Start in Safe Mode” if another choice is not selected.  However, the user should select “Start in Normal Mode.”

We know that Martin is working with you this summer.  If any problems should arise, please feel free to ask him.

We do hope your community benefits from this computer lab.


Trip and lab installation

April 24th, 2007 by Admin

Finally, the group sent one last e-mail before the second visit in an attempt to receive some kind of acknowledgment that our e-mails were being received.  The final correspondence was simply a reminder or a notification that we would be returning to the site on April 27th and 28th to install 8 computers.  Shortly after that Brad wrote to inform us that the center will be providing the tables and power strips necessary for the installation.

E-mail Sent

Hello Brad,

We just wanted to touch base with you and let you know how the computer project for your lab was advancing.  We have upgraded eight computers for the Lessie Bates Center lab.  Our final week of work will be dedicated to acquiring working mice and keyboards and searching for educational software.  We will deliver and install the eight computers on April 27th and April 28th.  While there we plan to do our best to upgrade the computers you currently have in the lab.  We look forward to visiting the Lessie Bates Center again!


Thank you for your work.  We will provide the tables and power stripes, as you requested.  Please let me know about the printer needs.   Also, what date will you be back ?




We’ll be returning this Friday and Saturday, April 27-28.  I believe we’ve been alotted both days to set up the new computers and work out any problems that might arise (which we hope will be minimal).  We won’t have the new printer, though, as Martin is still working on getting one.  When he does, he said he’d be able to install it during one of his later trips.

We’ve finally finished getting all of your computers working, so we’re excited to install them.  In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the week. We’re looking forward to seeing you soon.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any more questions.


Goals and Plan of Action

March 29th, 2007 by Admin

Quickly after Spring Break, the group met to further discuss our goals for the project.  While devising our plan of action and outlining our priorities, we also drafted our plan to send to Brad.  Once we had completed the draft, which provided our plan for the Center’s lab, what we needed the Center to provide for us, and the possibility of acquiring a printer for the site, the group agreed  to send it on 29 March 2007.  The group never received a response from Brad.

E-mail Sent

Hello, Brad!  After a much-needed Spring Break, it’s time to work again.  We have considered the computers presently at the Lessie Bates Center, as well as those that we can offer.  Given the resources available, this is what we plan to do.

We plan to provide the following for the Lessie Bates Center:
-> 8 tower computers with Pentium III processors and Windows 98 operating systems
-> All computers will have CD-ROM drives and 4 will have DVD-ROM drives
-> Software will include OpenOffice and a few different web browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, etc.); we will look for some free educational software that will suit your needs, but we don’t want to make any promises we can’t keep (rest assured, we will do our best to track down some free educational programs)
-> New keyboards and mice for all computers
-> Cabling for 4 new Internet connections (we will bring extra cabling and an extra switch in case we run into problems)
-> We will replace 4 of your computers (2 with older Pentium II processors and 2 that just did not work at all); this will leave Lessie Bates with a total of 14 computers in the lab
-> We will perform some routine maintenance on the computers you currently have, such as defragmenting the hard drives and cleaning out temporary file folders

To help us out, we ask that the Lessie Bates Center please provide the following:
-> 2 additional tables (like the ones currently used)
-> 2 additional power strips/surge protectors
-> Finally, the outlet near the small staircase on the exterior wall was not working when we visited; this outlet will need to be fixed so we can safely plug in all the computers

Also, you expressed some interest in a new printer.  We will check with Martin to see if he can tap any resources at his church, as he suggested.  To aid us in selection, could you please provide us with some desired specifications for a new printer?  If Martin cannot procure a printer, Lessie Bates would have to cover the expense of a new printer.  If you do decide to provide your own printer, it would be ideal if you could ship it to us here at the U of I.  That way, we can work out any networking problems before we bring it down.

Please let us know at your earliest convenience if this plan sounds like it agrees with what we discussed and what Lessie Bates is looking for.  As you mentioned during our meeting, you may want to speak with Andre about securing the resources Lessie Bates will need to provide.

Thanks very much, Brad!  We really look forward to seeing you folks the second time around.  In the meantime, enjoy the spring weather!


Hello e-mail

March 19th, 2007 by Admin

Soon after our trip to the Lessie Bates Center, the group sent a short hello to Brad.  We wanted to make contact via e-mail, even if just a simple hello, so that if more important issues arose we would have begun a line of communication.  Ethan sent a short e-mail on behalf of the group thanking Brad for his hospitality, letting him know we would be in touch, and telling him how excited we were to work with the Lessie Bates Center.  The group never received a response from Brad.

E-mail Sent

Good afternoon, Brad,

I hope this finds you well and enjoying a beautiful almost-Spring day.

We wanted to touch base with you to say hello and to let you know that we are putting the final touches on our draft document that we’ll send you via email.  This will contain our thoughts and ideas about your current and proposed computer lab.  You will be able to review this document, make edits, suggestions, or deletions.

We very much enjoyed meeting with you to learn more about the Center as well as your valuable work with the community.  Thank you, again, for the pastries, coffee, and juice.  It really hit the spot.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us.  We will return April 27-28.  Look forward to seeing you, then.


Initial Contact

March 10th, 2007 by Admin

Initial contact was made when the group traveled to East St. Louis to meet the people at the Lessie Bates Center.   We were greeted by Bradley, F. Watkins, II.  and a few other gentleman working at the Center that day.  Brad seemed genuinely interested in what we could do to help improve the lab at the Center.  While there we received the oral history of the Lessie Bates Center from Brad.  The group, along with Martin, had dialogue with Brad about the Center’s mission, their expectations, and our ability to meet their needs the best we could.