About Display/Monitor Adapters

Your monitor cable typically looks like this If you are connecting a (secondary) monitor to a laptop, you MAY need an adapter. Here is a guide: Most monitors come with a standard VGA connector/cable. See the image to the right. The cable is typically blue and has three rows of pins. PC's or Older Macs If you have a PC or a (very) old Mac, then chances are it has a [...]

January 21st, 2021|Categories: Take Home Computers|

Chromebooks: Resolving Audio/Video Issues (Zoom/Meet)

The Philadelphia School District has provided some guidelines to deal with Zoom/Meet issues on CHROMEBOOKS (no video, no audio). Besides making sure it is set up correctly, it appears some of the Chromebooks are barely powerful enough and some housekeeping may alleviate the issues you are experiencing. Note: the below applies to District-provided Chromebooks, not the lap- and desk-tops provided by us (PCF). (Click images below to enlarge) Verify your settings (in case of no [...]

January 15th, 2021|Categories: Using Linux|Tags: |

Connecting Your Camera and Microphone

Very few of the desktop computers PCF has given out include a camera or microphone. And most of the laptops do not include a camera or microphone either. These laptops were either too old or they were ordered to exclude these features due to privacy concerns. Times have changed... PCF has found cameras online for less than $20. If you are looking to purchase one, please make sure the lens is auto focus and the [...]

May 11th, 2020|Categories: Using Linux|Tags: , |

Take Home Computers for Remote Learning

After the first school district shut down back in April, many of our partner schools approached PCF for help. While the district had provided a large/huge infusion of Chromebooks, there were not enough to go around and in some cases, schools were reluctant to empty out their classroom inventory in fear of equipment loss or damage upon the students' return to school (some day). There was a lot of uncertainty and some schools simply did [...]

May 1st, 2020|Categories: Take Home Computers|Tags: |

Connecting to Wi-Fi

Desktop Computer Users: USB wi-fi adapter Desktop computers typically do not have wi-fi built-in. You will need a USB Wi-Fi "adapter" to add wi-fi functionality to your desktop computer. A Wi-Fi adapter is a little device that plugs into one of your USB ports on your computer (just like your keyboard, mouse, printer, etc.). If you do not have a wi-fi adapter, you will need to connect your desktop computer to your internet [...]

April 29th, 2020|Categories: Using Linux|Tags: |

Updating your Computer

For a variety of reasons, it is good practise to keep your computer updated. Sometimes, websites will stop working if your browser is too old plus there are security updates/patches, and so on. To update your computer, follow these steps: Step 1: Click the Xubuntu menu at the top left of your screen: Step 2: Type "Update" and launch the orange "Software Updater" app: Step 3: If it appears, click "OK" to ignore the "Failed [...]

April 29th, 2020|Categories: Using Linux|

600+ Laptops Donated to Philadelphia Public Schools

Through the generous equipment and monetary donations from Radnor Middle School, Einstein Healthcare Network, Jefferson Health, the Drumcliff Foundation, and private donors, PCF has been able to significantly increase our support to Philadelphia public schools in the 2019-2020 school year. All in all more than 600 laptops have been donated this year already to various schools including: HH Houston, FS Edmonds, J Logan, WG Harding, T Mifflin, and others. In some cases, the PCF-donated laptops [...]

~250 Family Take-Home Computers Donated

PCF has been working with selected schools to provide parents and caregivers with free take-home computers. As part of the application process, parents commit to spend at least one hour a week with their student/s on the (premium) educational websites that are provided by the District. These are the same educational websites students use during school hours. Tools such as Lexia, iReady, Sumdog and so forth provide a great way for students to cacth up [...]

Basic Refurbishing Instructions

The Refurbishing Process Explained: PCF maintains master computers that are cloned (replicated) using USB sticks/Flash Drives These master computers are configured with three different types of users. They include accounts for: Students with added protections Admins (for parents, teachers, adults) PCF admin account (in case Admins forget their password) After the master is set up the way we want it, we make an "image" of it. An image is a compressed file of the entire [...]

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Refurbishing|

USB Installer Flash Drive Imaging

There are two ways to "image" (clone) a machine using a PCF USB Installer Flash Drive: Use the script that automates much of the process Perform the steps manually Boot from the USB: Start up your computer from a PCF USB Installer Flash drive. Instructions to do so here » Start up the Terminal application. Double-click the App icon on the Desktop of choose it from the Favorites in the App menu. Use the Automated [...]

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Refurbishing|

How to Set up Your Desktop

Download the PDF of this page » Step 1 - Placing the equipment Decide where you want your computer to go Make sure you have a working Internet connection nearby (in wall or router) Make sure power is nearby Set up a table/s for the computer/s Decide how to make do with the room you have Do not connect any wires until you are sure where your equipment will go Start by putting the keyboard/s [...]

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Using Linux|

Wi-Fi Networks Do Not Show Up

On the top right of your desktop screen, you will find the time and some smaller icons for networking, bluetooth, volume, etc. To connect to a Wi-Fi network, simple choose the network from the list of available networks in the networking dropdown (top right). If no networks appear, first make sure the "Enable Networking" is checked/on in that menu. Then also make sure the "Enable Wi-Fi" is enabled as well. If Wi-Fi is not shown [...]

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Using Linux|Tags: |

Battery Not Holding a Charge

If your computer's battery does not hold a charge (for long) then likely your battery or charger are damaged. This can happen due to age and/or physical damage. If the battery LED on your laptop intermittently flashes amber or red, then there may not be much you can do. Remove the battery and re-install it to make sure this isn't the problem. If that didn't work, you can contact us to see if we are [...]

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Using Linux|

Changing the Main Language of Your System

If you would like to pick a language other than "English (United States)" as your main language, follow these instructions: Important: make sure your computer is connected to the Internet via hard wire or wi-fi. make sure you are logged in as an Admin (see FAQ "(Very) Basic Getting-Started Guide (incl Admin password)" for default password info Please note that the support for languages varies. That is why you specify a Main language as well [...]

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Using Linux|

Loud fan but not starting up

If your computer's fan sounds like it is going on full blast but your computer is not starting up, please try the following: Unplug your computer Press and hold the power button for 30 seconds (to drain the battery completely) plug everything back in and try again Leave the system on for up to an hour. Sometimes it is going through a series of diagnostic tests and may come up normal upon completion.  

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Refurbishing|

Beeps (1-3-4-3) upon startup

If your computer beeps (1 beep-3-4-3) but doesn't boot then this is often a memory related issue. Please try the following: Unplug the power cord Remove the memory chips from the machine Make sure they are the same size and speed and inserted into the right slots (blue before green and typically inside before outside ordering). Start with one stick. Repeat these steps to add another Often times just removing the memory and reinserting them [...]

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Refurbishing|

Complete Xubuntu Documentation

Since early 2016, PCF has been using Xubuntu for all of our computers. Xubuntu is a Debian/Ubuntu based operating system that is bosh fast and user friendly. We are using version 16.0.4 which is supported until April of 2019. If you are interested, the full user documentation for version 16.0.4 is located here: https://docs.xubuntu.org/1604/user/C/index.html  

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Using Linux|

Access Keys for Boot Order & BIOS

To specify the drive you wish to boot from or to access the BIOS screen, repeatedly press the appropriate Function key immediately after turning on the computer. The Function Key to use/press depends on your computer brand/model. ASUS (most models) ESC to enter boot menu (choose pmap for USB). Delete or F2 to enter BIOS. Dell (most models) F12 for Boot menu. F2 or F10 for BIOS. HP (most models) F9 for boot. ESC or [...]

September 17th, 2019|Categories: Refurbishing|

PCF Support of Programs and Community Centers

Besides working with schools and families directly, PCF is committed to help Community Centers, Churches, After School programs, and anyone else willing to make computers available to their communities free of charge. That includes supporting other organizations, non-profits, and programs by providing them with computers and projectors, or assist in teaching classes. PCF has partnered with various other organizations that run programs to benefit the communities we serve. Often times these organizations are able to [...]

Classroom Computers/Printers for Our Partner Schools

During the 2018-19 school year, PCF donated and installed hundreds of desktop computers to various local schools including Houston, Emlen, Logan, Mifflin, and others. The bulk of them were installed into classrooms with the remainder used in computer labs, libraries, and parent resource (HSA) rooms. About 20 printers were installed in various classrooms too. The computer equipment is donated to PCF by various local businesses. We then clean it up and refurbish it (add memory [...]

Assisting a 7th Grade Science Teacher plus 3D Classes at Mifflin

This year PCF was very excited to team up with Ms McConnell, 7th grade science teacher at Mifflin Elementary. We used 3D printing to help illustrate basic science concepts. Ms McConnell and PCF had been trying to figure out something to do with her 7th grade that would not merely let the students doodle with 3D software but use it to enhance her curriculum. The students had been learning about different types of energy so [...]

June 17th, 2019|Categories: Technology Classes|Tags: , |

One Way to Spend Your Spring Break…

Western Suburbs Chapter volunteers Ashwin and Srikar chose to spend time volunteering for PCF during their short Spring Break holiday this year. With the help of their families, they met PCF at our storage facility where we refurbished a lot of computers on the first day. The next day they returned to visit three different community centers in Philadelphia to install/drop-off the newly refurbished computers. The three programs we helped that day are: Concerned Black [...]

150 Laptops Donation By Ellucian, Malvern

On 13th March 2019, PCF Director Jan Deruiter and the PCF Western suburbs co-founders Srikar and Ashwin, along with their volunteers Divyesh and Vineeth picked up a donation of 150 laptops and 3 iPads from Ellucian in Malvern, PA. We are extremely grateful for this donation as both the laptops and the iPads are very desirable and hard to come by! This donation is in addition to another 100 laptops we received from Ellucian last [...]

March 19th, 2019|Categories: PCF Suburbs|

~160 Computers Donated, Delivered, and Installed at Houston Elem.

For the second year in a row, HealthShare Exchange (web ») employees helped PCF with a full day of volunteering. About 30 employees showed up on a hot late summer day at the beginning of the school year, rolled up their sleeves and helped refurbish, clean, and install about 120 desktop computers at Houston Elementary school on Allens Lane in Mt. Airy. In addition, PCF provided another 40+ laptops throughout the building. Just carrying them [...]

60 High-End Laptops to Three Schools

On August 20th, PCF Western suburbs co-founders Ashwin and Srikar, along with their new volunteer Divyesh G., had the opportunity to visit three Philadelphia public schools to distribute a total of 60 laptops. Over the summer, the duo contacted local area companies and organizations to solicit the computer donations. In the end, they acquired about 120 great laptops, many of them with touch screens, lots of memory and crisp displays. Ashwin and Srikar cleaned the equipment [...]

10-Unit Lab at South Philly Community Center

Last Friday, PCF Director Jan Deruiter joined PCF's Western Suburb Chapter members Srikar and Ashwin for the installation of a 10-unit lab in a South Philadelphia Community Center. The Community Center offers a variety of programs to serve the Bhutanese refugee (learn more ») community who have resettled in the Philadelphia area in last ten years. Among the programs offered are computer literacy classes, music, and others. PCF installed 5 desktops in a lab room [...]

Coatesville Better Tomorrows Mini Lab

Today, the PCF Western Suburbs Chapter team of Srikar and Ashwin installed their second Community Center at Better Tomorrows, a national organization that empowers communities around the country, including Coatesville, PA. The organization's social coordinator, Ms. Crystal Lowery, contacted PCF requesting a donation of ten computers along with a printer for their Center. Ashwin and Srikar successfully completed the setup by refurbishing, imaging, and installing four desktops, six laptops, and a printer. In the application, Ms. [...]

Coatesville ‘Kids to College’ Mini Lab

This week, the PCF Western Suburbs crew installed their first Community Center Lab in Coatesville, Pa. Ashwin and Srikar, who head up the PCF Western Suburbs chapter, identified the Program to support and solicited the equipment donations that were used (in part) to support the program. Additional support was provided by PCF. The recipient program is called the "Coatesville Kids to College" program, which is headed up by Mr. Keith Wilburn and is housed in [...]

3D Teaching During the 2017-18 School Year

During the 2017-2018 school year, PCF greatly enhanced our 3D Printing offering. In order to do so, we purchased a new printer that allows us to print more objects at the same time and it is much faster. We provided classes during and after school at Edmonds, Logan, Emlen and Mifflin. Since printing still takes a long time, the objects are printed at our office after they are created. So students may finish something one [...]

Classroom Computers Installed

During the 20117-18 school year, a great deal of effort was spent ensuring that the teachers in the schools we work with have all the computer equipment they need...or that they have room for, in some cases. The District has done a great job providing schools with additional computers and ChromeBooks but the need remains great. So PCF has worked hard to try and fill the gap. In many cases. the hardest part for us [...]

30+ Projectors Distributed

Two weeks or so ago, Friends' Central School in Wynnewood donated a van-load full of iMacs and Projectors to PCF. This week, the projectors were distributed to some very happy schools including Emlen, Logan, Dobson, Mifflin, Steel, Houston, and Edmonds. To save each school's tech person the hassle, PCF changed the settings on the projectors as they will not be ceiling mounted. It is a little quirky changing the settings when the screen is projected upside [...]

DIY Classroom Computers at Mifflin

Today we spent some time in Ms. Salter's classroom at Mifflin Elementary School in East Falls. She requested 10 laptops to use for Google Classroom assignments, typing practice, creating papers, and doing research for projects. Since we do not have a Tech-Master program up and running at Mifflin, Ms. Salter offered her 4th graders to help refurbish the ten laptops PCF donated to her classroom. The students learned to boot the laptops from an external [...]

$1,000 Community Partner Grant from Wells Fargo

Last Friday PCF received a $1,000 Community Partner Grant from Wells Fargo. We are extremely grateful to receive this annual unrestricted grant from Wells Fargo. To receive the grant, we visited our sponsoring Wells Fargo branch at Academy Plaza in NorthEast Philadelphia where we met with Branch Manager Luz Bonilla and Service Manager Ms. Lotoya Kellier and several other tellers and advisors. Besides the grant, we also received some swag (measuring tapes, keychains, notepads) and [...]

November 12th, 2017|Categories: Sponsors|Tags: |

Friends’ Central Donates iMacs and Projectors to PCF

Today we picked up a donation of iMacs and Projectors from Friends' Central School in the Overbrook area of Philadelphia. We are extremely excited to accept this donation as both the iMacs and the Projectors are very desirable and hard to come by! The iMacs will be distributed to classrooms that require desktop computers with Wi-Fi capability (our normal machines need to be hardwired). And we will use some of these Macs as take-home computers [...]

November 2nd, 2017|Categories: Corporate Donation, Sponsors|Tags: |

“Tech-master” Program at Logan

PCF is delighted to implement our "Tech-Master" program (a.k.a. "It Support Team" or "Geek Squad" program) at Logan. Logan has utilized PCF's Classroom Computers for a few years now and the goal is to teach a small group of 3rd and 4th graders how to install and update PCF's computers as needed. PCF has always utilized students whenever possible but this class' goal is to make these young students responsible for our equipment. In the process, [...]

Website Creation Classes at Emlen

PCF started to teach our "Website Creation" class to Emlen Elementary students. About 14 students are part of the "Computer Club" After School Program. The website creation program is expected to last at least 6 weeks. The classes are made possible in part by our StartupPHL grant and PCF is fortunate to be supported by Emlen's computer teacher Ms. Vera Hromadka. PCF's Director Deruiter has run a Philadelphia Web business, MostlyWeb, Inc., since 1996 and is [...]

October 18th, 2017|Categories: Technology Classes|Tags: , |

iMac Donation by Pan American School

Over the summer, we met with Pan American School's Director of Technology Zach Brown to discuss a possible equipment donation to PCF. Earlier today, we were delighted to pick up 12 iMacs that were already wiped clean and factory reset by Mr. Brown. The iMacs are particularly useful for job/career training and graphics-heavy training. To that end, at two of the community centers we outfitted with computers over the summer, they are planning to do [...]

October 8th, 2017|Categories: Sponsors|

PCF Receives Phila. Dept of Commerce Grant

The Philadelphia Children's Foundation has received a $30,000 Grant from the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. The grant was part of the StartupPHL initiative, which uses public money to match investment in Philadelphia’s innovation ecosystem. PCF received the grant to fund two efforts: 1) our "Tech-Masters" (a.k.a. "IT Support Teams") program which creates and nurtures small IT Support teams inside schools to install and maintain our donated equipment, and 2) computer literacy teaching (to larger cohorts of students in [...]

Health Partners Plans and PCF Provide 60 Laptops to Lab Charter

On Tuesday September 19, The Philadelphia Children's Foundation, Health Partners Plans, and the Health Partners Foundation presented The Laboratory Charter School with 60 refurbished Laptop Computers. The computers will be used by the teachers and their students. Established in 1997, 'Lab Charter' has three locations in Philadelphia: 2 in the Overbrook section of Philadelphia and another in Poplar (below Fishtown). Laboratory Charter School provides a progressive, multi-lingual, and culturally diverse educational environment. PCF's long time [...]

September 19th, 2017|Categories: Classroom Computers, Corporate Donation, Sponsors|Tags: |

Lab Wiring at ET Steel

When we contacted Steel about updating our classroom computers at their school, we learned that they needed some help in their computer lab. The first two rows of Macs needed to be hardwired. SDP had been asked but as the beginning of the school year is crunchtime, no guarantees were made as to when they'd be able to do the work. Later that day, PCF purchased some cable 'channels' (to run wires on the floor) [...]

September 11th, 2017|Categories: Classroom Computers|Tags: |

Five Below Back-to-School Drive

Five Below has been incredibly supportive of PCF by organizing two separate customer donation drives at various Philadelphia area locations. Altogether, these drives have amounted to several thousand dollars in toys and much needed supplies. Earlier this year, the Easter drive was a huge success which enabled several schools to create incentive programs aimed at improving behavior among students. Most recently, Justin Strycharz and regional manager Craig Ridgell once again organized a customer donation drive, this [...]

Community Ctr for HIV Positive Youth in Southwest

Pastor Brawner, who runs the Haven Paniel church in North Philadelphia where we installed a 10-unit lab, also runs a support center for HIV positive youth in Southwest Philadelphia. The mission of Haven Youth Center is to provide educational, social, and recreational services to HIV positive youth to support healthy, age-appropriate development and transition into adulthood. Haven provides HIV positive youth with a recreational facility to decrease social isolation, improve self-concept/self-esteem, enhance communication skills, and [...]

July 26th, 2017|Categories: Publicly Accessible Mini-Labs|

Computer Lab at Haven Peniel Church

This publicly accessible computer lab at the Haven Paniel Methodist Church in North Philadelphia was referred to us by the Brewerytown Community Center (where we recently installed a lab). Pastor Brawner also runs a Youth Center in Southwest Philadelphia where we installed a 3-unit lab and a printer. Haven Peniel United Methodist Church has a rich 139 year history of serving economically disadvantaged people in Philadelphia in part by bringing needed resources to the community. [...]

July 26th, 2017|Categories: Publicly Accessible Mini-Labs|

2017 Equipment Donation by PMHCC

PMHCC (The Philadelphia Mental Health Care Corporation) has donated computer equipment to PCF in the past. Even though it had been a year and a half or so, all of us remembered how cold it was during the last pickup. It must have been traumatic because even though it was the middle of July, we all came better prepared: more people, more carts, a bigger truck, and razor blades to remove the asset tag stickers [...]

July 19th, 2017|Categories: Corporate Donation|

Five Below Customer Donation Drive

Justin Strycharz (l) and Craig Ridgell In the early Spring, PCF received a call from Justin Strycharz at Five Below asking if we would like to participate in their annual Easter Drive. PCF would be the recipient of goods purchased and donated by Five Below customers during checkout at regional stores. We replied that we'd love to participate figuring we would receive a few boxes of goods that we would divvy up among [...]

15-Unit Lab at a Brewerytown Community Center

PCF installed a 15-unit computer lab at the Brewerytown Sharswood NAC/CDC, located at 30th & Master Street in the Brewerytown section of Philadelphia. The facility serves a community of over 8,000 of which 51% live below the government poverty level line; the rate of unemployment is higher than any other zip code (19121) in the city of Philadelphia; the school drop out rate is high with a high rate of recidivism in this service area. [...]

July 12th, 2017|Categories: Publicly Accessible Mini-Labs|

Laptops for the Village of the Arts & Humanities

PCF received a request from the Village for some laptop computers. When we learned that the laptops were needed for programming and web development courses being taught over the summer, we jumped at the opportunity. The Village is an amazing place and a great resource and PCF was delighted they were teaching computer courses over the summer. All in all 10 laptops (donated by the Radnor School district) were set up on the third floor [...]

Donation by an Airport-Based Company

PCF received a generous equipment donation of about 120 CPU's and monitors from a company that wishes to remain anonymous. We are accustomed to receiving equipment donations in parking lots and loading docs at corporate parks, school grounds on the mainline, or downtown. But this was the first time we ventured out to the airport to pick up the goods curbside ! The logistics were a little tricky as you can't leave your car or [...]

June 29th, 2017|Categories: Corporate Donation|

More Support from Wayne Elementary

The Radnor School District, which includes Wayne Elementary, has been incredibly supportive of PCF over the years. They have donated hundreds of laptops, thousands of books, some laptop carts and a variety of other equipment such as projectors, monitors, etc. Thanks to their generosity, hundreds of Philadelphia students are benefitting from better stocked libraries in their schools, laptop carts filled laptops, and equipment in their classrooms. Their laptops have also found their way into community [...]

June 27th, 2017|Categories: Corporate Donation|Tags: |