Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Laptops rolled out to West JH 7th Graders

... 8th graders pick them up later (next week?). The kids are full-on excited about it. Students appear to be treating them ok so far. No rough treatment like one sees with textbooks. Maybe more a sense of ownership? The current hot topic is how to set one's own desktop background graphic.

They are actually netbooks rather than laptops and they appear to be running XP. Two USB ports, probably a 10" screen. No docking slot that I could see. HD rather than SSD, which I find odd. I would have thought the SSD would be much sturdier for kids.

The RISD wifi seems to work seamlessly for the kids. Some have had problems with their home wifi, but this may be related to some wonky wireless network app settings that are apparently being push-fixed by IT.

The lids are engraved "property of RISD", etc.

Monday, January 25, 2010

@RISD - Richardson ISD on Twitter

I didn't know Richardson ISD had a Twitter account. Seems like a good use of the technology.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Slagel: "count the golf courses as public park space"

Shameless spinning of the numbers.

Tell you what: as soon as the golf courses are open to the public for general recreation (for free) I'll let you count them in the park/resident level of service number.

Check out the graphic on the right. Notice how golf courses reside in the "publically owned, low accessibility" quadrant. Do you really want to publish that number when the consultant told you other cities around us do not? At what point does boosterism veer into intentional misinformation?

It's taken from a document on the National Parks and Recreation Association website; this is the "they" the consultant spoke of.

On a serious note: I will give Bob credit for asking whether or not the old, currently-unsused NPRA guideline included golf greens.

Masterplan: Heights is unaffected, right? pt 2

Again, doublecheck the official transcript to make sure I haven't gotten this all bass-ackwards.

{after the break}

Mark: I'm having an anxiety attack. I don't see NOTHIN' about Heights gymnastics!

Consultant: Well....

Mark: I mean, I know gymnastics didn't appear on the top 5, 10, or 20 concerns of the public but we are spending a metric ton of cash on it now. I really can't see us stopping the money flow until the city is bankrupted and empty of human life.

Consultant: the public is happy with the current situation. I mean, Frisco right up the road has a world-class program that is generating Olympic medal winners. Do you really want to get into an arms race in that field?

Mark: Don't get sidetracked: it's about making Heights happy. You clearly don't understand how many wheelbarrows of cash I have agreed to spend on hand talc and landing mats. My grand-daughter has friends who are all gymnasts and when she looks at me with those eyes...

Consultant: normally we use approach called "research", "sanity" and "logic". We can rework the plan using your "gotta have more gymnastics cowbell" approach.

Bob: Parks did a number on it! Everybody knows.... { munches on crackers }

Masterplan: Heights is unaffected, right? pt 1

I was doing a bit of transcription, although in retrospect I have some concerns about my accuracy.

Gary: I see a bunch of stuff up there. Heights projects are unaffected by what we've seen tonight, right?

Consultant: Believe it. {pretends to talk on radio} "The Golden Calf is intact. I repeat: the Golden Calf is intact."

Gary: {wiping brow} Thank god. Wait. Are you sure?

Consultant: It's right here on this slide called "Heights gets their previously-agreed-upon projects and in return they promise not to scuttle the upcoming bonds program." We're foldin' it in right there. Masterplan doesn't get done otherwise. Our contract stipulates "if Heights ain't happy, nobody's happy."

Gary: That's awesome. We're talkin' millions of future debt to work with here; exactly what kind of additional, ludicrous water configurations will work for Heights?

Consultant: The overall plan includes...

Gary: Heights. Stay focused. We're talking about Heights here.

Consultant: Uh...

Gary: a water feature?

Consultant: yes, that's in there.

Gary: A big water feature, a really good one?

Consultant: Yeah. Humongous. We really think we can stuff....

Gary: Rivers? Floating rivers? Heights people gotta float.

Amir: Focus group! Uptown! Desirable demographics! Up and coming incomes!* {starts making sound of hard drive clicking, not spinning up}


* That last bit is an actual quote. I assume it was a Freudian slip.

Masterplan: 35-45 demographic

A business partner once watched me struggle to get a handle on some small, weird detail. He said:

"If you don't understand a given situation, follow the money."[0]

I have used this to good effect over the years. I have heard council members and consultants talk about how they wanted to pull a younger demographic but never grokked it. I think it's starting to come into focus for me.

Let's take the 35-45 demo discussed in the 1/11 work session:

35-45 is where home ownership rates (and hence property taxes) start to increase; and
35-45 is too young to put pressure on senior services or qualify for the senior property tax exemption; and
35-45 is too old to have a bunch of kids putting long-term pressure on the school district and youth services.

BTW: Highland Park park spaces are highly valued not so much for their overall acreage-to-resident ratio, but because the neighborhoods are lovely and one's wife or daughter feels like she can run at night without getting assaulted.

[0] edited on 2/20/2010. I had rewritten the "if you don't understand" line before and left it in illegible condition.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Grafitti before/after

COR has removed (painted over, in this case) the grafitti which I wrote about here. Looks good.

I'd been a little worried because I'd seen grafitti removed in less than 24hrs before, and this one was taking a couple of weeks.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

rumorcheck and the echo chamber

Just so we can get some kind of head-exploding feedback situation going here, I'm pimping Destiny's pimping of msteger's pimping of "Bill's" new site.

Although I frequently disagree with Mr. McCalpin, I generally find his presentation civil and substantive. He's a smart guy and knows his way around a keyboard. Do I worry he may be, effectively or actually, a mouthpiece for the established powers? Sure. I'm not completely gullible.

I think a site for local issues would be a great thing, and I think Bill alludes to that on the site and with the rumorcheck domain. Will rumorcheck really follow up on leads no matter where they go? Or will it be a PR tool (effectively or by design) for COR? I hope for the former and have had my heart broken enough times that I would not be greatly surprised at the latter.

You know, if the DMN would do some fuh-reaking investigative journalism would simply be unnecessary. It will be interesting to see what Bill does with the site. I hope for the best.

[see the later comments -- my 12:30pm comment needed correction]

Friday, January 8, 2010

Moving the non-COR stuff

I'm going to start putting my non-COR stuff over here.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Faith-based crime prevention conference

RPD is asking for help spreading the word about an unfortunately-named Faith-Based Crime Prevention Conference happening in late March, 2010.

No, it's not a Faith-Based conference and it's definitely not a conference about Faith-based crime. It's a conference about Crime Prevention for Faith-based organizations (ie, churches, synagogues, mosques, etc). The idea is to help institutions get a crime prevention program off the ground or improve the one they've got.

It is one effort in a series of efforts targeting residential areas, apartments, businesses, etc. The target audience seems to be church leadership rather than the laity so make sure your preacher, teacher, imam or rabbi knows about the conference.