Thursday, December 18, 2014

She IS Good

Within hours of swearing in Dunwoody's Prophetess of Transparency to replace the opaque and disgraced former commissioner DeKalb County was awarded Ballotpedia.org's highest rating (A Plus) for transparency.

Correlation?

Causality?

Coincidence? We think not.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Software Estimation

On a good day estimating the scope of a software development project is problematic. Based on success rates it appears intractable. Without arguing whether or not setting up a web site constitutes software development it is interesting to note that our newly sworn in County Commissioner is "already working to create a web site that will show real-time information about her office's spending." So sayeth the AJC. The interesting part is that despite the preliminary work "she said she hopes to have the website ready in about a month, but it could take longer."

No joking.

This could just be adept politician-speak, where every apparent commitment comes with a caveat you could drive an epic fail thru or it could be a voice of experience that understands no software effort ever comes in on time and under budget. Not with all the requested features anyway. Or maybe she's thought better of hiring friends or family for this project as that would not be a good start towards good governance. But it would help her fit in with the rest of her colleagues on and beyond the Commission. Or perhaps she is seriously considering hiring the yahoos responsible for Dunwoody's CAD-to-CAD (non)interface and is certain that will make the project open ended if it ever works at all. Deliberately choosing to fail on the first and only known transparency project should give everyone pause.

Given the decades of software development experience in the community of The Other Dunwoody, we would like to offer a time tested software estimation technique:

  1. ask the programmer how much time it will take to develop the feature or product, making sure you get the estimate they honestly believe in and not the inflated estimate they know their managers expect
  2. take that estimate, double the number and go up to the next time unit (e.g., 1 day -> 2 weeks)
We are guessing that the CAD-to-CAD bozoids told our previous Most Eminent City Manager that this simple interface project would take two months at the outside. Seems like it has been a bit closer to four years, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Forced Pregnancy

The zygote known as Cliffside is not only the product of compulsory copulation but now has gone just a bit too incestuous for comfort. But let us set aside talk of the hillbilly soap opera for now and focus on the more important and terribly inconvenient fact exposed by this knee-shaker.

This city cannot pay its own way.

The wrangling over Northlake Mall and the surrounding businesses demonstrates very clearly that the citizens of this proposed City of Cliffside cannot or will not pay for their precious little city and its promise of "local control." This is neither new nor surprising. But because the fight over the authority to redistribute business wealth to resident/voters is between two prospective cities and is not city vs county the issue is naked, stark and in plain view.

Cities are parasites pure and simple. They take money from businesses to support the political power structures housed in their city halls and if you are unconvinced spend a few moments and ponder the newly formed partnership between Brookhaven and the Pink Pony. The folks behind citihood stampedes have always known this but this time around we have two cities, Cliffside and Tucker, conjoined at Northlake and any attempt to separate the two will result in the death of at least one.

The real problem is this situation exposes the lies underpinning the successful citihood movements. How can it be that this economic engine is absolutely necessary for city viability yet at the same time taking it away from the county has no negative impact? That was the gist of the argument around Perimeter Center when Dunwoody was formed. It begs the question: if the county can do just fine after all the business centers are gobbled up into cities then why can't the cities do just fine without gobbling up these centers in the first place? The lie is exposed and the liars are exposed as liars of the most odious sort.

Where power grab and prevarication intersect it is not uncommon to find hypocrisy. Such is the case here. Though "local control" is the banner they rally around the real force behind citihood is money. In DeKalb's denser, richer northern areas the prevalent perception is "we send all our money south and  don't get anything in return" which can be viewed as selfishness or a reluctance to contribute to the greater good but is nonetheless used to fan the flames of anger and rebellion. Effectively.

Then they turn around and do exactly the same thing to businesses that they have just successfully accused the county of doing to them. Take their money, spend it elsewhere while giving them no effective representation when spending decisions are made. To bring it closer to home, how, EXACTLY, does the Cheesecake Factory benefit from road paving in a cloistered subdivision like Redfield? Yet that is what they and many other businesses in Perimeter Center are paying for.

And there are racial overtones. After all this is DeKalb and in DeKalb "North" is code for "white" and "South" means "black." And we cannot pass this off on the ignorant inbred racism of Southern Whites as many of those in the north are also Northern Transplants and where they come from liberalism flourishes because it is not challenged. Ironically, even with self-segregation it takes only a few short years before they are ready to trade in their membership in the Knights of Columbus for a chance at becoming Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. So while it is politically incorrect (and ineffective) for these folks to openly discuss their views on race it is interesting to observe they carry a racism that is more raw and closer to the surface than anyone who lays claim to being Southern by the Grace of God.

It is not that forming these cities will not hurt anyone, it just won't hurt anyone these folks care about.

Monday, December 8, 2014

STEM-ing The Tide

Hardly a week goes by when we don't hear "STEM" this or "STEM" that. It generally arrives via mainstream media and sometimes it is of, by and for mainstream media. Sometimes it comes from titans of industry, potential employers of STEM capable workers.

Then there are the educators.

STEM is definitely buzzword du jour, but sadly is not amenable to being watered down and made warm and fuzzy as there is always a chance you'll be given an objective test with right and wrong answers. From the employers' point of view "learning math concepts" is far less useful than actually being able to add, subtract, multiply and divide (in your head) or sort out a word problem that might be related to feed rates in a milling machine. K-12 long ago banned any school related activities that are not "engaging" and "fun" and these kinds of mental calisthenics and agility simply are not "fun." To inject "fun" they would really prefer that "STEM" become "STEAM" and then "steAm" progressing to "steAm" at which point all the hard stuff is gone and they are left back in their comfort zone of subjective fuzzies.

Then there is an inconvenient truth. Employers know what they want to the point they have pre-employment tests and screening. These requirements are either not shared with the K-12 tribe or educators simply don't want to listen. To be fair, some notables in industry, especially those pushing for H1B visas, advance their cause for more high-tech workers by allowing folks to believe that means more engineers, scientists and mathematicians. This is blatantly false. We have a surplus of those. What these employers really want are technicians and technologists. Someone from ITT Technical Institute who can keep the servers online and the network humming, not a PhD from MIT. They need more graduates from Southern Tech who can design and develop a product and already have more than enough GaTech grads to research new core technologies and advance the state of the art. You could make a Computer Scientist a programmer but it is waste of everyone's time and money, something for-profit operations try to minimize.

The knock on effect of this comes from parents. What parent doesn't think their special snowflake isn't the next Feynman, if only he is properly nurtured, engaged and entertained? Who would really want their daughter to be a plumber (charging $75/hr, $110/hr evenings and weekends) when they really should be a physician or a physicist (is there a difference)? Too many parents have misguided expectations and ambitions for a life that is not theirs to live and is not aligned with current or future realities.

So what will we, in the Great State of Georgia, do?

The Board of Regents is going to mandate that colleges and universities improve their graduation rate. There are a couple of ways to do this, with the most beneficial to society being higher and strictly enforced entrance requirements. Students who do not need remediation have a demonstrated ability to learn and are more likely to graduate, on time, than those who have not learned what they need to have learned to be in college in the first place. This would put back-pressure on K-12 forcing them to either do their job or expose their failure.

Not going to happen.

What will happen is that Georgia colleges and universities will put in place more administrators, "graduation coaches" and remediators at the expense of capable instructors in front of capable students. Graduations rates will go up because that is what is mandated and that is what those in the Gold Dome are paying for. Diplomas will be printed at whatever rate necessary to ensure the flow of funds. We have  learned nothing from our recent cheating scandals.

But employers still have the final say. They find they must test applicants for minimal literacy and numeracy and a majority of credentialed applicants fall short even with the current, yet to be diluted, system in place. Even those minimally acceptable are incapable of doing the job without extensive training and the situation is so bad employers are having to go outside of the U.S. to find capable trainers.

We have allowed our education system to become so detached from the core mission of imparting knowledge and allowed this failure to span so many generations that we not only do not have minimally capable students, we don't even have "educators" who have a clue about what to teach or how to teach it.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Prestidigitation

Sleight of hand. Misdirection.

All magicians start out their performance indicating that everything they do you can see. No tricks. Nothing behind the curtain, no secret compartment in the hat. And sure enough they pull a rabbit right out of that hat.

But you knew that was going to happen. So next time your favorite magician takes the stage don't watch the hat or look for the rabbit. Pay very close attention to everything but that and you will see your now formerly favorite magician putting your money in their pocket.

Isn't that magic?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Preparation H

Turkey day certainly brings out the turkeys. A flock of spandexed pedal pushing prize turkeys were cycling north on Roberts approaching Austin elementary. Turkeys? Why say?

That's because they refused to use the bike lane preferring instead to stack cars up behind their slow asses. Keep in mind that taxpayers, present and future, have  kowtowed to these pissy little brats to build out bike lanes whenever we touch pavement. Then these jerks refuse to use them and wonder why normal folks consider them to be just another bunch of entitled whiners.

And how do we know there's not a hemorrhoid amonst the bunch? Because they are all perfect assholes. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Good Run Cut Short

It is generally the policy of The Other Dunwoody to avoid promoting the nicer places in the Southland in order to prevent them being overrun by selfish and shallow outsiders. Today we make an exception due to an incredibly exceptional event.

Cinco Y Diez is closed.

Take a moment to let that sink in...

...that's right, Cinco Y Diez, certainly amongst one of the finest restaurants in the foodie heaven of Athens GA has, in a move that is certain to shock anyone fortunate enough to dine there, abruptly closed its doors. It is absolutely gobstopping that with the backing of Hugh Acheson, his business partner Melissa Clegg and the culinary prowess of Executive Chef Whitney Otawka (formerly of Farm 255) that Cinco Y Diez not only did not succeed but had such a short run closing after only 10 months.

Based on cuisine, bar, service and overall execution this place was outstanding. For those familiar with Five and Ten, the award winning Acheson restaurant formerly at this location and now a block north, you would never recognize the interior. The building was clearly gutted and the dingy cramped interior replaced with an open, clean layout fitted out in the trendy modern industrial decor. Service second to none. Excellent bar service. Drinks properly made and a wine selection more than up to the task.

And the food...

In it's brief life, three visits (alongside two at big brother restaurant Five and Ten) left TOD diners with the inescapable conclusion the Cinco Y Diez was well positioned to give big brother a run for his money. While neither is/was a restaurant with easy to obtain reservations both are accessible when  date night and amateur hours are avoided. And while you are catching the kitchen at its best each staff has proven time and again they carry thru consistently from beginning to end of each dinner service.

At Cinco, no dish sampled was anything less that outstanding in flavour and presentation. And what that woman can do with a mushroom--the deconstructed tamale was to die for. One diner, a fan of onion rings (real onion rings, not those grease stains served at the Varsity) noticed them on the menu as part of the evening special and asked if the kitchen would serve just the rings. Done and done. When you can elevate the lowly onion ring to the level of Cinco you are in the presence of a top notch chef and kitchen.

And excellent service did not stop with orders off the menu. When one patron ordered a scotch and soda, well brand, the server deduced, rightly in this case, that the patron was thrifty. Upon finding there really was no "well brand" at the bar she returned to inform the patron that the bar does serve Johnnie Walker but that would be seven dollars and would that be all right? Wow. First the service. Then JW and soda for SEVEN dollars? Where in daVille can you get that drink at that price even with rude service? Hell, a baked potato at McKindrick's costs more than that. For a freakin' potato.

And perhaps therein lay the problem. In an interview Acheson bottom lined it: "The end result is a business that couldn't make it. That's it." Earlier in the same interview Acheson remarked that "you have to sell lots of F&B [Food and Beverage] to stay afloat" and as Shopsin famously noted "the profit is in the liquids." Perhaps that scotch should have been priced closer to Ten than to Five.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Landline Luddite

This PSA is for all the folks out there in daVille who still have a landline.* Something Earnestine would be proud of. One ringy dingy... Today's rant is driven by the incessant robocalls from schmuck politicians during the recent election cycle.  And it is the best thing since caller-id: call blockers.**

Call blockers are devices that connect to your home phone wiring and cut these schmucks off at the knees. Works with telemarketers too. They come in a couple of flavours but they generally have these features in common:

  1. you enter phone numbers to be blocked
  2. you may enter wild cards for area codes or exchanges
  3. when a call comes in that matches these lists the call blocker automatically dismisses the unwanted intrusion
There are some variations on the theme. 

First is how they connect to your phone wiring. Some devices attach to any phone jack and act like just another answering machine. Devices operating in this mode will answer the unwanted calls so you don't have to. At least one blocker wastes twenty seconds of their time on unresponsive silence which you can use to answer the line if you inadvertently blocked a "good" number. These devices always let the phones ring at least once which some consider to be a disadvantage. But you do know there is an incoming call and there is a certain pleasure in knowing if it only rings once some telemarketer is talking to the virtual back of  your hand. 

Other devices connect between your incoming phone line and the rest of your phone wiring and are capable of suppressing the first ring (Caller ID information is transferred between the first and second rings). Consequently you will never be disturbed by any caller you have blocked. Often these devices offer more advanced features that allow live callers a way to ring your phone.

All call blockers allow you to enter numbers to ignore either by capturing the Caller ID or by keypad entry or both. This is commonly known as  a blacklist and the simplest call blockers implement only a blacklist. Others manage a second list of numbers that always ring thru--a whitelist. This  lets you block entire area codes but allow the one or two numbers of folks you want to hear from get thru. One fairly advanced unit has an "automatic" mode that in effect is a greylist. Any number not in ether the black or white list goes to a voice prompt requesting the caller to enter '0' to ring thru effectively blocking robo calls. Almost all politician's calls are robo calls. 

Most will block calls where Caller ID delivery has been disabled as well as other "unknown caller" CIDs. Some devices also block outgoing calls and market this as a parental control feature. Parental control is a myth. Believe in unicorns if you must but never delude yourself into believing you have any control over what your child does, who she talks to or how she communicates. Don't pay more for this feature.

So before the 2016 presidential election goes into full swing you may want to Google "telephone call blocker" and find which option works best for you. 


* Includes Cable and VoIP services.
** We all know the national Do Not Call Registry is worthless.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Interstate Parade

You know what these are, don't you? Surely you've been in one. Perhaps you've headed one up. In case you seclude yourself in your live-work-play community an "Interstate Parade" is when some asshole blocks the left lane, plodding forward into open pavement all the while forcing an unwilling entourage to drudge thru his shit.

These parades have a couple of causes.

Sometimes it is a DFC listening to the arse end of the latest iPhone and as is so often the case when the driver's synapses stop firing she matches the speed of the vehicle on the right oblivious to the implications of the miles of open pavement ahead and the dozens of cars immediately behind. That's because driving (and courtesy) have taken a backseat to her wasting what few brain cells she has on some nonsensical drivel, probably dissin' on last night's fuquebuddy.

Sometimes it is an angry vigilante who feels it is their government given right to discourage speeding. By others of course. Unfortunately for this particular breed of idiot what the guv giveth the guv taketh away and it is now against the law to park your ass in the left lane and impede traffic. That's what they call stacking up a dozen cars in your rearview mirror--impeding traffic. Now that being a left lane bandit is illegal anyone who does it is just as big an asshole as any speeder and quite a bit more dangerous.

So if you're going over the river and thru the woods this holiday season you are likely to find yourself in the midst of an Interstate Parade. Just don't head one up.

Monday, November 17, 2014

What Are YOU Looking At?

Fascinating Scenery
If a Lube Job Isn't Enough
Definite Improvement By Smell Alone
Turn Your Back On Illegal Immigration