Memories of the Early Days

By: Mr. Wilson on May 29, 2009
::sniff:: I can't help but get a little sentimental when I read about AOL being kicked to the curb by Time Warner. Boy, I spent a lot of time on AOL back in the day. That's where I got my start in web development, in fact. Those were the days. My memory gets pretty fuzzy, though, when I try to remember all of Lincoln's early online opportunities. I do remember that over the years I acquired about a dozen Lincnet e-mail accounts. What else went on in Lincoln's earliest days on the intertubes? I'm sure some of you have some great memories to share.

Summer is REALLY Here

By: Mr. Wilson on May 29, 2009
Sure, Memorial Day weekend is supposed to herald the start of summer. But I argue that this weekend is really summer 2009's first hurrah. The first thing on my list is the Friday Night Concert Series at Southpointe Pavillions. The Wilsons have attended the concerts for years now. Heck, Robbie had his first kiss at one of the concerts two years ago. Tonight's performer (PDF) for the 6:30-8:30 concert is D'Funk. Coming up on Tuesday is Jazz in June, another summer staple I love. As a bonus, there are five Tuesdays in June this year, which means five performances for us. What other favorite activities of yours are coming up now that it's summertime?

Is it Too Hot Yet?

By: Mr. Wilson on May 28, 2009
Somebody mentioned in a comment not long ago that he or she had not yet turned on the air conditioning at home. That made me wonder just how many of you have avoided the A/C so far this year. I don't remember when we caved, but it was a while back. Since that time we've gone off and on. We usually keep ours set at 79. How many of you have held strong? Is it more because you have a very cool house, or because you have a very high tolerance for heat?

An Entire Neighborhood Off the Grid

By: Mr. Wilson on May 28, 2009
I'm glad to see that LES's Sustainable Energy Program has successfully reserved its $1.1 million allotment. The funds are going to nearly 5,000 homes which, combined, will undertake projects that are the rough equivalent of taking 600 homes off the grid. Put another way, it's like an entire neighborhood or two just vanished. Not bad. I think it's interesting how quickly the projects will pay for themselves, assuming the efficiencies estimates and costs are reasonably accurate. Let's say the program didn't exist and these homeowners spent their own money on these various projects. Taking into account LES's rates and an estimate of 7 million kwh/year energy savings, the projects will pay for themselves in a hair over two years. That's a very reasonable timeline to see a return on one's investment. Energy-saving products and technologies, generally speaking, are pretty much at the point where it doesn't make sense not to install them. Did any of you participate in LES's program?

It’s the Last Day of School!

By: Mr. Wilson on May 27, 2009
... if it were 2011. The Board of Education finally approved a calendar that ends the school year before Memorial Day. That means May 27, 2011 will be the last day of school for my niece the first grader. Still no progress on getting first semester to end before the new year, though. Some day. Some day.

Lazlo’s Gets it Right ... Twice

By: Mr. Wilson on May 26, 2009
I have picked on Lazlo's a fair amount over the past couple years, both on this blog and "in real life". Two experience in the past week may force me to reevaluate my position. That makes me very happy. By accident, The Wilsons ate at Lazlo's twice last week. The first was an outdoor experience at the Downtown Lazlo's; the second was with my in-laws in the lounge at the South Lazlo's. On both occasions service was back up to what I consider to be Lazlo's standards, and the food was excellent. The two experiences were so positive that after many months of actively filtering Lazlo's off my list of possible restaurant choices, they may be on their way to repairing their reputation. Maybe. No restaurant can betray my trust like Lazlo's did and just get back into the rotation without a little hard work. Time will tell. In the mean time, I would love to hear your latest Lazlo's reports. And what the heck, let's toss sister Fireworks into the mix as well. How are they doing?

Coby Mach in the LJS

By: Mr. Wilson on May 26, 2009
LIBA's Coby Mach has a piece in this morning's Journal Star in which he discusses several good reasons why the results of the city's unscientific online Taking Charge Budget and Program Priorities Survey should be interpreted very carefully. He is correct. The survey should be considered little more than a conversation starter. Be extremely wary if local officials try to sell the results as representing anything more than that. Not that stirring up conversations is a bad thing, of course. On the contrary, it's very good to engage the public in this line of thinking. And even an unscientific online survey can help us determine which conversations are worth pursuing as we go forward, and which we shouldn't spend much time on. As Governor Heineman and the DMV have learned, relying on anonymous online surveys to make actual decisions can really make one look like an ass. I don't want to see Mayor Beutler & Co. make the same mistakes. The City could earn a lot of respect by releasing as much of the raw data as possible. Likewise, the City should make explicit its criteria for any manipulation of the data: voiding results, for example, and IP whitelisting and blacklisting. The more transparent are the data, the better we will be able to support or refute Beutler's budget decisions. Do you have any concerns about the budget process that have not yet been addressed?

In the Dumps

By: Mr. Wilson on May 26, 2009
Local landfill use is down 10% thanks to the economy, recycling efforts, reduced packaging, and so on. That's (mostly) good news for the landfill, although it does mean less revenue. The Bluff Road Landfill supposedly has about 25 years worth of life remaining. That sounds like a long time, but is it really? Lincoln probably doesn't have a specific plan at this point for what we're going to do when the landfill fills up. Do we have a general idea of what we're going to do? How far in advance does a community need to think about its next landfill? Considering how poorly Lincoln has planned ahead for some of its biggest needs -- south and east beltways, anyone? -- I get nervous thinking about this sort of long-range planning effort. At the very least I hope we sock away a few bucks to help deal with startup costs when the time comes.

DMV Gives Nebraska the Bird

By: Mr. Wilson on May 22, 2009
The bird wins! The bird wins! The bird wins! ... Which is odd, really. Because weren't we assured by DMV Director Beverly Neth and the Governor's office that there was no way the initial results were incorrect? It doesn't bother me so much that they were wrong. What bothers me is they insisted they were right despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Sure it's a tiny issue, but that makes their obstinate attitudes even more puzzling. Why couldn't Governor Heineman step up and say, "You know what? This does look bad. My office will look at the numbers and consult some experts and we'll get back to you." Would that have been so difficult?

Raise Your Hand

By: Mr. Wilson on May 22, 2009
Raise your hand if you, like me, were shocked to see Pete Ricketts' mug staring at you this morning when you loaded up Lincolnite. Dammit, Mr. T, you've got to warn a guy about something like that!

New Parks Website

By: Mr. Wilson on May 21, 2009
A new Lincoln Parks and Recreation website went live this morning. I haven't yet had a chance to explore it in depth, but on visual impact alone it is oodles better than the Lincoln City Libraries site that Nirak panned a while back. I do have a quick nit to pick. (This is the web developer in me talking.) The background gradients? They're all wrong on multiple levels:
  1. The gradients are blocky, in large part because they have been exported as GIFs. PNG or JPG should be used instead.
  2. There are two background gradients. One covers the entire page, while the other backs just the main content area. I can't tell if the two gradients don't match on purpose, or if that's an accident. If it's an accident, make them match.
  3. The two background images are way too huge in filesize terms (roughly 100KB total for the pair). The page background image is over 49KB. Export it as a 1 x 1000 pixel JPG and poof, you shave off 99% of the file size (down to 474 bytes in my test). Likewise the other image's filesize can be substantially decreased, though by how much depends on a few different factors. Regardless, you could easily shave off at least 30KB -- and perhaps as much as 50KB -- out of the image's 54KB.
But again, I'm being picky. I'm sure I could find lots of other things to be picky about, too. A large part of my job involves being picky about these sorts of things, so they jump out at me. Overall the site is a nice, clean new look for Parks and Rec. Looks good, folks.
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