UWEB Lightning Talk Notes 09-04-2009

What little I wrote down is here. There is a couple good links.

Robert: who makes user experience design

Stephanie: WordPress content import plugin.

Also see: wordoff.org (UPDATE: WordHTML)

Rob: SVG

Plain text (XML). It can be manipulated by JavaScript (DOM).

Monty: Standard module format

Also see: Yahoo Theather

At the end we had an open discussion where we talked about good resources to learn technologies of the web.

One byproduct of the talk was a resource for handling javascript in IE7 at http://dean.edwards.name/IE7/

For more information about the Lightning Talks or other topics the uWeb group talks about go to http://uweb.tamu.edu/

Get While the Getting Is Good

Even if you quit a university president’s position, it’s all good because there’s always the golden parachute.
From theeagle.com: Severance details released

Murano’s severance package included being paid her salary of $425,000 while she is on leave through June 2010. She’ll also be paid $295,000 by the end of the week in exchange for agreeing to not file a lawsuit against the system or its officers.

And the other shoe drops…
From the same article:

The special regents meeting kicked off with a presentation that painted a dire economic forecast for Texas A&M University and higher education in general, including continued tuition increases, funding shortfalls in the next legislative session and possible reductions in other revenue sources such as investment earnings.
The presentation — made by B.J. Crain, associate vice chancellor for budgets and accounting — said that Texas A&M University’s total operating budget increased 66 percent from 2000 to 2008, from $553 million to $918 million. The spike was significantly higher than the cost of inflation, she said.

The administration (the BOR, Presidents Murano and Gates) over spent and now it’s time to tighten the belt. Of course combining functions with their flagship university allows the System to save money, but it’s a crutch. They may lower cost slightly and keep income steady, but next year, everyone will be worse off when the Texas Legislature cuts the budget. Long live the president and the office of the president.

…Presidents and Chancellors come and go….

As seen on http://texan4texas.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/video-perry-on-murano-decision/

Galveston’s Loftin named interim A&M president

From The Eagle: Galveston’s Loftin named interim A&M president

The scary part:

“Before going into closed session, Frank Ashley, vice chancellor for academic affairs for the system, discussed what’s been a mystery since the agenda was posted Friday – “shared services opportunities.” System officials declined at the time to explain what that meant, saying Ashley would explain later.

On Monday, he discussed combining the offices at the system and the flagship university in the following areas: research administration; business services; marketing and public relations; facilities, planning and construction; human resources; information technology; and training – all to improve efficiency.”

That about covers every non-academic area at the university.

Crisis in College Station

And now for the rest of the story…. Burkablog published an op-ed piece on texasmonthly.com about President Murano’s resignation. It’s a “I heard it from a friend who heard it from someone else” type of story, but it has some truth to it.

The original content was from Jon Hagler, class of 1958, Distinguished Alumnus in 1999, published in The Eagle newspaper, “A&M in danger of never achieving its vast potential“, Monday, June 15, 2009 6:05 AM.

Most important crisis at A&M since Earl Rudder.
…this crisis is about whether the faculty, staff, students, former students and the broad and diverse community that make up Texas A&M University will allow a handful of politically motivated persons who do not understand their fiduciary duty either to the institution or to the citizens of the state to take over this wonderful, heavy-duty public university – this sacred public trust.

If they are successful, Texas and its citizens can kiss a unique American institution goodbye. It will have no chance of ever achieving its vast potential.

Ironically an Earl Rudder reference was made during Dr. Murano’s 2008 Convocation speech:

In our more recent history, these changes included the admission of women students and making participation in the Corps of Cadets optional instead of mandatory, under the leadership of the great James Earl Rudder in the late 1960s. It is hard to imagine today, but President Rudder’s position was not accepted by everyone. In fact, he was actually “booed” during his speeches. And if you CAN imagine booing the president of Texas A&M during a speech … well, I ask that you keep that to yourself. Still, the fact remains that his leadership and commitment to doing the right thing helped him position our university to becoming one of only two flagships among the public universities in Texas.

So, looking back at what she has said and done, I think Dr. Murano was positioning herself to follow Rudder’s lead rather than the good ol’ boy network. And that don’t fly in Texas.

Fwd: Helicopter Crash

The original email notification from CodeMaroon:

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: Helicopter Crash
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 17:15:38 -0500
From: CodeMaroon@TAMU <e2campus@omnilert.net>
Helicopter crash on Duncan Field. No students injured. No current danger. Please stay area from the area.

The Eagle newspaper was on the scene:

Eagle photo from Dave McDermand
An army UH-60 Blackhawk crashed soon after take-off on the Texas A&M campus Monday afternoon. One US Army officer was killed and four others were injured.

Day of the weird

Colbert Disses Texas A&M:

…I sit down with Michael Farris, Chancellor of a christian college know as “God’s Harvard,” which makes Harvard God’s Texas A&M….

WFT?! Of all the schools out there he disses A&M? So, what, A&M is easy and cheap?

More Bizarre Stuff:
Sticking with weird stuff. I saw this and thought it was funny. Note where people’s hands have polished the brass.

Teach for America provides equal education

Here is the noble idea…

The 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that fourth-graders growing up in low-income communities are already three grade levels behind high-income community peers. About 50 percent of them won’t graduate high school, and those who do will perform on average at an eighth-grade level. Only one in 10 of those will graduate college.

Teach for America, started in 1990 as an offshoot of an undergraduate thesis by a Princeton student, is a non-profit organization focused on improving the equality of education in the U.S. It is a two-year program that sends college graduates into public schools in low-income communities in order to insure that all students are receiving educational opportunities, regardless of socioeconomic status.

But then we get the quote from the Texas A&M branch…

“What we need to do is redistribute the economic wealth,” said Jonathan Chatham, one of the five campus campaign coordinators for the Texas A&M Teach for America branch. “We see this as a moral imperative. People who earn more get a much better education and there’s just no justification for that at all. Every school district should have equal opportunities for an excellent education.”

Now that sounds like socialism to me. “Redistribute the economic wealth.” I think (I hope) he meant to say redistribute the knowledge capital in this country.

I grew up poor – product of a broken home, mom struggling to make ends meet – but I graduated college with a BS in Nuclear Engineering because I wanted it. Because I earned it. Because I learned how to learn.

Then there is this back words thought, “People who earn more get a much better education.” I thought it was the other way around: get the education and you will earn more. I’m living proof of that. So are all of my colleagues.

FBI charges student with NetID hacking

Source: The Battalion, College Station, Texas
Steven Romo
The FBI has charged Luis Castillo, a former Texas A&M student with allegedly hacking the university’s NetID system in February.

Meet Robert M. Gates, Iran-Contra Crook and Bush 41 CIA Chief

Meet Robert M. Gates, Iran-Contra Crook and Bush 41 CIA Chief – Wonkette

Then there’s this from the man himself.

From: “Dr. Robert M. Gates”
To: undisclosed-recipients
Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2006 12:24:25 -0600
Subject: To the Aggie Family
By the time you read this, the President of the United States will have announced that he will nominate me to be the next Secretary of Defense. I am deeply honored, but also deeply saddened.

As most of you know, almost two years ago I declined an opportunity to become the first Director of National Intelligence. I did so principally because of my love for Texas A&M and because much of the program we had initiated to take A&M to a new level of excellence had only just started.

Today, two years later, all of the initiatives of greatest importance are well underway and on an assured path to completion. The faculty reinvestment program is on track and all 447 new positions should be funded by next September. Work is underway or in planning for more than $500 million in construction, some 90% of it on new academic facilities. We have made significant progress in increasing the diversity of our faculty and student body, and both the programs and funding are in place to continue that important and on-going effort. And many new initiatives are now underway or are already complete to enhance both graduate and undergraduate education, including, above all, the new University Studies degree program. The Corps is on the right track in terms of growth and grades, and the Capital Campaign will end next month having far exceeded our billion dollar goal.

Some of you may worry whether one or another of these efforts will continue with my departure. You need to know that the progress we have made has been a team endeavor, and the team will remain. A remarkable faculty and a group of gifted administrators and staff who truly deserve the credit for all that has been accomplished over the past four-plus years will still be here — above all, my strong right arm for nearly four and a half years, the Executive Vice President and Provost, Dr. David Prior.

I apologize for surprising you with this momentous decision and announcement, and for leaving as president before fulfilling my commitment to serve Texas A&M for at least five years. I hope you will understand the circumstances that made this necessary and that this appointment comes nearly as much a surprise to me as to you.

I will have more to say to you before I leave (if I am confirmed by the Senate). But I must tell you that while I chose Texas A&M over returning to government almost two years ago, much has happened both here and around the world since then. I love Texas A&M deeply, but I love our country more and, like the many Aggies in uniform, I am obligated to do my duty. And so I must go. I hope you have some idea of how painful that is for me and how much I will miss you and this unique American institution.

At this point, I expect to remain as President of Texas A&M until completion of the confirmation process and a Senate vote. I assure you, you will hear more from me before my departure.

Robert M. Gates
President Texas A&M University