Ursa Major Blog (36)
On Saturday, March 18, 2017, I will present Great Association Websites on behalf of the Washington, DC Chapter of the Community Associations Institute.
Please contact me if you are interested in attending. As soon as I have the final flyer, I will post it here.
The NOVA Housing Resource Guide is now live! The Virginia Housing and Supportive Services' Northern Virginia Regional Implementation Team (NoVA RIT) educates individuals, families and service providers about integrated, independent housing and housing resources.
Ursa Major Consulting created its Housing Resource Guide website. The Resource Guide incorporates a database on apartment complexes, housing resources and programs, and provides videos and webinars as part of a toolkit to help individuals move to independent housing. The site was created using Joomla! and associated components. New housing resources and programs can be submitted for approval by members of the public and administered by the NoVA RIT.
The Guide contains information about public and private organizations that provide housing and housing-related assistance for residents in Northern Virginia, including the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, and the Cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. While the guide was produced for the benefit of residents with developmental disabilities, their families and support coordinators, many resources within the guide are available to the broader community based upon income or need.
The contents of the Guide are reviewed and updated by volunteers on a bi-annual basis. However, if you find inaccurate information listed for a program or organization, please contact us so that we can rectify the error as expeditiously as possible. We have provided the ability to submit program / resource information and information on additional housing resources.
This version of the Guide contains about 100 pages of information already and will continue to grow and be updated. There are basically three types of information included:
- Database entries on housing (primarily apartment complexes). To search it, select Find Housing Query.
- Database entries on programs and resources. To search it, select Find Resources / Programs.
- The Housing Assistance menu provides articles that may also be of assistance.
To search the database, go to Find Rental housing or Find Housing Resources on the main menu, and then look for the Find Housing or Find Resources Queries on the sidebar menu.
Simon Kloostra’s book, Joomla! 3 SEO and Performance, is a very focused, short book that is chock full of useful tips and links to resources that Joomla! website developers and administrators may not be aware of. As a long-time Joomla! user and founding member of the Northern Virginia Joomla! Users Group, I find that this book fills a gap on my Joomla! bookshelf.
Simon Kloostra (see his site at joomlaseo.com) is clearly an authority on Joomla! and SEO, but he avoids unnecessary jargon, provides context, and explains SEO in a clear and pleasant style. As of the date of this review, the book is quite current, which is usually a challenge with books. It includes evaluations of and recommendations for dozens of resources to consider for your toolkit.
One frequent question in user group meetings is which commercial template provider is best. This book does get specific and list well-regarded template providers, and also delves into the SEO considerations of template design. This which gives the site developers something more to consider in making their template selection or development decisions.
Even those with good backgrounds in SEO and Joomla! will find additional insights that will justify their investment in buying and reading this book.
My article, Self Service, Customer Service, and Community Service was featured in the May, 2015 issue of Quorum Magazine, the magazine of the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the Community Associations Institute, which focused on Customer Service. (You have to be a WMCCAI member to log in and download the issue.)
When I was asked to write this article about customer service, with respect to board expectations of management and owners expectations of the board, I immediately realized that disconnects in expectations with regard to customer service lie at the root of many of the problems in the community association world. Who exactly is the customer, and who is supposed to be serving that customer? What expectations do these customers have?
I shared some true stories to illustrate the disconnects, and presented the relationships as they ideally should operate.
Achieving excellence in the Community Service model requires partnering. Ultimately, the vote of ONE person on a board may tip a critical board decision affecting all owners for years! The management companies operate within the terms of their contracts and their commitment to a perceived level of service. I challenge boards and management companies to provide a greater level of excellence, to:
- Improve the condition and value of the property over the longer term
- Raise the quality of live at the property, through education, communication, and better customer service
- Improve the financial soundness of the association for the long haul.
This requires breaking out of the box of business as usual, to include consideration of partnering and commitment of the board and management to shared goals, improved training, and improved communication across diverse groups. One of the reasons why our community has been successful is that its board cares. Let's discuss how to expect and achieve more!
My prior articles in Quorum include:
- June, 2014, A Wonderful State of Being, reviewing the 2013 Community Association of the Year winners
- July, 2011, Hard Work Rewarded, when we were recognized as 2010 Community Association of the Year winner
In addition, I was introduced in the January 2015 issue as a new member of the WMCCAI Board of Directors.
The Foundation for Community Association Research (FCAR) has contributed valuable research and analysis on community association issues and trends for 40 years.
The Foundation recently produced a video celebrating excellent work done by community association leaders. Dorothy Firsching, president of the board of directors of Talltree South, and Mindy Culver, vice president, appeared in the video. Watch it below!
Dorothy and Mindy were also featured in a promo for the Community Association Institute's new board member education course. See below!
Hey, folks, Joomla! 3.4 has front-end module editing and "I am not a Robot" recaptcha!
These are two things among many that I know my customers will enjoy.
I will expound on it more when I have a few minutes! Just didn't want to tive the impression that I'm napping!
Just a little placeholder to let the world know that we are alive and kicking despite neglecting update of this website!
Working hard on a wide variety of efforts, including:
- Organizational study for Arlington County
- Work in support of the Housing and Supportive Services Consortium (HSS)
- Developed and delivered capture and proposal training for a national nonprofit agency
- Developed and delivered a website for Delta Consulting Group, will add it to my portfolio shortly
- Serving on the board of the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (WMCCAI)
- Continuing to serve as secretary of the Northern Virginia Joomla! Users Group, President of Talltree South and MapleTree Pool Associations
- Will have an article in Quorum Magazine and shortly, a video
- Supporting other web and proposal-related clients
- And much more. Helping others debug code and write stories!
I was recently appointed to the Foundation for Community Association Research's (FCAR) Research Committee for the 2014-2015 term, that is, July 1, 2014 through June 30,2015.
The FCAR Research Committee encourages and actively supports academic research for common interest communities by seeking out timely research projects, as well as developing sources for research in the common interest industry.
This appointment should be fascinating. I am really looking forward to it.
Joomla! 3.2 was released November 6, 2013. Key new features include:
- Version Control - Enables a Joomla administrator to revert to an older version of content on a website and compare side-by-side to see what changes have been made.
- Rapid Application Development (RAD) - RAD simplifies the process for a developer to write their own Joomla extensions; apps that enhance a Joomla site like calendars, videos or polls
- Extension Finder - This simplifies the process of searching for and installing Joomla extensions by allowing users to do all that directly from within their admin view with just a few clicks. The previous processes included separate steps to first search for and download extensions to a desktop, and then log in to the Joomla admin view and install those extensions.
- Bcrypt - A strong encryption method that scrambles passwords stored in a Joomla website's database.
- Two-factor Authentication - In order for a change to be made to a Joomla website, there can be an optional requirement for a user to fill out another form of authentication (other than a username/password). Two-factor authentication can be anything like entering an auto-generated code that is texted to a person's mobile phone.
- User Interface Improvements - The new Joomla 3.2 administration interface is more streamlined and task-focused.
- Iimproved template manager
- Multi-lingual site installer,
- Improved WYSIWYG editor
- Micro-data semantics library
- HTML form fields and attributes.
We will discuss Joomla! 3.2 at our November 20, 2013 Northern Virginia Joomla! Users Group Meeting. See the event on Meetup.
In addition to the press releases all around the web, here is Tim Plummer's briefing on the new features:
We recently had the opportunity to create a new Joomla! website for JMA Solutions. Their prior website had been a Cold Fusion site (yes, I've done that in the past), but their hosting provider was pulling the plug on Cold Fusion.
Within two weeks, and over the Thanksgiving holiday, the new website was up and running. It incorporates both enhanced information on the company and the awards they've won, and an employee portal with internal policies, forms, calendar, and other features.
Everyone was very pleased with the new site, which is at www.jma-solutions.com.
We are pleased to announce that we are assisting Virginia Industries for the Blind (VIB) with their strategic planning effort.
VIB is is a division of the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI), and provides employment opportuniities for Virginians who are blind or visually impaired in two manufacturing plants, eleven base supply stores, and six service locations. They have diverse contracts with federal agencies through the AbilityOne Program (e.g., contract management and closeout services for the U. S. Army), contracts through State Agency agreements such as the Virginia Court Debt Collection Office, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Virginia Employment Commission, and manufacture items as diverse as mattresses for the U. S. Navy and state colleges and universities and reflective vests for the Virginia Department of Trnsportation.
Given the improvements in assistive technology and more ambitious expectations of young people who are blind and people who lose their sight after gaining work experience, VIB is exploring ways to attract workers who are looking for more than traditional product manufacturing. In fact, some of VIB's experienced contract closeout employees have already been hired by the government, which is quite a successful outcome for those people.
We look forward to helping VIB plan the modernization of its business to meet the evolving needs of people who are blind or vision impaired.
On May 11th, Becky Roberts and I will present "Tweet Jams: Facilitated Social Media or Chaos?" at the International Association of Facilitators North America (IAFNA) Conference 2012, in Halifax, Nova Scotia!
We will explore how to apply the concepts of facilitation to Twitter, as we teach how to facilitate a Tweet Jam / Tweet Chat, from 9:00 to 10:30 Atlantic Time.
Join us using the hashtag #IAFNAjam, or join our non-conference facilitation discussions using #facilichat. We will be tweeting out more information shortly.
Tweetchat at the International association of Facilitators North America Conference (IAFNAConf2012). Use hashtag #facilichat.
Friday, May 11, 2012 from 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM Eastern Time (9:00 AM to 10:30 Atlantic Time)
Led by: Dorothy Firsching and Becky Roberts
The in-person session will be live tweeted and will introduce Twitter, tweetchats/tweetjams and tools, and will evolve to a Tweet Chat / Tweetjam that will discuss facilitation of Tweet Chats / Tweetjams.
The main questions will include:
- What types of tweetjams / tweetchats have you participated in or facilitated?
- When is a Tweetjam or Tweetchat a great technique in your facilitation practice?
- What tools and techniques work well for tweetjam facilitation?
- What works well to record and present tweetjam results?
The results of the tweetjam will be posted and made available to participants.
All are welcome to participate via Twitter in addition to those participating at the conference. For more information, follow @dbfirsching and @beckylroberts!
Virtual attendance at the IAFNA 2012 conference is also available via Adobe Connect, for a fee.