Dorothy Firsching

My latest delightful app find is ES File Explorer.

ES File Explorer LogoThis app improves on the file explorer provided with the Droid by letting you browse or search for folders and files not just on the device itself, but also on the local network, via FTP, and on the Net. It even works as a Dropbox client. Wow. And it's simple to select multiple files, copy and paste, among all of these sources. It can browse or launch viewers of all sorts.

It's additional capabilities are pretty amazing. It can also unzip and zip files, manage apps, and more. I've not yet explored all it can do but what I've tried so far works very well.

This seems to be the best file explorer out there, and It's free, too!



Another app I love is Google Translate.  While I've used Google Translate from time to time on the web, it's even more useful on the phone since you probably already have it with you when you need it.

It's nicely integrated with speech and with texting. While it's not perfect, it's a great resource beyond pointing and gesturing. Just make sure it gets the speech to text right:  e.g., :"robotics trip" vs. "robotic strip". Common words and simple phrases come through OK if spoken carefully.

The selection of languages is also pretty amazing, and it works in both directions in a conversational mode. When I was at Goodwill South Florida, I showed them it could not only handle Spanish but also Hatian Creole.

So this is one more tool just to have for those times when you just can't find the word in Spanish or don't have a clue how to say it in Korean. And the price is right.

After trying out a variety of tools, my finger seems to gravitate to HootSuite on my Droid. Its interface is just simple and clean. I can flip between my home feed, lists, etc., and easily use it to post, retweet, and so on. It works well as a web app on the desktop, too!

That said, I've not explored the Pro version or spent any money. For what I do, the free version seems to be sufficient.


Prognosis App LogoSome may find this a bit strange, but I love Prognosis - Your Diagnosis, by Medical JoyWorks !  Although it is called "One of the five best apps for Doctors", it won the prize for the Best Health App at the World Summit Awards for Mobile Apps, 2012 and has millions of downloads.

I've been using it for at least a year, and amazingly find that I have not killed too many patients although I have absolutely no medial training.  The app presents you with a patient, allows you to examine the patient and select some tests, and then choose the appropriate treatments. After you discover how well you did, it provides a thorough differential diagnosis writeup that is very educational. I also enjoy reading the comments by other users of the app, mostly doctors or medical students, who may agree or differ with the treatments prescribed.

It's just a blast, to pick off a case or two while waiting for an appointment or before bed. Try it out!

WMCCAI logoI recently received the following great news. I had submitted the application last fall, but never expected to win.  There are a lot of medium-sized condo associations in the Washington, DC Metro Area.  Our board has accomplished a great deal in these past few years!  (Some day, we will have to write a book about it! Never a dull moment! In any case, come to the CAI conference and hear what we have to say about it.)

"Congratulations—Talltree South Condominium Association is Washington Metropolitan Chapter Community Associations Institute's 2010 Medium Association of the Year!

The awards will be presented and the real pomp and circumstance will take place at our Conference & Expo on Saturday, March 12, 2011. At the Conference & Expo we will not only present your award but a representative of your community will have the opportunity to speak about Talltree South Condominium Association's successes during an educational seminar titled, "Proven Best Practices for Community Associations: Hear it from the Winners!"

These are just a few of the benefits of this award! Jennifer Jones, communications manager, will be in touch with further details in the near future.

On behalf of Washington Metropolitan Chapter Community Associations Institute I'd like to congratulate you and thank you for your commitment to providing better living through community associations!

Thank You,

Sarah A. Patterson, Executive Director
Washington Metropolitan Chapter Community Associations Institute
7600 Leesburg Pike, Suite 100 West
Falls Church, VA 22043

The Annandale Blogspot picked up the Talltree South News!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Talltree South condos honored for excellence in governance

TalltreeTheTalltree South Condominium of Annandale was honored by the Washington Metropolitan Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI) as the 2010 “Medium Association of the Year.”

The award, presented at the institute’s conference and expo in March, recognizes communities that demonstrate excellence in all facets of association operations and governance. The CAI awards are based on size, and Talltree South, with 150 garden-style units, fits into the medium category.

Located on Americana Drive, just inside the beltway, Talltree South is a diverse, multilingual community. The development was originally an apartment complex and was converted to condominiums in 1977.

In the application for the CAI award, Talltree South board President Dorothy Firsching says the condo association “stands out as ‘most improved’ through implementation of CAI guidelines.”

Two years ago, new board members were elected after an extensive campaign for change. Since then, the condo association hired a full-service management company, Cardinal Management Group. The association joined CAI, and board members attended CAI classes and events.

Among other improvements cited by Firsching, the Talltree South board:
  • upgraded its investment plan;
  • created a quarterly newsletter, including a version in Spanish;
  • developed a handbook for owners and residents for the first time in more than 20 years, also translated into Spanish;
  • developed a website;
  • synchronized enforcement practice with formal association rules;
  • formalized vendor contracts;
  • performed maintenance neglected for years and began to address expensive drainage and water infiltration issues, including excavation and construction of drains and swales;
  • established committees, including a gardening committee and an informal group of translators;
  • made significant progress in control of delinquencies; and
  • updated the community’s bylaws.
All these improvements were accomplished without an increase in condo fees for three years, Firsching says, “making our fees more competitive with similar communities.”

I have decided that, having been associated with Talltree South, Maplewood Village, and what is now known as the MapleTree Pool in some way for so many years, it is now time to record some of its history and stories. I have begun writing our stories and reaching out to other people.

The stories we have are so rich and interesting, from buying a fledgling condo from developers, through changing demographics and various boards and management companies, through the real estate crisis, and beyond.

There are original owners of Talltree South who may be contacted, and others who came in the 1980s, the 1990s and pre-real-estate-crisis, those that bought in the price run-up, and those who came in more recently and picked up the pieces. It looks as if about half of those who bought at the top are now gone.These figures are not entirely complete but they begin to illustrate some of the trends we have been seeing.

I've started writing and calling people. I've also begun to reach out beyond Talltree South to the other Fairfax Heritage developments. We might also want to pull together the various communities to share stories and best practices, sometime along the way. If you can help, please let me know. Talltree South is Fairfax Heritage X Condominium. Maplewood is IX. They all were built in the 1961 - 1964 timeframe and converted to condos in the late 1970s. What are they like today?


My article was just published in the July 2011  issue of Quorum Magazine, of the Metropolitan Washington Chapter of the Community Associations Institute (WMCCAI), under the title Hard Work -- Rewarded.

This article detailed the accomplishments that landed us the "Most Improved" condo association through application of CAI guidelines. I don't think I can repeat it here but I will provide a link if I can find it online.

The cycles are amazing - history has already repeated itself more than once.  So much is at stake, dependent upon a mix of volunteer efforts, overworked managers,misguided agendas, ignorance and apathy.  People buy condos so that they don't have to mow the lawn, but if they don't pay attention, the condominium concept puts their investment and home at risk. How well does it work? Stay tuned. I've submitted another article and have a history of Talltree South in progress.

I have recently been impressed with how well our condominium association is running. We have come so far.

I once again have had time to get back to going through the old file boxes, and have discovered more about the bad times the association went through.  It is a rare chance to be an original owner and be able to see the big picture of the evolution of a community from conversion to condo in 1978 to the present -- to see that it went through two dark periods and three good periods during that time, and look at the factors that caused these situations.

One of the products of this effort is that I have begun to write up the stories and reach out to other award-winning associations for their stories, and I am in the process of building a website to reveal these to a broader audience.  If this excites you, please let me know!

I have finally gotten to posting my presentations from the Northern Virginia Joomla! Users Group on SlideShare.

Here is the most recent, Timeless Tips extracted by Dorothy Firsching from Jen Kramer's book, Joomla! Start to Finish: How to Plan, Execute, and Maintain Your Web Site, Wrox, 2010.

Jen Kramer is president of 4Web, Inc., a company dedicated to building highly customized Joomla! web sites.

Page 4 of 7
You are here: Home Dorothy Firsching