Saturday, March 7th, 2009
Parking Fail

The green line in this photo taken tonight is almost a parking spot. There’s some event going on tonight at the Masonic Temple, an event that requires more parking than the Masons’ two decent-sized parking lots plus the parking lots of the Art Institute and the Greek Orthodox Church can accommodate, and thus people have been driving around my neighborhood searching for parking spots, getting to this almost-a-parking-spot and deciding that no, they can’t fit their gihugeous SUVs into it after all.


Click to embiggen

One thing that’s funny is that from my balcony seeing their cars pull alongside the spot I can see that if some of these drivers actually knew how to parallel park, a skill Daytonians in general haven’t mastered, they could in fact fit their cars in this almost-a-parking-spot or that if any of them were driving one of the brand new self-parking cars, their new self-parking car could fit itself into it.

Another thing I can see from my perch high above the potential parkers is just how much wasted parking space there is. People don’t seem to want to pull up. The red lines in the lower photo here point out all the wasted parking space. Makes me glad I have a spot in our building’s garage.

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

EasyParkDowntown.org as it looks in Firefox
(click to embiggen)


EasyParkDowntown.org as it looks in Internet Explorer
(click to embiggen)

The Dayton Daily News had an article today about the Downtown Dayton Partnership's fancy new EasyParkDowntown.org website. The article's author, Tim Tresslar, must be a faithful reader of David Esrati's blog because this is not the first time he's written about something that Esrati wrote about first (update: actually Dayton Business Journal wrote about it first). Esrati's blog entry about EasyParkDowntown.org was not favorable.

And I have to say I'm not impressed with EasyParkDowntown.org either, but for other reasons, namely web design reasons. The interactive map on the site was created using Adobe Flash, a cumbersome tool for websites (read some of my earlier gripes about Flash on websites), and the coder added some JavaScript to his page to make sure the Flash object is resized to take up the entire size of the browser window. Actually it makes the Flash object larger than the browser window, cutting off text and making it impossible to scroll down to see the rest of the content, especially in Firefox but even in Internet Explorer. Their helpful "Let's get Started" text mentions buttons you can click in order to hide or show layers of information on their map, but you can't see the buttons if your web browser's set to a size their web developer didn't anticipate (for example, maximized Firefox or Internet Explorer windows on my 1920x1200 laptop screen or my 1440x900 external LCD)!

Did anyone even look at this application after it was published but before it was announced to the world?

From the work I do I know that some organizations are willing to pay big bucks, thousands of dollars, for applications such as this (for example), and they're too ignorant to know better. I gleaned the data from EasyParkDowntown and rolled my own webpage based on Google Maps in a couple hours. Check it out and see if you don't agree that it's friendlier to end users: www.davidlauri.com/easyparking

Here's one way in which my version is friendlier — try printing from my version and try printing from EasyParkDowntown.org. Completely ignoring the fact that if you print using your browser's File->Print command on their site you won't get what they intended, even if you do realize that to print you have to click on their print icon (the little pic of the page at the right of the icons below their map), what you get isn't at all useful. Want a list of parking garages to take with you? You're not gonna get it from EasyParkDowntown.org!

One last gripe — if you're coming downtown to go to the Oregon District, you won't find any of its parking on EasyParkDowntown.org. Is it because most people don't consider the Oregon District to be part of downtown (or Greater Downtown)? Or is it because the Oregon District Business Association wouldn't participate in the Special Improvement District tax that funds the Downtown Dayton Partnership?

Monday, August 16th, 2004
Today was college bureaucracy day, although it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

It actually started in June when I met with my German advisor before leaving for Germany to make sure the classes I was going to take in L?neburg would be applicable towards my German degree and to outline what I should take over the next year. Because Wright State's German program is small, only a handful of German classes are offered each quarter, not enough for me to graduate in June 2005. Dr. Hye suggested that this fall I take another German lit class at another college, explaining that I could pay Wright State tuition for it, through what he called "the consortium," which is actually, I learned today, the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education.

Since I met with him just a couple days before I was to leave for L?neburg I didn't try to take care of things then but instead put it off until today. It's just as well that I hadn't tried to get it done beforehand because I actually wouldn't have had time.

First, I had to jump through hoops at Wright State. To register for a course at another college, one must, of course, complete a special form, and to get the form I was sent to the registrar's office (although while writing this entry I discovered that the stupid form is available online). This form must be signed by one's advisor. Dr. Hye had told me that if he weren't in his office, the Modern Languages department secretary could sign it, but today when I trekked back to Millett Hall I found a student worker covering for her. Luckily the department chair, Dr. Garrison, was there, and I was able to corner him briefly in transit to get his signature.

Back at the registrar's office (in the Student Union on the other side of campus from Millett), I realized that taking a 3.0-semester hour class at UD when added to my 16 quarter hours would put me over the 20 hour limit (3 semester hours = 4.5 quarter hours), requiring me to take a different form back to Millett to get permission from the College of Liberal Arts for the extra .5 quarter hour. UD's semester starts 2 weeks before WSU's quarter and ends 4 weeks after so the way I figure it, 1.75 of those 4.5 hours for the UD class are outside of my WSU class load anyway, but that doesn't matter. I trekked back to Millett, only to be told by the COLA secretary to leave my form so one of their advisors can look up my academic record and determine if I can handle the extra load; I can pick up the form tomorrow. After I explained that I'm not on campus every day (imagine that!), she said the advisors were both busy, but I could wait if I liked, which I did. However I lucked out again, catching one of them on her way to lunch but convincing her to sign the form without the background check.

Back to the registrar's office, and finally after almost 2 hours, I was done with Wright State paperwork. But can Wright State's registrar communicate with UD's registrar to register me for the class I want to take? No. I have to take a copy of my signed form to UD's registrar's office to register. I decided to go home to eat lunch to get some more strength to handle the next round of bureaucracy.

Refreshed, I drove to UD where, probably for the last time, parking is a breeze as I'm a visitor and thus entitled to park in a visitor space. The registrar's office is even close, in Albert Emmanuel Hall, and there's not even a line in the office. The friendly woman there explains that since I'm not in her system, I have to go to another office to get entered, but that office is just one door over. The woman there says I am in the system after all, amazingly since I last took a class at UD in 1985, and she toggles whatever flag is required to make me eligible for registration. Back next door, and I'm registered. Easy enough.

Of course, I'm going to need a parking pass, and the friendly woman in registration tells me where Parking Services is (on the other side of campus, but UD's got a smaller campus than WSU). Do I need a UD ID? No, not unless I want to use UD's library. I took a walk through the pretty campus enjoying the unseasonably cool weather and see the sign along the side of the Parking Services building stating, "Absolutely everyone must apply online for parking permits." I went in anyway and said that I saw their sign but need to know how to apply online. The friendly woman there explained that to apply online I would need to know my LDAP/Novell username and password and directed me to the help desk in Miriam Hall where I could get a sheet explaining how to set that up.

Luckily I was clever enough to realize that to deal with a help desk I'd need a student ID, and so I was able to stop at the Power Building on the way to Miriam Hall to get one. I got lost in the bowels of Miriam Hall but finally found room 53, and there the student worker at first thought I wanted a sheet explaining how to set up Novell (as in a Novell network, which, in my prior life, I've actually done). Once he realized I just wanted to set up my Novell account, he tried to look me up in the system, but my information hadn't migrated yet there from the registrar. I would have to come back in a few days.

Defeated in my quest for a parking pass, I went to the bookstore to get my books, and I was defeated there too. Tons of books for the other German classes but none for GER361. I guess that leaves some bureaucratic fun for later.
Wednesday, May 7th, 2003
Click for larger versionClick for larger version I've complained about parking before, but until today I'd never ridden the parking shuttle. It was fun as a diversion but I wouldn't want to do it all the time. Unless you time it perfectly you have to wait 5, 10, or 15 minutes or so for the shuttle. And if you're not fortunate enough to have a friend to go park there and drive you to dinner, then you have to do this both ways. Seems to me I'd rather, on the rare occasion I come to campus late, sit in the comfort of my own car and stalk commuters for a space because then when I'm ready to leave, I don't have to take the shuttle again.


Click for larger versionClick for larger versionClick for larger versionClick for larger versionClick for larger version
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2003
Parking stalkerIf you've ever visited Wright State University in the middle of a school day you've probably seen one of these. Yes, it's a parking stalker. Student spaces are at a premium, and most students, instead of parking in remote lots and walking or shuttling back to campus, seek out spots closer in, even if it means they have to wait in their cars and follow people around in the hopes of taking their spots.

Wasted resource?People have complained about parking for years and the issue will probably never be resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Yet, look at the other pictures here. I took these pictures in lot 16, not in the center of campus but out by the Fred White Health Center. Do you see what I saw? Yes, there are faculty/staff spots sitting empty.

Now I wouldn't want Kim Goldenberg's job as president of Wright State or even Rob Kretzer's job as director of parking and transportation services. I realize they have more stress than I'd care to have. But it seems like a simple thing to reduce the size of the empty gated section of lot 16 by moving a few concrete blocks and repainting some parking spaces. It wouldn't make all commuter students happy, but it would help some of us. Why should we have to see faculty/staff spaces going unused?

Wasted resource?Wasted resource?Wasted resource?
 
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