6.22.2011

Chrome apps amaze me

I grew up in a home with minimal technology. We didn't have video games (except an old Atari and my grandma's, while other kids were onto Segas, N64s and PlayStations), and I didn't have reliable internet access until I was about 15. For those of you counting, that was in 2003.

So the powers of new technology have always fascinated me. A smartphone app that can read bar codes?! A pen that records and stores interview and meeting notes?! A lightweight device on which to play Angry Birds?! I stare wide-eyed at the plethora of knowledge and time that went into these thingamabobs, especially Google Chrome Apps.

Now you've got your basic, grampa-friendly browsers like Internet Exploder, Safari, Firefox and Opera. But Chrome really steps it up a notch, plus it's faster, user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. Having apps is the sweet, fresh butter creme icing on the cake.

The Chrome app store is like an online department store of interactive apps (...and time killers). Many are extensions of existing websites that once downloaded, show up under the Web Apps tab on the Chrome home page tab.

Categories include:
Education
Entertainment
Family
Games
Lifestyle
News and Weather
Productivity
Shopping
Social and Communication
Utilities

The purpose of Chrome Web apps is easy access to useful tools and activities. Just like in the iTunes App store, some apps are pointless. Some are quite useful. There's a wealth of content out there for almost any type of Chrome user, and many are free.

The downside: some "apps" are just links to the regular site. The sea of apps takes some time to browse through, and some apps are underdeveloped or having missing functions. But overall I've had good experiences. As you can see, my app collection so far look like it belongs to an 8-year-old reporter.

6.15.2011

Fair Housing

In my work as a reporter, I get to dip my hand into many different buckets. I mostly write about education, school boards, budgets, kids and teachers. But I found myself this week pursuing a story about implementing the federal Fair Housing Act in my municipality.

Under the FHA, overseen by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it is against the law to discriminate against a person seeking housing based on:

-Sex
-Race
-Color
-National Origin
-Religion
-Handicap
-Familial Status (whether or not you have kids)

I began researching the FHA after hearing a story from a co-worker, whose friend and his girlfriend were told by an apartment complex leasing manager that they were not allowed to live in a one bedroom apartment because they are not married.

I thought, certainly nowadays, it can't be legal to deny a particular type of housing to a couple because they are not married.

After several phone calls to HUD in D.C. and locally to the Austin Tenants Council, I discovered there is no state or federal law that prevents this type of discrimination based on marital status. This means a single person could be denied the purchase of a home because he or she is single. It also means unwed parents of a child can be denied housing, so long as the stated reason is marital status, not familial status.

Another, possibly more obvious group excluded from protected rights is the LGBT community. There are local laws that prevent housing discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation, such as in D.C. and Austin, but no umbrella exists to protect all persons from discrimination when seeking housing.

I have a hard time understanding why the seven criteria are included, but marital status and sexual orientation have been left off the list. The FHA was introduced in 1968 and amended in 1988 - 23 years ago. Times have changed. Every person deserves the same rights to ensure prejudice is prevented.

Some might applaud an apartment complex, landlord or home seller who would disallow unmarried couples and gays to live in their community. That audience is the same that 40 years ago would have applauded the racism and sexism that is now outlawed under the FHA. Put simply, if you can't forbid me from living somewhere based on my sex, why is it permitted because I'm single?

I don't often publicize my political views, but this issue makes me cringe. Discrimination is discrimination, and no group deserves it.



Go here to read more about the Fair Housing Act.

Go here to contact your legislator about the issue.

6.01.2011

Four months, but it feels like longer

This week will mark my fourth month in Temple, Texas and it's been an exciting journey so far. Things have finally slowed enough for me to catch up on hobbies around the apartment. I've been a card-making, herb-growing, supper-fixin' fool and loving it. I hope to start a series of paintings for the living room soon and really let my artsy side stick out for a while. I'm also looking into grad school at some point in the future, likely with a M.S. in computer science, but we'll see.

As for Temple, there's not much to do here. I haven't found a core of like-minded people my age to hang out with, so I tend to stick near the few refined places I've found (i.e, my porch and The Cotton Exchange.) News is hopping, although with school out, the stories will be less obvious. I'm looking forward to digging around some school and state budget issues this summer, reading some good books, getting into the top 20 on The Texas Tribune's QRANK trivia game and establishing a Chacos tan once again.