Friday, March 29, 2013

FLYING THE SKIES: Police miniature helicopter shows off for media





News media watched quietly through their lenses as Arlington Police Department launched a remote-controlled small helicopter at Lake Arlington Thursday afternoon -- a surveillance drone.
The process began with officers adhering to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulated checklist that must be completed before launching the small helicopter. The Arlington Police Department recently received approval from the FAA to fly its two small battery-operated, remote-controlled helicopters after two years of planning and training.
This additional tool is one of many public safety options available to police officers in the ongoing effort to keep Arlington residents and visitors safe. The helicopter can transmit video to a ground crew and cover wide areas very quickly. It is also very quiet.
In an effort to help foster a better understanding of the Aviation Unit, the APD also created a webpage to educate the public on when and how it will be operated and to clarify the aircraft’s capabilities.
 The Arlington Police Department is among the first municipal law enforcement entities in the country to utilize the technology.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

CELLPHONE BLACK HOLE PROBLEM? Researcher thinks he can find solutions




A UT Arlington electrical engineering professor is developing a system in a cell phone that could automatically locate available space within a bandwidth, reducing or eliminating those annoying “dead spots” in coverage.
Qilian Liang, the electrical engineering professor, received a three-year, $470,000 National Science Foundation grant that creates and implements a plan that researches spectrum-sharing technologies.
 “In the wireless network industry, bandwidth is everything,” said Liang, who has been at UT Arlington since 2002. “The system I’m developing shows where the room is in a bandwidth.”
Liang said most wireless network and bandwidth researchers believed that space was nearly all allocated.
However, if a system more specifically directs a signal to travel to where there is space, users can experience quicker response time as well as fewer or no dead spots.
Liang said one example might be Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, where dropped cell phone calls or no cell phone service happens frequently.
 Qilian Liang
“The system we’re developing would tell a cell phone signal where to go on the bandwidth spectrum,” Liang said. “We’ve discovered that only a portion of the spectrum is being used. If you tell the signal where to go, that person can get service and the spectrum is then able to accommodate more users.”
Liang compared his research to a highway that could contain more cars at a faster speed.
He said the cell phone network providers like AT&T or Verizon could program their phones to try one part of the spectrum, then another, then another.
Jean-Pierre Bardet, dean of the UT Arlington College of Engineering, said Liang’s work has the ability to save cell phone users time and money.
“The system also has the chance to save cell phone companies time and money, and provide better service. Who hasn’t experienced dropped calls?” Bardet said. “Cell phones and the wireless spectrum have become so much a part of who we are. The research has a chance to change how cell phones operate.”
The co-principal investigators of this project are Jie Wang from University of Massachusetts and Hyeong-Ah Choi from George Washington University.
Liang’s grant is part of an initiative that started when President Obama issued a memorandum in 2010, titled, “Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution.” The president’s charge was to identify 500 megahurtz of spectrum to be made available for wireless broadband use.
Congress followed that memorandum with a directive to the Federal Communications Commission to devise a plan “to ensure that all people of the United States have access to broadband capability.” The resulting National Broadband Plan was released in 2010 and, among many other recommendations, calls on the NSF to fund wireless research and development that will advance the science of spectrum access.
“We want to continue work in this area,” Liang said. “We believe the opportunity for funding in this area will continue because of the popularity of wireless devices and the need for increasing bandwidth space and utilization.”
(Article written by Herb Booth, UTA. The photo that illustrates this article is also an example of cell tower art – making the towers less obtrusive or at least more visually entertaining)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

SUE DURBEC: Michael Hix and music of Chicago on tap for Theatre Arlington benefit





Is anyone ready for “A Night in the Windy City?” Theatre Arlington’s annual gala is coming up and this year’s event is not-to-be-missed by anyone who loves the band Chicago, whose members had a steady stream of hits throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Michael Hix and  26 or 5 to 4, the only Chicago Tribute Band in Texas, will entertain guests at the gala.

Hix, from Arlington Music Theater, performed at the benefit last year and he was a great success, said chairwoman Diane

“Everyone wanted him back, so when we found out about his Chicago Tribute Band, we jumped on the idea for our theme,” K said.

“In addition to the great music of Chicago, the band plays a strong mix of classic rock and Motown,” Kinzlmaier said.


Sue Stevens Durbec

The gala is at 7 p.m. Friday, April 12, in the Grand Ballroom at Cacharel, 2221 E. Lamar Boulevard. Dress is cocktail attire and tickets are $100 a person, which includes a seated dinner by the master chefs at Cacharel.  The evening will feature a limited luxury auction with Master of Ceremonies, WFAA newsman Jim Douglas. For reservations, contact Kim Lawson at 817-261-9628 x15 or kim@theatrearlington.org.

The annual gala helps enable Theatre Arlington to present award-winning theater at affordable prices. The theater is celebrating its 40th season and is the second largest and oldest theater in Tarrant County.

The theater has operated an outreach program for at-risk students at Thornton Elementary and Crow Elementary for 18 years, and offers a summer camp for children in the AISD’s Families in Transition Program, in addition to producing nine main stage productions, including two all- youth productions, each year and operates a year-round theater school.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Former UTA student’s Debo Band cuts lose and earns plaudits with hot African rhythms



 Listen to any one of the tracks from Debo Band’s self-titled album and you’ll hear it: Moments, even the broiling hot ones, are meant to be celebrated, not endured. Raise your arms, loosen your body, and find wild joy in the passing of time.
UTA alumni Danny Mekonnen  founded Debo (pronounced “debbo”) Band in 2006, three years after moving to Boston to pursue graduate studies in ethnomusicology at Harvard University.
“It was a time in my life where I was searching for something,” he says. “Debo Bandstarted almost as a community project; we were like a practice band.”
“Debo” is an Amharic word that means communal labor or collective effort, and that is precisely what Debo Band is. Mekonnen and 10 friends who share similar musical interests got together and began exploring the sounds of 1970s Ethiopian music: funk– and jazz-influenced, heavy on the groove.
While Mekonnen, an Ethiopian-American, grew up listening to the kind of music Debo Band performs, his interest in creating the sound himself was sparked when he took a trip to Ghana with the UTA Africa program in the summer of 2003.
“It re-opened my ears to the music of Africa,” he says. “I got more and more interested in returning to my roots.”
With a few more years of studying music under his belt and a growing network of people in Boston who were in some way connected to Ethiopia, the time was right. His music collective gathered and began defining its sound: music that galvanizes, that celebrates, that just plain urges you to get up and dance.
“Six years in the making, it really feels like we’ve created an original voice, a unique approach, to Ethiopian music,” he says.
Their infectiously energetic sound has found a home with Next Ambiance, an imprint of indie record label Sub Pop, which launched Nirvana and Soundgarden in their heydays, and most recently The Shins. Reviews of Debo Band’s live show are universally positive. Take a recent review from All Songs Considered, NPR’s web-only music program: “What’s amazing about Debo Band is that they play that music (Ethiopian pop) without any sort of…precious reverence… They play it like it’s NOW, as music of right now, and they play it with incredible energy and passion and excellence. And it just totally rocks. It’s amazing.”
Debo Band has taken its live show pretty much everywhere: the Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Montreal Jazz Fest, Chicago, New Orleans, and twice to Ethiopia, among many others. This year Debo Band was a standout act at South by Southwest in Austin, one of the largest music festivals in the United States, with nearly 2,000 bands performing. Their searing performance got the attention of SPIN, a popular music magazine, who named the band’s showcase a highlight of the six-day festival.
Mekonnen acknowledges that the group is combating some of the negative perceptions of Ethiopia—war, famine, poverty, AIDS—through its music.
“We’re really telling the other part of the story,” he says. “There is also truly vibrant, celebratory music there, and that’s what we’re here to communicate and to honor. It’s an affirmation of life.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

YOUTH EDUCATION TOWN: Super Bowl helps fund center for Arlington youth




Make no mistake. Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith isn’t just some celebrity figurehead when it comes to the new North Texas Youth Education Town, or YET Center, a community center being erected in downtown Arlington.  Smith recently played tour guide of the still-under-construction project, going from room to room, section to section, explaining, in detail, what each one will offer, from the dance studio to the gymnasium to the computer lab.
Smith might not have been in the planning stages of this legacy project thanks to having Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium, but it’s an endeavor that’s weighty because it is personal.
“These are the kinds of places that get you started – it got me started as a kid in Florida,” Smith said. “Centers like these can be life savers. Really.”
YET Centers like this one are now the stamp the league wants to leave behind in Super Bowl cities where economic activity generated by football’s Big Game benefits stadium concession stands and local hotels but do not necessarily trickle down to residents in any long-term way.
“This is something that will serve Arlington youth for a long time to come,” said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, who was joined by Salvation Army officials and a number of local dignitaries, including City Council members, AISD Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos and school board trustees. They were split into one of four groups for guided tours of the facility.
While the center will embrace any Arlington youth, the investments made to these centers across the country are, for the most part, targeting neighborhoods in need.
The YET Center will occupy an expanded Salvation Army center, adding some 8,000 square feet to this renovated space that will include community rooms, computer lab, dance studio, music room and art room.
To make the new center possible, the NFL donated $1 million. The Super Bowl XLV Host Committee provided another $1 million courtesy of the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Arlington Youth Foundation.
Another $2.5 million – part of the Super Bowl XLV host committee surplus – was also set aside for the YET Center. Salvation Army officials have estimated the construction costs at a little over $2 million, but the value of the work is $2.6 million. Some of the design and construction costs have been donated or performed at cost.
The Salvation Army will create and run a number of the classes but is eager to partner with local businesses and nonprofits to help with programming such as homework assistance and even spiritual instruction.
Thursday’s affair was quite ceremonial, with AISD students introducing each of the rooms; one, Kendall Russell, a junior at Bowie, serenaded the tour groups in song as they got to the end of the tours.
“This is going to be such a cool place,” said Seguin High School Trevor Thompson, a senior who plays basketball – and the piano. “Hoops and a music room. I can’t wait for it to open.”
Make no mistake. Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith isn’t just some celebrity figurehead when it comes to the new North Texas Youth Education Town, or YET Center, a community center being erected in downtown Arlington. On Thursday, Smith played tour guide of the still-under-construction project, going from room to room, section to section, explaining, in detail, what each one will offer, from the dance studio to the gymnasium to the computer lab.
Smith might not have been in the planning stages of this legacy project thanks to having Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium, but it’s an endeavor that’s weighty because it is personal.
“These are the kinds of places that get you started – it got me started as a kid in Florida,” Smith said. “Centers like these can be life savers. Really.”
YET Centers like this one are now the stamp the league wants to leave behind in Super Bowl cities where economic activity generated by football’s Big Game benefits stadium concession stands and local hotels but do not necessarily trickle down to residents in any long-term way.
“This is something that will serve Arlington youth for a long time to come,” said Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck, who was joined by Salvation Army officials and a number of local dignitaries, including City Council members, AISD Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos and school board trustees. They were split into one of four groups for guided tours of the facility.
While the center will embrace any Arlington youth, the investments made to these centers across the country are, for the most part, targeting neighborhoods in need.
(Article written by Kenneth Perkins, city release)
The YET Center will occupy an expanded Salvation Army center, adding some 8,000 square feet to this renovated space that will include community rooms, computer lab, dance studio, music room and art room.
To make the new center possible, the NFL donated $1 million. The Super Bowl XLV Host Committee provided another $1 million courtesy of the Gene and Jerry Jones Family Arlington Youth Foundation.
Another $2.5 million – part of the Super Bowl XLV host committee surplus – was also set aside for the YET Center. Salvation Army officials have estimated the construction costs at a little over $2 million, but the value of the work is $2.6 million. Some of the design and construction costs have been donated or performed at cost.
The Salvation Army will create and run a number of the classes but is eager to partner with local businesses and nonprofits to help with programming such as homework assistance and even spiritual instruction.
Thursday’s affair was quite ceremonial, with AISD students introducing each of the rooms; one, Kendall Russell, a junior at Bowie, serenaded the tour groups in song as they got to the end of the tours.
“This is going to be such a cool place,” said Seguin High School Trevor Thompson, a senior who plays basketball – and the piano. “Hoops and a music room. I can’t wait for it to open.”