The Austin Capital Metro bus system: excellent

Cap Metro app screen
Slightly modified screenshot of the CapMetro smartphone app. The trip planning works well, and the tickets you’ve purchased show on a separate screen so the driver knows you’ve paid. Nice.

The Austin CapMetro bus system works very well for getting around town without having to worry about parking. The price is excellent as well: in my stay, $9 bought a 7-day pass.

They do a good job of keeping their routes updated on Google Transit and its app, so whichever I used I got good information.

And did I mention $9 for 7 days? Can’t beat it.

Tex’s Toast

Big Tex and his former selfThis year’s Yule Pecan Log carving is in honor of the purveyor of fried food who himself fried on October 19, 2012. After 60 years of encouraging State Fair attendees to coat their aortas with deep fat, the pied huckster of fried succumbed to an electrical fire in his shorts. We’ve all been there.

This won’t be your Father’s Yule Pecan Log. He was smart enough not to eat such things.

Tuesday, 3:00 PM, Room 201

Gibb Gilchrist Building.

Christmas Lunch and White Elephant Gift Exchange

Christmas ornaments

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chili and desserts

It’s that time again!  Come to Gilchrist 102 at 11:45, next Thursday, December 20 for what could possibly by your last supper (if the world ends on Friday, that is). 🙂

This year we are having Chili for our Christmas Party. If you would like, please bring your favorite holiday dessert.  We’re counting on a few of you to bring desserts!

If you want chili, bring your $5.00 to Dolores by Tuesday the 18th.

If you want to participate in our “Mystery Gift Exchange,” bring a $15 wrapped gift (make it something you wouldn’t mind getting).

Hope to see you there!

Gracias to the FSI proposal team!

Getting punchy? Not so bad that you'd notice


If you haven’t heard the news yet, the Freight Shuttle proposal was delivered—very beautiful, clean, and 3 days early—on Friday at 3 p.m.

Everyone below played an important part in making this one-of-a-kind document (worth about $2.6 billion total) something to be really proud of. Everyone was asked to go above and beyond, working late and coming in early for multiple days, and everyone did.


Michelle B. – Thank you for working your eyes, brain, and fingers to the bone, and putting up with insanity that went on in the compiling, writing and editing of this entire thing (She literally did it all except for binder 1—I think).

Debbie – Thank you for pulling all-nighters to keep up with the layout and crazy multiple rounds of editorial changes, fixing and creating graphics, and finding that last typo in the middle of the print run (yes, she can check changes!). J

Nancy – Thank you for working late into the night, and enduring the chaos, to get this thing printed before the deadline.

Michelle J. – Thank you for overseeing the collation and compilation of 6 binders of material that involved 2 CDs, and a 600 page 10-section appendix, assisting Nancy with the printing, and running back and forth and up and down the halls.

John – Thank you for helping save the cover and creating a nice document design, starting the layout, and working with Steve and Figg on the graphics.

Dolores – Thank you for making sure that all the materials got ordered and delivered on time, and for overseeing the logistics of which size binders and tabs were needed, how many, the boxes, the paper matching—just a ton of little things that had to be tended to and planned for the print run to go off without a hitch.

Jim – Thank you for squeezing an urgent and difficult photo shoot into your schedule and producing shots of I-35 that FIGG needed to create effective graphics.

Chris P. – Thank you for working over the weekend and delaying other projects to get the very important proofreads of each binder done so we could meet our deadline (and yes, he caught math errors too!).

Joanna – Thank you for backing up Michelle and helping to keep the editing program up and running for just about an entire 2 months.

It was truly a team effort between COM and Steve’s people, and I want to congratulate everyone for pulling together and making it happen with no drama or complaints.  This might be the biggest thing that TTI has been involved with in a long time, and we played an important part!


Caffeine and junk food—it's not like they're optional
Our work here is done, thanks!
Turning it back over
Loading the last boxes

Long overdue recognition for TTI Communications projects and people

TTI Communications employees at their semi-annual departmental meeting.The number and quality of projects and products produced by our department continues to impress. All of us are busy, and sometimes we don’t share the good work we are doing with our co-workers. Let me do that on all our behalf:

CUMULUS – Michelle Wright rallied the troops and saved this project, with a lot of help from Jim, Joanna and Michelle Hoelscher. We have a functioning system of more than 30,000 photos, each keyworded. Rick Collins and the RTI staff are really excited about this system and ready to push it out to all of TxDOT.

MY 35 OUTREACH – Chris Pourteau set the bar high with our client with the first My35 e-newsletter last spring. He and Michelle Hoelscher have primarily been involved in this effort, which involves researchers and staff throughout the institute.

RUDDER THEATRE COMPLEX WEBSITE – Vicky Nelson and Jim Lyle took the lead on this high-visibility project. With Mark and Jared handling the development and David Dennis writing taglines and copy, this team produced the best-looking website on campus.

TTI WEBSITE – The other best-looking website on campus is our own. The TTI web development project, led by Chris Sasser, was a major step forward for the institute. Chris had a strong team to work with: Mark, Jared and Tobey handled the code stuff, with writing support from Rick, Michelle Benoit, Pourteau, Terri Parker and Sam Holland.

VIDEO SUMMARY REPORTS – David Dennis met an almost humanly impossible deadline by producing 8 VSRs in just under 8 weeks time. Lots of work goes into making these 3 minute videos, involving multiple layers of approval and travel to exotic places like Tyler.

RESEARCHER – Chris, Kelly and Stacy continue to meet their own high standards with the Researcher. The issues are well-planned and interestingly written. With Jim’s always creative cover photos, this publication continues to be enormously popular.

FREIGHT SHUTTLE PROPOSAL – Michelle Benoit, Kelly West, John Henry and Debbie Murrillo are neck-deep in the final stages of helping produce TTI’s largest proposal ever.  Dolores and Nancy are printing and assembling the docment, if and when it clears the technical staff upstairs. All of these people must be strong and virtuous, because all of them are still standing. So are Joanna and Consol, who have assumed the lion’s share of editing while this effort is underway.

REPORT PROCESSING – One of our key unsung heroes is Michelle Jones, who sees to it that researhers meet their deliverable deadlines in spite of themselves.

SOCIAL MEDIA – Michelle Hoelsher has been charged with dragging the institute into the 21st century by establishing an agency presence in the social media world. She is nurturing our Facebook and Twitter efforts (and could use your likes and follows.)

DIGITAL LIBRARY – Along with handling the literature search requests and managing the Work Zone Safety Clearinghouse, Hong also oversaw the digital conversion of more than 900 TxDOT reports. She and Suzie scanned, cleaned and posted each of those files. They are on schedule to complete posting of all TTI non-TxDOT publications by the end of the calendar year – another 300 or so documents.

That’s not all the great work coming out of here – it’s just the highlights. Clyde Hance continues to be Shanna Yates’ favorite staffer. In his spare time, he is mastering HTML 5 so he can post video online. David Martin is a production machine back there, cranking out everything from research video documentation to livestock safety videos. This year, he also produced a music track for a safetyPSA — sang, played all the instruments, and engineered his own recording session.

Toni Monroe – who made sure we actually HAD lunch today – does the work of at least three people. This year, she carried most of the workload in closing out our fiscal year. Along with the TTI website development, Tobey has been moving conference services to WordPress while simultaneously maintaining her sanity (that’s ongoing – it could change.) Debbie is working with several online materials projects when she’s not selecting pictures for the SHRB walls and laying out billion dollar proposals.

I can’t imagine a better, more talented group of people to work with than this team. I know I don’t say it enough, but I am impressed by and thankful for all that you do.

— Richard

Notes from Jeff Herrington: Web Writing

Tips from Jeff Herrington – Spinning Great Content for Web and Social Media

October 14, 2010 – IABC workshop

General presentation of copy on screen

  • All copy should be “scan able” . . .  in very short chunks separated by white space and labeled clearly when at all possible. (A block of text should not go beyond 4 or 5 lines at most.)
  • Paragraphs should have fewer than 4 sentences. Break long paragraphs by looking for thought shifts and transition words.
  • Content sections should be one screen to a screen and half long as a general rule.
  • Don’t post long documents “as is” to appear on the screen.  Use summaries with PDF download links.
  • Use the “index/recipe card” rule and build labeled short summaries, lists, and hyperlinks to subpages with “more information.”

Sentences on the web

Continue reading Notes from Jeff Herrington: Web Writing