Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Local 911 Dispatchers Can Work Remotely — “On Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Arlington County Emergency Communications Center (ECC) became one of the first centers in the nation to implement capabilities that allow fire and emergency medical services (EMS) dispatchers and supervisors to deliver critical emergency communications services no matter where they are. Now, Arlington Fire-EMS dispatchers and supervisors are able work from a remote location, including from home.” [Arlington County]

Grocery Workers Unaware of Vaccine Availability — “Grocery store workers in Arlington can now sign up for Covid vaccine… But Arlington County is apparently not notifying grocery store workers about this option… At our local Arlington grocery store, a staff person in the management office indicated they were not aware of either option, when my wife and I called.” [Blue Virginia]

Apple Stores Temporarily ClosingUpdated at 8:55 a.m. — “Apple is temporarily closing its Washington, D.C. retail stores ahead of the United States presidential inauguration. Five stores in the Washington metro area will close through at least January 21… Stores in Arlington, VA at Pentagon City and Clarendon, as well as in Maryland at Bethesda Row will close from Saturday.” [9to5Mac]

Beyer Wants Cameras for Federal Officers — “Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) announced today that they will reintroduce their Federal Police Camera and Accountability Act, which would require uniformed federal police officers, including U.S. Capitol Police, to wear body cameras and have dashboard cameras in police vehicles.” [Press Release]

Attempted Armed Robbery on Columbia Pike — “At approximately 8:18 p.m. on January 13, police were dispatched to the late report of an attempted armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 5:04 p.m., the suspect was inside a business when they approached the front of the store, threatened the victim with a knife and demanded they open the drawer to the cash register. The suspect then fled the business when the victim yelled and another employee ran to the front of the store.” [ACPD]

Water Main Repair on Carlin Springs Road — “Water main break… Tomorrow, Friday Jan. 15, from 7am to 5pm, the two center lanes on S Carlin Springs Rd from 1st St S to 3rd St S will be closed. A traffic detour will be in place.” [Twitter]

Pelosi Endorses McAuliffe — “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is endorsing Terry McAuliffe’s campaign in a very crowded Democratic primary that will winnow the field of those seeking to be the next governor of Virginia.” [Axios]

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Arlington Public Schools is expanding its “one-to-one” digital device program to students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade.

K-2 students will be getting Apple iPads from the school system this fall, helping to assist with remote learning. APS is also buying new iPads and MacBook Air laptops to replace aging devices for older students.

In all, the school system is ordering 11,312 Apple devices, including 7,114 iPads for elementary students, 2,174 iPads for middle school students, and 2,024 MacBooks for high school students, a school spokesman tells ARLnow.

“We are providing devices for all students this year,” said Frank Bellavia. “Previously only students in grades 3-12 received devices.”

The program for supplying school-owned digital devices to students is popular with students but controversial among some parents. During the pandemic, however, it has given students from families of all income levels an opportunity to participate in electronic learning from home.

Superintendent Francisco Durán provided additional information about the new devices in a School Talk email to families last night.

The Department of Information Services is hard at work getting the students’ devices ready for the start of school. This year, APS is expanding the 1:1 program to include all students, grades PreK-12. Students in grades PreK-8 will receive iPads; middle school students will also receive iPad cases with keyboards; and students in grades 9-12 will receive Macbook Airs. When combined with our enrollment growth, APS will be providing devices to almost 10,000 additional students this year, in addition to providing middle school students with keyboard cases. As you might imagine, vendors are having difficulties filling orders quickly. Fortunately, APS placed its orders early:

  • The iPads have all arrived and are currently being set up.
  • We have received some of the MacBook Airs, and expect the rest to ship shortly along with the keyboard cases for 6th-grade students.
  • Keyboard cases for the 7th and 8th-grade students should arrive before the start of the 2nd quarter.
  • Depending on when shipments arrive from our vendors, 6th and 9th grade students may need to start the year with their existing devices. The goal is to have all devices ready by the end of August. If your student does not already have a device, you will receive information from your school in the next few weeks about how and where to pick up the device and learning tools for your student.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Dorsey on Death of George Floyd — Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey posted the following on Facebook Sunday afternoon: “Why is it when we are bird watching, retrieving mail, swimming in a pool, walking down the street, or living in our own homes that you view us as a threat? Why do these routine activities see us being reported to police and losing our lives? It is a question my daughters ask, as do the children of every black person in America. Yet that question needs to be seriously be pondered non-Blacks. We then need you to transform episodic outrage into all-the-time anti-racism.” [Facebook, Blue Virginia]

Apple Store Boarded Up in Clarendon — Workers placed plywood over the entrance to the Apple Store in Clarendon Sunday, as a precaution, after the weekend’s clashes in D.C. [Twitter]

House Fire in Hall’s Hill — “1800 block of N. Cameron St — crews encountered fire in attic. Fire was quickly controlled, 6 occupants escaped without injury and one dog was rescued in good condition. @RedCross called in to assist occupants.” [Twitter]

County Creates Badges for Mask-Requiring Businesses — “In response to Gov. Ralph Northam’s Executive Order that face coverings must be worn inside public places, the County created the ‘We Are Covered’ program. This gives Arlington businesses, multi-family residences, and houses of worship a way to show they have pledged to protect the people who come through their doors.” [Arlington County]

Tables, Tents in CC Sports Pub Parking Lot — “With outdoor seating now permitted as part of Phase One, Finlay and his staff worked to turn the restaurant’s parking lot into a patio. Outdoor tables are all set up six feet apart. ‘We’re lucky and blessed to have a parking lot that’s big enough to accommodate that type of spacing and still have the social distancing and be able to abide by all the rules and regulations we have to go by,’ he said.” [WJLA]

ACPD Releases Photo of Car That Struck Girl, Dog — On Sunday, Arlington County Police released photos of the dark-colored sedan that struck a girl and killed her dog Friday in the Donaldson Run neighborhood. ARLnow also obtained video of the car. [ARLnow]

Bayou Bakery Donates Thousands of Meals — “Back in 2005, [Bayou Bakery owner David] Guas saw first hand how Hurricane Katrina impacted his hometown and the importance of rapid response in rebuilding the community. In March 2020, when COVID-19 closed school doors, he knew he needed to provide the same fast-acting relief to area children and families left underserved.” [Washington Life]

Discussion with AED’s Telly Tucker — “We talked with Telly Tucker, the new head of Arlington Economic Development, about Friday’s reopening, what’s going on with the local economy, the plight of small businesses during the pandemic, and the growth of tech companies in Northern Virginia.” [Facebook, Apple Podcasts]

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Route 1 may have a new name, but users of Apple Maps still need to enter the old name lest they be led astray.

Arlington County placed new “Richmond Highway” signs along Route 1 in Crystal City last week. During a ceremony marking the occasion, Arlington County Board Chair Christian Dorsey and Del. Mark Levine stomped on the old signs honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

However, the vestige of the Old South remains alive and well on Apple Maps. Users of Apple’s mapping app need to keep using “Jefferson Davis Highway” for now as it doesn’t yet recognize the new “Richmond Highway” name for the stretch of Route 1 in Arlington.

When entering a Richmond Highway address into the app today, Apple Maps redirected users to either Route 1 in Alexandria or a Richmond Street in Hopewell, Virginia.

The confusion comes 8 months after Google Maps unilaterally re-named Arlington’s Route 1 stretch as “Richmond Highway,” and a year after Alexandria officially renamed its portion of Route 1. Apple Maps does list Richmond Highway addresses along the Alexandria section of the road.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

State and local officials vied for years to strip the Confederate name from Crystal City’s main commuter thoroughfare, renewing efforts last fall in the wake of Amazon’s arrival. This year, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring issued an opinion allowing local leaders to sidestep state legislators and perform the change on their own, with approval from Virginia’s Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Image via Apple Maps and Google Maps

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The Clarendon Apple Store is back open today (Monday), after closing briefly over the weekend.

The shop at Market Common Clarendon started turning customers away Friday afternoon, citing a leak in the ceiling due to problems with the apartments above the store.

But an employee at the store told ARLnow that those problems have been resolved, and the shop is now open on its normal schedule once more.

One of the store’s hefty glass doors remains missing, however, still replaced with the black plywood visible from the store’s exterior Friday. Some stains remain visible on the store’s ceiling, and the shop’s large video screen along the back wall wasn’t turned on as of Monday morning.

The management company for the apartments above the Apple store, Avalon Clarendon, did not immediately respond to a request for comment seeking clarity on what caused the leak.

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The Clarendon Apple store closed suddenly Friday and has remained closed since.

The closure appears to be temporary. A sign posted on the door says: “Effective immediately, Apple Clarendon is closed until further notice. We apologize for the inconvenience and encourage you to visit our nearby stores.”

The store’s windows are blacked out, and one of the doors appears to be missing, replaced with plywood painted black. Through a portion of the door not covered, several large air blowers — the kind used to dry carpets after a flood — could be seen inside.

Within seconds of a reporter trying to photograph through the glass, a security guard appeared and blocked the view. The guard said he could not say what happened to prompt the closure.

While there is thus far no official explanation, tipsters who contacted ARLnow alternately said the closure was due to a “sprinkler bursting” in the store or “some water problem” in the apartments above. No word yet on when the store may reopen.

Update on 7/2/18 — The Apple Store reopened as of Monday morning, with some visible damage inside.

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Morning Notes

Remembering Barbara Bush — Via the Arlington GOP Twitter account: “Former First Lady Barbara Bush died today at age 92. She will always be remembered for representing the best of America. We pray for and send condolences to her family.” [Twitter, CBS News]

New Sign for Apple Store — A new sign is going up outside of the Apple Store in Clarendon. The store was renovated in 2016. [Twitter, Arlington County]

Arlington Man Facing Firearms Charges in Pa. — From a TV station near Pittsburgh: “A Virginia man is facing charges after police said he possessed 14 guns despite having a protection from abuse order against him. Perry Georgeadis, 63, of… Arlington, Virginia, is charged with 14 counts of person not to possess a firearm.” [WJAC]

Arlington’s Gain is New Jersey’s Pain — The announcement that Gerber is moving its corporate headquarters to Rosslyn, to the same building as corporate parent Nestle USA, is bad economic news for New Jersey. “This means close to 180 New Jerseyans will be out of a job. But the company promised to help employees affected, mostly in corporate positions such as marketing, finance and HR, by offering them the chance to relocate, and severance and outpatient support for those that can’t make the move.” [NJ.com]

Arlington Students Make TJ Science Cut — “Students from Arlington’s public-school system will represent about 5 percent of the incoming freshman class at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology. A total of 25 APS students have been offered admission to the regional magnet school.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Alexandria Debates High School Lights — In a situation that may sound familiar to those in Arlington, the question of whether or not to add lights to the soon-to-be-renovated T.C. Williams High School stadium is pitting neighbors of the school against high school athletic boosters and school administrators. [Alexandria Times]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Apple announced its highly-anticipated new line of iPhones yesterday: the next-generation iPhone 8 and higher-end iPhone X.

The latter, with its facial recognition, advanced camera technology and “Super Retina” screen, reaches the $1,000 price mark, something that has raised the eyebrows of more than a few Apple critics.

Walk around Clarendon or other Arlington environs and it’s clear that the iPhone is king here, disproportionately more popular in Arlington than it is in other parts of the country, where Android has the market share lead.

Given that Arlington is an Apple town, we thought we’d see how many are planning to take the $1,000 iPhone X plunge.

Photo via Apple

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Clarendon Apple Store after its reopening (file photo)Locals looking to pick up the newest iPhone or Macbook Pro will once again be able to do so in Pentagon City.

The Pentagon City mall Apple Store, which closed for renovations last September, is due to reopen this weekend. A grand reopening party is set for Saturday, March 4, at 10 a.m.

“You’ll love what we’ve done with the place,” the company wrote on the store’s website and in an email.

“There’s a lot more to see at your new Apple Store in Arlington,” said the email. “Stop by on March 4 to take a look at what’s changed and try the latest Apple products.”

According to the aficionados at MacRumors.com, the store is slated to reopen with a “next generation” design that includes indoor trees, wood tables and 6K video screens throughout the store.

Last year, the Clarendon Apple Store also temporarily shuttered for a facelift. That location reopened in September.

File photo. Hat tip to Chaz P.

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Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

White noise appYou might not think that a smartphone app that plays background sounds to help people sleep could be particularly lucrative or innovative. But then you would be underestimating both the market and the vision behind the app.

TMSoft, a small software company based in Crystal City’s 1776 space, released version 7.0 of “White Noise,” its flagship app, over the summer. The update pushes the app in the direction of being a social network, of sorts, for ambient sound.

White Noise, as we’ve previously reported, was released in 2008, just after the Apple App Store started letting iPhone users easily download third-party apps to their phones.

“When I first started I didn’t think anyone was going to download the thing,” said its creator, Ballston resident Todd Moore. “I just ran around my house with a recorder and recorded eight different loops: a bedroom fan, the outside crickets, rain, my HVAC [system]” and so on.

Thanks in part to media exposure — it was written up in the Washington Post, featured on the Today Show and made fun of by Jimmy Fallon — and a first-mover advantage, it became the No. 1 free app in the App Store. Through in-app advertising and a paid-for “pro” version, it was soon bringing in enough revenue that Moore quit his otherwise lucrative R&D job to focus on apps full time.

“I was making more money in a week than I was making all year at my job, and I said to myself, why don’t I quit and do this full time,” Moore recounts.

White Noise remains popular to this day, with the main app and its variants — including a “White Noise Baby” version for parents that includes a built-in baby monitor — generating the bulk of TMSoft’s revenue. (The company has some popular games and novelty apps in its catalog, but none were sustained smash hits on the scale of White Noise.)

“Putting people to sleep is our bread and butter,” Moore quipped, although White Noise is also used by those who want to use background sounds to help them work or study. “It was definitely the story of an app that bootstrapped a company.”

White noise appThe seventh generation of White Noise doesn’t stray from its original use case, but it does represent the culmination of five years of development toward a much broader vision for the app.

“The goal is to catalog the world’s sounds,” Moore said. “I want every country covered and every sound available.”

Why do that when a simple fan or rainstorm noise will usually suffice? User feedback, Moore said, has made him realize that the most impactful sounds represent a specific time and place in people’s memories.

“People are most comforted by sounds of their childhood,” Moore said. Thanks to user submissions, if someone wants to find a loop of a certain type of frog they heard once upon a time in Bermuda, for instance, there’s a sound for that.

Version 6.0 of White Noise introduced the feature that allows users to record sounds on their phone and, through an algorithm, seamlessly loop the sound so that it can play on repeat without distracting clicks or pops — no small engineering feat.

With version 7.0, users can now upload those sounds — and mash-ups of existing sounds — and download others from a marketplace that can be searched geographically. Users can then “heart” and comment on each other’s sounds.

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