“Good morning, Dan. You wanted to see me?”
“Yes, Marvin. Good morning. Thanks for coming over,” Dan replied motioning for Marvin to take the chair in front of his desk and taking the chair at the small secondary desk himself where he had been working on the data entry.
“I needed to see you today anyway, Dan, as I forgot to tell you about the panic button in your office.”
“Panic button?” Dan queried, remembering Harold having mentioned it.
“Yes, let me show you,” Marvin said getting up and going around Dan’s desk, pulling his chair back and pushing it against the picture window while motioning for Dan to come over. “If you go down on one knee, you will see the red button mounted on the left side of your desk, easily accessible from your chair when you are sitting. If you press it, it will alert both building security and the local police precinct that is less than a quarter mile from here. In case of emergency, press the button and security guards will respond with guns drawn within two minutes, with police arriving soon thereafter.”
“Should I be comforted or scared out of my wits by this?” Dan asked, only half joking.
“It’s just a precaution, Dan. It’s been a while since we had any problem here requiring security to be called by a panic button, but you need to know that it’s there just in case, if only to make sure you don’t press it by mistake. I have one just like it under my desk and the receptionist has one also. If you ever see a situation you think may escalate to violence, press the button and know that security will respond very quickly.”
“I guess it’s good to know,” Dan replied. “Though it is also a bit disconcerting.”
“Don’t worry about it—it’s just an extra precaution to protect us and our students,” Marvin assured him. “Now, what did you want to talk to me about?” he added, eager to change the conversation.
“I have what I hope is some good news I wanted to share about the short course I’m working on developing. First, I found a supplier who is willing to do an even swap of PC clones for the Apple IIe computers in one of the labs. We can get 20 computers at no cost with a one-year warranty. The specs are not ideal, but they will do: 256K RAM, dual floppy disks, keyboard and a monochrome monitor. The vendor will pick up the Apple computers and monitors and deliver the PCs at no additional cost. I’ve arranged a meeting on Monday sometime between 10:00 a.m. and noon for the vendor to examine our computers and verify they are in good working order. He will bring a PC clone sample for us to look at. I’d like you to be there if you’re available to evaluate the PC with me and to talk to the guy—his name is Joe.”
“Well, you sure move fast” Marvin said, smiling.
Dan was unsure if Marvin thought that to be a good or a bad thing, so he quickly added. “I made no commitments, of course, and intend to contact other vendors in the tri-state area before Monday, but I’ve got to tell you that I doubt very much anyone will match that deal. I’ve been keeping a very close eye on PC prices for some time and have not seen anything that comes close to a complete system for that price.”
“It sounds good, Dan, but I’ll have to talk to the Melameds before agreeing to anything. I know they’re really excited about your proposal, but they own all of the equipment and I can’t agree to any deals involving their sale or replacement without their approval.”
“Of course, and I can reschedule the Monday meeting if needed” Dan said.
“I’ll call them today and get back to you. Let’s see how they react.”
“I also wanted you to know,” Dan added, “that I’ve contacted several textbook publishers and ordered desk copies—don’t worry, they’re free—for six different software and workbook bundles that they offer for courses on WordStar, WordPerfect, Paradox, dBase III and Lotus 1-2-3.”
“You do move fast, Dan” Marvin noted with a chuckle and wide grin. “What’s the cost to us for the books and software?”
“Under forty dollars for each book which contains a limited version of the actual software program. The limitations include a banner embedded in every WordPerfect file and a one-line banner at the bottom of each page noting the software can only be used for educational purposes. Lotus 1-2-3 is limited to spreadsheets of not more than 250 rows and Paradox and dBase are limited in the number of records that they can contain. All of the software packages place a similar footer or header on each printed page about the software being licensed for educational use only.The limits are more than generous for learning purposes and the programs are otherwise full-featured and come free of charge with the books with no software license fees.” Dan looked at Marvin with an expectant smile, as he knew this was very good news.
“That’s great news,” Marvin said. “I did not know completely free software would be a possibility. And $40 per workbook is very reasonable-- cheaper than many other course textbooks, actually. Nice work Dan.”
“I’ll need to see the books themselves—they are being rushed and I expect to have them by Monday to try with the sample PC the vendor is bringing. They are being overnighted as I told them I need them here by 10:00 a.m. on Monday. Mr. Chang gave me the contact information for all the publishers’ sales reps, and they were very accommodating.”
“Let me go talk to the Melameds now. I did not expect so much progress in two months, let alone two days on the job. I still have serious doubts about State Ed approving the new program and courses, but this is still a remarkable start.” With that, Marvin rose from his chair again and moved to the door.
“Before you go, Marvin. I’m working on putting together a spreadsheet to track faculty performance and competencies. It would help if I could get some secretarial support as I’ll have the spreadsheet done pretty quickly, but the data entry process will take a lot longer than I had thought.”
“No problem Dan” Marvin replied as he walked to the door and opened it. “I’ll have Katie, our best part-time secretary, assigned to you permanently. I’ll ask Taisha to have her report to you until further notice today when she comes in at 1:00 p.m.”
“Thanks, Marvin. I really appreciate that.”
“Don’t mention it” Marvin replied walking towards the door. “Katie’s a good kid and a hard worker. You’ll love her.” With that, Marvin was gone, ambling back to his office.
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