Dorothy Firsching

Joomla! logoJoomla! is an open source content management system (CMS) that allows users to update and add content without extensive knowledge of html and web coding. This means that changes and updates can be made and reviewed immediately, rather than being sent to a web developer.  Business people are in control of their website contents!

Joomla! is used all over the world for everything from simple websites to complex corporate applications including data reporting tools, inventory control systems, complex business directories, integrated e-commerce systems, product catalogs,etc. Joomla! is highly extensible, having more than 8000 extensions, most of which are either free under the GPL license, or low cost.This makes it quite a productivity tool for developers. The functions you are looking for can probably be implemented quickly and easily. 

The latest versions of Joomla! greatly expand access control granularity, category hierarchy, and other functions making it even easier to customize access to content for your site members, employee or customer groups, etc. Responsive designs work with the current proliferation of mobile devices.  Let us show you how!

Ursa Major has  more than 15 years web development experience including more than 6 years of experience with Joomla!   Ursa Major was one of the founders of the Northern Virginia Joomla! Users Group (JUG), and was an organizer of the very successful JoomlaDay DC 2010, hosted at Microsoft facilities in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Dorothy Firsching is currently an officer of the JUG. Some of the very best Joomla! experts are available through the JUG and our contacts.  Contact us to discuss how Joomla! can meet your needs!

If you are interested in Joomla!, please join our JUG. Upcoming meetings can be found at



Ursa Major Consulting has been involved in website development for many years, initially with hard-coded html and later using tools such as Dreamweaver and Cold Fusion. Typically, sites were built in conjunction with a given project, but some live on.

When WordPress became available, we began to use it. We watched Mambo's evolution, and loved Joomla! 1.0. Joomla! has come a very long way, now, and it has gotten better and better.

Joomla is one of the world's most popular software packages used to build, organize, manage and publish content for websites, blogs, Intranets and mobile applications. It is free and open source. Its overall design enables great productivity. Owing to its scalable architecture its also a great base to build web applications. It is famously extensible, with thousands of add-on components available, and it is natively responsive. Today, it can even be administered via smartphone.

So while we still consider websites a supporting tool to achieve a broader objective, we also love to create them. Give us a call if we can help you.

Click this link to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. via e-mail.

Send postal mail to:

Ursa Major Consulting
9536 Stevebrook Road
Fairfax, VA  22032

Phone:  (703) 425-6236 
Fax:  (703) 345-9354 
Twitter:  @dbfirsching 


We have supported the following commercial clients:

  • The Alliance for Full Participation
  • Catapult Consultants
  • Catoctin Consulting
  • Creative Information Technology, Inc. (CITI)
  • Cincinnati Bell Information Systems (CBIS)
  • Computer Products and Services, Inc.
  • Delta Consulting Group
  • The Law Offices of Mitchell Garabedian (Garabedian Law)
  • Goodwill Industries of South Florida
  • The Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington, DC
  • The Institute for Economic Empowerment
  • International Leadership Consulting (ILC)
  • JIL Information Systems
  • JMA Solutions, LLC (JMA)
  • LEADS Corporation
  • Maden Tech Consulting, Inc.
  • Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA)
  • The National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT)
  • NatureServe
  • The Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® (NVAR)
  • NISH, now renamed to SourceAmerica
  • Reebok International
  • Smith, Pachter, McWhorter & D'Ambrosio
  • Synergy Forces
  • Tech International of Virginia
  • Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti
  • Visual Analytics, Inc.
  • WaingerGroup
  • Wells Fargo Realty Advisors

We have supported the following government clients:

  • Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority
  • Bureau of the Census
  • The Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled
  • Defense Nuclear Agency
  • Defense Technical Information Center
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN)
  • General Services Adminstration
  • Health and Human Services Adminstration
  • Maritime Administration
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Archives
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Social Security Administration
  • The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel of SSA
  • U. S. Army
  • U. S. Marine Corps
  • Virginia Industries for the Blind

Dorothy FirschingUrsa Major Consulting, LLC is a woman-owned small business focused on helping clients achieve measurable results through strategic application of information technology.

We help clients focus strategically, leverage their internal resources, and work as dynamic virtual team members. 

The founder and president of Ursa Major is Dorothy Firsching.  Dorothy has more than 25 years of experience in business and technology-related consulting for Government agencies, nonprofits, and commercial firms, is a Project Management Professional (PMP) certified by the Project Management Institute, and has taught classes on project management, data mining, information technology, facilitation, and proposal development.  Connect with Dorothy on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Major passions include:

Ursa Major Consulting is certified by the Virginia Department of Minority Business Enterprises (DMBE) as a SWAM (Small, Women and Minority-Owned) vendor.  Ursa Major frequently works with government clients through contracts held by International Leadership Consulting and other partners.

 Small, Women and Minority-Owned (SWAM) business

I heard tonight that the kids in the neighborhood were watching the swimming pool being filled and had apparently read our newsletter (or been read to) -- they knew that more new things were coming and that the pool would have an ice cream social in June! Rick Balzhiser told me that about 10 kids were gathered there this evening.

They had said that the pool was getting better and better! That's great to hear, since we have been working so hard... I'm pleased to report that the pool sign reading "MapleTree Pool" was installed this morning, giving the pool an identity for the first time ever since it was built back in the 1960s.  The sign looks great! I will have to get a photo sometime soon (it was too dark tonight without a flash).

And this, from a pool that was threatened with closure not too many years ago. It is gratifying to hear. Way to go!

I am thrilled to report that I've found numerous people who remember Talltree South in the early days, and actually have uncovered a stash of records in the shed. None too soon -- the bottom boxes were damp and falling apart, the rubber bands brittle and stuck to the pages, many of which were yellow and fading.

I have talked with Chele Brown, Hugo Brandts, Bob Hennessee, and others.  In so many cases, a single person determines the path of the condo for everyone in the association, because a five person board may vote 3 to 2 to make momentous decisions.  I have found that Talltree South has had THREE rocky periods, and at least THREE periods of great management.  History has already repeated itself.

This has convinced me that the STORIES need to be told. I believe that owners will enjoy and learn from stories even more than from admonishments to get involved. Today, the few determine the nature of the environment where the rest reside. Will those few make it a better place, allow it to deteriorate, or make truly awful, uninformed decisions (even if well-intentioned)?  Will they fade away, be missing in action, or get sued? Will be boards be autocratic or humane?

As a really nice note, one Talltree South board from the past had an older woman put spray snow on her windows rather than the obligatory curtains. The board members talked with her and realized that she did it because she could not afford much. They took up a collection from the owners attending the board meeting and used it to buy her the curtains. I can tell you that today's boards would be more likely to enforce the covenants with due process: notices, a hearing, and perhaps a fine.  

How did this play out in the real estate crisis?  A bank, in its infinite wisdom, "secured" a Talltree South condo unit by turning off its heat, which caused the pipes to freeze and destroyed the unit and damaged neighboring units with a huge flood -- not even realizing that the heat was included in the condo fees, which had to be paid anyway, so they were not saving themselves any money anyway. They even had changed the locks, so the condo management had to break a window to get in, to deal with the flood.

The stories are so compelling!  The history of Talltree South from the early days to the present becomes a case study with lessons for all condo owners and managers (not to mention being a fantastic read for those of us who live or lived there). I need your memories, records, and old photos, though!  And, does anyone know how to reach Tom Kennedy, Bernard Manning, or the Seven D's?

I will continue to post progress. Call me and I'll fill your ear...

By the way, we are still urgently looking for a new site manager to start next month!!

Text-by-VoiceNot too long ago, I got my eyes dilated for a glaucoma exam.

I tried to send a text by voice, but when I looked at the result, it was a string of gibberish. I thought that maybe my phone had messed up, and so I tried again. Again, there were no word breaks, and no words that I could distinguish at all.  That's when I realized that it was my eyes, dummy! My texts had been sent just fine. And when I got the reply, I COULD NOT READ IT! And my Droid would not speak the received text message, either!  I was reduced to using a phone call.

Now that works better when you can see to look up the numbers, since sometimes it just doesn't find the number you need... that's another story.

But I figured that there had to be a great app out there that would read your texts to you... and I found one.

Sonalight's Text by Voice will read your incoming messages out loud when they arrive. You can even set it to turn on when you put the phone in a car dock. Many times I've received a text while driving, and really wanted to know what it was, but could not take my eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. How nic Save e to be able to hear it!

Text by Voice has great promise, because it is completely hands-free, which is perfect if you're driving and want to tell someone you will be late or where you are, without touching the phone. Or when your eyes are just not working, since it will read your message to you before you send it, as well as read your incoming messages to you. I think I will like having it available!

(Note: you may need to search for Sonalight to be able to find the right app. There are others with similar names.  Here is the link.)

Image of Summit Report CoverOn February 6 and 7, 2007, Voices for Change: Beneficiaries Paving the Way to Work,  a summit planned by and for Social Security disability beneficiaries, was conducted in Atlanta, Georgia by the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel (Panel).We worked hard on making this Summit happen, and the resulting report, Voices for Change: Beneficiaries Paving the Way to Work captured the views of the participants who hailed from every state and territory of the United States.

Unfortunately, that report and the other reports of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel are no longer available on the Social Security Administration's website. Does that mean the recommendations have been addressed? Do beneficiaries have greater input into these programs?  Not that I know of.

Read the report again!

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