Friday, August 28, 2009

Punxsutawney Phil

I think I've finally figured out how this works (link here). Every February 2nd, he leaves his office to look at the AUGI Wish List. But what happens if he see his shadow? Six more years of no site tools:

"It's not just a question of making a list of everything everybody's asking for and the prioritizing it and sticking it in the software."

Well, obviously. But there's a catch. If you're not careful you end up creating answers to questions no one's asking, or likely to ask, or need answered, or specifically don't want answered, or will even go as far as spend significant amounts of personal, free time trying to undo an untimely, ill-considered answer.

I'm still not sure if he's going for irony or just stating the obvious or being obviously ironic. I'll guess just obvious, no irony yeah yeah I get it nudge nudge wink wink intended.

Plenty-o-space in the Comments section for additional favorite quotes and well considered responses (limited to one favorite quote per person while supplies last other conditions may apply see store for details).

2011 Alphas out? Planning beyond 2012 underway? Can't help but wonder what next February 2nd will bring...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm alergic to cats

Apple's new OS, 10.6 comes out tomorrow. While I love apple (run Revit on my Powerbook), I have to ask if anyone buys into the marketing. Let's review:

Revit release names:
2009, 2010, 2011 - ok, they're a year off, but before the ribbon, I could argue it was forward thinking.

Windows names:
95, 98, 98Me, 2000, XP, Vista, Window 7 - for a while anyway, clear. you understand which was better (let's say more recent) than the others. For all the options to buy all the flavors of windows 7, so far I've been using it on the Mac, it's been quick and responsive and a good upgrade to XP.

Cheetah, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard. uh, what gives? Is a tiger somehow better, faster, more productive than a cheetah? what's next? Meerkat?

oh, PS.
Apple's new OS didn't change the UI, they just made it faster.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Job Opening


Let the $harpening of the elbow$ begin!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Decide first, think second

My rant lately (besides the water department) has been what I perceive as a shortfall in process. With the economic downturn, it seems like a lot of places cut costs - somewhat blindly - and ended up cutting process that was important, imperative, necessary, and possibly around for so long that you don't remember why you had it so you just threw it away. I'm sure every office / shop / factory has a reason for cutting. Wanting to retain key staff, not enough work / sales, new management who don't understand the justifications of process.
Have you ever read the Toyota Way? It's a great book about process. How a great company goes vets, validates, and refines their workflow. They have an awesome tool called the A3 Report. What it does is distill a process down to key steps:
- Identify the problem
- Understand the current situation
- Root cause analysis
- Countermeasures
- Develop the Target State
- Implementation plan
and all this has to fit on one A3 sheet of paper. It's like a haiku for the business class. It's also one reason why they are the top selling car manufacturer.
Create Process > Analyze > Make more efficient without compromise to product integrity or key product goals.

That last item is key. the product must continue to improve while the process becomes more efficient.
There is no water department. There are no leprechauns.

What would Revit's A3 look like I wonder? Or LEED?
but more on that later.

Free T-shirt to the person who can give the best example of either.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dear Customer......You're wrong

In January I purchased a house that was in foreclosure and needed a ton of work. So much work that it wasn't safe to live in it while the work was being done. Complete gut and remodel. When the former owners left, the water valve at the street was never shut off properly causing (remember, it's January) the meter to leak several hundred gallons of water into my and my downhill neighbor's basement. I called the Water Company to refute the large bill stating that there were no pipes in my house to leak and the meter (which was leaking) was technically not my responsibility. They replaced the meter and had their Research Unit investigate a credit. This is now August. I finally received a letter from them that reads:

"We have reviewed your account for adjustments due to a burst pipe, and we find basis for adjustment at this time. Your water loss at the time of the leak did not did not exceed 1 1/2 times your normal usage."

3 things:
1. What does that letter even mean?? Those two sentences are contradictory.
2. Whatever happened to listening to your customers?
3. If I have had no pipes in my house at that time then 1 1/2 x zero should equal zero for water usage.

Synopsis: Drunken leprechauns have moved beyond the toolshed and into Water Utilities.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fire, Aim, Ready

Consider this.

While I appreciate the "customer facing-ness" of this approach, this is a exactly why the 2010 UI needs to be put back in the oven. Somebody please...please... have the force of will to restore and support the Classic UI as the default condition. Simply expose the Ribbon as an option for customers while the bugs/iterations/gestations/infestations/genuflections are being worked out.

Debating the pros and cons of various UI iterations under the guise of "maybe-we-will-maybe-we-won't-we-can't-really-discuss-future-development-while-under-no-obligation-regarding-forward-looking-blogging" seems a huge distraction.
  • Is this really customer facing?
  • Is this the best way to design?
  • Should a $2billiondollar software company designing a flagship AEC BIM platform solicit meaningful customer feedback via Survey Monkey? What about Ouiji Boards? Or better yet, headless chickens? You know - something along the lines of this.
IMO this approach confuses the customer. We're busy enough designing the thing. We need you guys to design the thing to design the thing. And while we appreciate being asked to help you do your homework - being asked too frequently and too casually starts to create suspicion.

Because what's really disruptive is if you design the thing to design the thing and then release the thing into the wild - but then it quickly becomes obvious that it wasn't ready for prime time and it actually needs a lot more work to be usable. By this time it's too late as customers are faced with a moving target of:
  • Trying to use a tool that keeps morphing after it's picked it up, while
  • Simultaneously being asked to help guess the next permutation, which
  • Until a few weeks ago was not officially available without an option to work in a familiar, stable, environment.
Can someone, anyone in the Factory really honestly unblinkingly state the present Design>Implementation strategy was in the best interest of the customer?

Would someone please raise their hand?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Steve's Job

Apple rejects Google Voice app. This bothers a lot of people. What does a company like Google have to do, when Phil Schiller (Senior VP of World Wide Marketing) is rumored to have blessed Google's product development? Then top it off, Eric Schmidt even resigned from Apple's board!

GV Mobile's developer Sean Kovacs says that the app was personally approved last April by Phil Schiller, Apple's senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing -- the man who often takes the stage during Apple keynotes when Steve Jobs isn't around. Kovacs says that Schiller called him to personally apologize for the delay in initially getting the application approved. Now, I'm sure Apple has laid out in its terms of service somewhere that you're not allowed to mimic the iPhone's functionality. But when you've got a blessing from that high up, that would seem like a pretty good indication that the application belongs in the App Store. More here.

So what's going on? Is Apple being the bully? AT&T? Maybe AT&T did ask Steve to reject the Google Voice app. Maybe Steve said 'ok'. Why?

Here's my entirely non-scientific, entirely non-insider, entirely speculative speculation:

Point 1. Steve Jobs hates AT&T. No - he hates the US Cell phone industry. No - he hates the entire cell phone industry. And the best way to disrupt the cell phone industry is to start by right-out-in-the-open-in-the-middle-of-the-playground-during-lunch-while-everyone-is-watching break the back of AT&T. Well - at least the US cell phone industry. It'll be a warning sign to the rest of the wireless carriers. Apple doesn't need you. You need Apple. Apple provides Hardware. Apple provides OS. Apple provides Distribution. That will be all - now go away and claw at the hardscrabble for your customers pennies.

Point 2. Steve Jobs is in a contract with AT&T. And as much as so many of his customers love the iPhone, but hate AT&T (you how AT&T will add a hefty surcharge to their existing customers that have the gall to want to upgrade to the latest model of the iPhone) Steve can't just break the contract. It'd cost him heaps of shareholder value and a messy legal battle. It'd ruin his karma. And besides, Steve really needed AT&T to "validate" the iPhone in the US market. Particularly since AT&T has really broad (cough...monopolistic...sputter) coverage.

Point 3. Steve wants out of AT&T. While he's no stranger to disrupting the business of phone companies (literally - you can look it up) he doesn't want to be anywhere near the back-breaking when it happens. He'll want appear to have nothing to do with it. Matter of fact (and to continue the school-yard analogy), he'll be in the library studying Buddhism or meditating or something when this particular medical emergency to the cell phone industry and resulting 911 call takes place. But he'll want to appear blameless. He still want to be the messiah that people actually want to hang out with and invite to parties and stuff.

So he'll get others to unknowingly - yet willingly - even customer and constituent pleasing happily - do the back breaking for Apple.

But who? How?

By rejecting the Google Voice app.

So here's the deal. Everyone thought the Google Voice app was going to get approval - right up to Phil Schiller. Done deal, correct? But then, at the last moment, no deal. This pisses off a lot of people. And no one likes to get pissed off more than an otherwise powerless bureaucrat with a grudge/gun/badge/political appointment/tenure:

Federal regulators want to know if AT&T and Apple worked to together to reject mobile apps for Google’s innovative Voice service, sending letters to the companies asking them to explain this incident and the policies behind the secretive and lucrative iPhone App store...

According to the letters, the FCC wants to know the who, what, why and when of the rejection of the Google Voice app for the iPhone...

The FCC’s new chairman Julius Genachowski made it clear Friday in announcing the letters that he was not pleased by Apple and AT&T’s actions, while leaving wiggle room about what, if anything, the feds would do....

“Recent news reports raise questions about practices in the mobile marketplace,” Genachowski said in a press statement. “The Wireless Bureau’s inquiry letters to these companies about their practices reflect the Commission’s proactive approach to getting the facts and data necessary to make the best policy decisions on behalf of the American people.”

And the money shot you've all been waiting for:

The feds are already looking at mobile phone exclusivity — such as the lock AT&T has on the iPhone in the U.S. — to see if those deals hurt consumers. Outside groups are asking the feds to make mobile carriers adhere the same openness rules that apply to ISPs — e.g. letting them use whatever device, app or online service they want to use.

Back broken. Government will force the break up marriage of AT&T (no stranger there) and Apple. Imagine a bespectacled and mock turtle necked wearing Br'er Jobs testifying at a congressional hearing (which you'll be able to watch over C-Span and download via iTunes - oh what marketing!):

Oh please, Mr. Congress guy, please don't throw Apple into the Cell Phone Brier Patch! Please don't force AT&T to compete with other wireless carriers! Please don't put an end to long term cell phone service contracts that lock in customers and crush innovation and keep out competition!!! Please don't let other carriers all have access to my precious iPhone!!! Pleaseohpleaseohpppppleeeesssse!!!!

But Steve Jobs will be shown who's the boss. And Steve Jobs will get thrown into the brier patch. And Steve Jobs will be publicly spanked and pretend to cry himself to sleep.

Then what? iPod | iTunes | Music Store redux. Apple will get to keep the Hardware (again), the OS (again) and Distribution (again - albeit a "kinder, gentler" iTunes app store and approval process).

And AT&T? Well, along with all the other cell phone carriers, AT&T will now have to compete with the race-to-the-bottom-commodity business of charging people just to see who's trying to call them so they can send them to voice mail.

Of course, by then it'll be just in time for Google and Skype and others to start giving away phone calls over the internet for free.

Oh wait...they already do.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Things that go MOO

For our New Year's resolution this year, Angiela and I (wife, designer, light of my life) decided to forgo BEEF for one year. I was looking for a way to be better about practicing what I preach and make sustainability less of a job and more of a lifestyle.

No beef: No steak, no beef ribs, no cheeseburgers. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good burger, but this is an experiment in carbon footprinting and will power. Chickens are good, pigs (I like to eat them), just no beef. No burger was going to get the better of me.

My wife has been better than I (ok, the burger won a couple of times) but so far here is the tally:
according to the EPA, we've taken the equivalent of 210 cars off the road so far or saved 130,000 gallons of gas.

Me aside, did you see that? I'll do it again: cheeseburger.
Yes. that's a link to a site where someone has done AND SHOWN all the math to calculate the carbon footprint of a cheeseburger.
Valiant even.

The internet is a strange and wonderful place.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


A short 'Hallo' to anyone bothering to take the time to read a blog. And a 'thanks' for caring. Phil was kind enough to open editorial control up to me to help him in his mission to express non-conformist viewpoints about internet access, dislike of warm beer and, of course, SouthPark.

'Why Eddy?' you might be asking yourself. 'Who is that bloke?'

A bit about me: Father of 2 girls. Architect for 13 years. LEED AP. Author of 7 titles on Revit ( Intro | Mastering | Green). I don't own a television. I believe Floyd Landis and I can't explain why. I'm finishing a house which will hopefully be the first Gold LEED home in KC for $120 / sq ft.

How is that different from Phil's vast expertise and what does that have to do with South Park?

Who really knows.

If your glass is 1/2 empty: I'm a fussy architect made more fussy with the fact that I believe global warming is real and I want to make more resources than I use and I somehow think that's possible through BIM. And I've got mono-scopic vision, so I can only see 1/2 of what's coming.

If your glass is 1/2 full: I'm the black to Phil's white, the Milli to his Vanilli, the Al Gore to his Sarah Palin. Or I've got incriminating photos of him, which is how I got this gig. Take your pick. And to those of you who emailed me already asking about this blog, the Wonder Twins are here.

Finally, the real question you should be asking (to quote a former architecture professor of mine) "It's not whether your glass is 1/2 empty or 1/2 full. What really matters is if it's refillable."

And I think that says it all.

Or at least, it's a start.

Wonder Twin Powers...Activate!

I'm expanding editorial control. Meet Eddy Krygiel. Dad. Author. Lecturer. Non-Conformist. Opportunist. Sustainability and BIM Strategist. If you know him consider yourself fortunate.

From Education comes Knowledge, but with Experience comes Wisdom.

More info here.
And here.
Some over here.

He's in full control of his Lizard Brain. Details here and here.

Most importantly, Eddy promises to not be a "wooden tongue", an allusion to a disease that effects cattle.

Please welcome Eddy aboard!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

You Chose....Wisely.

We have 6 active computers in our house which go back about 5 years (purchasing just over one new computer per year on average). The oldest gets a clean install and is given to a well-deserving student. We presently have 2 Macbooks, 1 Powerbook, 2 iMacs and a Mac Mini (which is the house DVR). It's all networked through a wireless router that is also a 1GB Apple Time Machine (that also serves as a whole house network backup). They all run OS X. They're all wirelessly connected to a printer and each other. Trouble shooting the network and all computers largely (99.99%) consists of:

1) Making sure someone hasn't turned off the light switch that sends power to the house printer and a second wireless router (so I can work/browse/skype/blog/twit from the front porch)
2) Resetting the power to the cable modem.

There is absolutely no other computer/network/backup hassles. Stuff works.

But I run Windows as well. XP 32 via virtualization (both VMWare and Parallels) as well as Vista 64 Ultimate via Bootcamp.

In a few months, I'll be installing the latest versions of both Windows and OSX.

On the Apple side of things, I'll do the following:

If you run a business - you'll do the same thing. The one magic DVD will upgrade all of your late model (Intel based) computers. Workstations, iBooks, iMacs, Powerbooks. One friggin' DVD. I don't expect to "clean" install the OS or user files. I expect everything will upgrade and once I get past the first screen I'll be done. I'll be free to do other stuff. Nor do I expect to have to reinstall any applications.

On the Windows side of things, I'm going to have to cypher the following wall chart (click for full size):

If you run a business - you'll do the same thing.
  • Windows Premium, Professional and Ultimate.
  • 32 and 64 bit flavors.
  • Maybe upgrade, maybe "custom" install.
FYI - "custom" install is just Microsoft's kinder, gentler way of saying "clean" install. ;)

I'm not a Mac fanboy. I'm a spend-time-with-the-family-have-a-beer-with-some-friends-do something-interesting-not-on-the-computer fanboy.

I'll run Windows because what I really want to do is get to a few applications which depend on a particular operating system. I run Windows because I have an a rule. What's really interesting is that I run far more computers (personally) in OS X because I enjoy to....want to...prefer able to do other stuff.

Does running a Mac environment cost a bit more? Well maybe. For example, the latest iMac we bought cost $1500. Yet a similarly configured Dell is around $1300 (the base price nearly doubles after you've configured it). So the iMac is 15% more. And that means spreading an extra $200 over three years is about another $0.20 per day per computer. So maybe an extra $1 or so for everything? However, similarly configured laptops are more expensive with Dell - about $300 (10% more) for a configuration close to the 17" MacBook Pro). What does this mean? Well, we're pretty balanced between desktops and laptops - so it's probably about even.

End of the day - it's probably less about the money saved than the time saved. For the future? I wouldn't be surprised if Apple continues to flourish if they stay focused on stability, elegant design and usability - and only exposing complexity when it needs to be seen. What's the difference? Configure a computer at Apple's website ( Then go Dell's website ( and do the same thing. You'll get the idea. :)

End of the day - people just want to get to their stuff. And with that stuff becoming more and more accessible via web browsers and across multiple platforms, I think Microsoft faces an interesting business future. I have one computer for work - but more than that at home. And while having six computers in a single house might not be that common - it's certainly pretty common for households to have more than one (families upgrade and keep the old one...). So I'd propose that personal computing didn't really take off with the personal computer. It only got interesting with the ability to connect them together and do something else via the internet. And if personal computing is really only fifteen years old (1995) then in terms of a horse race, neither Apple or Microsoft has even turned the first corner of the track.

Experienced thoughts / comments welcome.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Time Warner Turing Test

After constant starts and stops while trying to watch a movie via Netflix Watch Now (over Time Warner Road Runner) I decided to contact support. Time Warner has "24/7 Live Support Chat".

However, from the first paragraph it seemed the phrasing of questions and answers seemed a bit too canned (and too rapidly delivered). I wasn't sure if I was even talking to a real support person. So I tried a quickly considered Turing Test. Result? I'm still not sure...

[10:27:36 PM] Benjamin Smith > Thank you for contacting Time Warner Cable. At the end of our chat you will be given the option of taking a brief survey. My name is Benjamin. Please give me a moment while I access your account.
[10:27:46 PM] Benjamin Smith > Could you please elaborate on the issue?
[10:28:11 PM] Phil > very slow internet connectivity in the range of 200-300kbps.
[10:28:26 PM] Benjamin Smith > You are experiencing slow browsing issue. Am I correct?
[10:28:28 PM] Phil > is this a computer?
[10:28:48 PM] Benjamin Smith > No, I am a real person.
[10:28:50 PM] Phil > no - not slow browsing - slow connectivity.
[10:28:57 PM] Benjamin Smith > I apologize for the inconvenience.
[10:28:58 PM] Benjamin Smith > I will guide you to the right support.
[10:28:59 PM] Benjamin Smith > It seems that this issue needs to be escalated to National Road Runner support. We will transfer you to that support group. Do you have any further questions before I transfer you?
[10:29:39 PM] Phil > yes - can you finish this phrase: "Peanut butter and (blank) sandwich"
[10:30:29 PM] Phil > I just want to know if this is a real person or an automated support response thingie.
[10:31:05 PM] Phil > and please transfer me to the National Road Runner support
[10:31:25 PM] Benjamin Smith > Peanut butter and (Cabbage) sandwich"
[10:31:28 PM] Benjamin Smith > Is it correct?
[10:31:56 PM] Phil > no - but you were close
[10:32:06 PM] Benjamin Smith > Oh, I see.
[10:32:16 PM] Benjamin Smith > May I know the correct answer?
[10:32:37 PM] Benjamin Smith > Actually I don't like sandwich a lot.
[10:33:04 PM] Phil > please transfer to National Support - thx
[10:33:11 PM] Benjamin Smith > You are welcome.
[10:33:15 PM] Benjamin Smith > Again, my name is Benjamin. Thank you for chatting with Time Warner Cable. We value you as a customer and are here to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you would like to take a brief survey, please click on “done” and the survey will load. Have a great day!

Update. I think dial up is faster!