Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Careful With Predictions

Like this one about the iPod.
Or this one about the iPhone.

The iPad is an answer to a lot of questions that people haven't asked. Never mind the tech blinded savvy cynic end users that want the next heavy processor ram battery brick portable multitasking workstation and as a result see the glass as (less than) half-full because the iPad sucks at being that kind of computer. A hundred years ago, these sorts scoffed at motor-cars because they wanted better horses. And these sorts will scoff at people who "lemming-like" stand in uberlines to buy an iPad.

Well, they'll scoff until they're compelled to buy one next Christmas for their wives, kids and their kid's grandparents.

The iPad isn't a computer. Nor do think it's designed to be one (any more than the iPod and iPhone). Rather, it's a complimenting - not a competing - device. It's something else. And this is important if you're Apple (or an Apple shareholder) and in the business of selling hardware. Apple isn't asking their users to choose another computer. Their asking their customers (and more importantly - a lot of new customers) to approach the internet from another point of view. So I suspect when people finally get to experience one - they'll realize it's not a computer and not meant to be. But it won't matter. It's something else that's very compelling. And they'll probably want one.

I think it's a vertical integration of a lot of devices: handheld gaming, DVD players, web browsing and email, etc.

I think it'll be popular with kids; look for books, homework, painting/drawing, school and learning focused apps and movies in the backs of minivans.

I think it'll be popular with teenagers as a collaborating, communicating device at home and school; media, music, video, Facebook, blogging, idea sharing, idea presenting, note taking and beats the heck out of carrying around a backpack full of books. And because it'll be a compelling status symbol.

I think it'll be popular with parents and their parents. People who don't want or need another laptop. But still want to be able to "get to their stuff".

I think it'll be popular with grandparents that don't want or need a net book - but want a rich, portable, user friendly, media web based experience. Plenty of on-board storage and plenty more in the cloud.

I think it'll be popular with road warriors: email, reading, podcasts, video, note taking, ideating, twittering and presenting.

I think it'll be popular with developers that want to create cloud-based thin clients and purpose focused tools.

I think it'll be popular with Apple share holders.

The iPad isn't a computer. Nor is the iPod. Nor is the iPhone. And no one else is making anything like it. And like the iPod and iPhone - other people will try. And just about the time they get it right (maybe...ahem...Google Android...cough) Apple will have come along and redefined the paradigm.

That's my prediction.

Friday, January 22, 2010

it's not easy being green

Interesting article on green space in city parks. Based on a recent study, some of those green spaces actually produce more carbon than they offset. Sadly, various city maintenance practices of mowing (fossil-fuel powered mowers), irrigation (fresh water sources), and fertilizer make for a very large carbon footprint.
While the use of green lawn care can be seen as extreme by some, why is sustainability such a hard nut for people to crack? However, there are plenty of surrounding buildings in an urban landscape that can be used to catch and hold water for irrigation and composting all the leaves, grass clippings and sticks would make for good fertilizer. Simply adding grass doesn't = green.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mining for Gold

To catch you up:
I found a house needing major renovation in December of 2008. Designed it over the winter, officially purchased it Jan 27th, 2009, began work Feb 1, moved in June. 1236 sq ft, 2 story brick. We wanted to go LEED for Homes, which was out of beta and new to the market in January 2009. So begins our journey:

While we’ve been living in the house now for about 6 months, we’re still working with the USGBC on our LEED paperwork. And by ‘working with them’ I mean ‘arguing with them’. We are down to only a few remaining points and we’re in a solid Silver category. The goal was to see how far into LEED we could get without spending any extra $$ beyond the design. Now, honestly didn’t make that 100% - we had to spend a bit of cash on LEED fees, but it’s been fairly minor. If you’re not familiar with LEED for Homes, there’s a number of self-promotional points you can get. There’s a point for putting a sign in your yard stating you’re a LEED home, there’s a point for education, there are points for other silly things (IMHO) that help LEED promote and don’t do much for the environment. At this point, I’ve managed to design and build and move into the house in ½ the time it’s taken to work on LEED. I can’t imagine going to a client and stating that the design will cost you X, and LEED for Homes will be X*2.

So, our latest debacle is LEED Credit SS 2.1: No Invasive Plants. Let me quote you the entire requirement: “No invasive plants. Introduce no invasive plant species into the landscape.” Seems pretty easy, no? We didn’t do any landscaping (beyond a plan) so I figured this pre-req was a no-brainer. Let me share my recent conversation with LEED:

LEED: You still haven’t shown documentation for SS2.1

Eddy: I haven’t performed any landscaping. Logic would assume that since there was no landscaping – not even any land disturbance, there are no invasive plants introduced into the site.

LEED: We need to see documentation that is required.
Eddy: In reading SS 2.1 it only states No Invasive Plants and doesn’t state anything about any documentation.

LEED: We can’t award the pre-req without documentation.

Eddy: The pre-req doesn’t list any documentation. It is 2 sentences long. I have no idea what to provide to prove that I didn’t do anything. Can I submit a log of spending some time on the couch in lieu of gardening?

LEED: We are requiring a list of invasive plants for your area.

Eddy: Where is that required? I don’t see it listed anywhere.

LEED: I just told you.

Eddy: via email response:

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Lightning Fast Robot Hand

Robotic construction?...maybe.  Really cool?...definitely!

Tweeted by my friend Ajmal over at core.form-ula, this is an amazing look at the progress in robotics at the Ishikawa Komuro Lab in Tokyo.  Watch as a robot hand can throw or dribble a ball, toss a cell phone in the air and catch it with precision and tie knots in a rope.

High-Speed Robot Hand

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Reprieve #18

Solicitation Number:
Notice Type:
Special Notice
Added: Dec 14, 2009 5:43 pm Modified: Jan 11, 2010 5:08 pmTrack Changes

RECOVERY - It is the intent of the General Services Administration (GSA), Public Buildings Service (PBS) to negotiate on a sole source basis with Roe Ecological Services, LLC under the authority of FAR 6.302. This proposed acquisition will provide for the humane removal of prairie dogs from Land Area 6 of the Denver Federal Center.

Live trap prairie dogs and promptly euthanize the same day.
  • Prairie dogs must be euthanized humanely. The contractor may not use vacuum, flushing, foaming, or any other method to extract prairie dogs which causes undue emotional duress and/or physical damage (internally or externally).
  • Euthanized prairie dogs must be transported off site and delivered to the Colorado Raptor Program in Fort Collins, CO, where they will be used as food for captive raptors being rehabilitated.
  • Contractors shall be certified as an acceptable prairie dog donor by the Colorado Raptor Program prior to the closing of this special notice. A written acceptance from the Colorado Raptor Program must be included with the capabilities and qualifications statement as noted below.
  • Prairie dogs must be euthanized in a manner that ensures non-target wildlife will not be euthanized and/or harmed.
What made this particularly funny was that when this was going through our office, someone misread 'raptor' for 'velociraptor'. The next logical assumption made within the office was that the government was using stimulus money to create a velociraptor farm in Colorado which was eventually going to bring about the same demise as Jurassic Park. Fortunately, the misreading was corrected and the world is again safe from rogue velociraptors.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mastering Revit - Interoperability

It's time for another chapter update in Mastering Revit.  I am developing the content covering Interoperability and would like to get your feedback.  First, please click the link below to launch a short survey...

Click here to take survey

I am excited about developing a chapter dedicated completely to the aspects of interoperability - and not just the 'picks and clicks' - but the real world scenarios and why you would use one method over another. In this chapter, I'll be writing about:

  • 2D plan data for conversion to Revit
  • Coordination of 2D data (furniture, lighting layouts, etc.)
  • Use of CAD details
  • Imported 3D data for massing/faces
  • Imported 3D data for custom element geometry
  • IFC import and export
  • DWF design review workflow
Let me know what you think about these topics.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Off to the Races

In December we started working on the new tome, Mastering Revit 2011. work has been progressing nicely over the last month and a half. We’ve been pounding out content getting organize and arguing over who’s name gets to be first on the book cover. As with any project, this is a work in progress, but we wanted to share the current iteration of our Table of Contents. This is version 10, and I’m sure there will be a version 11 and a version 52, but this should give you an idea of the kind of content we’re looking to create. See anything we missed in there?

Stay tuned for previews of some of the upcoming work as we continue flushing out the chapters.

Principles of Revit - Tools and UI
The Basics of the Revit Toolchest

Templates and Standards
Managing a Revit Project
Understanding Worksharing
Working with Consultants
Interoperability - Working Multi-Platform

Advanced Modeling and Massing (Inter / Intra Revit)
Conceptual Design and Sustainability
Designing with Design Options and Groups
Visualization (Still, Moving, Real Time / Game Engines)

Complex Walls + Curtain Walls
Complex Roofs and Floors
Stairs and Railings
Family Editor

Documenting your Design
Detailing your Design
Annotating the Design
Presentation Materials (color fills, area plans, etc)

Contractor and Revit
CA and Revisions

Revit in the Classroom (High, College, Graduate, Training)
Under the Hood (API, Journal Files, Hacking, UI, Scripts)
Direct to Fabrication
Out of the Box - Fabrication / Film and Stage / Etc

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Third & The Seventh

A fellow Autodesk forum member posted a link to the following short film by Alex Roman featuring Louis Kahn's Exeter Library. Watch the video, then be amazed at how it was created by viewing the Compositing Breakdown video that follows. Fantastic technology, art and architecture.

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.


Compositing Breakdown (T&S) from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy (cold) New Year

I don't know about many of you, but it's been a pretty cold New Year here in Kansas City. The current temp here is a whopping 3 degrees (F). It's unseasonably cold and from the weather forecast, it looks like it's going to stay this way for the foreseeable future. While sitting around over the holidays catching up on my sleep, I found a great blog written by a NY Times editor. It's called Dot Earth. They talk about all of those things that only 66% of bloggers on this blog actually believe in: Global Warming. The author just did a great piece on arctic air temperatures, their trends over the past 50 years and how this is looking like it will be the coldest winter on record. See that little blue dot at the bottom right? That's us in 2010.

While I've been unable to confirm it, I'm positive that Phil got a copy of 'Going Rogue' for christmas so I had to get my 'hippie tree hugging' plug in first.

Update: Hundreds protest global warming in the midwest:

Monday, January 4, 2010

AU - the numbers are in

A warm thanks on a cold day to all of you who attended my class on Daylighting at AU. An even warmer thanks to those who helped to vote it into the top 100 classes at AU in 2009. I am sure it was for my avante guard presentation techniques and my use of parametric sock puppets to demonstrate what good daylighting design can do using 3ds Max.
For those of you who missed it, there's a handy link on this blog to the webcast for the class as well as for Phil's on stairs and the use of Revit in the movie industry.
And for those of you who missed AU entirely, make your plugs now to attend next year, but get in shape first. After 3 days of walking, I broke down and bought this iPhone app to calculate my steps. I felt like I'd been walking miles. I tracked the steps one day from my hotel room door (the hotel at the conference) to the conference hall.
That's 957 steps, door to door. If you can't see it, that's also 0.45 miles. one way. That is also without ever setting foot outside.