Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bachelorhood is Overrated

As of midnight tonight, I'm officially off the market. Details to follow. Ill be at the Mix Lounge with Eddy and James around 10pm if you'd like to drop by, raise a glass and toast the future!
Once again, it's wonderful to be part of a team that's doing something so incredibly unique and amazing and I'm deeply honored.
Suffice to say this has extraordinary implications for the AEC space - and more.
To "Infinity"...and beyond. ;)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Getting Ready for AU 2010

If you’re heading out to Las Vegas for Autodesk University next week, I’ve compiled some links to some great preparatory information.

Melanie Perry (aka Mistress of the Dorkness) has a funny, but totally true AU survival guide on her blog. Lynn Allen produced two '”primer” videos on YouTube (Part 1 and Part 2 available below).

Being environmentally friendly, Autodesk does not provide printed handouts for classes – except for hands-on labs – so, here’s how I’ll be going paperless this year…

First, the devices: iPhone 3G and iPad – should cover most of my connectivity, tweeted photos and note taking capabilities. Not sure if my laptop will follow me around full-time.

Second, the apps. My favorite all-around app is Evernote. With a limited free account, I can create notes on either the iPhone, iPad, PC or web browser and they are all synchronized. Seriously thinking about upgrading to a Pro account… This is essential for capturing all my notes from the plethora of great class offerings. It offers text/audio/photo notes, tagging, search and a variety of other features. If you’ve read Total Recall by Gordon Bell, you know that Evernote is frequently referenced as one of the main offsprings of the LifeLogging movement. If you haven’t read it…find it on iBooks now!

Don’t expect to receive a printed event guide this year either. Autodesk is offering a mobile app from EventKaddy. The app will be available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry and should be ready as of Friday November 26.

I have downloaded my class handouts into my Dropbox account which also has apps for iPhone and iPad. This gets the files onto my mobile devices, but I highly recommend GoodReader for the iPad. It fluidly reads a variety of document formats and has nice markup tools. It also can display documents externally with the VGA adapter. Open a file in the Dropbox app and click the link in the upper-right to open in another eligible app. Finally, I’ll be keeping track of the tweets via Tweetdeck on either the phone or pad. (www.twitter.com/jvandezande) Also be sure to follow @AutodeskU and the hashtag #AU2010.

I hope to see you there. It’s always been fun meeting readers of my blog, so don’t be shy…come say ‘Hi!’

Getting to AU and registration
Special events and navigating the conference

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Speaking of AU...

This is a railing. Native Revit. No - I won't tell you how to make this unless you come to the session at AO 2010:

AB427-3: Into the Void: The Zen of Creating Complex Sculptural Form with Autodesk® Revit®".

If you can't make it in person (cough...Guy...ack...Robinson...sputter) it'll be recorded as a Virtual Session.

It's a 2 hour class. The only one I'll be teaching. It'll take less than 10 minutes to show you how to create the above railing. I suppose you could leave immediately afterward. But there's other cool stuff that you'd miss.

Embrace the Void. :)

The rest of the time I've been contracted by our publisher Sybex to keep Eddy and James sober.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mastering Revit Team at AU 2010

If you are planning to attend Autodesk University this year, make sure you stop by the AU Theater on Thursday, December 2 at noon. Eddy, Phil and James will be giving a brief presentation about the book and will answer any questions from the audience. The theater is located near the pavilion in the Expo Hall.

We'd love to see you there! And maybe if we get enough people to attend, they might even let us use the air gun to launch T-shirts into the crowd!! ;-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Reprieve #27

Ok, really. We all know that Revit has some oddities to it's dialog boxes and error messages. Relinquish All Mine, as an example, is one that has always struck me as a bit odd. I think though, overall, it's kinda like the iPad. As dorky as it sounded when apple first announced it, the more you say it, the more you get used to it.
This one for me though, takes the cake. Revit has gone beyond just trying to communicate a message without the use of nouns and verbs and straight into conceptual architectural design.

Monday, November 8, 2010

One of These Things is Not Like the Other...

It's easy to understand why early cars looked like carriages without horses. First of all, an appropriate metaphor for designing an "automobile" was years away from being established. Societal expectations about what personal transportation could be really didn't need to exceed the present paradigm. The potential of a carriage without a horse was more than enough to initially attract what would quickly become a sizable market.

(Special Note: And before anyone wants debate how cars are horrible for the environment, think about the alternative. Consider that in London, early automobiles were celebrated as an ecologic answer to the horrible problem of having to daily remove tons of animal manure from city streets. Yes - I get that public transportation has potential. But you can't call a train to take you to the hospital. Not even in Japan).

Anyway, back to the original point. The real reasons that early cars looked as they did is because 1) There was no other existing infrastructure for methods of distribution or manufacturing. Roads were often little more than single-lane, tree-lined paths incapable of more than light traffic. And 2) if you wanted to build anything mechanical to transport a few people at a time you contracted with a buggy and carriage maker. Few others had the necessary expertise to engineer the wheels, suspension and infrastructure required to evolve into early automobiles.

So now, 100 years or so later - it's come to this.

And as much as it pains Guy Robinson, who constantly suggests I drive some European thing of beauty from VW, Volvo, Saab, Audi, BMW, Mercedes or Fiat (or maybe not Fiat - maybe the Fiat is Robin Capper's nagging ;) this is the family car. And I sincerely appreciate their suggestions. But to date neither have offered to augment any of the required funds for such an upgrade. ;)

Yet in any event, if a Honda minivan represents the most mundane demographic of automobile design evolution of the past 100 years, consider the following:
  • An six-cylinder engine that shuts down by half after the stress of acceleration
  • Fully climate controlled
  • Cruise control
  • Anti-lock breaking
  • Front, side and rear airbags
  • Satellite navigation and entertainment
  • Audio and video feed to flat screen monitor and wireless headphones
  • Room for eight passengers and luggage
  • Distances in excess of 600 miles per day for less than $100
So what's next? Many would point to all the buzz surrounding electric/hybrid/biodiesel powered systems. But seriously - what teenager is going to want the keys to a Prius? Because while a eco-hybrid-partofthesolutionratherthanpartoftheproblem may appeal to everyone's sense of Reason, there's little effort to appeal to nearly anyone's sense of Vanity.

IMO, it's it's a damn shame that out of so many automotive engineers the world has yet to offer, somehow they've forgotten one of the most primal of automotive design equations:

(Transportation * Freedom of Movement)
(Sense of Danger - Adult Supervision)] =
% Chance of Getting Laid

No hormonal driven teenager wants to drive a car that resembles a catfish that's had its head run over by a pickup.

But once again, I digress. What I'm trying to get to is the following prediction:

The next major revolution in transportation won't be driven
by developments in propulsion. It'll be lead by advancements in automated navigation.

This is why the past 100 years of engineering and manufacturing hasn't really evolved. We've simply been trying to improve on the original 100-year old concept of "horseless-ness". This is evolution. Not revolution.

Animals as the engine gave way to engines that were animals. Internal combustion is far more reliable, cost effective and timely. And now we're we're in the process of trying to find a replacement for internal combustion. But neither represent a true paradigm shift. Because these "new" methods of transportation are little different than the first transition a century ago, when the first cars resembled the latest carriages. The irony now is that the first electric/hybrids/biodiesel vehicles merely resemble the latest offerings in internal combustion.

Why is the above description an evolution rather than a revolution? Because since the beginning of time, the fact is we're still stuck steering.

But now there's this.

And this. And this and this and this.

Hello? Cars that steer themselves? Trucks that steer themselves? Are you kidding me?

I believe this will be the next paradigm shift in personal transportation. You've got to believe that the next call to Google after this news broke was from the CEO of FedEx, while the CEO of UPS was "quite happy" to hold on line two. Never mind the US Postal Service. They've still not called. And their union is probably shitting bricks right now.

  • Automated, 24/7 commercial trucking (not to mention lower shipping costs).
  • Maximized fuel consumption.
  • Not only automated - but free - public transportation. Because driver-less buses will save is as much if not more than the revenue generated by fares.
  • At risk groups (kids / teenagers / elderly) that can 'drive' themselves (school, friends, shopping, etc).
  • Much, much faster (and far safer) personal transportation. Remove the element of fatigue, and speeds in excess of 200kph are possible over long distances with systems that take real-time weather, temperature, traffic and other external conditions into account - in a fraction of reaction times compared to human-based systems.
  • Personal transportation far better equipped for long-distance and overnight trips. Options that enhance relaxation and even sleeping will become a feature. Hey! I guess this does tie into my previous tangent!
Initially these early systems will cost more to equip and insure. But very quickly I expect automated navigation will become standard. And eventually, the cost to insure will be a fraction compared to systems that are manually driven (at slower speeds and more accident prone). In time, I suspect you'll have to pay extra to your insurance company if you want to do the driving.

When will this become a reality? About the same time Oprah convinces mothers (and the Federal Government) to nationally outlaw cell phones and texting while driving. The day after that law passes, this technology will be become publicly available. :)

So while this...

...actually evolved into this...

...with a little help from Google, it may eventually become this:

Norman Rockwell was truly ahead of his time. If you look closely, the dad is using an iPad. ;)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Krazy Kansas: Season 1 Episode 1

You know the other day how I mentioned that in contrast my public education, which led me to conclude the Civil War started in South Carolina, it actually started in the middle of the US? Something about the border strife between KC and MO? Seriously. Maybe Eddy can explain it all at AU. It would make a great Unconference.

In the meantime, read up on William Quantrill.

The Devil Knows How to Ride is another great start (via Amazon).

What's the point? I keep coming across crazy stories about Kansas City. I should have begun collecting them years ago after meeting Eddy Krygiel (formerly of BNIM) and Dave Willard (formerly 360 Architects via CDFM2). But I just kept putting it off.

Not anymore. Not after today. This guy's story was just too good to not pass along.

Basically it's a botched murder for hire. And the hit has the presence of mind to give one of the best interviews ever, including criticizing his ex-wife's decision to pay too little to get the job done.

The part that insulted me the most is that she was going to pay the hit man so little money.

In his words, "You get what you pay for."

Eddy? Dave? - no offense intended. If you feel driven to post "Crazy Charlotte" stories I suppose all's fair in Love, War and Blogs.

So this is the beginning of an ongoing series. I'll post them as I find them. Shouldn't be too long.

And someone please tell Ron I said "Hi".

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Amid startup hunting, book writing and record producing (check these guys on iTunes and Facebook). Wear headphones as NSFW. Full Length CD "Freeborn" due out February 2011. Wait, where was I? Oh yeah -I managed to sneak away last week to help deliver a 43' sailboat from Charleston, SC to Ft. Myers, FL.

Eddy and James were gracious enough not to panic. I've got 4 more chapters due in 4 more weeks. Don't tell them I hope to finish by min-November. Then I plan to get started putting the wraps on AU 2010 during the week of the 15th. So I figured it was time for a break before this final push.

The other reason?

After being on the road for around 40+ weeks a year over the last ten years, I find myself home for nearly 8 weeks straight. So according to Justine (cue New Zealand / Hobbit accent):

"You don't know when you'll have the opportunity to do this again. And besides, you need to get the hell out of my kitchen."

Hint taken! ;)

The trip was an all-around success. I flew down to Charleston (KJZI) with my instructor and took a taxi to Charleston City Marina. There I met with two more experienced sailors (including Andy Cross - who taught the family to sail this summer on a catamaran live aboard) and another newbie named Bob from Phoenix who is in the process of liquidating enough assets to provide for a 5 year, round the world sailing adventure. The four of us sailed 24/7 and covered about 750 miles in 7 days, taking the short cut under 7-Mile Bridge off Marathon Key.

We did three hour shifts in pairs, which allowed for plenty of rest from motion sickness. The first two days were spent pounding on 2-3 meter swells. I'm not the motion sickness type, but I somehow exhumed more than I consumed. Curse you Pizza flavored Hot Pockets, with sauce that tastes like the end of a nine volt battery. Facebook posts and photos here.

More information on the Colgate Offshore Sailing School here. Highly recommended. When you call, ask if Andy is available to teach your class. If you're going to do a live aboard learn to sail, he's incredibly patient with kids and never stops smiling. Even if you knock on his cabin door with one hand while holding a very pissed off 2' sand shark in the other.

But that's another story. ;)