Friday, October 15, 2010

What have you done with CADD Lately?

So what have you done with CADD today?  I’ll bet no one has asked you that question in a while.   Which is a shame because it is a question that we need to ask and answer continually?  CADD (and notice I use the double D’s) is an acronym for Computer Aided DESIGN & Drafting.  Twenty some years ago CADD was a new and exciting field that held (in my opinion) great promise and adventure.  Yes I meant adventure because CADD was going to free the engineers and designers to explore new and exciting designs and alternatives.  It was going to as I once wrote turn us into Leonardo Di Vinci. 
Unfortunately it didn’t quite turn out that way.  It seems if you look around CADD became just an electronic pencil.  Yes it did give us a quick way to produce cross-sections and it made all of our lettering readable but it didn’t create more designs or even less paper (my best guess we use at least 3-5 times more sheets of paper than we did before CADD).  This might not be so bad if we were creating 3-5 times more designs and design options but alas we aren’t.
The paper issue points out one simple thing that everyone could do with CADD but generally don’t.  That is review, mark up and distribute information electronically rather than always producing a hard copy then distributing it.  Unfortunately old habits die hard. 
MicroStation has hundreds of commands how many do you use, 10, 20 maybe even 30?  That unfortunately just scratches the surface of the product.  With the most recent SS1 version Bentley moved around some commands along with adding new menus and palettes.  Rather than complain about the changes (which is our first reaction) think of it as a chance to explore the MicroStation interface and learn some new tricks.  Try out some new commands, open up the MicroStation Help file and see what’s new and how you might use them to do your work in a different way.
The next time someone asks you what you have done with CADD I hope you can tell them about something new you have discovered.  
(note: this post will also appear in the Nov. Issue of the NCDOT CADD News [but I liked so much after writing it] that I thought it would make a good blog post hope you enjoy it too.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One condo, four people and eight computers

It dawned on me this morning that my family has brought on vacation  1 laptop, 3 net books and and 4 smart phones with us on vacation.  In other words we have 8 computers for 4 people.  It seems like just yesterday we were sharing one PC in the basement with a dial up connection.  Now we each have a wireless computer and 3g connected smart phone. So I guess you could say we are a "connected" family.  The last time we were all on vacation together we took turns checking email on my wife's old dell 2600 laptop.  Now I use my phone more for email and text messaging than I do for phone calls.   So are we a normal/modern family? or an high tech anomaly?  What do you think?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Note from Frankfurt, Germany

I'm a bit closer too home.  Made it to Frankfurt without any trouble and out to the holiday inn express just about as easily.  Funny I had to go to Germany to stay at a holiday Inn express but now that I am a priority club member maybe I can get the state rate in NC.

While I was at dinner (outside) I started to notice all the jets overhead and how different it was just a couple of days ago when you saw none in the European skies.  Funny thing is that this is the second time this has happened to me.  On 911 I was also out of the country attending the International HEEP meeting in St. Johns, Canada.

 It is really eerie when you rely on airplanes to handle long distance travel and they aren't available. It is also very eerie when you look into the sky and don't see any planes for a few days. I think we seriously need to look at a more diverse and integrated transportation systems that allow one part to fail without total disrupting the others.  Now what that system looks like I'm not sure but I think we need to start figuring it out especially in the US.

Thought I would post that thought before I forgot it.  That's it for now.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Last Morning in Austria

The weekend is here and my journey home begins. Got up a little before 7 showered went out got some cash from the ATM and got a coffee and sausage McMuffin at Mcdonalds.  Gotta say I really like the Austrian sausage McMuffin.  

Plan on  checking out of the hotel around11:00 am and take bus #27 to the airport.  Then it is an Austrian Airlines commuter flight (os265) to Frankfort.  My flight home is scheduled to leave tomorrow (Sunday) at 11:20 can't wait.  Was going to hang out at the airport tonight but Jeanie found a Holiday Inn express a little ways from around so I made a reservation and will get a good nights sleep before getting up early and getting to the airport (don't want to miss my flight).  So it looks like this little adventure is about over.

Spent yesterday wondering alone around Salzburg picked up a few last minute things had one last
"bier" at the Augusltiner beer garden (love that place). I will post the pictures I took on Picasaweb shortly. Wandered  back to the hotel stopping at a electronic store and few other shops just to look around.

 Then back to hotel room to pack and talk Jeanie via Google voice chat which works surprising well and is "free".  The video chat is nice too.  Can't say enough about  gmail and its tools, they have made this little adventure a lot better than it would of been otherwise.  That's it for this post next one will hopefully come the comfort of home rather than a hotel room.

Last full day in Salzburg

It is starting to wind down, this time tomorrow I will be off to the airport to begin my way home.  I saw the Ogdens on the train to Munich this morning at 8:00 am.   They were a bit apprehensive but  looking forward to catching there flight home this afternoon.  Wish I was on it too.  Just have to wait for my Sunday morning flight.

We had a really nice day yesterday. I took the Ogdens up on the old city wall to my favorite bar/restaurant and had a few beers and a great meal (best I've had since I've been here).  Even Cheryl had two beers which more beers than I've ever seen her drink (note she is white wine drinker).  After a couple hours on the hill we made our way back down to the Augustinerkloster und Brau (beer garden) and had one last mug of "bier" before heading back to the hotel.  Then spent the evening munching on snacks and playing cards.  I'll make a last  "walkabout" of Salzburg this afternoon to pick up a few final things before spending the evening packing and repacking my bags to assure a balanced and practical load.

If you ever visit Salzburg I highly recommend the hotel I have been staying at - Austria Trend Hotel Europa Salzburg it is a "4 star" hotel right next to the train and bus station. Which makes it very convenient and easy to find and use as a base of operations.  And the rates are reasonable.  Also the free wireless internet connection has been a life saver. If I have any complaint it is the phones, no one seems to know exactly how to dial international and toll free numbers (thanks to cells I would guess).

Well that's it for this installment now to google voice chat to see if my wife is up yet...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stranded in Europe Day 3 (I think)

Beginning my 3rd day being stranded in Salzburg.  Good news is the flights are flying all over Europe and while our little group is scattered all over the continent from Rome to Amsterdam things are improving.  Two couples have made it back to the US on stand by flights everyone else has confirmed flights out either on Saturday or Sunday.  If things continue to improve we should all be back at work Monday.  Never Thought I would want to get back to work. 

As for being stranded in Salzburg I have gotten to know my way around the city and it is a pretty pedestrian friendly place.  It is very easy to walk around as long as you obey the walk and don't walk signals.  I am totally amazed at how the cars, bikes and people all share the streets without incidents like you see in the US.  Maybe it is the more laid back life style here or centuries of training.  Be interesting to look into (any of you research people out there need a topic).  Another thing that is a bit unusual for Americans is you don't need a prescription to get drugs here.  Just walk into a Apothacary (drug store) and tell them (in my case show them) what you want and they get it for you.  Prices for generic drugs seem to be very similar to what my insurance pays for generics. 

As far as prices in general other than beer everything is more expensive than it is in the states.  Funny thing is just looking at the prices you would think they are the same (and number wise they are) but since the Euro is worth about a $1.30 or so, every thing is about 30% higher.  Not a big thing at the low end but it is at the higher end.  Another interesting thing is the price listed is the price you pay.  Taxes seem to be already built in.  Which is nice.

Today is the last day I will have company here in Salzburg. Jon & Cheryl Ogden are off to Munich tomorrow by train to catch their  flight. So we are going to do something something together this afternoon/evening.  Probably the Augultine Brau (beer garden) and watch the world go by.   I'll see them off tomorrow morning and might even catch a train myself to Frankfort and see if can go standby on a Saturday flight.  We will see how things are going out of Frankfort Airport this afternoon.  That's it for now...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stranded in Europe Day 2

Since all I have is time on my hands figured I'd should post something.  Came to Austria a week ago (04.14.10) to attend the HEEP Area V meeting the 15 & 16th and then spend the weekend with the group touring and taking in the sights, sounds and local beverages.  Then a volcano happened in Iceland which put a real damper on things.

The meeting went well.  All the American presentations were well received and in my opinion some of the best and most interesting ones I've seen in Europe or America.  Even mine on Social Media generated a lot of conversation between  the Europeans and our group as well. The Meeting ended Friday evening with a gathering at the local Bier Garden (will post pictures later).

Then the "fun" began since most of our group was leaving early Monday morning we still were not to concerned about the volcano but things were beginning to weigh on the group.  Saturday the group took the "sound of Music tour and a trip to a salt mine outside of Berchtesgaden which was fun, but also involved a lot of bus riding.

By Sunday morning most of us got concerned as flights were being canceled  right and left.  A few of or group had planned to stay an extra week and tour Germany and Italy so they went on with those plans.  The rest of us started a stress inducing limbo.  Four of our group stayed in Salzburg to await flights out (I plan on leaving Saturday by either plane or train)  to Frankfort to catch a Sunday flight that I hope will go.  Others are in Vienna, Amsterdam, and Zurich trying to get connections etc.  Two of our group((Ray &Pat) got out of Zurich yesterday on a standby flight (stood in lines for 6-8 hours).  The rest of us hope to leave this weekend.  Right now it looks like that will probably happen.  As long as the airspace continues to clear and there are no other major erruptions. Keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer or two for us.

Since phone service here has sucked thank god for google chat and my upset, but loving wife who has been able to get my flights redone and credit cards taken care of.  One other note is the netbook I brought has been a god send.  From now on I won't be traveling without one. It has made a huge difference in access, peace of mind ease of cmmunication with home.   More later so stay tuned...

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Decade Same Old Blog

Happy New Year everyone.  Hope everyone is enjoyed MLK day.  Since I had the day off I know I did.  For once not only didn't I have to go to work but it was a beautiful day sunny and low 60's.  After the cold, wet, lousy weather we've had the past few weeks it was good to get a nice day and time to enjoy it.

What's been happening since my last post.  Around the office not much, around the profession a little bit more.  Most people probably know that the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was recently held in Las Vegas.  While I didn't get to attend (maybe one day) a good number of people did and wrote about it.  From what I read it seems Cell phones, E-readers and tablets were all the rage.  While CES is geared towards consumers (explains all the TV's Phones etc).  I found the talk of tablets the most interesting.  One of the big problems that I see in the AEC industry is, to really take advantage of technology we have to move past "paper plans".  Until recently there hasn't been a good way to take electronic data to the field.  I think cheap tablets could solve this.  With a lightweight and cheap 10"-12" tablet, Wifi or even cell connections it becomes very practical to now take "electronic plans" or "models" to the field.   Now if the CADD and Survey vendors will pay attention.

At home I finally got an HD TV (love it) when my old CRT TV finally bit it.  But the biggest technology news is that the whole family are now smart phone users.  My wife and I both have Motorola Cliqs while my son and daughter both have My Touchs (T-moblie is our carrier).  Bottom line is we are one happy phone family. 

Interestingly enough I while I use my phone a great deal more than I use to I don't make very many calls.  Rather it has become a "communication device" more so than a phone.  I check personal email accounts have complete access to google mail, docs and calendar not to mention facebook, twitter and numerous news and information feeds and occasionally make a call or two.  After almost two months of continuous use I'm amazed.  There have been a few bumps in along the way (wish batteries lasted longer) and there is at times TOO MUCH Information but all and all very positive experience.  They really open up the world of social media to the user. 

All of our phones run the Android OS which seems to work fine.  There more apps that I sort though and while things don't always work the way I they did on previous phones, but what's new there? I have been able to everything I've wanted to.  While I don't think they will replace computers in the near term they will save some wear and tear on them.  Who knows by the next decade the traditional PC may be a thing of the past.  

That's it for now...