Category Archives: Office

Google onhub the big picture

Google Onhub

Google Onhub

You may have heard me go on, in recent posts about the way my wifi drops has very load speeds, and in general just does not work, forcing me to use a hardwire link for my internet, where I get speeds in excess of 50mbs instead of less than 1mbs over my wifi, is Google onhub the big picture, being missed, read on.

My experience out and about is not much better, I live on the southside of Birmingham, where you might think I get high speed mobile 3G and 4G, and in the most part I do, but there are glaring gaps, and it disrupts my workflow plus my music far to regularly. Plus the amount of access to the internet given by my provider O2 is so often not enough, I end up with no coverage at all late in the month.

So when I see two separate avenues being created by Google, I started to sit back and look at the big picture, what is the main thing they do not control, yet might be the biggest obstacle to innovation and seriously harm their existing product portfolio, dam right its the mobile access to the internet.

The already well established long term project to get Google Fibre into major cities in the USA, and now Europe, is part 1 of their efforts to move the control of the phone companies to themselves. The introduction of the Google router onhub, is the second part of this movement, first to establish local wifi with some clout, better speeds and a more secure environment, but more important, to allow Google to offer better access to the net, by their customers from the millions of home onhub routers, that almost everyone in the industry sees as over spec’d and far more powerful than is really needed for home use.

You might now wonder why we have both a telephone number and an email address, why not just one, I use google for most of my calls, and after a while I began to see the real benefit of just my email address, no country codes, a fast system, easy video calls, and if connected to google fibre via one on the may onhub systems, a cheap no barrier to use system.

After all this, what does this have to do with CPD and Architecture, well look at the way I run my own practice, I work partly from home and partly from University, I have a Skype telephone number, and can receive calls wherever I am. but as most of my communication is email, and google hangout, with  Skype thrown in.

I rarely get mobile calls these days, so I have to ask, is a phone number really a business tool. Internet and the vast number of excellent apps is far better, all that’s stopping it is the mobile operators who insist on a NUMBER.

Take also my home line, I have no use whats so ever for a land line number, yet bt insist I have one and charge me for it.


PDFpen and PDF doc’s saved to Evernote

StructureIt will come as no surprise to any reader of this blog, I am a massive fan of the paperless office, and of my use of Evernote. So today I thought I might show you the main way I save incoming documents into pdf and the easy way I save to Evernote.

The program I use is PDFpen from SmileSoftware, As far as I know its a mac product, but it has the ability to do just about All I need to take paper convert it to PDF, alter or make notes, and port it to Evernote, or just to my own system disk, so easily.

On the PDFpen site there ae a number of tutorial videos that show how to use PDFpen, the one I wanted to show but could not find and embed code is the Evernote video, it is so easy to use, and is my way of saving paper to both Evernote and to send as a clip within email.

As I am on a Mac, I also use Preview for certain PDF tasks, as I can easily add pdf files together, and alter the page order, but for the real pdf alterations, I use PDFpen.

Some time back I gave my Paperless Office presentation to some CIAT colleagues, so at the bottom, my presentation in full. For me Evernote is the way I store and now record all my CPD research, in PDF,Photo,Sound audio, and plain text, I even have a IFTTT formula to add the title to any Evernote note I make from my Diary.

Yesterday I gave my Structure overview lecture, no calcs, just why the AT student should take note the way load is transmitted through the structure to the bearing ground. So todays photo is one I used to show this taken to its ultimate , in the form of this cathedral roof.

A New Mac but Dropbox saves the day

Portugal_Cumberlandia_tile_jfI have had one of those weeks, my Mac went screwy, and I had to go to the local Apple store, no point in mucking about trying to fix it, even I knew that the graphics card was on its way, I had seen the signs some time back, but it held on and I continued.

But last week, it made the final move, and I got half a screen and lots of strange horizontal lines, the net chat boards said, the card was fried, could be fixed, but was going to be expensive with no promise of lasting,,,,, best to bight the bullet and buy a new Mac.

So there I am looking at a Top line Macbook Pro, with 1TB of drive, and my card severely dented. Next problem, all my data, luckily, I have for a few years alway kept all my files within Dropbox, so a swift trip to their web site, sign in and wait for a few hours for it all to transfer, so neat, so clean, and just no just trying to reload a backup.

Next problem the 20,000 or so photos in iPhoto, this required a trip back to the Apple store and 10 mins later I knew how to transfer the file across, dead easy, just start the old machine up holding down the “T” and the old machine is seen as an external drive, drag it across and we are done.

Then its reloading some of my programs, I use Google Docs for the vast portion of my writing, so no problem, but Vectorworks needed reloading and so did my Academic copy of Autocad, both easy to do.

The Mac had also been busy talking to the net and was synced up with iClod and my other machines. So a day later I am back up and running, the new Mac is so quick, no waiting, and the solid state hard drive is great.

Dropbox, I have to say, saved the day, just no hassle, no conflict, no nothing, just worked with so little from me to do. so all you small offices who rely on servers, and what else, go to dropbox, the small cost every years is so worth it, especially when you machine is on the last legs and you buy new. And there lies the CPD, its all about setting up an office, using and office and not loosing data.

As for my vast, and I do mean vast repository in Evernote, again a simple reload of the program and all is back.

Todays photo is rather interesting, in that its part of a set of tiles found that depict geometry, they are quite old and no one seems to know what or when they were made, but given my current interest in surveying and my teaching of the subject, this excellent article on Scientific America and photo set is well worth following up.


Email, POPS or IMAP

Why Google GmailIn the days when I used almost 100% Google mail, I just used POPS, it works well, but as I got into Apple I found that UI needed to use IMAP so all devices would update all the time, you might ask, why not just stick to Google well in those days Google did not have an app for the iPhone so Apple it was, and to be honest I just can’t spend the time sorting out my servers and google to switch back.

This does not mean I don’t use Gmail, I make a copy of all mail into gmail, just in case, which happened to help on my recent trip to the black sea , gmail just worked, and although Apple mail did, it was easier to get online with gmail, any system that has maritime in the title is a pain and over complicated, google gmail was easier as it was just a web page.

I just do not understand why carriers and in particular BT make it so difficult, why do I have to send mail via Yahoo !!

If you want more on the two mail formats, POPS and IMAP, then try this site, given the chance again I would not have moved to Apple but started and stayed with Google.

You might ask, whats this to do with CPD, well for me its office based practice, whats best, simple answer anything that does not take time, does not cause conflict, is easy to manage, and I can access on any machine, anytime, and does not require a huge outlay of cash.

my next machine is almost probably going to be a chrome book, apart from Vectorworks most of what I do is Google doc based of cloud based, so why spend so much on a laptop when £350 will get me the best chrome book capable of almost everything I want. Even CAD in the form of Autocad online, not great but ok for simple viewing and management. this frees up my existing Mac for dedicated CAD and Vectorworks. OK at this stage I will switch to Gmail, but not until then.


Office Storage

Toshiba Chromebook 2, a lightweight laptop with Chrome OSAre there any practices out there still using internal web server storage, there might be, and I wonder how much it costs, against the likes of Dropbox or Google Drive. But the real question is, how useful is the storage looked on as a comparison, between usefulness , ease of use, cost to run, and perhaps ease of access, with reliability as the final comparison.

This article on Techradar, is relatively comprehensive, and I tend to agree with it, in my practice, we use both Google Drive for my larger CAD files, and Google Drive for almost anything else, I have almost given up on Apple Pages, and Keynote, unless your Apple I can’t share them easily, although I do like to use pages just to view a word or excel doc, its just quicker, but for long term, Doc’s always get imported into Google Drive, and when you consider that we have two offices nearly 50 miles apart, and I travel a lot between lecturing its a no brainer.

The article also ask’s the question, I think a lot of student might be asking, should I spend over a £1000 on a laptop, perhaps nearer £2000 for an Apple, when I can buy a Google Chrome laptop for about £350 max which will do most is not all of my work and storage .

In fact Google Chrome goes beyond just written word, because of the Autocad app, its not as good as the real thing, but them most universities have a host of machines running the educational version, if Autocad could get Revit to work in the cloud then I  would say its complete. One item I can’t do is scan, Chrome does not seem to have an app to do this, and I scan an awful lot into Evernote, so could not do without it.

So there it is, I will continue along the Dropbox path with Google Drive, together with my current Macbook Pro, and see what happens, I can see that at some stage I will purchase a Chrome Laptop, you will notice the complete lack of iCloud from Apple, its just not easy to use.



Architectural Technologist – More on google Docs

Following on from my articles on google docs, I found this nice little video for accessing and using google docs away from you main laptop or desk top machine, and on your iPad.

Unfortunatly Google presentations are available to view but not to generate them, bit of a bummer for me, but the doc and spreadsheet, options are, and they are great.

I use google docs on a lot so having access via my iPad is a huge bonus, I am writing a couple of books at present, and they are all on google docs. For straight text there is no better, adding pictures and formatting I find fiddlley, but then I use Apple Pages for that, ,,,,,, google can't have it all !!!.

You might want to add this to your general CPD file on office and development,


Architectural Technologist – Google Docs introduces Add Ons

Google docs add ons

Google Docs add ons

I am a massive user of google Doc's, for sharing it beats almost any other offering, I recently advised one client to drop the old and to be honest very troublesome server, and go whole sale to google! there was a little adverse feedback! but once they were into it! after a week of uploading old files into google docs! all was and still is fine.

As I might just have told you the HTML option from share to the web if fantastic and allows so much freedom in keeping a single file and sharing it so much.

No dropped server, email that works, and a sharing system that beat any other. So when I see that Google is offering add ons to doc's! I have to let you know, Lifehacker has an excellent article on this and a great list

For any new practice setting up, google gmail and docs is going to save you a bundle! but do not get the idea of all online being good! for those who travel! getting a signal is sometimes just difficult, so the offline option is great.

I think I have the best option, I use Mac, love gmail, and use doc's for almost all my writing! but still use Apple pages for a lot of book writing! and general article generation. As always, the CPD ,is just keeping ahead of the game,