Tag Archives: Home 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.


10 years and still going

konstrukshon_logo_181108I received several emails via linkedin the last couple of days to say happy anniversary, seems I have been running Konstrukshon for 10 years, it does not seem like it,  there have been ups and downs, clients who don’t pay, site problems and time deadlines, but over all, I like working for myself, 10 years and still going.

Running your own company is something your not taught at college, I learned the hard way, and relied upon my years within practice and a large chemical company to survive, that and my membership to CIAT, without whom I don’t think I could have made it.

So for all you budding entrepreneur’s take heart, its hard work, but the end result is worth it. My best advise, get a god accountant, next make a plan, try to sort out who when and how your going to get work, money and pay your self. Next sort out your office, do not go for an expensive room somewhere, I have effectively worked out of a small bedroom for my last 10 years, all I needed was a good, fast, internet, I keep almost all of my paperwork as electronic, in fact, the biggest room taker in my office is my books.

Time management is the other biggy, here I have to be rigid, and keep to the plan, otherwise I don’t earn money, I tend to work early and finish not to late, which is the other big problem working from home and the reverse of not working, its the oh I’ll just do this and before you know it, its 10 in the evening and your in the bad books with your partner. Manage your time.

Put something away for the rainy day, big fees come in, don’t spend it all, some for you, some for the tax man and some for the unexpected, try to plan for the obvious expenditures, like your computer replacement, say every 5 years, thats how long mine seem to last. Holidays, plan well in advance, and please don’t take your laptop with you, just in case.

Thats it, a quick overview of running your business, it takes a lot more than this, believe me, but if you take one piece of advice its do it, but plan the path, you will not keep to it, but it will provide a life line to allow you to check, and if necessary, pull back inline or amend.    Have fun.





Architectural Technologist – iPad use


IPad tutor

Like many of you, for my travelling, and a certain amount of home/office use, I am turning to using the iPad as a replacement for my laptop, it's light, easy to use and above all links well with most of my files via Dropbox, iCloud, and google drive. Plus of course my ever useful Evernote.

But, and there is always a but, making things easy, or quick, takes time to sort out, so I was especially please to talk to Jon Pickup, who has started a new blog called “The iPad Tutor“, where he has some very helpful hints, tips, and tricks, for making the best of the iPad.

Lots of the techniques are simple but it's making the best use of them, both within the office, and also whilst your out and about, is the trick.

I shall be writing for Jon on this site, adding some comments to the blogs, and also as a guest writer. My use of the iPad has become such that I just can't do without it, from presentations to writing, to watching videos via Netfix or YouTube.

Plan grid, both on the iPad and IPhone is a case in mind, so is the use of Blogsy, although there are several great videos on its use, perhaps Jon, can add the little side tips that we have found.

There is a subscription for this, but it's set at such a low level, it makes good sense to subscribe just to keep ahead.

For the Architectural Technologist, there are many useful little apps, that make life so much easier, in the weeks to come I will be making comment of some of them I find useful.

Architectural Technologist – Brother MFC-J6510DW printer scanner copier, fax A3 & A4

After some discussion, and a little research, I have purchased a new printer, I looked all over, and finally came to the conclusion, that it was not going to be a quick thing, finding a printer that matched my criteria. First it has to be A3 second I need a scanner, both for A3 and A4, second, I need to copy both A3 & A4, so that reduced the numbers to a manageable few.

Why A3, well I print most if nearly all my work on A3, the odd few jobs I can print on A4 are related to small details, and the like. I do get larger jobs, like one I am currently working on for a local Architect, the school is just to big to fit on A3, well it would fit but at 1:200, a tad to small, so I made up a special sheet, and we print to PDF and send to an agency, for the odd few prints we need, or send the file for the client and others to print, but I digress.

So what did I go for, well the Brother MCF-J6510DW, it matched all my criteria, for a price I wanted to pay, am I pleased, yes, I went to Staples and although it was not the cheapest, I got good service from the manager, he went through all my questions, and with a coupon and his discressson, I got within a whisper of the lowest price.

Fitting up was easy, oh did I say the box was huge, and it was not all packaging, stil once home it was set up easily, one addition I have not mentioned is the built in WiFi, more on that latter, because for some reason my technical expertise did not run to getting it to sync with my BT router and wifi system. still setting up the the machine with it's date and what have you, connecting the cable, and plugging into my Mac went sweetly. My mac saw the unit and launched into getting the right driver, nice, so slick, fitting the free cartridges was also easy, a little different from the HP printer scanner copier machine I have now sent to the garage, and as a first, after a week or so of printing on the cartridges inside the box, I'm still going strong with no sign of having to fit the new cartridges I purchased, so ink use seems to be a lot better than HP.

Now this wifi thing, well for me it's not a great need, my mac will allow wifi printing, and to be honest I might only want this from my iPad, so it was not a great deal not to get it working, but I spent at least an hour trying, well it was there and the tech in me wanted to try, but after an hour I gave up. Fax is also included, for what reason I do not know, I can't remember the last time I faxed anyone, but it's there.

The scanner is first rate, having been used to having only the A4 scanner on my old HP, the upgrade to the A3 has many used, I use Vue Scanner for the mac, and had no problem connecting and scanning in an A3 paper print. The copier is also first rate, and again is A3 / A4, the auto feed on top is a luxury I'm not used to and again easy to use. There are two separate buttons for black & white or a straight colour copy.

The quality of printing is first class, just as crisp as the HP1280, which I will keep in my study, for the odd print, just before my old HP printer scanner copier went out I purchased a set of cartridges for the 1280 so it stays until they run out. Funnily enough the actual print area is more on the brother machine, so my old sheets set up for the 1280 are a litle odd, with the title block floating in the bottom right corner, no problems I'll re-align as I need. Speed is well fast, a lot faster than the HP1280. Adding paper is tricky, but once you get used to it, it's easy to use. Paper is stored in a single tray at the front, although there is a single paper feed at the rear of the unit to do small runs, so I keep the tray filled with A4 and us the rear feed for the odd A3 print, changing the paper in the tray for larger A3 runs., and I might add A5 paper.

That's it, a great buy, one I'm particularly pleased with, and gains my ***** rating.

I used Blogsey to write this review, I seem to be using it more and more, loading photos is easy, and loading up to WordPress a breeze, but no template, I have spoken to the owner of Blogsey, they replied with a workaround, but I did not like the look of it, so no Google advert at the button, no big deal.

Don't forget the Google hangout, I will be online on Thursday about 12:30 pm UK time, for a chat, and moan, I want to see if we can get a hangout set for the CIAT Belfast AGM, worth a chat !!.

Architectural Technologist – Creating an online office with Skype online telephone number


Image via Wikipedia

When I started out on my own, I did all the usual stuff like create a company and register it with CIAT, made my website and created the email accounts I needed, plus I instaled a separate telephone into my home office to get brordband, although I had this in my home telephone account, I wanted separate telephone accounts so I could switch off the office at night.

Well the usual telephone system was installed, and for the past 6 years its been great, broad band was not very fast but it worked,  but suddenly new things are on the horizon, that mean I do not have to have a separate line, as I can now have a telephone number as part of my skype setup, ok it is not a local number but I can live with that, and to cap it all, we now have the super fast infinity BT cable system, so I will combine both accounts into one and have super fast internet, office telephone numbers online and make a saving in rental and user plan to boot. But the real benifit of this vurtual telephone number is I can set up anywhere, and once I have a wifi signal my office is open and all calls can be received. So take some advise, if your setting up on your own, look into getting an online telephone number, I used Skype, but you might just want to look at Google, for some reason their telephone system started to work on my machine, its very good, and quality is great, their seems to be a lot of advantages, but as yet I don’t seem to have access to them, as soon as I work it out, I’ll let you know.



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Architectural Technologist – Site photos and Picasa

piicasa uploader

Image by Scays via Flickr

At my recent presentation, right at the end we were chatting to several staff and we were talking about embedding and linking photos into Vectorworks, more on that in a later blog, but the conversation was about the ability to use their own mobile phone and connect it up to the office machines, because someone had recently passed on a nasty virus to the network and the IT guys had made a blanked ban, ok the IT poeple sometimes are a little protective of “their” system, and again thats another blog, I thought about this and explained how we that is my virtual company work.

When I go out to site, I always have my iPhone with me, and I take just loads of shots, of just about every conceavable point, then I have a choice, if I’m not going back to my home office to share, I simply use the Picasa uploader on my iPhone to send the photos I have taken to the specific album named Picasa upload, this I can then share to anyone I want, I prefer to sort this side out with my iPad, as its easier. But the point I am making here is there is never any need to connect your personal phone to an office network, just upload it to a google account and share it, no viruses, and no space used up on almost certainly a well used network hard drive.

Don’t forget, video is also accepted on Picasa, it takes a little time to upload but comments and voice over are sometimes very helpful.

I was asked why not use dropbox, well this is a good alternative, but it uses space on both the iPhone and the network machine and I tend to think Picasa is better, and easier to share and certainly will stop any virus attack, Simplez




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Architectural Technologist – Blue Tits Back

Blue tit family back again
Image by Scays via Flickr

One of the nice things about working from home, is the ability to sit and view my Garden, it’s not much, but we get loads of birds into the feeders we have put out, it’s an east facing aspect, but because it’s the last house on a row, we get the summer sun most of the day up until about 4 pm, Well today I am pleased to report, our family of Blue Tits have final come out to play, in fact we think there must be at least two families, because there were about 7 or 8 on the feeder, but as luck would have it, by the time I got the iPhone out and took a shot only 4 were left. No CPD but getting out from the screen and having a break, ia big part of working from home, its to easy to keep working, so now I make rules, no more after 5 pm, unless there is a rush on, and certainly no emails and checking for twitters. And I always take a lunch break, away from the office, out walking the dogs or just a trip into my local town.


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