Tag Archives: Skype

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.


How do you learn

SwitzerlandI read an article on the Faculty Focus new email, I get quite frequently. its focus was on the way students learn, written by Martellen Weimer, it got me thinking as I was updating my own slide set ready for Sept / Oct.

We teach, or Lecture, there is a difference, I hope I do a little of both, some days there is so much to get through, it tends to be a lecture, but as often as I can, I teach, that is I interact with the students, both during the attendance time and after.

I am currently also reading Whats the use of Lectures, by  Dona;d A Bligh, it’s a little heavy in places, but worth it so far.

I care for the students, I want them to pass, but I expect some form of commitment, attendance at my lectures, come to the lectures prepared, that is having read my notes, and reading list, coming with sufficient paper pencil set, and detail paper, and a willing ness to talk.,,,,, oh and not to sit at the back so they can log onto the wifi and watch facebook or videos.

I have thought of giving a short lecture on how to learn, I wonder how many would turn up.

But back to the subject in hand, how do students learn, so far all I have commented on is my way of teaching, it seems that I should, perhaps sit back and watch how they learn, in my early years teaching, all I had to go on was my first hand experience at college, some excellent lecturers and great practical advice and training.

I would like to pass that experience on, but modern Universities seem not to have those facilities, lecture rooms or nothing. So perhaps friendly site visits are in order, at least there is a way to see a site working, but little chance to lay a brick or mix and test concrete.

Video is also a way forward, its so easy to use with electronic whiteboards and in-class projectors, but it still lacks the feel you get from doing it.

Some one once said to me teaching is easy,,,,,, how wrong they were, it’s not easy, knowing your subject is the easy part, getting it over so students learn is the hard bit, and once you loose them because your boring, thats it, finish, start again, change your ways, I can’t admit to being perfect, some days I come out of lectures with a real buzz, it’s worked, but others I feel just deflated.

Some times it in the preparation, you think your slide set works, but after, or even during the lecture, you know it’s not working.

Some lecturers it’s a class only thing, no out of class interaction, I can’t do that, Architecture and construction is hard enough, dealing with CAD and getting the materials to lay correctly is completely another thing, so I tend to say, always available and will give as much time as my good lady will allow, or you will be home on time tonight dear !, so I tend to be in Uni early to try to get that “out of class” interaction..

The ones who do interact like this, tend to be the ones who give more in the lecture, not afraid to question or ask me to stop and expand.


Can I expand CPD to a Higher Level

Protection FilmI have often wondered if my CPD needs a little tweak, can I expand my CPD to a higher level, I read, try to organise training with manufacturers, and attend other professional seminars. I do very well, far better than some, and pail into dust at others.

My point is, can I do better, I think I can, and thats the point of this article, can I add more to my CPD, simple yes, and its all down to an article I read by Todd Nesloneyon the Swivl web site. were he outlines what he calls The Power of a personal Learning Network.

I like this idea a lot, I tend to talk to other academics a lot now and can see what he means, I have started to read academic papers, and expand that by making contact with some of the more interesting people I have found from all over the world.

Without realising it, I have already started this some time back with my often lengthy conversations with Jon Pickup, we did not alway talk about Vectorworks, but construction, and design. Plus my business partner, David, who is always ready to talk a detail through, or tell me of materials I might use.

I use, skype, email, and social media to link, Todd has started a hash tag to link these conversations,  try using #SLS15 on twitter, or #scayPLN

I am encouraging my students past and present to do the same, talk about detail, work, projects, materials lectures what ever.

As for Swivl, I have just purchased one of these interesting little devices, it allows me to video a lecture with ease, I tend to walk a lot going from a white board, to a screen and table, this little device follows me, always keeping me in frame, it does this by following not me, but a simple little hand held unit that also has a microphone installed, hung about my neck. More on this later.


My Moleskin is Half empty

Moleskin half empty, or Half FullIts the weekend, and I am looking forward to University, I have so much to do, with both my practice and in preparing for lectures, I use Google Docs so have shared my lectures with the members of staff who I work with, but, and heres a big but, my Moleskin is looking a little full, I use it so much for general day to day notes, sketches, ideas and concepts, some times I sit and sketch an idea I have seen, rather than use my iPhone, its so much more intuitive to do it, the camera captures only what it sees, but sketching, I think, makes you see beyond. So today is a new Moleskin day, ready for my transfer.

I also have just paid for my Evernotte premier account again, I just could not do without it, storing “Stuff”, including captures of my Moleskin. I see so many executive, busy making notes at courses, and wonder, if they ever use them, it looks good, people are impressed, they are taking notes, but so often its a sham, they do not use them, capture the notes in Evernote, and let it become part of your Personal Archive.

So my next job is going to be a full 3D model, I have said this before, but this time it has to be, there will be pain, I know it, but after seeing the CostX presentation, I now can’t delay it, 3D it is. I an also looking at taking my Masters, Birmingham City University have a Masters in BIM, and its my intension the take it on, in the spring.

It looks like I have been using an old version of Skype, so this morning work was to reload it, I must say, this program has changed my life, I can talk all over the world, for free, show my screen, and send files, all for free, I even have a paid for telephone number, I just do not need the BT number I have, in fact its not listed any were, and I don’t use it, Skype is all I need.

It’s now official Gary Mees will be the next CIAT President, I am pleased for Gary, he has been about the CIAT system for so long, he knows how we work, and has put time into our profession.

Designing for incredibly high internal humidity and temperature

Sun FlowerThe video below taken from the very excellent Virge site is an example of things to come, if you have seen the way certain areas in the USA have gone to nothing but dust bowls and the same can be said for other major habitable, then this style of growing is going to be common place.

For us as technologists, the problems are huge, how do we stop condensation, is there an internal pressure problem, what materials should be use, how is the heat and humidity dispersed, I have a hole host of questions.

What happens if there is a hail storm, glass, and it looks like they have used glass as a green house design, what happens if the glass shatters, what is the glass spec, is the entire internal volume open to loss of temp and humidity, are there pressure zone,

So many questions, I as a Technologist have started to ask.

But most of all, its a subject that will not go away, and I can see this working is all sorts of climates, where each demands a different approach to designing the external skin or envelope.

Just as a side project I have been experimenting with Hyperlapse for the iPhone, Jon Pickup, in one of our long Skype conversations, reminded me of it, its very cool, I will do some experiments and write them up for the weekend

Todays photo is of my first sunflower of the year, a little late but nice to see.

Architectural Technologist – A New Client



Today is Saturday the sky is heavy and overcast, a gloomy start to the weekend, but I'm working, I have a drawing to finish, print to PDF and send out, and I need to prepare to see a new client, I have got the address, telephone number, post code, and a map of the site, my iPhone is free of photos to plenty of space, I'm ready to go.

I get work from all sorts of places, some from existing clients, some from people I have worked with, some from a friend of a friend, I used to advertise in a local trade magazine, but it got to expensive and I stopped, I get nothing from yell, or any of the other trade directories, paper or electronic, they phone and keep telling me it's the best way, but I nod and politely tell them no.

For me contacts are the best source of new jobs, talking, emailing,chatting in the pub, keeping up with old friends, and my mobile is the key, my iPhone is the best bit of kit I have, that and my Mac, it's my life line. Next comes Skype, this simple little program, keeps my costs down, every new client I have I try to get them onto it, it saves so much time, and cost, I can switch screens and instantly show them areas of interest, getting immediate delicious, that might have taken days sending emails. Plus calls to nine Skype contacts are the cheapest I can get, even if I call Newzeland.

I say Skype is my next best friend, but google hangouts is becoming more than a threat to Skype, the way it's inter grading itself into gmail, my diary and the basic framework of my day to day life, I am a big user of Google+ where I first saw it, but it's gone way past that, to being an entity of it's own, and one that is becoming very powerful.

I'm currently reading Tubes, Behind the scenes at the Internet, by Andrew Blum, really fascinating, we all take the Internet for granted, it's there, but Andrew is taking me on a path to show the real Internet, the way it works, I'm right at the start, but even now it is a fascinating read.

So there it is, Saturday, lots to do, but as always a blog to write, oh have you been onto Jon Pickups Archoncad site, he posted a blog on what program's he thought might be useful on a friends new iPad, I have added to that list, with the apps I use on almost a daily basis. Please drop in and add your list.

There is no CPD today other than keeping up my client getting techniques, it a weekend, relax enjoy, take it easy, chill,,,,, if you can.


Architectural Technologist – Editing & Changing a polyline in a Vectorworks drawing

Vectorworks Viewer

Vectorworks Viewer (Photo credit: Scays)

Sometimes when I’m drawing I do things automatically, and I happen to be changing a polyline entity, not by pulling or pushing the vertices, but by simply removing the portion of the entity and re drawing it, then linking the bits back together with add surface. My client saw me doing it and asked for a quick video, this below is some of my efforts.

I have the river on a separate layer,  using navigation pallet  I showed the important layers in grey to aid navigation. All the river,paths and certain tributaries are classed making it so easy to just highlight the required items and work on them.

I can’t claim any time for this, but you might, by practicing the technique. If you have any problems I can show you live in a skype link or Google Hangout.

If you have any large garden that needs plotting, Vectorworks is very good at allowing you to layer the garden and show it off to it’s best, we also tag all trees and add our own search engine to Vectorworks, although we are now finding pdf printouts and the use of Goodreader, as just as effective.






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