Air Quality & Google

This new video on air quality & google maps is a great insight into the way local sensors can be used to develop data on many things, in this case sensors to pick up air quality, and don't forget its not just chemical, its also sound as a pollutant. I thought I would add an update to this article re a link to the edie site site that expands this article with a list of the pollutants being looked at.  

Free academic papers to all

Spiral Stone StaircaseI have been mulling over the idea, that the time might be right to revive the old Innovation & Research group within CIAT, with perhaps a little tweak in its remit. A lot of members , at least ones that I have talked to, are looking for ways to publish technical papers, and open debates on technical issues. currently the only way to successfully do this is via submitting papers for pier review and watch it disappear behind a closed academic, or fire pay wall, fine for academic writing, but almost useless for some one who might want a little more exposure and publicity. I have several out there, that you need to pay for to read, and I get nothing.
I have nothing against this if you're a true academic, who has little or no problem accessing papers and is only interested in an academic career, but for us on the outside even the likes of me, who has a foot in the academic world but earns most of his monthly income from public sources, who wants free access to published material, simply because is a great way to prove my expertise.
My thoughts are that we would build a small system to allow papers to be simply uploaded, and reviewed by CIAT Chartered members and then pushed onto an open free resource, I have played about with such a system on wordpress, and it works very well, Google Scholar would be free to scan and list papers, and authors would get full recognition for their work. Academic can still cite and use as always, but the tech public outside of academia, will not be bared from the main article.
You might say tha this is the reason for AT magazine, I would argue not, for one it's not peer reviewed, and second it's not easy to search online for an article or paper, this new system takes it to the next level and beyond.
As always there are problems, getting members to donate time to read and comment on papers, archive and protection of work. but there does not seem to be any major obstacle, other than active participation and writing interesting papers.
As a natural follow on, I have an idea to allow presentation of work as a bi annual conference, somewhere in Europe to start, than see where it can be hosted.
Unlike ICAT whose papers seem to be for specific topic and are listed in a single book, I want individual papers on any topic 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
Language is alway a problem, but Google is so good at it, that I don't see a problem in dual language submissions.
I have alway wondered why photography is never looked at as an academic source, there is so much to see and read from a single photo, I want to explore this further either within this academic site, or as part of a separate site, devoted to technical photography. Observation is lacking in so many people, so the thought that a single shot of a construction with a well written text content could convey so much in comparison to  a long technical article, I find intriguing. I have been playing with this with my Flickr account, lots of tags and a well written notes, with a good descriptive title.
CPD is a problem, we just don't have the time to attend a lecture, so as part of this debate, I want to take a look at lectures on video, I have done several of these with some minor success on just a few, but it prove a point. There is a way to go, I want to add slides and lecture notes with added reading and research comments, perhaps site addresses, and cad files links

CV – A list of mistakes

Venus, Jupiter, and Noctilucent CloudsIf there is a question I get all the time from Students can you look at my CV, so often is to big, full of stuff that the client does not want to know, and all the important bits are hidden away, so todays title of "CV - A list of mistakes" is worth thinking about. This article on Linkedin, by Laszlo Bock is about right, I might add, keep it short, Keep it simple, use a nice clear easy to read type face, your name and contact details are top right on the first page. Two pages max. I link the CV I send to my blog, and the full CV, make use of spell checker, and this comes from the worst speller in history, get some one who can spell to read it over. Do you add a photo, some say yes some categorically say no, I tend to think a passport sized head and shoulder on the top of the first page works. In this day and age, a simple CV is only the start, get your online presence sorted, a simple blog, linkedin, a Google presence, clean up Facebook, Flickr, Google photos, If you feel good about it, make a short video, and post on Youtube, link it to a blog. Get a Skype account and also a google address, you will need it. Work examples, do not send, but link a set of good details, plans elevations, and now a 3D model, and leave them in say three formats, Vectorworks, Autocad, and Revit, Sketchup is also good.I use Dropbox to do this, its free and the public download works, and keep them updated, check weekly and improve, do not put up other peoples work, you will be found out, put a good title block on and be consistent. Colour is not good, except for links, Black type always. If your sending the CV with a letter, choose a good quality paper to print on, I purchased a very expensive hand made A4 paper, but check your printer can handle it. Review your CV for each and every job application, fine tune it, research the practice or company, write to a name, Dear sir is ok, but Dear Professor Scaysbrook, adds a certain intimacy. So many job applications are online, and are via an agency, I hate it, but it's reality, deal with it, get and keep all the information each one wants, if they want a CV, and there is a choice, use PDF, word doc can be altered or miss interpreted by the software. Envelope, so many people forget, a cheap Tesco envelope might do, but a matching envelope does catch the eye, worth the expense. Finally its your future thats a stake, make it a full time job, follow up, keep a note of who you speak to, and that was said, date it. If its an online agency, keep logging in, check for updates, if its an agency that asked you to email follow up, or last phone and talk, I do this always, and I use Skype to do it, it keeps costs down, if its a land line call. Skype interviews are now common, get easy with it, practice, do not rush in, dress like its an interview, make sure they link to your skype name, not your cousin or some guy with the same name. try to do it in a quiet place, if you have to use a public computer, use a ear bud, but do not use your phone, at worst an iPad is ok. get and use only a good wifi, getting cut off, or dealing with a bitty signal is not going to help you, practice, practice practice. Position the device so that it gives a good head and shoulder shot, a good contrasting background and make sure the room your in does not bounce sound, it confuses the audio and make life difficult. Get used to swapping screens if they ask to see sample, be ready and have a pdf loaded, or CAD program with a drawing loaded. Practice, get some one to call, I alway offer to do this with my students, in fact i teach and support by this method, it save time and money, so I use it a lot. Google video calls or hang outs are also becoming popular, again get used to using them.

An Extra Second’s Sleep

The Law Building, Princeton, WVYou may not have seen or noticed it, but the planets time was altered last night to allow the atomic clock to aline its self with the planet, so an extra second was added at midnight last night, and we got An Extra Second's Sleep. Why do we do this, well the earth rotates a little unevenly, and the moon which influences the tides slows us down a little every year, so atomic clocks which are so accurate, need to adjust every so often to compensate. Last time it happened, was in 2012, and it caused computer problems all over the place, although I am pleased to report, my computer a Mac, had no problems this morning. Want to read more, take a look at the Guardian Article, it has most of what you need to know, also take a look at the NASA article for a little more tech. So why should we be so interested, what has it to do with Architecture and Construction, very little realy, it's just one of those interesting bits of information that link into the way our planet works, and the way time regulates even Architecture, the shadows and how they change throughout the year, and by country.

Disaster Management

summer-solsticeYou may well be wondering, why the title "Disaster Management" for a site that looks at the Architectural Technologist and Construction. Well the answer is relatively simple, but as a whole the subject covered  is very complex and wide ranging. But for us Architectural Technologists, and the purpose of this article, we can limit the subject to just material use. As we design, we specify materials, partly, from a colour, or texture point of view, or a technical aspect, water, wind, sun, security, site location, and for the most part these materials work as the manufacturer intended, they are usually well tested, Agrement approved, and covered by British standards, in both manufacture and installation. But things go wrong, and here, I want to look at both sides of the argument, that from the Specifier, and that from the Technical representative of the company, which could easily be an Architectural Technologist, one who has gone the traditional route for employment and one who went into a manufacturer. The practice employee, suddenly gets a call, the material you specified is not working, its failing, is not up to the job, or words that I can't repeat here, you get the message, its your fault, fix it, so of to site you go, to see the problem first hand, you have checked the spec, its fine, it's use is covered, the fixing is correct,  in fact its one you have used many times and as of today, no problems. You check on the contract, talk to some one who might well have experienced this before. As a precaution, you phone the manufacturer and tell the rep to meet on site, you relay what information you have, and agree a time, Onsite there is a group of people, all looking at the problem area, and its now that you realise the full extent of the problem, who is at fault, stoppage you are reminded by the site operatives is costly. You are into the first stage of Disaster Management, small it might be, but its a problem all the same. On the other hand the Manufacturer Tech guy or gal, looks at the material, starts recording the problem, takes samples, and so often as not reports back via mobile phone, decisions are made, you walk, its not a material falure the sub contractor is at fault, was it stored corectly,  or  you negotiate. As a technologist, I have been on both sides of this fence, and know the pressures that can be applied, mostly financial, both short term and long term. do you as as manufacturer  admit fault and replace, or fight it out, is it your fault or the contractor, or sub contractor. Do you want his business again, do you want the spec with the Architect again, all these come into the frame, its disaster management. So to is the involvement of Lawyers. If they get involved, all reason goes out of the window, its not just the cost of the time and material, but the very high cost of court and all it entails, are you really prepared for this. As the tech man from the manufacturer, I have attended site a lot of times, rarely was it a material fault, most it was the wrong material, and in more than one instance, not my material, I have had a bad material match, were the contractor did not realise, using solvent against a plastic extruded insulation was not a good idea, to insulation that looked like mine, but on close inspection was a cheap alternative. For the manufacturer, Disaster management, so often takes the form of testing, quality control, and extremely good tech literature, explaining how and why your product should be used. For the Technologist in practice, it checking, talking to the manufacturer, accurate drawing, time to research, past experience, reading of tech lit, and making sure agrement certs are available, the manufacturers quality control. Todays photo is a reminder that last week it was the Summer Solstice, see this Wiki page for a reasonable explanation, We should understand this.

End of another Academic year

Thoughts in YellowI sat at my desk yesterday, and thought, whooo, what am I going do do for at least the next three months or so, with no lectures or presentations to give, but the answer is loads. I have revisions to my lectures I need to apply, and articles I want to write, and several new jobs to sort, books to read, buildings to visit, gardens to look at, videos I have always thought might be interesting to make, and watch,  students to talk to, and a short holiday to take. And of course, I have some CPD to sort and do, I  have an excellent list of manufacturers I want to invite to the University to give CPD lectures. Last week Marley came and gave a very excellent update to BS 55354, Changes to the British Standard for Slating and Tiling. I also  have a tiling company, and Velux lined up, Does this require a list, oh yes, I have tried all sorts of electronic gizmo list apps, but you know what, my Moleskin and a yellow sticky note are the best, I now list all I want to do and use a highlighter to give prominence to the more important tasks, I use linimgresks to add notes of sketch's doodles or cartoons to add notes to the list, in all, its my system of thought control, which so often runs out of control and needs my list to order. Have you not thought, todo lists on a computer are just to restrictive, no doodle space. But back to the summer, I already have loads of tasks sorted, but I have left time to ponder, Time is the key to all of this, Time controls far to much, so I have laid time to just sit and watch, think, and doodle, and walk, which reminds me I have to finish my notes on a least two city walks I will give next year. Oh and if you linked to my lecture notes on my Google drive, take a look in a few weeks, to see if I managed a few updates.

3D Printing and the Technologist

IMG_99923D printing and the Technologist within Architecture, its a subject we see in the press, we hear how items can be made, but as yet I have not seen a real proof that it can be or is being done, yet this video on the 3D Print site, says otherwise, and I think its turning a corner. We can print joints, couplings, and small items, we can even scale up to decent sized objects, but build a bridge, thats the turning point, its the days you can look aback at and say, thats the change point. The problem is can we as technologists change our ways and detailing to accommodate this new way of building. No more just pick a material, its can I make it better, can I redefine the internal structure, lessen the load, and strengthen the product. We have to think out side of the box to rethink structures, weather proofing and thermal performance. Can we now see robots printing materials all day and night, specific to the site, doors being built up already in a frame, using all sorts of new materials or waste materials recycled.  

Summer Study

Poppy at lastAs we approach the end of the academic year, my attention is drawn to the simple fact, what shall I do till September, well the answer is where to start, I have research to do, summer study,  lectures to write and so much more domestic stuff, its hard to think what I should be doing and what not. I want to be able to do more than one thing at a time, and I used to think studying was a singular occupation, not any more, I now listen to lectures and presentations whilst I do so many other things, gardening, walking, travelling, its so easy to pick up lectures from iTunes or in my case so often these days, Google play, plug in and away i go. For pleasure I so often download good books I want to read on my Kindle, and for that matter, articles and academic papers in PDF format to, its so easy to upload them and whilst I travel on the train I can read. I also have an Audible account, so I can listen to a good book as well as read it. Amazons system is so good for this, see the link banner at the bottom. They have a deal on, 30 free trial and you get one free book, set it up for your holidays. I also use my evernote account for papers and web pages I have seen and want to keep, Evernote is so good for this, I can also add notes and links as I read, although I can do this in Kindle, but its not so easy to retrieve the text, Evernote makes this so easy. Todays photo is just a capture of a poppy we have in the garden, its never really done any good, till this year and we had 9 flowers out at once,

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.  

Great Western Arcade Glazing

IMG_9993You know how it is, your in a hotel meeting room and waiting for things to kick of, and you look out of the window and spot a piece of construction that just makes you look again, and todays photo is just that,. The Great Western Arcade is a small passage from Snow hill Station,  its lined with a lot of very nice shops and its covered with a curved glass roof, as always unless you look up its just not seen, but from above its plane as you like, a splendid Patent Glazing roof, plus a host of different details, asphalt, slate tiling, lead work, flashing and old being surrounded with new. The link is to a google search and shows a lot of similar glass details. I have installed this and other photos, plus a screen grab of Google Maps to show the total roof, on Flickr. I rarely go to the centre of Birmingham so It made my day seeing this construction, I shall go back and take a longer look.