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Architect Registration Exams/ARE/Oy

January 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Let's hope this doesn't happen.

I’ve been out of school for about 3.5 years now, and have finally committed to taking and completing all of my AREs. I’ve taken and passed my first 3 (out of 7 total), and am currently studying for Structural Systems. I haven’t taken a practice exam yet, so I don’t know really what I’m up against, but let me tell you – having not touched structures in 3 years, review is difficult! It certainly comes back after practice, but it’s really frustrating when the study materials are terrible. And by terrible I mean atrocious. I’m using Kaplan study materials for ARE 4.0, and I’ve never seen any study guides this bad. Ever. How bad? Let’s break it down.

Errors, Errors and more Errors: Sure, every book has a typo here and there. Even books that have been proofed really well. But this is just ridiculous.

  • Example calculations will switch between units (say kips to pounds) w/o noting the conversion.
  • Example calculations will use the entirely wrong value for an equation. No idea where the value came from, but it sure as hell doesn’t belong in the calculation. Best part is that the final answer typically reflects a calculation using the correct value, despite the incorrect value being shown.
  • Example calculation will simplify the calculation, but not explain how or why it was simplified. Which requires me to backtrack and see where units and values were combined.

As a company providing study materials, these sorts of mistakes are inexcusable. If it happened once, maybe twice, it’s something that could be lived with. But the fact is that I second-guess everything I read, which is terribly frustrating when studying for any exam, let alone one that determines your professional future. Not to mention that it costs $210 each time you take a test. This shoddy level of work results in my reading every section, deconstructing it, reconstructing it, then reviewing it again. To Kaplan’s credit, this approach certainly makes me more familiar with the material. But you shouldn’t really have to question your study guide in the first place…

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Damn you Microsoft!

May 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Why on God’s green Earth would MS change the location of display settings when it created Vista?!?! “hmmm, you know – display settings just seemed too logical. Let’s rename it Personalization just to confuse the hell out of everyone.”

Categories: frustration, tech

Holy Crap, Morrissey sucks.

May 1, 2009 2 comments

At a coffee shop (still Thunderbird), and they’re playing Morrissey.  I can hear it through my earplugs.  Shoot me now.

Categories: music, WTF?

unfortunate coffee house.

May 1, 2009 2 comments

before we found our current digs in allendale, we were looking across burnet at the crestview neighborhood.  i think overall it fits in more w/ our type of vibe.  i was psyched on it as a new coffeehouse, thunderbird coffee, opened up on w. koenig – right in the heart of the neighborhood.  it seemed cool, eclectic – the type of hipster place that has become stereotypical of coffee places where people set up shop w/ their laptops, headphones.  i’d basically spent the majority of my grad school career in a variety of coffeehouses around austin defined by such clientele, albeit the student variety, so i figured this would be a good fit.  i only managed to hang out there once or twice before my daughter was born, and since she’s been born – well, let’s say that my kitchen and dining room table now define my coffee spot.

anyway, now that i’m no longer at work and exploring some other options (and most especially since my internet is down while it’s being upgraded to 6mbps dsl) i figured i’d spend the rest of the morning here.  i won’t spend any more time here after today, though.  this place sucks.

let me back off a sec to say that the decor is fine, the food is good, the coffee is good, the people hanging out fit the picture.  i’m not too keen on the staff.  not sure what i expected really, maybe i’m just in another stage of my life now, but the hipster douche attitude i received when ordering my food kind of ticked me off.  whatever, that’s the way it is i guess.  i sit down at my table to find it’s dirty as all get out.  well, maybe the last person at this table was just dirty – surely they clean here nightly.  the flies hanging out at the adjacent window told me how wrong i was.  i went to plug my computer into the outlet in the corner – there are big fat bread crumbs and other assorted debris on the floor behind the corner table.  there is a fine layer of dust and dirt covering the entire floor, in fact.  now that i look closer all of the tables are dirty.  my chair is broken, too.  this place sucks.  it sucks and it’s dirty.  hopefully they’ll get their act together, and hopefully this loud bastard at the next table will pipe down soon.

happy friday!

Categories: frustration

to those who use cloth diapers on their babies:

April 30, 2009 Leave a comment

never, under any circumstances, let dirty diapers sit for a day or longer.  3 words:  stench.  of.  ammonia.

Categories: frustration

this bike “parking product” is stupid

April 30, 2009 Leave a comment

CapMetro here in Austin is testing out a new bike ‘parking product’ that shelters bikes from weather, theft, and vandalism.  it is entirely stupid.

Let’s start with the positives:

  • it is made of recycled plastic and steel (in what percentages?  post-industrial or post-consumer?);
  • it protects the bike from weather – something every other bike rack is sorely lacking;
  • it acts as the bike lock and protects the entire bike, not just the frame and perhaps a single wheel

ok, great.  now here’s why it’s stupid:

  • look at the footprint.  it takes up the same amount of space for one of these ‘parking’ spots as it does for at least 2, maybe 3 bikes.
  • it is hideously ugly.  it looks like a public restroom door partition.
  • it’s cumbersome.  basically that whole thing pivots on the steel frame at the bottom.  so you, the user, will have to swing that thing up off your bike when you’re ready to go.  now imagine a bunch of those next to each other – you’re going to have to space them out a bit.  that means even less overall bike storage than the already low ‘parking product’ to standard bike rack ratio.

one good alternative already comes to mind – a pavilion.   just like a bus stop, some sort of an overhanging roof is really all that is needed to protect from most weather.  it keeps the sun and most of the rain off the bikes.  you can pack more bike parking spots into the same amount of space w/ standard bike racks under a roof than you can w/ these upside down plastic  bowls.  standard locks and good lighting remain as theft deterrents.  i mean, if the ‘parking product’ above is free to use, as CapMetro says it is, that means that you’re somehow locking it down w/ your own lock.  that means that as a theft deterrent, all this thing does is physically cover your bike and secure it w/ the same lock you would already be using anyway.

Categories: Austin, transportation

tornadoes and trailer parks

April 27, 2009 Leave a comment

i’m sure this topic has been expounded upon numerous times, but why is it that tornadoes seem to mostly target trailer parks?  Apparently, tornadoes hate the economically less fortunate.

Categories: WTF?