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Learning Curve

September 13, 2007 Leave a comment

I’ve been working for about 3 months now, and as seemingly everyone discovers upon entering the workforce, I now realize I know nothing.  Not to discredit my five year (forever) education – I learned design and not necessarily specific material assemblies.  I was taught to research the newest and most cutting edge technologies – technologies that can’t really even be used in architecture yet.  The purpose was to expand my (‘our’ in the case of the entire student body) horizons – to think of everything as a component of architecture.  Who says nanotech and shape memory polymers can’t be structural and design components of architecture?  If it isn’t yet, it’s only a matter of time, and the fact that we look at these materials as such will put us on the cutting edge of architecture when it comes time for these materials to become a part of our repetoire.

On the other hand, I didn’t really know how to structure the hanging facade from a cantilevered room that I designed for the project I’m working on, and I really had no clue how to specify the glazing hardware or connections or to look up the codes for the butt-glazed window wall that I also designed into this room.  I designed it, it looked beautiful, but where do I go from there?  I was given free reign to pursue this, it became my mini-project, but I felt pretty overwhelmed to actually specify materials.  After creating a material assembly from scratch our of locally reclaimed wood, threaded rods, 2×4’s, metal studs, and sound insulation, a new coworker told me about a product that did the exact same thing.  She thought, in fact, that I had specified that product since my assembly was nearly identical.   So I moved over to using this ready made assembly, speaking w/ the architect and sales rep at the company to make sure a few things could be customized for our project, and it will work wonderfully.

Next up was the glazing. All of the glazing details in this building involved steel plates and steel bars.  We pretty much reinvented the wheel because it was so beautifully minimal.  Glazing sits on 1/2″ x 7″ steel plate, and is locked in by 1/2″ square steel bar on each side.  Well, with the massive amounts of butt glazing, that detail wasn’t going to cut it – we needed more structure to hold our tall spans of glazing.  The detail would work for our standard replacements, but not for a window wall.  So I was told to look at a particular detail on a previous project, which used a ready made glazing system often used for glass rail walls.  Pretty much an aluminum channel w/ neoprene blocking holds the glass in place with a solid 1″ bite or more to hold the glass.  Well, our details are steel.  This aluminum channel would be sitting on a steel shelf.  Aluminum and steel don’t mix – the aluminum corrodes.  We could separate them w/ another neoprene gasket, but then we’d have the clashing aesthetic of aluminum with steel.  So now I’m looking at using a steel channel instead of aluminum, but nobody makes such a product.  We’d have to customize a steel channel and specify the blocking and gaskets.  It will work, but we need to engineer it.  I also had no idea how these channel systems worked, so I had to disect the aluminum channel system to reassemble a steel channel system.  It’s fairly simple, but until I learned how it worked, I had no idea how I’d get this together aside from specify ‘Steel Channel’.

And that’s really where this all started. In school, we learn to specify ‘Steel Channel’ or ‘Spider Connection’ or sometimes we might even get specific enough to call out bolt and stud sizes, but in general, the emphasis was on design.  That’s really how it should be, because we can learn the nitty gritty on the job, which is what I’m doing.  But if you’re burdened with making sure you know exactly how to assemble the building while learning to design, your horizons will generally be diminished.  Not to say that we should be designing completely impossible things – our structure courses keep us in line, but knowing how an aluminum channel glazing support system actually works is rightfully kept to the sidelines. 

iphone videos

June 8, 2007 Leave a comment

been back from a multi-week vacation: moving my sister from boston to ny, graduation, camping in utah.  all that remains for another post.  in the meantime, the iphone hype continues to build.  here are some great vids:

Categories: creative, haha, media, tech

Han Solo in chocolat-ite

May 14, 2007 Leave a comment

i know what we’ll be munching on late at night this summer when my ATL friends come to visit: Han Solo in chocolat-ite.

 

Categories: creative, food, haha

National Darkroast Day

March 23, 2007 1 comment

one of my best buds just published his first book, National Darkroast Day. a satirical jab at American coffee culture and corporate greed/automatons, it’s most definitely worth a read! pick it up online at iUniverse.com and Amazon.

National Darkroast Day website

National Darkroast Day at iUniverse

National Darkroast Day at Amazon.com

Categories: ATL, creative

touch screen Macs?

March 13, 2007 Leave a comment

i was just thinking about the iPhone, and how ridiculously packed w/ new technology it is. that touchscreen alone is a mega-leap over similar products on the market. and then i realized that it’s just a short jump to get that touchscreen from the iPhone to other Apple products, and Apple must obviously be thinking the same thing. are there other brand new products on the horizon incorporating the touchscreen? better yet, is it going to somehow be incorporated into future Mac computers? there is going to be some seriously interesting innovation coming from Apple soon, methinks…

UPDATE: maybe they read my post and got an idea to write an article of their own – AppleInsider has a post on this exact same topic. actually, their post date is earlier than mine, but i didn’t see it until just now…

Categories: creative, tech

The Death of Captain America: the ripoff of The Incredibles

March 7, 2007 2 comments

i haven’t regularly read comics in quite a few years, though i’m a total sucker for alex ross graphic novels (seriously, go grab a copy of Kingdom Come, it’s incredible).  i distinctly remember starting my collection when Todd McFarlane drew multiple covers for Spider-Man #1, and that was about the same time that my drawing started focusing solely on superheroes and comics.  i was totally dedicated to becoming a comic book artist, and spent most of my free time drawing and creating superheroes.  now i’m set to graduate architecture school and to save the world through sustainable design, so i guess you never know what’s going to happen.

anyway,  i just saw this article on nytimes.com about Marvel’s new gimmick – the death of Captain America.  the death of a major comic book character happens every once in a while – if it didn’t, the comic universe would become ridiculously stagnant.  we all remember the death (and inevitable return) of Superman, don’t we?  who knows if Captain America will come back – frankly i don’t really care.  but what caught my attention in this article is how it smacks completely of the story line from Pixar’s The Incredibles.  according the article, this is the synopsis: superheroes and villains somehow get into fight on a reality show, innocent bystanders are hurt, government starts to require ‘supers’ to register their powers.  that right there is the story line to The Incredibles.  the Captain America storyline continues w/ ‘Cap suing for infringing upon his civil liberties while Iron Man is pro-registration, arguing that super powers should be the subject of institutionalized training just like the army, fire and police departments, etc.  following the 7 part mini-series that set this whole story out, Captain American gets shot by a sniper on the courthouse steps (the sniper of course being someone w/ whom he is romantically involved – who is under the control of an evil villain!).

anyway, i just wanted to point out once again that Pixar, the most brilliant story writers of all time, praise be their names, already explored this theme.  they should get a royalty cut from all sales of this issue.

Categories: creative, media, movies

People Powered Gym

March 5, 2007 Leave a comment

i literally just had this idea today as i was walking towards the bus to go home.  we create wasted opportunities for energy capture all the time, every single day.  i read recently how some japanese subway stations (i think japanese, at least – certainly not in the US) are capturing energy from all of the turnstiles that commuters push through.  the possibilities are endless: capture the energy from people running on a track, or any high traffic pedestrian area – or even insert energy capture devices in your shoes to charge batteries; opening and closing doors; anything w/ a repetitive or high intensity motion.

so then i thought about the gym.  and how we use energy to run machines that make us burn energy, and what a perverse logic that is.  obviously the machines need some energy to provide resistance in order to give us a workout, but what about capturing some of our expended energy?  i mean, the gym is a place where we go to burn energy and it’s all wasted.  that would be a brilliant idea – not only would it lower energy bills, but you know that it would lure people into memberships as well b/c they’d feel so good about their eco-conscious habit – that’s really the only way we’re going to get anybody to change, anyway.

so after i had this brilliant thought, i caught the bus home, did a little reading, and then perused gizmodo.  and lo and behold this is exactly what happened at a hong kong gym.  now this gym apparently only generates $183/month off of the energy capture, and it supposedly cost $15,000 to install the energy capture devices, which makes it a gimmick, just as i thought it would be – people feel good about it, so they join the gym.  the owner gets more memberships which i’m sure fairly quickly offset his investment.  but i think the bigger picture is that people start to think about energy use, waste, and capture more often and get creative about where and how they use or capture energy.  this of course leads to a greater realization about energy consumption and global warming, and hopefully some degree of behavior change.

User Powered Gym in Hong Kong

Categories: creative, sustainability

…and knowing is half the battle!!

February 22, 2007 Leave a comment

a public service announcement brought to you by fenslerfilm:

Categories: creative, haha, media

Scientists study spiders on drugs:

February 14, 2007 Leave a comment
Categories: creative, haha

last.fm software and scrobbling

February 13, 2007 Leave a comment

i’ve been a part of the last.fm community for 2.5 yrs already, but only recently installed the last.fm software. w/ the exception of a minor bug, it rocks. what the software does is stream music to your computer, based on the type of music you listen to. it creates your profile by installing a plugin to your media player of choice (it has plugins for loads of players) and silently tracks what you listen to. it sounds a little big-brother-ish, but it’s only your music, and its really pretty cool to see your musical profile. you may think you fit a certain musical profile, but when you see the hard stats, it’s hard to deny that you like listening to ABBA.

since my profile extends back 2 years and roughly 12,000 tracks, it has put together a fairly good profile on my tastes. i installed the streaming software (separate from the itunes plugin that tracks my listening habits when i listen to my own music), logged into my profile as it asked me to, and started listening to music. so far today, i’ve discovered music by Stars of the Lid and Chico Buarque, one being ambient and the other Brazilian pop. it’s even streaming Fennesz to me right now, something that i listen to a lot when working and would consider relatively obscure (the music is very layered, fairly complex, and not easy to listen to for a lot of people). when you listen to the streaming audio, you can stop or play the music (but not pause it – licensing issues), love it or ban it (all or nothing, no 5 star system here), and you can also tag it. apparently tagging and the social aspect is last.fm’s real strong suit, but i haven’t tagged anything yet. that’s a bit too much involvment for me – if it can track and suggest music, that’s enough for me. i don’t care to have music streamed to me based on my and the global community’s tags. that’s probably fine for kids in school, or some real die-hards.

being able to see my musical profile is really cool. i’ve had a chart on the right side of my blog for years that shows my weekly listening stats. clicking that chart would take you to my profile page where you can see all sorts of my listening stats, from most played artists, most played songs, albums, etc. you can sort and arrange stats in many ways, and always click further on for stats on the artist – how often the artist played, the most popular song by that artist in the last.fm community, groups that talk about that artist or music type, etc. it’s music information overload. you can also, of course, click on to buy the artist’s album, which i’m sure is where they do or hope to make more money.

last.fm has quite a large community, having been one of, if not, the first music tracking community. there are many others communities, and techcrunch has a good post on a lot of them. the only other one that i belong to is ilike, b/c it has nice user interface that attaches to itunes directly and the ability to ‘like’ artists is intuitive and visually pleasing. it also suggests new music based on what you are listening to, but it does so right w/in itunes so that you don’t need to navigate to a website.

the bug that i mentioned at the beginning is the fact that right now, i can’t see any of the artist info in my last.fm software. i hear the music, but it says that it is constantly fetching artist and station info. the only way i have of knowing what i’m listening to is either already knowing the music or navigating to my profile page and seeing what i just listened to (it updates your profile that quickly). i’m sure this is just a glitch, since this isn’t new software. so if you enjoy finding new and obscure music (you can actually set the obscurity level of the new music they stream to you) or don’t always have your music library w/ you (i.e. i’m working in windows on my macbook and don’t have access to my itunes library or are at work) , give last.fm a try.

Categories: creative, media, music, tech