Thursday, 28 September 2017

Handling the Digital World

At present, I am watching several films, reading mail, and pulling thoughts together on a separate Doc, oh, and drawing in a CAD package. I use several screens to keep this little lot in the air and viable.
My mac is at present pushing a lot of air through its self, keeping up with all of this, not surprising really given the work load I am putting on it.

I work from a small home office, but today I am in the dining room, it takes about 20 min to set up,  or decamp the usual equipment from my small office to the dining room, but I like to keep my Flatcoated Lab happy

Data storage is now easy, Google drive handles it all, except for my CAD files which I still store on Dropbox, a legacy from earlier days and one I will eventually move to drive. but other projects need more time to evaluate, such as my sensor project, howwill I handle the massive data I know will be generated.

For this, I need to gain a better understanding of sensors their generation of data, routing of information and central collection, how I can organise the storage and interpret the data against other data sources.

A simple and easy first attempt to store a small data collection, is to use Google Drive spreadsheet,  my source is a single house, not too big and not so small, I reckon that as a start, I will install as many sensors I can, say 5 and set up a small google spreadsheet, and feed data to it via iFTTT, moving up to around 20 sensors looking at


  • Temp
  • Humidity
  • Sound
  • Light
  • Pressure

at various levels and positions within the house to get the best spread of data.

Each Google Spreadsheet has a limit of 400,000 cells, with a maximum of 256 columns per sheet. There are also other limitations: Number of Formulas: 40,000 cells containing formulas. Number of Tabs: 200 sheets per workbook. So in the near future this is going to fill and I need to have moved on, Google has a neat answer here called cloud.iot.core to handle this type of data on a large scale, and don't forget even 20 sensors is going to fill this in just a few years, I am specifying in my project spec notes that the life of the house is going to be 120 years. add external data to show the calculation complete, then a spreadsheet is not going to last, but it's a good start to understand the data and iron out some simple collection problems ready to move to the bigger system.

Next, what sensor system do I use there are several off the shelf systems that sell units, but they are expensive but an easy fix, next up is the Raspberry pie and Arduino small, and I mean small computers, internally they are very useful, external they need a robust power supply, battery is not really a long term option.

Then how do I collect this data, well the off the shelf units are mostly compatible with iFTTT a usefull interface service that's free and I use a lot to feed information to Evernote, yes I know I don't use it much, but the links are still there.

The later Raspberry pie and Arduino units will operate as wifi linked computers and can be easily linked to a google spreadsheet.




References
A web spreadsheet model or handling streaming data
A Spreadsheet Tool for Creating WebApplications Using Online Data
A spreadsheet approach to programming & managing Sensor Networks
LabView
Save Edyn Garden Sensor data to a Google spreadsheet (Using iFTTT )
Using Google Spreadsheets for Logging Sensor Data
Gathering Data with IFTTT

Monday, 7 August 2017

Google Chrome Browser and my Brother printer Scanner

As part of my move to Google Drive and all it entails, I have been wondering how I might get on with my brother Printer Scanner. The printing side is just not a problem, but and here is the usual BUT, I at present have no way of connecting my Chrome browser to the scanner, I have to use the Apple interface and scan in that way save and then use the imported pdf file.

But there is a work around that seems to work. that is to use the scan button on the printer and set the destination to either mail or file.

Here's how it works. for mail, I have my printer connected via  USB link, so the Brother printer can see mac mail and uses that to link up, I send that to Gmail and all as before. Why it picks mac mail when I have it set up for Gmail is beyond me, yet this works so not a problem, although I managed to correct this simple by going into Mac mail and setting the default mail to Google Chrome.

The other method, and the one I shall use in the future, is to save to file, here as I use a Mac it saves it to the Photo folder, must be a setting somewhere that says save here, but no worries it's a simple drag and drop to the right google drive folder.

I don't have, a Chrome book, so can't test it, but if anyone has can they do a swift trial and let me know.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

My.Sketchup is quickly coming of age

Have you had chance to play with my.sketchup.com lately, I should if I were you, its suddenly becoming a very useful tool.

I have left it alone for a month or two, and today I thought lets have a peep and see whats been added, well to my surprise, most of the major tools are there and working well.

First is section plane, and scene settings, these work well and the dialog box for playing the scenes is so easy to set.

Next is save, now if like me you use Chrome, then you might have to addmy.sketchup.com to the advanced privacy setting to allow it to communicate, but as its a named site ythis is the only one that it will allow.

Views works well and all the usual are there, so are styles, and to my mind are easier to use than the stand alone program.

Layers are also there and again I find them easy to use and set.

The two main menu pallets are simple to use, but not movable, but they work well and as so small they fold away without taking up to much Realestate.

As for upload I tried to load in a dwg but could not see how to do this, currently limited to skp, jpg & png

If layout is added, then this is going to change the whole CAD market, I can easily do my work on any Chrome book and thats simply going to do away with the rather expensive Mac I currently use, simply because I can't run Autocad or Vectorworks in any other way,

Saving models seems limited, and as far as I can tell, I can't share models with a team, so this area needs work.

Overall I like what I see, the improvements are working well and just need a few tweeks, plus one or two more functions added to make this a real product, but as it's still beta, I don't think I can moan to much, just ask nicely.






Tuesday, 1 August 2017

My ToDo list become so much more with Google Keep

For so long, and I have written about it her and in other places, but my todo list have gone through so many different formats, and for a long time this been a series of paper lists that were rewritten as new item appeared and old items completed. It beat electronic versions, in as much as I just like the feel of pencil and they are always there, as I use my Moleskin to keep the lists with a sort of yellow sticky note-it as a label for the current page that had the latest list.

I even went as far as copying the page to Evernote, my goto place for all storage for a while, well a long time,,,,,, that is till I found Google.Keep.

And keep for so many reasons has transformed a lot of my note keeping and todo lists ot tasks or as Keep describes their version, a Reminder.

So its so Keep that I moved, not so much as a complete goodby to Evernote, but more a trial, and I just clicked with the whole thing, ok so I am a big Google fan, and use Gmail and all it offers, Drive plus a lot more, so surprise, surprise, keep fitted better than I had hoped.

So I used keep to store information, the tagging worked and apart from not being able to drag in pdf documents I like every thing it offered, the small way-round the pdf was to store it in a folder within Drive and just gather a link for it and post that into the keep document, it works well.

Then I started to experiment with some of the functions, the best and one I want to promote here, is the reminder. Clicking this within any note allows me to add a date, and get this a time for any action, which appears in Google Cal, yes I use Cal as my main calendar, you have to switch the calendar from Task to Reminder, and low and behold they appear as a small blue icon, if you complete it then click the icon and mark as done, this leaves the note created in Keep intact, and ready for search to loo over it if needed, try and do that in Tasks or my old Moleskin list, almost impossible.

Also, the note in keep is tagged, with a variety, if needed, specific tags if the note applies to more than one project.

One word of slight warning, you can add a reminder straight from Calendar, and it works well, but there is not a note made in Keep, and I just found that adding notes to a keep note reminds me of things I need to know for that task rather than delving into my moleskin, or scraping the depths of my memory, so I make my reminders in Keep, and add my reminder from there.

So there it is, Keep is my new reminder to do things, a repository for my notes and links. The video below is my short overview. As for Evernote, sadly I don't see a use for it, except that I have a lot of notes stored in it, so it remains, that is till I sort a way of transferring it to Keep,,,, let you know !.

Monday, 31 July 2017

CAD research on Google Search results

I was doing some research on CAD use over the globe and used this excellent service from Google Trends to compare search terms on three main products :


  • Autocad
  • Archicad
  • Vectorworks
  • Sketchup

The graph below show a remarkable scale of interest, and not in the order I was expecting.

ok Autocad I expected to be top, but Sketchup so high and the other two Vectorwork and Archicad so low, remarkable.




Monday, 24 July 2017

Weather, Data , & the planet Earth

I have not blogged for a few weeks, its been sort of busy, with end of year, sorting marking and working out how I can lecture at two colleges. So many slides and lecture notes to prepare.

I have taken Google wholesale into my work pattern, Apple just does not cut it, they are so private, I understand why, but I need to share, so google it is. But this brings me onto a new web page, I so like Sites.Google.com the new version is so easy to use, it still lacks some function, but I can easily use it to create a new site I have made. To this end I purchased Scays.co.uk from the Domains.google.com site, its so easy, and linking it to the new web page just some simple copying of the URL and within about a minute I was up and running. The site is being developed, I want to allow better access to my lectures and slide, it is a work in progress, but it may change.

So what else, I have a major research project trying to understand the weather, how we can look at weather patterns and use the data to help buildings project, weather the weather !, Again its still early day's but open up a lot of different routs from storing building data, to something so simple as, can I give a building an email address. I had to think long and hard on this, but eventually I ground it down to a simple need, if my building needs to communicate with other buildings in a simple mesh to hear about incoming weather patterns how does it do it, and how can other building know were my building is located, and what relationship does it have in it's actual position to all the other buildings.

I wondered about using its actual easting and northing, that might work, or perhaps a simple address, the first line of any address plus the post code, that puts it in common with the postal service and its position. but its a tad long, perhaps easting & northing is simpler.

Storing all this data is the first big hurdle, I have no idea on the actual amount and given building might want to store, I am in talks with several people but as yet the life of a building might be 60 years or more, thats 60x365 or 21915 day or 31536000 hours say we store 5000 separate bits of data every minute, thats 5000x60 or 300,000 bits of sensor data over the 60 years, thats 31536000x300,000 or a staggering 90,000,000,000 data bits over its life time 90bn bits, thats just one building. magnify that by a smart city.

To that extent I am now researching methods of storage, Google is looking very good, with a service called IOT CORE, it's still in beta but it looks very good.

Heritage is also featuring very high in all of this, looking at the way older materials differ to new materials in their performance.

Todays picture is a sketch I made to understand an eaves detail on an old building, and how to water proof it.



Tuesday, 27 June 2017

A History of the Passport

220px-UK_passport_1924.jpgIt’s been a long old month, what with student marking, teaching at a new college, and several new projects, going away for a few days to Oslo to watch the Bisslett games was a nice time out, but as always I could not leave the net alone, fortunately Oslo has a lot of free wifi access points in cafes and hotels, ours was particularly good. The trip was via two flights through Amsterdam, it’s been awhile since I used this airport, it’s grown and not just in size, the people volumes were huge, travelling on a Saturday was the main point not to make, it was bad enough mid week, but a weekend.


It was our passage through the passport control that prompted me to make this blog, for the first time, I realised just what the Brexit means, the very long lines of non EU people. Even though we still use the EU line and that was long enough, the guards asked for our destination and reason for travel, not had that in a long time.


So sitting on the plane I thought I might pull together a short history of the passport, and it’s clear the original intention was not to control movement, but request safe passage through foreign lands.


So the hunt is on for information, I still have my old passports, the old blue, together with a temporary passport. My parents have much the same as we all started travelling much the same time.


The passport is one of the most widespread documents in worldwide use and yet, paradoxically, it has no basis in law: one state cannot demand another to do something - give access - simply by issuing a document. Yet, by insisting on the requirement of holding a passport the state has provided itself with a neat self-financing, data collection and surveillance system.


From earliest times to the present day. When the Roman Empire was spread across Europe, those wishing to travel could only do so with the authority of the king or emperor. The passport's power to facilitate passage was, then, embodied in it from the beginning. But the passport is also connected with territorial and population control by the State. Today, the machine readable passport enables swift checks against lists of names, enabling customs control to sift out undesirables, and the question of identity cards (used throughout continental Europe), is again an issue in British politics, and probably the main issue in Brexit.


But not all has been rosy, with the passport system, the use of false passports has been rife throughout history,  WW2 has a lot of individual and community use of false documents, from the Jews escaping Nazi Germany, to the prisoners of war escaping, the great escape being a famous episode, although it did not end well for the men involved, and as for the Jews, there are several forgers who for all the right reasons made documents and passports, the short film link below is based on an old man living in Paris during the war, who I think is still alive, he tells a complicated tail, a New York Times post, its a real story of this subject, the title tells all :


‘If I Sleep for an Hour, 30 People Will Die’


The mechanism of the passport system, including the secrets of the machine-readable passport, are of particular interest, it fits well with my pursuit of data and its use within Architecture, it’s not that different.


And there are the special diplomatic passports, what does diplomatic immunity really mean and what status do the embassies really have, I plan to look into this in the coming weeks.

Then finally the Royals, do they have passports

Before you ask, today’s photo is not of any passport I have owned, I just found the picture on the net.

So the link I have posted below, is my slide set, when it's finished, I'll post it on slideshare, a service I think I might populate with some of my slides, It's obviously a work in progress, and will get updates as I find new material, but until then, enjoy.