Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blogger -The New Post Window for Compose Too Small

Are you using Blogger in a browser? If so you are all too aware that the window to compose your prose is too small to work within.

Now that I am writing more again this was the first thing that started bothering me. In the end I want something like this for an interface to work within:

Well want to know a secret? The example above can be done in under 1 minute.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

4 Hour Work Week - Recurring reminder

I have been reading the book, The 4-Hour Work Week, in this Tim mentions on page 80 about setting up a recurring message in Outlook (0r sticky note) the phrase "Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important?", basically a message reminder to make sure you are doing the right things and not just wasting time (and for those not familiar with this book, its not GTD or task management necessarily so check out the book from a library or purchase a copy and see for yourself).

This nugget got me thinking about how one might accomplish such a task. I ran into a few issues in thinking this out, he first was the variety of platforms I am running and trying to keep with a relatively simple and straight forward solution. Out of this came a few ways that i could use this (not every scenario is covered, just the few that I am using based on current limitations). For starters multiple versions and machines running Windows and an iPhone. In my case I also wanted the message to show up at 2 distinct times of the day when I tend to "wander", namely 10:00 & 2:00. :)

Scenario 1: Message displayed on the computer only.

Tim suggests, for digital users, Outlook. My initial thought in doing this was to use a Calendar appt. After putting in 2 recurring entries for each day (and why is weekdays only not an option), one at 10 the other at 2, the obvious flaw (which you probably already realized) became apparent when looking at the calendar. Namely what a ugly looking nightmare and secondly is this really the best solution to give a simple message. Getting to the second point about providing a simple message made me think about using a simple VB script to accomplish this:

strTitle="The 4-Hour Work week"

Dim WSHShell

Set WSHShell=WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")

WSHShell.Popup"Are you inventing things to do to avoid the important?",0,strTitle


Or you can download the file here (right click and save to your computer).

So this solved the first issue, a way to provide a simple message. The next step is how to automate this using something simple and straight forward. The best method I could come up with was using "Scheduled Tasks" within Windows and pointing to the script. This varies slightly based on which version windows you are using and can be found under Start->Accessories->System Tools.

A couple of nice things about this method:
  • You can control this to run only on certain days of the week (ex. M-F)
  • With one entry you can have this run at multiple times per day (ex. Schedule to run at 10:00am and 2:00pm)
  • There are more options such as if running on batteries, in sleep mode, etc...

Scenario 2: Message displayed on the computer and iPhone.

This one I do not have a great solution for, I did run across an way to do this utilizing a Mac and two applications. For the Mac side you need to use Growl and then use Prowl on the iPhone to work together. There is a beta version of Growl for Windows. This might be decent to sync between the two, the only downside I noticed was that in order to get notifications on your iPhone your computer must be on to send it.

Know any better options for working on this with windows?

Scenario 3: Message displayed on the iPhone

This method might end up being useful if you want to move to only getting notifications on your iPhone. Starting with the approach of if its already been done take advantage of it, so off to check for existing apps. A cursory review seemed to fall into one of two camps:

Text/SMS Message (ex. TextRemind)
Computer & iPhone with Push Notification (ex. Prowl & Growl).

For me the text message option sounds like it could add up quick and the aim is for a simple solution. So what to do, well the simplest method might be to use an Alarm. Clock>>Alarm and set two custom alarms.

The idea of having this on the iPhone is losing its novelty, as the time when I tend to wander is when in front of the computer screen. So that is where I left it, as a work in progress.

Comments, suggestions or other ideas to make this simpler and more effective?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Revit 2010 - Update 1 (Service Pack 1)


For Revit 2010, updates for all three flavors can be found below:

Revit Architecture 2010 Update Release 1

Revit Structure 2010 Update Release 1

Revit MEP 2010 Update Release 1

The Update Enhancement lists that are available for each product shows what has been fixed or updated in this Service Pack can be found using the links below:

Update Enhancements for Revit Architecture 2010 Update Release 1

Update Enhancements for Revit Structure 2010 Update Release 1

Update Enhancements for Revit MEP 2010 Update Release 1

Revit Development - Autodesk BIMreview

The last few years have been a great learning experience as I have had the desire and opportunity to get more involved in software add-ons. This has been primarily through the Revit platform and taking advantage of the ever expanding API. The first being the launch of the Avatech Revit Utilities, part of an ongoing collection of tools, numerous private Revit applications for firms and the creation and launch of a larger application called BIMreview.

I tend to think of working with Revit add-ins in two ways:
  • Utility - Small tools that either automates a process (done in less time) or addresses a short coming within the core program. These tend to get added to the core application in given time and have a relatively short shelf life (in most but not all cases).
  • Application - A larger, typically more complex tool that does a specific action outside of what the core application does by itself. This could be a bi-directional link to another application (ex. Sharepoint) or something like BIMreview above that has its own interface for checking and correction standards within your Revit model.
With the utilities, these are typically much shorter from concept to creation (hours to days and occassionally weeks). In the case of BIMreview being able to start with a previous idea from the manufacturing space helped to start this. Some key differences and timing played a large part to this as there are multiple emerging BIM standards that exist. Some of these are formal (ex. GSA Spatial Validation, others are less defined and vary based on what is important to the modelers, designers at each firm. The next few years are going to continue to be exciting from a technology perspective as these requirements and standards start to become better defined and the technology to automate checking and validating them to be more commonplace.

A couple of personal highlights in being involved BIMreview:
  • Initial Revit Standards creation and discussion with many people/firms (hopefully a future AU class that I will get to be part of)
  • UI Design (working to make it as intuitive as possible). Garr Reynolds has been a huge inspiration for me, and I continue to work to be better at this in presentations, design and UI's.

This journey has helped to expand my own thinking and interaction with Revit. At the same time getting deeply involved in development without letting the "cat out of the bag" too early on the larger projects has kept me from writing here (aka the Cathederal). As of June 09, 2009 BIMreview is now an Autodesk product, short overview of details here. I am looking forward to this moving forward and the team that is coming together around it. As soon as there are more public details that can be shared I will let you know.

In the meantime I am glad to get the blog here dusted off and back to being more active and if you are looking for more Revit Utilities and custom development, lets talk. :)


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