I subscribed to Boeing’s PR service a few months back as they have some wonderful video imagery available to the press. Subsequently I am on their PR list which is kind of cool. They send out three or four a day some of which are actually rather interesting…at least to me. Today I received one touting the VIP customization possibilities for the soon-to-be released 787 Dreamliner. Its a cool jet and one of Boeing’s responses to the rapidly becoming less promising A380. Continue reading
Johan HolmbergThe Probabilist has a very interesting way of looking at one’s lifepath. He describes a way in which we can envision our self-improvement as a topographic map, or as he posits a topography of existence. His blog “links probability calculus with personal development,” and seems to do much more at times. The concept of seeing one’s lifepath from topographic perspective immediately suggests that if you can adopt this perspective, you can be in a position to appreciate numerous possible paths and trajectories rather than remaining focused and possibly trapped on a single linear route-based one. His example of envisioning oneself on a hill or plateau defined by current dietary or income-generating assumptions, but able to scan adjacent or even distant hills with differing definitions is quite apt. I now have a certain mental picture of myself on this vast schematic terrain…I wonder how you see your world after reading his thought-provoking article.
This guy’s place puts me to shame. Even in my pre-move glory days, my collection was nowhere in the vicinity of this one. For those of you that don’t know I reduced my space when I made the move to Hamilton and at least half my collection of hardware went to the dump along with all the old issues of Macworld/MacUser/Publish! etc. as well as all the software boxes. I recall the first cull that I did of software that had collected in my basement. I had filled the basement entirely, with just a walkway down the middle and the boxes tended to collapse everynow and then. So one day, with my neighbours assistance I moved most of it out. We filled the garage to a depth of six feet or so and then started collapsing boxes and filling bigger boxes. Back in those days, garbage collection was also not limited to fixed amount and they thankfully took it all letting me use my driveway again…but I digress.
As Google officially released new versions of SketchUp! and SketchUP! Pro, bringing them to a 6.0 release, it reminds me to recommend these to those intrigued by spatial visualisation. I have been using SketchUp for the last few years and when Google acquired @Last Software, there was the usual concern over how the product would develop. Presumably Google needed useful 3D mass modeling software for the work they were doing with another acquisition, KeyHole, that they were using for their new Map initiativeand eventually as the re badged GoogleEarth.
Since that point we have seen the wonderful integration of user contributed models to the Google Earth community and the possibilities of wonderful ‘minds forever voyaging’ in wonderful virtual 3D. The model warehouses implemented were quite cool and have prospered in the last year. With the 6.0 release there are a variety of useful steps forward, most primarily concerned with closer integration between products and the ability to create some useful offline print-based presentation materials as well.
***Special Note: With this release, Google has sponsored an education-focused contest Build Your Campus in 3D! Prize is an all expense trip to the Googleplex and lessons from the SketchUp! masters.***
The entry level product with most of the functionality is absolutely free and is possibly one of the most amazingly simple pieces of software to use. You can actually work in three dimensions in an incredibly freehand way. One of the most amazing things about the product (of a huge number) is the inclusion of jitter to the drawing tools. Instead of having lines end at perfect squares, and thus look machine rendered, lines appear freehand drawn, with user-defined amounts of jitter in the lines themselves. The effect must be seen to be appreciated. I found an immediate use for this capability is drawing charts for presentation, and using this freehand feature. What I believe these charts gain is a certain sense of familiarity/informality that is combined with a still perceived sense of precision. I would posit that this actually lends additional credibility to the presentation of data.
In conclusion I also wanted to mention that the user tutorials available at SketchUP! are some of the finest I know and they can have you up and creating amazing three dimensional buildings and other objects right away.
I took the plunge on my research blog and upgraded it from 2.05 –> 2.1 today. So far so good. The other blog is quite a bit simpler and uses far fewer plug-ins, of which I remain trepidatious, but we shall see how it goes.
On the path of searching out any hurdles that others had run into, I came across a series of blog entries by Alex King when he re-invented his main blog last year. These posts are a wonderful case study of his systematic approach to usability and user experience with his own blog. he is well known in the blogging community for his theme contest and his website which relies on WordPress for its cms is impressively extended through a few other pieces such as his forum management, but all nicely integrated together. I point out this post as a great resource for wordpressers or wordpressers to be that may like to be reminded of those usability things to remain aware of.