A place to think, dream, tinker and play with ideas that could change the world. Imagine it packed with all the design and manufacturing technology you could desire. Imagine the ultimate location for your ‘shop’: harbour side in centre of a beautiful city, a short walk from a bustling commuter hub and market with restaurants, cafés and gourmet fresh food & produce.
You just imagined Pier 9
Part of the AutoCAD Blogger Day was a tour of Pier 9. A short walk from Autodesk’s 1 Market Street office, past the Ferry Building Marketplace, you find a converted waterfront cargo pier. These sheds, once the domain of ships and cargo trading, now house offices for lawyers (this is the U.S.A. after all), Architects and Autodesk’s innovation hub: The Pier 9 Workshop
A place to explore
Pier 9 is a place for Autodesk employees and artists, designers to explore the limits of design software and manufacturing technology. Autodesk support this by offering small stipend, software, hardware and an impressive workspace through the Artists in Residence Program. As we wandered through the various workshops the it was fascinating to see a wide variety of disciplines and industries working side by side.
A place to build
The simplest way to explain the scope of Pier 9 is as we experienced it, a tour. From the reception, with meeting rooms overlooking the harbour, you move through a variety of open plan office spaces. There is typical designers clutter of computers, sketches and (not so typical) desktop printers churning out prototype models!
From there we went into the first workshop. The CNC Machine Shop has industrial spec CNC 5 axis machining centres, lathes, routers and milling machines.
Add to that a 10’ x 5’ (say 3000 x 1500mm in real measurements) water jet cutter that can blast through 8” (150mm) of material. I watched it, somewhat mesmerised, cutting organic shape components but never thought to ask what they were going to be!
The Woodshop has industrial spec table saw which features a Sawstop Accident Prevention System designed with Autodesk Inventor. It detects when skin (or any conductive matter) touches the blade, stopping and retracting it almost instantly. I didn’t dare to test it but have seen a demo which proved it works (on a BBC science program).
Add to that table routers, drill presses, planers, bandsaws, belt/drum sanders and hand tools making this Woodshop better equipped than some Kiwi cabinet making companies I’ve worked for!
Into the Commercial Test Kitchen where there was, from memory, a range and other commercial kitchen equipment. I most remember being captivated by the view!
Then it was upstairs to the 3D Printshop which which is packed with direct manufacturing technology. There are seven, yes seven, Objet 3D resin printers, five laser cutters of various types, a 3D paper printer (contour printing with paper), Arctec 3D scanners and a wide format printer vinyl cutter.
Next was the Sewing and Project room with industrial sewing equipment and a Centroform Vacuum Former. It has a view of the Electronics Lab which I didn’t get to see in detail but looked to have the oscilloscopes, spectrum and logic analysers you see electronic techies playing with.
From what I saw Pier 9 is a place to explore new frontiers. Autodesk Employees and Artists in Residence get to use their software with the latest in technology. This ‘eating your own dog food’ experimentation goes beyond the usual industry work streams. The mix of disciplines working together must also generate some interesting collaborations.
In a short tour we saw engineering projects, furniture manufacturing, additive printing a logo onto an existing product, apparel design and electronic design and production. The kitchen was empty, sadly no samples, but there was talk of making sugar and flour from insect protein. Not exactly your typical foodie recipe.
The 3D printers were making cityscape models of New York and San Francisco, for urban redevelopment planning. I was interested to see a 3D paper print (the bust below) as had only recently heard about the technology. The Mcor IRIS 3D paper printer uses copy paper as the medium printed on the cut edges. You get a paper thickness resolution contour model with reasonable colour reproduction.
Some bloggers, and Lynn Allen, had fun on the meeting table swing!
Pier 9, evidence that Autodesk is far more than just a software company?
Autodesk has always had a relationship with the industries that use its products. Pier 9 shows they are looking to enable industry professionals, artists and the rapidly growing maker movement take new processes, new technologies and combine them in new ways.
Some projects investigating mixtures of biotech, engineering and new manufacturing technologies (also showcased in the nearby Autodesk Gallery) were fascinating. Imagine growing a building, self assembling furniture or flying in aircraft printed, even grown, running on fuel harvested from bacteria…
Beyond Manufacturing, it’s happening in AEC too.
While the Pier 9 focus seems to be ‘making’, a move mid last year indicated Autodesk are taking a similar approach for AEC. They acquired David Benjamin’s Design Studio | The Living. It will concentrate on research and development projects in the fields of architecture, art, industrial design, aerospace, computer science, engineering, manufacturing and synthetic biology.
Another sign that Autodesk is rapidly evolving far beyond the traditional software business model?
On Wednesday from approximately 1:15 to 3:45PM Pacific Time, we experienced downtime which prevented the Typepad application and blogs from loading, and we are truly sorry about that.
The downtime was due to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on Say Media which impacted not only Typepad but other sites around the internet. (Say Media currently hosts Typepad blogs.)…
Although there are some limitations the joy of not having to patch, protect, upgrade, monitor your blog engine and great support when things do go wrong makes having a hosted blog a joy. Thanks TypePad!
NOTE: TypePad isn’t free for most but they are generously honouring a long standing arrangement to cover my hosting (see Typepad in Disclosure). It was compensation for participating in the TypePad Customer Advisory Board. It is no longer active but when queried several years ago refused to reinstate billing. The equivalent of that annual fee is donated to RobiNZ Blog Kiva Team.
As part of my day job at Microsoft, I've begun to learn more about how advertising across the internet works on a technical level and it is quite interesting to learn how an image of a some head phones I looked at an e-commerce site ended up staring back at me from an ad on Facebook later that day…
“Every time I’ve tried Evernote it has been a disappointment. OneNote is far more flexible and feature-rich. Of course, both Evernote and OneNote have multiple different app versions that vary in features and quality across each operating system and platform…”
This video has an interesting comparison:
OneNote, makes your tablet a real digital notepad.
The more I use OneNote the more impressive I find it. I find it puzzling that Microsoft seem to underplay OneNote, especially in the Tablet space, as it is nice application. They make a big deal about ‘Office’ on Windows Tablets & Phone than OneNote. Combined with the ink input (with its background text recognition) in Windows you get a free form editor which can combine typed, sketched, web and image info in a single, searchable resource.
I didn’t realise the Insert>Record meeting (with sync'd notes) capability was in there until recently.
Hit record and OneNote embeds a media file. Take notes and it remembers the time the note was added.
To review just click on the text and OneNote plays that portion of the embedded audio/video. Surely a boon to anyone conducting interviews where an audio reference, say to check that quote you scribbled, is valuable.
OneNote or MindManager?
Although I love the ink capability in MindManager and the way it imposes a structure to your notes.
I’m not a list person, although my grocery list is in OneNote!, and find the tree structure of mind maps far more natural.
However the lack of a Windows Phone MindManager application (although FTSMind is pretty good) means I’ve been using OneNote more frequently and really like it.
“We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader.”
Who cares about RSS? I do!
Google cite declining Reader use and I wonder if Twitter and Facebook have killed RSS? While I use both, tolerating Facebook and loving Twitter, I still use RSS in the way I used to use newspapers!
I don’t read all the content of all 1200+ feeds I subscribe to but use them to get information about a subject when I need it.
Today the Formula 1 season begins so I’ll review the bunch of Formula 1 site feeds I follow for the the first time in months. I was a work when Samsung launched the Galaxy S4 but reviewing my mobile IT feeds is the most efficient way to catch up with that.
While Twitter can tell you a post is there and is awesome for near live interaction there is no way it can compete with RSS as a knowledge aggregator. Tweets just disappear too fast. Facebook only tells you what others are interested in via a crappy web interface!
Looking for an Alternative?
Although I had imported my feeds into Google Reader — primarily for travel access — on the PC I use an off-line reader. The demise of Google’s Reader doesn’t really worry me but I am looking for an alternative to RSS Bandit.
It began as a .net demo project from some Microsoft Employees and was then made open source. Development has stalled — last updated in 2009 — so I’m on the search for a good Windows 7 (work), 8 (home) and Phone RSS reader. Ironic that I was seriously considering converting to full on use of Google Reader!
I was hoping to find a good Windows 8 Modern reader but the few that I’ve tried haven’t impressed. Many, like iPhone/iPad, apps rely on Google Reader API and just present the info it provides or they just collapse in a heap when my 1200+ feeds are imported.
Feedburner lives… on death-watch?
I was somewhat surprised this Google ‘spring clean’ spared the Feedburner feed service. I’m glad as my own TypePad feeds use FeedBurner for a few reasons:
It detached the feed from the blog platform. The prime reason for that is you could change platforms without requiring readers to re-subscribe. Ironic I am still very happy with TypePad and FeedBurner is the service in doubt!
It added useful extras like serving the post headlines and excerpts which are seen on my index page.
It also provided feed use stats, of dubious value recently, which TypePad does not report at all.
FeedBurner was a great company, innovative and responsive to user feedback. Then Google took over and I thought it would develop further. How wrong that was! Apart from porting the reporting to their ‘Google Analytics look’ Google have pretty much ignored it since acquisition.
I regard FeedBurner as being on death-watch as Google have killed their FeedBurner blog, Twitter account and Adsense for [RSS] Feeds. Seems like RSS is dead for Google. FeedBurner has also become unreliable with quite frequent ‘0 report days’ Google don’t seem to give a damn about fixing.
Reader goes, readers gone?
One thing the demise of Reader may reveal is the worth of Google’s feed statistics. According to Feedburner the vast majority of my 9000’ish feed ‘subscriptions’ are from Google Feedfetcher.
I have often wondered about the validity of this number, even tested it. When Reader goes will they disappear too?
* Google Feedfetcher: Feedfetcher is how Google grabs RSS or Atom feeds when users subscribe to them in Google Reader or iGoogle.
I’ve been using this app for a while and find it really does help get things done. NeatStreets combines smartphone geo-location, photos and social reporting to make it really easy to report community hazards. Categories include Litter, Graffiti, Flood Damage, Footpath, Parking, Potholes, Signage, Traffic & Street Lights, Trolleys & more.
For example: I noticed the summer heat had caused this bike path near my place to expand, crack & raise up. It is now about 100mm high and could be quite a hazard.
On the phone fire up NeatStreets, take a photo, geo-location pinpoints the spot (near enough or drag the pin on the map to refine), pick the type of report, add a bit of descriptive text, Send. All that takes a minute or two at most.
NeatStreets direct the report to the correct authority/organisation for the location & type of report. The recipients like it as get a detailed report, to send the correct response, and often have the NeatStreets response automated as part of their own incident management system.
You can see the reply and report status (fixed/not) on your phone or the NeatStreets website.
NeatStreets Australia and New Zealand
You can use it to report local defects in your neighbourhood - anything from broken footpaths and faulty streetlights to abandoned shopping trolleys. The service automatically keeps you informed of progress until the issue gets fixed.
The app is free for iPhone, Android, and WindowsPhone7/8 users.
UPDATE 2013-02-02: I contacted NeatStreets as noticed a minor typo in their “Tell a friend” message which will be fixed in the next update. Amusing that they noticed a typo I had missed — the red ‘t’ in first NeatStreets — in this post!
The elderly (work) HP 2710p Convertible Tablet PC got a bit fatter today.
It’s about 5 years old and had a slim extra battery pack which clipped on the bottom extending battery life from a couple of hours to about eight.
I picked it up from the desktop dock and it felt a bit thicker than usual. Then I noticed the battery had expanded, nobody near it noticed any smell or sound so it didn’t ‘explode’. Fortunately the machine and desktop dock it was sitting in are both ok. I wonder what would have happened if it was left for longer?
Coincidence is a strange thing. Last night I was playing around with some new TypePad Blog Themes and considering a major re-design. While that may happen it will take a while so I decided a quick “makeover” was needed. Although the design hasn’t changed I have reviewed the sidebars and cleared out some dated content.
Most of that was easy, Technorati code (remember them?), some dead links to blogs which have fallen off the web and generic search boxes I doubt anybody ever used. One item I looked at and wondered about was the AutoCAD Exchange panel (left).
It was launched with a flourish back in 2009, with blogger support via sidebar widgets, but I suspect never really became the community Autodesk had hoped for. Then today an email arrives announcing AutoCAD Exchange was moving to Facebook (per the screenshot below from AutoCAD Exchange):
That means AutoCAD Exchange is effectively dead for me as a work tool as Facebook not available on our corporate network. I suspect that is true for many and it makes the move rather hard to understand. While Facebook hosting is easier to manage for Autodesk I think it’s an awful move for the user.
Perhaps that view is tainted as my own presence on Facebook is reluctant, at best. I use it to connect with those who use it as their only social site rather than from any burning desire to be there. I mostly cross posts from Twitter Apps or TypePad as I hate the Facebook web UI and find their iPhone app slow, buggy and annoying.
So it’s goodbye AutoCAD on Exchange, I’ll see you on Twitter and YouTube but it is unlikely the Facebook page will see much action from me.