Showing posts with label Google. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Google. Show all posts

03 May 2011

It doesn't just get better

No, it doesn't just get better. It gets GREAT! But it only gets to great when you tell yourself that it's great. Tell yourself it's great and believe it.

Thank you Google for this TV spot and thanks for getting behind Dan Savage's project. If you haven't done so already, download and use Google Chrome.

16 September 2010

Geek-to-chic events showcase K&B/interior designers' “Tech Moxie”

The following post is written by Mark Johnson, FAIA. Mark's a good friend and colleague and he's reporting from two events I didn't make it to this year. I'm happy to host his dispatches from a conference at Google's Boulder Campus and then from Fashion Week in New York. Unrelated events? I don't think so. You can follow Mark on Twitter; he tweets as @MarkJohnsonFAIA. So without further ado, here's part one of Mark's adventures from the road.


I was delighted to attend major events in just two weeks where Kitchen & Bath (K&B) and Interior Designers dominated social media and embraced the newest design technology offered from Google. Why is this tipping point so important? Historically the K&B/Interior Design community has been content to follow rather than lead in adoption of online and tech tools. Architects have been the resident design geeks, but not for long…

Question: “Can a designer be Geek and Chic?” You say it’s an oxymoron and I’m a moxie moron for even suggesting? Stay with me for this two-part blog and I’ll try to prove it’s an important sea-change. Dive in, I promise you won’t become a pocket-protector misfit.

The Podium at 3D Basecamp - A mashup of High Tech & Camping with Shrek
Google 3D Basecamp where "It's Hip to be Square"

The events I attended couldn’t be more different and that’s what’s so exciting. I’ll call Google SketchUp 3D Basecamp in Boulder, “Geek Week.” I’ll dub the Luxury Bath Design Challenge at New York Fashion Week 2010, “Chic Week.”

Mark Johnson FAIA proposing "Unconference" Session on Social Media and Google 3D Warehouse. Aidan Chopra wondering... Does this topic have traction??

Let’s start in beautiful Boulder where Google’s indoor camping theme had their employees wearing wool caps in August…yeah, pretty geeky, but in a chic sort of way. We talked tech around virtual campfires; amazing what you can do with LED lights, a fan, fabric and kindling…not very romantic, but it was a geek fest after all. Don’t worry fashionistas, Part 2 will cover New York Fashion Week so hang in there, you need to read this.

Camp #4 - The On-Stage Wilderness with Google dudes and a roaring virtual campfire.

Trekies, I mean Techies, from around the world converged on Boulder with the unbridled enthusiasm of tweenage boys attending a Boy Scout World Jamboree. All the while, who’s quietly tweeting to the world about the release of Google SketchUp Version 8? Why it’s a cadre of K&B designers at 3D Basecamp, iPads and Macs in hand, and their Florida friend, Paul Anater @Paul_Anater, tweeting from afar.

Camp #5 - "Unconference" Session on Social Media +Google 3D Warehouse. No campfire, just lanterns...

Rachele Harless Gorsegner @misedesign, Eric Schimelpfenig @SketchThis, yours truly @MarkJohnsonFAIA, and @IntDesignerChat interloper, Alex Oliver @igloostudios were all there to witness the Version 8 launch, post over 50 tweets, and add a 34 pic photo album to Facebook by the next morning. I’ve included some pics with captions so you can see the brain damage we inflicted. Not to worry, most of it was virtual.

Camp #3 - Rachele Harless Gorsegner & David Pillsbury @davidpillsbury goofing off with the Google Team

Boulder is pretty laid back so our band of K&B SketchUp power users showed them how it’s done. In fact, on “Unconference Day,” Alex Oliver and I each led conference sessions highlighting Social Media, Google Apps, 3D Warehouse and our segments of the design industry; building products for architecture, interiors and K&B. Our quantitative analysis demonstrating how to generate ROI metrics with free Google Apps raised some eyebrows…Uh oh, this is getting geeky. In plain speak; 3D building and interior products are some of the most popular collections in Google’s entire 3D Warehouse.

SketchUp Road Warriors: Mike Tadros, Eric Schimelpfenig, David Pillsbury, Mark Johnson, Alex Oliver So to our many friends on the K&B and Interiors side of the business, you were well represented at "Geek Week". We even recruited a few through the wormhole to the K&B side of the Universe. Next post; on to New York for "Chic Week". No camping gear allowed…although a few celebs were spotted wearing “camo” near the runway! Eeww.

01 May 2010

The American Gothic house is now on Google Earth

How cool is this? My American Gothic House is now on Google Earth and Google's 3-D Warehouse. Google Earth models are unattributed and this is about the coolest unattributed use of my work ever.

Thanks to you Mike at Igloo Studios, Mark at Kraftmaid and Chris from Google. That the American Gothic house is on Google Earth now proves the whole point of my KBIS presentation. Namely, that Google's SketchUp isn't locked behind a proprietary wall, it's integrated with the rest of the world. The world is changing Kitchen and Bath Industry, and embracing those changes is the surest way to guarantee a place for all of us.

23 December 2009

Riding Google's Wave

This is a kitchen layout.

Here's another view of it.

So far as kitchen designs go, it does what it needs to do at a price point someone's willing to pay. In addition to that it has a lot of function built into a relatively small space and it pulls off all that function while still looking orderly and clean. A design like this will last a family for years and barring any radical changes in popular taste, this kitchen renovation is a purchase they will never have to make again.

Obviously, it's one of mine and it's a Sketchup model. How it got to its current state though is a good story.

Around a month or so ago, two of my long time readers contacted me about designing a floor plan for a house they're renovating. That's not unusual, I get calls like that all the time. What was unusual was that they were 300 miles away and their budget wouldn't allow for any on-site time for me.

So they sent me a .pdf of their floor plan and a SketchUp model of the house the way it's configured now.

So I rebuilt their floor plan on top of the one they'd provided and I designed a kitchen in it. I specified a bunch of finishes and thought long and hard about all of the parts that were going to go into this project.

Ordinarily, when I have the basics of a floor plan and a budget put together, I call on the client and we have a sit down to review everything. Ordinarily, I print out everything on 11" x 17" paper and we talk through the whole plan. I take notes during that conversation and then make whatever changes are needed after the appointment. That's pretty much how kitchen design works and it's worked that way since the days of hand drawn renderings.

Well in this case, my clients were too far away to drive for an appointment, so we arranged for a virtual one.

The conversation was going to be about budgets, so I exported my SketchUp model as an AutoCad file and then imported it into 20/20. 20/20 is a CAD derived POS software I use to price kitchens. The clients in question are also users of Google Wave and the plan was to use Wave as a collaboration tool if we needed it.

At the appointed hour, they called me (on my Google Voice number, natch) and I e-mailed them a couple of perspective drawings. Now these files are huge and e-mailing them takes forever.

Eventually the files arrived and we started our conversation. There were some changes that needed to be made so I started making them as we spoke.

As I made changes, I would save them as .jpg files and pop them right into the Wave we'd started. Sort of like this.

Once I would set the .jpg files into Wave, they were visible immediately to my clients. They would click on them and see them in full size. It was amazing, there was no guess work or chance for miscommunication. What I couldn't get over was the speed at which I could make a change, make a .jpg and then get it in front of them to see what they thought.

In the course of an hour-and-a-half phone call we accomplished something that usually takes weeks.

The next day I had a hangover from drinking all that Google Kool-Aid the night before but I couldn't help but to think that I'd somehow touched the future of my profession. Doing design long-distance has always had the problem of not being immediate, but Google Wave just changed that.

Google Wave is where distance communication is headed. But it's not just for static communication, after all that's what e-mail does. But Wave is immediate and it happens in real time. It's not chat because it can have everything from calendars to maps inserted right into the stream without missing a beat. For now, Google Wave is in limited release. As cool as it is, it's not quite ready for prime time. With time, its functionality will increase and improve. For now though, it's an impressive tool and I can't get near it without thinking about how powerful it will be when it's fully up to speed.

So congrats Google Gang, you came up with another winner. If you'd like to learn more about Google Wave, here's a link to Google's Wave information page.

06 December 2009

Poking around the internet

I poke around the internet in a quest for inspiration and story ideas all the time. Sometimes, I find things that don't quite warrant a post of their own. Here's a handful of them.

Patricia Gray is a Vancouver, British Columbia interior designer who's idolized on both sides of the 49th parallel and with good reason.

She wrote a column about color trends and I'm happy to report that I used this palette in a bathroom design a week before I saw her post. I love being on target with a color scheme. Grey and yellow is this year's blue and brown. Believe it. From Patricia's blog:
Key colours for the Farrow & Ball Industrial 2010 Color Trends:

Farrow & Ball Down Pipe No.26
Farrow & Ball Off-Black No.57
Farrow & Ball Pavilion Gray No.242
Farrow & Ball Cornforth White No.228
Farrow & Ball Setting Plaster No.231
Farrow & Ball Orangery No.70
Farrow & Ball Babouche No.223
Farrow & Ball Blackened No.2011
Read Patricia Gray Interior Design for some fantastic guidance on color and all other aspects of interior design.

I wrote about underwater mortgages and the ethical and moral dilemmas swirling around the idea of a planned default on a bad mortgage this week. In fact, I wrote about it twice: on Sunday and on Tuesday. Those posts opened up a really great comments discussion afterward.

Dirk Shad, Times photographer

Well the whole thing was prompted by a wire story from last Saturday's St. Petersburg Times. In today's issue of the same paper, the Deputy Business Editor, Becky Bowers, wrote an essay on why she and her husband are staying put in their underwater mortgage. That she lives up the street from me and that we share a love for this neighborhood is a bonus. Thank you Becky.

My great friend Tom is a consummate Manhattanite and loves New York with a passion I envy. Tom sends me glimpses of day to day life in that great city regularly and the other day he sent me this video.

This is the Christmas display at Saks' and this video features the actual music piped into the street for this Christmas spectacular. It's no wonder tour buses carry many thousands of people to that great city every day.

Once of my Twitter pals posted a link to this brilliant column about marble as a counter material.

The blog is called The Petch House and it details the renovation of an old home. The post I'm linking to is as impassioned a defense of marble as any I've seen and he says everything I do about the stuff. It's a good read and I plan to throw it in the face of the next person who starts telling me how readily marble scratches and stains. Here's that link again. And just for good measure, here it is one more time.

Eric Schmidt is one of the founders of Google. He's also my homeboy. In yesterday's Wall Street Journal he delivered what can only be called a beat down to Rupert Murdoch and the rest of the self-immolators in print media.

I quote:
With dwindling revenue and diminished resources, frustrated newspaper executives are looking for someone to blame. Much of their anger is currently directed at Google, whom many executives view as getting all the benefit from the business relationship without giving much in return. The facts, I believe, suggest otherwise.
Bravo. Here's the link back to Eric's article. TV news people, pay attention because you're next.

I love Twitter. There I said it. It took a month of playing around with it to finally grasp what it is and six months later, Tweeting is so ingrained in my day that I can no sooner imagine the day without it as I can imagine my not blogging. Twitter also makes me nuts because it's one more thing to keep up with. Shane Nickerson is a comedian who's similarly hooked on Twitter. He's got a potty mouth and he's hilarious. Do not  play this video if the word "fuck" offends you.

F Twitter from Shane Nickerson on Vimeo.

Don't let the 140 character limit fool you. I have made some really deep connections with some great people I could have never known otherwise.

Finally, the brilliant and gracious Nancie over at Mosaic Art Now posted this gem yesterday.
Rome (AP) Italian officials have unveiled new discoveries in an ancient Roman luxury complex filled with priceless mosaics, elegant porticos and thermal baths. The 1,800 square-meter (2,000 square-yard) complex, dating from the 2nd to 4th centuries, has been excavated intermittently starting in 2004, when the ruins were accidentally discovered during renovations of a Renaissance palazzo that now stands above them. In the latest digging campaign, which began in March, archaeologists uncovered a palatial room decorated with precious marble and a colorful mosaic made with half a million tiles brought from all over the Roman Empire. The 16th century Palazzo Valentini, which sits on top of the ruins in downtown Rome, houses local government offices. The ancient complex will be open to the public from Friday through Jan. 6, before closing again for further explorations.
Get thee to Rome before January 6th. If I can get the stars to align, I'll be back in Rome in June, but I'll have missed this once in a lifetime wonder.

If you have never stood in front of an ancient mosaic or other piece of ancient art, please find a way to do so. The word awesome is horribly overused, but it's the only way to describe such an experience. Seeing ancient art is the best way I can think of to stare ancient people in the face and see a reflection of yourself staring back. Roman culture is the very bedrock of western culture and to know that frees you from the burden of thinking that you're so unique that you're alone in history. None of us is alone, we stand connected to every other human being who has ever walked the face of the earth. Our joy, our pain, our love, our lust, our strain, our suffering and our triumphs are the same as they've ever been.

Read Nancie's wonderful blog, Mosaic Art Now. It's part of the great art annual of the same name, Mosaic Art Now. Speaking of Mosaic Art Now, wait until you see what's in store in the 2010 edition. More details to come on that, believe me.

26 September 2009

O tempora o mores!

Oh the times! Oh the customs! Or so said Cicero in 63 B.C. in his first oration against Catiline. People have been repeating damnations of their times since the dawn of human civilization. Cicero complained about his age's corruption and enmity. People today complain about corruption, enmity and a lack of privacy in a digital age. I think corruption and enmity are with us for keeps, but our pals at Google launched a campaign to do something about digital privacy a couple of weeks ago.

The Digital Liberation Front is the guerrilla-sounding name of an engineering initiative Google's implementing across all of their products. In a nutshell, it means that removing your personal data (from photographs to billing information to blog posts) should be as easy as entering it.

It may not sound like much, but ask anyone who's been foolish enough to sign up for how much trouble it is to close an account and delete information on a lot of online sites and services.

Here's an excerpt from The Digital Liberation Front's website:
The Data Liberation Front is an engineering team at Google whose singular goal is to make it easier for users to move their data in and out of Google products.  We do this because we believe that you should be able to export any data that you create in (or import into) a product.  We help and consult other engineering teams within Google on how to liberate their products. This is our mission statement:
Users should be able to control the data they store in any of Google's products. Our team's goal is to make it easier for them to move data in and out.
People usually don't look to see if they can get their data out of a product until they decide one day that they want to leave  For this reason, we always encourage people to ask these three questions before starting to use a product that will store their data:
  1. Can I get my data out at all?
  2. How much is it going to cost to get my data out?
  3. How much of my time is it going to take to get my data out?
The ideal answers to these questions are:
  1. Yes.
  2. Nothing more than I'm already paying.
  3. As little as possible.
There shouldn't be an additional charge to export your data. Beyond that, if it takes you many hours to get your data out, it's almost as bad as not being able to get your data out at all.

We don't think that our products are perfect yet, but we're continuing to work at making it easier to get your data in and out of them.  Visit our Google Moderator page to vote on and add suggestions on what you'd like to see liberated and why.

The Data Liberation Front is an engineering initiative at Google, it's a refinement to Google's core values. Don't expect any great announcements, but watch data hostage taking (Facebook) start to wane. Since it's Google who's embracing this path in a very public way, expect the rest of the internet to follow suite. Make that, demand that the rest of the internet follow suite.

05 April 2009

And speaking of vacations

Check it out. The kids at Google Maps have been busy, and I mean busy, expanding their Street View function to more and more of the world. I got clued in to this latest expansion by Scintilla at Bell'Avventura who mentioned that Positano had made it onto the list of places with Street Views.

Huge swaths of Europe are included now but I homed right in on Italy. I'm amazed by this technology. Do yourself a favor and head over to Google Maps and then drop the little yellow guy anywhere you'd like to get a pedestrian's view. Once it's activated, you can pan up and down and turn a whole 360 degrees. Try it!

Here's how the Villa Terrazza looks from the road down to the Marina Picola in Sorrento. My friends and I rented a floor of that villa less than a year ago. Astounding! I cannot get over how clear these screen captures are.

Here's the view of the Villa Terrazza from the Marina Piccola itself. Wow. I feel like I'm back there.

The "Farmashop" on the left side of this screen capture was where I had to go explain to a Pharmacist that I had developed athlete's foot from traipsing around southern Italy in wet hiking boots. It was the ultimate test of my conversational Italian skills, not to mention my ability to use my iron will where my language skills fall short. Yet there it is on my laptop. It's like I'm there again. "I funghi sono in pedi!" I'm shouting that at my laptop as I write this. That's not a very grammatical Italian sentence, but it made the necessary point --I have fungus on my feet.

This is the coastal road between Sorrento and Positano. You and work your way over to the wall and look down into the abyss. What's a safety rail anyway?

It's a virtual vacation. Google Maps can take you all through Naples, most of the way down the Amalfi Coast, up to Rome, Florence, Perugia, Livorno, Bologna, Milan, Genoa, etc. If you're not in the mood for an Italian get away, You can stroll the streets of Marseille or Paris. How about Madrid or Amsterdam? London's in there now as are most of the cities in Japan. Mapping the world like this is an ambitious project and leave it up to Google to undertake it in the first place. Leave it up to Google too to make is so smart and accessible.

28 March 2009

Back to school

As of Wednesday I'm now a contributor to a blog called School. School is a brand of Igloo Studios, Inc., an LA-based digital media firm. Igloo Studios is an interesting, dynamic company who are heavily involved in the world of 3-D modeling. Under the umbrella of Igloo Studios, Inc. are four distinct brands.
The Blue Marble Project creates models for Google SketchUp and visualizations for Google Earth. Every wonder where all the stuff on Google Earth comes from or who makes many of the models in Google's 3-D warehouse? Well, now you know.

School is the brand closest to me. Igloo Studio's School is their Google SketchUp and Google Earth video training brand. School provides video podcasts, DVDs, live training and a web community for Google SketchUp and Google Earth users.

re:Source offers high-quality video and podcasts on topics surrounding sustainable design and building techniques. 

Igloo Designs is their architectural design services brand.
Igloo Studios is up to a lot of stuff and it's an honor to play a role in their new and improved website for School. You can read my column there, where it will appear regularly. My first installment is right here.

15 September 2008

Dwell + Google SketchUp: the follow up

On the 26th of July, I wrote a post about a contest Dwell magazine and Google's SketchUp were running where they invited anybody who uses SketchUp to design a dream home. There were some restrictions placed on entries, the most notable being where the dream home had to be sited.
Ever the clever ones, the contest's sponsors provided only a set of coordinates and a link to Google Earth and left it up to the contestants to find the lot themselves. I thought it was clever at any rate.
It turned out that the lot was within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge. The winning entry (shown above) was submitted by Drew Wilgus, an intern at an architectural firm in North Carolina. 
There's a slideshow and description of Wilgus' entry on Dwell's website. It's a gorgeous, well thought out entry. Congratulations Drew.

03 September 2008

All hail Google

Chrome rocks folks. Download it and start using it. This is the dawn of a new era --Microsoft is going down man!

25 August 2008

They bought it!

Last week, I wrote a shameless plug for Google's SketchUp here. I drew the bar above using SketchUp because it was too complicated for my "professional" software to handle. Well, call this a success story because I sailed through my presentation and they bought it. Woo-hoo. All hail SketchUp!

Oh, and the wall and bar supports are going to be made with Kirei board, which I plugged shamelessly a couple of weeks ago here. Life is good!

Kirei board is available through the sustainable building products supplier Indigo, in Gainesville.

03 March 2008

Google does architecture. Brace yourself.

Virtually all architecture and design is drawn on a computer any more. A couple of us can still render by hand, but I would hate to have to rely on my hand drawings to make a living. Hand renderings take a long time to produce and editing them means starting over. That's bad. Although they are pretty and I consider them to be art. But that's just me.

About 20 years ago; the worlds of drafting, design and architecture started to adopt AUTO-CAD (Computer-Aided Drafting) and other CAD-based drawing programs. AUTO CAD and its derivatives changed an industry and allowed creative professionals a means to experiment with shapes and sizes in a virtual environment. Contemporary CAD programs allow one to draw in two dimensions and then preview in three dimensions. CAD has a pretty steep learning curve and as professional software, a pretty hefty price tag. For the last 20 years, the several thousand dollar price tag and learning curve have functioned as a pretty effective barrier to entry. However, something landed on my desk a couple of weeks ago that's going to change all of that.

My dear friends at Google have rolled out a new software product called Sketch Up. Sketch Up comes in two versions; a free one for household use and a professional version that costs $500. It's not only reasonably priced, it works better than what we use now.

The world of Interior Design and Kitchen Design in particular are held captive by a irritating piece of CAD-based software called 20/20 that has a lock on the industry. I know of no one who uses it for any reason other than that they have to. 20/20 is as cumbersome as it is unstable and that's being kind. Since the company who makes it has no competition, they never need to improve it. About the only thing I trust it to do is crash unexpectedly. An architectural drawing program that can't add and subtract reliably is a problem waiting for a solution. An entire profession that ready to rise up in revolution is a market waiting for someone to come to the rescue.

Enter Google and Sketch Up. I downloaded it a couple of weeks ago and have been playing around with it since. It rethinks a lot of the ways that CAD works and streamlines the process of creating a rendering. Even though it's streamlining the process, it's not cutting any corners. I cannot get over the level of control left in the hands of the operator.

The biggest difference between Sketch Up and CAD is that you draw in three dimensions in Sketch Up. This takes a little getting used to when you're accustomed to drawing in two dimensions. But man, is it cool or what? It can pull off a rendering so quickly it makes my head spin. I whipped out this bathroom in about two minutes this morning. It's basic of course, but I was trying to make a point. Drawing the same bathroom in 20/20 would have taken a half an hour.

Changing that bathroom to a living room with a different color scheme took a whopping four minutes. The same change would have taken another half hour in 20/20 not including re-boot time, because an operation like that would have made it crash at least once. Sketch Up is amazing.

The home version will allow you to draw architectural renderings, or package designs or make art. It will also enable you to draw a building and then insert it in your copy of Google Earth. Astounding!

Go get your own copy!