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June 20, 2013

Would Ike Like?
Filed under: Cloud Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

An AP story today leads with the following:

A federal commission charged with building a national memorial honoring President Dwight D. Eisenhower voted unanimously Wednesday to approve architect Frank Gehry’s design for a park near the National Mall, allowing the project to move forward over the objections of Eisenhower’s family.

Apparently Gehry was selected back in 2009 and the Eisenhower family just never liked his design. One of the committee said it well, “The family deserves to be heard, but they do not deserve to be obeyed”.

Gehry was selected by winning a design competition that included 44 entries. The design concept for the $112M US project is shown in the photo below.

This will be the first Mall memorial site that uses a phone app to intensify the experience for visitors. Wikipedia describes it below:

View historical footage, speeches, and events in the context of the physical memorial through augmented reality, akin to a video game. The off-site component is web-based and provides further information on and interpretation of Eisenhower’s legacy, including links to the six legacy organizations and information about their programs. Both components are flexible enough to be updated as the Eisenhower legacy continues to be interpreted.

We should all consider this type of component for projects we work on. Whether it’s just better info on Google Maps or a dedicated phone app, the future belongs to those that think this way. I think Ike would love it.


September 26, 2012

Phone Scan: Create PDFs on the Job
Filed under: Cloud Construction — nedpelger

We started renovating an old factory building into apartments last week and the owner saw a document and wanted a copy. He pulled out his Android phone, snapped a few photos and mentioned this great app that scans, stitches and creates PDFs on the fly.

He’s an older fellow, defined as anyone born before me, and could certainly retire if he chose. I love that he’s working hard developing projects (with his son) and teaching me things about technology. Color me impressed.

So I downloaded the free app, CamScanner -Phone PDF Creator, and found lots to like. It’s been downloaded 30M times and has almost a 5 star rating. That tells me it’s going to work and be simple to use.

I could immediately take a photo of a business card, email it to myself and save it as a PDF. Regular page photos also turned into nice scans. There is a batch scan ability, where multiple photos could be taken, say of a large blueprint, then stitched together into one file. I didn’t figure out how to get that to work yet.

As Groucho Marx would say, “It’s so easy a five year old child can do it. Somebody go get me a five year old child.”

So I’ll continue to struggle to learn. One helpful change I’ve made recently is updating to Adobe Acrobat 10 (actually Adobe Acrobat X). I had been using the 7.0 version and really like the improvements made in the last few years. If you’re trying to move towards less paper and more mobility, upgrade. By the way, the Standard version works fine, I didn’t see any reason to pay extra for the Pro.


September 19, 2012

Sharing Project Info on the Cloud
Filed under: Cloud Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

It’s always a challenge to keep the current drawings and sketches in everyone’s hands on the job site. It seems virtually all owners change their minds during construction. That makes sense, since good design really is an iterative process and it doesn’t stop just because construction starts.

So how do we make sure the folks on the job site actually have the most current information? I’m proposing a cloud computing solution that will help in several ways.

First, use to keep the most current documents for the project. You will probably want to keep older design and bid sets on as well, so I propose having a Dead files and a Current files section for each project. Then only give access to all project stake-holders to the Current files section.

By keeping a Current files section, all project stake-holders can bookmark that page and not have to change their bookmark as drawings change. When sending out the link, include an instruction like:

You may want to bookmark this link in your internet browser for future reference. If you create a bookmark category for “Projects” and keep all your bookmarks there, you will easily be able to find all the current project information any time you have internet availability. I will strive to keep only current project information on this link. I will remove old files and put new approved files at this link. I will try to include design, schedule, meeting minutes and other current project information.

The PM must manage that Current files section, then, to move out old info and keep it current. This procedure should help assure that subcontractors don’t pull old drawings out to print that are no longer current. It also gives an internet link for all current info for a quick check to determine what’s out of date and what’s current. gives a free personal account with a 5GB limit. The do restrict the ability to upload and download in file groups with the free account, but it works fairly well. Many contractors could simply use the free accounts.

The paid personal account costs $10 US/month and gives 25GB of storage with a max 1 GB file size. This is the option I use. With all my projects, I’m only up to less than 2 GB of storage. I never have a problem with the 1 GB max file size.

The business solution costs $15US/user/month and allows 1000 GB of storage and a max file size of 2 GB. It seems a firm would need to be quite large to need this option.

This simple procedure to keep project info current on and shared with all project stake-holders can help you operate at the highest level of project efficiency. Few big construction firms get this important step right. If you do, you’ll have a big advantage.