Posts Tagged ‘Featured’

The Indicator: 101 Things I Didn’t Learn in Architecture School

03 Dec

This article is co-authored by Sherin Wing

1] Even if your boss is your friend he may have to axe you to save his business.

2] Read the book, On Bullshit, by Harry G. Frankfurt. Carry it with you. It’s pocket-sized.

3] Do not drink at work and especially do not get toasted around your colleagues under any circumstances.

4] No matter how highly you may think of yourself you may still be a minion in the eyes of others who hold more power than you.

5] Once you leave architecture school not everybody cares about architecture or wants to talk about it.

6] All eating habits and diets acquired during school should be jettisoned.

7] The hygiene habits you kept in architecture school are inappropriate for real life; bathe regularly and change your underwear.

8] The rush and exhilaration you experience in studio may be inversely proportional to how much you will enjoy working for a firm.

9] It’s architecture, not medicine. You can take a break and no one will die.

10] Significant others are more important than architecture; they are the ones who will pull you through in the end. See 49.

Keep reading after the break.

11] Being smart and having advanced degrees can make you a better designer.

12] The industry underpays. Push for what you are worth.

13] Mind your internet traffic at work unless you are certain your office does not have someone monitoring. Of course you should be working every minute, so this goes without saying.

14] Go home to your family.

15] Call your loved one’s frequently.

16] If you are working overtime, the firm buys dinner.*
*Contingent on office policies, of course.

17] Don’t keep a mayline screwed to your desk. They are not cool and they date you. The same goes for colored pencils.

18] Get the biggest monitor you can.

19] Do not, however, ask for two monitors. Even though it makes you look like a bad-ass you will be expected to do twice the amount of work.

20] Make sure team roles are clearly defined.

21] Know what your role is.

22] Be careful with emails. If in doubt, don’t send.

23] At times respect and civility seem to be scarce commodities in architecture.

24] Be cautious of “opportunities” that do not pay.

25] Sometimes the most critical person on your jury might actually be right.

26] Understand how your office is run as a business and how they go after projects.

27] It is best to keep your outside activities quiet.

28] Your boss reads your blog.

29] Pyromania, car soccer, and other antics you made up to amuse yourself at 3 am are not actually normal. See 49.

30] There are no architectural emergencies that should make you completely give up your life on the outside. That may have been the ethos in studio, but don’t carry it into the office.

31] Be suspicious if your firm expects you to work long hours of overtime for no compensation. Be doubly suspicious if they justify it by saying things like, “It’s just part of the learning curve” or “We had to go through this, too.”

32] If a police officer pulls you over on the freeway for doing 90 mph on a Sunday morning while heading into the office, it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities.

33] Know who the decision-makers are.

34] Don’t dress like an intern. See 72.

35] Read Dana Cuff’s Architecture: The Story of Practice.

36] Expect to be regarded with suspicion if your undergraduate degree is not in architecture.

37] Don’t be seduced by mere appearances.

38] If your firm is outsourcing work to save money, be concerned.

39] Architecture firms can have multiple glass ceilings. Be aware of them all.

40] If a principal of a firm sees making coffee or moving boxes as beneath him/her, consider looking for another office.

41] If a principal doesn’t say good morning when you say good morning to him/her, consider looking for another office.

42] When firms advertise themselves as think tanks or research labs, ask them specifically what it is that they do. And most importantly, make sure they pay. Well.

43] If you are invited to be on a jury, don’t trash the student just to make yourself look good or to contradict a rival on the jury. Be constructive and try to help the student. This is the point.

44] Subvert the signature of the software, unless you consciously want the architecture to convey this signature.

45] Architects are in a service industry. They provide services to clients.

46] In proportion to their pay, architects require the most education, most training, and the most exams to become licensed professionals.

47] Don’t be a Typhoid Mary. When sick, stay home.

48] Embrace the business-side of architecture.

49] If you are an architect you should automatically qualify for psychotherapy and medication.

50] Most architects believe they were destined to become architects because of their early childhood experiences. They showed signs of architectural greatness at a very young age. This is a myth that reinforces an unhealthy hero complex. See 49.

51] Architecture in the academy is completely removed from the profession. Likewise, the values within the academy are radically different from the values within a firm.

52] Be cautious about applying theory to space.

53] Do not take design strategies or operations learned in studio too seriously.

54] Know the difference between architectural celebrity and actual worth.

55] Read books with words, not just pictures.

56] All firms are different. Shop.

57] To save time, assume your wife is right.

58] Do not date an architect unless you are certain he/she is able to maintain a healthy life outside of architecture. See 49.

59] Architects should not intermarry. Inbreeding is not good for the gene pool. See 49.

60] If you are married when you go to architecture school, studio ends at 7:00.

61] Do not buy into the fashion of the moment and simply dismiss certain architects without examining them for yourself.

62] Architects who do not build things also have important things to say and should be listened to.

63] If your studio instructor is a recent graduate, be alarmed.

64] Do not obsess about sustainability to the exclusion of other factors.

65] Renderings done in China are so last year.

66] If you start a think tank make sure you have some thoughts to put in it.

67] Read Rem Koolhaas, but do not obsess and fantasize about being him. Delirious New York is still relevant.

68] Archi-babble does not make you sound cool.

69] Keep in touch with everyone you know, especially if they aren’t in architecture.

70] In fact, make friends who are not architects.

71] Do not wear the same shoes every day, They will start to smell.

72] Make sure your jeans are up-to-date. No acid-wash. No baggy.

73] The economically distressed urban zones you can afford while in school are not gentrified just because you and your friends have moved in.

74] If you must read Italo Calvino, read more than just Invisible Cities.

75] Expect a period of post-traumatic stress disorder after you graduate. Do not make any important decisions during this time.

76] Don’t get a dog just because you are lonely.

77] Architecture is fueled by fetishes—rectilinear designer eyewear, for instance.

78] When trying to decide if a theory book is good, check the bibliography first.

79] Listen to your elders. They are wise.

80] FAIA can mean different things to different people.

81] If you already have a B.Arch, consider further education in a different field. Your M.Arch. can’t make a real contribution to the field if you’re just showing off software skills.

82] Always back up your hard drive.

83] Embrace social media, but don’t be its bitch. Only tweet/post when you have something important to say.

84] Architecture firms should consider forming economic alliances similar to OPEC.

85] Even if you don’t like the look of someone’s architecture they may have something valuable to teach you.

86] Great architecture, like great art, tends to arise from deep psychological issues. See 49.

87] The eighties and postmodernism were not all bad.

88] Being avant-garde is a choice that should be evaluated.

89] Architect’s web pages are often out of control and take too long to load.

90] In one’s life there are a finite number of all-nighters one can pull. You probably used them all up in school.

91] Understand the contexts from which modernism arose.

92] When the economy is good architects can rely on experience to run firms, but when the economy is bad they need advanced business skills they may not possess.

93] Architecture is dependent on boom and bust cycles.

94] Good design is not necessarily the most important factor in running a successful architecture firm.

95] Branding is important.

96] In a corporate firm, those at the top are not necessarily the best but they may have been there the longest.

97] Being good at software does not make you a good architect.

98] Architecture is cliquish.

99] Many architects do not live in houses designed by themselves or other architects.

100] Architecture office parking lots communicate success. There should be at least a couple high-end luxury cars. If there are a lot of beaters, be wary. If all cars are beaters, don’t go in.

101] Be concerned when you are too idle at work.

, a weekly column focusing on the culture, business and economics of architecture, is written by Guy Horton. The opinions expressed in are Guy Horton’s alone and do not represent those of ArchDaily and it’s affiliates. Based in Los Angeles, he is a frequent contributor to Architectural Record, The Architect’s Newspaper and other publications. He also writes on architecture for The Huffington Post. Follow Guy on Twitter.

Facebook’s Gmail Killer, Project Titan, Is Coming On Monday

12 Nov

Back in February we wrote about Facebook’s secret Project Titan — a web-based email client that we hear is unofficially referred to internally as its “Gmail killer”. Now we’ve heard from sources that this is indeed what’s coming on Monday during Facebook’s special event, alongside personal email addresses for users.

This isn’t a big surprise — the event invites Facebook sent out hinted strongly that the news would have something to do with its Inbox, sparking plenty of speculation that the event could be related to Titan. Our understanding is that this is more than just a UI refresh for Facebook’s existing messaging service with POP access tacked on. Rather, Facebook is building a full-fledged webmail client, and while it may only be in early stages come its launch Monday, there’s a huge amount of potential here.

Facebook has the world’s most popular photos product, the most popular events product, and soon will have a very popular local deals product as well.  It can tweak the design of its webmail client to display content from each of these in a seamless fashion (and don’t forget messages from games, or payments via Facebook Credits). And there’s also the social element: Facebook knows who your friends are and how closely you’re connected to them; it can probably do a pretty good job figuring out which personal emails you want to read most and prioritize them accordingly.

Oh, and assuming our sources prove accurate, this explains the timing of the Google/Facebook slap fight over contact information.

We’ll keep digging for more details and will have full coverage on Monday.

Image by Spencereholtaway


Yes, you need anti-virus on your Mac.. and now it’s free

02 Nov

Love your Mac
Sophos has today announced the world's first free business-strength anti-virus program for Macs.

In a pretty exciting move, we're making a version of our Mac anti-virus product (used by big companies around the world) available for free download to home consumers.

That means your home Macs can be protected automatically in-the-background with the latest anti-virus protection, checking every program you run, every file you download, every USB stick you insert, completely free. Is there a catch you're wondering? Well, nope! There isn't!

I'm really pleased about this, because I love Macs. Back at Cluley Towers we only use Macs at home - they're great for messing around with family photographs, making movies, storing music, the list goes on..

But just like I make regular backups of my valuable data (some of which is irreplaceable and is priceless in sentimental terms to me and my wife), I also run Sophos Anti-Virus on my Macs.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition

And it's not just to protect my movies and music collection. I'm also aware that there are a growing number of bad guys out there who might consider Mac users a "soft target" and deliberately set out to infect Apple Macs, in the hope of stealing login details to banks and social networks, comandeer your MacBook to send spam or install irritating pop-ups, or simply commit identity theft.

The cybercriminals aren't kids messing around in back bedrooms any longer, they're organised and professional. And - unfortunately - many Mac users may have been too blasé about securing their computers, making the growing Apple userbase an attractive one to target.

Don't believe me? Well, it's already started. Past threats to Mac users have included:

– Websites that pose as legitimate-looking software vendor's sites, but whose downloads are really Mac malicious code.

– Malware disguised as pirated software available for download from P2P file-sharing networks.

Pirate version of iWorks carries Trojan horse

– Sexy online video links that urge you to install a plug-in to view the content, but really infect your computer with a Mac Trojan horse.

– Popular Twitter accounts, such as that belonging to former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki, who have tweeted out links to websites designed to infect Mac computers.

(Enjoy these videos? You can check out more on the SophosLabs YouTube channel and subscribe if you like)

– Windows viruses and other malware, which can come in via email, web or USB drive, either being passed on to Windows-using friends or colleagues, or infecting virtual installations of Windows installed on a Mac.

Sophos Anti-Virus Home Edition for Mac stopping Windows malware

Most people don't know that Apple acknowledged the malware problem by integrating rudimentary protection against a handful of Mac Trojans in Snow Leopard. But 95% of those Mac users we surveyed recently are convinced that more attacks are on the way.

Mac malware survey, October 2010

Wise Mac users will secure their computers now, outwitting malware authors – if we make their jobs of infecting Macs damn difficult, they will go elsewhere to make a quick buck.

Sophos Anti-Virus for Mac Home Edition intercepting Mac malware. Click for a larger version

So, what are you waiting for?

This time you really do have nothing to lose as we've made it free :-) Download Sophos Anti-Virus Home Edition for Mac.

Do you agree that Mac users need to protect their computers? Do you believe that actually they don't need to take any extra precautions to look after their data? Whatever your view, leave a message in the comments below.


Tom the Dancing Bug: God-Man in “Slave Trade”

21 Jul


Gallery: Digitizing the past and present at the Library of Congress

09 Jun

The Library of Congress has nearly 150 million items in its collection, including at least 21 million books, 5 million maps, 12.5 million photos and 100,000 posters. The largest library in the world, it pioneers both preservation of the oldest artifacts and digitization of the most recent--so that all of it remains available to future generations.

I recently took a tour of two LoC departments that exemplify this mission: the Preservation Research and Testing Division in Washington, D.C., and the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Va.

The library's preservation specialists use the latest technology to study and scan ancient books, maps and other historical artifacts.

One process, called scanning electron microscopy, allows them to create elemental maps of manuscripts, identifying the chemical nature of inks and pigments, or the paper itself. Imperceptible changes made by artists appear plain as day when viewed using x-rays.

X-rays, however, aren't easy to work around. One new technique, hyperspectral imaging, offers similarly revelatory results in the darkroom: ultra-high resolution scans of documents, imaged under sharply restricted wavelengths of light, show details denied to the naked eye. Viewed at sharp angles, old documents even reveal data about the woodblocks used to impress them onto the page.

It's not all about moldy maps and tomes, either: thanks to the poor quality of consumer media, techniques are already being developed to recover information from damaged examples. Researchers already understand, for example, why using sticky labels increases the likelihood of failure in CDs and DVDs. (LightScribe etching has no apparent negative effects). So when the work of today's unheralded geniuses end up as priceless, rotting museum pieces, the preservers will be ready.

An ancient book presents the typical problem for archivists: how to better understand something that may be destroyed simply by the act of examining it? Researchers have adopted policies which forbid sacrificing part of an item in the hope of learning more about it.

"We can't afford any damage to anything," said Eric Hansen, chief of the Preservation Research and Testing Division. "Never take a sample; be completely nondestructive. ... We know there will be advances in technology and that current techniques will become outmoded."

The LoC's Jennifer Wade scans a centuries-old but well-preserved copy of Platina's The Lives of the Popes. "We can map the elements, the chemical components," Wade said. "We can simulate changes in heat, cold, and humidity. [But] all we do is provide information about treatment. Others make the restoration decisions."

Fenella France, a research chemist with the Preservation Research and Testing Division, uses a 39 megapixel camera to take high-resolution images of documents ranging from renaissance-era maps to American state papers.

"We don't filter at the camera, we illuminate with small wavelengths," Fenella said. "We're creating a reference set of samples. We can't take samples of the documents themselves--it's just not going to happen"

This technique creates a set of images like a 'stack of cards,' all identically framed but revealing a different spectral face of the subject.

On the plan for the city of Washington designed in 1791 by Pierre L'Enfant, a hidden street plan emerges under IR light. A design for a circle emerges on 16th and K.

It's incredible, it's humbling. It might be 6 p.m. and I'll be exhausted but I think, 'I can't complain--I'm working with the Gettysburg Address!'"

The Gettysburg Address exists on her computer as 8 different documents, each representing a different waveband in the visible spectrum. But only some show the mysterious fingerprint residue that may be Lincoln's own.

"In the next 5-10 years, I wouldn't be surprised if they could pull residual genetic information from the documents. [This is why] one of our foci is making sure that we don't interfere with future research."

One machine used to examine the book is an x-ray fluorescence spectrometer. "The clasp's corroding, degrading, so we're trying to figure out exactly what the corrosion material is," said Wade. "What is it caused by? What could stop it? Interpretation is important."


Among the finds: tracings of an earlier document on a Marco Polo map that dates to 1480. Lost text, revealing the cartographer, on 1516's Carta Marina. James Madison's debate papers, it turns out, contain hidden revisions.

"If it's fragile, even researchers have trouble with it," France said."I want to make it acessible."

Hansen stands by a collection of badly-damaged audio recordings that may yet be recoverable using new technology: "You can learn about a culture from how it builds and stores things."

A visitor stands before the Waldseemüller world map.

Fenella France stands beside the unique, 400-liter environmental chamber used to publicly house the map. Hurricane-proof glass and a high-tech aluminum enclosure ensure that it is kept at the perfect temperature and humidity; tests had to be performed to ensure the weight would not pose a structural problem for the Library.

"We pretty much know that the Vinland Map contains titanium dioxide in a form that didn't exist until modern times."
- Eric Hansen

Printed by Martin Waldseemüller in 1507, the Universalis Cosmographia was the first world map to use the name "America" to identify the new world. The only copy of it is at the Library of Congress.

Far fom the bustle and majesty of Capitol Hill, a former nuclear bunker has become home to an unprecedented effort to catalog the nation's creative works. And while the media is more recent than that dealt with in D.C's basement labs, plenty of technical challenges remain.

The National Audio Visual Conservation Center, near Culpeper, Virginia, once contained billions in cash, squirrelled away to kickstart the economy in the event of an atomic apocalypse. Beautifully renovated, it now has 175,000 square feet of offices and laboratories, 135,000 square feet of collections storage, and 55,000 square feet dedicated to storing dangerous nitrate film in optimal conditions. There are more than a million films, television shows, DVDs and games already in its collection.

And it grows, day in, day out. Delivered to loading docks, thousands of items make their way through processing areas until finding a permanent home in the vaults.

Gregory Lukow, chief of the motion picture, broadcasting and recorded sound division at the campus, said that it was staffed by about 100 techs, engineers and other workers. Many items are digitized to ensure their preservation, and to allow researchers to view them remotely in D.C reading rooms. They also host public screenings of classic movies at the in-house cinema.

As the copyright office did not register celluloid prints until 1912, early movie makers created prints of the entire reel on opaque photographic paper. "It's an iconic image in America cinema, that cowboy shooting his gun at the camera, at the audience, at the end of the Great Train Robbery," said Gregory Lukow. "The quality of prints recovered from the paper is shockingly good."

Most of the collections arrive via the copyright registration process. Though works receive copyright protection at the moment of creation, registration provides more legal options in court disputes, ensuring what Lukow called "a tidal wave of material" for the campus to process. But a lot of the material is old -- and not all of it is in good nick.

"The late 1970s is one of the worst times for video longevity," Lukow said. "Magnetic tape is our largest preservation problem."

Gregory Lukow of the Library of Congress shows off the intake bins at their audiovisual campus in Culpeper, VA., packed with the cultural output of a nation. Millions of items are added every year to LoC collections. Highly sensitive items, such as digital prints of movies playing in theaters, often arrive under assumed titles to reduce the likelihood of interception.

The distinctive round-rect casing of RCA Selectavision disks was briefly commonplace in the U.S. Now, the analog video format is a rarity.

There is an entire room at the campus dedicated to rewinding things. Almost every room, however, has cutting facilities of one kind or another.

"We don't want videotape coming in in 5 or 10 years time. Magnetic media is a losing proposition"
- Gregory Lukow

Into the Nitrate Film Storage Vaults: maintained at 39° at 30 percent relative humidity, nitrate film is divided into 124 individually fireproofed chambers, each able to hold about 1,000 cans. Each is designed so that even if a particular reel goes up in flames, it can only damage those in the same insulated cubbyhole. Total capacity: 145,056 cans. Films removed from the vaults must first go through an acclimation chamber before being exposed to normal temperatures and humidity.

The Tony Schwartz collection has an astounding number of field recordings of commercials and other publicly-broadcast media. Passed to the Library after Schwartz's death in 2008, the archive currently fills several large walls. "It's immense," said the Library's Matt Barton. "Thousands of reels of tape, film, video. And I don't know how much correspondence." Schwartz is famous to many as the creator of the Daisy Cutter campaign ad.

Gregory Lukow describes RCA Selectavision, a video format so homely it is denied even the ironic contemporary cachet enjoyed by LaserDisc and 8-track.

Matt Barton of the Library of Congress's National Audio Visual Conservation Center.

Not everything that the Library of Congress uses to examine its collections is high-tech.

Gregory Lukow explains the workings of one of the Library's basic tools: a flatbed film viewer designed to let staff play fragile films without the use of projectors and potentially damaging bulbs.

IRENE--image, reconstruct, erase noise, etcetera--is a system that creates a high-resolution digital map of a record's surface without touching it. Recordings on warped and damaged vinyl can be recovered and restored, then played back by a computer program that emulates the movements of a stylus passing over the modeled grooves. Some records, however, are too badly damaged even for IRENE.

Banks of reel-to-reel tape machines stand in one of the conservation center's digitization rooms. Nearby, a robot-operated VCR works through dozens of tapes automatically.

Scott Rife, senior system administrator, explains the library's digital storage system in this video clip: a tape library with 37,500 slots, each able to store 1TB of data. "That's 37 petabytes. As far as we know, this is the largest digital preservation operation in the world." Even so, they remain committed to preserving film as film: "We wouldn't preserve 35mm as digital right now."

James Snyder, senior systems administor, explains the challenges involved in capturing hundreds of channels of archivable broadcast material. When completed, the Packard Campus's "Live Capture" room will grab 120 video streams from satellite and FM television, 90 DirectTV channels and 20 DISH Network channels. 72 Mac Minis will capture the output of 42 internet radio stations, 10 FM radio stations, and much of what's played on the XM/Sirius satellite radio service. Each machine is able to capture two sources at once: if an individual capture station fails, another picks up the load. Playlists, as cultural snapshots, are themselves important artifacts

A small museum is set aside at the campus for the most beautiful film and broadcasting equipment in its stores. But it's not just for show: old media often needs old equipment to play it. The LoC has little interest in DRM, due to the inherent likelihood that decryption methods will fail or fade away as time passes. "We don't wan't to have to hack anything," Lukow said.

Welcome to the Critical Listening Room. James Smetanick describes the work of an audio engineer tasked with preserving sound recordings. The environment is perfect: non-parallel walls and deeply-pocked paneling kill standing waves and reflections. A custom-made Simon Yorke turntable is good enough for government work: maple knobs not required. "I can't complain about coming in each day," Smetanick said.

Michael Hinton, a staffer at the Library of Congress' NAVCS, works in a spartan room housing an enormous film-processing machine.

The Packard campus contains a huge variety of old and obsolete machines used to view, cut or otherwise manipulate media. It's not just for show, either: obscure formats will become unreadable if the vintage tech used to play them isn't maintained.