A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at a few apps that can be helpful in the construction industry. And we, of course were immediately inundated with dozens -- nay, hundreds -- of letters from angry engineers asking -- nay, demanding -- that we do the same for them.*
Not being a company to take the demands of our clients and blog readers lightly**, we set to work. Here are three mobile apps for engineering from your beloved Atlanta IT solutions specialists (well, not technically from us, but we're making you aware of them) to warm your delightfully nerdy brains today. Now stop reading this drivel, go download some apps, and get to engineering things mechanically! Hoverboards, reliable jetpacks, and…hoverpacks…aren't going to design themselves, now are they? Not unless you go design something that designs them for you! (And if you do that, THINQ wants a cut for inspiring the idea.)
1. Engineering Cookbook
Engineering Cookbook is a handy-dandy reference guide for mechanical engineers. It provides easy-to-reference access to frequently needed info, such as heating and cooling load estimating, sound and vibration guidelines, ventilation rates for indoor air quality (just to name a few).
2. Mechanical Engineering
Don't let the rather bland name of this app fool you. ("Mechanical Engineering"? Really, guys? We couldn't come up with something just a little bit catchier?) What it lacks in pizzazz, it makes up for in usefulness. This app has several hundred important mechanical engineering formulas, covering topics ranging from belts to brakes, fluid power to kinetic energy, and -- well, the list goes on and on.
Formulas can be saved and the results emailed. You can access recent or favorite formulas. Mechanical Engineering is available for iPad and iPhone/iPod touch.
3. Autodesk ForceEffect Motion
What if you didn't have to wait until you got back to the office to test the viability of a design? According to the description for Autodesk ForceEffect Motion, it is, "… a mobile engineering app for simulating design concepts in the field, in the office or in the classroom." This app does the calculations and simulations for you, freeing you from the grunt work and giving you the ability to focus on what's important: what works, what doesn't, and why.
Have you used any of these mobile apps for engineering? If so, what did you think? Please share in the comments!
* No, we weren't.
** Even the imaginary ones.
Image credit: -Jeffrey-
You know the type, architect friends.
Maybe they have no idea what kind of design they want. Or maybe they want everything in their design. Or maybe they’re “trying to help,” but their help is…well, anything but helpful.
We’ve all had them. Let’s be diplomatic and call them “difficult clients” (though we can think of some more colorful terminology that may not be as appropriate or professional). You’re not alone, friends. Sometimes there is a huge difference in what we’d like to say and what we actually say. Check out these examples from your Atlanta IT solutions specialist – and at least try not to beat your head against the nearest wall, okay?
What Client Says: Yeah, I want it to look sort of like [insert famous building here].
What You Say: What’s your budget?
What Client Says: It’s [insert miniscule budget]
What You Think: That wouldn’t even pay for a model of that building.
What You Say: Super! I’ll see what I can do!
Best of Both Worlds
What Client Says: I’m thinking kind of modern, but with a nod to the past; sort of innovative-retro? You know what I mean?
What You Think: So you want me to go back in time to design your building, then travel into the future to see what kind of stuff we’re building then, and somehow marry those two ideas into something cohesive that doesn’t make people want to throw up when they look at it?
What You Say: Wow! Sounds like you want the best of both worlds! I’m looking forward to the challenge!
Do You Even Hear Yourself Right Now?
What Client Says: I’d like something that at its heart is very basic and functional. I hate to use the word “boxy,” but maybe that can get you headed in the right direction. But of course, I don’t want it to be boring, so if you could add an interesting design element or two – maybe a couple of arches or something? – that would be great!
What You Think: So you want me to build you a McDonald’s?
What You Say: Uh-huh. How interesting!
The "Helpy Helperton"
What Client Says: Don’t get me wrong. I’m no artist, but I drew up kind of a basic design—
What You Think: Uh-oh –
What Client Says: Just a little something to give you some inspiration –
What You Think: Oh, I’m inspired, all right. To find another career.
What Client Says: I wanted to combine some elements of nature –
What You Think: What elements? Organic compost?
What Client Says: With something kind of asymmetric and amorphous –
What You Think: It looks like a coffee stain.
What Client Says: So that it’s both functional –
What You Think: My four-year-old has drawn pictures that, if rendered in 3-D, would have more structural integrity than this abomination you’re showing me.
What Client Says: And pleasing to the eye.
What You Think: BWAHAHAHAHA!
What You Say: Thank you! This is going to help tremendously!
And your soul begins to weep.
What is the most outrageous request you’ve ever received from a difficult client? Please share it in the comments!
Image credit: Lig Ynnek
“You’re in construction? Man, no offense, but…what happened?”
“Oh, so you basically sit around whistling at the ladies all day, huh?”
“What? I’m kidding!”
“MOST of the day?”
“Wait…so you work in construction, but you’re not out there swinging a hammer? So what do you do? Are you a paper pusher?”
WHOA! PAPER PUSHER?! Now you’ve gone too far!
Let’s face it: There are a lot of negative stereotypes about the construction industry. It can be hard to overcome decades of less-than-flattering portrayals of our industry in popular culture. Some of it is to be expected, but one stereotype that’s particularly difficult to stomach is that of the construction professional as just some dolt in a hard hat, gruffly barking orders and grumpily pushing paper.
As those in the industry know, working in this industry is neither for the faint of heart nor the weak of mind. A contractor has to be a human resources manager, a legal expert, a logistical master, and a math ninja. The math…oh, the math! Whether it’s managing bids, dealing with payroll, or calculating how much concrete to pay for, a contractor’s brain is constantly swimming in numbers.
The good news is that there are now lots of mobile construction apps to help you do these things (and many others). Here are just a few for your consideration, courtesy of your Atlanta IT solutions specialist.
BIMx allows the user to open and explore 3D Building Information Models (BIM) that have been created with ArchiCAD. Contractors and architects can collaborate on design concepts, and designs can be shared with clients. BIMx is free and is available for iOS, Android, and 2nd Generation Kindle Fire Devices.
BuildCalc is an advanced construction calculator app that can do it all and then some; it prides itself on being highly functional and easy to use. All this functionality and ease of use doesn’t come cheaply, though: it’s going to make your wallet $19.99 lighter. It’s available for iOS and Android.
3. iQuick Contract Maker
Need to draw up contracts on the job? iQuick has templates that let users generate and email easily customizable contracts. It’s available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch for $2.99.
Mobile computing isn’t going anywhere, and that’s a good thing, since construction projects are here to stay, too. Hopefully mobile apps will continue to be dreamed up and designed with construction professionals in mind. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself developing an app to solve that pesky on-site problem you’ve been experiencing!
What construction apps do you find most beneficial on the job? Please tell us about it in the comments!
Image credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Is telecommuting making architecture irrelevant? Well, you could say that it depends on how you define relevance.
Architecture, perhaps more so than any other creative expression, is a marriage of form and function. Some buildings are highly functional, and others are beautiful to behold. If you can design a building that is both, then you’re on track for a very successful career, my friend.
That said, some would argue that the “function” role of architecture is being changed dramatically by the rise of digital communication in general, and telecommuting specifically. How are telecommuting and architecture related? Well, to answer that question, let’s look to the past.
In his February 2012 article “Information Technology and the Irrelevance of Architecture" for the newgeography website, Adam Mayer discusses how digital technology has changed the role of architecture dramatically in a way that not even the architectural establishment has realized.
Mayer talks about how mobile devices have taken on the roles of communicating and transferring information and fulfilling the need for great design – duties historically filled by architecture.
This makes a lot of sense. So many of the notable buildings and structures throughout history have fulfilled those two needs. They were meeting places in which information was relayed and exchanged – where a common culture was shared: churches, athletic arenas, performance venues, etc. They were also beautiful, inspiring awe and fulfilling that “need for great design” that Mayer was talking about.
So what’s different? At its core, it’s very simple: Human beings no longer have to be in the same place to have a conversation. Sure, this has technically been true for quite some time – the telephone becoming commonplace saw to that. But the phone proved to be an inadequate substitute for face-to-face communication.
Enter the digital age. Not only can we now see our co-workers face to face when on different continents, we can collaborate remotely on extremely intricate and complex design projects, thanks to the Internet.
As remote collaboration and telecommuting become more and more commonplace, the need for the same types of building design for large companies – towering skyscrapers built to hold thousands of employees – will be reduced. Of course, the design a company needs to have and what it chooses to have aren’t necessarily the same thing. Just because a company can get away with not building a massive structure to provide a workspace for employees doesn’t mean it won’t build it. But as more and more companies make the transition to allowing their people to telecommute, the money will start talking and businesses will ask questions like, “Do we need this building?” or, “Can we get away with building something significantly smaller?”
So we return to our question: Is telecommuting making architecture irrelevant? When it comes to the “form” aspect, the answer is, “Not likely.” Yes, some people’s jones for good design may be fulfilled by an iPhone, but the desire to see gorgeous structures isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.
As for the “function” aspect, perhaps the best answer is, “No, but it’s definitely changing the relevance.” The types of buildings we build change according to the needs and desires of those who inhabit them. If telecommuting continues to increase in popularity, you can bet it will impact the size and appearance of the buildings companies do business in.
Do you think telecommuting and architecture are intertwined? How much is the former going to affect the latter? Please share your thoughts with your Atlanta computer service pros and fellow blog readers!
Image credit: Victor1558
“Let us redefine progress to mean that just because we can do a thing, it does not necessarily mean we must do that thing.” – Federation President, (Star Trek VI)
Does it seem odd to open up an article with a science fiction quote? Perhaps. But think about it: We're about to cover a topic that ties in advanced technology, dwindling resources on a habitable planet, and a clash of old and new ways of doing things. All of that sounds very Trek-ish to me.
Green. Sustainable. Energy-efficient. Once upon a time, these words were “hippie” words. These days, they’re de rigueur, especially in the field of architecture. Companies and organizations spend a great deal of time and money designing green buildings. They take pride in having their structures LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. It’s a point of pride to have environmentally responsible buildings, and that’s a good thing.
However, in the quest to build brand-spanking-new buildings that are environmentally sound, too many companies and organizations have overlooked a solution that can be as good – and sometimes better – for the environment: reclaiming older buildings.
“But wait a minute,” I can hear you asking. “Like…OLDER, older? Built before people started designing with the environment in mind?”
Well…yes. And no.
Yes, I’m talking about utilizing older buildings – structures that were built before the modern push for sustainability. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t take the environment into consideration, points out Wayne Curtis, who wrote an article for Preservation entitled A Cautionary Tale. In it, he quotes Florida architect Steve Mouzon, founder of the New Urban Guild:
"The original buildings had no choice but to be green. Otherwise, you'd die of heat stroke in the summer, or freeze to death in the winter."
But what about all the modern technology at our disposal to make buildings more sustainable? (Check out our previous blog post, Super-Cool Buildings: 3 Examples of Advanced Architectural Technology for some examples of some of the tech I’m talking about.) Isn’t it significantly more advanced than breezeways and creative window placement?
Of course it is. But those technological advances can be severely undercut by the carbon emissions from new construction that can take decades to be recovered, even by high-performing buildings. In other words, yes, building something new can have a positive net result in reducing a company’s carbon footprint. But that’s assuming the building is still there in however many years – or decades – it takes for the carbon emissions it took to build the structure to be cancelled out by its sustainable design.
Companies have to make a judgment about whether it’s wiser to build something new that utilizes the latest sustainability tech available or to retrofit older buildings to be as green as possible. This decision is based on a variety of different factors: how long it will take to recoup the energy used to create the building, whether or not there is an older building available to retrofit, whether or not a building will satisfy the company’s needs if it is available, etc.
But what should not be the determining factor of whether or not to create some fancy, multimillion-dollar testament to sustainability is, “Can we do it?” “Should we do it?” has to be the question that arises first and foremost.
What are your thoughts on reclaiming older buildings vs. building new ones? Please share them with your Atlanta computer service experts in the comments!
Image credit: Roddy Keetch
Ah, Labor Day! It's a day when the contributions of workers are given recognition with that most American of ways: a day off. It's the government saying, "Congratulations, wage earners! You deserve a three-day weekend full of barbeque, beer, and flat-out lounging around. Take a breather, America....on us! Unless...well, unless, of course, you work in the retail industry. Or the restaurant industry. Or the leisure/entertainment industry. Or any other industry that capitalizes on the celebration of taking a day off from industry."
Hey, no holiday is perfect.
But let's just breeze right on past Downerville so we can look at the bright side of things, shall we? With Labor Day right around the corner, it makes sense to look at ways you, the American worker, can make things a bit easier on yourself every day with reliable IT solutions. After all, if your IT is working like it should, you're less likely to have to deal with stressful hassles that force you to work unnecessarily long hours and that keep you from your family on any given day. That, my friends, is what the spirit of Labor Day is all about.
Trust the Right People
Why allocate your company's most valuable resource to something they're not even getting paid to do? If your company is siphoning valuable time from your employees to deal with IT issues, chances are you're not getting the most bang for your buck in the area of human resources.
Every minute your architects or engineers are troubleshooting IT problems is a minute they could have spent doing what they're actually being paid to do. Why waste valuable minutes...or hours...or even days of productivity on issues that could be more quickly and efficiently resolved by IT professionals at somewhere like THINQ?
Your business is not exactly the same as all the rest, so why would your IT needs be? It's important that you work with a company who recognizes this and that can tailor a managed services plan to match what your company is looking for. From basic to fully managed, your Atlanta IT solutions specialist has a package that's right for you. And with a 30-day free trial to give you a chance to test out whichever plan you pick, how can you go wrong?
Get it Done Fast
THINQ's plans feature a 15-minute response time. And that's not some extra-special premium service; from the basic plan for server rooms to the fully-managed, all-you-can-eat plan, you get a 15-minute response time. THINQ knows that when you have an IT issue, you want it dealt with promptly, so they're going to help you do just that.
Have you been in situations in which reliable IT solutions made a difference? Or would have made a difference if you'd had reliable IT? Share with us in the comments!
Image credit: Kevin Walsh
In his online Forbes article When to Hire Generalists vs. Specialists: Lessons from the Fab Five, George Bradt writes: "A generalist knows less and less about more and more until eventually he or she knows nothing about everything. A specialist knows more and more about less and less until eventually he or she knows everything about nothing."
He goes on to expound on the debate about whether it's better to have generalists or specialists as employees, based on the maturity level of your company. He makes a valid argument that the answer to the question is dependent upon how mature your company is, with start-ups needing more generalists and established companies needing a larger number of specialists.
But what about when you're hiring an outside company to take care of some aspect of your business? For instance, should you use IT support specialists, or would a generalist be fine? Different criteria are needed. How much of a specialist you need for your IT requirements is often directly proportional to how specialized your company is. This becomes apparent pretty easily when reframing the question in regard to specific industries:
Where would you rather take your Aston Martin to get it repaired? An auto body shop specializing in... well, things on four wheels, or a body shop focusing on high-performance (and thus high-dollar) vehicles?
Who would you rather perform your brain surgery? A general practitioner at an after-hours clinic or a neurosurgeon?
Who would you rather build the dream house you designed? A jack-of-all-trades carpenter or a carpenter specializing in custom home building?
Who would you rather be flying the large commercial airliner you're on? A pilot with tens of thousands of hours in all sorts of aircraft or one with tens of thousands of hours flying large commercial airliners?
By looking at these and other, "Um...DUH," moments, it's easy to see that when your needs are highly specific, you want someone who specializes in the highly specific. This is true for IT, as well: If your business specializes in construction, architecture, and engineering, shouldn't you use an IT company that specializes in servicing those in the construction, architecture, and engineering industries? (Like your Atlanta IT service pros at THINQ, for instance. Shameless plug achieved!) Fairly straightforward when you put it like that, isn't it?
Do you rely on IT support specialists for your business? Or are you content with jack-of-all-trades IT company? Tell us in the comments!
Image credit: One Way Stock
Welcome back to ITmatch.com! As always, we're here to help you find a match to your IT needs that will leave your heart -- and your wallet -- all aflutter.
Today, we'd like to talk a little bit about the different types of IT available and which one may be best for you. For our purposes today, when we say "type," we're talking about the "maintenance" level of the IT you're looking for: high-maintenance, low-maintenance...you get the idea. By necessity, we're going to be speaking in some generalities here, but please don't take offense. It's only for the purposes of illustration and -- we may as well be honest -- entertainment. After all, juust because we're talking about managed IT services pricing doesn't mean we can't have a little fun, now does it?
You know the type. This is the girl who is just as happy -- if not more so -- with a cheap bottle of grocery store Moscato and a Redbox rental than a fancy (read: expensive) evening out. This is the girl who doesn't need first-class amenities to enjoy first-class fun. This is the girl who's popular not in spite of her lack of pretension, but because of it. She's straightforward and no-nonsense: What you see is what you get.
When it comes to IT, there's a lot to be said for low-maintenance. Low-maintenance does not mean low-quality. Maybe your business is just starting out. Maybe you're small because, well, you're supposed to be small right now. Sometimes "small" is just another word for "efficient." At any rate, you've decided that you don't need all the bells and whistles; you just need the basics.
Good news: THINQ has a plan called "Basic." It's $100/server/month and $100/site/month, perfect for server rooms. Check our pricing page for all the details!
A high-maintenance woman is a woman who knows her worth. If you ask her why she's only satisfied with the best because, she'll probably say that it's because she deserves the best. This is a girl who's dressed to kill every time she steps out the door, and she has a back-up plan if anything gets in her way. Wine stain on her dress? Not a problem. She'll call her assistant to bring her another dress. Date flakes out right before a charity ball? No big deal; there's a line of suitors clamoring for some time with her. She has high standards and she's not afraid to assert herself.
THINQ's "high-maintenance" option would be its Fully-Managed plan. It's for businesses that know what they want and don't mind paying a little bit extra for it. For $200/server per month, $55/computer per month, and $100/site per month, you'll get:
- one fixed monthly fee
- unlimited server and desktop support
- unlimited help desk support for staff
- Unlimited onsite support
- reporting and business preview
- vendor management
- business continuity plans (Plan B, C)
- a 15-minute response time
Who says you have to be at one extreme or another? Consider the "Essentials" plan the Goldilocks of managed services pricing models: It's not too expensive, not too austere; it's not too extravagant, not too limited; not too big, not too small. It's juuuust right.
THINQ'S "Essentials" plan is $150/server per month, $45/computer per month, and $100/site per month. See here for more details about this plan that's perfect for most businesses.
IT plans, much like the fairer sex, can be intricate, complex creatures. THINQ understands that just because you have a certain set of IT needs now doesn't mean they won't change with time and circumstances. One of the most important qualities in business and relationships is the ability to adapt, and THINQ makes it possible to adapt to new circumstances very easily, whether you need IT support in Atlanta or elsewhere. You can add or remove systems instantly, and as your IT needs grow with your business, simply upgrade your plan.
Do you have any questions regarding THINQ's managed IT services pricing? Ask away in the comments!
Image credit: Maegan Tintari
Thank you so much for taking advantage of our Free Trial Week here at ITmatch.com! We only have these-- well, every few weeks-- so you're lucky you're jumping in at just the right time!
Here at ITmatch.com, we match architecture/construction/engineering businesses with IT companies by using 29 and 1/2 key areas of compatibility to find an electronically harmonious -- one might even call it an "e-harmonious" -- pairing that will last a lifetime.
"Why 29 and 1/2?" you ask? "Where does the extra one-half come from?" you query? "How is that possible? It doesn't even make sense!" you exclaim? Well, here at ITMatch.com, we don't worry ourselves with frivolous issues of "feasibility" and "numerical impossibility." We just get the job done! (It should also be noted that we're contractually prohibited from explicitly revealing what the exact areas of compatibility are. That is, unless you'd like to spring for a platinum membership!)
We're now going to share with you a bit of information that we've never shared before during our free trial weeks: no matter how we work the numbers, there's always only one answer to the question, "With which IT company is my business most compatible?" And that answer
is...THINQ! Here are just a few reasons why this Atlanta IT support team is the company architecture, construction, and engineering businesses should be making long-term commitments to.
1. You Know What It's Going to Cost You
Every relationship is an investment. Every relationship requires a certain amount of your time, your attention, and -- yes, you guessed it -- your money. (Think about it: Even the most frugal couples have to spend gas money to see each other.) But with some IT relationships, that investment could change at any moment. Just because a service costs "X" amount today doesn't mean it's going to cost the same amount the next month. Think about it: if you have a standing date with a significant other at a certain restaurant one night each month, how would you feel if it cost you $50 one month and then $115 the next? With THINQ, no matter which plan you choose -- Basic, Essentials, or Fully Managed -- you'll have one fixed monthly fee. This is one of those cases where predictability is not a bad thing.
2. They'll Toot Your Horn For You
Ever been in a relationship in which the other party isn't supportive around others? No need to worry about that with your IT company! THINQ will set up your corporate social networking sites, create RSS feeds, and more. By doing so, THINQ is helping you spread the word about how great YOU are and what you can do for them, which is exactly what your customers need to hear!
3. They'll Stand Up for You
It's nice to know your significant other has your back if you're in trouble, and your IT company should be no different. From providing after-hours support to your staff to helping you build a customized disaster recovery plan, THINQ is always looking out for you.
What are you looking for in an IT support team for your architecture/construction/engineering business? Tell us in the comments!
Image credit: David Amsler
In a field that's as tech-heavy as architecture, it's important to be able to have tools that simplify your work--even if "simplify" only means to make it easier to access while on the go.
There are mobile apps for practically every industry that claim to make your life easier and more productive. There's also a lot of fluff out there that's either pointless or that has a learning curve that renders it effectively useless. (Who wants to spend forever learning an app, only to have it replaced by something better by the time you get the hang of it?)
It's nice to know that there are some diamonds in the rough that are either highly functional or just ding-dang cool. And when an app manages to pull off both? Well…'nuff said.
With that in mind, architects, your Atlanta IT service pros are here to point you in the right direction of a few apps that we think manage to do just that.
This is a free app available for iOS and Android that brings viewing, editing, and sharing capabilities to your architectural drawings in a mobile setting. Pro and Pro Plus versions of the app are available for purchase and significantly improve your storage capacity and the functionality of the app. (You'll have to go with a paid version if you want to create new drawings, for instance.)
Tired of saying, "sort of a dark reddish with some wine-stainy purple" when describing a color you're looking for? This free app lets you snap a photo of a real-world color and match it to one of 1,500 Sherwin-Williams paint colors. You can create a custom palette from your color or get Sherwin-Williams to help you find colors to complement.
This is an iOS-only app ($3.99) that lets you view your models in 3D. You can zoom, pan, and rotate 'em silly, and it lets you load your Rhino models from web sites, Drive, Dropbox, email attachments, or iTunes. Save the views you create to share with others. This makes is much easier to brag about the design for that sweet new concept motorcycle you created in the middle of the night. Or the plans for that new insurance office you've been working on. You know. Whichever.
Have you used one of these? What are your favorite architecture apps? Tell us about them in the comments!
Image credit: Wonderlane