Thursday, February 04, 2010

well mr. rno, there's bad news and good news!

Ah yes, the Linuxville Guide office was caught off guard today. I've been trying to install XP on my second machine. XP can run several graphics programs I want to use for interior design modeling that Linux doesn't have. I kept getting a master boot record error. I tried every tool I had MS and Linux, finally I gave up on XP and proceeded to re-install Linux. The hard drive died along with the fan on the furnace. The two are not related but it made the lost more intense. Oh well, the furnace comes first, I guess. That's the bad news.

The good news is I did discover a gem of a Linux in the process. The Linux I was installing was DreamLinux 3.5. Let me tell you something about Linux distributions, with every new revision usually comes new features and better operation and snappier looks. When I first saw DreamLinux it was cool but clunky compared to what's available now. It uses XFCE desktop just like Xubuntu and it is Debian (Lenny) but not Ubuntu based. Many of the necessary add-ons are included already and the installation methods are tweaked to perfection. DreamLinux will also allow you to re-master a version of itself of your design to a fresh CD or jump drive.

So, the plan is to replace the furnace motor, and get two hard drives for my second PC. One that XP and DreamLinux will share and one for my "home" partition. Did I tell you, DreamLinux asked me during installation if I wanted to designate one drive as my "home" folder, that alone is awesome. This is cool if your operating system or hard drive gets hosed, your personal data is still intact and accessible.

If you are a dreamer like me you have to be careful reality doesn't take you by surprise, you could turn into a DIY person over night. Once you get a project in your head, sleep is hard, eating and dressing is meaningless. Every meal is lunch and a jumpsuit, slippers and bathrobe is business attire. Work on the "project" becomes a seamless reality and when interrupted by practical chores "Mr. Grumpy" emerges. Mr. Grumpy can't discern between a temporary stoppage and a cease and desist order. Mr. Grumpy unless your defusing a bomb, relax.

The tizzy that got me is cargo container homes. As I am a victim of a faulty education system I'm not an architect or a engineer but being who I am, I know great design logic when I see it. Modular construction of Corten steel modules into anything from a bus shelter to a highrise apartment building is really incredible. I am not nuts, I saw videos of Bob Vila explaining the conversion.  What you want to know is what has that got to do with Linux. If you got an idea and you want to nail it down or model it in 3d, you have to have the software to do it. Linux does not have many efficient, easy to learn 3d software packages. Blender is more geared for animation graphics and learning it is a job in itself. You can model in Blender, you just have to be good with Blender. I was looking at architectural cad. Why? Because when a software is targeted for a particular process, the intended audience wants features and work flows that make their job easier. I found two, Octree and Cycas Cad. I think Cycas Cad is more what I want.

Please don't tell me to try MS stuff in Wine, most of the plentiful MS platform software for this type of 3d work is poorly written. They have poor quality graphics, are resource pigs, run way too slow as a virtual machine and are not free. Cycas Cad has a Public version which is free, a Student version and a Professional version, the cost are very reasonable.

But in the wild, AutoCad is the standard and this one and that one that all runs on MS. Most Linux engineering software is top shelf and pricey for an individual. The problem with open source and low cost applications in Linux is that people want to make money with them but don't want to develop them, time is money. If you want to have Linuxware in your budget bracket, you must help by using them. Via the user base is how things get done in Linuxville. GIMP would not be what it is if it didn't have a user base. The user base gives the developers feedback and adds useful stuff like tutorials, models, scripts, documentation, etc.
It is easier for folks to be fanatic about Blender, man if I could do Avatar movie like graphics! The professional architectural and engineering folks usually don't have time to play. Hey, we value our play time highly and digital entertainments overshadows more serious pursuits and for many is a lucrative market.

For any generation who threatens to change the world by viewing it differently, you have to contend with pre-existing conditions. In the built environment I always say what we call a house has to change. Not a problem if you live outside the city, the further out, the freer. In the city, it's block after block of the same box with a pitched roof. People who think differently move out, people who give in move in. Changing the physical world of our practical living takes guts, cash  and often a change in the building codes and zoning laws. Then how many architects are willing to take on a single city-home makeover?

It's all about tools, and digital tools you have access to. And it's about ideas that paid professionals don't get. Chew on this, one time we all lived in the one room shack, cabin, tent. We did everything in the one space or outside. Today we have designated rooms for eating, lounging and personal space. The family lives in a cluster of personal spaces with common spaces. We want to each fight for our personal space vs the common space. The common spaces are filled with family distracting entertainments and the personal spaces are self isolation chambers.
If a family were to buy a tenement building with shared kitchen and bath, it would be the same as any typical home. I guess it is the values we have that drive the physical changes in our environment. So what could you design in a home to enhance the family quality and preserve personal development. Now project these values to the house structure, yard, block, community, city, county, etc; etc.

We, especially in Ohio don't live so well with new design. We like our antiques and retro-styles and are subject to fashion and trend buying than good solid timeless design. Our lives are so hurried, we buy what meets the need at the time. I drive past so many homes where the garages are filled with stuff, we are a messy lot, aren't we? Design and Linux, still a work in progress, we'll just have to keep plugging away at it.

No comments: