Posted by: nedpelger | December 17, 2009

A Simply Great Idea

My birthday was Tuesday, so TBW and I spent a couple of days in NYC. Walking through Lincoln Center, we got an offer for free tickets to see the Dr Oz show taping. We’ve never done anything like that, so we were sitting in the theater within the hour watching Dr Oz teach about diseases men get (breast cancer and Lupus) that most people assume are only for women.

I loved watching all the technology. I’ve never seen more lights in a ceiling. They had steel W beams about 3′ on center and hooked as many lights as would fit onto the bottom flange. One of those big hunking cameras was right next to me, so I got to watch the cameraman closely. The precision adjustments on the camera reminded me of a metal lathe.

I also got to tour the construction site under World Trade Center site. A friend of my son’s (and new friend of mine) acts as project manager on a portion of the transit station. He gave an amazing tour of his project. We shared the love of construction, of figuring out the problems like a puzzle and getting that wonderful sense of pulling things together.

The Simply Great Idea came as I was speaking with this young PM about the phone app for converting units. He mentioned that he uses ConstructionKnowledge.net often. One of the things he most often needs to find is the density of various materials. I’ve memorized many of the common ones over the years (steel = 480 lbs/cf, concrete = 145 lbs/cf, wood = 35 lbs/cf, crushed stone = about 1oo lbs/cf, etc.). He wondered if I could include the densities of many common materials, so he’d have them in his phone for instant access.

I realized how useful that would be for me and for so many folks in construction. Then I decided to add some other basic info to the other tables. For example, in the energy section, I’ll include various fuels and their BTUs. In the power section, I’ll include the horsepower of various typical machines. I’ll also have a section where the user can input their own items that are often used.

This simple improvement to the Converting Units for Construction phone app will improve the utility substantially. I love it when an idea comes together.

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