Lac Leman and Chateau de Chillon

The nice thing about being in Geneva for almost a week was that we had time for a couple of side trips. We took the train to Lausanne, and from there a boat to the east end of the lake, where we stopped for a tour of Chateau de Chillon, a beautiful castle set right on the water, commanding the trade routes to and from Italy.

The ferries are beautiful paddle steamers, with the most amazing engines, exposed to the view of passengers in the heart of the boat. We were able to buy a single ticket that gave us access to all the trains and ferries, so it was easy to combine the two.

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Upscale co-working space in San Francisco

I had the chance to see the Canopy co-working space in the Financial District today – very smart and not a typical office interior. An extensive barista-served coffee bar is right by the entry, along with large open workspaces, and a mix of smaller private offices of varying sizes. Phone rooms, meeting rooms, a pink break room and an outdoor area with black turf complete the space. Yves Behar was involved in the design.

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A Trip to Rhode Island

I haven’t spent much time on the East Coast, and was therefore very grateful for the opportunity to visit Spectrum Lighting, just north of Rhode Island. In addition to learning about a modern lighting company, and how products are designed and built, I had the chance to walk and moped around the town, which is a mix of sailing and water-based activities, with beautiful early colonial houses, and gorgeous countryside. The combination of rolling hills, historical architecture, and the ever-present water made for some beautiful views.

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How anyone can benefit from religion

This is a great talk from Alain de Botton. It reflects an idea I’ve struggled with for many years: how to make use of and participate in the great religious ideas without subscribing to all the doctrinal mumbo-jumbo.

He insightfully shows the many virtues of religious practice, and suggests that rather than throwing out the baby with the bathwater, we should be learning from the best practices of religion: ritual, symbolism, organization, mutual support and more.

Gensler!

The environment is not great for finding a job, and I was pretty nervous after I graduated. But happily I found a home at Gensler in San Francisco. This is an amazing place, with a mix of architecture, urban planning, interiors, branding, strategy, graphics and more. An incredibly talented group of people, and an enlightened culture that embraces collaboration and social interaction as well as the more traditional forms of work.

I’m working on a large urban project in San Francisco, which has given me the chance to develop my Revit skills for master planning, and do a lot of the basic tasks in architecture: massing, site planning, diagramming, yield calculations, precedent studies, model making and more.

Prior to that I worked on a large project in Bangalore: concept design for a multi-use office park. Rhino, AutoCAD, and a lot of presentation development. Also working out issues around security, circulation, and site organization, and office building core and lobby design.

I’m very grateful to Gensler for the opportunity. It’s not easy, but the rate of learning is high, and the people are great.

The Art of Flows

The Art of Flows

It’s been a busy few months in the publishing business: I’ve co-written a technical book with the founder of Runtime Design Automation, Andrea Casotto. This book explains the key issues associated with managing complex sequences of programs, required for software and semiconductor development (among other disciplines).

Modern computational environments require hundreds or thousands of machines, many software licenses, and the ability to schedule jobs in the correct order across all the available resources. The goal is to complete the required tasks, and only the required tasks, in the most cost-effective manner possible.

This book illustrates and compares three approaches: scripting, makefiles, and Runtime Design Automation’s FlowTracer product.

You can buy the book here.

Marketing with Integrity

Having spent a long time in marketing and strategy, I’ve been often frustrated by the emphasis on “spin”—making things look better than they are. It’s a temporary way to make people feel better, but it doesn’t work as a sustainable strategy for marketing and sales.

This site on Squidoo is dedicated to thinking about this issue—it also links to other business-related resources:

http://www.squidoo.com/marketingwithintegrity

Squidoo is interesting: it’s like a huge forest of bulletin boards, in which anyone can create a topic and host a discussion.

A few new pictures

Volvo Ocean Race: PortsmouthWhen we were living in England, I followed the Volvo circumnavigation race – big powerful boats doing up to 500 miles in 24 hours under sail. They visited Portsmouth, and we went down to see them and take some pictures. This boat is the Brazilian entry, who came third in the Portsmouth race, but I was supporting ABN Amro One – a European entry, but skippered by New Zealander Mike Sanderson, the ultimate winner of the race. I have infinite respect for these sailors – this is extreme sport taken to the ultimate, with a months-long race in the hottest, coldest, toughest conditions anywhere.

Ducklings in the sunI’ve also put up a few pictures from the UK – Horseshoe Lake. This is one of the many gravel pits in England that have been flooded and are now used for sailing, fishing etc. We used to go to Horseshoe Lake to sail, but on this occasion I think we just pottered around and enjoyed the very tame birds that were hopping around on the bank.

De Young Museum, San FranciscoFinally some pictures from San Francisco: the De Young museum in Golden Gate Park, designed by the Swiss firm of architects Herzog and de Meuron. I learned about them from an exhibition at the New Tate museum in London, where there was an extensive display that described their process, including a lot of the work they did in designing the De Young museum.

Site abberation

The site was down briefly – sorry! What happened was that my domain was set to renew automatically, but it didn’t. Instead of getting a message from the registration company, they just unlinked the site. Thanks, Beachcomber. Not. Anyway, it’s back up now, following a simple PayPal transaction.