I've been playing video games since pretty much the dawn of video games, back in the 70s and early home-consoles of Pong and Breakout. I still occasionally play video-games...
Bit limited in functionality, but allows you to zoom to the extents of the model, rotate with left-mouse, scroll in and out with the mouse-wheel. There's a little 'Full Screen' arrow-pair in the top right corner too.
I've written about this before. The answer is no. It's bloody useful.
Also, and even though it rhymes with Tim: It's not BIM, notwithstanding the obvious capture of spatial relationships. The clue is in the 'I'.
Al wants to muck about with our bijou gardenette and create some little sunspotty bits of patio. Which I'm all for... but not on a random basis: If we're going to do a PROJECT then I want to know what the PROJECT is going to achieve and what the end result of the PROJECT is going to look like. Because I am that kind of guy, the anal type who has to plan and consider and work through the possibilities... whereas Al just wants to do STUFF, even if early STUFF scuppers later STUFF and costs oodles.
I'm sure we're not alone in this particular variant of domestic conflict.
Anyhow... I refuse to lay waste to perfectly healthy patches of green something without a bit of an exercise in visualisation. I have a bit of history with 3D-Design: I cut my coding-cloth building applications around PDMS (3D for pipes and flanges, Oooh-Err Missus) and have a more than passing interest in BIM, given my current role. But I haven't actually played with any 3D tools for a while, not since Google's early days of investing serious cash in SketchUp, which has always been a bit of a marginal oddity in the architecture/civils world... not really Revit, not Microstation, not really a PROPER MAN'S TOOL that can be used for PROPER WORK.
And I don't really know if it is now, either. Because Google flogged Sketchup to Trimble a year or so ago and you can no longer download - for free - an all-singing version. So I have no idea whether its historic Achilles' heels - production of decent 2D drawings fit for construction-purpose and proper management of objects and associated information - have really been addressed. But you can download a free version - Sketchup Make - which lets you do just about anything you might want, apart from hand plans to a builder and tell her to get on with it. So I did, figured it was about time I got up to speed with it again.
It's bloody good. It's hard to know how good, to be honest, because I'm familiar with many 3D design concepts which I guess some might struggle with at first encounter and I also know what a ball-ache 3D tools can be, albeit I've been somewhat out of touch with the nitty-gritty of the serious player's offerings for a few years. But this exercise in modelling my house - which is accurate to 10mm in most respects - was hours of effort, not days. And that includes having one 'throw it away now I'm vaguely up to speed' pass and a fair amount of time playing with better ways to achieve the same end.
Yes, I know. I'm meant to be planning the garden... but I got a bit enthusiastic. I can feel an urge to start modelling door-handles coming on, so I'll stop fiddling and get back to locating the sunbeds...
Music. Yep, have always done music. Plinked around on guitars since my teens, even had some piano lessons once. Always have music on - particularly if everyone else is out, so no-one can complain that my preference is for 'too depressing' or 'too loud'... Most of the time, played via the laptop on the kitchen table, which is permanently connected to a little Denon amp and some nice sounding Monitor Audio bookshelf speakers. Not the esoteric kit I emptied my bank account on when I was younger, but hey, children and Linn equipment don't mix
So, it's no surprise that, in my 47 years on this earth, I've amassed a fairly vast collection of music, physically represented by about 700 vinyl platters and jewel cases that were consigned to the cellar years ago. It took me a while to fully make the jump to electronic encapsulation, mostly because it didn't sound as good, back in the day when disk space drove people to convert to over-compressed mp3. Now it's rather less of an issue - streaming services automatically upgrade low bitrate .mp3 to 256 or 320kbps and my ancient ears will never hear the difference, certainly not on this kit, in this environment. Analyse it with the right software and you can see that dropping out the top-end frequencies is not uncommon, so it's not just about bitrate - but 47 year old ears can't hear stuff much above 18kHz anyway, 15kHz if they're lucky. Shame, but that's ageing for you. Frankly, I'm more worried about the hairs sprouting from my ears than the frequency range they're capable of detecting. But I digress...
I haven't bought a physical CD for yonks, relying on Amazon for most of my .mp3 downloads and dipping occasionally into the paid variant of Spotify, since it sprung into existence five years ago. In the interest of being surprised by something different and good in my listening, I've also dabbled on and off with Pandora (no longer available in the UK), Last.FM, Grooveshark and Apple's Genius playlists, dropping the latter pretty quickly since they forced me to allow the execrable iTunes to run amok with my music collection. And they're not very good, frankly.
A year or so ago, primarily because it was so well integrated with the Amazon Store, I chucked all my music into Amazon's Cloud Player, which gave me resilience and easy access from other devices for the girls. But it costs, albeit not very much - and, conscious that Google's Play Music services had become available in the UK recently, I thought I'd give them a try. So, this week my entire music collection has been trickling into the cloud in the background. As that process finally completed yesterday, I started playing with the front-end.
There's nothing immediately more appealing than other offerings - at least, there wasn't, until I accepted the invitation to try an 'Instant Mix' - a playlist compiled from my own music, based on some algorithmic cleverness. This is, conceptually, nothing new - it's much what Apple's Genius Playlists are about - but this is different. Because it really works.
I don't know what cleverness Google has going on here - and I doubt they're rushing to tell anyone anyway - but this is doing a lot more than just matching tags or others listening / shopping habits. There's clearly some analysis of the composition of the music with which you seed the Instant Mix - that's how it works - going on, because it produces a rolling list of varied tracks that just work so well together, it's uncanny. I must have heard 30-40 tracks today that I haven't played for decades, tracks that I love - and tracks that seem to capture the mood and feel of the track or album I created the Instant Mix from. It's joyous and wonderful.
Given the cleverness, you can't help but wonder whether some control of the basis for the mix might become available eventually - it could clearly lend itself to further tweaking. And Google have a paid extension to the service, a Spotify-like streaming offering, which I now have to explore. If it integrates my collection and new music across a single mix - which it clearly could - then I may never look elsewhere again.