Saturday, March 12, 2011

What am I doing on twitter? ...

What am I doing on twitter? Natural Disasters, Agriculture, Education and
Humanitarian engineering.

May have to reduce daily internet access. Reading newpaper articles,
watching videos, slide shows and the likes pointed to on Twitter, is
consuming my data allowance too quickly. Which may be the cause of the
delays that I am experiencing: such as delay when emailing to my blog.

Also whilst I am on twitter I am not programming or building Excel
workbooks, or otherwise programming. Not that I need to be programming
anything. I just like turning hours of work into minutes, for no other
reason than I can. I also like demonstrating that AutoCAD LT can be
programmed via script files, and that a great deal can be achieved using
such scripts: thus no real need for the full version of AutoCAD unless want
to program applications that require interaction with AutoCAD. If primary
interest is automation of work, then script files (*.scr) is all that is
really required. The application that generates the script file can do all
the interaction with a person, then fully automate AutoCAD drawing
generation. May take hours to program, but in long run can also save hours
where there is a high level of repetition.

The other issue is haven't really got into structural design on twitter. Got
side tracked with monitoring recent disasters, agriculture, and education.
Which is all kind of on track. Recent disasters highlight the problems with
dealing with natural hazards, and the risks and uncertainties involved with
selecting suitable design loads. Agriculture needs buildings of various
kinds, along with machines. An important aspect of agriculture being water
supply and irrigation. Water storage involves such structures as tanks and
pipelines. Uncertainty of water supply along with potential flooding is yet
another design issue involving risk in the design process. Risk,
uncertainty, variability and consequential hazards are all things that
people need to be educated about. Their education affects their thought
processes and in turn their unrealistic expectations. But the expectations
of the public are not helped by engineers who claim they can design
earthquake resistant buildings, hurricane resistant buildings, and flood
proof buildings. such is nonsense. We can only design for a low probability
of the design loads being exceeded, the lower the probability, the more
expensive the building, and the more materials typically required, meaning
availability of such buildings is to fewer and fewer people. It is thus a
complicated balance. Further more what ever design load is adopted it always
has the potential to be exceeded. If design for an earthquake magnitude with
a 500 year mean return period, it could still occur tomorrow. For that
matter an earthquake with magnitude having a 1000 year mean return period
could occur tomorrow.

At the end of the day we cannot avoid the possibility of structures being
destroyed by natural hazards. Therefore the buildings need to be designed so
that the mode of failure, or mode of collapse occurs in an acceptable
manner. Such is more of a qualitative design issue than a quantitative
design issue. It requires thinking about the potential hazards, rather than
sticking numbers in formulae and making structure more resistant. There is
thus a need to educate and train engineers and other designers differently.

Computers can crunch the numbers, and engineers never were the people who
crunched numbers, that is a relatively modern approach. In the past
engineers sought the assistance of mathematicians and scientists or
experimentalists and other researchers. Training generation after generation
of people who can crunch numbers manually doesn't produce creative and
igenious people. Training people who push numbers through computer programs
also doesn't produce igenious people. For design the numerical computations
are less important than the relationship between the various physical
characteristics of a system.

[this was just going to be short test checking delay in post]