Sunday, October 02, 2016

Hypothetical for Microsoft and other Software Companies

Since my Windows XP computer died, I have been finding using a computer more and more irritating, everything seems to be going backwards. The same goes for digital TV: analogue TV was getting close to perfection, so it seems someone decided to break it by cutting the analogue signal and forcing everyone over to unstable and less robust digital TV broadcasts. I say less robust because when an analogue signal is poor, still likely to get a snowy picture and gain some information. When a digital signal is poor, then get pixelated garbage. Digital TV was imposed by government without any democratic vote on the matter. It however is an infrastructure issue. Computer hardware and the software that runs on it, however is not an infrastructure issue. There is no good reason to remove one technology from the market and replace it with an alternative.

As I have mentioned previously the different versions of MS Windows are not upgrades, they are different products. If the software that I had running on Windows XP will not run on Windows 7 or Windows 10, then it clearly is not an upgrade. If the user interface changes and operation changes then its different not an upgrade. A power driver is not an upgrade of a ordinary screwdriver, it represents a single optimised function and single capability of an ordinary screwdriver. A power driver is less useful than an ordinary screwdriver. Likewise as another example a nail gun is not an upgrade of a hammer, it also is less useful than an ordinary hammer.

So my problem. My hardware fails, and my software is locked by OEM licensing to the failed device and I cannot get new hardware with required operating system. More importantly two of main software packages won't install or run under Windows 7 or Windows 10. I went with the upgrade to Windows 10, as I didn't like Windows 7 and my software didn't work anyway.

Proposal 1

If buy hardware from same manufacturer, then OEM license permitted to transfer to new hardware.

Proposal 2

Microsoft releases a new operating system, which contains pre-installed virtual boxes for all its previous operating systems.

Proposal 3

Microsoft releases Windows XP and Office 2003 under a GPL or similar license.

As far as I'm concerned this software worked perfectly fine out off the box. If a computer virus is something which interferes with and hinders being able to use a computer as intended: then Microsoft automatic updates are a computer virus. A computer does not need to be connected to the internet. Computer software does not need to be updated on a regular basis. Most people are not computer geeks or technology geeks, they are not waiting for the latest release, and they don't care about some tweak discovered by some geek. In the main they just want to get on with what they were doing or are doing. To have computer resources suddenly tied up by updates is not acceptable. To be unable to carry out a simple lookup on the internet because updates are being downloaded and consuming data allowance is not acceptable.

I understand, need to protect copyright, and need to keep selling something to make a living.

But here's the thing. Windows XP is massive operating system, compared to CPM/80 on a 360 kbyte floppy disk, or MS DOS on a 720 kbyte floppy disk. When I started using computers I would have liked a Unix based machine, but it required a massive 20 Mbytes for a full install: that was the size of the average harddisk on a PC, so no where for data. Now people are trying to get Linux installations down to 100 Mbytes: such as damn small linux or puppy linux. These still have graphical user interfaces: so what is all the stuff in Windows XP? Unix was once desirable because it was the main operating system for scientific and engineering software. Now most such software is written for MS Windows, that which is available for Linux is incomplete or typically cumbersome to use.

Windows XP doesn't even have to be released as open source. The source can be protected. The main requirement is that can modify the system and can distribute the modifications: and do not require the source code to do that.

The first variation that is likely to arise is reducing the system size, and making it modular. Delete everything that is unnecessary on a stand alone PC which is not networked and does not have internet connection. Rip the system back to launching a simple command prompt, and having no more capability than a old MS DOS bootable disk. Then have separate installers for adding extra capabilities. My current Windows 10 folder is about 34.8Gbytes . Now I don't know how much of that is unneeded remnants from Windows 7, or how much is due to low quality software dumping files in the Windows folder because the software developers haven't figured out the fundamentals of their software finding itself. It does however seem excessively large.

A personal computer should be simple enough that a user can explain the presence of every file and folder on that computer. If they do not know what it is, then they should be able to delete it. If not then the file doesn't belong their. The operating system may belong to Microsoft, however the computer belongs to the user. A company has no right to be modifying the contents of a personal computer, and certainly no right to be recording history in typically hidden folders. The history typically has no value to the user: it is not like they can retrieve the data and then invert every command issued to undo something that went wrong. I probably open about 100 or more files every day: the recent file list is of no use to me. Now whilst its display can be switched off, it doesn't stop the system recording and wasting hard disk space. How many people have bought new computers because they are unaware of how much junk the system and other software produces in the background?

As I recollect Windows XP was around 1 to 2 Gbytes, and I didn't and don't need all its capabilities. So what is all the stuff required by Windows 10? Its graphics have been deteriorated, so that not as clear where one element starts and another ends. Office 2016 seems unstable, with displays becoming split or distorted. Plus Office 2016 doesn't seem to like file association, it typically generates an error when attempting to open a file the first time. Loss of multiple document interface (MDI), single container for Excel is also a backwards step. It is more inconsistent now than when had MDI. With MDI can organise files inside Excel without messing desktop organisation of other applications. Whilst it may be possible to organise the Excel files separately than other applications, its necessary to remember that some of those Windows on the desktop belong to one application, and only want to arrange them, so don't arrange the desktop, arrange from within Excel. Even so there is still loss of control over the size of workbook Windows. Multiple workbook and multiple Window Excel applications become inconvenient. I'm not convinced that the UI/UX professionals really have any understanding of human behaviour.

Whilst LibreOffice is useful, its spreadsheet application is no where as convenient to use and automate as MS Excel 1997. However the primary requirement for a computer user is that files created yesterday can be read and edited tomorrow. Having standards for data exchange is important. Such standards should be flexible enough that content can be added or deleted without causing the readers and writers to crash.

The difference between AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT is that the LT version cannot create or edit certains features of a drawing: however it is able to either display those features or identify that they exist but cannot be displayed. The file can also be edited without loss of those features.The difference between AutoCAD and IntelliCAD is that AutoCAD commands typically execute faster and screen displays update correctly, thus providing proper feedback to  the user. So IntelliCAD maybe able to open the drawing files, and it maybe lower priced, but its operation is less user friendly. However, interacting with software tends to be wasteful compared to automating that software: and if objective is to remove or minimise human interaction, then the automation capabilities of IntelliCAD make it a suitable substitute for AutoCAD. However parametric CAD is still less time consuming and more flexible than automation and parameterizing via a general programming language.

Now whilst Microsoft and Autodesk both acquired a dominant position in their respective markets, they cannot maintain that dominance with their current product offerings. The population at large does not need nor want the current product offerings. It was important that Ford only offered black cars, so as to make cars affordable to the public at large. But now that the basic need has been essentially saturated in the industrialise west, cars need to be produced in smaller batch sizes to meet niche markets. Likewise mobile phones cannot be sustained on an assumption of a consumer market with regular updates of new models. Most of the capabilities of mobile phones are gimmicks: junk with no real long term value to the end users. However having put capability there, it is not acceptable to abandon such feature in future releases and leave some people stranded.

Whilst there may occasionally be issues associated with infrastructure and connectivity, the primary issue is loss of capability when modern technology is used in its stand alone isolated mode. A pocket calculator is still faster and more reliable than a mobile phone or desktop computer. However a computer has the potential to replace the 1000 or more books I own, and take up considerable less space. More over a computer can do this without need to be connected to the internet. The internet of things at this point in time is more gimmick than anything useful. Most likely fueled by TV shows and movies which show unrealistic capabilities of computers. Computers cannot break the laws of physics. Control requires more than simply connecting sensors, it requires electric motors attached to the equipment, and motors require a power supply. Rather than electronic sensors reducing maintenance costs of remote equipment, it is likely to increase the costs: as the robust mechanical equipment which only occasionally needed maintenance is now appended with fragile electronic junk. The internet and the web does not equate to technology.

[Case in point. Around 15:30 blogger has problems automatically saving work, but manual saving works for a time. Then saving hangs. I can copy the post to clipboard. But Notepad won't open, so cannot save. Task manager also doesn't open: not sure about the point of a task manager that is resource intensive and frequently fails to open. Switch power off, and reboot. Check power off settings: can shutdown and install updates or restart and install updates. Either way no choice about accepting updates. So basically can attribute the source of the hanging being updates hijacking web resources and other computing resources. So decide to restart with the updates: 17:42 computer reboots, I think its the final reboot, but no: its still only 75% way through. 18:11 get to log back on and it says "Hi". Are you kidding me! You effectively hijack my computer, to make changes I didn't ask for, and waste my time and consider you can be jovial about it. 18:20 can actually do something with the computer: with my computer.]

So if Windows XP and Office 2003 are considered too old to support then release them to the community to support. I'm reasonably certain that they will rip it back to the absolute minimum install. As for the internet it has very little to do with computing, so develop it without messing up the systems used for computing.



Related Posts

Revisions:
[02/10/2016] : Original

Saturday, August 13, 2016

How much land can one person patrol?

Assuming the earths land area was divided up into cells, each of which is the responsibility of one person to monitor, how large an area could each person monitor, and how many people would be needed?

Given that average walking speed is 5 km/h, and suggested limit is 25 km/day, which equates to 5 hours of activity. The suggestion on hand books on human fatigue, and shift work also suggest working for no more than 5 hours between rest periods with a minimum duration of 10 minutes. Also the approximate distance can see is 5 km to the horizon.

So assuming a circular region of 5 km radius, then a person located at the centre can see to the boundary, whilst when at the boundary they can see back to the centre. All assuming have relatively flat land and no obstructions in the line of sight. The perimeter of the circle is 31.4 km, if patrol comprises of walking from centre along radius to the perimeter, around the perimeter and then back along a radius to the centre. Then the two radial legs total 10 km, leaving 15 km for the arc of the perimeter. It would therefore take 2 days to patrol, unless increase daily travel to 41.4 km. Accepting two days for the patrol, then would need 1,896,363 people to monitor the whole planet.

If do not accept the two days, and do not accept increase in total distance travelled, then need to reduce the size of the region: assuming no technological advantage. If do so then the radius decreases to 3.018 km., or diameter of 6.036 km. Which doesn't fit with my preferences for simple multiples of 5 or 10. So rather than only being able to see the centre from the boundary, have so that can see the opposite boundary, and further can see the centre of the adjacent cell from the centre. That puts the diameter of the cell at 5 km, and its circumference at 15.7 km, and the total trip at 20.7 km, requiring a population of 7,585,452.

Of course rugged terrain and obstructions would create a maze which would have to be travelled, and that would further reduce the size of the cell. Whilst the size of the cell can be increased by the use of look out towers, telescopes/binoculars, and the use of a mechanised vehicle. However whilst a vehicle can travel faster, such increase in speed would not be much use except for large open regions. Assuming car travelling at 50 km/h and still limit activity to 5 hours, then maximum travel per day is 250 km. Then the diameter of the cell is increased to 60.4 km, however do not have a view of the perimeter from the centre nor a view of the adjacent cell. Assuming that is acceptable then total population required reduces to 52,045.

It would therefore appear that the planet is occupied by enough humans that they can locate observers across the whole land area, and monitor the environment. For that matter most countries have large enough populations that they can place their own observers across the planet.

It also suggests that a town should be less than 5 km diameter. Messes up my previous concept of an industrial city-state 100 km diameter, divided into towns 10 km diameter, each divided into villages 1 km diameter, into estates 100 m diameter, into personal dwellings 10 m diameter. The city-state having a maximum imposed population of 10 million, and maximum of 2/3rd land taken up by the infrastructure or otherwise no less than 1/3rd for residences. Also assuming a maximum sustainable world population of 10 billion, then 1000 industrial city-states would be needed, taking up approximately 5% of the land area.

At some point in the future all mining operations should be shutdown and all materials held in the city-states. The only activity outside the city-states being agriculture, tourism and environmental monitoring. Most agriculture however would be intensive agriculture within the boundaries of the city-states.

Also given long range aircraft can travel distances of 10,000 km, and typical commercial aircraft can travel 5,000 km, Then aircraft can get from coastline to coastline of most land masses, and from coastline to the central interior. Coastline to coastline is also possible by sea going ship, whilst slower, a sailing ship doesn't require fuel to be transported to the destination at some previous time. Ships are also typically used for transporting fuel not aircraft, the use of aircraft for fuel transportation seems limited. Therefore getting fuel to the interiors requires land transport or pipelines. Ultimately pipelines are wasteful if have small quantities, as the pipe has to be filled with unused fuel. It seems a diesel electric train can travel 1000 km. Therefore the starting point to occupy and hold the land would be a network of railway stations and outposts at 1000 km centres, pushing fuel to airports at 5000 km centres. To this network would then be car fuel stations and general stores at 500 km  centres, and then added to this would be human rest and refreshment stations a 5 km centres. Civilisation is where the inn's, hotels and motels are no more than 5 km apart. When the next nearest inn is more than 5 km away, then reached the edge of civilisation, the edge of the occupied zone. {Assuming can walk 25 km each day, then can push this distance to 25 km on condition that there is at least some space where a person can rest, and they carry their own refreshments.}

Using modern GIS, it shouldn't be too difficult to over lay a grid of circular or hexagonal cells on the land areas. To individually triangulate the networks of motels, fuel stations, railway stations, shipping ports, airports, mining towns and farming regions. To then identify the edge of civilisation and the great unexplored wilderness. Once have the triangulation to also compare with the actual roads and railways. Then to create pathways forming a travel plan visiting at least one hotel in each 5 km to 25 km diameter cell, and travelling around the world doing so. The trip should follow the coastline and crisscross through the interior. If all nodes cannot be visited in one year, then have a 5 year up to 10 year plan to visit all nodes. However long the plan is, the world is traversed each and every year: the nodes visited each year just change until all nodes have been visited, then the cycle repeats.


Related Posts

Revisions:
[13/08/2016] : Original

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Solutioneering

For those who missed the memo [New Scientist magazine] during the 1980's, solutioneering is not a good thing it is a bad thing.

Solutioneering is not problem solving, it is not design. Solutioneering is having a solution and applying it to every problem which encounter, or applying it where there is no problem at all.

I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail. [Abraham H. Maslow (1962), Toward a Psychology of Being]

Most engineers are not problem solvers, despite what they as a community may promote. They are solutioneers, they don't solve the real problem they apply the technological solutions they have in their toolbox.

For example if have a river to cross. The civil engineer is most likely to put a tunnel under the river. The structural engineer a bridge over the river. The mechanical engineer a cable car. The naval architect set up a ferry boat. The aeronautical engineer provide a ferry service using an helicopter. Whilst an aeromarine engineer a ferry service using hovercraft.

Whilst all of these technologies get from one side of the river to the other, they do not tackle the actual problem which gives rise to the need or most likely desire to get from one side of the river to the other. To solve the real problem all of these technologies along with new technologies need to be assessed for suitability. When assessing the suitability both the advantages and disadvantages along with negative side effects need to be considered.

Situations identified as solutioneering include mandatory seat belts, mandatory bicycle helmets, mandatory smoke alarms, mandatory residual current devices (RSD's). The technologies themselves are not solutioneering, its the way the technology is applied and/or imposed that is solutioneering. These technologies were made mandatory in Australia largely because the need is relatively low: the vast majority of the population, the vast majority of the time, will never experience a situation which would make these technologies useful. Those few people who want such technology would not have been able to afford to buy such technology, therefore to increase the market and lower the price,  the technology was imposed on everyone. In these situations fear was and is used to convince  people that they need the technology and further that they would be irresponsible if they don't use.

Bicycle helmets for example do not protect cyclists from breaking their collar bones: shoulders will typically hit the ground before a persons head. Bicycle helmets don't protect cyclists from being crushed by a car. Kids experience head injuries when they fall off bikes or in general play. Bicycle helmets were made mandatory on basis adults should set example for kids and to increase the market. The market increase is largely nonsense as helmets have to be the correct size and growing kids will need to change their helmets. Helmets however are not necessarily safe, check the product safety site, the helmets are now being worn for general protection from head injuries but the helmets are the hazard, now resulting in deaths. Having a kid wear a helmet, is not going to protect the kid from falling off the edge of the elevated decking; a decking which is less than 1 m high and therefore doesn't need a guardrail. Another example is a swimming pool fence merely compliant with the swimming pool fence code will place an obstruction to free movement of people which will be a hazard since it does not comply with the loading requirements fro barriers. The swimming pool fence code only provides strength requirements to keep kids from tampering with the fence so as to get pass the fence. It doesn't provide adequate loading for adults at a backyard party from leaning against the fence and pushing it over: and certainly not suitable for fences at a marine park with an audience.

A more current situation is the internet of things. Whilst connecting something to the internet is possible, it doesn't mean it should be done. Doing something because you can doesn't mean you should. To start with main frame computers posed a whole host of problems, many of which were resolved by microcomputers and personal computers: putting everything into the cloud brings many of those problems back.

Now most of the time people don't want to waste time finding solutions to problems, their general preference is to go into a supermarket and find a suitable solution sitting there on the shelf. The solution sat on the shelf may not solve all their problems, or fully resolve a problem, but it will provide just enough capability to be useful for the time being. As I have mentioned in other posts, once a product is released to the market it will be used for purposes beyond the intents of the designer. A product is merely raw material and it is the responsibility of the end-user to determine its suitability for their purposes: it should not be the responsibility of the designer to consider every possible use and misuse.

Supplying solutions is not the issue. Every manufacturer and retailer supplies off-the-shelf solutions. The problem of solutioneering is applying the available solutions in an improper manner to inappropriate problems.

So promoting your business on the basis of providing solutions not product, informs me that you don't know your knee from your elbow. That you do not know how to solve problems as you have merely implemented some new age marketing hype.


Related Posts

Revisions:
[10/7/2016] : Original

Monday, April 18, 2016

Moving Some Content Over To MiScion Pty Ltd

Moving all technical articles, especially those on structural design and/or structural engineering, over to family business web site at MiScion Pty Ltd. Posts with downloads will mostly be moved into the web store, or link into the web store. The downloads will be classified as sponsored products, and will be available gratis some of the time and for a fee at other times. The fee is to cover the costs of resources required to develop and distribute the software.

Some of the posts will be deleted, for others the post will remain but the article content itself will be replaced by a link to MiScion.

Some of my other blogs will also be deleted, with all the content placed over on MiScion website. The software blog: spreadsheets and databases will mostly remain, as the ExcelCalcs widget isn’t compatible with wordpress. However all of these posts will redirect to the MiScion web store. So if  people don’t want to join ExcelCalc’s, and don’t have any spreadsheets to contribute to ExcelCalc’s and don’t want a paid ExcelCalc’s subscription, or have otherwise exceeded the ExcelCalc’s down load limits, then my spreadsheets can be downloaded direct from the MiScion webstore.


Related Posts

Revisions:
[18/04/2016] : Original

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rough Sizes of Land around Adelaide

This is something I did a few years back. Simply looked around Development Plans and at the minimum block sizes permitted for housing, as well as looked through the UBD street directory and scaled off the sizes of various blocks of land. Doing so provides a rough guide to the maximum span and length of building around the metropolitan area: agricultural buildings may span further because they have larger blocks of land. Another issue is storm water drainage requirements and the maximum likely distance from one end of the site to the street storm water mains.

Table of Land Property Sizes Around Adelaide dimensions in metres.
Description Length Width Area
Residential 25 14 350
Residential (Traditional Town) 25 20 500
Residential 32 12.5 400
Residential (Court Yard) 32 14 448
Residential (Traditional ) 1 32 20 640
Residential (Traditional ) 2 40 20 800
Dump 50 50 2500
Lincoln College 60 60 3600
TAFE 80 70 5600
Parliament House 90 80 7200
Power Station (Torrens Island) 100 100 10000
Museum 110 60 6600
Art Gallery 120 40 4800
Bicentennial Conservatory 120 60 7200
State Library 120 70 8400
Museum 120 90 10800
Central Market 130 50 6500
St Aloysius College 130 100 13000
St Andrews Hospital 130 120 15600
Memorial Hospital 140 70 9800
Council Dump 140 80 11200
Calvary Hospital 140 130 18200
Festival Theatre 160 110 17600
Childrens Hospital 180 140 25200
Caravan Park 180 180 32400
Adelaide High School 200 110 22000
Oval 200 130 26000
Outer Harbour 200 0
Brickworks Market 260 200 52000
Adelaide Hospital 270 210 56700
National Motor Museum 280 200 56000
Modbury Hospital 300 200 60000
Adelaide Entertainment Centre 300 200 60000
Christies Beach High School 300 240 72000
Adelaide Oval Grounds 300 240 72000
Aerodrome Light Aircraft (Aldinga) 300 300 90000
Willaston Cemetry 300 300 90000
Parks Community Centre 340 340 115600
STA Workshops (Regency) 360 300 108000
Hindmarsh Island (Caravan Park) 360 300 108000
Rubbish Tip (Wingfield) (1 side) 360 300 108000
Birdwood Park (Tennis & Netball) 400 280 112000
Grey Hound Racing Club 400 340 136000
Mile End 420 360 151200
Fort Largs 440 340 149600
Ingle Farm Shopping Centre 440 360 158400
Heights High School 460 140 64400
Drive-In Theatre 460 340 156400
TAFE (Regency) 500 380 190000
Golden Grove Village 500 500 250000
Port Adelaide 500 0
Hampstead centre 520 360 187200
Speedway Park 520 520 270400
Lewiston Golf Course 530 530 280900
Adelaide University 540 500 270000
Ritirement Village 560 300 168000
Australian Submarine Corp 580 420 243600
West Lakes Mall 600 300 180000
EWS Noarlunga 600 580 348000
Cavan 600 0
Enfield Cemetry 680 480 326400
Mitsubishi Motors 700 440 308000
Marion Shopping Town 720 440 316800
Institute of Medical & Vetinary Science 740 300 222000
Golden Grove High School Facility 900 600 540000
Globe Derby Park 900 600 540000
Rifle Range 1000 400 400000
Victoria Park Racecourse 1000 420 420000
Royal Adelaide Golf Course 1000 800 800000
McCracken Country Club 1000 1000 1000000
Bolivar 1030 900 927000
Adelaide International Raceway 1100 520 572000
Hillcrest Hospital 1100 800 880000
Uni-SA (Levels) 1120 620 694400
West Terrace Cemetry 1200 1100 1320000
State Sports Park 1300 1260 1638000
Hope Valley Reservoir 1400 1400 1960000
Munitions Store 1500 1440 2160000
GMH (Elizabeth) 1540 1040 1601600
Waite Agricultural Research Institute 1600 800 1280000
Willunga 1700 1200 2040000
Port Stanvac Oil Refinery 1800 1700 3060000
Flinders University 1840 780 1435200
Labour Prison & Farm 2000 1100 2200000
Bolivar 3000 1720 5160000
Adelaide City North 3500 1800 6300000
Happy Valley Reservoir 3500 2040 7140000
Adelaide Airport 3500 2400 8400000
DSTO + Edinburgh Airbase 5000 5000 25000000
Adelaide CBD 5500 3180 17490000



Related Posts

Revisions:
[13/01/2016] : Original

Monday, January 11, 2016

Future Cities: from Multi-Storey Buildings, to ships at sea

Whilst I may typically hold the view that multi-storey buildings are little more than:

"Concrete beehives filled with human drones, who are wired to the Matrix and assimilated to the Borg", 
I'm not entirely against such buildings.  However, my preference is for keeping humans mobile, and maximising the ability to adapt by use of small transportable dwellings.

Fundamentally as the Sun burns itself out, it burns hotter, so eventually our atmosphere will be boiled away and so will the oceans: and most life will be fried or boiled into non-existence. The biosphere building projects won't just be needed for researching the potential to support human life on another planet: the Earth itself will be that other planet, for the Earth of the future will not be the planet we know now {admittedly a few billion years from now}.

The building of the Building Research Establishment (UK) shows that we can make buildings large enough to contain other buildings: so geodesic domes over entire cities is not necessary.  Whilst Canada with tunnels and footbridges connecting its buildings so that can walk between them during the cold and snow of winter, also shows that we do not need to encase the city in a geodesic dome. Large geodesic domes typically being the traditional futuristic view: they may still be needed, agriculture will need to move inside: it will not be an option. The point is that there are more practical ways of enclosing space than construction of giant domes, and things that we can do now: compared to some futuristic construction of an Ark for the limited few. As for compatibility with being mobile: the vehicles of the future won't be the same as the vehicles of today: more ship, aircraft, spaceship than car.

Anycase, I expect in a city of multi-storey buildings, that the buildings are connected both internally and externally by bridges and footpaths. I expect minimum use of elevators and stairways. That the city is something of an artificial hillside and all buildings are structurally connected. That all residential dwellings have direct connection to an outside footpath: no climbing steps and no using elevators to get to ground floor. Outside will be accessible at all levels. No dwelling will be buried in the interior and dependent on artificial lighting. All dwellings will have natural lighting, natural ventilation, and access to outside footpath. A footpath that goes somewhere, not just a balcony.

The residential building should be relatively self-sufficient, and operate similar to a fully serviced hotel. There should be school, library, hospital, restaurant, offices and retail stores, with adequate car parking for residents and visitors, all contained in the one multi-storey building. Kids can walk to school, though in terms of existing buildings they can take the elevator.  {NB: a lot of city kids already don't know what cows and sheep look like, and have no idea of where their food comes from, so trapped in a single building isn't any greater deficit than they already experience. City folk are raised in an artificial environment and typically conditioned to function in and be dependent on such artificial environment.}

Such residential building can be something of a secured fortress, controlling who is and is not permitted into the building. Though such fortress may be more of a bad thing than a good thing. However combine the idea of residential hotel, with cruise ships, aircraft carriers, hospital ships and the factory fishing ships, and get the idea that all can be self-contained and kept mobile: as long as we have oceans any way. If people are content to live in the boxes of multi-storey buildings, and be locked to the dependency of the artificial environment of a city, then life on a residential hotel ship shouldn't be too objectionable. After all if the rich and famous spend their time touring the world or out and about on luxury yachts: then why not live on a ship full time. Ships are multi-storey structures.

Consider the problem of population growth in a city. The land has already been used up, but need more dwellings. It is therefore necessary to always have some buildings in reserve. For example in some location a 10 storey building is knocked down, and a 20 storey building is put in its place. People in a 10 storey building else where are relocated to the new 20 storey building, and the process repeated with their 10 storey building. To push the buildings higher to support larger and larger populations the footprints of the buildings need to also get larger: that therefore means the buildings need, at the very minimum, to become connected. Planning Regulations need  to control circulation space, and minimum width of corridors: and should be greater than currently set for inside buildings. Buildings are no longer simply enclosed spaces providing a protected environment isolated from the extremes of environment outside: buildings are becoming the artificial environment on which we are dependent. {Consider that there is a bacteria that lives in our guts, which apparently once lived in pools of acid on the surface of the earth. The environment we currently live in is not the original environment of the Earth: it is a polluted environment, polluted by that which we require to exist. We, humans, could be considered to be little more than the protective containment unit for that bacteria. Ultimately we also will require similar containment unit, if we rely on our cities we will become plants, if we make use of our vehicles we will retain the advantages of being animals.}

This dependency on the artificial environment of our buildings extends to an ever increasing demand for shade structures and covered walkways. Where kids once ran around in school playground and public playgrounds there are increasing demands to provide shade structures to protect from the sun and the possibility of skin cancer: as if everyone of prior generations died of skin cancer. {The Sun is not yet any where near as hot as it can burn.}

Buildings and other structures form the built environment, which forms an artificial environment which is meant to best suit our needs. My contention is that there should be more connectivity between the buildings which form the hub of a city. That this hub should then support a mobile population. The mobile population will either be in ocean going vessels, aircraft or land vehicles. That there should be many such hubs, networked across each continent, that these hubs should be no more than 400km apart in developed regions and no more than 10,000km across undeveloped regions. That the primary requirement for developing the continents is to get a network of such central hubs spanning each continent north and south, and east and west, and circumnavigating the coastlines.

As I see it, the problems of the world are not concerned with whether or not we have the resources to support the current world population but whether or not we have the political will, and the logistics to distribute the resources appropriately. Clearly population is not just shifting from rural communities into the big cities, making them bigger, population is crossing national boundaries to reach the preferred cities. Our world is not so much a world of nations but a world of controlling city-states, and outside the cities are the fringes and outland's. Unfortunately the mining and farming occur in the outland's and we are in danger of loosing people interested in mining and farming. People seem to be seeking office work and the lifestyle, especially the night life of the big cities: but all paper shuffling and entertainment is not good for our survival: someone has to produce the food.

Market gardens and greenhouses that were once close to the city centre have largely disappeared to remote places, and the land has been covered in housing. Good farming soil is buried under houses: not exactly a sensible way to go. However around the world there is this movement to bring small scale farming and industrial farming into the city. From backyard aquaculture to roof tops gardens, to entire multi-storey buildings operating as farm based on hydroponics and aquaculture.

Whilst my earliest ideas concerned fully integrated industrial city-states, where the pollutants  of one industry are piped directly as inputs to another, and the cities are 100km in diameter and set out on a 100km grid connected by high speed rail. My current ideas favour mobility, ships and floating cities. Ocean going vessels already have reasonably integrated systems, and are relatively self-sufficient. Rather than build massive vertical structures anchored to the earth and a whole heap of nonsense about them being hurricane and earthquake proof, I believe better to build massive horizontal floating structures.

One benefit of a floating structure, is that a new structure can be built whilst the existing is in use: no need to clear land and live else where whilst new building constructed.



Related Posts

Revisions:
[11/01/2016] : Original

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Housing and Living Space

My basic premise is that multi-storey buildings are not necessary, more over that humans have legs and are meant to be mobile. Further more that multi-storey buildings are not a solution to urban sprawl they are the cause. Urban sprawl is a consequence of focusing all attention on one single centre, no matter how distant that location is. Multi-storey office blocks and retail stores require large hinterlands or catchment areas. If insist on putting roots down, rather than staying mobile, then smaller walk about villages separated by park lands or nature reserve would be better. As for  needing too much land: I disagree.

Assuming that the maximum sustainable human population of this planet is 10 billion people, and assuming that a city 100km in diameter can be home to 10 million people and no more, then 1000 cities are required to house the world population. Assuming that 2/3rd of the city area goes to infrastructure: then person would get a block of land 16m x 16m, and a 12m x 12m building could be put on that block of land. Further assuming 3m x 3m rooms, then such building would have 16 rooms. The basic room requirements are:
  1. Kitchen
  2. Bathroom & WC (they can be separate but wouldn't need more than a single 3m x 3m space)
  3. Laundry
  4. Dining
  5. Lounge
  6. Bedroom
  7. Garage
There is thus potential for additional 9 bedrooms, and therefore for significantly larger population in the space. The new metric handbook [Tutt and Adler] indicates  that some building regulations place a minimum of 25 sq.m for one person flat. Such can be achieved from a 5m x 5m building, given that 2.5m is potentially too small for a room especially once wall thickness taken into consideration, also given that building preference is multiples of 300mm, a 6m x 6m over all building would be preferable. Given such space it can be divided into 4 equal areas, and provide 1) kitchen, 2) combined laundry and bathroom, 3) combined lounge and dining 4) bedroom. Car parking or garage space would need to be additional. Thus land requirements can be reduced below 16m x 16m and with walk about villages forming the 100km diameter city: the city centre can be limited to cultural facilities, with business centred in the villages not centred in the city.

Consider the following sketches [dimensions are in millimetres]:


1 Acre as square area

Division of Acre into the Quarter Acre Block

Division of Acre into Sixth Acre Blocks

Typical Housing Block with 4 Bedroom House

Typical block with small Housing Units, no parking and walk about.
Extra Space added

More space Added

Typical Housing Block with 8 dwellings plus parking


Five Dwellings and Improved Access

6 Dwellings, improved parking and access

5 Dwelling with some parking for visitors

Dwellings replaced by 8 Caravans

7 Caravans with some visitor Parking


What the planning regulations are more likely to allow

The proposals above ignore the planning regulations, which impose minimum land areas for detached dwellings and for shared land. When planning regulations are imposed, only likely to be able to subdivide the typical housing block to provide for two dwellings.

My basic view is that housing in the vicinity of schools, hospitals and similar facilities should be high density, and rent only. People should move in and move out. For example, the elderly and sick need closest proximity to hospitals. Whilst students and young families need closest proximity to schools. By moving people in and out of these areas, it avoids the need to abandon such facilities and to develop new facilities. 

If the buildings providing such facilities are 4 storeys, then adjacent high density housing should also be 4 storeys and diminish in height to single storey in less than 1 km from the centre of such facility {average walking speed is 5km/h, therefore 1 km is about 12 minutes away}.

Planning should also support houses being moved in and out from a block of land, and provide for the blocks of land to have service modules which provide the utility services normally connected to a house. That is the use of caravans and motor homes should be integrated into the community. Population in an area shrinks and grows, and so do employment opportunities, people should not be enslaved or otherwise held prisoner to a specific block of land.

It should have been apparent during the early 1980's, that there is need to increase the mobility of the people, not mess around with mortgage rates. People in South Australia (SA) were going interstate to find work, but had mortgages on houses in SA they still needed to pay off, and they couldn't sell the house because no one wanted to move into a state with no employment. The way large employers are closing down, history is going to repeat itself.

We do not need multi-storey accommodation in Adelaide to prevent urban sprawl, rather we need to remove the need to go into Adelaide. Constructing a massive hospital in Adelaide is only benefit to politicians not to the people. The community was advertising just how far away medical services are, they needed and wanted local hospitals in the mining and farming towns.

We really need to develop the interior of the continent away from the coast line. The population needs to be mobile but have the comforts and conveniences of fixed dwellings. Development does not require construction of buildings, but construction of infrastructure that supports the functions of those buildings.

The above sketches illustrate that existing housing blocks can provide for more dwellings. Rather than construct a 4 bedroom home, 2 to 4 dwellings would be more flexible. The design problem is how to make the 4 dwellings function as 1 dwelling whilst kids are young, then function as 4 dwellings when the kids are older? How to have primary and secondary dwellings on the one block? This is going beyond the granny flat, as there are planning restrictions on the function of such building: there has to be dependency between the granny flat and the main dwelling: they cannot be two independent self-sufficient dwellings. That typically means there are restrictions on putting two dwellings with kitchen, bathrooms and laundry on the one block of land: one has to be dependent on the other for such facilities.

Subdivision of the land into separate properties is a different matter. My concern here is not having parents invest in large houses, providing large bedroom studies to support their kids in further education, then there being a future problem of finding their own affordable house. Whilst the parents otherwise need to downsize their house for retirement. Clearly the large family house only serves a temporary need: but its presence obstructs the provision of more affordable and suitable housing for both the young and old alike.

So somehow a single property, building or land, needs to be split into multiple private zones. The above sketches show individual dwellings, but a large dwelling could be divided internally. The latter concept being pushed a few years back and known as zoning. One of the zoning concepts is the idea of renting part of a large house out to others to pay for retirement. Another idea is that the kids buy the house from the parents, both still live in the house, but ownership shifts hands. One version of the latter idea is that the parents own the house, and they therefore provide the mortgage to the kids: a mortgage that the banks may not otherwise provide. Another version is that the kids have better jobs and more income, so they pay off the mortgage and take ownership of the property, and thus enable their parents to stay in the family home on retirement.

There are a multitude of possibilities: the main requirement is to get away from the idea that the Australian dream home is a quarter acre block. Its a stupid idea, its not as if people spend that much time in such houses any way. There is increase in people eating out, so large kitchens and dining rooms not really required. They spend more time at work, or on the road. So for the most part really only need a storage facility and somewhere to sleep.

Land ownership is also more problem than benefit. If the state/government wants to put a highway through your property then they typically can do so. There may be a dragged out court case, and compensation owing, but ultimately the highway is likely to go through: especially if that is what the public at large wants. If a nation is defined by geographical boundaries, then the land should remain in the ownership of the state. People should not be granted ownership of land, but rather granted license to occupy and use.

If at all possible the cost of land and buildings should be separated. Though I would go further and say that land should only be rented. If land rent goes up, then possibly a good idea to move or rent less land. Such would possibly encourage mobile homes, and keeping homes to sizes which can be transported without special permits. Better yet the increase in the widths of roads to accommodate wider loads without special permits. Broadloom carpet for example is about 3.6m wide, so rooms which are whole multiples of such dimension would have the less waste in the use of such material. Further more 3m to 3.6m width is a better width for a room than the approximately 2.4m width of a shipping container. So allowing a maximum of 300mm for wall thickness, would result in a minimum building width of 4.2m, then allowing 300mm clearance either side would result in a minimum road lane width of 4.8m or 9.6m for a road.

On the other hand transporting buildings is largely transporting empty space, so better to have something that can collapse for transport and expand for usage. A shipping container can be slit down the middle creating 1.2m wide segments. Single extension panels can then be placed either on the outside or the inside. On the outside the panels could be 1200mm wide whilst on the inside they could be limited to say 900mm. Therefore the building could be increased in width by an extra 1.8m to 2.4m: giving a building that is from 4.2 m to 4.8m in width.

Further more buildings don't need to be made from rigid materials, they could be made from light weight textiles. A large percentage of a building is just covered space, it needs some weather proofing, but it does need to be constructed to keep other people out for the purpose of securing contents. Even so walls can be made secure, and fabric roof placed over, if the walls are high enough then access via the roof would not be convenient for thieves to take advantage. But once again planning regulations have to permit fabric structures.

It should not be necessary for the whole of a building to be designed to resist earthquakes or hurricanes or any other extreme environmental event. To start with, the buildings designed to the codes will not resist: the designs can and most likely will be exceeded, and the buildings destroyed by earthquakes or hurricanes. It is better to design a building that collapses in a relatively safe manner: single storey buildings have better scope for fail-safe behaviour than multi-storey buildings. Multi-storey buildings are death traps, no matter what codes they are designed to. Light weight, soft textiles are less likely to cause severe injury on collapse than heavy rigid materials.

We need planning regulations that enable and empower the individual, but which prevent the creation of over crowed slums. If blocks of land are properly serviced, have boundary fences, and minimum clearances of the building envelope from the property boundaries then creation of slum areas is reduced.

A lot of the new large house developments are on the way to becoming slums, what with their near continuous roofscapes, and lack of circulation around the buildings. Building rules set minimum distances from property boundaries based on fire resistance levels. The South Australian development act, adds extra requirement of building either being on the boundary or 600mm away. The problem is that the 600mm seems to relate to the wall not the building envelope. So dumb building designers set wall 600mm from the fence, have 600mm eaves overhangs to the roof, and the 100mm to 150mm wide gutter over hanging the property boundary, encroaching on the neighbours property.

The purpose of the 600mm boundary clearance is access for removal of litter and vermin. Narrow gaps between buildings will trap litter, and attract vermin, and if the gap is too narrow access to clean up is prohibited. It should also be noted that the minimum width of an industrial platform is 600mm, and increasingly ladders are prohibited for use when working at heights. So to be able to clear gutters, paint eaves boards, need space to install portable scaffolding platforms. So the 600mm boundary clearance should be from the building envelope. The 600mm eaves concerns windows, and summer and winter sun: less than 60mm doesn't provide adequate shading. Therefore minimum wall clearance from boundary is 1200mm. So 900mm to meet minimum distance from fire source, not acceptable on its own for deciding boundary clearance.

Building on the boundary should not be acceptable. Fist two adjacent buildings built on separate properties have a gap between them, an inaccessible gap: a gap which breaches the intents behind the 600mm minimum boundary clearance. That gap maybe less  than a 1mm, but it is still a gap, now what can 1mm width of rain water 6m high do to the walls? Besides the dirt and grime, and water that can damage the building materials, there is a lack of circulation around the building for both people and air. Take note the English terraced house have ginnels and paths behind. These ginnels being deliberate tunnels passing through the row of terraced houses, with the second storey passing over the tunnel. Construction of such ginnels is not something that is likely to be built by private individuals building their houses to the property boundaries. Terraced houses were and are designed and built as a block of houses. So building houses to property boundaries should not be allowed.

Private detached dwellings should have a minimum of 600mm path circulating around the entire building. If do not have such circulation then the buildings should be attached. If attached then there is no open gap between the two dwellings, the roof will span such gap. It is also important that attached houses are constructed such that individual houses can be demolished without damage to the other houses. With well designed terraced houses individual houses can be demolished.

To be clear, neither multi-storey buildings or two storey buildings should be required. A walk about village can be designed and constructed using single storey dwellings only. Increased insulation requirements for energy efficiency also typically means improved insulation against noise. Smaller houses have less surface area and volume, and require less heating and cooling if insulated.

A dwelling suitable for one person is typically also equally suitable for two people. Average household occupancy in Australia is 2.8 persons. A large percentage of 3 bedroom houses are occupied by one person, only 5% of households are considered to have too few bedrooms when judged against some Canadian quality of life index. There is a shortage of suitable housing for school leavers, students, and retiree's. Basically properties for single's and couples, despite a recent article which suggests a shortage of 3 bedroom apartments. Any further construction of dwellings is going to push occupancy to 2 persons per dwelling. Real estate agents therefore need to get better at managing available living space with the needs of the population. Families need moving into homes near schools, single people need smaller homes closer to something else: work, entertainment.

I contend we have all the family homes we need, some may need extending, but no others need constructing. Further construction should focus on single storey sole occupancy dwellings: such dwellings are likely to have a bedroom and office: possibly described as two bedroom house. Such dwelling would be equally suitable for 2 people: a couple.

However the most important requirement here in South Australia is shifting focus away from Adelaide as a business district: cultural and administration district I have no problem with, such activities do not require regular transport to and from the city centre. Regular business commuters to and from a city is a waste of fuel. Mining, farming and manufacturing tend not to be in state capital city centres they are remote in suburbs. These areas need developing into more diverse business centres. City centres are typically office and retail, and there is no need for people to be travelling large distances for office work or retail. So cities are largely obsolete, it is only their cultural facilities that are of real importance. Further if a country is to be considered developed then the physical geography of the country should be developed not just isolated spots. Australia's interior is largely a barren undeveloped wasteland: if you get lost there don't expect anyone to find you, and don't expect to live long enough to be found.

Given a typical car can travel at least 400km on a single tank of fuel, I suggest there is need to at least construct a network of small outposts on a 400km grid: so that no matter where a person is in Australia that person is no more than 400km from some concept of civilisation. Each outpost to have at least one medical doctor and a small hospital, along with a fuel depot. All part of getting the population mobile and exploring the region. The big problem for Australia is getting water to these outposts. Which raises another issue, pipelines are not necessarily the best way of getting resources to an area: a pipeline has to be filled and that waste the particular resource. So for example transporting water by truck is potentially better than water by pipeline. Water by truck is not as convenient as water by pipe, but it wastes less water in the transport system: all the water can be used.

Australia is not the only place that needs to consider future land development: the world has problems with supply of housing, schools and hospitals. Rather than bulldoze slums, it would be better to impose some simple planning criteria, to improve circulation of air and people, and otherwise improve sanitation. Large houses are not really required. Large houses need to be cleaned and maintained, most people cannot afford servants, and they don't have the time to look after such houses. People are thus pursuing lifestyles of the rich and famous but can only partially support such lifestyle: its crazy.


Related Posts

Revisions:
[09/01/2016] : Original