Autodesk allows employees to spend up to 4 hours per month helping out in the classroom. My wife, Sheryl, and I are empty nesters, so it's been years since I have taken advantage of this generous Autodesk benefit; however, Sheryl is a third-grade teacher at Bay Farm School in Alameda, California, and on Wednesday, I was able to lend a hand. The third-graders participated in an activity billed as The Amazing Race. The third-graders were chauffeured by parent volunteers to various locations around Alameda billed as challenge stations. At each station, students learned about the history of Alameda and participated in some healthy activities.
I was the station manager at the Lincoln Park station. The students' challenge was to listen to me read a story about Lincoln Park and then answer questions to score points. This was followed by seeing how many baskets the students could score, as a team, in 60 seconds.
"Before Lincoln Park became a city park in 1909, three families lived on this piece of land. Captain Robert R. Thompson was the head of the third family that lived where Lincoln Park now resides. He was best known for his artesian well that was a source of water for many Alamedans. Thompson replaced the house that was there before and built one of the finest residences in all of Alameda. He built a huge mansion with a cast-iron fence that surrounded his house in 1881. It was a beautiful house.
Three years after Thompson's mansion was built, a mysterious fire destroyed his house in 1884. The only thing left is the gate on High Street.
image source: zamboanga.com
The year 1909 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln who was our 16th president. Across the country, cities were finding ways of honoring Abraham Lincoln. Alameda decided to honor our 16th president by changing the name of Railroad Avenue and Wilson School to Lincoln Avenue and Lincoln School. In that same year, the residents of Alameda also decided to develop one of their finest open spaces in Alameda into a park. They would name it Lincoln Park.
The Ohlone native Americans were the original inhabitants of the land — long before any Alamedans. When the park was established, a rock monument with a plaque was installed on June 17, 1914 to honor the first residents of the area and to mark the location of the Ohlone shell burial mound that was found on the land.
Q: What does the rock plaque commemorate?
A: The burial mound of the Ohlone native Americans who were the original settlers of the land.
Q: What is left over and still stands from the giant house that Thompson built at Lincoln Park?
A: The gate that is part of the cast iron fence along High Street.
The historical information for the challenge is an excerpt from a book about the history of Alameda that was researched and written by a former Bay Farm School 6th grade class.
There were 22 teams competing in the friendly competition. The 10-foot rim proved challenging for the third-graders. Teams scored between 1 and 8 baskets in the time allowed.
Both of our children attended Bay Farm School back in the day. I was happy to help out such a fine school with a fine tradition of excellence. As an aside, Lincoln Park includes a rose garden that was designed and created years ago by Bay Farm student and our across-the-street neighbor, Martin Wilson, as part of his Eagle Scout project for the Boy Scouts of America.
History is alive in the lab.
The other day, I blogged about participant counting. Today's topic is activity counting.
Having worked for large companies like Honeywell, GTE, and Océ, I am a fan of the movie Office Space. So when I first started producing monthly reports for Autodesk Labs, I named my reports the Technology Preview Strategy Report so it would be TPS Report for short. I now produce them quarterly, but the name has stuck.
Product development teams are the ones who supply me with technologies to preview on Autodesk Labs. The TPS Reports include counts of the new, updated, retired, and graduated technology previews to show how actively the teams are leveraging the Autodesk Labs process. Recall that the technology previews come from the same teams that do the product development, so those developers have day jobs in addition to creating and responding to feedback for a technology preview.
With this in mind, here's what we saw in the latest TPS Report.
From the graph above, you can see that comparing across Q1 activity for each year, FY17 was average but a little low with regard to the number of new technology previews. Hopefully, the development teams will have some new technologies to share in Q2.
Another data element included in the TPS Report is activity by industry.
The intent is to make sure we actively get feedback from all of the industries we serve. You can see that teams providing solutions to the AEC (Architecture Engineering & Construction) space were, by far, the most active.
Thanks to the Autodesk Labs community members who participate in these technology previews. We know that you have day jobs too — places to create, things to make, and media to bring to life. Thank for taking the time out of your day to register for a technology preview, try it, and share your feedback. Your experience shapes the future of our technology. Without you, the product development teams are like trees falling in the woods.
Activity counting is alive in the lab.
Project Scorch was our free technology preview that let you play with fire.
Actually, it helped you perform fire simulations within a structure. Project Scorch used the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) to understand fire behavior within a building, such as smoke development and propagation, sprinkler behavior, and more. Project Scorch was intended as a more efficient and easier-to-use front-end for FDS from simulation setup and results exploration. The technology preview has ended.
When a Labs technology preview ends, one of three things can happen:
A technology graduates from Labs when it is available somewhere else (e.g., App Center, feature in a new product offering, new cloud-based service).
A technology retires from Labs when the preview ends, and users can't get it anywhere. It may come back as another technology preview sometime later. It may show up in a future product offering. The technology is not necessarily dead, but in the meantime, customers can't get it.
Sometimes teams decide they need more feedback, so they conduct another technology preview.
In this case, Project Scorch has retired. Thanks to everyone who participated in the project and provided feedback. Most Project Scorch participants identified themselves as engineers who work on design projects but do not use energy analysis. (No, they did not identify themselves as pyromaniacs.)
Though the technology has been retired, it may come back at a later date, in the same form, or perhaps a different form? Users who wish to continue to work with the technology can work with NIST FDS directly.
Smothering fire is alive in the lab.
Having worked for large companies like Honeywell, GTE, and Océ, I am a fan of the movie Office Space. So when I first started producing monthly reports for Autodesk Labs, I named my reports the Technology Preview Strategy Report so it would be TPS Report for short. I now produce them quarterly, but the name has stuck. One of the things that the TPS Report does is look at the number of participants for each active technology preview.
When a product development team decides to host a technology preview on Labs, they have a target number of participants in mind. They do so because too few participants decreases the chances of the team getting the feedback they are seeking. On the other hand, too many participants could result in a flood of feedback that the team would not have the resources to respond to. Recall that the technology previews come from the same teams that do the product development, so those developers have day jobs in addition to supporting the technology preview.
With this in mind, here's what we saw in the latest TPS Report.
Project membership size is a good proxy metric for number of downloads.
Some technology previews are small in membership size on purpose.
There are different types of technology previews. (See the Labs versus Beta chart.) For technology previews that are wide-open to the public, where everyone who wants to join gets in, number of participants is a good indicator of popularity of the idea around the technology preview. For other projects where the number of participants is controlled (e.g., Project Arro, Project Draco, Project Scandium, and ReCap 360 Mobile), this is not the case.
The Molecule Viewer is a timely technology.
The media coverage of the Zika virus resulted in an increase in the number of participants for the Molecule Viewer technology preview from 302 at the beginning of the quarter to 398.
Since the number of participants is often a good indicator of customer interest, the more, the merrier.
Some technology previews have graduated or retired this quarter. Since those are closed for membership, they are not listed in the graph for this section of the TPS Report. The following active technology previews are looking for increased membership:
The next Autodesk Labs newsletter can feature these technology previews to try to Increase participation.
So for technology previews that are looking for additional participants, feel free to go to the Autodesk Labs page and join one or more of these projects.
Membership counting is alive in the lab.