Some Facts: I live in MA. I’m a Biz Owner/Entrepreneur. My Health Insurance Premium Went Down. I Received a Rebate.

File this under ‘other stuff’ but I feel compelled to comment on this.  I am a small business owner/entrepreneur and have been paying my own insurance bill since the 90’s.  I am registered independent and like to think I vote the issues and not the party.  Is it difficult to educate oneself on all of them.  You bet.  Do I try and pick a few that resonate with me and learn more, yes.  And do I sometimes identify more with a party because I hope they are aligned with my ideals and will vote accordingly, well not usually, I seem to be a contrarian by nature.  However, health care effects every one.  I just wanted to point out my experience with the system here in MA.  We have something here called the health connecter and it allows individuals, families, etc. to find and price out all different levels of health care.  I’m a fan of a high deductible PPO, that is pocket the money you would pay if you were in a first dollar coverage plan for a rainy day, or to build a ‘savings’ account that would cover the deductible, and if you are relatively healthy you can continue to pocket the difference, if you need, it’s there to cover you.  Unfortunately, over the last couple of years we ran right into that deductible because of health issue that effects too many, the ‘C’ word.   However, we were covered.  And while I thought that we would get bumped into a high risk coverage pool or somehow our premiums might balloon.  Imagine this, my annual premium went down this year, and I received a rebate because in Massachusetts, Insurance companies must spend 88% of premiums on health care, and mine did not, hence, rebate.

As a business owner I am a bit skeptical of any government state or federal mandating something, and when I look at the mandate to spend 88% of my premium it gives me pause, however, weren’t these companies essentially set up to achieve economies of scale and release doctors of the burden of the paperwork, back office, etc. so if essentially they are a pass through, and a non-profit at that, it starts to make more sense.

What happened if I wasn’t covered.  While it’s been awhile to pull on my economics minor from under grad, here’s my take.  We pay out of pocket for the mammogram and subsequent testing.  If I could not afford it, do we let the disease fester?  It gets worse and we enter the health care system in worse shape requiring emergency room visits, and acute medical care that is far more expensive?  And if we could not pay for that, and the care, that ‘loss’ gets passed on to paying customers anyway in the from of higher premiums to cover the imbalance of ‘paying’ customers and ‘non-paying’.  Fact is, if people use the emergency room for medical care it is far more expensive than a visit to a doctor’s office, however, in the emergency room they are legally bound not to turn anyone away, so who pays for it?  The people who are already paying.  Is it too much to ask that everyone should pay?  is the real argument should it be at the state or federal level?  The fact that one party cloaks as a ‘freedom’ issue seems to be specious at best.  The government mandates a whole load of stuff for the public’s health, clean air, clean water, seat belt laws, anti-dumping, etc. so for me that doesn’t hold water.

The Republican Party when it seemed to stand for fiscal prudence was one I could get more behind, and in fact, the individual mandate which I am sure many of you know, was originally a Republican idea, but now, somehow it’s toxic.  It was proposed by Stuart Butler  from The Heritage Foundation in ‘Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans.” and it was also taken up by Bob Dole during his presidential run as an anti dote to the Clinton administration first crack at universal health care.  Whatever happened to Republicans coming up with something seemingly better, or even a different plan, than at least we can start an argument that A) Health Care Good and B) We look at it differently but how do we come up with a plan so all of us can get to A).  I have to imagine every American is sick of this, lousy pun not entirely intended. So if we are sick and tired of this let’s just cut off all their funding, hello tea party.

However, the fact remains is that everyone who does already pay into the health care system is picking up the slack for everyone else who doesn’t and so the health care providers would simply charge high and higher premiums, so does it not make sense to have more people paying in the system, have more preventive care, than acute care?  Well, at least for this sample of one, it does.  My premiums went down for the first time ever.  That’s either a miracle or a better system than the previous one, or probably a bit of both.

Update 1:

There is an excellent article in Forbes, I should have referenced earlier.  In it there are rebuttals of the individual mandate and The Heritage Foundation as well as, Stuart Butler running as far and fast away from the individual mandate as possible.


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What’s That in the Sky? Sweet Jesus it’s an Autodesk Octo-Copter.

Autodesk deployed it’s Octo-Copter in Africa for high resolution reality capture.  This was done in support of Louis Leakey in Kenya in search of our ancestral trails

Additonally, they deployed it on their head quarters in San Rafael.

From the Gizmag Website:

The Mikrokopter Octocopter is an 8-rotor flying platform which has a 2 kg (4.4 lbs) capacity to carry cameras. It can be flown using an internal camera to give the operator a copter-based vantage point on video glasses, or can be programmed to follow a GPS-controlled flight path. An Octocopter can fly autonomously at altitudes up to 1000 meters (3280 feet), or can be manually flown as high as 3500 meters (11,480 feet). In the Autodesk tests video was captured using a GOPro Hero 2 camera, and the still pictures from which the 3D model was later built were taken by a remotely triggered Canon SLR camera.

Autodesk 123D is a suite of programs which allow a user to create, manipulate, and construct 3D objects using a 3D printer. Catch is part of the 123D suite, and offers a standalone software package that helps you create 3D models from a series of 2D digital images of an object or a scene. The spatial resolution available using 123D Catch is about 1 part in 600, or 0.167% of the total size of the object pictured, so you would be able to accurately place individual windows on a 3D model of a Boeing 747.


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Beat the Heat in Boston

The extremely non-exhaustive list to cool yourself down in and around Boston.

Get to the Beach and then Treat Yourself

Cranes Beach & Wingaersheek Beech, Head north on 128.  Enjoy the water, and then take the short drive to Essex and go get fried clams and soft serve, call in your fried clam order if you can.  Try Woodman’s, Farnham’s (they got picnic tables over looking the tidal marsh) or try the Village, and Essex Seafood, which has always been a solid go to.

Horseneck Beach, terrific beach going south on 24, Westport, MA almost always less traffic, then go to the Back Eddy for something to cold to drink and a snack.

You’re in and around the city.

Find a Roof Deck and/or Pool, a variety of posts on the subject from, but it seems the Colonade for a pool stop is always mentioned. And outside of the city, Indigo in Newton is pretty nice stop.

Walk the Greenway, play in the fountains, get gelatto, try the Gelateria  in the North End.

Have a cold drink in a well air conditioned bar by the Garden, then walk over the river, across the locks into Charlestown and do the same thing there.  Your choice for locations, there are many.  But go ahead and stop at Emack and Bolio’s on the walk back.

Play in the Fountain at the Christian Science Center, walk into the Pru and Copley to soak in the air conditioning, play “how much are these shoes” at Nordstrom.  Have a friend stand back from the shoe tables, have them guess.  Most likely off by a factor of 10, go get a coolata at Dunkin.

If you are feeling particularly flush and it’s after 5, go get a martini at the Oak Room, used to come with side car sitting in ice.  That will frame the rest of your day.  Air Conditioning set on igloo.

Take your dog for a walk at the Middlesex Fells Reservation, or bring him/her to a pond, throw a stick. Jamaica Pond, Spy Pond, Fresh Pond, etc.  You might not get cool, but look at the dog, so happy.  And now I’ve seen Canoe and Kayak Rentals at Spy Pond.

So there’s a start, generally, a cold drink, cone or a slush, water, you get the idea.



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New Windows Surface Tablet Puts Revit in the Field.

With Microsoft’s announcement of Windows 8, and the unveiling of the Surface Tablet, it finally appears there will be a tablet form factor that will run Revit in the field.  According to the press release there will be two versions, one based on the ARM chip and another based on the Intel i5 chip running Windows 8 Pro.  The iPad, as much it is great for so many tasks, simply does not have the horsepower to run Revit in the field, and delivering the type of user experience one would want with heavyweight programs is a real limitation in the ‘cloud.’  I understand Autodesk is now counting solely on Citrix to provide its remote platform but even if you are driving Revit remotely would you want to rely on whatever internet connection you have?  That’s just not a funnel I would want to count on in the field.

At first glance you might say so what, not a big deal.  However, if I can have a device that toggles between my heavyweight AEC programs, and delivers content the way my my iPad does then I might have an iPad to sell you; because frankly I am sick of devices, I live between the Mac and Windows camp, I’m tired of it.  I used to be an Apple fanatic, even being the only kid in business school with a Mac, the disastrous PowerPC model, but what was not to like about Apple.  Now, how did we get to the point where Microsoft is the little guy, relatively speaking.  Now if they could get their content management into a spot that works the way you want.  Imagine the central Revit model up on the sky drive, you check it out in the field, do your work, update it, booyah.

I think single purpose, highly specific apps are great to digest data,  not for the creation of it so I am real interested in the melding of tablet like functionality with horsepower.  I’m rooting for the little guy, I’m rooting for Microsoft.


BTW anyone else bother to notice the blending and vertical integration of software/hardware.  Apple, obviously.  Google buys Motorola. Microsoft with multiple attempts, Zune, XBox, etc.  and now Surface. And more germane to AEC Trimble buys Tekla and SketchUp.  Seems to be the biz strategy du jour, watch for more.


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For Those That Like to Tweet… A Free iPad

Tweet about PKNail Pro’s Proven Field to BIM Technology, Get Entered Automatically

PointKnown is giving away a free Apple iPad to one lucky Twitterer…er, tweeter, i.e.  one who uses the service twitter to disseminate clever, witty, informative text burst in 140 characters or less.  PointKnown does not claim to be clever, witty or informative, but will claim producing kick ahh…whup ahh…Excellent productivity software tools for documenting existing buildings.



How to Enter

To participate, simply tweet using the hash tags below:

#pknail #revit #bim and mention ‘PKNail Pro’


PKNail Pro turbo charges Revit and modeling existing buildings #pknail #revit #bim

or “Capture Existing Buildings Directly In Revit with PKNail Pro, 5x-10x faster #pknail #revit #bim

less pertinent but still acceptable “We came, we saw, we conquered with PKNail Pro, #pknail, #bim , #revit

less pertinent verging to the non-sequitur but still acceptable…

beautiful software for happy people PKNail Pro, #pknail, #bim, #revit

or certainly and you are most welcome and encouraged to tweet your own stuff; as we will have a separate drawing of $100 VISA Card for best/most creative tweet as judged by anyone at our next BBQ.

Remember: follow @pointknown on Twitter for the winner announcement:

We are on the road with Microcad and have other excellent resellers including,  Seiler Instrument (ask for Harvey) and CADDFX

Legal Mumbo Jumbo

Rules & Conditions

1. This giveaway is offered by PointKnown LLC and is open to anyone with a Twitter account who is at least 16 years of age. Employees of PointKnown, LLC. and/or its affiliated companies and family members of such employees may enter the contest but are not eligible to win.

2. The giveaway will begin at the time of this post and end 62 days after initial post, a winner will be randomly chosen, much like the number 62, and announced via twitter through @pointknown

3. One giveaway will be available: a 16GB Wi-Fi Apple iPad or $499 Apple Store Credit, winner’s choice.

4. You must prove ownership of the winning entry and provide your email address to collect the prize.

5. To enter the giveaway you must send out a tweet from your own Twitter account that includes the #hash tags above in your message.

6. Entries using automated tweets will be disqualified, however there is no limit on the number of tweets you may enter.

7. PointKnown LLC will choose a winner randomly from all the entries within the specified period. The winner will be announced from our twitter account (@pointknown) once the contest ends.

8. Entrants agree to allow @pointknown to use their twitter handles and entry tweets for marketing purposes.

9. Neither PointKnown LLC. nor its affiliated companies shall have any liability for (i) any technical failures of any kind, including but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; (ii) technical or human error which may occur in the administration of the giveaway; (iii) any malfunction of or damage to the prize; (iv) any corruption, typos or hacking of prize winners email accounts; or (v) any restrictions or delays imposed by any customs authorities or any import or other taxes of any kind imposed by any taxation authority in respect of the prizes.


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Autodesk Continues to Round Out Portfolio : Acquires Vela Systems

Announced today, Autodesk Acquires Vela Systems.  If you are developing products within the Building Life Cycle somewhere between and including design to demolition, you are in play.  Trimble has been going on an acquisition rampage with its acquisition of Tekla and Sketch Up and Autodesk never one to be a wallflower has just acquired Vela.  This is almost 2 years to the date that Vela was unveiled publicly.  No idea of their market size but their own press releases state that they are more than ‘twice as big’ as any competitive Field BIM Systems.  Regardless, market penetration means little at this point now that the Autodesk marketing/sales system is behind it.  How big was Revit in 2006 when they were purchased.  A primer of Vela’s Key Features below.  Congrats Vela folks, job well done.

Vela Field Management Suite Key Features
The Vela Field Management Suite of Web, Mobile and Reports enables everyone throughout the enterprise to access documents, field activities and reports in the office and in the field. Since its release a year ago, and to further broaden the usability throughout the enterprise, Vela Systems has expanded upon the following features:

  • Field BIM® for commissioning and handover that ties BIM to the field for data and document exchange
  • Company-level checklist and issue template capabilities to implement and enforce quality and safety programs
  • Increased accessibility via the Internet on multiple devices like iPads and Smart Phones
  • Better web-based reporting that turns field data into powerful information for managing quality, safety and risk at the project and company level

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Flame Virus Wants Your CAD

As reported by Industry Week, ‘The world’s most sophisticated malware had a ‘high interest in AutoCAD drawings,’ Kaspersky Lab said.  The Flame Virus, which mainly affected computers in the Middle East used a loophole in Microsoft software tricking computers into thinking they are downloading a legitimate Windows update.  This fact, being reported by Reuters, The Times, CNET, and others. CNN reported that Flame can turn on your microphone, webcam, log e-mails, etc.  I have not read if it can do anything malicious itself as the Stuxnet Virus did to Iran Uranium enrichment facilities by having centrifuges essentially tear themselves apart.  However, going after CAD, essentially engineering and building documents can let whoever is collecting this information know what you are designing and building, and possibly have the blueprints of the building you are designing and building in.  And you thought google knowing that you smoke cigars and eat ice cream on your back porch at 5:23 PM was intrusive.


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NYC initiative for BIM Digital Safety Plans : Turner Project Approved

File under cool.   The City of New York has unveiled an initiative for the electronic submission of BIM safety plans; you can learn more here; and a  Turner Press Release yesterday stated they used both 2D and 3D BIM submissions to get approval for their construction project at the Energy Building at NYU Langone Medical Center.

“The digital submission of 3D, BIM-based site safety plans reduced the approval times from weeks to days,” said Di Fillipo, Turner Senior Vice President.


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Field BIM Kit : PKNail Pro : That’s my bag baby.

The more demos I go on, the more I get asked about our field kit, so I wanted to post what’s in my bag and what we use on a day to day basis when surveying/modeling in the field with PKNail Pro.  Those of you not interested in the day-in day-out particulars of surveying buildings may want to hit your back button now… Anyway an individual equally equipped will be ready for knocking out BIM Building Surveys, and this kit, all in, costs a fraction of most other technology solutions, plus the added benefit of surveying/modeling directly in the platform you or your clients are most likely working in.  However, always choose the tool/service that fits your needs.  In fact, we’ll be posting shortly where we combined workflows of PKNail Pro and pointclouds.  But here you go, what’s in my bag or my complete kit.

So it might seem like a lot but all fits in the bag except for the tripods.  The laptop tripod is excellent when mobility/portability with your gear is at a premium but I will use a laptop cart with wheels if the space allows;  it is easier with wheels and has more surface area to put stuff.

The real minimum you need to have with you is a laptop/tablet PC running the appropriate software, a Disto D8 or 330i, a measuring tape, and something to use for a target when needed, like an outside corner.  Stickynotes (larger size) are excellent for shorter distances, a reflective Leica Target attached with Painter’s Tape is better for longer ones.  Rechargeable batteries for both the laptop and Disto.  I prefer an external battery pack for the laptop as it can be used on any laptop and it is self contained unlike an extra battery for a specific laptop.

I  like Eneloop rechargeables for devices, my preference, they come preloaded with a charge, and seem to carry it longer when not being used.  You need a measuring tape on occasion for distances to short or sometimes nice to hook something with a tape when finding a distance manually.  I like thick banded measuring tapes because they will extend longer without ‘breaking’ but find they are just as prone to wear down as any other so sometimes not worth the expense.  LED flashlight because they are bright and do not use as much juice as others, and are always nice to have.  I also have an LED light that you can wear on your head, which is my preferred.  Diameter tape is a luxury but one side is graduated the other will measure the diameter of any round column which is helpful.

The tripod attachment from Leica allows it to pivot properly on the its axis so the measurements stay as accurate as possible.  This is great to have for exterior work  when you might not have access to the interior of the building.  Building chalk or a marking crayon can be helpful but usually would want to mark with painters tape or sticky pad because they are easily removed, however, the former comes in handy sometimes, especially in basements.

And bring food and drink, nothing clouds your mind like being hungry, so eat.


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Interioreview Surveys & Models 28 Story DuBois Library with PKNail Pro

Interioreview, utilized PKNail Pro, an add in to Revit, combined with Leica Disto D8 laser range finders as the main surveying tool and software for capturing and modeling the 28 Story DuBois Library at UMass Amherst.  The structure designed by Durell Stone in 1966 is tallest library in the United States.  While intially considering combining LIDAR and creating a pointcloud for the exterior and utilizing PKNail Pro for the interior it turned out the exterior was the easiest part of the job and it was interior that was the most difficult.  Every 3rd floor contained  90+ rooms  with study carrels combined with classrooms where very few technologies would work well.  Nico Martinez, a Project Manager with Interioreview, commented,”Without PKNail the survey work could have taken  5 times, 10 times what it was.”

The project was completed to support the design and retrofitting a fire protection system.

Interioreview, an architecural surveying firm founded in 2003 specialzies in documenting the built environment in both 2D CAD and 3D Revit formats.

PointKnown, a software firm, founded in 2008 develops productivity tools for the built environment / AEC (Architectural, Engineering, and Construction) Industry

PKNail Pro, allows a user to measure and model objects in real time directly in Revit.

Autodesk® Revit® software is specifically built for Building Information Modeling (BIM), helping building professionals design, build, and maintain higher-quality, more energy-efficient buildings.


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