Log in



Tags » ‘FredDB’

hectick is spelled with a ‘k’, right?

June 6th, 2010 by

Well, it certainly was a full, and ‘hectick’ week. I flew to North Carolina on Tuesday, because Monday was a holiday. Of course, it takes all day to get from San Francisco to Raleigh, so Tuesday bit the dust without me realizing any accomplishments.

Wednesday was one of those fun, rewarding, fulfilling and completely exhausting days with our architect team. In previous visits, Laura and I, along with our ever-present assistant FredDB, had managed to convey a lot of information about how we envisioned the house. We covered aesthetics, contents, systems (i.e. plumbing, HVAC), materials, traffic flow, etc.

In fact, there was only one area of Fred that we kept deferring; my studio, where I plan to design and build furniture, and objets d’art, which are pieces of art that probably started out as furniture, but ended badly.

For some unfathomable reason, Laura was never that keen on spending a brisk four or five hours discussing three-phase power, dust collection, live-load weight and vibration capacities of flooring and thousands of other, equally interesting things. I can’t figure that out. Maybe she just wanted me to have an area where I could feel my input was useful? She’s a giver, so that’s probably it.

In any event, covering all that stuff with our design/build firm was front and center for this trip, while Laura was safely ensconced 3,000 miles and three time zones away. She missed all the fun, but we soldiered through without her, until even I ran out of stuff to talk about. The team managed to stay awake through the whole event, although I think they were very happy to see the end of our allotted time approach.

With that mission accomplished, I had two days left in the trip before I had to fly back and get extremely busy on prepping for our big move. Thursday was ‘Look for land… Again.’ day, given our recent setback with the previous property we chronicled earlier in the blog.

I started with seven new properties to look at, plus a couple that were reborn from our previous round of searching. Of course, as I looked at the seven, I found a few more that seemed to have eluded every MLS and real estate website on the planet, so that just added to the load.

So, what’s the deal with the new spelling of ‘hectick’? Well, it’s June in North Carolina, and it’s been raining a lot. So it’s hot, and humid, and apparently these conditions create the perfect petri dish for ticks.

The offical State Parasite of North Carolina

The offical State Parasite of North Carolina

Lots of ticks. Stand in the grass for 30 seconds and you’ll find at least a half-dozen crawling on some part of your body and clothing. Be really clever and go traipsing through five- and ten-acre uncleared woodland properties, and the number increases exponentially. And even after you play at impersonating a grooming baboon, you will continue to find more, or think that you feel more, for hours and days afterward. They were in my rental car. They were in my hat. They were in other places, uh… very different from either a rental car or a hat. I even managed to bring three of them (that we know of so far…) home with me as mementos for Laura to extract a few days after our initial coming together.

So the summation of that day, in which I was joined in my infestation by both our Realtor, Linda and our architect, was that I found a hell of a lot more ticks than I did good, affordable building sites.

Of course that was just the daytime task. That evening, the love of my life had assigned me the mission of performing a recon and mapping on our new rental home. Luckily all my Special Forces and Air Cavalry training had prepared me well for this deployment. After capturing full photographic intel and assessing the dimensions and capacities of each landing zone (aka ‘room’), we are now well equipped to begin our assault early in July, when the heavy artillery  (the movers) will begin their offensive.

With that late night mission accomplished, the next day had another recon target. This time the objective was mobile; the rental RV that we will use in our effort to relocate George, Gus and Jack with minimal trauma. Here is more information on that three-cats-in-the-ring circus.

A few more land evaluations got squeezed in, and then I got to end the trip on a high note. Because I had brought my camera on the trip, I was able to take some pictures of our architect’s newborn daughter.

Allow me to clarify: For me, “Bringing the camera” means schlepping around 40 pounds of lenses, flash heads, tripods, diffusers and reflectors etc. It’s a sickness, and it invariably offers me an opportunity to spend some quality time with a TSA employee, but I do manage to get some decent pictures… Sometimes.

The effort was certainly worth it this time; she’s beautiful, and she was modeling the lovely hat and booties ensemble that Laura made for her. All’s well that ends well, and this trip saved the best event for last.

P.S. All Southern colloquialisms aside, she’s definitely much cuter than a tick.

keeping track of everything, with FredDB

April 24th, 2010 by

Unsurprisingly, there are thousands of details that need to be captured and tracked when you are trying to build a house. Notebooks, clippings files, Google docs and Evernote—I love Evernote!—all come in very handy, but it is very difficult to aggregate and share all the stuff that resides in them, with all the people it needs to be shared with.

Architects, builders, lawyers, engineers, suppliers, subcontractors, etc. all need to have the latest, agreed-upon-by-everyone information, or very nasty surprises can happen. Given that I tend not to be terribly well organized, I felt that we needed a technology tool to address this problem. (Besides, I’m a technologist, and what guy doesn’t love tools? It’s a no-brainer!)

The answer was FredDB. FredDB is a FileMaker database that I created to track all the stuff we need in order to make Fred into our true dream house. FredDB keeps track of all of the features that we want incorporated into our house design, all of Fred’s rooms and dimensions, the inventory of stuff that Fred has to have a place for, all the contact information for the people who are working on Fred, and the decisions, minutes and documents that come out of all the meetings about Fred. They are all cross-linked together, so a user can easily see all the house features that are part of the kitchen, or a list of all the rooms that contain a certain common feature, such as built-in storage. (Note to readers: I love built-in storage. This will become painfully evident over time. You have been warned.)

Here are a few screenshots from FredDB; click on the image for a larger view:

FredDB can also generate PDF reports on all of its contents, organized in a variety of ways. These reports can then be used as timestamped ‘snapshots’ that provide an audit trail of decisions and changes.

FredDB is hosted securely via FileMaker Server. Our architect/build firm has direct access to it from any of their desktop machines, so they can always check out the latest status on features that we have asked for, or the decisions that were made at any of our meetings. It’s early days in the project right now, so it’s hard to say how well any of this will work, but the crew has been great about trying this out. We’ll definitely do some follow-up posts to let everyone know how well (or badly) this works!