Fast-Paced First Week

My Office View

Look­ing out the win­dow at my new office onto the snow from the last two days in Richmond.

I can hard­ly believe that five whole days have gone by since I start­ed my new job. I think that even after psych­ing my self up for a month, I was­n’t pre­pared for the quick pace of work here. I got on a project first thing on Mon­day morn­ing, and I’ve been busy with it pret­ty much the entire time since (well, at work any­way). I have to say that I’m feel­ing a great deal more opti­mistic since my last post, too. It’s not that I thought I’d made a mis­take, it was just that sink­ing feel­ing of real­iz­ing just how much I was step­ping back­ward, in a career sense.

My boss and I did get to make a site vis­it down­town Rich­mond on Tues­day, though. It was about 20º F, in the sun with 15–20 mph winds. I have a whole new lev­el of respect for those con­struc­tion guys out grout­ing lin­tel seats and hang­ing struc­tur­al steel. Insane. We’ve had snow the last cou­ple of days here in Rich­mond, so I doubt they’ve had much of a chance to con­tin­ue. This pho­to is look­ing out my new office win­dow. I took it around lunch on Fri­day. I real­ize it’s not a spec­tac­u­lar view, but since I could­n’t see any day­light from the desk at my old job, I feel as though I’ve moved up in the world.

I’ve spent the week learn­ing all about RAM Inter­na­tion­al’s Struc­tur­al Sys­tem design soft­ware pack­age. I have to say, I’m pret­ty impressed thus far. I’ve used a num­ber of soft­ware solu­tions for struc­tur­al analy­sis and design, and RAM has lived up to its billing as a one of the best. It is very much geared to the build­ing indus­try, and there­fore can tai­lor its solu­tions accord­ing­ly. I miss some of the open end­ed-ness of some of the oth­er pack­ages I’ve used (STAAD, GTSTRUDL) or even the more straight for­ward frame input of oth­er build­ing design soft­ware (RISA 3D). How­ev­er, you trade all that for the speed and com­plete-ness that RAM offers. Sure, I can’t cus­tom edit ele­ments to cre­ate out-of-plan beams, for exam­ple. What I can do, though, is enter in and design an entire two-sto­ry school build­ing in a man­ner of hours. Pret­ty slick.

The oth­er task this week was learn­ing a lit­tle more about build­ing con­struc­tion. For­tu­nate­ly, the edu­ca­tion sys­tem for the struc­tures por­tion of civ­il engi­neer­ing is catered to the build­ing indus­try. I got to spend the last 3 years learn­ing a good bit about bridge design (albeit, only steel bridges). Now, I get to actu­al­ly use some of the things I learned in school towards design. Now, if only I could start using LRFD steel design.

Just as an aside, I’m using a new util­i­ty for Word­Press called Flick­It. It sim­ply adds a quick­tag to your edi­tor allow­ing to eas­i­ly insert a hyper­linked Flickr image. It’s not per­fect, but works does exact­ly what it claims to and is free (after they got into a lit­tle trou­ble with the com­pa­ny that owns Flickr for charg­ing). Any­way, I men­tion it because I know a lot of my friends use both Word­Press and Flickr and might want an eas­i­er way of get­ting them to play together.

By Jason Coleman

Structural engineer and technical content manager Bentley Systems by day. Geeky father and husband all the rest of time.


  1. …and then just set the back­ground cen­tered, cor­rect? I think I got it.
    Now, if I could just get the padding to work for the Search & Archives sec­tion up above, I’d be in like Fly­nn. Any ideas there? Seri­ous­ly, the padding does­n’t do any­thing. It’s set to 20px top, and you see the result. I’m stumped.

  2. I don’t see a padding-top 20px. Maybe I’m miss­ing it?

    BTW- If we have quite a bit of cor­re­spon­dence here, you might have to go in and delete these com­ments later.

  3. Oh, I must have delet­ed it from the style sheet as it was­n’t appear­ing to do any­thing. I put it back: 20px padding on top and 5px padding on the left. Still noth­ing in Fire­Fox, Opera, or IE. As far as the com­ments go, I’m not too con­cerned with it. In 100 years when school chil­dren read my writ­ings, they might find our can­did ban­tor about web design illuminating.

  4. Okay. Here’s the deal. (Sor­ry it took a while to get back to you.) Yes, you defined #search as hav­ing padding-top: 20px, but it gets rede­fined lat­er on when you say #menu ul li { padding: 0; }. There­fore, you either have to make your ear­li­er dec­la­ra­tion more spe­cif­ic (e.g. #menu #search { padding… }) or you need to move the #search, #archives, and #cal­en­dar dec­la­ra­tions to the end of the file.

  5. Hmm… putting those class­es at the end of the style sheet did­n’t seem to do any­thing for them. I’ll try to use the spe­cif­ic approach. Yes, that seems to work. How­ev­er, it appears my SEARCH but­ton is miss­ing. I’ll have to look into that for minute. Nev­er­mind. I just need to recal­cu­late the ver­ti­cal absolute posi­tion for those respec­tive class­es now.
    How do you like the back­ground, though? I think if you mea­sured the width of the main sec­tions, you’d find they were 790px, which is prob­a­bly a lit­tle too wide, but I’m not too con­cerned with that as yet.

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