Selected Studies on MSU Parking System Maintenance and Design
When first looking at a the parking system for a possible solution to represent the entire system in digital form, it was necessary to:
Represent each parking area, according to standards set forth by the department of security.
Have enough encoding resources to represent two digital pictures of each and every sign on campus.
Enable expansion from this system into a larger system encompassing not only parking, but also master planning, as it pertains to buildings, fire control, hazardous waste management, and all other building systems, office systems. On a Macro as well as Micro level. Macro management on a micro level.
The design and maintenance of this implementation as discussed below is the selected solution, open for expansion into the master planning area.
The MSU university parking system is composed of 36 spaces:
South RD E
South RD W
Some of these spaces are no longer used for parking. For instance there was a time when Stadium RD had purple parking along it. Warren used to be associated with parking at one point, though not on-street parking. These spaces are no longer referenced to security as parking/ticketing locations. For this reason they are still included in the survey but not used in publication to those that need to reference this record.
Security on the other hand breaks these spaces up alternatively for ticketing information and tracking through their system from ticket issue to ticket clear by payment or via appeal.
For this reason there is a underlying tracking system on each parking sign that allows it to be associated with any given security parking/ticketing location. In the current system this tracking system is built into the file name of each parking sign, that helps uniquely identify it with that parking/ticketing location.
Security breaks the parking/ticketing locations across campus into 54 locations:
N. ELLIS AVE.
S. ELLIS AVE.
W. MAYWOOD AVE.
E. MAYWOOD AVE.
E. SOUTH RD.
W. SOUTH RD.
QUAD (BEHIND AH)
NE AUTOLAB DRIVE
NE 15 MIN ZONE
SOUTH HC 15 MIN DR.
PA LOADING DOCK
SU LOADING DOCK
TN LOADING DOCK
TS EAST LOADING DOCK
TS WEST LOADING DOCK
ML LOADING DOCK
EAST SOUTH RD.
Moving on to the digital topography of the system. Inside each of the 37 folders are a number of files and folders each provided for a specific purpose.
The .dwg Files
This file is the CAD file for AutoCAD, it is laid out in a fashion to have a paper space and a model space so that the model space can be aligned with the direction of the roads, because the roads are not true north. The drawing it self is also in alignment and scale with the Boltman & Mink survey map as provided through the annual contract with Brad Heilman and Boltman & Mink. This survey drawing serves as a backdrop for the expansion into master planning, not yet developed. Also with the advent of a new full color aerial photo of the campus in digital format it is possible to bring that photo in behind the parking lot drawing as wells as the Boltman & Mink survey map further supporting the master planning expansion.
A side note on the aerial photo in digital format. It would be possible in Photoshop to touch up the image and pull the shadows out using a meticulous rubber stamp and smudge/blur toolset. The building roofs, sidewalk/grass maps and street/parking lots could like wise be cleaned up removing cars and the like leaving a raw campus map. This could then be picked apart as a texturing resource to be applied onto a virtual 3D campus map.
Some of the above has been testing with limited success on the Armstrong lot area AutoCAD file. This is the reason for the Armstrong lot_NEW.dwg file. The .bak file is a backup of the .dwg file, part of the default settings in AutoCAD. This file is built when the .dwg file is saved from within AutoCAD.
The layer system inside the .dwg file is described by a preceding "_PRK_". This is for filtering purposes to allow the layer manager to filter out the Boltman & Mink layers that are XREFed in with the Blt&Mink_TOPO.dwg survey map.
The list of layers pertaining to the parking system are:
The scale for this drawing is listed in the title block.
Notice also that in the above screen shot there are two layers that are turned off, as shown by the dimmed lights to the right of the layer name. In the case of the _PRK_MVIEW layer this is because the MVIEW layer is used to mark the MView that provides a window into the model space. This layer does not need to be on, because if it where then the printer would print the outline of the window, and that is something that we don't want. It makes the plan look ugly, and unprofessional. However this is not enough to turn of an XREF'ed layer, to do that we must freeze the layer that was used to make the XREF. In this case it is the _PRK_XREF layer. that is why you see a snowflake just to the right of the dimmed light bulb showing that this layer is frozen. When this is frozen all the details of the Boltman & Mink survey plan become invisible.
The layer system has been chosen as a standard between all AutoCAD parking drawings. This is a color standard, line standard, and even style that is adopted in describing the various aspects of the parking system. These are barrowed from the various industry standards used professionally and should be followed closely if not religiously.
To make adjustments in the model space, double click on the model space inside the paper space, you will see a window be highlighted in side the paper space, you can zoom around and pan inside this using the mouse wheel. DO NOT ZOOM AND PAN WHILE STILL IN PAPER SPACE! This will screw everything up, double clicking the mouse wheel zooms to the extents of the drawing, Don't do this while in model view! It will zoom farther out than you want to go. If you do this the quick way to fix it is to first make sure your still in model space via the highlighted window around just the inside of the paper space. Then type Z enter, 1/40xp enter. This will zoom to an exact scale of 1 inch = 40 feet if your units are set up to be in feet. Or it will mean 1 inch = 40 inches if your set up to be in inches. Double click on the title block to make changes to it, such as updating the date. DON'T FORGET TO DO THIS AFTER MAKING A CHANGE!!!!
Above is an example of a Boltman & Mink survey combined with the parking plan for Armstrong Lot.
Notice how the east end of Trafton and the details on the lower section of the plan are chopped off. This is because all the details and the drawing itself are actually inside a virtual model space. In order to see into this model space we need to have a window into it. This window is called the MView. It is an object like any other object, but it sits in a virtual space also different from the virtual model space. This alternate space is called paper space.
To enter into this model space and make modifications to it from the paper space, you simply double click in the MView. This highlights the mview space, and give the user control over what happens in model space, through the mview. You can tell when you are in model space, through the mview by looking for the highlighted boarder. This is the other reason for leaving the MVIEW layer turned off, while working on the drawing. With the layer turned on it's more difficult to tell if you are in model space or paper space.
Above is an example of the same drawing, in model space, through an mview, with the MVIEW layer turned off. and the Boltman & Mink layer frozen.
If I move back into paper space in the above plan by double clicking in the paper space, outside the mview object. The bold line that indicates that I'm in model space disappears.
Below is an example of an old Armstrong plan. Notice that if I am in paper space in the above plan and the bold line is gone that there is no fundamental difference between the newer drawing and the older drawing. At a glance they appear to be the exact same plan. However the above plan is ready for web-publication, and Boltman & Mink survey details relative to the parking systems are available at the touch of a finger, simple unfreeze the XREF layer. Also the Icons describing the signs location link directly to the images. This makes the entire plan web ready!
In the below screen shot you can see the details of the drawing.
If you look closely, you see that a sign is described by a box with a leader marking the actual sign location. In the box is a 01-a, and a 01-b
01-a is the close up shot of that sign
01-b is the panoramic shot of the same sign, putting it in context with other landmarks.
At this point both link to the images in the Small Pictures folder. Notice also the large Number 35 inside the circle. This indicates that the area is Number 35, so all signs and parking stalls in the area, fall under the jurisdiction of Ticketing location number 35 in the University Security Ticketing System. So the names of the images for this area are.
and so on...
When security changes the location numbers the plan has to be updated to reflect the changes, and all the signs have to be renamed to reflect what was changed in the plan, and that means all the hyperlinks need to be checked in the plan, and so on and so on.
Because there are other objects other than signs that affect the parking system they must also be described in the plan, and corresponding photos must me taken to show these objects in context with the parking system. Such objects are Trash Dumpsters, Security Cameras, light poles (no photos of these needed), fire hydrants, emergency phones, gas lines. While much of this is shown in the Boltman & Mink plan, although far more accurate, is not sufficient. The Boltman & Mink Survey plan does not account for emergency phones or trash dumpsters, or other such miscellaneous objects. The Boltman & Mink plan has too much detail to be helpful at a glance to those who do not study survey plans. For this reason we put simple easy to understands symbols at the locations of these miscellaneous objects.
Above is an image in LOT16 of the lower right corner of the lot, (south east end) showing the symbols for the security camera and the trash dumpster.
Below is a screen shot also in LOT16 of the south central section of the lot, showing the symbols for the fire hydrant, and emergency phone.
The file names for the context images of these miscellaneous objects would be as follows.
The .PMD File
These files are for publication. They are a series of PageMaker files that contain the photos of each sign with the sign code used in the name of the image file, and a date code as to when the photo was last updated in the PageMaker file. DON'T FORGET TO CHANGE THIS DATE AFTER CHANGING THE IMAGE!!!!
There are a total of 6 signs per PageMaker file, since each sign has two pictures there are a total of 12 pictures per page.
Each sign has a close up and a far away shot. The close up shot describes the content of the sign. The far away shot describes the context of the sign. For instance its location relative to other land marks, power boxes, other signs, curb-cuts, crosswalks ect... There are other pictures relating to miscellaneous parking matters, such as trash dumpsters, security cameras, fire hydrants, gas pipelines, emergency phones, ect...
There are 5 folders inside each location.
The entire system of folders is mirrored onto a server:
The nature of the mirroring is currently static, meaning that any updates to the server must be done manually. This also means that if there are any changes to be made, the user making the changes must remember to make them locally, then delete the appropriate folders from the server, and manually drag and drop the updated folders up to the server.
DON'T DELETE FOLDERS YOU DON'T INTEND TO UPDATE!!!!
This presents a level of difficulty to the parking CAD Coordinator. In the event that the parking CAD Coordinator has an assistant, the assistant must mesh with this system seamlessly. Especially if the assistant is working on a different computer. The assistant cannot delete one folder from the server after the CAD Coordinator has made a change and updated it to the server, then proceed to update the server with the assistants version of the same folder, because then the CAD Coordinator's changes have been destroyed. The same goes for any situation where both persons have copied the folder to his/her hard disk and is/are making changes. One person must make changes at a time, save the data to the server, and notify the other user that the changes have been made and have been updated to the server. Once this is done then the other user can copy the new version from the server to his/her local hard disk, make additional changes then re-update to the server, as long as the other user is not continuing to make changes to that folder.
Because of this conflict, I have begun researching the option of automatic version control software that will in effect manage these changes and the folders and files there in. Such software would maintain the folder statis on the server like a library. When a user decides to make a change the server would in effect mark the folder on the server as checked out of the server, the user could then make the changes on the local system. When all the changes are done the user could check the folder back into the server and the server would automatically load the users updated folder and files into replace the out-dated version on the server. Then the server would mark the folder and files as checked back in and make it available to other users. This would keep other users from making changes to the files and folders while one user was making those changes. It would also allow others to view the current version of the files and folders on the server even while the changes are being made. Not only that but the server could also keep a history of the changes which would be good for security since they require a historical record back a good many number of years. (see section on Maintaining and Updating the System subsection security's historical log book.)
This process of checking out folders and files from the server like a library must be done using Windows Server .NET(DOT-NET).
I have talked with the head of ITS about developing such a system, but they are too busy to develop such a system that is so elaborate and is in effect only used by a very limited number of users.
Right now there are 5 books around the campus that must be updated every time a change is made. This means printing full color copies down at the Printing Services Department. The books take 11x14 pages, which means they must be printed at 11x17 and cropped down using a chopping board. Printing at 11x17 in full color at the Splash Server costs $2.00 per sheet. This means maintaining the books is expensive, and that's an understatement! (For instructions on Maintenance see the section on Maintaining and Updating the System.)
So researching a network method of publishing these documents, files, and folders on the internet is worth the payoff! Not only that but it will help in all the areas listed above, and give the CAD Coordinator more time to develop the master planning system instead of running papers to the different books around the campus.
Large Pictures Folder
The Large Pictures is where the original images are kept. These are the original files taken with the digital camera. They are 1600 X 1200 pixels in size.
It is very important that the digital camera be used to populate these folders, because the quality and compression of the images taken with the digital camera provides for better color depth and shape approximation than a scanned photo. Consequently when the images are saved to the hard disk and used in thumbnail view under Windows2000(tm) they load faster into the thumbs.db database file, and they are loaded faster from the thumbs.db file into memory, and from memory into video memory, and from video memory to the display. If a scanned photo is used in place of this the resulting compression and color depth slow this data flow down. This has been verified! Speed in this system is essential and the slower data flow is about twice as slow from the network server.
Picture Taking Tips
It's also important to take the close up picture with the camera zoomed all the way in, that way you get the best possible aperture rating for the straight edges of the sign. This will come into play when you start modifying the original images for the digital campus model and master planning project described later. (See section on master planning project.)
It's also important to take the photos in the best possible light. If it's too dark, like a cloudy day in January, you might be best either not taking the pictures on that day and waiting till another day, or some other time of that same day when you expect that the light might be better.
Also don't take the picture in too much light or you'll get white washed signs that will be too blurry, this can happen on extremely bright days in June and July.
If your taking the picture on a somewhat cloudy day, but not too dark, then make sure you turn the flash off or the camera will think it's too dark and take the photo with a flash and you'll get a white wash on your sign. A side note on the camera flash, please make sure that you always set the flash to automatic after doing custom photos like above, this is the default setting and it should be left like this, because Dave uses the camera for capturing other community events sometimes indoors and doesn't like it when the camera flash is turned off.
Same goes for if it's in the middle of January/February and extremely bright out, don't take photos of signs that are facing north because the camera will be pointed directly into the sun and you'll get a silhouette of a sign instead of capturing the contents of the sign.
If you must get a photo of a sign for record keeping but the conditions are not right, then go-ahead and take the photo, but remember to come back to it, and get a better one later when the conditions are more appropriate.
Small Pictures Folder
The Small Pictures is where the thumbnail images are kept. These images will serve the web based and hard copy based publication. These images are 216 X 162 pixels in size. They are the images that are placed into the PageMaker .pmd file. They are also the images that are linked to in the CAD drawing (the .dwg file). <For instructions on Hyper-linking see the section of Maintaining and Updating the System.>
Other than those differences the Small Pictures is a direct mirror of the Large Pictures Folder described above. When changes are made to the Large Pictures Folder the CAD Coordinator or system user that made the change is responsible for seeing that those changes propagate through to the other folders and files. It is also the CAD Coordinator's job to see that any other users making these changes complete those changes to the other files and folders. Again see the section on Maintaining and Updating the System.
Notice also from the screen shots that the it is difficult to tell the difference at a glance between the large pictures and the small pictures folders. This can and has been cause for accidental deletion of original files. Which means that the user has to go and retake the photos that where taken to affect the change in the first place. And re-update the local folder from the outdated server version and begin on the changes anew. Yet another reason for a version control system!
Old Maps Folder
This folder is where the old maps are kept. Old .dwg files that are no longer in use, and don't provide sufficient location detail. These maps are typically not connected with the Boltman & Mink survey system, or the hyperlinks to the images in the Small Pictures Folder. It was required that we maintain original files from back in the day, before all these XREF and hyperlink changes where made. (See section on Maintaining and Updating the System sub-section Adding XREF & Hyperlinks)
Texture Maps Folder
This folder is yet another proto-type folder leading to a future of master planning system for the campus. While this aspect of the system may not have a direct application it was developed in parallel with the rest of the system in the vision of a complete master planning system for the entire campus as one system. The time invested in developing this aspect of the system up to it's current level far exceeds the maintenance of the system through its yearly changes. **Even Dave's changes** And that's saying something! So it's imperative to maintain this aspect of the system now that it is in place, because re-investing the original time already invested to re-develop this aspect of the system would be a 2 fold cost! Continuing the development of the master planning project in parallel with the maintenance with this aspect of the system is critical to the system as a whole. There are several more technical hurdles to clear before this aspect of the system can completely pay off. However, when that time comes the pay off will be fantastic! I guess what I'm saying here is this part of the system is 5-10 years ahead of it's time, and it should be maintained because in 5-10 years your going to want this! So keep working on it! Please for your own sake!
I would love to hear some day that this work helped build the first completely 3D virtual campus based on actual buildings on the CBS evening news!
The images in this folder are manually isolated from the background noise of the original image. The nature of the isolation effect is to manually paint pixel by pixel around the sign in Photoshop. This may sound a bit tedious at first, but once you understand the process a little better you can become faster at it, and this part of the image processing actually proceeds quite fast. Also at this point there are only a limited number of signs that have to be isolated manually each month/year. Which is another reason why it should be done in parallel with the rest of the changes, because imagine isolating each sign for the whole campus. Roughly speaking that's about 1,500 signs. I've already done that much for you. So just do the easy stuff! Please again for your own sake!
The intended application of this aspect of the system is in a 3D virtual model, where the texture map of the isolated sign can be applied onto a virtual sign in a 3D campus model to provide additional level of flexibility in the system for master planning and visualization, even campus recruitment marketing, and alumni fund marketing. The development of the system will also aid in developing student skills to a point of making those individuals participating in the development and design process more marketable to their industry of choice at their graduation, and this in turn will help the university's reputation in participating actively in the education of it's students to the needs of the community and industry at large.
To isolate the sign we paint white around the sign if the background is so washed out, or bright that it looks white then switch to black, and paint over the black with white when your done. DON'T USE A PAINT BUCKET IN PHOTOSHOP THAT HAS A BLEED EFFECT! (For techniques in sign isolation see the section on Maintaining and Updating the System sub-section Building the Texture Maps).
Below is an example of a sign that could have wash out, but it doesn't. It almost does as you can see on the upper left corner of the sign it's nearly completely white. Painting white onto such a background is nearly impossible, and hard on your eyes. For this reason it is best to paint it black then go back over it with white to complete the isolation of the sign.
Below is an example of another sign after the isolation is completed.
Sub Folder Alpha
The Alpha sub folder is to aid the texture maps when they are applied in the virtual 3D Campus model. The isolated sign by itself is not enough, because although the sign has been isolated if the texture map is applied to a virtual 3D model of the sign, the sides of the sign will still appear white in the virtual model. To eliminate this problem there was a need to create alpha maps for the images, that can be used to filter out the white, and in effect set the opacity of the texture map so that the parts that are white in the isolated picture above actually appear to be clear in the model.
Below is an example alpha map of the same sign above. Notice how the actual shape of the sign is marked by the white, and the parts where the sign is not at is marked by the black.
When the alpha map is applied as an alpha mask to the texture map the white part described an opacity of 100% to the texture map, which means it shows the sign, but the black describes an opacity of 0% which means it's clear. (For techniques in making alpha maps see the section on Maintaining and Updating the System sub-section Alpha Maps)
When summer gets here most of the parking system changes in some form or another. Gold changes to summer gold, so while a parking customer may hold a gold parking pass that pass will give them guaranteed gold parking through the summer. But people who only wish to purchase a gold parking pass can get one that will only be available through the summer months, then it will expire. A person who purchased a school year gold but does not have a need for it through the summer months can go to the hub (1866) for a prorated refund.
Purple parking on the other hand, and green for that matter, even discount (dark) green becomes free parking. Even on-street purple becomes free parking.
For this reason there has to be changes in the parking signage system, that way potential customers, and prospective students/parents don't get confused with permit parking stalls and free parking stalls, during the summer months of Vikings Summer Training Camp, and Orientation/FYE.
Because of all the changes that take place we actually needed to make a completely different system for those summer months, However it is tied into the original system in the most efficient, and space saving method available, while maintaining a comprehensive representation of the system.
The summer folder is supposed to contain an identical copy of the original system of files and folders, minus the summer folder, because it wouldn't make any sense to have nested recursive folders, besides the operating system won't let that happen anyways.
The .dwg file contains the exact same details except the image hyperlinks are linked to a different folder, they are linked to the .jpg files in the small pictures folder nested inside the summer folder. Also all the purple and green stalls are appropriately marked as free.
The .pmd file contains the images of the signs from the small pictures folder nested inside the summer folder. We have not ever published these, because as stated above, it costs $2.00 per sheet, and re-publishing these pages just for the summer months is nearly pointless. However with a web system, the entire system can be changed into a summer system with a few clicks of the mouse, that's one of the reasons a summer system was pursued.
A little Summer Signage History. It used to be that nearly every single purple and green and orange parking sign was removed and replaced with a "Free Summer Parking" sign. This was tedious and very time consuming! It also required lots of man power, 2-3 people could do the whole thing in 1-2 days. It was a LOT of driving around from one sign to the next, taking down the orange, purple, and green signs only to replace them with "Free". Also it was hot, some days reaching as high as a hundred degrees. You had to have a ladder to reach the signs that where placed up high, and you had to have a minivan for those days because it was completely impossible to carry 400 lbs of free summer parking signs, and still carry another 400 lbs of signs under the other arm of signs you've changed out already. You also had to have all the tools to remove the signs. Then after making all the replacements, 10 weeks later they all had to be switched back again, which meant doing the whole thing all over again.
The current solution to this is to have temporary signs that go up under the existing signs. These small temporary signs say "Free Summer Parking" and they can be put up with one bolt. Their small size also means they are as easy to take down as they are to put up, rather than replace with other full size signs.
The plan was to make these signs permanent and refer them to the seasonal changes, but because of the constantly changing first and last day of fall/spring semesters it makes it impossible to set a date that applies to all of the parking system. There was a proposal to make the expiration of the purple and green system to the free summer parking system on the calendar month. For example "End of May"-to-"End of August" but that doesn't work either because sometimes school starts at the beginning of September, and ends in the middle of May. For this reason the current solution was adopted.
The Large Pictures folder contains all the images from the parent Large Pictures folder, with the exception that there are small "Free Summer Parking" signs tacked on the bottom of most of the purple and green permit signs. These images are 1600 X 1200 pixels in size.
Again the Small Pictures folder contains all the images from the parent Small Pictures folder, with the exception that there are small "Free Summer Parking" signs tacked on the bottom of most of the purple and green permit signs. The images are 216 X 162 pixels in size. This essentially makes this folder an exact replica of the Large Pictures folder, except the images have been resized (for resizing tips see section Maintaining and Updating the System sub-section Image Processing), in the same way that the Small Pictures folder of the parent directory is an exact replica of the Large Pictures folder of the parent directory except the images have been resized.
The Old maps folder contains the old plans for whatever folder you are looking at inside the Summer folder, exactly like the Old maps of the parent folder.
The Texture Maps folder inside the summer folder contains exactly the same files as the parent Texture Maps folder, except the files that are different (files with a small "Free Summer Parking" sign on the bottom) are used to construct the texture maps in this sub-folder.
The sub-sub-Alpha folder inside the Summer-Texture Maps folder contains the alpha masks of the signs from the parent Texture Maps folder, with the only difference being the signs that have a small "Free Summer Parking sign tacked on the bottom.
Other than those differences the folders are identical, while maintaining the appropriate purpose.
Master Planning Project
The concept of a master plan for the university shows which direction the university would like to organize itself in the next decade to the next two decades. It is a long term plan that encompasses everything from restrooms, to the online registration system, and everything in between, building systems, electrical systems, HVAC (environment control), plumbing, air return spaces, classrooms, offices, computers, wireless, EVERYTHING!!! As if it was all rolled into one big ball of wax and looked at from outside the university. This was done by a team of consultants. Their results can be seen here:
You'll notice a considerable amount of effort was made to evaluate the parking system. This includes several studies done by graduate students from the department of Urban Development. To better understand the system, and how it operates we need information on the system. The more precise and accurate the information the more reliable our assessment of the system will be. So the best way to get the best information is to build the systems in such a way that they provide constant feed-back on the efficiency, and productivity of the system. We also want to be able to get a better visual aid to how the system performs, where it's shortcomings are, where it's strengths are. We would like to be able to see clearly why, and how the shortcomings of the system affect the rest of the system, and where. Another reason is because a united system that manages itself can give more time to those that deal with the current system and it's inefficiencies.
For these reasons we would like to strive to unite all the systems into one, so that we can see and even study the effects of single events, or multiple events as they propagate through every aspect of the system. This goal is something to aspire for, for a long time to come because it is very difficult to bring many small systems that don't have anything to do with each other together. And many loose sight of the reason why they are working for this goal in the first place in their day to day lives, some are not even aware that this is being done, or that it even should be done. Others disagree on it's construction completely. This shows that there is a lot of disagreement as to the nature of this project and it's goals.
There are also many technical details. For instance how does one provide technical details on an office computer system to an information management system that also needs information on the location of parking signs? And for that matter how would that system also provide or even take in information on water pumps in the Utility Plant, or enunciator panels in fire control. Some believe that the solution to this is the internet. I agree with this in some aspects, but not others. There needs to be not only a level of control, but also a certain level of access. The system will never be maintained, if those that need to maintain it can't get access to make the changes. But if others can get in and view the information they should not be made public then we could have anybody from anywhere very easily find a Mechanical room containing HVAC, and air return fans and plant explosively delivered air-born biological toxins, with little or no effort at all. Or even find a way into the Ethernet control hub for the mechanical room for the ACC and disconnect the cameras from the servers so they can break in and steal computer memory and hard drives. These are just some examples of possible problems that should be considered in building this system.
Some parts of the system can be on the internet, but those parts that are on the internet will probably have various levels of control and access. There might even be a security level classification to the system from the internet. But there would also need to be security clearance levels for access to the system from inside it. This is because there are certain aspects of such a system that will only be able to be modified inside certain programs. For instance changes made to the parking system, or building systems will probably involve AutoCAD. Not everyone will have access to a computer with AutoCAD, in fact not everyone will want access to AutoCAD. But the changes must be made in AutoCAD. The plans produced in AutoCAD can be viewed from the internet if the user has Volo View Express, which can be downloaded for free from the AutoDesk website for free here:
But not everyone should have access to these plans from the internet. For reasons described above, and many others not so obvious.
Another aspect of this is the wireless revolution. With the changes brought on by wireless internet is the ability to make changes to AutoCAD plans on the go through a Palm or PocketPC with AutoDesk's On Site Enterprise:
The biggest part of building a master system is the data entry! We have billions even trillions of things that are in our every day usage, and millions more things that play a secondary role in the system. Getting these many many parts of the system into the master system takes time! LOTS OF TIME! However, once it's entered once, it doesn't have to be entered again until it changes.
This is where the wireless internet will play the biggest role. If a person or persons working on building the master system have to take a clipboard and pen with them, physically write down the information they discover in which ever part of the campus they are in and return to the office before putting it into the master system, it will never get done. But if that same person or persons can take their office with them in the palm of their hand, and enter the data onsite, move to the next site and enter more data there is a ten fold savings in time and effort and even money!
AutoCAD, The Internet, and The Network
Many of the current systems in use around this campus are done across the network. For instance the registration system or the vehicle registration/request systems are done in database management systems like FileMaker Pro or MS Access or some other DBMS (Database Management System). That is there is a program on the users computer that the user inputs the data into, that data is immediately sent through the network to a local server to be saved. The files on that server are probably housed in a data store or some sort of Redundant form of storage, and periodically backed up to some other form of media such as tape.
Then there is the internet. Many of the systems on campus are now moving to the internet. So if a user needs to have a temporary sign posted for parking for an orientation event, they go onto the Sign Shop website:
And they would go into the online ordering system and place an order for a sign at that location, at that time, and they would pay through a chargeback/account system.
The same goes for if a building is too hot or too cold, or if there is something broken in a building, they would go to the building work order system.
The data entered there is put into a DBMS and can be tracked by the users managing the system from the inside.
AutoCAD is simply put a database. However it's represented in a graphical form, where objects can be displayed in 3D and contain properties that have meaning to contractors, builders, electricians, plumbers and other technicians. But the objects can mean anything to anybody, and objects in AutoCAD can be linked to objects in other databases that don't have information that fits into AutoCAD. AutoCAD even has it's own ODBC driver. In fact while programming for AutoCAD in order to dig into an object so that it can be edited you must use Acdbxxx() This classification of functions refers to Acad DB or database. AutoCAD also works closely with, and doubles as a runtime LISP interpreter. LISP stands for Lots of Insignificant and Suplerferious Parentheses. Actually that's a joke because of all the parentheses that are used in LISP. LISP actually stands for List Processor. Because LISP processes on list operands it's actually processing on data elements in a database. Because all a database is, is a list of objects and instances of those objects, each with it's own data elements.
So in conclusion all the databases do indeed have many things in common. It's going to be a technical challenge to bring them together. If you are reading this, then that is part of your job.
Don't let anyone tell you that it's anything less, and don't lower yourself by letting it slide by. If your reading this then your expertise is needed, and you should rise up to the challenge. The worst it can do is improve your resume.
Maintaining and Updating the System (A Procedural Look)
The first step in maintaining the system is to identify what changes must be made. We will look at one change and follow it through the process of making the change in the CAD plan, publishing the CAD plan, making the change to the sign, propagating the change through to the other folders, updating the images in the publication files and publishing those files into hard copy for distribution, updating the hard copy books, and retaining a historical log for record keeping purposes in the department of security. As we go through this process we'll dig deeper into techniques and procedural standards that will help you remember certain aspects of the procedure, and not forget to make changes like the most frequent mistake, forgetting to update the date of a document when the change is made. And we'll look at the reasons for these procedures, so that when you make a design change in the process of maintaining and updating the system you know what your making it for, and how to best design that change to the current system so as to get the maximum benefit from it.
So Step one (Discovery):
You discover that there has been a sign change in LOT11, but lets say that the person that told you was David Cowan, and he didn't specify what the change was. Just that you needed to get the change on record. And lets say that this just happens to be your first day on the job, you don't even know where LOT11 is. Well the first thing to do is get your self a map of MSU. Your going to need it. Any map will do. I did one in the phone book 3 years ago and it's still being re-printed. Then there is the green MSU map that's everywhere, I helped out with the design of that one too. Ok so then there is the MSU parking map. That would work. If you can't find any of those then your really down on luck you can always go down the hall to either the Office where Larry Kohanek and Charles Anderson are. In Charles' office on the west wall is a large map of MSU. There is an identical aerial map in the conference room beside the lobby for the Auditorium also right here in Wiecking Center. Once you've looked this up you will know where the change is. So no you need to get there. If its January it might be cold outside. If it's June it might be hot outside. Either case it might be a little bit better if you got a car through David's General Parking account. If it's nice out then you may as well just walk over there.
Step two (Preparing, and Data Gathering):
It's best to take the blue parking book (CAD book) with you, but if your just making one change, you could just grab the plan out of the blue book (CAD book) and take it on a clipboard with you over to the site, don't forget the pen. Your going to want to mark down the changes. Once you've got the book don't forget the camera. The camera is located in the top drawer behind Brian's desk. Check the camera out by filling out a line on the form on the clipboard in the drawer. The purpose of this is to know who had the camera last, and who currently has the camera in the event that it's not in the drawer, or incase it has been found to be broken. I know that almost no one else checks out the camera for use, including Dave, who just happens to be the person who wanted the check-out sheet. This was decided because Larry Kohanek had his camera stolen right out of Marty's office. It's a good habit to get into.
Operating The Digital Camera
The Olympus Digital Camera is a very delicate piece of machinery. We've had it for a long time 3 & 1/2 to 4 years. So it's been through a lot! Some of the major problems we've had with that camera are: I was driving with it changing Signs over on West Rd. and being in a hurry, I had 15 minutes to finish changing the signs on West Rd. from Free Summer to Purple, and take pictures of the changes. Plus I wanted to get over the South Rd. East before 4:00 and take the pictures over there too, which was during the construction of Taylor Center. This was back in the day when the majority of the parking signage and parking planning system was still under construction. I came around the north west corner of West Rd. and Maywood right by the heating plant, and cranked the wheel hard. The power drill flipped over and the battery pack cracked into the plastic display on the back of the digital camera. That took out like 4 months of repair time on the camera during which we had to use a film camera and hand scan the photos (Back in the days before digital development services from the photo developer). Even if they did have digital development services the compression still would not have been the same as the digital camera (See Picture Taking Tips). And the messed up the development of the parking system for a good year or so, before all new pictures could be taken of all those signs that had been taken photos of by the film camera. Problem two is still kind of a problem, it's been taken care of once but its slowly coming back. About a year ago (2001) the camera started to have power problems. It would turn itself off while under normal operation and full battery power for no reason at all. Then sometimes when it was off, it would try to turn itself on for no reason at all. It got so bad that we almost had to just take the batteries out when not taking a picture. But it was sent in for repair again and it came back working much better, however, I have seen the same symptoms returning again slowly.
When the camera was first purchased it cost nearly $900. Now that quality has come down in cost and is not around $200 - $100. So at some point it might actually pay off better to have Dave just get another one.
In the event that David gets another camera, your going to want to make sure that the quality of the images is maintained (No higher, and no lower). You don't want the images to be any higher because the images already take up too much space, even with space becoming cheaper and cheaper these days you don't want to have to do the whole thing over again, besides even for a master planning project the current high resolution images are enough to satisfy even the biggest needs of the most advanced master planning system. There simply isn't any reason to have 1 mill. resolution images of every parking sign on campus. Unless your trying to put MSU into a new version of "The Matrix". So if you have a higher quality camera your going to want to resize the images down to 1600 x 1200. Best way to do this is with a batch program in PhotoShop (See Image Processing). For now the default on the camera is 1600 x 1200 which is what everything has been done at.
To start up the camera first check the batteries on the bottom of the camera. Turn the little locking mechanism and hold your hand under the swing away door to prevent the batteries from falling on the floor. Make sure the orientation of the batteries is the same as the little icon right next to the swing away door. When your sure the orientation of the batteries is correct push the swing door closed and hold it while you slide the locking mechanism back into place.
To get the camera into the default mode remove the camera lens and make sure the radio button on the top of the camera is pointed at the "P" indicator on the round part of the radio button, then depress the power button on the top of the camera just once. The camera's telephoto lens should extend and lock into position, while the display remains dark. To turn on the display depress the rubber button on the back of the camera with the screen icon next to it. The one that looks like this "|O|". Wait a few seconds and the display should light up with the image that is coming in through the focal lens.
If you need to look back at a previous picture, simply turn the radio button on the top of the camera to the green indicator on the top of the radio button. The display will refresh and display the last picture that was taken. To browse back into the list of images on the flash memory card press the down button on the navigation button at the back of the camera. This will move down the list of images. To move back up the list, press the up arrow on the same button.
To zoom in your going to pull the two-way radio button on the top front of the camera right next to the radio/setting/power button. To zoom out push the same two-way radio.
And to take the photo depress the shinny silver button on top of the two-way radio button the on the top front of the camera.
As a side note don't get the power button and the photo button mixed up.
To turn off the flash depress the settings button on the back of the camera just above the digital display. The one that looks like this "|=|". The use the arrow buttons and scroll down the menu till you get to an icon on the screen that looks like either an eye, a lighting bolt, a lighting bolt with the word "Auto" beside it, a lighting bolt with a circle and a line through it, or just a lighting bolt. Again use the arrows to change the settings. The eye means that the camera takes the photo of what it sees, and exactly that with no contrast or brightness adjustment. The eye with the Auto means that it takes the photo of what it sees with automatic contrast and/or brightness adjustment. The lighting bolt with a circle and a line through it means, no flash. The lighting bolt means that it takes the photo with the flash. (See Image Processing).
So now you've got the camera set up and ready to go. Now it comes time to take the camera and the clipboard and the pen and plan, and head out to the site. When you get to the site orient your self with the plan and the site. Best way is to face north and turn the map so that north is up. Or the if it's more appropriate face east and turn the plan so that east is up, or same with any other point on the compass.
Then look at the map, and look at the lot and find the differences between them. Those differences are the changes that need to be made to the plan. Lets say you discover that there is a new Facilities Management/Vendor Delivery Sign and the gold stall has been moved down by one stall. Draw the changes on the plan with the pen so when you get back to the office you know what changes to make to the plan. Now once you've finished drawing the changes on the plan your ready to take the photos of the signs. The best way to take the photos is to take them in order. So lets say that where looking at the following location.
Notice that the signs are numbered from left to right. So if your standing in the lot looking south at the parking stalls and the signs then they will be numbered from right to left. So all the signs need to be renumbered. Sign number 2 will be placed in front of the stall in the above diagram that currently has the word "Gold" in it. In the changed plan the world gold would move left by one stall and the arrow indicator would also move one stall to the left in the plan. Then sign number 02-a/02-b becomes sign number 03-a/03-b, and sign number 03-a/03-b becomes sign number 04-a/04-b and so on through all the sign numbers for the plan. Then you will copy one of the "FACILITIES MGMT/ VENDOR" Stall labels to the place where the "GOLD" used to be.
Now you've finished changing the plan to reflect the changes made to that parking lot. Now you need to update the image names. Because you can't update the hyperlinks in the CAD plan until the image names are match the new plan. So it's best to save the CAD file as it is now. To properly save the file as it should be follow the directions below.
Then type "z-enter-s-enter" Then type in "1/<Scale in Title Block>xp-enter". Again that last part is 1/(The scale in the Title block)followed immediately with the letters xp with no space followed by enter. You might find that the alignment of the drawing is off. As in the example below.
You can see in the circled red that the stall count in paper space is overlapping part of the parking plan. This is bad! you will have a lot of pissed off customers if you let this sort of thing slip by.
To correct this problem after doing the zoom command above, simple click and hold the mouse wheel and drag the mouse up to move the plan out of the overlapping position with the Paper Space text and icons. Every plan has been laid out and designed such that there should be no overlap at the title block described scale. Just don't forget to type "xp" after you type in the scale, or it will throw everything off. Course you can always redo the command.
Then double click out of the MView pane. Then double click on the date field in the title block and make sure your typing in the date field in the corresponding dialog box (see below). Change the date to the current date. When you click "OK" in that dialog box the CAD program might throw you back into the MView. Sometimes this happens to me, and it promptly zooms-extents-all in the Mview Pane. This is really annoying, but to fix it all you have to do is repeat the zoom command above, then make sure you click back into the Paper Space and save the file, then delete the file from the server and copy the updated file up to the appropriate location on the server, that's the same place you deleted the other file from.
Here is the example of the Title Block dialog box:
Now your ready for step 3.
Step 3 (Image Processing): We start the image processing after making the above changes, but in the event that the digital camera is needed for some other event you might need to download the images from the camera. And DON'T FORGET TO DELETE THEM FROM THE CAMERA! Nobody else seems to do this, and Dave doesn't like it when there are extra pictures on the camera, because they take up space, and battery power to delete the images from the camera. So it's a good habit to get into.
Downloading: To download the images open the side panel on the camera. When your looking at the back of the camera its the panel on the right. You should see an icon on the door that tells you how to re-insert the flash card into the camera. Just a little to the left of that you should see the flash memory card nestled into the slot. Depress the card with your index finger and when you lift up you should feel the card slid free of the locking mechanism. Place your index finger and thumb on the front and back of the very edge of the flash card and pull free. Holding the card just like that turn it over so that the gold memory leads are facing down and slid into the "SanDisk" flash card reader on the desktop. Press firmly and evenly on the back center edge of the card to make sure it is securely placed into the flash card reader. Then open up "My Computer" on the desktop and double click on the "Removable Media" device listed with the other drives. Currently this is listed as drive "J:" Once into the card you'll see a folder called "DCIM" double click on this. You'll see a folder called "100OLYMP" double click on this. This folder is where the images are kept. Open up another My Computer from the desktop and click on "C:" then go into the "Parking" folder, then the "PARKING_LOTS" folder, then the "11x14" folder. Now you will see all the folders for the spaces on campus (see Spaces above). In our case we want the "LOT11" folder so double click on that. Now the best practice is to download the new image files right into the root of this folder. And process them out from there. That way if you have taken any doubles or even triple images to get good quality photos of the signs then you can weed them out from here. Also its going to be better for renaming purposes, and doling out the files to the proper folders within the "LOT11" folder. Once the images are off the flash card for the digital camera, then you need to go back to "My Computer and right click on the "J:" / "Removable Media" drive and go down to eject, in the resulting pull down menu. Click "Ok" on the resulting pop-up window. Then you can remove the flash card with your thumb and index finger, and place it carefully back into the flash memory slot on the right side of the digital camera. Make sure you have the gold memory leads facing towards you as in the depicted diagram on the swing door of the camera. Press the flash card firmly and evenly on the back center edge of the card until it is completely back into the card slot, release and allow the locking mechanism to take the card. Then close the swing door on the side of the camera to protect the flash card from incidental damage.
Now your ready to start processing the images you've downloaded.
Your going to start processing the images by renaming the files in the current folders, that way when you copy the new images into the folders you don't overwrite the wrong files.
First start with the large pictures folder. In our example we start by renaming image 11-02-a.jpg to 11-03-a.jpg. Likewise rename 11-02-b to 11-03-b, and 11-03-a to 11-04-a, and 11-03-b to 11-04-b, and so on through the remaining files in that folder. (SEE RENAMING BUGS)
Now you should have a gap in your naming scheme. The list of names should be something like this:
I've provided the space between 1 and 3 to emphasize my point. Furthermore image files 11-03-a.jpg and 11-03-1.jpg are the old pictures for sign number 2. But this sign has changed too. You should have the new sign pictures in the root of the LOT11 folder. Now you'll need to rename these files into the format. So the gold sign pictures will be named 11-02-a.jpg for the close up shot and 11-02-b.jpg for the far away shot of that sign. THIS IS WHEN IT BECOMES APPARENT THAT YOU NEED TO TAKE THE PHOTOS IN ORDER, OR YOU WILL GET MIXED UP AS TO WHICH PICTURE IS OF WHICH SIGN. Likewise the other two photos will be renamed to 11-03-a.jpg for the close in shot of that sign and 11-03-b.jpg for the far away shot of that same sign. Now you can select these files, and drag them with your right mouse button into the "Large Pictures" folder and over write any duplicates. You know you can over write the duplicates because you renamed the files in that folder to reflect the changes, and you know that the only duplicates your going to have are of 11-03-a.jpg and 11-03-b.jpg and those two images need to be over written because you took the two new ones.
Then the fastest thing to do is go into the "Large pictures folder and while in that folder press "CTRL+A" (Command for Select All) then press "CTRL+C" (Command for Copy Selected). Then navigate into the small pictures folder, press "CTRL+A" again followed by the delete key, then press "CTRL+V" (Command for Paste what was copied). The files should fill the folder. At this point if you don't have PhotoShop open you better open it.
I'm going to describe the next step in full detail, including the process of building batch files so that is completely understood how to proceed in the event that you are working on a new computer.
Go into PhotoShop. Now open the first file in that folder. At this point your going to need the actions floating dialog box. It might be nested inside another floating dialog box as a tab, or to find it the easy way go to the window pull-down menu at the top of the application window and scroll down the menu to the "Show Actions" menu option. If it says "Hide Actions" then it's already showing.
Your not going to want to create the new batch action in the "Default Actions" folder. Best thing is to create a "Parking" folder in here, where you can create all the actions your going to need to associate with the parking system. You might have different actions that you want to associate with other systems such as the Lawn & Garden system for instance. It's best to keep these separate.
Once you have the action folder setup then your ready to start creating actions. The first action you will create is a Small Pictures action that will automatically convert large pictures down to a small picture of a given size. The size will be the size you define when you record the macro.
Now you are ready to create the macro that will resize the large pictures in the Small Pictures folder into small pictures of size 216 pixels wide by 162 pixels high. First click the "Create New Action" button on the bottom of the floating dialog box. It's the button right next to the trash can.
This is what it looks like:
In the "Name: " field type "Small Pictures" and of course make sure you have set the "Set: " to be the "Parking" set you created earlier. The rest of the options you really don't need to worry about right now. Just press the "Record button". Now you see why you needed to have the image open before you did this.
On the floating actions dialog box you should have a red circle that is depressed. This means you are recording, and any actions you make will be preformed on each and every image when you play back the macro on a folder full of images. Now these actions do not include mouse movements, or time spent making the modifications. The changes that are recorded are actual changes to the image itself. That's anything that shows up in the "History" floating dialog box. This way those actions can be executed on large numbers of images in an expedient manner.
So now to make the change to the image that needs to be done go up to the "Image" menu item and pull it down. Go to the menu object "Image Size..."
The dialog box will look like this:
As shown above you want to change the "Width: " Field to 216 and if you have the "Constrain Proportions" checkbox at the bottom of the dialog box selected and you see the black chain link connected to the right of the "Width: " and "Height: " fields then the "Height: " field should automatically change to "162" as shown above. If the "Constrain Proportions" checkbox at the bottom of the dialog box is not selected you will have to either select it or make the change to the "Height: " field manually. Don't worry about the rest of the options, just press the "OK" button at the top right of the dialog box.
The image you have opened should promptly resize itself to the above indicated pixel dimensions. Then just press the stop button, right next to the red record button on the "Actions" floating dialog box as seen below:
Then the resizing macro is written for the Small Pictures folder, now you can play this macro on any of the small pictures folder to automatically resize any number of images in that folder. And it's ok to run this macro on folders that only have a small number of files that need to be resized.
You can now close the file you opened, and you don't even need to save the changes you made to the file.
To play back the macro you just made go into the file menu item at the top of the application menu and drag down to the Automate menu option. There will be a fly-out, you want the Automate-fly-out option "Batch...". You'll get the following dialog box:
Grab the "Set: " pull-down and set it to the parking set that you defined earlier. Then grab the "Action: " pull-down and set it to the Small Pictures action that you just finished creating.
Make sure the "Source: " pull-down is set to "Folder" and your ready to choose the source folder. In this case you want "C:\Parking\PARKING_LOTS\11x14\LOT11\Small Pictures"
Then just make sure you have the "Destination: " field set to "Save and Close" and press "OK". You will see images popping up and resizing then promptly closing. This is the resizing operation you created being performed on each image in that folder.
When it's all done then every image in the folder was resized and your done.
Now you've finished updating the images and file names in the "Large Pictures" folder, and the changes in the "Large Pictures" folder are now reflected in the "Small Pictures" folder as well. As it should be. There are two more folders that need updating. The "Texture Maps" folder and the "Summer" folder. To update the "Summer" folder first copy the new images into the summer folder. Now you can determine what other changes need to be made within that folder.
In the case of making a new facilities management sign in LOT11 then we need to rename the images in this folder as well. But we can't just copy the images from the parent "Large Pictures" folder because that would destroy the "Free Summer Parking" images that are in the "Summer\Large Pictures" folder. Once renamed we need to identify what signs in the "Summer" folder have "Free Summer Parking" on them.
If there is a sign that has just changed and IT IS one of those signs that has "Free Summer Parking" on it then we leave that image in the root "Summer" folder and wait till summer to record the changes to that folder. If the sign that has just changed IS NOT one of the signs that says "Free Summer Parking" then we go ahead and copy the new images into the "Summer\Large Pictures" folder. Delete the images in the "Summer\Small Pictures" folder and re-copy the images from the "Summer\Large Pictures" folder into the "Summer\Small Pictures" Then run the Small Pictures PhotoShop action on the "C:\Parking\PARKING_LOTS\11x14\LOT11\Summer\Small Pictures" folder to make sure that all of them are now the right size.
The next 4 steps are not in critical order. So if you have a
precedent requirement then please proceed to that step to expedite that process, however, don't neglect to return to the previous steps to finish processing that change.
Building the Texture Maps
To start building the texture maps we need to get the right images into the right folders. To do this you need to go back to the root folder of the location where the changes are at. You can go ahead and delete the far away shots. Then rename the close in shots. So for instance image 11-02-a.jpg would be renamed to 11-02.jpg. The reason for this is because we don't need the "-a" because we don't have any far away shots in the texture maps folder.
Then your going to have to make sure you rename the images inside the "Texture Maps" folder just like you did in the "Large Pictures" folder, so that when you copy the images that you took from the root folder into the "Large Pictures" folder you don't over write any images that you intended to keep. So in our example image number 11-02.jpg would be renamed to 11-03.jpg, and 11-03.jpg would be renamed to 11-04.jpg, and so on through all the images in the "Texture Maps" folder. (SEE RENAMING BUGS)
Once you have done this for the root of the "Texture Maps" folder then you need to repeat it for the "Alpha Maps" folder. It is a good idea to do this immediately after doing it for the root "Texture Maps" folder so that it is not forgotten.
Now copy the images in the root location folder into the "Texture Maps" folder and copy them again into the "Alpha Maps" folder within the "Texture Maps" folder. Recall that the "Alpha Maps" folder contains grey scale isolation maps of the sign image profile. Also realize that you just copied full color close up images of the new signs into this same folder. This is to remind you what has to be done in this folder, in the event that you should get separated from your task at some point in the process. After this you should be ready to start working on the actual maps in Photoshop. All the work in this section so far has been setup work leading up to the actual texture map work you'll be doing on the images next.
Open Photoshop if you haven't already done so and open the two images in the "LOT11\Texture Maps\" 11-02.jpg and 11-03.jpg. Make one of the images full screen inside the Photoshop application window. Now your going to look at the tools floating dialog box, it's actually more like a floating toolbar:
Right now the Selection tool is selected. Your going to want to select the pencil tool. Then check your settings in the options and brushes floating dialog boxes shown below:
In the "Pencil Options" floating dialog box shown above the drawing style should be set to Normal as shown, Opacity should be set to 100% with 0 in the Fade steps field and no Auto Erase.
In the "Brushes" floating dialog box shown above your going to want to select the number 2 brush. That's the second brush from the left on the top row. That brush will be the best brush to use in most circumstances. Occasionally when you get into tight situations you might wish to switch to the number 1 brush, to get in close to the edge of the sign. Normally you will want to make sure that you have selected white as the primary color to draw with. To do this, make sure you have white in the top color box in the floating toolbar shown above. In the example above white is in the background color box, so in that case all you have to do is click the little swap button to the top right of both color boxes. To change either color simply click in that box and you'll get a color selector dialog box as shown below:
To insure that you have pure black or pure white you can either quickly click in the main color box shown above and drag to the upper left for pure white, or lower left for pure black. Or you can change the color settings to the right. Either the HSBL &ab, RGB, or CMYK settings above can set the color settings. Or if you feel so inclined you can enter a hex value in the "#" field at the bottom of the dialog box. Any of these methods will set the color. HSBL &ab value for white is: H=0;S=0;B=100;L=100;a=0;b=0. Black is: H=0;S=0;B=0;L=0;a=0;b=0. RGB value for white is: R=255;G=255;B=255. Black is: R=0;G=0;B=0. The Hex "#" value for white is: FFFFFF. Black is: 000000.
A Side note on number systems (binary, decimal, & hex):
Hex is a base 16 number system. Below is a diagram showing the conversions between Binary, Decimal, and Hex:
|Decimal||Binary Digit 3||Binary Digit 2||Binary Digit 1||Binary Digit 0||Hex|
In the above diagram I'll start by explaining the binary number system. Notice that the Binary Digit 0 switches every single cell. You could call this the 1's place equivalent in the decimal system. Every time this number reaches its maximum of one we count one higher in the next digit. Binary Digit 1, which switches every two cells. The same goes for the higher digits. This is the method for counting in binary. To convert between binary and decimal we use the following diagram.
|Binary Digit 3||Binary Digit 2||Binary Digit 1||Binary Digit 0|
|Binary Digit 3 Weight||Binary Digit 2 Weight||Binary Digit 1 Weight||Binary Digit 0 Weight|
So to find the decimal value of the binary number 1011 we first look and see if the Binary Digit is 1 or 0. If it's 1 then we use that weight. If it's 0 then we don't use that weight. So the weights we add up for the binary number above are 8, 2,1. So 8 + 2 + 1 = 11. Which you can see is correct from the diagram above.
When counting in hex we simply count from 0 to 9 like always but when you reach 9 you can't keep going because you can't add another digit, so the number system uses letters up through the base of 16, which means counting to 15, because we started from zero. The maximum is F. So a hex digit equals 4 binary digits.
In hex color systems the color is represented in RGB format. R = Red, G = Green, B = Blue which are the primary colors. Each value takes two hex digits, and remember that as shown above each hex digit equals 4 binary digits. So that means that each color value in the hex color system equals one byte or 8 bits. So the hex color system is 24 bit because we have 3 color values. See the diagram below for a good example:
|Binary||0001 1100||1101 1000||1111 1010|
|Hex||1 C||D 8||F A|
|Decimal||1 12||13 8||15 10|
This color is shown here:
We start by cropping the image down to the size of the sign. Below is a before and after example of cropping the image.
Now you are ready to paint around the sign in white unless there is washout and you need to use black. Then you'll come back and paint white over it after your done. After painting around the sign once in white, or black if need be, then switch your brush to number 3 and expand the boarder around the sign by a few pixels. This is because the next time you paint around the sign with a larger brush it will give you a better margin for error. Progressively move to larger brushes each time you paint around the sign, until you have completely painted all the background away from the sign.
At that point the sign will look like this:
Once your done with that you can save the image, and your ready to resave the image in the "Alpha Maps" folder. The reason for resaving the image in the "Alpha Maps" folder before actually working on the alpha map of the same sign is because you don't want to make the changes to the current image, and accidentally resave into the main "Texture Maps" folder destroying the main texture map image you just made. I've done this and it's very frustrating.
Now your ready to make the alpha map for the texture map you just finished. You've resaved so any changes you make and save will be saved into the Alpha maps folder.
The procedures that are used to make the alpha maps can be done in batch processing, but it's a good idea to at the very least double check the outcome of the batch processing to make sure that there aren't any glitches. For this reason I'll explain how to do it manually, and then explain how it can be automated using the batch processing method. It's important to understand how the process is done manually so that you can still do the work incase you have a funky color scheme that gets screwed up in the automatic process.
To start we apply a threshold filter on the image. To do this go to the "Image" menu option and drag down to the "Adjust" fly-out, and drag down to the "Threshold..." menu item.
You'll get a popup dialog box show here:
The diagram in the boxed window with the slider below it shows a graph of the color distribution cutoff. When lots of the image is being cut off by the threshold level then the graph is high. It's low when there isn't much being cut out. So there should be a nearly flat part of the graph to the right in the higher Threshold Level. This is where you want to drag the slider. The closer to zero on the graph you can get the better cutoff your going to have. If you get too high you'll get noise outside where you painted. If your too low you'll get noise on the edge of the sign. So for that reason your going to need to find the optimum for that image. This is why it's best not to make this part of the operation into a batch operation. While there may be an optimum Threshold Level for all images in general, there will always be exceptions, and even without the exceptions, each image is still different. Different enough to make it a problem for finding the perfect optimum.
After finding the optimum the image should look like or closely resemble this:
Now your ready to invert, because you need the shape of the sign to be white not black and the boarder to be black not white.
This part of the process can be automated with the batch process. To do this go to the "Image" menu option and drag down to the "Adjust" fly-out, and drag down to the "Invert" menu item. You'll notice that there is a "CTRL+I" to the right of this menu item. This means you can execute this same procedure with the CTRL+I shortcut key command, to make it faster.
Now the image should look like this:
Ok now there is only one procedure left in making the alpha map. You'll need to convert the image from full color to grayscale. There is no need to maintain a full color image format when it's only two color. That would be a waste of space.
To do this go to the "Image menu option and drag down to the "Mode" fly-out, and drag down to the "Grayscale" menu item.
This part of the process can also be automated with the batch process.
Then save the image and close the image, and your done with that image. You'll have to repeat the process for each image you took pictures for.
Just be thankful you don't have to do it for every sign on campus. That I have already done that for you.
Techniques in Sign Isolation
The best way to get around in the image while isolating the sign is to use the Navigator window shown below. With this window you can zoom in and out, and pan around in the image as you make the changes. To zoom grab the slider across the bottom and slid it to the right for zooming in, and to the left to zoom out. To pan grab the red box and drag it around the imbedded window also shown below.
I usually start in the upper left corner and work my way around the sign counter-clock-wise. Again use the number 2 brush with the pencil tool and freehand draw the curved profile of the sign in the corner, as shown in the image below.
When your done it will look like this.
Now drag the navigator window all the way to the lower left corner, and locate the edge of the sign with the cursor and click once while holding down the shift button.
After you've done that the image should look like this.
Then freehand draw the profile of the curved corner of the sign. Continue around the sign, free handing the corners and using the shift key to draw the straight edges of the sign. Now sometimes the straight edges of the sign aren't so straight. Sometimes they are bent because they where hit by a snow plow, or the person that put them up tightened the screws down too much and bent the sign inward. This happens a lot on the arrows, and narrow signs. But usually its a good idea to check for this kind of problem even in mild cases where it is hardly noticeable. I've had this problem sneak past me on several occasions.
The biggest problem with renaming the images is a conflict of file names. For instance if your following the example above. You'll be renaming image 11-02-a.jpg to 11-03-a.jpg. Likewise rename 11-02-b to 11-03-b, and 11-03-a to 11-04-a, and 11-03-b to 11-04-b, and so on. In this example when you try to rename 11-02-a.jpg to 11-03-a.jpg you'll get an error from windows that says, "Cannot rename 11-02-a: A file with the name you specified already exists. Specify a different filename."
So to work around this problem I temporarily remove the "-" between the "03" and the "a". So you would actually rename the file from 11-02-a.jpg to 11-03a.jpg. and same for all the images that need to be renamed. Then after all the images are renamed you can go back through and add in the "-" resulting in another renaming operation of 11-03a.jpg to 11-03-a.jpg.
Now the good news is that a batch program could be made to do these operations. Just a simple VB-script could be made to complete these renaming operations quickly and efficiently. But this option has not been explored yet. It would be worth it to explore this option in the future, further automating the process of maintaining the files and folders.
Updating the Images in PageMaker
Now you should have a full understanding of the parking signage maintenance system up to this point. You've made the changes in the AutoCAD file, you have followed through with changes to the Large Pictures and Small Pictures folder as well as the Texture Maps folder and the Alpha Maps folder. Now it's time to update those images in PageMaker.
Start up the PageMaker application if you haven't already. Now in our example you want to first open 11-Page01.pmd. Now you have made the changes to sign number 2, 3, 4...ect... So these are the signs that need to be changed in the following files: 11-Page01.pmd, 11-Page02.pmd, and 11-Page03.pmd. But you retook pictures of signs number 2 and 3. But the image you took of sign number 2 is the new sign, not the old one. So actually you really only need to delete sign number 2, because sign number 2 became sign number 3 and sign number 3 became sign number 4. So in the PageMaker layout you really just need to move these images down. Then insert the new images for sign numbers 2 and 3, DON'T FORGET TO CHANGE THE DATES UNDER THESE SIGNS!!!!
ALSO DON'T FORGET TO MOVE ANY DATE CAPTIONS FROM SIGN 3 TO SIGN 4 WHEN YOU MOVE THE IMAGES FOR THESE SIGNS!!!
For example if sign number 3 last had it's images taken on 11-02-01, and you move the image for sign number 3 to sign number 4, but sign number 4 last had it's images taken on 03-13-02, then it's going to look like the old sign 3 had it's picture last taken 03-13-02, but this needs to be changed to reflect 11-02-01. Likewise when you move sign number 4 to sign number 5, but sign 5 last had it's images taken on 06-25-02, it's going to look like the old sign 4 now in sign 5's position was last taken on 06-25-02, again you must change this to 03-13-02. Your going to have to double check this all the way through the signs. VERY IMPORTANT!!!! But not all of them have this problem, some of the signs where all taken on the same day because of when this database was made, I went out and took photos of all the signs all at once. But don't let that stop you from checking. This is vital because Security needs to have a log of when the changes where made so that if there was a sign that was hard to read because the letters where too small and a person appeals their ticket based on the size of the letters on the sign, then security can look back in their log book of sign pictures, and see that indeed sign number 4 was last taken on 11-02-01 and they can see what the sign looks like, and what it says, even how the letters are arranged on the sign, and they will be able to see that the letters are too small, and the person is appealing the ticket on 04-26-02, then they know that it's a legit complaint, and they can pass it. But if the date caption for sign number 4 was not changed from 11-02-01, but instead still reflects 03-13-02 and the person is complaining about the lettering on sign number 4 on 04-26-02, and the lettering is perfectly fine, but the sign number 5 right next to it is the one with the lettering problem, security might not see that, or they might see that the older version of that print is different from the newer one, but the date hasn't changed, they might start to wonder. But most of the time they might not catch onto that kind of a mistake. In which case the person appealing for the ticket gets unfair treatment. A person who might not deserve to have a ticket cancelled, gets it cancelled, but someone who very much deserves to have to pay the ticket might also get cancelled, or for that matter vise versa.
Updating the Books
Now you've made the changes to the PageMaker file, and the AutoCAD file and all the images folder. So now your ready to print down at the Splash Server in Printing Services.
When printing to the splash server from AutoCAD it's very important to have the proper settings, and even the proper driver installed. You want to look for the "Perfect Print Colors.ctb" This is the file that is used to define the proper colors coming out of the color printers, because the normal color print, prints yellow, too bright and light, so it actually has to be set up to look a little like gold. The Cyan has to be set to more of a Dodger Blue color to get it to come out right. David Cowan likes to have the prints in color, and it's kind of hard to see the images when they are not in color, and granted it is easier to look at a plan in color than one in black and white because then the parts of the plan that are important stand out from the normal black outlines of the lot.
You want to print the CAD documents from the paper-space view. MAKE SURE YOUR NOT IN MODEL SPACE. Also don't forget to make sure you have the zoom set to the right scale, the one indicated in the title block. If you print from model space you'll get just the model, and not the boarder, title block, north indicator, and stall count.
One of the things that could be useful in the future would be a sign count. That is a count of the purple signs in that lot or parking location, or the number of gold signs in that lot or parking location, ect. This is a possible improvement.
All the parking plans in AutoCAD have already got their own page setup profiles saved. All you should have to do is open up the print dialog in AutoCAD by going into the file menu option and dragging down to the "Plot" menu item. You will get a dialog box shown below:
When you grab the pull down at the top right of this dialog box you'll see a list of saved profiles. These profiles are actually saved configurations. So for instance when I want to print to the splash server in color I can select the pre-saved configuration and it will automatically select the output printer to be the Splash Server, and the Pen assignments to be "Perfect Print Colors" and it will also re-set all the settings in the second tab of the same dialog box shown below.
In here it will automatically reset the Drawing orientation in the upper right of this dialog box and reset the paper size, and the Plot area, scale, and all of the configuration settings. So that when you click print, and you are printing to the Splash Server you should get a perfect or near perfect color print, of that plan, provided you where in paper space when you selected the print command.
Now you've selected print, and all the settings are in order. So press "OK". What are you waiting for? While your here, you may as well go ahead and print the PageMaker files while your at it. There are not many settings to worry about there either. Here is what the dialog box looks like. (Kind of like a MAC)
Under the Paper tab on the right, your going to want to make sure you have selected 11x17 or tabloid as the paper source, because you want to print on 11x17 paper. After you have printed you will be chopping the pages down to 11x14 so that it will fit in the book.
At all times when printing to the splash server you want to have the number of Copies show up as 1. Because when you go down to the Splash Server in Printing Services you will discover that the Splash Server has a spooling machine, I know it's MAC, live with it. I did and I hate MAC's, can't hardly bare to touch the stupid things for fear I might get a disease. You'll see a list of print jobs. Click on the first one, probably the CAD drawing you sent from AutoCAD. Please be aware that other users might have sent to the Splash Server spooling machine, and you might have to work around their schedule, and needs. They also might have jobs sitting on the Splash Server spooler computer. These also you might have to work around. You should look through all the settings and make sure they are ok. Remember you need five (5) copies of each for each of the 5 books. So make sure you set the number of copies to 5. It's possible that the number of copies you send to the Splash Server are encoded into the document directly. In this case there are two possibilities, both of which I have seen, which is why I recommend sending only 1 copy from the computer you are working on. One possibility is that the number you entered, other than one in the copies field of the computer you sent the print command from appears in the copies field of the Splash Server spooling system. And there is the chance that you did not intend for it to be there, and you missed it, in which case you get 4 extra copies you don't need. Or what also can happen is that it doesn't show up, but it's imbedded, and when you see that it only says 1 copy you change it to 5, and you end up getting 25 copies, because as it turns out each copy is actually a full 5 pages, in which you have 20 copies you don't need. I've had all of these situations happen to me, and it's annoying! To say the least.
In the CAD print settings don't set the plot to centered. It's easier to cut the print like that.
Once you have checked out all the print settings on the spooler, go ahead and print by selecting the print jobs you sent to the spooler, and drag them up into the window above. The printer should go automatically.
You will probably have a little orientation by John or Doug on how to use the Splash Server when you first start. Listen to what they say, they've been doing it with that machine for eons!
You can't print plastic or any kind of labels, because the fuser for the ink in that printer and the pressure rollers melt and squeeze out all the adhesive, and when it comes out it gets all over the rollers, Then next time you print the labels come off and stick to the rollers, and you've got a mess. When that kind of a problem comes up, it needs to be serviced.
Another setting you want to check from the Splash Server spooler machine is the Color. You need to make sure it's set to RGB.
And you probably want to have the print job deleted after your done printing it. This can also be done from the main dialog.
Lets assume you have completed the print operation, and the pages came out with out any difficulties.
You want to separate the CAD prints from the PageMaker prints. This is because the different prints will have different cut operations, and you don't want to do one cut operation on the wrong set of prints, then you would have to re-print, remember these cost $2.00 per page.
It's also a good idea to keep page01 separate from page02 and so on. This will help you organize them in the future easier. I find that the best way to cut these is to go into the Facilities Maintenance and OSS (Office Support Services) office, and back into the break room. There is a sturdy cutting board back there, a whole lot better than any cutting boards in Dave's office, and the one in Donna's office is too dull. While using this machine it's best not to get your fingers stuck, while chopping down!
Ok ok, seriously, it's best to only cut five (5) pages at a time or else you get slippage and the alignment gets off. When your cutting the CAD prints, just line the five pages up with the excess to be cut off to the right off the edge. Line the other end up with the number 14 on the ruler, push the whole thing against the ruler and chop down. Now your ready to do the PageMaker prints.
When cutting the PageMaker prints, it's best to chop them right side up first. That is hold the prints as if you where looking at them right side up, place them on the chopping board with the top against the ruler, line up the top with the number 15 on the ruler. Push them tight against the ruler and chop. Then turn the prints around and line them up with the 14, push them flush with the ruler, and chop!
You'll have to do this a lot! But when you get to a really big job like LOT17, then you've got a lot of work to do if you use the chopping board. Luckily there is a better solution for larger jobs. But you must make sure you separate the CAD files from the PageMaker files. It's another good habit to get into. You can take the prints you just got back into the Bindery and ask them to cut them for you on the big cutter. Its not worth using the big cutter for small jobs, only big ones. You'll have to tell them the same cutting process described above. They will cut everything all at once, which is why you need to keep the CAD files separate from the PageMaker files. That big chopping machine doesn't care about fingers or CAD files, or images or anything. Now if you put a steal ruler between the sheets of paper, it might not like that!
Once you have done all the cutting then you need to use the hand hole puncher and put 4 holes in each. Because the books are 4 hole ring binders you will not be able to use a 3 hole punch. I've discovered that the best thing to do, is use another document as a template for hole-punching the new documents. But you have to be very careful on the alignment if your doing it this way. This is the way I've always done it. However, there is the possibility of having a special hole puncher that no one else will use and setting it up to punch 3 of the 4 holes. Then use the single hole puncher to punch out the last hole, using the template.
I usually only hole punch 5 pages at once. Any more than that and it becomes nearly impossible to squeeze the puncher hard enough to put a hole through all the paper. Then it's a good idea to layout the CAD print first and then Page01, Page02, and Page03 in consecutive order and pull the top page off of them in order and build up the replacement document for each book separately. When it's all said and done, you should have 5 identical documents that can replace the old ones in each of the 5 parking CAD books around campus. There is one CAD book that belongs to the parking CAD user. There is another one for Dave's office. Its best to update those books first because you don't have to go anywhere to update them. However, sometimes there is a really big need to have updates done to the security book because that is the book that is used for the parking committee. The parking committee usually meets on Fridays from 1:00pm-2:30pm. So if they have an important topic to meet on then sometimes they need updated plans to discuss on. Then the security book becomes the priority. Normally after updating the two books here in the office, then I update the sign shop book, then security's book. (See Security's Historical Log Book)
After updating security's book I walk the remaining document over to The Hub to update their book.
To update the books with the document you just made you'll flip to the parking location or lot in the book, marked by the tabbed dividers. Remove the old plan and picture prints and replace them with the new ones. Now if you have an update that only requires updating the plan, but not any of the pictures then you won't need to remove any of the picture prints, just the plan print. Same goes for any update that only requires you to update a few or even only one page of the picture prints. Then you just need to remove that one print, and replace it with the new one.
When you are done making the replacement to the book, you need to very carefully pull all the documents and dividers over the D-ring to the right, so that they don't roll over the D-ring or fold against the D-ring. If they fold against the D-ring they put pressure on the D-ring, and the D-ring can pop open spilling the contents of the folder all over the floor or table. I've done this!!!! It's a big pain in the !@#$%^&*! You need to be aware that this can also happen if you don't pull the documents and dividers carefully. If it does happen you have to put them all back into the binder in the right order. LOTS OF WORK! Also if you simply close the book without pulling the documents and dividers across the D-ring you will bend the documents near the rings, and this can cause large pains when you replace them, or even when you are paging through them. There is also the possibility of ripping some of the documents or pages out of the books. Also not a good thing! Security and David, and some of the people at The Hub tend to treat their books with less respect and so their folders are often folded over in this manner. The best you can do is remind them and fix it when it happens.
The big thing about the books is they don't have tabbed dividers for those folders anymore. No one makes them, so you can't even mail order them from anywhere. Not even special order. There are however several alternative solutions. One is a massive stack of brown and tan construction paper down in the basement of Wiecking Center in the secure documents storage closet. You have to get the keys to this secure closet from security. The last place I saw this stuff was against the north end of the second row of shelves lined up facing north-south, against the south wall, the east most row, opposite the door. It's possible they could have been moved by someone. Or they could be on the shelf just to the right of the door on entry, on the bottom.
You can have these cut to 11x15 inches or 11x16, whatever the other ones are. And then have them laminated at printing services. Then have printing services custom 4 hole punch them. You can use the Security book as an example. There is one of their books is done like this, and it's been a great success. If Dave cannot afford to laminate and hole punch all of the documents for all the books all at once. It is possible to do one book at once and progressively replace the old tabbed dividers.
The other option is a number of hole punched tabbed dividers over in Donna's office. These where done in anticipation of upgrades to the books, but I never got around to doing it. These tabbed dividers never had tabs put on them. We would have ordered custom tabs from University Stores, but now the University has switched the office supply vendor from in-house to JC Office Supply. So these material or equivalent materials would need to be ordered from them.
Security's Historical Log Book
The difficult part comes with the updating and maintenance of the Security parking book. When you take anything out of this book it must be kept. You can NOT just throw away or recycle the prints, images or plans from this book, When you replace any part or all of a document, say in our example of LOT11, you must take the old plan and put it in another book. Security has a total of 3 books. The first book is the standard up to date book of current plans and pictures. The second book is a historical record of the plans, and the changes that where made to it. The third book is a historical record of the images and pictures. So in our example of when you are done making the change to LOT11 you will take out all of the LOT11 document from the current book and replace it with an updated copy of that document. The old plan print will go in to the historical log book. You'll open that book up to LOT11 and place the old plan on top, in front of all the other LOT11 plans in that location of that 4 ring binder. Then you can close up that book. Again be careful with the D-ring, make sure you pull them over the ring. Then you will need to open up the old parking pictures book and open the book up to the LOT11 tabbed divider. You will place the old images in-order, in front of the previous old image prints, in the same manner as you already did with the plan prints in the Old parking plans book.
The reason why we have 3 different books is because when all the old plans prints and image prints where in one book they flooded that book, it was over flowing and would often pop apart spilling the contents on the floor as described above. So we decided to save space by putting the old images in a different book than the old plans.
A while back we ordered a number of these 4 ring binders. This was mostly to supply the needs of plans for hazardous waste management, and building plans, fire prevention, city, and local fire departments, as well as building security. These books could still prove useful for this purpose, however with the development of a prototype web-based parking system, the deployment of these plans could become web-based. Even with the advent of a web based delivery system for the plans, it would still be useful for a hard copy of the books to be delivered to these locations. Especially to the fire departments. Because when the firemen are on call to a fire here at the university, they are not going to be opening up a browser on a laptop with a wireless internet connection to view the plans. They would need a hard copy of the plans, and they would need it to be easily readable, and quickly assessable for the emergency situations they deal with.
Adding XREF & Hyperlinks
To add Xreferances into AutoCAD just type the command Xref at the command prompt. Then all you need to do is choose the AutoCAD file that you want to reference to. If you want to align your UCS (User Coordinate System) to an object you will see this option when you type the UCS command at the command prompt. Once you have done this you can create a paper plan in paper space, and make an MView. Once you have your MView in place the document will automatically align with the UCS. If it doesn't you should be able to do this with the MView options. or the UCS options. Then your zoom will just be set as described above.
When you want to hyperlink an image to an object in AutoCAD just select the object by clicking on it once. Then you can right click on it, or use the Web toolbar. When you right click you will get a drop down menu, I think it's at the bottom. If you are using the toolbar it's a little globe looking Icon with a chain link in the lower right corner. This will bring up a dialog box that looks like this:
When you click browse you can browse to that image or file. You can link to other html documents, images, PDF files, or any other type of file that a user can use, even mp3's or wave files, or data streams though I've never seen or heard of that being done before.
The user that wants to view these CAD files from the web must have Volo View, or Volo View Express by AutoDesk. They will not be able to make changes, or even save those changes. But they can paint on the drawing if they want to. Or they can print the document if they like and scribble all over it, or even use coloring crayons. These documents can be E-mailed if they are zipped up to conserve server space.
The diversity of this system, and it's ability to conform to the needs of different users has changed in the past 5 years. I remember back when David didn't have anything like this at all. Everything was done from memory, and the CAD files. Most every change was a shot from the hip. Now we see all new possibilities. The person that takes this position should pursue these new directions and encourage the development of the proto-type parking catalog and tracking system into other systems. Buildings, and building systems.
Thank you everyone for not only helping me develop this system, but also encouraging me to do pioneering work in areas never before studied. And most importantly Thank You for allowing me to participate in the research and development of the largest system I have ever had the privilege of working with. You where and continue to provide me with every piece of information that I have used to build this system!
Your Friend in Science
P.S. Special thanks to: David Cowan, Brad Heilman, Doug Fenske, Larry Kohanek, Paul Corcoran, Marty Rost, Charles Anderson.