Why we need building permits

This is a very good example of why we need building permits from Asheville’s Citizen Times:

ASHEVILLE — The collapse of a downtown building might have been avoided if a contractor had gone through the proper permitting process, the head of the city’s Development Services Department said Friday.

Before a permit was issued, the city would have required that an engineer prepare plans that would include measures to ensure the structural integrity of the 1917 building during renovation, department head Robert Griffin said.

Odds are that following those plans would have prevented the Thursday collapse, he said.

Asheville fire officials say demolition work had been underway inside the building for about the last week.

People who heard about the collapse on Facebook gathered in a courtyard that was strewn with bricks from the collapsed building to get a look at the damage.


Excel: Primitive Bar Graph and Roman Numerals

Excel has a repeat function called REPT that will repeat a text character any number of times.  It’s format is REPT(TEXT, Value) where Value is the number of times that TEXT is repeated.  You can use “i”, “o”, “-“, or any other letters/symbols as your text and do a primative bar graph.  You can also your numbers to roman numerals if they are less than 4000 by using the ROMAN function.  The example table below shows three columns A, B, and C.  Row 7 shows the formulae starting with cell A7.  The rest of the rows show values if they formulae are copied down.

7 =Repeat(“i”,A7) =Roman(A7)
8 iiiiiiii VIII
9 iiiiiiiii IX
10 iiiiiiiiii X
11 iiiiiiiiiii XI

Excel Tip: Convert Number to Text

Here are four basic ways to convert a number in a cell to text.

Method (1) Format Cells

1) Right click cell(s) of interest and click on “Format Cells…”

2) Under the Number tab Choose Text as your Category

Method (2) Text function

1) use the TEXT function.  It has the formatting of =TEXT(Value,Format)

For example, =TEXT(42.6,”0.00″) returns 42.60 as a text value.  The formatting is the same as that used in the Format Cells dialogue box.

Method (3) Concatenation with &

Using the ampersand (&), you can concatenate text.  For example, the formula =”a”&”b” returns ab.  If you concatenate any text to a number (including a null text such as “”) it will return a text value.  So, typing the formula =””&70.0 returns 70 as a text.  Note the formatting isn’t as convenient as using the TEXT function.

Method (4) Text to Columns

Choosing Data -> Text To Columns from the menu will let you convert your numbers to text.  When the dialogue opens up just follow the steps in the Wizard:

Step 1) Choose Delimited and click Next.

Step 2) Tab delimited and click Next.

Step 3) Choose Text as your Coumn Data Format and click Finish.

How Do I Average In Excel?



A very common question for Excel is, “How do I average in Excel?”  The simplest way to do this is to use the AVERAGE function.  In the example to the left, cell A5 has the following formula:


This returns the Average (mathematical mean) of the three numbers in the range from A1 to A3 inclusively.  You can check it by computing (2+3+6)/3 = 3.667.

If you are at the bottom of a column of numbers that you want to average just type


in the cell that you want to show the average in.  Before hitting the ENTER key, select the range of cells you want to include in the average.  The formula will finish filling in the range and last parenthesis for you after you hit Enter.

Typing the formula below will  give the same results as the example, but won’t update when you change any other cells:


Of course, if you want other types of mathematical averages other than the mean (which AVERAGE returns), then the MEDIAN and MODE functions are also available.  They work similarly to AVERAGE, but return their respective mathematical counterparts of central tendency.  Other tips and advanced averaging functions are available from Microsoft’s help website such as these:

  • If you want to include logical values and text representations of numbers in a reference as part of the calculation, use the AVERAGEA function.
  • If you want to calculate the average of only the values that meet certain criteria, use the AVERAGEIF function or the AVERAGEIFS function.

LEAP Bridge Enterprise Release V12.01.00

LEAP Bridge Enterprise V12.01.00 is now available.  In addition to bug fixes, and code updates, some of the enhancements include the following:

LEAP Bridge v12.01.00.57


  • Introduced a new analysis option “Integral Abutment Bridge” in the Project tab. This option allows users to analyze and design integral abutment

LEAP CONSPAN v12. 01.00.57


  • CONSPAN has been updated to comply with the AASHTO LRFD 6th edition. Primary changes are minimum reinforcement requirement changes and Mcr calculations.

LEAP CONBOX v12. 01.00.57


  •  CONBOX now offers three types of temperature loading, including uniform temperature, linear gradient and multi-linear gradient temperature. Multi-linear temperature loading complies with AASHTO, CHBDC, and IRC codes.

LEAP RC-PIER v12. 01.00.57


  • For integral abutment bridges RC-PIER performs a 3D frame analysis. In the 3D analysis each abutment and pier is part of the full bridge model and is subjected to the loads generated through RC-PIER. Model tab displays both the 3D model and the specific abutment or pier 2D frame with the node and member numbers referenced in the analysis reports.

Geometry Module: GEOMATH v12. 01.00.57


  • Update for wall pier and pile bent.

To see the full list (there are a LOT more new features than the ones listed here), visit the Leap Product Update Page.

Mathcad Express


Feature Comparison
Feature Comparison

PTC has announced the release of Mathcad Express.  They

“Mathcad Express is a free version of Mathcad that allows any user to utilize some selected features of Mathcad Prime 2.0, for an unlimited time.”

“Mathcad Express does include the full capabilities of Mathcad Prime 2.0 for 30 days, for free. After the 30 day period has ended, you may continue to use the limited functionality of Mathcad Express as long as you like — the Mathcad Express license will never expire.”

You can see the difference between Mathcad Prime 2.0 and Mathcad Express in the table on the download page.



How to Apply Wind Loads in RISA-3D – RISA News

RISA News has come with a new tutorial on applying wind loads.

Wind loads can be automatically are generated in RISA-3D for building models. RISA calculates the ASCE 7 Main Wind-Force Resisting System loads and calculations are based on the Analytical Procedure for Enclosed Rigid Building for All Heights.

The model has to have a Rigid Diaphragm in order to calculate the wind loads at each floor level.

To apply the wind loads select the Insert drop down menu and select Wind Load. This will open the Wind Load Generator, where you can add all the parameters based on you building location and conditions. The Base Elevation can be used to set the “ground elevation or the lowest point of wind exposure. This is helpful if you are modeling the basement level of the building.


Blender 2.62 Relased

Blender 2.62 has been released.  Some new features include better Boolean operations, Cycles render engine improvements, object motion tracking, and more.

The Blender Foundation and online developer community is proud to present Blender 2.62. The 2.6x series is being targeted at including all work that happened in branches or patches past years.

The Cycles render engine now has layers/passes, you can track objects inside videos now, have much better and faster boolean intersections and use great new UV Tools.

Check the list for highlights and the full changelog.

You can download your copy at their website.

[via Blender.org]