Category Archives: Software


3D SketchUp

SketchUp is a 3D modeling program designed for architects, civil engineers, filmmakers, game developers, and related professions. It also includes features to facilitate the placement of models in Google Earth. It is designed to be easier to use than other 3D CAD programs.

A feature of SketchUp is the 3D Warehouse that lets SketchUp users search for models made by others and contribute models.

SketchUp was developed by startup company @Last Software, Boulder, Colorado which was co-founded in 1999 by Brad Schell and Joe Esch.

SketchUp was first released in August 2000 as a general purpose 3D content creation tool, with the tagline “3D for Everyone” and envisioning a software program “that would allow design professionals to draw the way they want by emulating the feel and freedom of working with pen and paper in a simple and elegant interface, that would be fun to use and easy to learn, and that would be used by designers to play with their designs in a way that is not possible with traditional design software. It also has user friendly buttons to make it easier to use.”

The program won a Community Choice Award at its first tradeshow in 2000. Key to its early success was a shorter learning period than other 3D tools.

As of SketchUp 6, features were added to allow the user to extrude and widen as well as the ability for a face to “follow” the cursor around an object.

Google acquired @Last Software on March 14, 2006, attracted by @Last’s Software’s work developing a plugin for Google Earth.

On January 9, 2007, SketchUp 6 was released, featuring new tools as well as a beta version of Google SketchUp LayOut. LayOut includes 2D vector tools, as well as page layout tools intended to make it easier for professionals to create presentations without jumping to a third-party presentation program.

On February 9, 2007, a maintenance update was released. It corrected a number of bugs, but brought no new features.

On November 17, 2008, SketchUp 7 was released, featuring ease-of-use improvements, integration of SketchUp’s Component Browser with Google 3D Warehouse, LayOut 2, dynamic components that respond appropriately to scaling and enhanced Ruby API performance.

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SketchUp holds a U.S. Patent 6,628,279 on its “Push/Pull” technology:

“System and method for three-dimensional modeling: A three-dimensional design and modeling environment allows users to draw the outlines, or perimeters, of objects in a two-dimensional manner, similar to pencil and paper, already familiar to them. The two-dimensional, planar faces created by a user can then be pushed and pulled by editing tools within the environment to easily and intuitively model three-dimensional volumes and geometries.”

The patent was applied for in November 2000, and awarded in September 2003.

A car made in SketchUp

On April 27, 2006, Google announced Google SketchUp, a freely-downloadable version of SketchUp. The free version is not as capable as SketchUp Pro, but it includes integrated tools for uploading content to Google Earth and to the Google 3D Warehouse, a repository of models created in SketchUp. They have also added a new toolbox where you can walk, see things from a person’s point of view, labels for models, a look around tool, and an “any polygon” shape tool.

While the free version of Google Sketchup can export 3D to SKP, .dae and Google Earth’s .kmz file format, the Pro version extends exporting support to include the .3ds, .dae, .dwg, .dxf, .fbx, .obj, .xsi, and .wrl file formats.

Google SketchUp can also save “screenshots” of the model as .bmp, .png, .jpg, .tif, with the Pro version also supporting .pdf, .eps, .epx, .dwg, and .dxf.

However, the free version of SketchUp does support Ruby scripts which has allowed many people to get around SketchUp’s importing and exporting disabilities.

GPS location information is always stored in the KMZ file.  The building designs themselves can be saved in SKP.

Garmin Mobile PC One for the road


Garmin Mobile PC One for the road

Garmin Mobile PC software brings navigation to your PC for a reasonable price but with some drawbacks.

With the popularity of Intel Atom-based mini notebooks that last five to six hours on a single charge, I recently started thinking about another possible use for it — as a GPS navigation device.

Of course, since no mini notebook currently on the market has built-in GPS, you can’t just get an out-of-the-box experience with it — for one, you need at least an external GPS unit which connects to your mini notebook via USB or Bluetooth.

If you already have a Garmin Bluetooth or USB GPS receiver, then you can use that, but the good thing is that Mobile PC isn’t limited to Garmin-branded GPS receivers.

The software works with all third party GPS units, but with one limitation. We’ll talk about this later.

The other requirement is that you have to download a local map. You can download one from, which has a free map that was last updated on February 2008.

The regularly updated maps are only available if you actively contribute to the website’s mapping effort.

By the way, there are shops in Kuala Lumpur which sell the software but it is a little cheaper if you buy from an online site like

UNIQUE: The 3D map interface in Garmin Mobile PC is where all navigation happens. If you don’t like the 3D interface, you can still opt for the traditional 2D view.

DETAILED: The 2D view gives you a more detailed map for a visual search of points of interest.


Based on functionality alone, the Garmin Mobile PC software is excellent — it provides all you need for navigation as well as a few more features found only in high-end Garmin Nuvi devices.

The only problems really arise from the choice of notebook you install it on and whether you get loud enough audio or battery life to justify using it as a navigation tool.

So the answer is yes, Mobile PC is great, but you need to consider the limitations of your notebook before you use it.

Pros: Lots of features; easy-to-use interface; voice navigation; compatibility with Malsingmaps maps.

Cons: Using it on a notebook in dim light can be a bit fiddly.

Garmin Mobile PC

(Garmin Ltd)

GPS navigation software

System requirements: Windows 2000 SP2/XP/Vista, 256MB RAM, 1.3GB HDD space

Features: Garmin Online

Price: US59.90 (RM200)

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