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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.

Metro 2033: Fear The Future

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It’s a little known fact that Russian intelligence considered the likelihood of a nuclear strike against them so high that they ordered Moscow’s metro system to be dug deep enough to act as a makeshift fallout shelter. With a detail like that to draw inspiration from it’s hardly surprising that a book and now a videogame have been written to exploit it.

Dimitry Glukhovsky, author of Metro 2033 and consultant onhttp://news.bf-1.com/wp-admin/post-new.php the eponymous game, has penned a story which takes place after nuclear war has devastated the planet, with the only survivors sealed inside Moscow’s reinforced metro system. Unfortunately for them, as is often the case, they are not alone and soon find themselves in a struggle for their very existence against a variety of horrors.

An atmospheric and claustrophobic first-person shooter, Metro 2033 is looking good from the preview build we’ve played through, with lighting and shadows used to particularly eerie effect.

Expect the title to land on store shelves on 19 March, for PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, for now check out the latest video for a sneak peak of the game in action.

China finds $84bn local government debt irregularities

National Audit Office said breaches included “irregular credit guarantees”, “irregular collateral” and “fraudulent and underpayment of registered capital”.

There are growing concerns about the amount of bad loans being held by local governments.Official figures show they held debt of 10.7tn yuan ($1.7tn; £1.1tn) in 2010.

“The State Council is studying proposals to enhance local government debt management and to address fiscal and financial risks,” the audit office said in the report.
‘Again and again’
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A lot of the local debt will be absorbed by the central government”
Michael Pettis Peking University

Local governments have been borrowing money from Chinese banks to fund projects aimed at maintaining economic growth.

According to the China Banking Regulatory Commission, local governments took up 80% of total bank lending in China at the end of 2010.

However, analysts said that although the lending had helped to spur investment and boost growth, it was now weighing on local governments.

“Whenever you look at lending that spurs growth miracles, it starts off with an increasing ability to pay the debt,” Professor Michael Pettis of Peking University told the BBC.

“But in every case that ability fades. That is the process that is happening in China,” he explained. “We are going to see stories like this again and again.”
Easing burden?

In October last year, China allowed four local governments to sell bonds for the first time in 17 year. It was hoped the sale would help them pay their loans.

However, the central government put a limit on the amount of bonds the local governments could issue despite the fact that there was a lot of interest among investors.

According to the Xinhua news agency, Shanghai’s bond sale received bids for three times the amount of bonds on offer.

As a result, many of the local governments still have sizeable debts and while the central government may let them raise money, it may also have to take further measures to solve the problem, analysts said.

“A lot of the local debt will be absorbed by the central government,” said Mr Pettis of Peking University.

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