Sometimes you’re looking around the web and spot an image that is perfect, something you need to keep, but the site has some kind of furtive script thing that keeps you from right-click-saving like you usually do. You try to save it but end up with a small white square instead. What to do?

Of course, you can take a screenshot (PRINTSCRN on Windows or Command-Shift-3 or Command-Shift-4 on Mac), but that’s rarely satisfying.

To get the actual image file you see in the browser you can use the Developer Tools built into Chrome and Firefox. I prefer Chrome, it’s a little easier to find:

  1. Right-click on the page (anywhere on the page).
  2. Select “Inspect element” from the pop-up menu (at the bottom of the list). A new console will pop up, either as a separate window or at the bottom of your browser window.
  3. At the top of this new console you’ll see different tabs: Elements, Resources, Network, Sources, etc. Click Resources.
  4. At the left side you’ll see a cascading list of folders. Find the one(s) named “Images.” If you dig around here and keep opening subfolders you should find what you’re looking for. Clicking on any of the filenames will show you a preview at right.
  5. When you find the image you’re looking for, right-click on the preview at right and select “Open image in new tab”
  6. Go to that new tab and save the image as usual.

Now, of course I don’t recommend doing this to steal images that someone obviously went out of their way to protect. Use only along fair use guidelines. Please.

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Need to select a veneer? Can’t figure out what wood & stain combo to specify to get the look you want? Or are you looking for a faux wood laminate that will match some millwork you already have? Here’s a tip:

There are companies that specialize in making edge banding for laminates and plywood (heat-applied strip of PVC or other plastic that seals the exposed/cut edge or your board). They will send you a fan deck of their wide range of faux woods if you ask. Try Doellken Woodtape and Rehau.

The edge banding is a far cry from looking like real wood, but the fan decks are useful. They’re sorted by color, and they show a variety of faces. Once you have a general sense of what you’re looking for, you can check out the name of that style and then ask a millworker for real hardwood samples. (Pretty basic stuff so far, I know. Read on.)

You can also go to Doellken and Rehau (click link at right, “Edgeband Color Search”) to look up matching laminates from all the major (and even not so major) laminate manufacturers. You can look it up both ways, by entering a laminate # to find the closest matching edge band, or by entering in an edge band # to find all matching and near-matching laminates. I use the latter as a shortcut to finding the wood laminate I need–instead of combing through all the WilsonArt, Formica, and Abet Laminati chainsets, I just flip through the Doellken fan deck and find the style I want. Then I look up the matching laminate #s and order those samples. Much faster, and you will find manufacturers you’ve never heard of.

You can also do this with colors, not just faux wood. If you’re into that sort of thing.


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Here’s a pro-tip for you architects (not sure how many of you already do this, but from what I’ve seen, not enough):

Install Picasa (free) or other photo manager on your desktop at work, and have it index all your active project folders. Go to the Tools menu and select Folder Manager. If your server is smallish, go ahead and set everything to “Scan Always.” Otherwise pick the project folders you’re interested in.

Let it comb through the folders in the background (leave Picasa running). It goes pretty quick, and it will remember where everything is the next time you open Picasa.

Now you have the power of Picasa’s (Google’s) search box whenever you need to find something. Assuming you’ve done even a mediocre-to-poor job naming you image files and folders, you will have a much easier time finding the images you need this way, rather than trying to remember where you saved things. The search feature is instantaneous. You can filter results, browse through folders, or (less obvious) scroll up the left pane to the top for “Search results”–it will show you everything grouped together rather than sorted by folder.

Or, you can just scroll through the thumbnails and find what you need by sight. Thumbnail size adjustment is a slider bar at lower-right.

And this is really killer: it can index and print Photoshop files. I have found nothing faster. Adobe Bridge is silly compared to Picasa. When working with a team, it’s a quick way to see what other people are working on, what their psd’s look like at the moment, or what images they’ve found.

Everything a photo manager app does can and should be used for work: printing images as a batch from across multiple folders, exporting to smaller sizes, slideshows, sharing and so on. Get to know the keyboard shortcuts and image adjustment tools. It will make your life much easier. One handy shortcut is holding Ctrl+Alt while hovering over a thumbnail–you get a full-screen enlargement instantly. [I believe this is Windows-only.] Another one is Ctrl+Enter to open the folder containing the image you’re looking at (Control+Enter on Mac).

Last tip: when you take new site photos, name or tag the photos immediately, or at least group them intelligently within well-named folders (for example, “lobby,” “theater,” “room 2001″ etc). When the day comes you  need to look up a specific field condition from your desk, you will thank yourself.

I could go on and on, but you’ll find plenty more ways to use Picasa on the help page.

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For Windows users who have had the good fortune to work on Macs:

Ever wish you could drag a file onto an application to open it in said application? Or just wanted to move a file to a new folder that’s hidden under other folders? Frustrated that Windows thinks you’re trying to add a shortcut to the taskbar instead? Do this:

Drag the file to the taskbar (to the folder or application tab in the taskbar, specifically) and wait a second with the mouse button still down. The folder or app will come into focus, and you can drag the file there.

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Folder Menu 3 (Windows)

This is a huge timesaver. Free download lets you create a custom menu of folder and file locations, accessibly with a click of the middle mouse button. Works in explorer, of course, but also dialog boxes. Go get it.

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Do you work in an office that uses Windows? Often find yourself emailing people locations of files on a server? Try this shortcut:

  1. Open the folder that has the file you want.
  2. Start a new email.
  3. Use the right mouse button (not the usual left button) to drag the file to the email window.
  4. When you release the button you’ll see a contextual menu–choose “Create Hyperlink Here.”

The file path will paste into the email, and the recipient can click to open the file directly.

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Autocad by default animates your zooming, which just wastes time and makes you feel dumb. Disable it:


Uncheck the animation options. Feel better.

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After over a year (two years?) of angrily perusing Harper’s, I’ve decided to cancel my subscription of many, many years. Since Lapham left, it’s become terrible. Ideological without wit, a poor sense of what  fiction is… even the book reviews are disappointing in that they’ve become too accessible. I’ve decided to reallocate my reading time to Lapham’s Quarterly, which is a godsend. Really, it is amazing. A boon to the world, and a friendly door to the great writings of the past.

Anyway, I went to the website to enter my request to cancel and noticed this graphic on the side:


And then I thought, I wonder where this comes from. Dumping into Google Images, I found it here:

 biblioklept | terms of venery

An Exaltation of Larks, or The Venereal Game,by James Lipton

And Amazon has it.

If you don’t know about dragging images into Google, you should get to know it. Powerful and fun stuff.

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One of the best collections of modern architecture from around the world, continually updated. I highly recommend at least a weekly if not daily browse through the site to inspire or aggravate the designer in you. Some projects are so lovely you may want to give up the whole enterprise of being an architect. But there are just as many stinkers that might make you feel good about yourself.

OpenBuildings | Archiving the Worlds Built Environment.

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If you are an architect, read this.

Interview: Building Science Pioneer Dr. Joe Lstiburek on the Good, Bad and Ugly Side of Buildings | Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

A building engineer shoots straight about LEED and the responsibility of architects.


Inhabitat: So where is that information now? What are the sources for working professionals to tap into this in a meaningful way?


Joe Lstiburek: Well, NIBS, National Institute for Building Science has got a group called BETEC and they’ve got some phenomenal design stuff online. I mean I hate to brag, but our website is pretty darn good. And it’s for free –actually not, you’ve already paid for it. A lot of that work came out of government contracts that we were paid to do.

The National Research Council of Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation have fabulous information online. The Department of Energy, USDoE, has got phenomenally good information online. And by and large, it’s fairly consistent. There aren’t big differences and wherever there is a big difference, just agree with me.

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