Tuesday, July 11, 2017

That sinking feeling

I'm not really sure what to make of this: Millennium Odor Problem Could Point to Fire Risk, Experts Say

Unexplained odors inside the Millennium Tower units could be evidence of a potential fire safety risk to the 58-story sinking and tilting structure, experts tell NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit.


Pretlow and several other residents report having long endured unexplained odors permeating their luxury units. Then, late last year, the building’s homeowner association commissioned consultants Allana, Buick and Bers to investigate Pretlow’s unit.

When the experts cut open several of her walls and set off smoke bombs from the unit below, they learned that smoke was getting in through gaps surrounding pipes and ducts running through holes in the concrete floors behind Pretlow’s walls.

It's a reputable publication, and the story does in some ways seem plausible.

On the other hand, the article also fills me with a certain amount of unease; it makes me feel as though the various parties to the various lawsuits are trying to have their conflicts aired in the media, rather than being settled by figuring out what is wrong with the building and how it can be repaired.

Meanwhile, I can't deny that I'm intrigued by the notion of diagnosing construction failures via odors.

In computer science, there is a reasonably-non-crackpot technique that goes by the awkward name of Code Smells.

It's an approach for developing an almost-instinctive feeling about where problems might lie in a code base, based on unpleasant attributes of the code which you can train yourself to recognize when you're reading the code.

It probably would be more accurately named "code disfigurements," but that doesn't have anywhere near the ring of Code Smells.

Maybe there is a textbook somewhere of Construction Smells.

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