About Rabih Sukkar

I am a Civil Engineer and Tech geek living and working in Beirut. You can find more about me in the 'About' page.

Author Archive | Rabih Sukkar

Another ‘Green’ Car to Win the 2014 Car of The Year Award?

BMW i3, courtesy of Wikipedia

Update (March 4): The BMW i 3 came only second, with a difference of 84 points. The winner was the Peugeot 308. It turned out my prediction was wrong after all…

Readers of this blog (yes, all three of you) might know that I am an auto enthusiast. I have been a car geek for four decades now – I even drive an old man’s car! – and one of the yearly milestones that I follow year-in, year-out is the famous Car of the Year award.

The finalists for the 2014 Car of the Year designation, awarded since 1964, have already been selected. The lucky winner will be known in March, in time for the Geneva show, one of the most important car shows of the year.

Significantly, of the seven finalists, two are electric vehicles: the BMW i3 and the Tesla S.

My prediction: one of them will win the award for 2014. Why? Continue Reading →

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Updates on the LEED Green Associate Certification: No Prerequisites

The building by Payton Chung on Flickr

For candidates of the LEED Green Associate certification from the US Green Building Council, there are two developments that took place within the last year:

  • The USGBC has dropped the minimum requirements for getting the LEED Green Associate credential; anyone can now apply to become a LEED GA (naturally, awareness of green buildings and sustainability issues is helpful);
  • Applications for getting the LEED GA and LEED AP credentials and credential maintenance are now submitted on the USGBC site.

All the hyperlinks in the articles on earning and maintaining this certification have thus been updated to reflect the above.

For convenience, you will find the important parts from both articles below. Continue Reading →

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About those LinkedIn Endorsements…

thumbs up by .reid on Flickr

I would like to start this post by stressing on the fact that I really, really like LinkedIn. If I had to be present on only one social network and leave all the others, it would definitely be LinkedIn.

I’ve been there since 2009, and though this is not really a long time, contrast this with my brief presence on Facebook, which I left after only one year. I deleted my account five years ago and could not run away fast enough. This is another story entirely, but suffice it to say that I couldn’t take the childish posturing and narcissist behavior for very long.

And yet, even LinkedIn sometimes introduces features that look like a great idea at first, and then turn out to be a minor annoyance – only to become, with time, downright irritating.

I am talking, of course, about LinkedIn endorsements. Continue Reading →

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Cool tool: PDF to Excel Free Online

table by ilovebutter, on Flickr

Here’s a hypothetical scenario: your boss needs you to create some charts regarding the sales data of the last five years.

But all you have is a printed document with a few tables: the soft copy of the spreadsheet is nowhere to be found, and the sales charts are needed for a report that the CEO wants yesterday.

Quick, what do you do? What can you do?

Continue Reading →

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Another PDF Converter: FreePDF Creator for Windows

143of365[NTR23] by ntr23 on Flickr

There are multiple PDF converters available online. It is however always convenient to install a PDF converter on your PC, and I have already introduced you to PrimoPDF a while ago. I should note here that we are exclusively discussing a PDF converter for Windows, since Macs come with a built-in PDF printer.

An alternative to PrimoPDF that has been brought to my attention is FreePDF Creator from PDFConverter.com. The installation is very straightforward: just head to the website and download the software. After downloading the executable file (which is about 12 MB), double-click to install the converter. You need to supply a name and email in the installer, and you’re good to go. Continue Reading →

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Oracle Primavera P6 Version 8: Project and Portfolio Management – Packt Publishing

Oracle Primavera P6 Version 8Once in a while, a publisher releases a book that seems to make up for years of frustration – its readers letting out a collective sigh of relief. This is such a book.

If you are a project manager or a project planner, and particularly if you work in the construction industry, you cannot have missed Primavera software, particularly Primavera Project Planner – or P3.  You also know that, for a very longtime, it was almost impossible to find a decent reference in the market for this high-end project management tool. Just go to Amazon – for example – and search for ‘Primavera’: the book we are about to discuss comes out on top, while other publications are either outdated, expensive or hard to find. Continue Reading →

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Project Planning Pro for iPad: Planning and Scheduling at your Fingertips

Project Planning Pro

If your daily work includes the creation of project schedules, a safe bet is that you make use of Microsoft Project or Oracle Primavera. These two competing products are the mainstream, and their new versions are more powerful than ever.

What if you just needed a small application to quickly prepare and modify a small project plan that you can carry with you in the field while leaving your notebook in the office? How about using your iPad for more than playing Angry Birds? This is where Project Planning Pro comes in.

I have discovered this neat little software more than a year ago, and below is my long overdue review. Continue Reading →

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OS X Mountain Lion Pocket Guide by Chris Seibold – O’Reilly Media

It’s no secret that I am a fan of O’Reilly’s books. Having switched to a Mac for my personal computing needs three years ago, I had upgraded my machine to OS X Snow Leopard when that release became available a couple of months later.


One month ago, I became an early adopter of the latest release of Mac OS X: the much-awaited OS X Mountain Lion, which promises to bridge the gap between your Mac and iOS5, the operating system that powers the iPad and iPhone. The new OS X release adds features that are found in iOS5 such as Reminders, Launch Control, Notes and iCloud integration, for instance. But how do you find out about all those new features, as well as the numerous improvements? Is there a reference that you can use, without having to haul a 800-page tome around? Continue Reading →

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Certification Roundup: Project Management and Green Initiatives

Coffee time by antwerpenR, on Flickr

Here’s a brief roundup of the articles about certification contained in this blog so far. If you want to get a project management or sustainability certification, you will find the following information that I hope will be of interest to you.

Let’s start by project management certifications.

  • If you are new to project management, you will want to get the CAPM certification, which will last you five years without the need to maintain it. Bear in mind the requirements in term of course-ware or experience: all the information you need is provided in the CAPM article.
  • Once your CAPM is expired, you will want to get the highly coveted PMP. You might be experienced enough to get your PMP without stopping by the CAPM, which is entirely acceptable. The course-ware and experience requirements are more stringent than those of the CAPM. You will find all the necessary info in the PMP overview. The PMP will be valid for three years, during which you will need to meet certain criteria in order to maintain your certification: get the details in the corresponding article.

For both certifications, the ultimate reference is naturally the PMI website. Continue Reading →

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The Estidama Pearl Qualified Professional Certification

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Tower, by Rabih Sukkar

If you are working – or would like to work – in the domain of sustainability, or if you are a Green Building enthusiast, it makes sense to get a relevant certification – it might even be a part of your job requirements.

Arguably, the US Green Building Council provides the most famous of these certifications, and we have discussed before how to get and maintain the LEED Green Associate designation, which is the stepping-stone to the highly regarded LEED AP. An individual holding a LEED AP is a key person in the team tasked with designing a LEED-certified building, and is the main contact person between the design firm and the US Green Building Council.

The Estidama initiative

In the Middle East, effort is being made to develop Green Building rating systems tailored to the region’s particular requirements, notably with respect to the hot and humid climate. The leader in the domain is the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) in the UAE. The huge undertaking started by the UPC some five years ago resulted in the development of a full-fledged rating system that was released early in April 2010.

This initiative is called Estidama, which means sustainability in Arabic. A narrative on the Estidama website explains that the UPC expanded the triple bottom-line of sustainability – people, planet and profit – to account for the cultural sensibilities and tough climate of this part of the world. The three pillars of sustainability hence become four: social, environmental, economic and cultural. These four pillars are reflected in the simple but powerful Estidama logo itself.

The rating system that is at the core of the Estidama initiative is called the Pearl Rating System. Continue Reading →

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