Tag Archives: Birmingham City University

Google onhub the big picture

Google Onhub

Google Onhub

You may have heard me go on, in recent posts about the way my wifi drops has very load speeds, and in general just does not work, forcing me to use a hardwire link for my internet, where I get speeds in excess of 50mbs instead of less than 1mbs over my wifi, is Google onhub the big picture, being missed, read on.

My experience out and about is not much better, I live on the southside of Birmingham, where you might think I get high speed mobile 3G and 4G, and in the most part I do, but there are glaring gaps, and it disrupts my workflow plus my music far to regularly. Plus the amount of access to the internet given by my provider O2 is so often not enough, I end up with no coverage at all late in the month.

So when I see two separate avenues being created by Google, I started to sit back and look at the big picture, what is the main thing they do not control, yet might be the biggest obstacle to innovation and seriously harm their existing product portfolio, dam right its the mobile access to the internet.

The already well established long term project to get Google Fibre into major cities in the USA, and now Europe, is part 1 of their efforts to move the control of the phone companies to themselves. The introduction of the Google router onhub, is the second part of this movement, first to establish local wifi with some clout, better speeds and a more secure environment, but more important, to allow Google to offer better access to the net, by their customers from the millions of home onhub routers, that almost everyone in the industry sees as over spec’d and far more powerful than is really needed for home use.

You might now wonder why we have both a telephone number and an email address, why not just one, I use google for most of my calls, and after a while I began to see the real benefit of just my email address, no country codes, a fast system, easy video calls, and if connected to google fibre via one on the may onhub systems, a cheap no barrier to use system.

After all this, what does this have to do with CPD and Architecture, well look at the way I run my own practice, I work partly from home and partly from University, I have a Skype telephone number, and can receive calls wherever I am. but as most of my communication is email, and google hangout, with  Skype thrown in.

I rarely get mobile calls these days, so I have to ask, is a phone number really a business tool. Internet and the vast number of excellent apps is far better, all that’s stopping it is the mobile operators who insist on a NUMBER.

Take also my home line, I have no use whats so ever for a land line number, yet bt insist I have one and charge me for it.


My Moleskin is Half empty

Moleskin half empty, or Half FullIts the weekend, and I am looking forward to University, I have so much to do, with both my practice and in preparing for lectures, I use Google Docs so have shared my lectures with the members of staff who I work with, but, and heres a big but, my Moleskin is looking a little full, I use it so much for general day to day notes, sketches, ideas and concepts, some times I sit and sketch an idea I have seen, rather than use my iPhone, its so much more intuitive to do it, the camera captures only what it sees, but sketching, I think, makes you see beyond. So today is a new Moleskin day, ready for my transfer.

I also have just paid for my Evernotte premier account again, I just could not do without it, storing “Stuff”, including captures of my Moleskin. I see so many executive, busy making notes at courses, and wonder, if they ever use them, it looks good, people are impressed, they are taking notes, but so often its a sham, they do not use them, capture the notes in Evernote, and let it become part of your Personal Archive.

So my next job is going to be a full 3D model, I have said this before, but this time it has to be, there will be pain, I know it, but after seeing the CostX presentation, I now can’t delay it, 3D it is. I an also looking at taking my Masters, Birmingham City University have a Masters in BIM, and its my intension the take it on, in the spring.

It looks like I have been using an old version of Skype, so this morning work was to reload it, I must say, this program has changed my life, I can talk all over the world, for free, show my screen, and send files, all for free, I even have a paid for telephone number, I just do not need the BT number I have, in fact its not listed any were, and I don’t use it, Skype is all I need.

It’s now official Gary Mees will be the next CIAT President, I am pleased for Gary, he has been about the CIAT system for so long, he knows how we work, and has put time into our profession.

CostX & BIM

cmprose1Yesterday, I spent all day watching and participating in a day long intensive course on the use of CostX, at Birmingham City University, it was as good as I had hoped, opening up all sorts of questions, all good I might add.

First and for most, is the way we draw, it has never been more important, to understand layering , and the correct use of blocks, the way Costx can use these simple yet so important drawing techniques is really good, when you see a QS, who knows how to use Costx, building up a really detailed cost plan just by importing a good dwg, even a good pdf is a boon to speed.

The old idea of taking off has found BIM, and Costx use of its internal cad engine lets you import your 3D model or 2D information sheets and within minutes you have a cost being built.

But it needs correct layering, so all you single layer guys who change the colour, forget it, you need to layer correctly, and use Blocks.

WordPress 4 is out, and there is a raft of new functions, the best is the youtube link, just add the url and its loaded,,,,,,,,, nice.

You might know how I like North points on my drawings, well todays photo is one I found recently, just,,,,,,,,, excellent.


Surveying for the Architectural Technologist

Birmingham City University, United KingdomIf your on the final year Architectural Technologist course @ Birmingham City University you might want to read the first five chapters of the very excellent book “Surveying for Construction” William Irvine & Finlay Maclennan. I have also listed another excellent book below, that will also help.

It covers the minimum you will need to carry out the task I have in mind for you on your return, using a dumpy level and all the related equipment, much of this you might well have covered so its really just revision. But you will need to understand all the aspects.

Chapter 1

Surveying Fundimentals

Chapter 2

Understanding Maps and Plans

Chapter 3

Linear Surveying

Chapter 4


Chapter 5


Chapter 7

Theodolites & Total Stations

Chapter 8

Traverse Surveys

At the end of this section I expect you to be able to carry out a reasonably complex survey of a piece of land, draw the survey, accurately with contours, understand how they might affect your building, and hand the results and your survey notes over to a QS for further work.

I also want you to understand the difference between Latitude & Longitude and Easting & Northings,  Chapter 7 & 8 are a good into to this,

Architectural Technologists will be called upon to produce this type of broad survey many times in their career, at the least you might have to brief a survey team, at worst, you will need to do it yourself, quickly and acuratly.


10 years and still going

konstrukshon_logo_181108I received several emails via linkedin the last couple of days to say happy anniversary, seems I have been running Konstrukshon for 10 years, it does not seem like it,  there have been ups and downs, clients who don’t pay, site problems and time deadlines, but over all, I like working for myself, 10 years and still going.

Running your own company is something your not taught at college, I learned the hard way, and relied upon my years within practice and a large chemical company to survive, that and my membership to CIAT, without whom I don’t think I could have made it.

So for all you budding entrepreneur’s take heart, its hard work, but the end result is worth it. My best advise, get a god accountant, next make a plan, try to sort out who when and how your going to get work, money and pay your self. Next sort out your office, do not go for an expensive room somewhere, I have effectively worked out of a small bedroom for my last 10 years, all I needed was a good, fast, internet, I keep almost all of my paperwork as electronic, in fact, the biggest room taker in my office is my books.

Time management is the other biggy, here I have to be rigid, and keep to the plan, otherwise I don’t earn money, I tend to work early and finish not to late, which is the other big problem working from home and the reverse of not working, its the oh I’ll just do this and before you know it, its 10 in the evening and your in the bad books with your partner. Manage your time.

Put something away for the rainy day, big fees come in, don’t spend it all, some for you, some for the tax man and some for the unexpected, try to plan for the obvious expenditures, like your computer replacement, say every 5 years, thats how long mine seem to last. Holidays, plan well in advance, and please don’t take your laptop with you, just in case.

Thats it, a quick overview of running your business, it takes a lot more than this, believe me, but if you take one piece of advice its do it, but plan the path, you will not keep to it, but it will provide a life line to allow you to check, and if necessary, pull back inline or amend.    Have fun.





Architectural Technologist – Time is the true Seventh Sense

malta clockWe are taught that there are 5 basic senses, sight, smell, touch, sound, taste , and so often we use the sixth sense when we use intuition,  but there is a seventh sense that is so often ignored, that of time.

All of these six basic senses rely on time, even intuition, how different is sound, when a note is only half a second long to that of one 2 seconds long, look at ,smell, a slight single whiff of no more than second, has different meaning to that of a long lingering intake of air. Yet time can and does exist as a sense all on it’s own.

We as technologists detail and build using all the six senses, even taste, when we introduce paints that we can taste, and smell as we enter a room, but time is a sense we should also use, such as say light coming from a sign, should it flash and for how long, to how long it will take for a lift to arrive, to the opening of a lift door, time is certainly a sense we so often ignore, yet it is a primary sense.

Can we teach this seventh sense, of course we can, take the Doppler effect, without time it does not exist, or the way we touch say a sensor button on my iPad, a long press brings up Siri, yet a short press ends the program, and a long continued press, shuts the item down.

Time can and does have an effect on our detailing, look at the way a door closer operates, if it closes to quick then we don’t have time to clear the door, to slow and the door remain open to long, a potential heat loss, and security risk. Even as we approach an automatic door, how quickly should it open.

The earth spins at a constant rate, well more or less, but at our level, looking at the rate of shadow generation, it is constant, how long the sun shines on any surface and at what angle, can have a huge impact of the way we perceive colour, shape and relationship, even performance. Navigation is a function of time, Harrison the creator of the time piece that changes the way we navigate, showed this.

So the question, “should we teach time” is a no brainer, of course we should.

Architectural Technologist – Google Docs and my Teaching material Generation

Lullworth Cove Stram entering Cove BeachI have to generate a lot of teaching material at Gloucester College, as well as at Birmingham City University,  Up until recently I have used my Mac and Keynote, but recently I have been experimenting with Google Docs and using the share to web link to generate a link to the actual page, which Apples Keynote will not allow.

It means I can write teaching material as both Docs, and I prefer to do, Presentation slides, which I also share with my other teaching colleagues.

Any changes are automatically updated as people load up the link. I have used this technology from Goole for some time on their diary calendar, but just recently I have used it very successfully to spread presentation across several courses on the college Moodle system,

The example below is of a presentation I am preparing for Documentation across a project, which I am putting together for my students.

I used to use Architype in a practice I used to freelance in, I liked it a lot so as I know it, I have used it as an example of online document management, there are others I know, but its the one familiar to me.

For some reason the College Moodle like the smaller screen share, and its the one I have used as my demo.

As has been the case for some weeks now, I have been very busy, both teaching and working I’m my practice, long may it last I suppose, but the blog has had to take a back seat, till I get things under control, but fear not, its only temp, I shall be back on a daily basis, so very soon.t

Todays photo is one I took at Lullworth Cove, no link to the subject today, just one I liked. The stream entering the bay, clear as crystal.