Tag Archives: review

Google Travel Log

CDM SheetIt’s a little scary, but I quite like the ability to check where I have been over the last month of so, ok I know my diary will tell me, but the actual proof is the map log Google produces,as the Google Travel Log the slightly scary bit is most people do not know this is happening in the background, but me being the tech I am, its fine with me.

Easter has been a bit of a catchup, I still have been into Uni helping the final year students detail their projects, plus a little trip to Gloucester college to do much the same with the HNC students.

I have also been writing like fury, trying to get presentations sorted and add a little more to my book on Architectural Technology, I am not sure how to launch this, wait till its completed, or do like so many seem to do, and upload it a chapter at a time, the latter looks good to me, I’ll see.

I have been adding more to the CDM presentation, together with adding documents and article I have found on the internet, the best and the one I am using a lot is the CITB site, their list of pdf documents is really good, use the link to the right for “CDM Industry guidance”.

As the academic year comes to a close, I plan to catchup on a few articles, and books I have read recently, I seem to be fixated on the birth of the USA, the war of independence and a little on the civil war, a fascinating point in History, and the links I have via my family name, to the USA.

I have also been reading the odd Architectural book and also been purchasing a few, a Classic is the Chings “Architectural Graphics”, and Magdalena Droste’s very excellent book “Bauhaus”, a book that opens up so many questions and point of construction , it seems the ideas were great, but lacked construction detail.

I also managed to pick up an old copy of “The Architectural Review” Jan 1907, a classic new year review, and full of detail, and adverts for products.

I have to do a presentation on doors and detailing, when I return from the Easter break, the presentation below is the result of a few days research, please use as you see fit.

Google is becoming more important to me, both the way I use gmail, and Google Docs, I use Apple machines, but I had chance to play on a Google Chrome Book recently, and it does all I want plus more, with the exception of CAD, so how come I have spent over £2000 on a new Mac, I am wondering that to !.

Autocad has a easy to use web internet version of their standard product, but it lacks some finer points so simple stuff only, but it shows the way.

Todays photo is of my CDM table I use to plot safety points on my drawings, updated with colour.

Architectural Technologist – What CAD System

alternative CAD


There is a basic problem, CAD program’s do not talk to each other, there is no single file type, each has it’s own, and for al I know! each program saves it’s model in completely different ways. IFC is the one common deliminater, it allows the program’s to talk to each other, all be it tentertivly, and at the moment, it’s very tentertivly.

Yet the industry, and I mean us, not the associations who represent the various fractions and manufacturers, have done little to control this. We aline our selves with the various program’s hoping to help it evolve, yet being sucked into the trap as we continue to pour more and more projects into our respective program’s.

DWG seems to be the only common file, yet it’s so limited, no 3D, just basic 2D yet it’s the main file format. Ask any practice to send a copy of your plans, and you talk which version of dwg do you want, until IFC comes of age this if the only real cross platform.

It supprises me that the open source community has done little about this, althought several CAD program’s are starting to emerge, and low and behold, they are on Linux, not Apple or windows the two main dominant systems.

So where does this lead us, do we all head to Linux, perhaps this is not so far out, the platform is certainly not new, and has the pedigree, and with the likes of Raspberry PI, so much cheaper than almost anything else. So why have we not seen any decent Architectural based program running on Linux, this site has the only list I can find, all the usual are there, but no real front runner, and no open source, and no common open file source. The old argument of no writing or spreadsheet, program’s is long gone, plus the GUI is great and

So what’s next, well my purchase of a Raspberry PI unit is the first step, a full review of the available linux CAD program’s comes straight after, not sudo, which work under some sort of windows shell, but all out linux native program’s. Next, I want to see what the file storage format is, so if your a hacker who understand the file stucture and can offer advice, please make contact.

That’s it, I have moaned about this before, you think you own the file and it’s content, think again, I have older files that are no longer readable, the program’s is just not capable of running on my Mac, and the program that produced it, is only a few years old at 2009. I had no say in the matter, yet a 1995 paper print might be a pain, but after a couple of hours I can send it out in a new file format, or I can scan it to PDF, a format I can read even on very old files.

Who is to blame for this, both Apple, who changed the OS and my CAD program manufacturer, who refuse to update the older program. The way out is to buy a newer version that will load the older file and convert it. luckily I managed to convert all my recent, older files, but some realy older files are stuck, lost, I thought, for ever, until I got an older mac running and a version that still loads my files.

The CPD is the constant review of my practices CAD, the OS, the machines, and the investment we make in it, not just Vectorworks, but all programs, do we need to move, should I take up another, is the system going to last another few years or do We need to upgrade, and to what, Linux !. Can We still use Skype, what’s Microsoft going to do with it, will it still be free, should we choose google talk.


Architectural Technologist – APE

I have just purchased Guy Kawasaki's new ebook on electronic publishing aptly named “APE”, well i purchased it a few days ago, but today is the release day, and as I am, in the throws of writing my own book on the Architectural Technologist, I had to read it, I like guys writing, I follow him on several fronts most notably on Google+, and of course I purchased his short book on Google+, if your looking to get into google+ you could do a lot worse.

As we move into more and more electronic publishing, you have to wonder how it will affect our industry, we rely so much on PDF but its limited ok it's great for drawings, but our written text specs and documents might benefit from it.

The video below is the leader advert for APE, I have the electronic version, so will read it over the holidays and let you know what I find.


How to APE a Book from Atelier Transfert on Vimeo.

Architectural Technologist – Self Education and Mentoring


Steel Bench

I found a useful site today, looking at the way education is taught, I took it to my level, and asked the question to my self, is the way I research and teach myself correct. I rarely attend formal classes any more, simply because I don't have the time, I don't do exams, for the same reason, so who says my work is correct, well most is self setting, I read technical articles most of which are existing standards, or part of the building regulations, some are by piers who I can safely say, if they have it wrong then I can easily see because of the citations and references they give.

So do I need to attend a College or University, my answer is no, but I could add that it would be nice to discuss a problems or study project with a mentor, who can give advice on technique, content or further study. I don't have to attend college, simply because all I do is online, and Skype or simple email reply is all I want.

This whole area of CPD is my next big development, mentoring, it's an area that I feel can and should be used by every one, young or old, in my case my business partner tends to act as my sounding board, and a couple of other old colleagues also act in the same vain, will I continue this I can't say, but im giving it some serious thought. But for the time being, I will add their comments to my CPD list to show that I have consulted with a pier. The other area of access net comes from pier review of published papers, so I will now start looking at collating my thoughts and findings on any of my projects to assemble an overview, and publish it, first on my site, then on a pier review site, if I can find one that is Architectural Technology related. Maybe I start site if I can't find one.

Joh Pickup is also a person I also tend to talk about techniques, he often acts as a kind of mentor, mostly on Vectorworks, but we so often stray into other areas.

Today's photo is not my wedding, it's my sons, I attended, a weeks ago, some one attached the “this way” sign to it and it sort of interested me, part in the sign, part as a reminder of an excellent day, but also the wrought iron bench itself.

You will also see that I am back to Blogsy, the IPad battery is charged and away I go.

Architectural Technologist – Jeanne Gang – Architect

Chicago (ILL) Downtown, Lakeshore East : "...

Image by Vincent Desjardins via Flickr

I have this thing about skyscrappers, I like the unusual, I like to see innovation, and this film about Jeanne Gang is all about innovation, the way she tries to pull as much out of the design. and the way the environment is pulled so much into the design. Jeanne Gang states that we need to more about designing for the 7 billion of us, and skyscraper living must become top of the list of possible alternatives, with all its design problems and detailing, plus the way we interact and use them

I would love to have seen the drawing set, of any of the designs shown, in particular the skyscrapper with the flowing elevation, the room layouts that obviously had to change with the loss of balconies on certain floors. Look at the balcony floor thickness, its so thin, and the way the balcony rail has been set back, excellent. Look at the marble shower curtain, thats just a jigsaw but some design.

I have been through Chicago some years back, but did not get chance to spend time, perhaps I should have done. from the film there are some interesting designs. CPD is huge in this film, from the actual design, through to the construction process, to the materials, it’s clear Jeanne Gang has more about her than a normal Architect. I have often said that so many young Architects come out qualified with no real interest or knowledge of construction, but thats not the case with this Architect.

Working in her office would be really interesting. I wonder what software they use !. Look at the link below for Interview Aloud, it’s one of those sites that needs to be looked at, interesting.


Watch Preview: Jeanne Gang: The Sky’s the Limit on PBS. See more from WTTW DOCUMENTARIES.




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Architectural Technologist – Review of my CPD

CPD Records

Image by Scays via Flickr

I tend to review my CPD activity quite regularly, as I add new records to my spread sheet, I can see from the Project list of my CPD records in Google Docs just what needs to be looked at, where I’m light on study, and if I need to add a new subject,

I have for a long time thought I have neglected my Autocad skills, I us Vectorworks  predominately but Autocad is still so dominant in the CAD world, it’s not good business sense to ignore it, so I have added Autocad CAD to the list, it’s not of great importance, so the priority number is low, but it will remeind me to get some hours in. I looked at the Mac Autocad program over the weekend, and downloaded the free Autocad WS program, also went onto the main site to look at the MAc progra, and at £4500 or thereabouts its not cheap, in fact its dam expensive, and will not be a purchase, but need to know about it, so started looking at current Autocad Video tutotials and sites, to remind me .



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Architectural Technologist – Book review Vectorworks Essentials

Dropbox & Vectorworks
Image by Scays via Flickr
Within the last few days, I have received all three of Jon Pickups Vectorworks 2011 tutorial manuals:
  • Vectorworks Essentials
  • Vectorworks Architect
  • Vectorworks 3D
And it’s here right the start of this article I declare that I did not pay for any of these copies. Neither did I write any of the copy or make the videos, but I certainly talked a lot to Jon via Skype, to hone and refine Jon’s thinking, I hope in some way there is just a little of me in here somewhere.
So here we go, and the first book on the list is Vectorworks Essentials, Vectorworks is one of those CAD products that with a little thinking you can literally pick up the Vectorworks elements package and be constructing a reasonable drawing straight away, that’s what really attracted me to it in the first place, if you have board experience, a lot of Vectorworks was / is almost natural.
But there are certain points which if learned before you really get going with a project, will save you hours of frustration. The tutorial books by Jon Pickup are the essential reading you should engage with, before you start working seriously, such as setting up your preferences and page size, how to create class structure, proper use of design layers, all this and a whole lot more is spelled out in Vectorworks Essentials.
Now for once an author has chosen a ring bound binding for a book that just sits on the desk and stays open, no more trying to bend a book to stay open.
Inside, your not presented with page after page of small text, the layout is simple, easy-going large text, and is literally plastered with screen shots of what Jon is teaching, plus and this is a major plus, he has made small video’s of the section too, this is not overkill, it’s the way any technical manual should be.
You might also notice that he has not just shown Windows or Mac screen shots but both, and as Vectorworks is dual platform, this is important.
The first 35 odd page are devoted to the basics, setting up, palettes, and basic drawing techniques, it’s almost impossible to teach this in 35 pages, but Jon does a pretty good job, its backed up with loads of small videos, found on the CD at the back of the book. It’s this section I recommend all newcomers to concentrate on, the setup of any project correctly, at the beginning will steer you to making a well drafted project, the concepts Jon teaches at this level, are the fundamentals of BIM, more of which you will learn in the other books, but for now, do not rush this section, read and reread the lesson plan and watch the movies, I might also add at this early stage the benefit of joining the online tutorials Jon gives at least once a month.
Ok so you have learned the basic of setup and some simple 2D drawing, If your my age, you might just think that this is the end of the story, but be aware, CAD is not just a replacement for you old drawing board, it opens up a whole new game plan in presenting the project to other parties, this starts now with the next section on 3D.
Again with this section, don’t rush, this will take time to grasp, but Jon has outlined it remarkably well, with loads of
Screen shots and his essential videos, looking at setup, symbol use and placement of dims and notes, it’s not a comprehensive tutorial, that is left up to the final book in the trio, Vectorworks 3D, but there is plenty to steer you in the right direction, and loads of tips to help you grasp the concept.
Presentation is fundamental to any draftsman/woman, Vectorworks has one of the best,if not the best way of taking your drawing and creating what’s called a view port and placing it on a special layer called a sheet, it does not end there, Jon goes through the very basics of using the design layers for both 2D and 3D to get the best presentation, again there is just not enough room to do this justice, but the basics are here and again I recommend readers to join his online tutorials, I joined right at the start of Jon online career and although I consider myself a power user, and teach Vectorworks to new users, I still maintain my membership, and attend the online gatherings.They are not stuffy online lesson, more a gathering and exchange of information, with Jon sterring the lesson.
We now head into the final chapters in the book, reporting, Vectorworks has a small but powerful spreadsheet system, called a worksheet, and it’s here you might begin to realise why Jon has gone to so much trouble, to get over the concepts  of the class, and layer structure, together with the naming of objects, because this lesson outlines the basics of interrogating the drawing for information. At this level it’s a simple get area or count the number of objects , but later on in the more advanced books you get to look at other aspects, but for now, enjoy the tutorial.
So at the end of al this, you should have mastered the basics of Vectorworks and begun to appreciate the power that lies at your finger tips and start to recoup the money you have invested in this CAD package. In my early days of CAD, I had to use several different packages, it so happen that the last one I came to use was Vectorworks, it reminded me of my old board, the concepts of different design layers of sheets of tracing paper, it was so intuitive, I just did not want to go to another package, Jon I think was just starting out then, and had produce his own Vectorworks essential manual, I purchased a copy, and it still has pride of place over my screen and is often used, as I still have to teach people who have not upgraded.
At the back of the book, there is a CD, with all the lesson plans in both Metric and imperial, plus a PDF copy of the book, which I have placed in my iPAd iBooks, and its here where the little Video icons work.
I can heartily recommend this essentials guide to Vectorworks, used correctly it will lay down the correct thinking and setup Vectorworks and your project require. But and here is the big but, do not expect to get all the answers in this book, join the online tutorials, search the Nemetschek site for their online videos, and look at YouTube for Jon’s, mine and Vectorworks channels, where we have put more free content to help you master Vectorworks.


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