Monday, 30 November 2015

persistent, interoperable identifiers – DOI's

I received just recently a note from the Construction Products Association, asking if I want to be part of a review of a new system being discussed to add specific identifiers to manufacturers products, as part of the BIM process, they seem to think I am a manufacturer !.

The whole concept can be seen on the Design Building Wiki, a site I have been reading for some time. I think its very early days for this but in principle,  its inevitable that we will do this, but there are several hurdle to overcome, what of the Agrement cert number, well it's not unique, as its date oriented, 97/1234, but maybe thats good, it still shows a life cycle, valid from !.

Most manufacturers already have a product number system, so often together with batch numbers and a manufacture date,  so are we heading for say a number that looks like 1234/01-11/2015, perhaps with  machine identifier a bar code might make this easier to apply, and the date problem is sorted.

The whole idea of this could be expanded to each building, we have the Post Code for this, but this relies on a part address, but what happens if the building needs a unique URL, to request data, should it now of the different numbers in the building, should it know of the exact location of each product number,,,,,,, could site add this as the materials come in, or could it be added to the model via a scanner once installed, bricks, blocks and say wall ties, might prove difficult, together with a host of other small components, so might numbers be allocated a particular element, say a wall to grid location or between grids.

You might even take a look at ISDN numbers used for books, similar, yes, but simple in comparison to the volume of materials produced just for one manufacturer.

The idea that a central database be used to locate and find a manufacturer from a number is interesting, I can easily see some manufacturers not liking this, to much control, and what about cross border sales, might one country block sales because their number is not used.

You might find numbers being looked at as something special, like car registrations in the UK hence why I like Barcodes.

So many questions and so many different ideas and concepts, this needs to be done, but it needs to be part of a wider concept view, which I think is still lacking in the whole BIM thing.

A search in Google Scholar, show this is not unique, there are several papers across many different subject and products, all trying to address this,,,,, I refuse to call it a problem, more the next stage in BIM.

Is this CPD, yes, we are the one's who may well end up applying a part if not all of this to our CAD models, so at least an understanding is needed, and perhaps a need to get involved, before it gets taken over by associations and committees.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Night Time Shadows or Architecture by night

It's not till you walk through a city by night, do you get the chance to see all sides of a building, from the daylight shadows, and its general use by its occupants.

But its a night you see a completely different side to a building, the suns shadows replaced by artificial lighting that competes with the moon and plays tricks on shadows never intended by the Architect.

And it was as I walked back from the Hotel of the CIAT presidents ball, that I suddenly noticed this, the cold wind biting through a rather thin dress suite, I stood to look at a grand old building and admire the new silhouette that now presented its self to me, where hours before I saw something completely different.

We spend so long designing for daylight, but so often we ignore the dark and often n=missed opportunity to see a completely different side of Architecture, yet its one that during the winter months presents its self more.

For me its a new side to my CPD, looking at shadow, and reflecting on the Dark Shadow of the moon and artificial light.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Frank Lloyd Wright & The Guggenhiene Museam

I always wanted to visit the Guggenheim, so on a visit to New York a couple of years ago, I took the time and paid to go inside. My friends, a mixture of Architect, technologists and QS's rave about it, and I expected a lot, but,,,,, it just did not live up to its reputation, a tired building that has many design flaws, and detailing that just is plain wrong.

I saw so many ooowing and aaaaaring, but I just could not see it, yes if you stand back and look at the building, I can see the Architecture as perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright might have wanted.

But as a technologist, I see the detail and it just does not add up, I visited in the late December, and the building was suffering from condensation at a lot of windows, getting the concrete spiral handrail detail perfect is difficult enough, but with no capping to take up the inaccuracies of casting, its almost impossible.

I have alway wanted to see Franks, working drawings and detail set, there are a lot out on the net, but I just do not know whats his or whats been done by others.

The Video below is a little one sided, so look at it with that in mind........ but watch the background and look for the detail.

Don't get me wrong, I do not dislike the building, its just the hype of Frank Lloyd Wright has led me to a certain level, and I felt let down.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Raspberri Pie Zero

Is there was ever a product that could alter the way we see the construction industry, then this has to be it, the new Raspberry Pie Zero, at only 65x35x5mm and only needing 5v.

The use of they little things can easily be embedded into several different types of product, from sensor packs, to products to small room sensors

At around £11.88 each, it has the power and ability to run a small sensor array easily, and if connected to a say solar power supply and wifi, prove invaluable.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

China Academy of Building Research (CABR)

In an excellent article in this months DEVELOP 3D magazine, the role of the China Academy of Building Research( CABR). The article is that the magazine calls Advertorial, so its an advert for the use of AMD, Firepro graphics card, and the way its been used to develop a new version of the Sausage module that is used to compute the effects of earthquakes on a building.

Part of the PKPM which is the mainstay of construction design system. I know absolutely nothing about PKPM and it's role within (CABR), so I have opened up a new line of research to understand why, how and when its used and by whom.

A first search brings up an article by Autodesk, looking at BIM, the PKPM, and CABR, but the first real stop has to be the CABR web site, and thankfully its in English, with a rather full menu so plenty to read through here. From first glance, it might seem that its a combination of tech building regs and British Standards pulled into one. but there is a lot to view and this will take some time. An excellent paper by the USA gov on the Chinese building regulation process, is also a great start.

Next is the PKPM. this software is a series of, CAD modules dealing with the building, structure, equipment ( water supply and drainage, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, electrical  ). This Chinese site roughly describes the software and its process. Either its been translated into English or Google translate has had a pretty good crack at it, either way its a translation and you have to read it several times to get the gist of it. But it's clear why Autodesk are making such a big play with their software and the PKPM. As a last read try this rather long pdf slide set, its very comprehensive and shows many great screen shots of the software suite being used.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Tesla Powerwall - PassiveHouse

I can't find a blog I have made recently that goes so well into the Tesla Power Wall unit, its via the very excellent ColdFusion Tv unit, and again he goes into a subject and just gives fact.

Although I like this, I think they have missed a vital point, in that we, the human, need to change, adopt a slightly different life style and use lower power consuming products, and choose when to use them,

Heating and cooling are also overlooked, we can do away with cooling, but heating and staying warm, is a priority, which Tesla can't supplement. I remember the night storage hears of a few yeas ago, we need to take another look at this together with efficient ways to store energy that will be used for heating, Solar water panels come to mind, together with mass to store the heat, perhaps under the house. PassiveHouse comes very much to mind here. So yet again I add Passive technology onto my list and raise its rating to high.

As Big Data Explodes, Are You Ready For Yottabytes? - A Paper by John Foley

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

AI - Tesla and the Home Automation

Take a look at this video in the Cold Fusion Tv series, the way Tesla is progressing in its software, is pushing into AI areas like we have never seem before, OIt applies to both the car itself, and the Big City data buildup.

How can the auto home incorporate this technology, perhaps the way the hive can be used to inform and request information on weather, I am writing a paper on this and its difficult not to sit back and think of how the way Tesla is evolving and how it might so easily fit the Domestic and commercial construction market.


Cold Fusion Tv - How BIG is TATA?

This might seem a strange CPD blog, but take a step back and think about who owns the best steel literature in the UK, Tata Steel, and who also owns Jaguar and Land Rover, plus Tetley Tea. Ok the construction industry might run on tea, but its not a major factor, but the steel industry is and I for one, having once worked for a steel company, ASW Allied Steel & Wire, and one who details a lot of steel structure and detailing of component that need to meet steel structure, them my interest is roused.

So I have blogged Cold Fusion Tv before, you cn see a list at the end of the Video below, its a sharp well edited video presentation, no waffle, just plain facts and great imaging.

You might want to download the steel table, after this and store in Evernote. Unfortunately I always have problems finding Tata steel table, so always go to this site RoyMech, it has the serial size, weight, then the section dims in an easy to read table, just excellent.

Survey Notes and Plot - We don't work for free !

Last week, I surveyed an oldish terraced house, with a view to a loft conversion, The survey its self took a few hours, no more, but the actual plot took about another 3 house, to produce three floor plans, a section and a couple of elevations.

The reason I tell you this, recently several students asked, what to charge for work, the answer is not easy, I have immediate costs that need to be met, so insurance, computer, telephone & Internet, plus upkeep of my CAD package, and general office running expenses,  paper ink and the like, that just keep coming, month after month, then the final cost is how long does it take me to draw it to a level ready for say planning or Regs.

Overall, I recon to at least a full day to draw, so say 7 hours, plus client time of half a day, so a total man hours of 10 hours, so the formula is :

hourly on cost + 10 hour

Now you need to sort out how much you want to earn in any year, and break it down to an hourly rate, oh and stay competitive. don't forget there may be 365 days in a year, but from this you need to remove holidays, and weekends, and at least one day a week for admin, believe me there is a lot of time spent running a small practice, that is not earning time.

So you can see it's not easy, and clients think you will be cheap because it's only a small extension,

Gary Meese asked me to add a link to the CIAT sheet on this, its a really good guide.



Sunday, 15 November 2015

Clipboard History

Its always the same. you clip an address, then want it again ten minutes later, and have to go back to the site, perhaps searching for it,  using the history, but what happens if you copy text, or a picture.

I use a little app within chrome that stores all this called " Clipboard History", vey useful. It's a small icon in the top bar, clit it and a list of all your clips drops down, highlight and its back into your live clipboard.

There is even a useful search bar to help, I have gone back over several days to pull a copy back.

Saturday, 14 November 2015


All credit for the Paris logo goes to @jean_jullien for creating the sketch he drew in response to the Paris attacks.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Home WiFi

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 south side 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.
This is a reprint of a a blog from the site, I have not been able to upload the export, it's just to large, this way seems better.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Site Modeling in SketchUp

This video has been out for a couple of years, and Sketch up has change ever so slightly, but its a great video introduction intoSite Modelling in SketchUp, and the way it can be used to build up some sort of 3D model.

Any student of Architectural Technology, would do well to watch this excellent video, and make use of the many tips.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Just a quick calculation

I try so hard to make my mind work, and do simple calcs in my head, but sometimes its just quicker and easier just to use a calculator to do just a quick calc.

I could dive into my bag and haul out my Casio, but its so much quicker just to put the calc into the search bar of Chrome, and see the result instantly.

More its so easy to copy the answer and paste into a document.  The same method can also be used within some other programs, Vectorworks for instance can accept a calc instead, of a dim.

Inspired by glass, Corning Willow Glass

I think Corning is beating a whole new path with it's glass technology, this new video describes Willow Glass, the ultra thin flexible yet very tough glass sheet that comes on a roll

The video, I think does not do it justice, there is so much we can do with this material from simple laminates, to complex laminates with imbedded printed circuits.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Does Autodesk need IFC

Over the weekend, I began thinking about the simple question, "Does Autodesk need IFC", you have to wonder, when you see the full range of Autodesk programs, all integrated and supposedly working together.

As a marketing tool, it's a no brainer, lock every one into the family, there is no need to go else where.

But just in case we'll keep out links to IFC. I think they are missing to point. It's not that they are not doing a good job at the number of very good programs, but it just seems like if its not invented here then there is no use for it.

You might say the same for Apple, I have used Apple since 1985, and loved it, the method of working was great, but try going outside Apple, it has not changed, I want to share my slides, yes there is a link, but it is not like Google, who seem to give every single option to share, and make it easy.

Just a thought !

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Can we drop 2D CAD drafting

I had a conversation with several people recently re the way we draw, and as we progress through the 3D path, would it be possible to drop 2D CAD drafting. I must admit, 90% of my work is still 2D, but I see the benefits of drawing in 3D, so perhaps the next big project will be the one I turn a corner with, and reduce the %.

But, yes it's that word again, But, even when I draw in 3D, the sections created require I draw in 2D, simply because the internal portions of any wall style is void of anything.

So here is my thoughts on getting the detail at least partially drawn, and as I use Vectorworks primarily, that what I will talk about here.

First lets look at the easiest to sort, brick coursing, we all use bricks, and their size varies from country to country, but their size is known, and the base point or the point at which coursing begins is also known.

I see two alternatives, use

  • Marionette to add coursing to any section, from the base point, 
  • Have the wall style, have the ability to use top of foundation, and work out the coursing.

Once one brick has been defined, as a symbol then each other is just a placement, file size is not a huge problem.

Thats the vertical problem, next is the horizontal coursing, again I see the wall style being used to defile the start point, and rules set to use only full or half bricks, to set windows and doors or any other opening.

Interestingly, I have started to look at Solibri to inspect any IFC file, perhaps we can set up a rule to check coursing and show any conflict both vertical and horizontal, windows, doors and lintel heights, truss placement.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

It's Raining

OK, it's raining, and going out dog training, looks increasingly a bad option, the coffee shop and pastry, looks like a much better option.

In one of those office conversations, I had the idea for overcoming the problem of ceating sections, in Vectorworks where the wall has no detail, no brick coursing or for that matter material heights, I'm trying to work it out, so the moleskin is going to get a bashing today as I sketch and pull idea together.

I had an Architect mate of mine make contact with a new job, so it looks like I shall be busy for a few weeks creating two house types and a site plan, plus all the usual details.

I have had my paper for ICAT accepted, so its a race to get the paper written, well finished, I have had about 10 pages fleshed out with notes and research needed, so its just a case of head down. I have an appointment with one of the professors who lectures in big data at Birmingham City Uni, next week, so questions pilling up.

The CIAT AGM is looming, and guess what, I have to teach on the 27th, so looks like I shall not get the Scotland till late on Friday night, the flights do not work, so its train or Drive, currently driving is the cheapest option, although it's a long old haul, so looking at the train times and cost before a decission is made.

Google Keep has introduced more function, but it still lags behind Evernote, notably the way I can so easily save a site, or the way I can send scans, and photos , the OCR is just so useful, see my notes on reading my Kindle, saving a page, and the OCR putting the photo into the search, so nice try google, but a way to go yet. Search from the Google home page is great for evernote, it shows all the internet, and what I have in my Evernote account, Google keep has yet to add this simple function.

Thats it, Saturday sorted, I have the FT weekend to read, and a couple of films I want to watch. oh and did you see Rachel Welsh on Pierce's show, 75 and not looking a day over 50, dam fine lady. As for Sunday, well the garden is full of leaves, and our new dog, a Flat Coated Retriever, is keen on digging so some repairs the make, walks to be done and perhaps the FT weekend to finish.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Google indoor mapping

This article on City Metrics, on creating Google indoor mapping, is interesting, for existing buildings it could be a boon to internal shop or office owners wanting to get an easy fix on an internal map,

I still think adding our plans is the better way, as it allows easy updates, but still, its interesting. The kit is a little cumbersome. and a tad obvious, plus how long does it last without a charge.

Adding specific graphics is also a problem, I can see so many shops wanting their logo of corporate graphic jpg.

Apple getting in on the act is not surprising, but their map is not in the same league as Google so it's a watch and see for Apple Maps.

But indoor mapping is going to be big business, emergency escapes, show me the way to Starbucks, loads of possibilities.

I tried to get a route from home to JD Sports in the airport, it located it well and added a touch more info, then I asked it to show me a route from home, this it did well, till it got to the airport building, and then failed to show a routs through the internal map. So a way to go, plus it did not show what floor or that I should take a stair, or lift.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Google Maps Update

Have you noticed that Google maps has changed, and for the good, I might add.I use Google Maps, almost daily, so often hourly, checking sites, sorting routes and just being bloody nosey.

But a service I liked a lot was missing, thats the send to devise, but, I was expecting it to be there as I sorted a complete route out, its not, its there when you search for a place, but goes as soon as you look at the route.

So take my advise, find the destination and send it to your phone and let the phone sort the route. Other changes are the return of the short URL, which you can find under Share, which is also where you can find the map embed code.

In all great improvements to Goole Maps, I keep telling my students how important Google Maps are to surveying and initial pre survey office prep.

Add to this the excellent internal maps we see for major malls, airports and public buildings.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The correct setup of your CAD model for export to IFC

I am exploring today, the correct geospatial set up of a CAD model, so that it may be exported correctly to IFC. You may wonder why, well its simple really, to accurately describe the position of any material, located within a component, in any element, in a 3D model we need to use the X,Y,Z coordinates.

In the past, we have relied heavily on the use of a simple grid to locate column positions, and to describe the position of say a door in a 2D model, and to some extent this will still work in a 3D model, but to accurately describing the failure point within a cavity wall to a computer program, needs a spacial grid, that is linked to the real world. Enter the use of a global position system,

In the UK we use the National Grid Ordnance Survey Geographic Cartesian coordinates system, or Eastings and Northings, its position can be linked to almost any other grid method from the various Lat Long methods, to the variety of country grids operating about the globe, almost always we buy maps as a digital file, which when imported into almost all CAD programs, auto sets the OS grid correctly.

The process as described in the IFC Building Smart support group paper, which the conclusion so well describes the need :

"The conceptual model is used to conceptualize the data structure to capture the required information for all exchange purposes and level of definition. The purpose of the conceptual model is:  Being a means to communicate with the expert panel on the correct data schema definitions;  Being a means to correlate the buildingSMART P6 work with OGC to achieve a common conceptual schema for both, the future GML extensions developed by OGC and the IFC extensions developed by buildingSMART;  Being the starting point to then incorporate the additional data schema requirements into the IFC EXPRESS and IFC XSD schema".

Eric Gradman of Two Bit Circus

You defiantly have to take this in, I mean really, take time and watch the Video from Leo Laport show "Triangulation" where he interviews Eric Gradman, of Two Bit Circus.

You will not be disappointed, believe me, I know the initial shop og hair and Mohican, can be a little off putting, but this guy and his company are worth looking at, some of the technology he is playing with, and I mean playing with, is well cutting edge. Is it part of your Architectural CPD, I think so, how, I have no idea, its the play/construction/construction/Programing that I find so good.

Watch the videos below, it will take time but I think you will enjoy, put it this way, I want an invite to his party.

First Watch the Leo Laport interview

Now watch the Ted presentation

The video below is just the first one, check out the main Two Bit Circus site to watch all in the series,

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Indoor Mapping

I have written before, on the need to keep tabs on indoor Mapping. It fits so well with our CAD work, and the ability to keep our drawings up to date, and useful to our clients.

So take a look at this article, on MacWorld, re a hidden App, that works "By dropping ‘points’ on a map within the Survey app, you indicate your position within the venue as you walk through,” the app description says. “As you do so, the Indoor Survey app measures the radio frequency (RF) signal data and combines it with an iPhone’s sensor data. The end result is indoor positioning without the need to install special hardware.”

How this might fit into the final BIM model is interesting, and worthy of further investigation, but for now read the article and follow up the links.

Todays photo is just a reminder, Winter is coming, Some reports are looking at a mild winter, but there is a growing background chatter that says, look out, we are in for a real hard winter.

Google Maps, 5 Awesome Tips

There is no doubt, Google maps has some very fine features for the Architectural Technologist, from the simple street view to maps view, but the best is Street View, dropping the little man onto the road where your property is located, and seeing the elevation.

I use this a lot when setting up a new project, or if I have done a survey and that one shot of a side or from view is missing, then Google Street view has sorted it.

You might want to view this great video, of Google maps use, Steve Dotto has 5 great tips, I think there is more, but the history tab is really cool. It does not always have history my own home is still 2009 as the last street view, but more popular places do, say the centre of Birmingham.

Monday, 2 November 2015


When I first got a computer, it was a commodore 64, with, little or no memory, no internal disk, just floppy disks with 64K and the idea of a megabyte of memory, a thing of beauty and wonder, The Mac Plus came out and it had a 1mb of memory, truly outstanding.

We then saw leaps and bounds over the years, till my latest Mac boasting 1Tb ( Terabyte ), of dish space, and 16 Gb of memory it now seems this is not the end, as machines become so much faster, and memory cheaper, we are going to see an increase in memory and now storage, as cloud space becomes the next big leap in computing, I currently have about 1TB of online storage shared between Dropbox and Google Drive.

This article is not about the fast pace, but the buzz words we now are staring to use, :


Notice megabyte is no longer listed, the list starts at Terabyte, for a full list try the Wiki site


Sunday, 1 November 2015

Snow Architects

On a rather frequent basis, I get a text to tell me Snow Architects have issued their paper, 

quick round up of world news

News roughly based around architecture, BIM and coworking



  • I normally get a mention for a blog post or link I have posted, but its not the real reason for going straight to the site, to read the paper, its simply a nice read.
    So often these things mislead, the first issue is ok, but tails off, or when you get there it's not been updated since the last issue, just a refresh.
    But I like this paper, it covers a wide range of topics, and it well laid out. Take my advice and sign up.
    I call it a paper, but really its a very nice blog site written within a framework called, its a sort of blog, assistant, go fetch article framework, that is quite impressive. It say free, but I think youl end up paying a small fee, about $9 month, but well worth it.

    Questions on the IoT

    I read Scoble, I like the way he moves with new technology, so when I saw his article on the IoT, (Internet of Things), I thought, this is interesting.

    He had a conversation with a man called C├ędric Bollag, his answer to Scobles questioning, is well worth recording. I suggest that you go to Cedric's face book page and read the short article, then move to the Global Techbox page to follow through, some of the points, I expected, but some, well I sat down and thought them through. But rather than accept the list as the final answer, I sat back and started to add my own thoughts to the list, mostly as I watched the gymnastics on TV, so my mind was not completely engrossed in the subject.

    I started to brain storm, when I was at Dow, I went on a course to learn how to make notes quickly and efficiently, I can't remember the chap who gave the lectures, I can't remember where, or what the method was called, but the method he taught stayed with me, even now I note the same way, hence I suppose the way I use Moleskins line eating sweets.

    Reading and note taking is a skill, it takes time to learn to efficiently make notes, so they can easily be used, not only by you, but any one else. The latter part I so often fail at, my notes have cryptic clues and sketch's that so often only I can interpret. But I make notes thats the point.

    I also store these notes electronically, via Evernote, I have looked at other systems, like Googles Keep, good that it is, it's still way behind Evernote in its use and method of info retrieval. Todays photo is of a screen grab I took from Google Maps, street view, I was showing my students how to make the best of site information, before they visited