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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Days of Future Past - or Why the hell are you still using AutoCAD? [Thought of the Day][BIM Rant]

I got a very nice email from a blog reader today in England. As I was googling him, see projects he worked on, adding him to my LinkedIn Network, I stumbled across this article from someone with the same name. I'm hoping it's the same bloke, but I doubt it. After all, how many Don McCabes can there e in Middlesbrough? What's so funny is that as I'm actually reading the article, it's exactly what I've been talking about all week.

Can someone please explain to me the obsession with AutoCAD? Why are so many refusing to look at Revit because they've been using Computer Aided Drafting technology for 26 years. Read through this article. We have so many other areas of technology that we live with, embrace and relish every single day. What is it about this one program that's unlike every other software or hardware technological development. Fear? Fear of new technology? Fear of doing something different? Fear of failure? Fear of spending money? Fear of the unknown? Fear of having tools that just do the job better? Please, I beg you, someone enlighten me as to why or how using AutoCAD is considered better than modeling, coordinating and quantifying a computerized building model. Someone!!! Bueller? Bueller?

I'm so over trying to convince someone on the merits of Revit and BIM. It's funny because tomorrow we're doing a Revit demo for a firm in Tampa Florida who's using AutoCAD 2004. The meeting is with the principal. I'll let you know how it turns out. What kills me is that the tech I wanted to take with me to my 10:00 am meeting tomorrow is going to be tied up with this guy and I'm meeting with a design/build/construction/architectural/LEED/real estate company. Let's see, Revit, Navisworks, IES, Ecotect, Exactal CostX, Cadapult FM and lots of other goodies to offer them vs that architect who I bet won't upgrade his software. It's just so funny how different the mindset is about technology between architects and contractors. Ok, enough beating up of architects. I do love you all. I don't understand you, but some of you have created amazing buildings and for that you have my respect and appreciation for what you do (especially when you have to do it with ArchaicCAD.)

So, back to this article below, look at where we are with technology today versus back then. Then, really take a good hard look at where technology fits into your life and your business. Enough with the AutoCAD is tried and true technology and you don't need Revit or any other software. It's a big fat denial of reality and you're about to miss the boat, unless you want the next boat, but that's the Titanic. Till next post....hope you come back for more. I know I've been a little bit harsh lately, but it's only because our business has really picked up and it's all from subs and GCs. If that doesn't scare you, I don't know what will.

Love and BIM hugs,

repost from: Days of Future Past - GazetteLive - Remember When:

By Paul Delplanque on Feb 6, 09 06:15 AM

It's difficult to imagine what the world was like without personal computers and the internet now isn't it? Do you remember when the first home computers became available in the early 1980s? And what made you buy your first computer anyway? Was it really because you thought you needed one? Or was it because you thought that computer knowledge would help your children with their education? Was this how we were first convinced that we needed such an expensive item in our home or was it because our kids did a wonderful selling job on us?


A computer was obviously something for the whole family to enjoy together. Not something that kids would spend hours and hours on alone in their rooms, as if!

As a young adult with a growing family in the 1980s I was aware along with many parents of my age group that computers were the future and that to succeed in a fast changing world our children had to become trained in computer technology. So around Christmas time 1982-83 I was especially vulnerable to the pleading from the youngest member of the household for a computer. Perhaps we all had visions of our lads and lasses constructing complex computer programs in their bedrooms imagining them becoming computer wizards in white coats with 'Brains from Thunderbirds' type glasses on vast technological salaries.


'Brains' from Thunderbirds epitomised for many of us the image of a 'computer boffin'.

Looking back now I must confess that I never really questioned why our son was so keen to get a computer, I was simply overwhelmed by the concept that he would need to become educated in computer technology. What I did not appreciate, and I would guess that many people of my generation were similarly ignorant, was that our teenage offspring were keeping a dark secret. Computers played games.


Electronic adding machines being demonstrated at an open day at Stockton and Billingham College in 1979. This was the height of office technology in the late 1970s. Our picture shows Helen Taylor,left, and Sandra Moore at the keyboards.

Quite why this information eluded me at the time I do not know, after all I was already well aware about games like 'space invaders' that could be played on a 'game console' from a company named Atari. Actually these games had been around for some years, do remember the first time you saw ping-pong on a TV screen in a pub? The first time I saw such a thing was in 1973 when I was amazed to see people playing a game on what looked like a television screen. I was immediately intrigued and soon invested all my spare cash into the slot machine. For 10p you could play a variety of games, ping-pong, two-a-side football and...come to think of it that was it, but nevertheless I was amazed.


After the initial excitement of playing ping-pong on a machine in the pub, the arrival of space invaders represented a huge step forward in digital games, and for some it was highly addictive.

Within a very short time the games advanced from the simple bat and ball in black and white, actually it was a small white square being hit by a larger white oblong, which could only be moved up or down. But things advanced quickly, soon Space Invaders arrived on the scene and it was in colour! But still this game was limited to machines that you found in amusement arcades and pubs. The connection with computers, in my mind at least, had not been made.


This was the image of computers that many of us had in the 1970s. Large machines with reels of tape on them tended by scientists.

Computers, as far as I was concerned, up until about 1980 were the private realm of 'boffins' in white coats who would tend to banks of machines with whirring wheels of reel to reel tape on them. These machines would spew vast amounts of ticker-tape type paper full of little holes, which only the men in the white coats could decipher. In the science fiction or spy films we went to see in the 1960s and 70s, computers were usually very big and if they were especially advanced they could even play chess, or turn malicious like the rather unnerving 'HAL' in the film "2001 A Space Odyssey". This was my concept of what computers were like, up until the early 1980s.


Lost in space, an astronaut struggles to reason with the ship's computer HAL, which decide to have a hissy fit millions of miles from Earth in the film '2001, A Space Odyssey'.

For many of us the first computer we bought was the Sinclair ZX81 Spectrum, which for the time was an advanced piece of equipment and had more memory than the onboard computer for the moon missions, we were told. The Sinclair Spectrum in 1982 cost around £125, which was a heck of a lot of money even for a Christmas present. But money well spent we thought, because although as adults we did not understand computers, we knew they were the future. While we were pondering this, our children started playing computer games.


This is where it all started, the Sinclair Spectrum, your mobile phone will have more memory on it today than this computer had. But the Spectrum had more memory than the computer on the Apollo moon lander in 1969. How things have advanced in such a short time..

Computer games suddenly became big business and Teesside was not left behind in the new emerging market. Two enterprising young men, Nik Agar and Don McCabe set up 'Chips' on Linthorpe Road in Middlesbrough in 1986 and quickly harnessed the growing demand for digital games.


Nik Agar (right) and Don McCabe founders and bosses of Chips Games and Video retailers based on Borough Road in Middlesbrough

And more recently Teesside has seen the emergence of other computer games related companies, notably '3rd Dimension Creations Ltd' founded by two lads educated at Teesside University, Sean Crooks and Dave Allanson. Teesside University has also made enormous strides spearheading many innovative projects in their new digital centre. Computer game technology conceived at the University has been harnessed to provide planners and builders with digital rehearsals of major building projects among other developments. The University and local digital companies have gone from strength to strength demonstrating that Teesside talent and business acumen can succeed in a fast changing technological world.

3rd dimension.jpg

3rd Dimension Creations Lts, run by two local lads Dave Allanson, right, and Sean Crooks educated at Teesside University, another Teesside digital success story.

For around the first ten years from around 1983 to 1993 the computers in our homes were solitary creatures existing in their own little digital worlds. Do you remember the first time you heard of something called the 'internet'? Probably in those days you heard it referred to as 'the information super-highway'. It turns out that the internet as a concept had been around since the late 1940s but it did not really come into public awareness until 1993 with the launch of the World Wide Web. Yes, up until the point of writing this I too thought that the World Wide Web and the internet were one of the same, but they are not, apparently. Anyway, from about 1993 coinciding with the advent of Microsoft's Windows system, more and more of us linked up to the internet and with the launch of Google in 1998, things have never really been the same have they?


This system was called 'Viewdata' and this picture shows one of the first demonstrations in 1978. It was one of the first systems which linked office computers together. The system is still used by the travel industry for booking holidays etc.

These days it really is difficult to remember what it was like in the days before Google isn't it? Nowadays if you are stuck trying to remember that bit part actor's name from 'Wagon Train' you just 'Google' it don't you? See how we even have a new verb now, to Google?

Not forgetting email, which has become an essential part of our lives. The use of this technology has turned us all into quite accomplished typists hasn't it? Remember when your only encounter with a keyboard was on a clanky typewriter? And if you are anything like me, when you first started using a computer you would spend at least half a minute looking for where the letter 'j' was. Now our fingers glide across the keyboard like digital Rachmaninoffs.


A lot of people were very wary about using computers in the early days. Do you remember worrying that you might push the wrong button and wipe everything out? This picture is of a team organised by Cleveland Council in November 1983 who were to run classes for computer 'phobics'. Left to right Craig Wadrop, Terry Trainor, Barbara Lloyd, Richard Newman, Mark Eastaugh and Bob Feher.

These days the very fabric of our life seems to be centred around computers and the internet. From our phones and cameras to the music we listen to. Do you remember the first time you heard about the iPod or an MP3 player? "How on earth was so much music contained in such a small instrument?" we said to ourselves, and to think that we once thought that Sony Walkmans were neat. Amongst a host of other activities we check the news, book our holidays (after checking out the hotels on 'trip advisor'), see what the weather will be, and if we missed that TV programme last night we can catch it on iPlayer, no more tedious video recording for us. And we never thought that CDs and DVDs could also be played and stored on a computer did we?

TV monitor.jpg

Back in 1984 when this picture was taken it was necessary to buy a television to fill role that our LCD monitors do nowadays. The prices are interesting, you can buy a laptop for a lot less these days.

For many of us it has become an almost essential part of our lives and provides hours of entertainment of our choice and all at the click of a mouse. For instance, remember that old Harry Enfield sketch or a scene from Alan Partridge or whatever? Just click on Youtube to relive the moment. It is simply amazing. Just the other day I was talking to a friend of mine and we were trying to remind ourselves about a short funny little film with Bugs Bunny and Speedy Gonzalez from the 1960s singing Day-O (the Banana Boat Song)...obscure or what? Found it on Youtube in less than a minute.


This was state of art computer aided design, almost in 3D, being demonstrated at Teesside University (then Polytechnic) in 1981. It was advanced stuff but it was in black and white only.

I am pretty sure that you probably feel the same way or have experienced the same journey with computers as I have, because here you are reading this online. Nevertheless, I still feel like a complete novice and there are loads of things that the computer can do which I have never investigated. It all seems so simple to the younger generation and they are light years ahead of me when it comes to computers. Such an experience reminds me of something Groucho Marx once said, "Why a four year old child could understand this...fetch me a four year old child, I can't make head or tail of it."

Have computers changed your life?

Are you totally computer literate or still fumbling around a bit?

Do you tinker with the programs on your home computer?

How many computers have you broken?


Anonymous,  August 22, 2009 at 2:29 AM  

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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