Monday, December 31, 2007

Have a Safe, Happy and Green new year...

We wanted to take a moment to say thanks to everyone who reads this blog and sends e-mails. You are the reason this adventure continues, we wish you the best in 2008.

Have a safe, happy and green new year...

Have a safe, happy and green new year...

I wanted to take a moment to say thanks for everyone who reads this blog, sends e-mails and also those who come out to meet and talk with us in different cities. You are the reason this adventure continues, we wish you the best in 2008 and hope to see you soon.

Have a safe, happy and green new year...

Fused - Digital & Home Life Coming Together

With the discussion of personal technology integration over the past few years we have seen ideas like internet enabled refrigerators, smart table top and surface computing, smart home systems and more. While some of these ideas seem a bit far fetched, others are much more of a helpful addition to our current lifestyles.

With Christmas now behind us and everyone I know, including myself, with new electronic goodies I have been giving this a bit more personal reflection. One of these gifts (and my personal favorite) was a Chumby (to be released to the general public in the next few months and more information here about their business strategy here).

More pictures here

Over the last few days of use I have realized how much the idea of integrated devices into our homes are going to fill the unrealized voids within our increasing digital lives pretty quickly.

With links to family and friends around the world via social networks and more digital connections to keep up with news and happenings are becoming more mainstream. Rather than keeping my notebook on while at home and having to open/close, move it upstairs/downstairs, login/out when needed and more "modern inconveniences", I can have a single household device that can move around, if needed, to let me passively retrieve information in the background that I will want to view on my own schedule without the hassles mentioned above. From streaming audio, pictures, social networks and access to most any type of digital information and/or updates I may want.

For anyone who might be interested in tinkering around with this type of device, whether you are a programmer/coder, artist or craftsmen its another platform for you to work within and make your own.... From the developer portion of the website it sums this up pretty well:

Hardware: Ahhh, remember back when the Apple II shipped with complete source code for its BIOS and schematics? We are happy to bring this tradition back to the public.

Software: The chumby client is a Linux-based, open-source platform. As our client evolves, so does our flavor of linux and the specific details associated with its drivers and helper applications.

Flash: Are you a Flash animator? We like to think of a chumby as a Flash showcase and encourage Flash artists to spread their talents through our network.

Crafts: The chumby is designed in a way such that the core electronics can be easily separated from its outerwear, enabling you to create that exact look you want.

So far this has been a great lifestyle unification tool, merging my digital life with my home life in a good balance. So which electronic toys did you get or have you had that you cannot live without, please reply via e-mail or in the comments section below.

Bonus: If anyone has the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader let me know (e-mail me) as I am especially interested in this as my next electronic addition and would love to hear your feedback on real usage. :)

Clarification: the chumby was a gift from my family, not from the manufacturer.

happy fusing...

IES linking with Revit Architecture

With the last release of Revit MEP we were given the opportunity to link directly to IES (Integrated Environmental Solutions, Inc) which was a great step forward for being able to check a few of the many things needed related to feedback on a buildings performance early in the design process via our Revit model. This limited many Architects from being able to take advantage of tools such as: heating and cooling load calculations, annual dynamic thermal simulation for energy consumption, sun view animation for winter, summer and midseason, and daylighting assessment by not having this included in Revit Architecture.

For those who need this feature, without purchasing a new license of Revit MEP, to use with Revit Architecture this can now be done after installing this. More information can be found in the press release.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Troubleshooting 3ds Max - Profile Reset

The last few days have offered a nice vacation from daily work and given me time to get back to some house projects and in-between back to some rendering related fun.

With that in mind here is a great tip for Max users to help troubleshoot corrupt files and other "anomalies". Similar to the profile in AutoCAD, Max has a .ini file that holds things like plug-in paths and more. This file is found in the root Max folder and is called 3dsmax.ini. with your max session closed browse to this location in windows explorer and rename the file (ex. 3dsmax.ini.bak). From here you can start your max session and it will create a new "clean" 3dsmax.ini file for you automatically.

When debugging trouble scenes/files this is a good way to test if it may be one of your own "custom" settings. Note: when doing this locations of toolbars and more will be reset.

happy rendering...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Create a 3D Snowflake even if its warm out...

The weather here at Will render for food headquarters is jumping from 70 to 30 every few days so this is a way to bridge those gaps this season. With a focus on modeling, rendering and animation sometimes one of the best things you can do is to take a step back and try a different approach. From the title you probably thought this was going to show how to create a digital snowflake, instead how about something you can touch and share with others this winter season.
Over at wikiHow we ran across a tip that involves making a six-armed three dimensional snowflake. To do this you will need: 6 pieces of paper, scissors, tape and a stapler.

Below is the version Dylan and I did this morning hanging from a light. Only modification was thick card stock, a hole punch and thread/fishing line. While the card stock was tough to cut it is holding up well and the holes were punched right at the tips.

Seasons greetings...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Maya native file export formats

To follow up on the last post and look at best possible workflows here are the native export file formats for Maya:

Supported Geometry/Scene Formats*
mayaAscii, mayaBinary, MEL, Autodesk® FBX®, aliasWire (Autodesk® AliasStudio™), IGES, DXF, OBJ, VRML2, MOV (ascii motion), GE2, RTG, OpenFlight, VRML2, mental ray, RIB, Open Inventor2.

Supported Image Formats*
Maya IFF, Maya IFF 16, AVI, Apple® QuickTime®, GIF, Softimage® PIC, Wavefront RLA, BMP, TIFF, TIFF16, SGI®, SGI16, Alias PIX, JPEG, EPS, Cineon™, Quantel®, Targa®, DDS, PSD, PNG, QuickDraw™, MacPaint®, HDR, OpenEXR, MAP, Sony® PlayStation® TIM, Dassault® Picture, PPM, mental ray® formats (CT, ST, NT, MT, ZT, TT, BIT, CTH)

Supported Vector Formats*
PostScript, EPS, Macromedia® SWF, Swfit3D, Adobe® Illustrator®, SVG.

* Not all formats supported on all platforms. Not all formats supported for both import and export. Some formats applicable to certain renderers only.

Thanks to George Matos and Autodesk for the file format notes above.

Maya export to .dwg

In a technology preview from Autodesk released yesterday we now have access to exporting to the .dwg file format from Maya courtesy of Autodesk Labs.

From the site:
The DWG Plug-in for Maya 2008 enables users to export complex conceptual building designs from Maya for further design development and documentation in Autodesk Revit Architecture 2008. For additional information including a how-to overview of the technology, please see BIM: Maya 2008 for Complex Conceptual Design.pdf which accompanies the install file in the ZIP download

The workflow mentioned to go from Maya to Revit Architecture is the following:
• Create initial design expression in Maya
• Export file from Maya to the DWG file format
• Convert DWG™ files to SAT file format (ACIS® Solid) in AutoCAD® 2008 software via export.
• Import SAT file to Revit Architecture 2008 for documentation via massing.

The Negative:
First, the pitch about bringing this into Revit Architecture is a bit misleading as I modified the steps above slightly to show what is really occuring. The way it is written up makes it sound like a seamless 4 step transition to getting your model from Maya to Revit. This is not seamless, first AutoCAD is used as a "translator" to take the geometry and make it readable by other packages via the .sat file format. To get this into Revit it then takes additional work to clean this up and you have to work from massings, not exactly a smart family to begin with so if you have any experience with family editing you may be better off doing it that way. Ex. a known issue mentioned in the .pdf is that the model may need to be rotated in the massing to get the model in the right orientation.

Second, we can export to .stl directly in Max. Why can we not get that in Maya and skip the whole AutoCAD step?

The Positive:
Great job on the tool as we are now able to share this with other Autodesk users not on Maya.

happy exporting...
beau turner

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Production Rendering Offsite

In one of my previous roles we worked hard to expand our rendering capabilities/capacity to get renderings and animations out faster. We did this with a combination of afterhours distributed network rendering and dedicated servers/machines just to handle the load of work we were completing.

One thing that always caught my eye was offsite rendering (think a dedicated server farm focused just for rendering stills and animations). At the time there was three choices for this and I was fortunate to be able to test one company with two live projects on a very tight timeframe and they saved the day!

At the time we were using Brazil as our rendering engine RenderCore made sure every driver, software and project specific plug-in we needed to match our setup was done to complete the work. Well it has been a few years since then and I noticed today on tenlinks that RenderCore was mentioned and they now offer another solution that makes this even more attractive pricing wise. It involves what they call Daily Pass, or $50 per rendernode for a full 24 hours of rendering.

If you are using offsite rendering, drop me a e-mail and let me know how things went as I am curious on changes in the last couple of years with this section of the industry.

Happy Rendering...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Windows Vista SP1 Preview

The Windows Vista Public Release Candidate 1 is now ready for those brave testers here.

Here goes my plunge into RC1 (downloading now)...

Primavera and Autodesk Interoperability

From the Development side we (Avatech) have had several inquiries from users over the last few months to look into developing some tools to allow users to go from Autodesk Design Products to Primavera.

On a related note to that and with Autodesks aquirement of Navisworks this past year in a press release this morning both parties have agreed to continue working together to keep the existing link between Primavera and Navisworks functioning as well as work on interoperability to the Autodesk AEC line of products.

This will be interesting as we move forward and should improve the 4D & 5D process that we go through currently. In the meantime I plan to continue paid development in this niche. To quote Big Weld: "See a need, fill a need"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Combining Existing & New Technologies

With the rise of new technologies it is useful to have existing "tried & true" technologies take advantage of newer ones. That said users of Outlook can now utilize twitter thanks to OuTwit from TechHit.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Google Earth Inner Workings

Ran across this link earlier and with the recent update we have done to take your file from Revit and publish to Google Earth it provides an interesting look at what drives this.

Google Earth inner workings described in newly published Google Patent App

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

AU Post Wrap-Up

What a week it has been at Autodesk University in Las Vegas...

If there was one recurring theme for the week it would have to be networking. It would have been hard not to with 9,800+/- attendees (last number I heard) from all over.

Here a few quick highlights and notes:
To start with the ADN Developers Conference on Monday offered some great information and sneak peeks into some things on the way. The push and amount of data being handled by the dwf files is still amazing.

The Keynote speech was probably the best one I have seen at AU and the screens and seating were a positive change (a pain of mine from last year solved). It was also refreshing to have Yves Behar (fuseproject) present and share some of his insight and projects. Coupled with some emerging technology and the 360 screens and it really gives you an idea of where all the data from intelligent models (manufacturing, GIS, civil, arch, eng, construction, FM and more) are going. It is going to be interesting to see how we are really able to handle datasets for integrated design practices from all groups and municipalities as time goes on. This offered a great approach and shows more work in this area since the demo's last year.

The Exhibition hall was enormous and traffic funneled through rather easily. There were a good number of vendors as well and the products showcased this year were top notch. I did notice a large number of collaboration type tools who seem to really be fighting it out for some of that marketshare. With a space that large and so many folks you can expect a few things to happen and they did (good and bad). The good, there were quite a few "floor" sessions covering top tips and tricks for different platforms. Technology was everywhere from a working wall touch screen (shown with DWF and navigated with your hands) to relics of AutoCAD past (Shaan had some old products and literature including manuals that were corrected by hand and sent to customers vs. manually retyping them) and more. The bad, there was at least one computer stolen that I was aware from the exhibition hall.

In the past the meal lines have been getting better and this year my experiences it went off without a hitch. It all moved fast and there were plenty of places to sit and eat and food was tasty as well. Well done!

The evening entertainment was positive as well and with so many meetings and other events going on there was something for everyone (Disclaimer, Matt taught me how to play BlackJack one evening). The AU Party had an 80's party with comedians, street dancers and later a band as well. For those not into the "concert" venue there was a huge hall outside with computers setup to run old video games from teh 80's and of course drinks for those interested all around.

To end this post I am going to go back full circle and say the networking and being able to see old friends and meet new like minded people with a passion the same as you was one of the best parts. In the end as Lynn Allen said AU is really A You and I could not agree more.

As mentioned before

Monday, November 19, 2007

Revit Extended - Update

Thanks to some great feedback the Avatech Revit Utilities have been updated to include changes for the following:

1. For those on a 64 bit OS, the new builds will now support that.

2. For those without RAC but who have other Revit flavors (ex. RST, RMEP) installation will now complete for you.

If you were having any trouble with installation please re-download and give the latest builds a go. If you are not sure if you have the latest build you can compare the build numbers against those on the site link above.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Revit Structure & Revit MEP SP#3 New Build

I overlooked in my last post that Revit Structure and Revit MEP also have a new build available for download:

Revit Structure SP#3 build (20071109_2345):
From the web enhancement update list of improvements:
• Improves API for element coping.
• Improves API for instance creation of cellular beam.
• Improves API for rebar group distribution.
• Improves File > Open performance time when opening some project files in Revit Structure software.
• Allows the ability to array face-based families placed on a vertical face.
• Allows the ability to maintain face-based instances on curved surfaces of a Revit file linked into Revit
Structure when the link is unloaded.
• Improves stability when selecting sections.
• Improves stability when accessing the Help menu in Revit Structure on a computer with the Microsoft
Windows Vista™ operating system.
• Improves stability when applying a view template to a sheet.
• Improves performance when views contain many objects with overridden graphics by element.

Revit MEP SP#3 build (20071109_2345):
From the web enhancement update list of improvements:
• Consistent Electrical Fixture insertion behavior after creating Electrical Fixture schedules.
• Improves performance when placing Callouts on MEP models in certain situations.
• Allows the ability to array face-based families placed on a vertical face.
• Allows the ability to maintain face-based instances on curved surfaces of a Revit link when the link is unloaded.
• Improves stability when selecting Sections.
• Allows the ability to insert an electrical receptacle into a legend view.
• Improves stability when accessing the Help menu in Revit MEP on a computer with the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system.
• Improves stability when applying a view template to a sheet.
• Improves performance when views contain many objects with overridden graphics by element.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Revit Architecture - New Build SP3 20071109_2345

A new build for Revit Architecture has been posted, available here.

From the web enhancement update list of improvements:
• Allows the ability to array face-based families placed on a vertical face.
• Allows the ability to maintain face-based instances on curved surfaces of a Revit file linked into Revit
Architecture software when the link is unloaded.
• Improves stability when selecting sections.
• Allows the ability to insert an electrical receptacle into a legend view.
• Improves stability when accessing the Help menu in Revit Architecture on a computer with the Microsoft Windows Vista™ operating system.
• Improves stability when applying a view template to a sheet.
• Improves performance when views contain many objects with overridden graphics by element.

Revit Extended

If your working with Revit and finding a few minor items you would like to add or automate to your suite of tools then chances are favorable that through the Revit API this could be accomplished.

I mention this because over the past few years since the Revit API was released our development team has been actively developing tools, both large and small and today we are releasing the first round of free public tools for you to use. These tools come from requests by our Revit implementation/services team, trainers and of course folks just like you.

So without further typing here are todays 5 Free Revit Utilities:

Room Renumbering - allows you to renumber or insert rooms in a sequence

Door Mark Update - to make the door mark match the room it swings into

Change Case - for those who would like to keep a common theme/style on items like view and room names UPPER CASE, lower case and Title Case

Revit Content Browser - this tools will open up inside your revit environment and allow you to download content directly from popular industry locations. The main window currently goes to RevitCity for this release and allows you to review the content you would like and organize it by name and folder location when you download.

Earth Connector - a new update to an existing toolset that now allows you to now work with 4D (time and phasing) from Revit for use in Google Earth.

These work for the Revit 2008 suite of products (Revit Architecture, Revit Structure and Revit MEP) and have been tested on Windows XP and Vista.

Take a moment to download and use, for any feedback send an e-mail to: devfeedback (at)

Matt has spent a good bit of time working on these and I appreciate him leading this charge, the next round of tools are under development now. If you have a particular tool or need for Revit development please let us know how we can help.

A press release of these tools is available here.

Viva La Revitlution... :)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Revit Structure 2008 & CIS/2

To make this a bit easier to find for those using Revit Structure 2008 and looking to be able to export to CIS/2 format you can find a plug-in available here.

More detailed information and research about CIS/2, CIMSteel & IFC files can be found here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

9 Creative Staircases

The following staircases offer something more than a boring stair:

9 Creative Staircases

My personal favorite #5. I have pinged Robin to see if he has seen this live before.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Micro-Blogging with Twitter

For shorter more frequent posts I am now using Twitter.

If you have a twitter account you can also follow-me here.

This will automatically show in the twitter sidebar of the blog as well as on Facebook.

Motorola Updates

A quick note for any folks with the following hardware:
Motorola Q
Motorola S9

Lets start with the Q noted above, I have had this device for the past year and have been disappointed with one single item: Battery life (especially compared to having to move from my blackberry). Well a few weeks ago I had a friend mention there was a BIOS update for the device that may help. Well after a few tweaks, restarts and activation the Q was updated.... Final report it is finally usable and if you are having the same problem update your BIOS with info from here.

Now on to the S9. I have been wanting to get a wireless bluetooth stereo headset for a few months now and with my battery problems solved above I finally ended up buying one (ok truth be told I ended up with 2 but thats another story). After using this for 2 work days and a weekend at home I have to say I am impressed.

S9 Positives: no wires, decent distance for talking, light and easy to use
S9 Negatives: laying in bed there is no good way to use them (just be warned)

Last item to note if you are looking to buy a S9 make sure you do not get a knock off (especially if purchasing from E-bay sellers).

happy to be mobile and wireless...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Business of BIM - Putting the Pieces of the Puzzle Together part 4

For those in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia part 4 of the Business of BIM series is tonight at the Virgina Beach Convention Center:

6:00 - 7:00 - Networking and Drinks
7:00 - Intro by Beau Turner
7:15 - 7:45 - 3D Laser Scanning with Beau Turner & Joe Hedrick
8:00 - 8:30 - BIM for Construction with Patrick Burns from Mortenson
8:30 - Panel Discussion

We have postponed the BIM & Facilities Management portion of the presentation for a later date/time. If you are interested in this please drop me an e-mail.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Autodesk Labs - Content Search

Autodesk just released a new Labs product called Content Search, still listed as Alpha at this stage, entirely web based, searchable and available from the main page here.

Content Source quantities (as of 10/2/07):
Autodesk - AutoCAD Architecture 2008 (60)
Autodesk - AutoCAD MEP 2008 (3019)
Autodesk - Revit Architecture 2008 (2150)
Autodesk - Revit MEP 2008 (2312)
Autodesk - Revit Structure 2008 (1916)
McGraw Hill Sweets (9292)
Reed FirstSource (445)

Items with:
dwf (1583)
dwg (5192)
dxf (1570)
pdf (1991)
rfa (6378)

Item Type:
Generic (9457)
Manufactured (9737)

Added: October 1, 2007

Recommended Browsers:
Firefox 2.0 or higher (yeah!!!)
IE 7 or higher

Pictures of Dubai

Here are some good photos from Dubai including one from 1990 compared to 2003.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

What is the length in Revit?

If you want an additional tool at your disposal for inputting distances look no further than the existing Revit "distance box".

Scenario: You have an existing piece of equipment/furniture and you wish to copy another set by a calculatable measure. In this case we want to take a known distance and divide it without a calculator. Start by selecting your object(s) to copy, copy then pick a start point. Here is the "trick" portion of this. Instead of picking a second distance you can simply start typing '='. This puts the distance box in formula mode.

In the image below I took the game table and divided by a known distance (=24'/3).

My example is a simple one, of course I could have just typed 8' but you start to see how this can be used in a more complicated example. Other characters that work: +, -, * & /. I found this little trick by accident after working with Excel pretty heavily over the past few days.
If you come up with a really creative example/use please post back.

AIA Iowa | Crossing the Chasm - Your Survival Guide for a Successful BIM Transition

The AIA Iowa Convention 2007 will take place on Sept. 27 - 28.

On Friday, 9/28 I will be presenting a Workshop titled "Crossing the Chasm - Your Survival Guide for a Successful BIM Transition" during Session 4 starting at 2:30.

If you are in the area, I hope to see you there.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Revit Masking

Do you have a 2D family that you would like to mask out/hide/obscure to better show graphically in plan? Ex. 2D Table in a room with a 18"x18" floor tile, or a chair that partially sits under a table.

I have been asked this same question a few times over the last week so here is a quick, dirty example to get you through:

  • Open your 2D Family for editing. Now here is the real trick add an invisible line with a "Z" height at least slightly higher than your floor (ex 1/8", 18", etc...).
There are more examples of this in the help file (search for masking region).


Friday, September 21, 2007

Looking for a 3rd party plug-in?

During Autodesk Dev Camp, Amanda shared with me a catalog that contained various 3rd party partners for Autodesk called Autodesk Catalog. The paper catalog is free (have to request from the site) but you may find it easier to use the web version to find something in particular, including some good niche products.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Omaha - Modern Methods

If you are in Omaha, Nebraska Modern Methods (6886 South 118th Street, 402-332-6607) is hosting an Open House on 9/21/07 from 8:00 a.m. - 5:00p.m.

Schedule of Events
• 8:00am - Doors Open with Continental Breakfast
Scheduled VIP Canon Product Demonstrations
Scheduled VIP Lanier Product Demonstrations
Factory Representatives on Hand
• 11:30am – 1:30pm BBQ Lunch and Learn
• 12:30pm – 1:30pm Beau Turner will be giving a presentation entitled "New Implications for the Design-Build Process".
Scheduled VIP Canon Product Demonstrations
Scheduled VIP Lanier Product Demonstrations
Factory Representatives on Hand
Special Skeet shooting for Discounts at this Event
• 5:00pm Doors Close
Lanier Color Gelsprinter plus other items given as door prizes at this event.

If you are in the area I hope to see you there...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast there matey

Blimey! and happy talk like a pirate day to you.

When we were last down in the Outer Banks we got a pirate flag for our little bucaneers and it is flying pround on this unofficial holiday... :)

background on TLAPD

need a pirate glossary


AutoCAD Architecture 2008 - Service Pack 1

The Service Pack for AutoCAD Architecture 2008 (Formerly ADT) was released on 9/18 and is available here.

The readme lists the fixes, etc...

I am installing now, the first thing that caught me was that it was trying to install using the default installation to the M://. Since this is not a drive I have ever had on this machine I had to repoint this. Anyone else get something similar?

* Update - this seems to be the path it is downloading from visible from Vista.

** Update - If you do not have access to the original installation .msi location your installation update will need to be aborted.

Happy cadding...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Social Bookmarking Blogger Addition

While working with social networks and bookmarking over the past two years, it has been interesting to see how it can bring together groups of people with similar interest while not being limited by geographical boundaries.

In that time we have seen a number of technologies grow and others start to fade away, all the while the idea of the now branded "Web 2.0" and the collaboration mash-ups and creations it has spawned have been fueling a new way to interact with individuals. Instead of having to have a large single list of your favorite websites to visit you can now have an online version, complete with other recommended sites that may match your interests (ex. or even a site that users submit sites they find interesting and add their vote showing interest (ex. Digg). This extends beyond just websites and is now including books, music, etc... Each of these offers you the ability to gather and store content in the best way that matches your personality. For me the idea of a wiki was the start to getting into this and now I am excited to see a few other possible avenues for development for the AEC community, more on that later.

So to keep my blogging and writing efforts back on track I am adding a few social bookmarking links to the bottom of each post. In looking for a way to automate this addition I ran across a few good tips out there, though none better summed this up than Amanda over at Blogger Buster with information on how to add this to the new blogger templates.

Playing with Blogger

So over the past few hours during conference calls I have been continuing to play with the latest technology release from blogger called Blogger Play. There are some incredible images that people are posting, I could see where this would be a good art/photo display at HQ. A better description from the blogger team is below:

Blogger Play will show you a never-ending stream of images that were just uploaded to public Blogger blogs. You can click the image to be taken directly to the blog post it was uploaded to, or click “show info” to see an overlay with the post title, a snippet of the body, and some profile information about the blogger who uploaded it.

* Update: This morning shortly after this post a comment was posted stating that my upgrade issue from 9 months ago is now fixed.. a quick check to a few older posts and it seems to be the case. Many thanks for the assistance/notice and of course the fix... :)

My original opening paragraph below (since I could not find a text tool to do a strike-through):
Despite waiting for the blogger support team to assist with a technical upgrade snafu on their end for the last 9 months (blogger support if your reading this, help), their latest release Blogger Play is a fun way to pass the time while waiting for the fix.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Dealing with Cad and job burnout

Ever feel like your burnt out with work or seeking alternative means of punishment for yourself instead off going to work? I seem to go through this every few years and judging from the conversations that I have had with many folks across the country this seems to be an item that many of us have in common.

I will be writing about this over the next week or so, but to get this started I would recommend the following:


Mark Middlebrook - Coping with CAD Burnout I - 1999 still applicable
Mark Middlebrook - Coping with CAD Burnout II - 2001 still applicable


The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) By Seth Godin

Revit MEP File Installation

Working on testing a few new Revit Utilities and updated my build of Revit MEP to the latest. 3+ hours later (not a deployment just a stand alone installation), why does the revit file installation naming have to be different in each folder?

Ex. Libraries: D:\ProgramData\Autodesk\RME 2008 vs. Program executable: D:\Program Files\Revit MEP 2008\Program

Now I know the "P" is lacking content but the naming needs to at least be consistent for library development sake... Using a staight OOTB installation on Windows Vista on the D: (not c:).

BTW, Kyle outlined this pretty well in the following location but for those who did not read it, the naming of some content and folder structure has changed in this build.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Return from Autodesk Dev Camp

We are back from the AEC-DevCamp in the Boston area (Wakefield, near Waltham). After two weeks in a row of conferences I am a bit behind and need to run through my inbox to get it "clean again". This conference was a good mix of development (for both AutoCAD and Revit platforms) and a section for business development.

I was fortunate to attend with 7 others from our Software Development Solutions Team and enjoyed the face time with each of them (we are all is separate cities across the US). This week also allowed a few spare minutes to tweak some soon-to-be released Revit API utilities and a new one created on the spot based on another attendees request.

We are compiling a list of the applications we will be releasing soon (in addition to the Avatech Google Earth Connector for Revit/AutoCAD platforms). If there is something you have been wanting to see developed on the Revit platform please drop me an e-mail so we can add to the list for possible future development.

Happy API hacking...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Adding Custom Places for Precise Sun Studies

In The Revit environment we can select the exact location where our design is located from the Place tab in the Manage Place and Locations from the Model Graphics. (See Below)

However if you look close enough you will realize that you can not manually add locations to this drop down list. This can actually be accomplished in the Render Settings. To add a new location to the list you must:

1.) Browse to the Rendering Tab and Select Settings

2.) Define and name the scene if you have not done so already.

3.) Ensure that the Use Sun and Shadow Settings From View option is unchecked and click to the Sun button.

4.) In the Sun and Sky Settings Dialog click on the Place tab. Right Click in the Cities Box and select Add from the right click menu.

5.) Fill in the necessary information and Accept the Changes.

When you go to select a City while setting up your shadows the new city should be available from the drop down list. This option allows you to add any location throughout the world and will allow precise shadowing based on the location's latitude and longitude.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Google Labs - Timeline & BIM

The new Timeline feature of google offers some interesting ways to view your search data; from the usual "list view" to the new experimental timeline feature and map view of data.

As an example I did the search term BIM (click here for the timeline search) and it came up with a timeline of related terms starting around 2002. Switching to the Map view showed a great alternative to view how big this subject is around the world.

Happy searching...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

and its a boy....

For those that have not yet heard the announcement, we had our second child.

Announcing: Callum Von Merrick Turner

Weighing in at 7lb 14oz and 20" long. Labor went well, in fact too fast as we did not make it to the hospital and instead we were fortunate to have the experience of a home birth. 1 hour start to finish for all laboring, push 1, 2, 3 (all pushes being less than 3 minutes total) and out this bundle of joy came.
Here is the happy big brother:

Mom and everyone are doing quite well...

Monday, May 07, 2007

GTD Outlook Plug-In

Matt pointed out that he has been using the GTD outlook plug-in and it is working pretty well. I have been pondering this for some time to help with my own implementation. For now with the upgrade to Vista I will be waiting until Mid-June for this to be available.

Once available I think I will go ahead and make the plunge. There is a trial version of this (though not for Vista, except possibly beta) available for you to test as well. I did test the demo version for a short period of time before my last machine quit, unfortunately not long enough to really get a feel for things. :(

If you have been using this or have something to offer on the subject, leave a comment.

Happy GTD'ing...

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Accomplishing Goals - Chunking

Those who have been around me the last 6 months know that I have been focusing more attention to the GTD methodology in my professional and personal life.

Having lived through the multi-tasking mentality and its lack of long-term effectiveness I have been working on an idea called "productive task time". Today I ran across an interesting term called Chunking which is very similar to the PTT.

The idea of each is to set aside defined "chunks" of time for events/tasks instead of mutli-tasking a number of events at the same time. If you are having trouble juggling multiple tasks and giving them the proper attention to completion that they deserve give this idea a try.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Happy Cinco De Mayo

Just a quick post to wish you a happy and safe Cinco De Mayo.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

AIA San Antonio

I have been at the AIA convention in San Antonio this week for some meetings and classes. Yesterday was a great day of sessions about Integrated Design Practices.

From the show floor a couple of technology items that stood out:

1. Tectonic Objects Collection - a good library of information that helps you organize, find and file your families. You can start with their existing library (looks like a decent start) or add your own. Another good item was the ability to add a "tag" to your content that would show your "optimized" families vs. downloaded ones or those from Tectonic. Also included is a general guideline for family naming conventions, for those who do not have one yet this can help you get started. Thanks Dennis and Charlie

2. Green Building Studio - In addition to the great product they have been developing/expanding the last few years, another set of new features coming out are Carbon Footprint and Energy Analysis tools. Another that is not yet released, but looks promising, is the detailed "Climate Server", listed as a high resolution climate server, this provides detailed weather analysis for 65,000 locations will provide a pretty detailed report for your project locations including: Dry Bulb Temperature, Dew Point Temperature, Relative Humidity, Wind Speed and Direction, Direct Normal Radiation, Precipitation Rate, Total Sky cover and more for energy analysis. Thanks John.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day... And the Revit API


Happy Earth Day to everyone as we all strive to create our sustainable future. With that, the new releases of Revit are being unvailed and we are seeing greater flexibility and maturation of the API.

What is the API and why is it green?

API stands for Application Programmable Interface. It essentially is the plug that allows any third party to tap into Revit to utilize or manipulate the information and components of a Revit Building Information Model. The Revit API is shaping up to play a crucial role in analyzing BIM data for sustainable design purposes. The upcoming release of Revit Systems utilizes the API to synchronize directly with IES to analyze ASHARE loads calculations, annual thermal simulation, and Daylighting Assesment. (I will have much more to come on IES and Revit). The API is ultimately what is going to allow external tools to access our BIM data and streamline the analysis of the building that is essential in its design. You can find in depth information on the Revit API and what is new in the upcoming release at the Cad Application Development Blog. This blog is written by Matt Mason who is the Director of Software Development at Avatech Solutions. Matt has also created the Avatech Earth Connector, a Revit plugin that allows you to export your Revit model directly into Google Earth.

The Revit API is going to play a major role in the ability of third party analysis tools to access our BIM data to develop powerful streamlined tools that we can use to analyze our designs at all stages that allow us to make prudent decisions in regards to sustainability. With the continued development of the Revit API I believe that we will see more integration with advanced tools such as IES and many other technologies to come.

Happy Earth Day!!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Google Fools Day

Googles April Fools Day TiSP - wireless internet access via your home commode

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Free Starbucks?

Looks like next week Starbucks will be giving away a free cup of coffee on March 15, 2007 from 10:00am - 12:00pm.

Of course it cannot be any worse than the line for the one in the MGM Grand in Vegas where I have been visiting this week, thankfully I have a few well placed folks in line that are on speed-dial. ;)

Beware of the lines...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

My trip to "Vista" land - A short chronicle of my upgrade to MS Vista

A short while back I got a new notebook. Up to this point I have been using Windows XP, well the time has come to upgrade to Vista. I elected for a clean-build and since I still have a bit of consulting to do I went with a dual-boot option.

To do this the M65 has a DVD drive replacement that is a 80gb hard-drive.

The dell hard-drive arrived and so did the Vista DVD. Installation was relatively easy, though there were a few tricky sections:

1. Copied DVD content to hard-drive.
2. Installed new Drive bay, formatted drive and assigned drive letter (D:)
3. While logged into XP on the machine I started the Vista installation from Step #1 above.
4. All checks went well and installation started, sort-of. Each time I input the serial number it would run for another 5-10 minutes then fail with a message saying " vista could not update the boot configuration". This kept up, rebooted, etc... Still the same issue. After a bit of reading I came across two items that helped:

4a. The first was a registry hack, make a back-up before you play with this;

4b. The second was to not put in the serial number when first asked. You will be prompted later to input this, you will need to know which version of Vista you have. In my case I selected Business Edition early on then later input the serial number.

Once these adjustments were done, Vista installation went pretty quick. A few reboots later to finish (which it did automatically) and Vista was up and running.

Software installed so far:
Office 2007, Photoshop, MasterListPro and Buzzsaw.

Office installed quick and easy. Photoshop CS2 kept asking me to register, though this was already done each time I started up. This ended up requiring me to right click the start icon and choose to run this as administrator.

MLP has not been tested yet as a restart was needed and productivity time is short this weekend for the deadlines I am working to meet. Since I have been focused on GTD, this is one of my tools that I rely on quite heavily. Thankfully I have my printed list as a carry around. :)

The full buzzsaw client installed easily and has been working with no noticeable issues.

Next is the new line of autodesk products... This part should be exciting.

The Vista gadgets (widgets) offer some useful items as well, so far I have found the following useful: battery meter, alarm clock and Call Wave voicemail. This is a great way to burn some time reviewing all the extra gadgets, find what works and remove the rest.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Calculating Glazing to Floor Area Ratios With Revit

One of the larger aspects of Sustainable Building is energy efficiency. One of the main factors of energy efficiency is using the appropriate amount of glazing in our design as it relates to the total floor area in a room or overall building. We can simplify this process in Revit and actually create a 'Glazing Area Schedule' to inform us if the ratio of glazing to floor area we used exceeds sustainable design criteria. This will allow immediate awareness of over utilization of glazing in a design. The purpose of this schedule is to inform designers if the amount of total glazing in a room or a building exceeds the desired amount in relationship to the overall floor area.

Below is an example of the schedule with two different window sizes, the first that would cause the room to overheat and second that does not.

To begin the process we will need to first create a Window Schedule with the following default parameters from Revit:

Family & Type
From Room: Unbounded Height
From Room: Volume
From Room: Name

(For this example I will only be using the From Room: variables to calculate the needed information. If needed, both the 'from' and the 'to' room' parameters can be used.)

The following custom Parameter were used to hold needed information in the Glazing Area Schedule:


I created the above parameters as Project Parameters associated with windows. These parameters allow for the Glazing Area Schedule to calculate the orientation of each individual window. These parameters will need to be set for each window in the design.

The following Calculated Values were used to compute the necessary information to obtain the overheat determination:

Window Area Width * Height / 1 SF
Glazing Area of Room % of Window Area: From Room: Name
Overall Glazing Area Window Area / Glazing Area of Room
Glazing Percentage of Room Overall Glazing Area / Room Area
Room Area From Room: Volume / From Room: Unbounded Height / 1 SF
Glazing Multiplier if(North, 0.05, if(South, 0.15, if(West, 0.07, if(East, 0.07, 1))))
Overheat Integer if(Glazing Percentage of Room < Glazing Multiplier, 1, 2)
Overheat if(Overheat Integer = 1, "no", "yes")

This tools is just a concept for leveraging the power behind Revit to assist us in smarter design. With unlimited potential, Revit can help us transcend to the green utopia.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Visual Maps

The last few days have been busy with documenting; workflows, services and marketing. Having gotten stuck for some terminology I did a quick websearch for a thesaurus and ran across the following:

After a few minutes of playing with the technology this helped me to get past my idea block and opened up a few new ideas on where I was going. If you are looking for an interesting approach on using the dictionary/thesaurus this is an item you should review.

On a random though, this technology is built-on ThinkMap which offers some interesting possibilities for development related to the AEC market.

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