Friday, May 06, 2016

Digging in the Dirt | What Changes the World

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking at the inaugural AECx in the glass enclosed ATT Building high atop DTLA (That's Down Town Los Angeles for those not familiar ;) -I know it's not called the ATT Bldg any longer, but there is no better name if you want people to at least have a chance at knowing what I am talking about...

The focus of AECx is to build community around community building technologies (pun intended), so in addition to checking out a few of them I was there with a purpose.

To elicit new or clearer thinking around our use and understanding of cutting edge, high technology.

So in preparation I asked myself: What's the most cutting edge technology?

I pondered that and it spun around into what technology is, how we interact and come up with it...
I finally came up with my opening point:

VR is not hi tech.
AR is not high tech.
AEC is not high tech...
Humans are high tech.
-and we are the highest tech (no puns intended) 
...and when I say 'we' I inferred Nature.

Nature is the highest technology. by definition anything we create, design, imagine is all less high on the high technology continuum.
I would love to hear how that loosely explored idea lands with the teams who brought us the LHC, but it might still be a defensible postulate.

FWIW: These two images at left link back to the originals and authors.

The Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator (Image: CERN)
I do obviously marvel at the complexities of things like the LHC and our built communities but even the best computers can only process fractions of that which our continuously, if not too slowly for my liking ;) evolving brains can.

Add to that the ability for abstraction, creativity, emotion, etc. well, that renders all of our inventions and technology, no matter how impactful: NOT what changes the course of civilization... I argue that People change the world, not things.

It seems overwhelmingly agreed that the printing press changed civilization. I disagree. The invention of the printing press changed civilization. The inventor of the printing press made the leap of technology, not the machine. What previously wasn't there became there; simply (or not so simply) due to Mr. Gutenburg's own Human technology of learning, thought and action.

So I went on to remind the folks in attendance to always remember the Human-Technology-Units ;) and to foster high levels of creativity in our push to forward AEC (Electro-Mechanical) Technologies. To evaluate more honestly, keeping in mind our place within the Dunning-Kruger effect. -Oh, if you don't know the Dunning-Kruger effect please do hit the link!!!

Other highlights of the day were panel discussions moderated by the wonderful Sasha Reed of Bluebeam. The panels enjoyed the foundations of a couple of my inspirations; Keynote speaker Paul Doherty of TheDigitGroup, a Smart Cities hall of famer himself and Blaine Grantham, one half of TitanAEC (along with Shobbhit Baadkar) who I am proud to call both trusted colleagues and friends.

I do understand I am not mentioning all of the presenters but that is how it must be. At times I was in conversation, at times I had to eject from presentations, especially when they were product pushes, read coldly from scripts.

But that's conferences for you ;) One needs to look for the gold; and the gold that obligatorily beautiful Los Angeles day was by far the panels and networking discussions to be had.

Finally, I'll let the images below elicit the thousands of words I won't write on the goodness that was AECx 2016, except to thank Cody Nowak for putting the whole thing together with some help from Kameron Burk, the sponsors and everyone else
involved ;)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

AECX Los Angeles | Digging in the Dirt | Pushing Technological Boundaries

Family, Friends, Colleagues, Technologists,
Next Friday, April 29th, 2016, Los Angeles sees the 1st AECX; an interactive day-long event for AECO Professionals to explore some of the cutting edge technologies and ideas in AECO... much will be discussed and showcased... me too ;)

I shall be speaking to BIM's fit into technology leadership, in a piece entitled:
"Digging in the AECO Toolbox | BIM Realities and Fantasies"

In addition to presences from sponsors like TitanAEC and all the others imaged below, I can't be more pleased to get a chance to hear speak and spend some time with Paul Doherty from The Digit Group...speaking about Smart Cities (and the obligatory 'more')... I should be tweeting some nuggets of gold then as well...

All the info can be found by clicking the images below. Get signing up and see you there. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hey Ladies | Self perpetuated dis-inclusion can not stand!

In my years in AEC, I have been keen to notice that there are (like too many industries still) a disproportionate lack of women. 

If 50% of Earth is populated with women, why not the workforce? 

Why is there a lack of women in business generally, why a lack in management, etc... the statistics are out there and pretty difficult (or impossible) to discount; and I am not about to list all the reasons whether real or theoretical... I won't even go into the idea that in this day and age there are many opportunities that go ignored by women themselves (yeah, I know I snarkily did interject that but hey, I am a man after all ;)

As a young man, I rarely thought about this as having much of a direct affect on me, if any... As I go through life though and look at how the world may be when my now teenage daughter is an adult, I see that it does impact me, as well as everyone. Obviously the effect on women is at issue and the more poignant. Whereas I may have (read as: have) missed unknown collaborations, ideas, sensitivities, etc. due to the mainly homogeneous workplace, women have missed more and that would be for them to elaborate on. 

As a person who revels in mixing ideas with others in attempts at gaining and sharing ever wider, varied and deep insights, I guess I have missed more than I previously thought... BUT THIS IS NOT (so much) ABOUT ME!

Here's the bottom line:
If you are a woman in AECO and feel you could use as many potential opportunities to get your voice(s) heard: I professionally, personally and specifically ask that you step up to the plate (as it were) and get yourself published, as one way to help turn the tide...
If you want to write about Architecture, Revit, BIM, Dynamo or another related concept, 
I want to get you published... and I can and will!!! But the ball is in your court!!! -All you need do is want to get published and contact me as such.

I edit/curate the Revit Architecture section of AUGIworld magazine and in addition to wanting and needing authors in general, I do attempt a few things in this capacity; namely attempting to obtain awesome (even 1st time) writers, unique articles, even divergent viewpoints, creative solutions and the like. SO...

I hope you or others that you know will take this as one of many possible ways to act and change the situation (at least a little bit), rather than just resign to the current state of snail's paced change.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Beliefs Don't Map Reality | Question Your Knowledge

OK Let's see... Play in "Full Screen" for best results...

Not sure if the issues highlighted in this video are from a bug or a conscious DevOps choice but it was found in Revit while verifying 'funny' dimensions to a .dwg

Said .dwg was a 2D translation of a Civil3D file.Not blaming AutoCAD -that's another story, for another time ;)

Fact is, whoever has said that Revit Can't (or Doesn't) Dimension to non-parallel objects is simply wrong!

Now there is a delta where it won't allow such dimensions; but the fact remains. It can.

That the dimension changes as it's moved along the walls both freaks me out and amuses me.

I hope you enjoy, let me know if you'd like me to editorialize more to explain, but all the numbers are there for pausing and review. Here's to unending growth :D


Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Don't Overkick the Coverage | Embedded Wall Sweeps (etc.)
Don't overkick the coverage??? Yeah, Don't forget the simple solutions, even if you aren't aware of them!!! 

Until the impossible time where you remember and know everything available in software X (Revit in this case) you had better keep that ego in check... 

I mean, keep a sense that you can learn something new at any moment... keep in mind that there is always something new to learn... Even by the "experts" included; this is a fight every day; using my supposed knowledge but keeping, always keeping a view to the unknowns just out of sight ;) 

Socrates, Einstein, Hitchens and so many other amazing people, have kept a sense of unending growth and exploring ideas and unless you are greater than our greatest minds throughout all of history; just back off the ego of thinking you know anything, let alone everything!!! Philosophy 101, right! 

Anyhow... I was dropping in on RevitForum (yeah, that's a link, as most all images too ;) and saw a post asking how to build a log building...I have seen many methods out there and yet I have never seen perhaps the most simple one... does that mean it doesn't exist 'out there'? NO, I just never saw one is all...Anyhow (again) here's a solution that may be (See: IS) often overlooked so I thought I'd share the solution here as well and let fly ;)

Embedded Wall Sweeps 
  1.  Make a profile
    1.  Save the profile (duh ;)
    2.  Load the Profile (Really Jay? -Well, yeah... into a project as well... lol ;)
  2. Edit/Duplicate a Wall family
    1. Set the wall thickness (to the flat part of the joints?)
      1. This is where one's geometry may want to be planned (As in: YES PLAN THIS OUT!!!)
  3. Set the embedded wall sweeps to the proper heights and offsets
    1. Notice the quick example I created would (probably) like to have it's top and bottom sweeps to be different, depending on the design (Remember: PLAN THIS OUT!!!)
  4. Hit Apply to see the preview (Use Section if you haven't stumbled onto that yet ;)
  5. Hit "OK" (Until you are back in the project... YES an OK & COMPLETE button would STILL be useful... Hear Us Dev team???!!!)
  6. Use the walls :D
As my posting/reply said this works unless the walls want to miter... If that's the need then either apply Wall Sweeps (or similar) to a flat wall OR use a void to cut the ends off of these...

Enjoy and remember: REDUCE TO THE MOST SIMPLE POSSIBILITY is often the best policy when it comes to workflows!!! 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Are You an Educator or Enabler | AKA: When Technology Exceeds Our Evolutionary Standing!paintings/ck0q
Do you teach Revit or Archicad or BIM or anything?

There is no magic wand to learning! 

Questions in a class situation, lecture, conference, etc. is not what this post is dealing with; this is for dealing with "That" person ;)

My intention to give some help to those who have to give help to others.

With an understanding that our poorly evolved brains are being slammed into, with and by technologies that are far too rapidly and ever-changing for all 7+ billion of us to get at the same speed... 

This post is also keeping other psycho-social possibilities out of it (for now); therefore let me ask that fundamental question: Are you an educator or enabler?

Learning is ultimately accomplished by the student.

Don't agree? And I quote:

“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think” 

This "Are you an educator or an enabler?" is a question I ask myself often and try to land on the former as much as I can, I hope you do (or will) too. With that said, here are a few methods to give folks, in order to nudge their innate abilities of learning and exploration...

HELP!!! How do I do that???
The best way to do it is the best way to do it. 

The magic wand treatment is what many people seem to be looking for with tips and tricks in my experience. In other words, many people want—if not expect—great solutions with no personal work or investment—like having a magic wand passed over them, imparting knowledge from the ether.

I contend that one should not ‘necessarily’ give an answer immediately… If, for instance the answer is known to be in Help then ask the person “Have you tried “F1”?, or "Have you tried a quick internet search?"... If the answer is “no” and the solution (as I stated) is known to be in Help, etc. then my suggestion is to provide them the answer by doing just that...hit F1 and show them the answer was right there!

Giving an answer to an obvious question—one that exists in HELP, etc.—is an enabling behavior and I contend actually does not help the person in the long-term; rather it hinders their intellect.

Obviously there ARE times where an answer is immediate, no matter the situation, like 20 seconds before a print, etc. but those are fewer and more far between than one might imagine…

OK, now onto the process of goodness; Getting Help(ed) ;)

Need I say more? Use that little button!

A large number of issues can actually be resolved by doing a few minutes of looking at HELP!

If your company blocks the installation of help then you’re going to have to ask them… IKR.

If an older version of help is what you need…well, you’re on your own (but the solution to finding them is “hidden” herein… OK, not really hidden… ;)

FWIW: HELP ‘should be’ installed locally, unless you are from a firm that precludes it…

The Internet
Yeah, search your issue (including the word ‘Revit’) and I will bet you’ll find someone has already had the issue and chances are there are solutions, if not also video accompaniments. Now I am going to assume you know how to search the web so I won’t include a link to LOL, that said, if you are a teacher, educator or simply the office or team answer giver… and you have “That User” then perhaps use LMGTFY ( –a fun and slightly evil and useful tool which I find helps teach the lessons herein :D

Go to create a username and password, and then use it! (remember to check the box “Remember Me?” everytime logging-in, or you will be logged out after a short while).

I like to keep that site onscreen so I can see the conversations, ask and answer... so join in, it helps.

Like, OMG Jay, I don’t have time!

You DO Have Time!
The “I don’t have time” excuse is oft cited, so let me give a tip on that:
If or when one says, “I don’t have time” stop and consider that it might just be similar to the following:

I don’t have time to do it right
I don’t have time to learn something I will need everyday, when I work

Not always but more often than not when one says “I don’t have time” they actually do but for whatever reason they would rather it take threefold the amount of time to re-do over and over later…or ask the same thing over and over…

Again, there is a balance between answering others and becoming an enabler… I hope this helps you, as it does me; especially the next line(s) ;)

The best way to do it is the best way to do it.

No matter the time.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Free (Your Mind) | AEC-ST Virtual Expo 2015

AEC-ST Virtual | Opening [EDIT as of 07/10/2015:  The 24/7/365 beginning of July 14, 2015 has been rescheduled to be: September, 22nd 2015. END EDIT]

Immerse in a digital BIM event at this free peer-to-peer interaction which is a promising idea! Free to attend, simply sign up here and virtually see you 'there'. -The gauntlet is now set, next we'll see if this proves out to be of value transforming ideas from the virtual to the real-world(s) ;)

I am looking forward to finding if there are only marketing encounters or if it also has content-rich opportunities...

"Until now, there has not been a virtual event that addresses the IT needs of the entire facilities and construction team…how information and electronic data are used and exchanged; how resources and assets are leveraged throughout the lifecycle of the facility; how information standards are defined and shared. Whether a building, a roadway, a bridge, or a power plant, designers, engineers, owners and operators are faced with the ever-growing challenges to work more efficiently together.
While other events target only a niche or two within the lifecycle, AEC—ST Virtual is the only event that brings the entire team together to focus on the important issues of interoperability for effective facility planning, accurate design, improved construction and efficient maintenance and operations.
A simple statement, but so many specialized areas of knowledge are needed to make it happen:

  • Building Information Modeling (BIM)
  • Energy-Efficiency
  • Facility Management & Performance
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • GreenBuilding, Design & Construction
  • Sustainable Infrastructure
  • and more!"

Monday, June 29, 2015

Selected Photos From My First Day Out In(dia)

Several years ago I traveled to Bangalore for a month to teach Revit and BIM to a group of Architects... well, seems I never posted these images so I will now :) FWIW, the number of people that can fit on a scooter is truly impressive and clearly varied ;) Necessity, the mother of...

From Collages

Online Web Gallery... Enjoy -JbZ

Monday, December 15, 2014

.DWG's in Revit | Clean Them or Don't Use Them | Ever!!!

The Zen of Clean
Want peace? Use only clean .dwg's (if you must use them at all)... talk to some folks and be told "never use .dwg's" in their projects!!!

[Edit 12/16/2014: If one must use dwg's temporarily (not for generating a topo) then use the "Family Method". Bring the dwg into a family (GenMod(?)) and put that in the project; Revit thinks about them as a Family and acts a bit better... End Edit]

I agree but know that too many people are far too ...ummm...well... lazy to do what's right...

(FWIW: replacing the word 'lazy' in that last sentence with any other word still reads as either lazy or worse) therefore use at your own peril.

Whenever one receives a .dwg file from anyone these processes are requisite prior to any use in Revit.

If these processes are not followed do not, I repeat, DO NOT bring any external .dwg into a Revit Project, if you know what's good for the project.

Is that my opinion?
Yes! BUT it's been verified by so many, with so much evidence of it's necessity that it can safely be deemed fact.

Also understand that the .dwg invariably will have lines not on axis so you may (or are) still bringing garbage that is not just unuseful but damaging to projects, teams and braincells so please don't use them!!! That said, here is a best-case-for-a-worst-case process if you must...

If I forgot any steps please let me know and I'll adjust... Here we go:

Cleaning .dwg Files | Prior to Use in Revit

The following are procedures to accomplish for each and every .dwg (etc.) file prior to linking into or using anywhere in Revit. This will ensure (among other things) that all geometry is within 20 miles from .dwg Origin of 0,0,0.

Notes and Tips:
A)     If, during any of the “Zoom All” commands below, it appears that the screen goes all blank and you do not think you see geometry, think again ;) The geometries are so far apart that entire site (or whatever geometries you have) can appear as only one single pixel… In this case draw a line from 0,0,0 to the top/right of the current view and you should be able to track your geometry for cleaning... which are most likely at that top/right ;)

B)      If any steps are skipped then please expect to do the entire process again!
a.      Verification of the 20 mile limitation is immediate and automatic in Revit
b.      Non-Cleaned .dwg’s are never to be used in a Revit environment
c.       Non-Cleaned .dwg’s create Revit file corruptions especially if over 20 miles from origins... You have been warned!!!

1.       Who is to clean the .dwg?
Either step 1a or step 1b is to be accomplished.
a.       Civil Engineer (for example) cleans their own files | Preferred Method
                                                               i.      Communicate and coordinate this paper and processes with Civil Engineer to have their survey (etc.) be cleaned per below constraints, prior to sharing for Revit use.
b.      Other team cleans copies of Civil .dwg’s
                                                               i.      Save a copy of the original Survey file that is to be used to generate Shared Coordinates.

2.       Preparing the .dwg
a.       Turn all layers on
                                                               i.      Layon

b.      Thaw all layers
                                                               i.      Laythw

c.       Unlock all layers
                                                               i.      Via the layer manager (preferred method)
                                                             ii.      Layulk is sometimes useful for one-of’s

3.       Remove all unnecessary geometry
a.       Top View “Zoom All” (This is distinct from Zoom Extents; Zoom Extents can be told to ignore actual geometry)
                                                               i.      Verify that only the project geometry is on screen; if there is more than project geometry then complete step 3b.
b.      Delete any/all unnecessary geometry (and I mean ALL)
c.       Front View “Zoom All”
                                                               i.      Verify that only the project geometry is on screen; if there is more than project geometry then complete step 3d.
d.      Delete any/all unnecessary geometry (and again, I mean ALL)
4.       Save
5.       Purge All (This may need anywhere from one to four+ passes of purge to get rid of all ‘purgable’ items)

6.       Verify that all unnecessary geometry was truly removed
a.       Top View “Zoom All”
                                                               i.      Verify that only the project geometry is on screen
b.      If any unnecessary geometry exists go back to Step 3b and proceed from there.

c.       Front View “Zoom All”
                                                               i.      Verify that only the project geometry is on screen
d.      If any unnecessary geometry exists go back to Step 3d and proceed from there.

7.       Purge All (an Audit won't hurt either right about now)
a.       Yes purge again and over/over until there are no objects that can be purged.
8.       Save
9.       Close

Now one can use the cleaned .dwg in Revit (if you must)... Cheers!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

@RTCEUR 2014 | Jay Zallan's Class Presentations and Downloads

Hello from Dublin -Yes, Ireland -Well when this publishes I will be en-route, so Hello from 35,0000' or so ;)

To get the RTCEUR 2014 thing going and to provide, for those unable to attend, a portion of 'the goods',  I am posting my class handouts, presentations and associated downloads and links.
I do hope you enjoy!!! -And get some value from them obviously :D

The video (that is obviously not in the pdf below) can be watched below or at: 

The point of including this video is to speak to my point that 'reality' is relative to us humans and what we make of it and ourselves is really the only game we play.

I find it a wholly liberating concept that we may only be minor players, on a tiny spec in the cosmos, but that we can have large relative impact for one another!!! Therefore:
  • Let's Play Big, With Integrity and Always Strive to be The Best We Can Possibly Be!!! 
  • Liberate Your Own Greatness(es); That Will Both Inspire and Free Others to Liberate Their Own!!!

Direct Links:
Hot Models Wanted 
BIM Junkies' Life On The Lines

Monday, October 27, 2014

RTCEUR 2014 Final(?) Prep Post @RTCEUR Handouts and Lab Files will post here at the time the classes run this week...

Just thought I'd put that out there ;)

See you soon!!!???

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Architects Modeling for Construction

What a novel thought... I say that due to the countless times that I have heard things like "that is the contractors' responsibility" etc. I humbly say to that: Bullshit.

The following is a draft-excerpt of the handout for a lecture that I will be doing later this month at RTCEUR in Dublin, Ireland (Download the families and addons by clicking the images of the individual families) -And providing these families is the point of releasing this snippet early, so folks going to RTCEUR can get a jump on 'things' ;)

04 | (Hot) Modelling FOR Construction

Stud Rails, 3D Grids & Surcharge Revit Families
Modelling certain elements that are typically (read ‘typically’ as in the dead, 2D past) either left out of models or only provided as details, such as the surcharge family above.

 These surcharges for instance, take a short time to input, like 1 hour or so per building, which in the grand scheme of hot models and projects is almost nothing… BUT the impact of having these in the design BIM and onward will (yes, WILL) pay huge dividends during consultant modelling and all coordination, etc. an Architect cannot deal with spending 1 hour on these items then that shows they are further down the AECO Continuum, probably lower than they envision. The Stud Rails shown come in two flavors: 2-Rail and 3-Rail and include ‘Column Width”.
These are very sneaky in their import. How many times has an MEPF Engineer or Trade Contractor tried to place a pipe, etc. too close to a concrete column-to-beam intersection and then the pipes don’t fit in reality-world, then a change order (or 10) and voilà how many thousands of dollars did that just cost?

Say you don’t care? Say “that’s the contractors’ responsibility?” Not if you want to create hot models that bring (or start to bring back) Architecture and Architects to the “master builder” level that the industry once viewed them as.
 The 3D Grid is purely for coordination and mostly for Navisworks, since it’s Heads-up-display (HUD) grids and levels are, well, less than optimum. The 3D Grid can be had from:

PLUS!!! There are some cool addons at: one of which applies these 3D Grids in the same place and length as the grids internal to Revit, as well as copies a set to each level included! Thanks Troy Gates @TroyGates for the addons :D

-BIM Consortium tools (to date):; there are 3 ‘easy’ things we can do to save literally thousands of dollars with negligible effort. 

I’d say that lifts the whole floor on our teams when these processes are used.

OK, so Click Me for some keyboard shortcuts as well ;)