Saturday, March 28, 2020

Stay HOME – Learn BIM: Day 4 (week one)

There are so many lock-down diaries out there, no point in me trying to compete.
I’ll do my postings weekly though as I understand some people are trying the paperfree detox – so I’ll compile some tips for the end of the working week.

Until then, here is a little (strangely relevant) something I posted almost 10 years ago:

Stay HOME – Learn BIM: Day 3

The day-counting in the title is per NZ lockdown.
And it is weekend here, so not a lot of work from home probably going on.

I know, that my focus on the elimination ‘the paper’ from construction can seem a bit over the top and pointless. Also a bit low-key for a ‘BIM expert’.
What harm is in having a personal notebook, printing large scale drawings for mark-ups, having a 500-page specification bound in a folder for site works?
There is some cost in printing, yes, but in the scheme of things, it is negligible.

Over the last 10 years I wrote many posts in this blog explaining why it is not good for individuals to carry on using paper in construction (AEC) and why is its continuing availability making any meaningful development of the industry virtually (or literarily?) impossible.

So, if you still need to be convinced that ditching the paper is a good idea, you’ll have to go back in my writings or do your own research. Or just carry on with standard paper-based practices.
But if you think it is worth giving it a go, these ‘unprecedented’ times could be just the right trigger for giving it a decent chance.

There are various theories out there on how long it should take to build/break a habit.
My experience – you really need to ‘want to’ do so – then – time is sort of irrelevant.

I mentioned ‘Word’ yesterday as a simple replacement for a paper-based notebook. Almost everyone uses the program (or something similar).
For notetaking there are 3 commands, I’d like to emphasize:
Page-breaks, bookmarks and links – These 3, coupled with search functions will provide the functionalities of a well-organized notebook in digital format.
Write as you would in a standard notebook (I’ll get to sketching and scribbling later) – heading your notes with dates, subject or other titles.
Use book-marks to distinguish between parts (per day or per topic) and link all bookmarks up at the beginning of the file.

Using book-marks is important with PDFs as well.

In early days of habit-braking, one still has the urge to print everything off.
Decades worth of history will not easily go away. You will get frustrated with the size/shape/clarity of screens (no matter how big or interactive they are); You’ll feel that your brain is hostage to your hands (doodling while thinking) – so go easy on yourself.

One day at the time.
Start the Notebook Word file, don’t print PDFs, look at them on screens – add bookmarks for easier reference, if the document is not already structured.

The exercise may make you feel old and clumsy.
Key is in persistence.

When you want to write down quick reminders – don’t use post-it notes (unless they are digital) – reminder apps on phones are good way to jot down short instructions to oneself.

(picture below from my architectural office, about 18 years ago)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Stay HOME – Learn BIM: Days 1 and 2

I can’t contribute meaningfully to the topic of the Pandemic, apart from obeying the rules and not being a nuisance. It is not an area of my expertise.
BIM is.
So, being a believer of the concept, that learning even a little bit of BIM can do good for anyone working in construction, I’m going to write a bit every day on the topic, at least while this lock-down is on and am capable of writing/posting.

The positive in me says, whatever happens ‘after’, BIM will be useful for everyone, the less optimistic one, that it will not do any harm to whomever survives and the negative, well, the negative can wait for its turn to speak.

Let me set out the terms of reference for this exercise I am planning to undertake.
I will not try to explain (yet again) what BIM is, or is not. I will not try to convince anyone that they should jump now into BIM, nor argue for-against particular software packages, although some personal views on products will be aired.

I will share practical tips on getting a handle on BIM and being able to contribute to the after-the-tunnel BIM world in a more meaningful way, than before. You don’t need to be BIM literate to benefit from following my tips, not even a CAD user. Just open minded about how information on construction projects is (or should be) created, shared and consumed.

You are working from home, wherever that is. Unless you already had a home office, you took something home from your usual office, to enable you to continue working.
What were those ‘things’?
A desktop computer, screens, just the laptop, and/or boxes of paper-based info?

There is problem number one.
If you took home any paper, even a notebook, we will not get far with getting you BIM-enabled.

Let’s start with weaning you/ourselves off the paper!
Apocalypse here or there, no better world will be on the other side for anyone, if we don’t kick this bad habit to the curb.
For the first couple of days, I will share with you tips on how to beat this pesky practice of ‘needing’ paper to work.
As a 55-year-old – glasses wearing – always scribbling – learned to draft with Rapidographs (Rotring) 40 years ago - architect, trust me, I’ve tried every excuse to hang onto it.
But also trust me, no use of BIM, while paper is around. And not just BIM, no progress for Construction full stop.

So, my tip for Days 1 and 2:
Wean yourself off your notebook!
There are many clever applications you can use, for me, a simple system works:
Word. As in, Microsoft Office Word document. I use One Word Document for my general Notebook taking and it sits on OneDrive. (Microsoft)

I will digress for a moment: as I said in the beginning, I am not interested in promoting, marketing or endorsing products for gain, I have never done it, in my 10 years of Blog Writing. I have misgivings of cash-free society, online everything and surveillance capitalism generally, but still know that Construction must become paper-free.

You can stay fully off-line (if you chose) and be paper-free. If you don’t want your Word document in the Cloud, have it on a stick, or on your laptop, or both. (we will discuss cloud based information later).

A Word (type) document can do everything your paper-based notebook could and more.
But you’ll need to be disciplined about it.
Make a clear cut now!

There are two ways to make that clear cut.
One, keep your current notebook at hand but only for reference. Any new note-taking will be digital.
Two, scan in your notebook as a PDF and throw the paper one away.

Give it a go! Any questions - let me know!