Monday, 29 June 2009

CADsmart sponsors Revit Technology Conference ‘09

I’m now back in the UK after a two week trip to Australia via Singapore. The main purpose of the trip was to attend the annual Revit Technology Conference (RTC) in Melbourne. CADsmart sponsored RTC ‘09 and was one of the exhibitors. I also took the opportunity to visit existing CADsmart customers in Singapore and Australia.

It was certainly a trip of “firsts” for me;
First time in the new A380 Super Jumbo – but in economy it was just like any other jet :-(
First time in Singapore - a modern, clean and tidy city. Very helpful and polite people - but very,very humid (note to myself– don’t walk for 15 minutes between meetings!)
First time in Melbourne – Great sporting facilities. I took in a footy game (AFL ) at the Etihad stadium and rugby league (NRL) at the old Olympic stadium ( from 1956 - and so small!)
First time in Sydney – played the tourist round the Harbour area
And…first time I’ve ever been given a business card out of someone’s bra! If that’s how architects do business in New Zealand then maybe I should get there next year!

Now back to RTC. The event was held in Melbourne from June 18th-20th in the Sebel Hotel, just opposite Albert Park where the Grand Prix takes place. It’s the Premier Revit and BIM conference in the region, attracting over 220 delegates. This is a truly user driven event, organised by Revit User Groups and with real users delivering presentations about practical Revit and BIM use. All the top movers and shakers of the ANZAC Revit community were there. Refreshingly, there were very few vendor presentations delivering their often overtly sales messages. The USA was represented by Steve Stafford of the RevitOpEd blog, who was one of the presenters.

If you’re a Revit user, or you’re thinking of migrating to Revit, then I strongly advise you to get to next years event, which will be held in May 2010. You can find out more about this years event here RTC '09

Thanks are due to Heidi, Sarah and Wesley for their hard work in getting the event organised, and for looking after me. In addition, Matt Rumbelow of AEC Systems and the Revitall blog gets a special mention for helping me out with hardware, transport and beer - and for not mentioning the result of the Lions test match.

RTC was our first venture into the ANZAC territory, although we already have some large customers “down under”. CADsmart was well received and our message about the need for CAD and BIM productivity metrics and training needs went down well. Now to follow up all those leads…


Tuesday, 23 June 2009

4 Engineers in a car...

There are four engineers traveling in a car; a mechanical engineer, a chemical engineer, an electrical engineer and a computer engineer. The car breaks down.

"Sounds to me as if the pistons have seized. We'll have to strip down the engine before we can get the car working again", says the mechanical engineer.

"Well", says the chemical engineer, "it sounded to me as if the fuel might be contaminated. I think we should clear out the fuel system."

"I thought it might be a grounding problem", says the electrical engineer, "or maybe a faulty plug lead."

They all turn to the computer engineer, who has contributed nothing to the debate, and ask; "Well, what do you think?"

"Ummm - how about if we all get out of the car and get back in again?"


Thursday, 18 June 2009

AEC Technology Strategies Conference 2009 - summary

Last week, I was pleased to attend ZweigWhite's 2009 AEC Technology Strategies Conference;

After an epic journey, lasting 29 hours door-to-door due to delays and stopovers, I finally arrived at the impressive Green Valley Ranch, Las Vegas, just after midnight, the night before the conference. I must say that Atlanta airport has a surprisingly good jazz pianist! :)
After a scant 5 hours of sleep, whilst adjusting to the 8-hour time difference, I arose to set up the CADsmart booth and meet the organisers. My thanks to Russ and the team at Stagnito Media, who proved to be extremely helpful and obliging hosts.

This was the tenth annual gathering of AEC leaders and it proved to be a worthwhile event. Attendance was very good, in what is clearly a tough year for event organisers. The genial MC for this year's show was Ken Young, CIO at HOK, who kept things running to schedule and offered his own perspective on how recession has affected technical decision making strategy at his own Practice, throughout the proceedings.

Notable keynotes on day one were delivered by Michael Tardif, Director of IPD at Grunley Construction, who discussed Aligning Technology with Core Business Strategy. This was followed by Walter P Moore CIO, Jim Jacobi, who covered the Importance of Leveraging Technology in a Challenging Environment.

The conference split into concurrent working groups after the break, covering topics such as; Communicating & Delivering IT Value, Intranets Made Easy, Leadership Strategies, Adopting 3D, Managing Remote Teams, WAN Optimization, The Reality of BIM and the Changing Role of Technology in the AEC Industry.

An excellent lunch of filets mignon, sponsored by TW Telecom, was followed by further working groups and a wrap up of day one's proceedings. This was followed by an entertaining evening's networking, which included watching the LA Lakers series win against Orlando Magic, and a round of 'beerpong' in the casino. I'm pleased to report that CADsmart were on the winning team, thus jointly holding the reigning title of AEC Tech Strategies Beerpong champions! :)

Day two began with a technical presentation from Dennis Shelden from MIT and Gehry Technologies. Then further working groups covering the following subjects; Collaboration Tools and Techniques, Document Management, Future of BIM, Training For Effect - Improving Your Firm's Knowledge Base.

The final keynote of the day was a fascinating presentation on Building a High Performing Virtual IT Team, by MWH Global's CIO, Micki Nelson. This was followed by an expert panel, comprising all principal speakers, and included a host of technology-related questions from the floor.

In summary, a thoroughly enjoyable couple of days, with many new connections made and friendships renewed. My thanks go to ZweigWhite for their hospitality and to the following delegates for taking me under their wing; John 'Pickle Loving' Robison, Chris 'Sharepoint Guru' Parsons, Chris 'Hustler' Pinckney and Karl 'Rainbow Trout' Fischer.

I thought the return trip couldn't possibly be more convoluted than the journey over; how naive I was! To start, we routed to NY JFK, via Salt Lake City. Then, we were held on the tarmac at JFK for an hour due to congestion; there were literally 30+ planes lined up nose to tail! We missed the connection to London Heathrow by 5 minutes, then took another 5 hours to persuade Delta to let us on the last flight out that night. I squeeked onto the flight with the last seat, only to be held up on the tarmac for another 90 minutes due to yet more Saturday night runway congestion! Grr! So, in fact, my return journey lasted 31 hours door to door!

Still, the rewards of a successful trip far outweighed the down side of a few too many cups of airport coffee. And the Atlanta pianist really is very good! :)

Monday, 8 June 2009

Engineer ID Test

You walk into a room and notice that a picture is hanging crooked. Do you...

A. Straighten it?

B. Ignore it?

C. Buy a CAD system and spend the next six months designing a solar-powered, self-adjusting picture frame (while often sighing aloud your belief that the inventor of the nail was a total moron)?

The correct answer is "C" (but partial credit can be given to anybody who writes "It depends" in the margin of the test or simply blames the whole thing on "Marketing").


Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Trouble with Software Engineers...

A Software Engineer, a Hardware Engineer and a Departmental Manager were on their way to a meeting in Switzerland. They were driving down a steep mountain road when suddenly the brakes on their car failed. The car careened almost out of control down the road, bouncing off the crash barriers, until it miraculously ground to a halt scraping along the mountainside. The car's occupants, shaken but unhurt, now had a problem: they were stuck halfway down a mountain in a car with no brakes. What were they to do?

"I know," said the Departmental Manager, "Let's have a meeting, propose a Vision, formulate a Mission Statement, define some Goals, and by a process of Continuous Improvement find a solution to the Critical Problems, and we can be on our way."

"No, no," said the Hardware Engineer, "That will take far too long, and besides, that method has never worked before. I've got my Swiss Army knife with me, and in no time at all I can strip down the car's braking system, isolate the fault, fix it, and we can be on our way."

"Well," said the Software Engineer, "before we do anything, I think we should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again."


AEC Technology Strategies Conference 2009

We're off to sunny Las Vegas again next week. CADsmart are sponsoring ZweigWhite's 2009 AEC Technology Strategies Conference on June 11 & 12.

This is the tenth annual gathering of AEC leaders and this year's event should be illuminating. It will be interesting to see how 100+ CIO's and technology administrators are coping in the most protracted economic downturn for a generation.

Main themes for this year's conference include:
• AEC Design and Business Systems • Corporate Strategy and the Role of AEC Technology • IT Infrastructure for the AEC Business • Leadership and the Role of the AEC IT Director• Maximizing IT Resources in a Challenging Economy

If you're attending the show, please stop by the CADsmart booth and say hello.