Category Archives: Miscellaneous

2016: Another trip around the sun….

Well, here we are again. Another year flies by, and we are all another year older, and some might say, another year wiser (albeit that might not be the case in some people I know, including me).

2016 has been a great year for me and the company professionally and I have moved forward with AutoCAD content creation bigtime with the lovely people at Lynda.com (which will slowly transition in to LinkedIn Learning). I have written numerous courses for them, both on AutoCAD and some Revit too. You can check them all out at my authors page over on Lynda.com.

Another Autodesk University (AU) has gone by where I had not one, but TWO classes this year! It is always great to teach there, meet up with old friends and colleagues, and make new friends and contacts. As they say, it is the the BIGGEST networking event for Autodesk users on the planet! And if you haven’t seen Las Vegas yet, it is a great opportunity to do so! Also, bear in mind that AU is expanding. Check out the website. There could be an AU near you real soon!

So, it just leaves me one thing to say in 2016.

I have many colleagues, friends and acquaintances all over the globe. I have met these people through my work, my training, my teaching, through Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) and through many other avenues, and I want to wish every single one of you a great New Years Eve and a prosperous 2017 wherever you are.

Remember that we only grow if we learn, we only expand if we meet and work with new people. Make 2017 that year where you grow and expand your horizons.

Wishing you all nothing but the best for the New Year.

SCB

To Arial or not to Arial…..that is the question….

(or how to choose a good font for CAD & BIM)

So, the new role at Farrells is ticking away and, I have to say, I am enjoying the challenge.

One of the discussion points in the project team I am in is what font to use. And, more importantly, should it be company-specific, or project-specific, or something else or something else, and so on, ad nauseum.

So I took it upon myself to search Google with the search criteria, “Best fonts for use in Revit” and I was blown away by the amount of discussion that goes on about this, and how much of a bone of contention fonts in CAD and BIM actually are.

We have the old school aficionados who still love the architectural style fonts. We have the young turks who want to utilise the up-to-date TrueType fonts and we have the “if it works, don’t fix it” crew who think that RomanS (an old AutoCAD SHX shape code font) is the way to go.

So, what EXACTLY is the best way to go with fonts? Which one do you use? Which one do you standardise on? Well, the answer is this. YOU decide. You decide on which one you want. You then have to implement it in to your CAD and BIM installed software. Now, Revit ships with Arial as the default font, and I have to say that, I find Arial perfectly adequate for my needs. The problem with Revit, is that if you do want to change the font, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has to be updated. Your families, hosted families, component families and system families need to be updated.

Then, there is the decision on what TYPE of font to use. Typically, you SHOULD use a TrueType (TT) font. These are the fonts that tend to be in your Windows installation, unless any bespoke TrueType fonts have been created and this is probably the most important decision as Revit supports ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) and most TrueType fonts are ANSI fonts.

So why should you use a TrueType font that is ANSI supported? Easy. All ANSI fonts have a specific Character Map that allows for the use of symbols. How many of you need a copyright symbol on your designs? Did you know that if you hold down Alt+0169, you automatically get the copyright symbol in your current TrueType (ANSI) font? Older style fonts such as RomanS (the old SHX shape code font in AutoCAD) do not support these ANSI symbols, so to get a copyright symbol for RomanS, the quick fix is to draw a circle around a capital C. Crazy, huh? Especially when you can use a TrueType font and have the copyright symbol as part of the Character Map.

So, in conclusion, font choice is in the eye of the beholder, but you MUST make your font decision wisely. Personally, I would always look forward and try to future-proof any of my standard CAD and BIM templates by sticking with regular, well-known, TrueType (ANSI) fonts such as Arial, Calibri and perhaps Verdana. These fonts are well-known but, more importantly, are found just about everywhere on computers, so you will never have a missing bespoke font issue. We all know that AutoCAD substitutes the SIMPLEX.SHX font if it cannot find the font used on a drawing, which can really make a drawing look unattractive, AND, unprofessional.

Stick with well-known TrueType (ANSI) fonts and you won’t go far wrong…..so I WOULD Arial rather than not Arial, as the title suggests….

Steve Stafford’s blog about this is also quite informative, so maybe check it out here: –

http://revitoped.blogspot.co.uk/2005/09/are-you-special-character.html

Happy CADD’ing and BIM’ing!

SCB

More Coffee Anyone?

I haven’t written any blogs recently. Personal circumstances just haven’t permitted me to do so, but there is now light at the end of the tunnel, so here it is, a blog….finally.

I was very fortunate to spend last Saturday afternoon in the wilds of the Norfolk countryside at a place called Grey Seal Coffee Roasters, where I was attending a coffee brewing experience, which had been purchased for me as a birthday gift.

Before I wax lyrical about my afternoon in the company of David and Tobias, from Grey Seal Coffee Roasters, let me explain what Grey Seal Coffee is all about.

Grey Seal Coffee Roasters is a small independent coffee roastery based in Glandford, a small hamlet in the Glaven Valley in North Norfolk.  When I say roastery, I mean they roast their OWN fresh green coffee beans, sourcing them ethically from around the world, selling them to the public and the wholesale trade around Norfolk and throughout the UK. You can find them at their website, www.greysealcoffee.co.uk. They are named after the grey seals that frequent the beaches of North Norfolk.

So, what did I do whilst I was there? Well, the afternoon was ALL about brewing coffee, tasting coffee and learning how to make coffee PROPERLY. There were FIVE (yes, five) methods of making coffee on offer, ranging from the most simplistic up to the incredibly dramatic. The lovely thing was you were able to taste each method as you went which, as a coffee lover, I was sincerely looking forward to!

We started with a simple history of the coffee bean and how it was first discovered, and where. In Ethiopia, in fact. By a goatherd who noticed that his goats got a bit bouncy after eating a fruit (yes, a fruit – bear with me). This fruit contained a pip (or bean). This was your coffee bean and, by chance, they realised that if they roasted the beans, they had a rather lovely beverage. Plus, they still make a drink from the fruit that contains the bean. Call it Ethiopian Red Bull, if you will.

I also learnt where my coffee beans come from. Primarily, most coffee beans come from equatorial countries between the two tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (Ethiopia is one of them). The beans from countries taste different, and brewing processes vary. Plus, I found out that the Robusta bean is used for espresso coffee, and the Bourbon bean is very high quality, a bit like a fine wine.

For our session, we were using the Doi Chaang Peaberry bean from Thailand (which you can order on the Grey Seal website) for each of the brewing processes, so that we could see (and taste) how each different process affected the coffee’s colour and flavour. A bit like wine tasting, if you have ever tried it.

So, FIVE methods of brewing coffee, you ask? Yep, we used five. Some of which I had seen and used before, some I hadn’t. Having been to Blue Bottle coffee in San Francisco on a business trip this year, I had been fascinated by the drip and siphon methods Blue Bottle use and, as luck would have it, those were two of the methods we would see, experience and taste.

We were provided with recipe cards for each method to take home, as well as a bag of complimentary coffee beans. I chose the Doi Chaang Peaberry that we used, as it had such lovely flavour. We used the recipe cards provided by Grey Seal, with some instruction, to learn how to use, and taste, the five brewing methods below….

METHOD 1 – The Cafetiere

1.Cafetiere

I am pretty sure we have all used a cafetiere at some point in our lives. Put the coffee in, put the hot water in on top, press down the plunger. This creates a very muddy, dark coffee with a very rounded flavour, almost fruity, and the oil in the coffee bean is also present. And, like tea, you need to warm the cafetiere first. I have used cafetieres many times, as I am sure you have.

METHOD 2 – The Mokka Pot

2.Mokka Pot

The mokka pot is the one you see on the stove top. A well-known brand is Bialetti. Fill up the bottom compartment with water to the valve level. Pop in the basket and fill with your ground coffee, levelling off the surface of the coffee. Screw the top chamber on and pop on the stove over the heat. Once it has stopped bubbling, you have your coffee. Pour and enjoy. I own a mokka pot coffee maker, and have done so for many years. My Sunday morning coffee pleasure, giving a deep, round coffee flavour, with a dark cloudy colour that is slightly more refined than the cafetiere method above. Plus, it is less oily than the cafetiere method.

METHOD 3 – The AeroPress

3.Aeropress

Invented in 2005 by the man who invented the Aerobie flying ring (bit like a Frisbee), the Aeropress was one method that was totally new to me and I found it quite amazing! The equipment is extremely light plastic (perfect for travellers like me) and it uses a plunger to push down the coffee through the Aeropress, filtering it through a small filter paper, and allowing for easy disposal of the coffee grounds once you are done. It also makes a clearer coffee than the previous two methods, with a nice, clean clear flavour.

METHOD 4 – Drip Filter/V60

4.V60 Drip Feed

Now this method was the one I wanted to see. I mentioned Blue Bottle coffee earlier, and when in San Francisco, I tried a drip filtered Blue Bottle coffee, and was amazed at the clearness of the coffee itself (you could see the bottom of the cup), and was blown away by the flavour of the coffee. And I was not disappointed. The Grey Seal coffee had just as much flavour as the Blue Bottle coffee I had, if not more. The drip filter method is exactly as described. You place a ceramic drip filter on top of your cup or your coffee jug, put in a filter paper and pour in the hot water over the coffee, once you have warmed and “bloomed” as mentioned above. I have to say that this was my favourite brewing method and I did purchase a ceramic drip filter. It creates a beautifully clear coffee, with amazing flavour. I just love the simplicity of this method and the coffee it creates.

METHOD 5 – The Siphon

5.Siphon

The siphon method is pretty incredible visually. Sometimes known as the vacuum pot, it bears a passing resemblance to one of the old Victorian oil lanterns, and while we were there, the Grey Seal coffee baristas, used an incredible halogen lamp (imported from Japan) to heat the water in the siphon, which made it almost mesmeric to watch. The siphon uses a vacuum to brew the coffee, and these, again, are another method used by Blue Bottle coffee in the USA. I have to say though, whilst quite technically challenging, the siphon creates the most amazing coffee. Totally clear with the highest degree of flavour experienced on the day. Delightful.

SUMMING UP

With all of these methods, we used filtered water to ensure a better coffee flavour. You should always use filtered or bottled water for the best coffee plus, it does maintain your equipment by avoiding the dreaded lime scale too.

I also learnt that you should let the coffee “bloom”. This is done by pouring on a small amount of hot water, just enough to wet the coffee grounds and leave it for a few moments. You will see the coffee bubble and crack, with oily bubbles appearing. This is essential to good coffee. Once the blooming is done, pour on the rest of the water using whatever brewing method you are using. Once brewed, pour your coffee immediately. Like tea, coffee stews, and then gives a sour, bitter taste.

Only grind the beans you need. Once you have ground your coffee beans, they lose quality quickly, within days, in fact. And for good quality coffee grounds, use a grinder that has burrs, NOT blades.

I had a great afternoon with Grey Seal. Not only did I experience great coffee, but I learnt lots of things to make my coffee experience even better. And, yes, I was buzzing afterwards! I can only congratulate Grey Seal on providing an informative, entertaining afternoon in great company with people who appreciate good coffee as much as I do. Coffee, when made well, is a lovely beverage, and like wine, once you have experienced the good stuff, you won’t want anything else.

More coffee anyone?

SCB x

Useful CAD Videos [Symetri – RESELLER / ATC]

I am always on the lookout for blended methods of learning.

The classroom and Instructor Led Training (ILT) is STILL paramount to learning, but the classroom is only one place to learn. Due to the many new technologies out there; YouTube, video training and the like, so there are now many different ways in which you can “blend” both pre and post-learning skills in to what you learn in the classroom.

I mention YouTube as a prime example. You can view YouTube on your PC, laptop, tablet and phone, making it VERY accessible.

One of the larger UK-based Autodesk partners and resellers, Symetri, has created short YouTube tips and tricks videos on their YouTube channel.

Here is an example of what you can find on the Symetri channel. This video shows you how to use visibility states to merge a number of standard AutoCAD blocks in to one dynamic block.

This is great material for post-classroom blended learning.

Check it out!

Happy CADD’ing!

SB

3 Tips To Work Smarter With Your CAD Systems [LINE//SHAPE//SPACE]

So, how many of you out there are CAD managers and want to work SMARTER with the latest tech, apps and collaboration tools? Need a bit of advice?

Considering checking out my blog for LINE//SHAPE//SPACE about 3 excellent tips to work smarter with your CAD systems.

http://lineshapespace.com/3-tips-to-work-smarter-with-your-cad-systems/

More LINE//SHAPE//SPACE blogs to follow!

Happy CADD’ing!

SB

Bond, James Bond…plus an iPad Mini

I am taking a little break from CAD blogs….don’t be disturbed, there will be plenty of CAD blogs in the lead up to Christmas.

Remember, a CAD person is for life, not just for Christmas, right? 🙂

So, this blog is called Not Just CAD! for a reason. I sometimes write about stuff other than CAD, so here you go!

Firstly, the hoo-ha about the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini. What gives?

I have an iPhone 4S and an iPad 3. Love ’em both to bits but why (oh, why?) do I need to upgrade just for an extra row of icons on iPhone and because I want a slightly smaller tablet with NO retina display? WTF? Plus, if I do upgrade, I need new power cables and plugs and there are no iPhone docks with the new Lightning connector yet?

Sorry Apple, I am not a sheep. Sure, I have my namesake Shaun the Sheep but he is one tough little cookie who does not follow this geek-got-to-have-gadget marketing, just like me.

I love my Apple kit. I love using my iPad to read books, record music as a mixing desk, plus all its other wonderful features, but make it smaller? No way! Love the screen the size it is, thanks.

My iPhone is great. It does EVERYTHING I need and with iOS 6 installed, it works just fine and dandy.

So, as you may have gathered, I was not one of the sheep who slept outside my local Apple store.

And Windows 8? Well, that is another story (rant) entirely.

Conan got it right with this excerpt from his US primetime show….

http://teamcoco.com/video/conan-highlight-new-apple-ad-the-ipad-mini-has-company

So, what about James Bond? Well, here is a franchise who have got EVERYTHING so right, I just had to write about it (you see what I did there?).

I saw the new Bond outing Skyfall last night at my local IMAX and I have to say, IT ROCKED.

Don’t worry, I am not going to spoil it for you by telling you the story.

Suffice to say, we are back to a Bond movie I remember from my childhood. We have the outlandish villian who tries to thwart Bond at every turn, the sexy Bond girls to appeal to the misogynist Bond as he cuts the dashing MI6 secret service agent with his licence to kill. So typically British. Only a British secret agent would need to have a “licence” to kill.

We have the Walther PPK (but with a very cool twist this time), an excellent Q and the legendary “Bond, James Bond” in there too. All washed down with the trademark Vodka Martini; shaken, not stirred. Keep an eye out for the Vodka Martini, it is there…you just need to look!

It brought back all the feelings and emotions I had when, at eight years old, I saw Goldfinger for the first time at my school cinema club. I can still remember it exactly. School hall, the old school film projector flickering away as Dame Shirley Bassey blasted out the theme song and I was mesmerised by the Bond titles. I think the new Skyfall theme by Adele follows those lines so closely and I am sure the director (Sam Mendes) has worked hard to bring back that Bond “magic”.

This new Bond is just pure British class that reminds us that if a formula is working, don’t try to change it for changes sake. The Bond franchise went through this and has now come out the other side; refined and British, just as it should always be. Back to a formula that always works.

Maybe Apple should take a look at Skyfall and realise that sometimes, retaining everything that is good and not trying to change it is the better option?

Check out the Skyfall trailer here….

http://www.sonypictures.com/previews/movies/skyfall/clips/5075/

Who knows, eh?

Best of British to you all,

SB