Thursday, July 14, 2016

When A Plan Comes Together.

"The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence"

-Charles Bukowski

Still not a Revit cloud in my blue sky - and no BIM turds in my coffee.  I even managed to work the kinks out of my VESDA system design after a short phone conversation with an 'Aspire 2' guru (see: Another Software Package Sucks Dick).  Unbeknownst to me, you could actually override the sample point hole sizes to be any size you wanted.  The default had me going between 1/8" (too big) and 5/32" (too small), but 7/32" was just right.

He was impressed that (without any training) I had been able to wing it and design a complete system.  He recommended changing one other setting first, and then after updating the hole sizes (changing it once changed it globally - including adding holes to end caps where I didn't need them, but that only took a few seconds to fix) the system calculations came up perfectly (without any need for modifying the reports it spit out - which may have eventually run me into problems).

We discussed a few features that I thought were lacking in the software (which were apparently addressed in a later release), including not having an 'undo' button, and the inability to zoom in on a 3D Parametric (as the system gets larger, the view gets smaller - ironically still easier to see what is going on than in Revit).  We had a short conversation about Revit afterwards - which he considered, in his experience, to be 'in it's infancy', especially where it related to his industry.

Since I am waiting for CAD files on two separate projects (both of which I'm sure are going to become 'emergencies' despite nobody being bothered to give a fuck about getting me what I need to do them), I finished going through the last box of 'as-built' drawings that had been piling up prior to my starting at the firm, and with perfect timing, drawings of a truck maintenance facility popped up in my inbox.

It took me a few minutes to get it set up (and I'm still making some tweaks).  I'm not sure what software the background originated in - but apparently the engineering drawings were done in 'Bluebeam' (which I remember a SkullFuck commenter mentioning one time).  I haven't had any experience with this software, so I can't really comment on it, but the CAD file I received was more than a little fucked up.

I'm willing to give Bluebeam the benefit of the doubt - since you can't really control how people use your software (unless you are Autodesk, and you put your boot on the neck of designers and force them to do it 'The Revit Way (tm)").  The first thing I noticed was that everything was piled onto one plan in model space and then different layers turned on/off in various paperspace views).

It was also assembled from several blocks (possibly xrefs that got bound) for background, equipment, etc. - and after spending some time cleaning it up, and noticed that they even had stuff from different levels piled up on top of each other (i.e. devices that were on a mezzanine could be mistaken for being on the first floor unless you went and looked at the paperspace views).

Then I started to notice a number of items (devices at first, but then I started to notice furniture) that were rotated ever so slightly - and in many (if not most) cases they appeared to have just been slapped on the drawings wherever, but I had already decided to replace all of the device blocks with my standard ones (and use my template system that I developed to guarantee full coverage).

I was even seeing some walls with little jogs indicating that they were rotated a fraction of a degree - I was starting to worry that the whole stupid building was rotated a fraction of a degree (sometimes an indication that someone has imported a file incorrectly - or attempted to convert a .pdf to CAD), but they seemed to be a fairly limited and easy to fix.

Little stuff like those jogs always catch my eye - and make it hard for me to concentrate.  I almost envy people who can just ignore things like that, but the fact is, my attention to detail is a big part of what makes me a good designer.  More than once I have found issues while working a floor plan over, brought them to someone's attention, and damned if they didn't end up making a difference in the design.

When I was at my old firm and everyone was working in ACAD, it was always fairly simple to point out something that was inconsistent, have them acknowledge it, and fix it.  Most of the time they would even thank me for catching it (it was a team effort after all, anything that made their drawings better made them look better, the firm look better, and resulted in less revisions down the road).

Enter Revit, and motherfucker if I wouldn't do exactly the same thing (the fact that I was exporting their plans out to CAD and scrubbing the shit out of them meant I would see things they wouldn't), and their initial reaction was always to deny that anything was wrong.  Of course, I would always go back into Revit and double-check it before I brought it to their attention.

I'm sure some of this was due to them having battled the Revit monster, and not wanting to have to go back in and figure out what they (or it) had fucked up, and I obviously can't blame them for that, but I also wasn't the one touting it as 'the best shiznit in the history of shiznit'.  After I moved them past denial, their next defense mechanism was to claim that it was one of the quarter of a million settings that was making it 'appear' to be wrong.

After four hours of clicking on every button on the ribbon, every button on every context-sensitive ribbon, every button on every menu, changing every view range setting in every field in every menu, and involving six other Reviteers/Gurus/etc. - damn, look at that, the problem is that you've got a column running right through the middle of the door into the sprinkler room, there isn't enough room in the wall on either side of it to make it fit, and it's the only wall that it can go in.

Just like I told you.

Now, keep in mind, I wasn't (usually) being a dick about this, and would always preface my findings with verbage that indicated that I wasn't there to tell them how to do their job, or pretend like I knew more than they did - but after watching them do the Revit two-step buttfuck shuffle to try to prove me wrong (or get out of trying to fix something), I never hesitated to throw it in their face.

What's amusing is that none of what I do when it comes to tweaking these plans actually takes a noticeable amount of time.  As I dig into a new project, going through and cleaning up the plans doubles as a chance to get familiar with the project, often finding out that there are discrepancies in the scope (like if there is an elevator, but nobody took the necessary equipment for our systems to interface with it into account when they bid the job), sprinkler systems, fire pumps, etc.

My mind immediately starts to go to work calculating, figuring out how I am going to group equipment and run circuits (and keep those runs as short as possible), identify where additional equipment may be necessary to support those circuits (or where devices are missing - like in the case of the apartment complex I did a while back that was missing literally hundreds of devices due to a careless electrical designer/engineer not taking the time to review their typical plans).

When my software works with/for me instead of against me - then I can accomplish anything.  On it's best day, Revit had so much distracting bullshit pulling me out of my zone that I would literally just end up staring at it (not unlike many others that I would see just orbiting their model instead of working) or fucking off and doing something else.

It wasn't until I would say 'fuck this' and  kick it out into ACAD, and the process of cleaning it up would blend seamlessly into laying it out, solving all of the problems, and completing the project.

That, my friends, is the sweet spot.  One that most Revit users don't know exists, because if they did, they would tell Autodesk to go fuck itself.

Which, by the way, Autodesk can absolutely go fuck itself.  Revit can absolutely go fuck itself.  And anyone willfully using, selling, promoting, 'developing' or otherwise involved with Revit - can absolutely go fuck themselves.

And stay SkullFucked.


Next Time: I pick a random topic and go off.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

BIM Scrubbing

Greetings and Salutations from outside the Revitsphere!

It's another warm sunny day - with no Revit being forced into all of my orifices and ocular cavities.

I received another project consisting of laughable construction documents - and was especially amused to see that they had included several sheets dedicated to various 3D views. 

I had seen a number of firms include an overall 3D view on their cover sheet - but this was the first time I had seen one dedicate space to showing off their model.

It makes sense from their perspective (pun intended) since they have gone through the trouble of fully detailing out a model - which you almost wouldn't know if you just looked at the 2D plans and elevations (and then wondered to yourself why those plans and elevations looked like excrement). 

There are even cases where it might be helpful for a contractor to be able to see what something is intended to look like before finding out that the details are shown incorrectly because there wasn't enough time to check them thoroughly.

To an untrained eye, this seems much more helpful than it actually is - since 2D details (with accurate dimensions and other information)  are what a contractor will be looking at after they staple or clip the unnecessary sheets together so they aren't constantly having to flip through several extra pages of useless details.

I could see an owner or other person not directly involved with construction (that doesn't know how to read a set of plans) finding 3D views to be helpful in visualizing the finished project - but in reality it just pads out the set, meaning more sheets to keep up with (almost none of which are going to be of any use to the AHJ's reviewing and approving them).

Combine that with the fact that making changes in Revit often results in unexpected dumbfuckery - and now you have even more views you have to doublecheck to prevent sending out idiotic looking drawings (not that most Reviteers seem to give a fuck).

It's been two days since they sent us a more or less useless .PDF set and we requested CAD drawings (thank fucking god we don't have to request the massive clusterfuck of a Revit model), so I've been catching up on some 'As-Builts' - including a fairly decent sized library.

As soon as I opened the drawing I knew it had a background that originated in Revit, and whoever had set it up originally hadn't bothered to give it a thorough 'BIM Scrubbing' (my take on the derisive term 'BIM Washing'  that Reviteers use for anyone 'faking it' in Revit).

'BIM Scrubbing' starts with getting rid of the pointlessly elaborate 3D models that some moron got from a manufacturer or Revit circlejerk website.  What looks really slick in 3D (to cover up the fact that your design is shit) turns a 2D view into total garbage.

Obviously a 'properly' designed family should include both a 3D model AND a 2D symbol to allow you to keep it turned on (and even have options to have it show up differently based on how much detail you want in a given view) but this is lost on many users and content developers, and so I end up with an exported CAD drawing with chairs that have meticulously crafted casters, legs, seats, backs, brackets, adjustment levers (and in the case of some of the chairs on this project - adjustable cup holders and desk surfaces) that end up looking like black blobs and obscure anything nearby.

Some people just turn off furniture altogether - but then you run into problems with what you need to see to coordinate various systems with the way the space is intended to be used - so I start by tracing an outline (using arcs for what started off as hundreds of lines approximating a curve - often with several overlapping lines) to a final shape consisting of 2-3 dozen lines instead of quite literally tens of thousands of line segments (multiplied by how many instances there are in the drawing). 

Once the blobs of crap are cleaned up, I turn to cleaning up walls, doorways, etc. - which even the most skilled of Revit Gurus seem to have trouble convincing to show up correctly (much less the average Reviteer).

I'm obsessed with keeping doorways and other openings clean and devoid of unnecessary lines showing walls above - I've seen a number of Architectural CD's where designers failed to notice that various openings into rooms/corridors were completely obscured.

The clarity that a well-designed piece of software like ACAD gives you when zoomed in shows numerous flaws in Revit models that you would never notice - unintentional overlaps, door frames in wall sections too small to accomodate them, and equipment, racks, etc. that are going to require extensive field modification to fit in the spaces allotted.

These oversights often negate the major selling point of Revit - it's ability to do 'collision detection' between disciplines.  If there are major (or even minor) flaws in a model that claims to be the 'gospel'  you end up out in the field trying to pack an air handling unit, panel, etc. into a space that only looked sufficient because part of it extended through a wall.

Anyway, after thoroughly scrubbing the background (including exploding blocks, homogenizing layers, colors, line types, etc.), and eliminating any other unnecessary, redundant, or otherwise confusing linework, I have a file that is smaller, opens/saves faster, crashes almost never, and most importantly of all - looks fantastic, while clearly and accurately conveying the necessary information to construct the project.

Fortunately I had extensive experience at my last job cleaning up Revit nonsense.  The end result is a much clearer set of drawings that allow me to design without distraction, and eliminates any ambiguity as to how my systems are to be installed. At the end of the day, my drawings are (and always have been) partially schematical (with contractors/installers being tasked with 'means and methods'),  which allows me to convey information much more thoroughly.

I take a lot of pride in my work - and I'll be damned  if anyone (or anything) is going to stand between me and my ability to complete it to my exacting standards.

As always - fuck this stupid fucking Revit shit.  (And if you don't like it - fuck your stupid fucking  shit too).


Next time: I finally figure out wtf is wrong with that goddamned piece of software I had to circumvent! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Episode Where Skullfuck Runs Out Of Revit Shit To Bitch About

All right ladies and gents - as I've been alluding to, not using Revit (ever) has had an undeniable positive effect on my general well-being (most notably my knuckles not bleeding from punching brick walls on a daily basis).

Obviously my disgust with all things Revit will always remain - but not even the childish scribblings that I receive from architectural/engineering firms to use as backgrounds for my design work have been able to cause me nearly enough angst to perpetuate it.

So - without further ado, I'm going to bitch about the latest piece of hackneyed technology to foist itself, not just on the design industry, but indeed - on the public at large, and that is the 'Autopilot' feature of some new cars.

I was just reading this morning about the fatal crash of a Tesla Model S - which is an absolute marvel of modern technology (up to, and including the 'Autopilot' feature), and with no disrespect to the individual who was killed in this wreck, HOW IN THE FUCK DO YOU LET YOUR FUCKING CAR DRIVE ITSELF INTO A GODDAMNED SEMI-TRACTOR TRAILER?!?!?!

Apparently this guy had made several videos showing him allowing his car to drive 'hands off' - including one where the car actually did avoid a close call - that he could've most likely avoided himself if he had been driving the car instead of making a video.

I don't know what he was doing when the wreck occurred (although if we're going to have people engaging autopilot so they can get fully immersed in the cell-phone experience during their morning commute instead of having to glance up every once in a while to avoid hitting other cars/people/immovable object - we might want to consider requiring that a 'black box' and camera system be installed in every car with this feature so that after a wreck we can see exactly how distracted they were when they trusted a computer to do their driving for them), but it wouldn't surprise me if he had been filming another video.

The car supposedly didn't see a white trailer against a white background (and the height of the trailer prevented it from seeing it with it's radar - although it seems like you would want to calibrate that shit to make it see anything that might hit the car - not just something you might hit with the bumper).  I've heard some bullshit claims that a person wouldn't have been able to see it either - forgetting that people have the ability to see motion and not just differentiate between the sky and MASSIVE FUCKING TRUCKS.

In Tesla's defense - this feature requires the user to press 'accept' on a message warning them that they are still supposed to keep their hands on the wheel when engaging it, but like most messages, people just accept without reading (thus, the proliferation of malware, viruses, etc. on computers).  Despite this warning, it's obvious that people are going to push the envelope of how much they trust the car to take over 'for just a second', which will quickly end up being 'a few more seconds', then 'interminable amount of time since I was actually engaged in the act of driving'.

Oh - and for just a second let me touch on all of the fucking shit car manufacturers have been loading up car dashboards with.  It's fucking awesome that a modern car's dashboard can look like the 'Starship Fucking Enterprise', but I hold that there is 100% too much shit to distract 'drivers' (using that word in the loosest possible terms since most people can barely steer a car, much less drive one - which might sound like an argument for self-driving cars, but should be taken as 'some people should be required to take driving classes or not be allowed on the road').

It's fucking amazing that you can even see out of one of these cars at night with all of the glowing screens, LED's, etc. - and I've watched people fucking with touchscreens (like the massive one on the Tesla) and be so distracted that they might as well have been texting on their phone.

Anyway - in my humble opinion the dream of a self-driving car is still a long ways off.  Instead of waxing poetic about the day when they can drink their latte, text, and masturbate during their commute, they need to be learning how the fuck to drive - oh, and get the fuck out of the fast lane if you are just going to drive the same speed as the car next to you moron.

-Skullfucked And Out Of Ideas.

Next Time: I continue to bitch about random shit unless someone has something Revit related they want me to address.