How to Polish a Turd

The deadline is fast approaching, I have an angry PM glaring at me and telling me to hurry up, my wife is waiting for me in the restaurant and I’m still not done with my sludge digester. What to do?

“I know”, thought Mr Wong of multinational engineering consultancy beginning with the letter A, “I’ll pop in some illustrations of Japanese paper folding and add dimensions. No one will ever even notice!”

Mr Wong completed his task, left the office and made it to the restaurant on time. Hurrah! A win win championship result of results, surely? Well not quite, and don’t call me Shirley. The story of the deadline beating Mr Wong is pure fiction, but the methodology is not. The assumption here is that someone was in a real hurry and decided to fill up some drawing sheets with any old nonsense. So how do you get your project information out the door on time, every time? How do you make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? How do you polish a turd?

The answer to all your problems, if you are not aware, is folding. Paper folding, to be precise. In fact, to be even more precise, lots and lots of dimensioned origami birds on a drawing sheet. Alles klar, as they say in Deutschland? All right? Well, you may as well be in Germany or anywhere else for that matter, because it is not only paper that is being folded but the fabric of space and time itself. Or at least that was how my head felt when I first witnessed the madness of A1 drawing sheets, all properly entitled and set up, checked and signed by the PM, but with nothing shown but origami paper cranes. Howsaboutthatthen?

There were several different paper crane “designs”
Birdy go tweet tweet
A typical unrolled polished turd
Only design intent, not something really accurate? Phew! Thank goodness for that.

So, just like the origami solution, it turns out that the Japanese had the answer all along; dorodango. The same technique applied to night soil has the same effect.

Ye Olde BIM

“In days of old, when knights were bold, and toilets weren’t invented, they dug a hole and did a roll and went away contented”

BIM Weasel, May 2020
Sorry, I fell asleep on the bog. Did I miss something?

Specifying BIM workstations is, for want of a better term, a movable feast. Constantly changing software offerings from vendors, myriad file formats, inevitable interoperability issues, a plethora of hardware choices; all this before you even enter into the human operator realm, being all squishy and organic and capable of errors and glitches completely lacking in consistency. And we haven’t even mentioned budget yet…

Given all these potential complications, the sensible choice would be to do some basic research to establish the most common hardware configurations from leading workstation suppliers, keep abreast of computer infrastructure industry developments, and trace a line back from the “bleeding edge” to a more affordable place on the graph. Essentially, you want your best “bang for buck” coupled with an element of future proofing. Anything too fresh is untested and likely to cost you an arm and a leg, whilst anything too old is likely to run into compatibility and support issues before long. You want your new machines to survive at least one project before upgrading, right? Well, you’d think so.

Apparently there is another train of thought out there that I have chosen to call “Ye Olde BIM” in that it has more of a medieval approach to technology adoption. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, yeah? Yeah. Sure thing my liege.

Excerpt of BIM scope for a project in the month of May in the year of our Lord 2020. Yes. Quite.

The example above is taken from a project tender specification for a development in 2020. The year 2020. Weapon of choice; Autodesk Revit 2011. So for a project that may take a couple of years to complete, it makes absolutely perfect sense to specify software and hardware requirements that were looking long in the tooth at least 5 or 6 years ago. But surely by now all those bugs would have been fixed, right? Well, yes but actually no. That just isn’t how the industry operates.

Yeah, but no, but yeah, but…

It is only the latest iterations that get the latest productivity enhancements incorporated into them, along with introducing all the new and exciting bugs, as the product moves forward. Older versions are left behind and eventually no longer supported. Cast adrift, as it were. The development of complex software, like Autodesk Revit, needs to be carried along like a boat on a river of license fees. Actually more of an ocean of license fees. Software development is expensive! To extend the analogy to the example above, specifying 2011 software for a project starting in 2020 is the equivalent of clinging on to a fancy wardrobe that fell overboard during a storm en route and assuming that you’ll still get to your intended destination in a timely manner. Sure, you can do that, I suppose, and you’ll probably reach the shore eventually, but don’t expect to have quite the same experience as the paying passengers in comfortable cabins, being served fine wine by Autodesk waiters, leaving you behind in their wake…

Coming up in the next thrilling instalment of BIM Bollocks; how to generate complex geometry with the use of just an abacus. I jest of course… Or do I?

BIM skills 101: AtTeNtIoN tO dEtAiL

Email #1

From: BIM Weasel
Sent: Friday, 24 April
To: Important BIM Project Manager (IBPM)
Cc: Gary
Subject: Monthly report – example

IBPM,

In response to your previous comments on our monthly report, would the attached be more aligned with your expectations? I have copied in Gary to keep him informed.

Regards,

BIM Weasel


Email #2

From: IBPM
Sent: Tuesday, 5 May
To: BIM Weasel
Cc: Gary
Subject: RE: Monthly report – example

Hi BIM Weasel and Gary,

Went through your attached document a couple of times, we are unsure of which previous comments of ours were you referring to.

As the file name suggested, it is a comparison report between two reference projects (Project A and Project B), and appears to be showing:

Quality checking of BIM model (The report says the quality check of the BIM model by comparing it with some other reference projects.) and

Summary of improvement, regarding modelling and drawings generation, the combined model or individual models of different disciplines can be made (mainly those generalized in Section 2, with examples under Section 4 in the report).

Cheers

IBPM


Email #3

From: BIM Weasel
Sent: Tuesday, 5 May
To: IBPM
Cc: Gary
Subject: RE: Monthly report – example

IBPM,

Sorry to give you the run around, but I thought that I made it clear that what I sent was only an EXAMPLE and is actually taken from another project (with sensitive details redacted). Since your previous comments majored around your opinion that the monthly report was more of a plan, the point of sending an example was to get your response on the general approach and tone before reconfiguring our monthly report. I think that some parts of our report are still relevant (such as the referencing of monthly meeting minutes, to show the actual issues that were discussed), but the format and content could be rearranged more inline with the example I sent you and Gary.

Bearing in mind the above, is my example more or less aligned with your expectations?

Regards,

BIM Weasel


Email #4

From: IBPM
Sent: Tuesday, 5 May
To: BIM Weasel
Cc: Gary
Subject: RE: Monthly report – example

Hi BIM Weasel and Gary,

Your intention of the example is noted.

Generally, presentation using tables make reporting effectively, easier to track and lives easier for all. Any particulars can then the written and described, and things like meeting notes (sic – such attention to detail here too – BIM Weasel)

I am sure that there are reference samples which George might be able to share with you as references, of course with any sensitive matters should be redacted where necessary. George, please kindly look into this.

Please draft out a table of content for the Monthly Report to get things moving. In terms of the “tone” or “polishing needed” of the report, George should be able to help similar to that of your draft R to C on the BIM Plan.

Please feel free to call and discuss with me on this matter.

Many thanks

IBPM


Email #5

From: BIM Weasel
Sent: Tuesday, 5 May
To: IBPM;
Cc: Gary
Subject: RE: Monthly report – example

Thank you IBPM, Gary,

Just one question; who is George?

Regards,

BIM Weasel