The License Crisis -“A Plea to Autodesk”

There is no doubt that BIM has changed the way we get things done. As a middle-aged man (In third world country terms) I had the brief experience of hand drawn documentation. As students, we were thought to produce all our first- and second-year design concepts by hand, which resulted in some beautiful presentations but also in numerous sleepless nights. In my working career, we produced construction drawings for buildings, coordinated building services and modeled water pipelines with BOQ’s down to the washers on M16 bolts and with out the help of BIM, delivered on time and lost less sleep.

Now to other realities, you have a company of 2 to 15 employees, just enough work to make ends meet. If you’re lucky, you score the occasional tender which only pays after 5 years and you get over your Post Traumatic Tender Disorder, surviving another day in the turmoil that is the South African economy. It’s hard work, but you keep pushing because there are people depending on you, you have to pay salaries, rent, utilities and o yes… Software licenses… sometimes equating to a 13th cheque for some team members.

We were close to a recession in 2019 and with the “C” word currently happening as we speak, things are getting seriously tough. They say “Adapt or Die”, so why are you paying that annual Autodesk Suite subscription for a bunch of programs you never use, always releasing a “new” version every single year? When in reality, you only need 40% of Revit to allow you to produce all your work.

So here are some challenges/ hints/ ideas for Autodesk, the software user and developers out there:

Dear Autodesk,

Please could you rethink your subscription model? We don’t need a “new” version annually, we would be perfectly happy with a service pack update and you pay less development costs and we all win.

 You could “Rent a Revit”, charge us an hourly rate for using your software. I just want to point out that Netflix is destroying DSTV… Get with the program.

How about a more useful version of Revit, lets maybe call it Revit LT, with options to choose the add-ons we actually use and need and charge us accordingly. We don’t need the fat, we need lean, efficient programs.

Dear software user,

Use what you need, you don’t need the entire suite. The sales pitch sounds really good but irrespective of how good it sounds and how efficient it will make your company; your team only uses 40% of Revit. There is no doubt that the program is powerful and so is the Suite, but there’s a sour after taste when you realise the cost for REAL value.

Take this approach, download the trial, give it a test and then… use it or don’t… but only if it actually works for you and you will be using it constantly.

Dear independent software developers,

The world of freeware is growing enormously. There are companies who have a monopoly on our industry and this is the perfect opportunity to make a difference. A special shout out to Blender and its developers, it shows without a doubt that great things can be done on a large scale and we don’t have to continue feeding into the monopolies. It is completely free, powerful and I crush hard on it. There is an opportunity and I guarantee that the architecture and engineering practices will gladly pay subscription costs for a suitable, relevant, cost effective program.

There is a revolution stirring up in the industry, we really need to do something about this license crisis.

Biomimicry… To mimic or go back to the natural?

In its simplest terms, biomimicry is the imitating of nature. A confusing concept, considering that if we humans are a part of nature, why are we trying to imitate the natural? Somehow, we have let our egos get the better of us and believe that brute force and self-developed technology could solve all our issues. We adapt our environment to our needs and have made ourselves the furthest thing from natural. Just take a look around you… See anything REALLY natural?

We won’t get into creationism and evolution, but we can accept that the natural world truly has all the answers for the unnatural “solutions” humans have developed. Nature is based on the following simple principles:

  • Dependency on sunlight,
  • Localization,
  • Upcycling, and
  • Interdependency.

What do humans depend on?

  • Fossil fuels,
  • Import, import, import…,
  • Pollute the air, land and water and make it someone else’s problem, and
  • Claiming ownership of the land, sea and sky.

We can live more aligned with nature and learning from nature, imagine a water bottle that you never have to refill, a self-supporting building with the ability to heal its façade, gluing broken bones to make them stronger and reduce healing time, never washing your car again… All these ideas are already a reality and it is not a new trend. Historically, we have always been learning from nature, designing breathable buildings and clothing, airplanes, Velcro, the list goes on.

Next time you’re designing a building, a water distribution system, HVAC or prototyping a product, anything really. Take a step back and have some real “self-indulgence” and think “How would nature design this?”

Let’s end with this… Bio-Realisation – “The realization that you are natural and part of a natural system”

Eloshan Naicker

Outsourced CAD Solutions

Check out these link for more research on this subject

COVID-19 Sanity

We have survived just over three months of the lockdown in South Africa with some of us are lucky enough to still have work and being able to work remotely to continue being productive and occupied. The experience has been varied, some of us have been going about our work with no real changes, others have been trying to get things done but often distracted with the changes of moving from the office to the home and then there are some wondering what ever made them want offspring.

We have put together some tips to help you deal with the overly used “New Normal”:

  • Change is immutable

There is no doubt that a change has come and change has always been happening, whether subtle or completely disrupting our lives, we will always be facing change. This is not easy to avoid as our dependency on technology increases and advancements take place. The main thing to remember is… Don’t panic!!! Take it in your stride, control how overwhelmed you can get and if you need to, gradually expose yourself to these changes.

In our work, we have introduced Autodesk BIM 360 on some of our projects and though many of our external project team members have never been exposed to this way of working, after a little bit of teething and patience, work has been progressing more smoothly and things are coming together. As an internal tool, we use Trello to update each other on progress and tasks that need to be done by our support and admin staff. Cloud based solutions generally offer the best answers for connectivity in teams working remotely. We are keeping things simple but still adapting to the changes and managing how much change we introduce to the team. There are way too many options out there for data management, project management and admin processes, don’t be a victim of information overload.

Another thing to remember is, you are only in control of yourself and how you deal with change, you can’t control how others deal with change. Be patient with your co-workers, clients and basically everyone you speak to, we are all in the same situation and trying to navigate this world.  Inevitably, accept change and be brave, you can do it!

  • Your Working Ecosystem

You are an organism striving to be productive and make sure that your deadlines are met, and that you continue to improve your reputation, as well as your company’s. In order to be the best organism you can be, having an area dedicated to work is important. This ecosystem you create does not have to be high tech and take up a lot of space. Be creative and keep it simple with what you have. You don’t need to order the latest ergonomic office desk or mount an iPad to your wall, monitoring your performance and coming down upon you with notifications of great vengeance and furious anger for that deadline you did not meet.

If space is limited, you can adopt the idea that the space around you can be used for multiple tasks, I have a simple desk set up with my workstation in my open plan lounge kitchen area with a “To do” list that I hand wrote on the other side of wasted print paper. I also have my virtual meetings from this space and use the headphones that came with my smartphone to make sure I can hear and can be heard, with minimal distraction while on the calls.

The flexibility of this simple set up means that I can stand up, stretch and take a little walk regularly, exercise my eyes by looking at things out the window or door and get plenty of fluids. One thing I would not compromise on though, is a good chair, the value of a good chair will be felt in how well you sleep at night and avoiding lower back pain and shoulder tension.  Remember, keep it simple and everything you need for a conducive work environment is most likely already around you.

  • Knowing when to switch off

It can be difficult to draw the line and know when to switch off from work because ultimately, your home is now your office. But maintaining a balance is also the key to your sanity, it is easy to get consumed by the economic challenges and the bombardment of COVID 19 in the media. Beyond all the work, you still have friends, family and passions and you need to give them time too.

Plan your days and stick to some schedule of dedicated work time and down time. There will be days when the schedule goes to the way side and things have to get done but you can still find a balance in the week to exercise, play with the kids, catch up with friends and family and get away from constantly having a screen in your face. Take a walk outside if possible and get your vitamin D, grow some veggies, play with the dogs… Maintain your mental health!

You don’t need to follow trends and try to become a star home baker or get a million followers and become a “social media influencer”. It may be better to focus on the good things around you that you already have and improve your immediate relationships and passions. The value of who and what you have around you often goes unseen, but you now have the opportunity to give them the time they deserve.

We understand that everyone has their own unique condition to deal with through this time and we do not have all the answers. There are ways to manage the change and your environment and find a balance in life. The reality is that with a lot of unknowns, this virus is not going anywhere and chances are, the number of infections is likely to rise… after all… Winter is here!!!

Stay at home, stay safe and embrace what you have around you, this too shall pass.

Eloshan Naicker