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Book Review

"BIG BIM little bim" - Finith Jernigan - 4Site Press
The practical approach to Building Information Modeling - Integrated practice done the right way!

Finding books on BIM is often tough.  Especially ones that talk about the bigger concepts and approaches.  This book does just that.  It takes a long look at how BIM is changing the design world for Architects.  It is not a book full of practical hands on tips and tricks.  It looks at the larger questions and impacts of the BIM process change.  "BIM is not about the software" Finith states.  He also includes a large amount of tools that he has used and tells you what they do and where to get them.

This book is not for the ground level BIM user.  It is for the manager, principal and owner of firms that will need to rethink every aspect of business to see where to place their next step.

Without the grand view that this book encourages its reader to embrace, the firms that fail to think through the process and impact of BIM on their firm may be an "also ran" in the race toward the future.

Worth the read for the leaders of your firm that must deal with BIM and Integrated Practice issues.  Worth the read for the BIM Manager.

My site and perspective is a blending of user and management.  I liked the book, but for the end user, there is not much here.  Therefore I give it a blended rating or 3.5 out of 5.


C M J  Rating - 3.5 out of 5 TRON Light Cycles

Get the book from CADDManager.com (cheaper than retail too!)

AutoCAD 2008 and AutoCAD LT 2008 Bible - Ellen Finkelstein - Wiley Publishing 2007

When Moses came down from the mountain top, he had everything that the Hebrews needed to know on two stone tablets.  Now I understand that the rest of the Torah ("law" in Hebrew) or Pentateuch ("five books of scrolls" in Greek) takes many more words than would ever fit on two tablets.  My Bible takes 330 pages to cover the first five books.

Taking on the Biblical proportions of AutoCAD requires 1251 pages to cover everything you need to know about AutoCAD and LT 2008.  The introduction page of each chapter pays homage to those stone tablets using a rocky background image.  Nice touch.

The book is broken up into 7 parts ranging from the Basics, Drawing in 2D, Working with Data to 3D Drawing, Organizing and Managing Drawings, Customization and Programming.  These seven parts are followed by an Appendix and DVD.  Each Part has multiple chapters and ample illustrations.  She really does cover just about everything you would need to know to get a solid foundation for CAD.  There are many step by step procedures that are well documented and easy to follow.

The author included icons that flag important data.  These icons let you know when to slow down and take a closer look. Almost every page has something tapped out for special attention.   Many of the illustrations show you exactly what each button on the dialog boxes does what. 

The Basic are real basic.  Starting from scratch may seem like a burden to some of us, but there are jewels to dig up even for the seasoned user.  She even covers digitizers, pucks and the standard tablet menu (I still have one of these, but I don't use it).  There are many charts and lists of commands in the book that are worthy of photocopying and taping to your monitor or cubicle wall (does that violate copyright laws?).

Part 5 of the book delves into Organization and Managing Drawings.  It covers my favorite topic - CAD Standards.  There are step by step procedures for using the Standards tools in AutoCAD for checking one or many files.  There is a very long section on Sheet Sets and how they are to be used.  This may be one of the most under used tools in the software. 

While the price is kind of steep ($49.95 US Retail).  It is well worth the money.  The only drawback, which is actually a tribute to its in depth coverage, is that there is so much in there.  But the DVD has the complete text of the book in searchable PDF format.  This is one book that novice to advanced users can embrace.  And it will help you move from beginner to hot shot in no time.


C M J  Rating - 4.5 out of 5 TRON Light Cycles

AutoCAD - Secrets Every Users Should Know - by Dan Abbott - Sybex / Wiley Publishing Inc. 2007

Let's face it...  I have read just about every book that I could on AutoCAD over the years and thought that there was nothing new under the sun.  Well...  I stand corrected.  Dan Abbott has created a MUST READ book that you need to add to your book shelf.

AutoCAD Secrets is a refreshing change from the usual presentation of AutoCAD information, tips and tricks that is found in most of the book written.  He leaves no stone unturned in his attempt to tell you just about everything you need to know from basic to very advanced topics.

The eleven chapters of info starts off with a great chapter on AutoCAD productivity.  Every topic was discussed in plain English and directly to the point (my kind of guy!).  He covers the unspoken "boot camp" level principles and best practices of CAD with an in depth look at each topic.  As I read it - I discovered nuggets of gold that renewed my enthusiasm for "common sense" CAD.  (see my blog on this topic).  He covers the foundational precepts and practices of sound file creation and data input.  As I read I kept wondering - "Is he going to mention this or that?" and sure enough, there it was.  The bottom line guidelines that the whole world needs to be reminded of.  Chapter One alone is worth the price of the book.

He continues in chapters covering the management of your files, customization issues, graphic standards, and more.  He reviews the basics of Paper Space and Model Space, what goes where and offers sidebar tips at every turn of the page.

Covering the basics is just the starting point for him to launch into the advanced topics.  There is a complete LISP programming class that is presented in logical steps for all to use.  Plus there is actual full working code in the book - just type it in and use it.  Or better yet the book tells you where to go online to get the code.  It's like getting two books in one, plus online resources.  He finishes up with 3D topics and finally AutoCAD Puzzlers. 

AutoCAD Puzzlers is a compilation of real world problems and stumpers (he got me on quite a few).  Each taken from real questions from the many interactions he has had with students and users.  These Puzzlers are often the submittal busters that we all face at crunch time.  He presents them as questions and then provides the answer at the end of the book.  Thirty Five of the toughest questions and weird behaviors (and the answers to them all).

This ranks very very high on my list of must have books.  I applaud him for his succinct language, honest approach and real world emphasis.  Forget the new Harry Potter novel... Go buy this book!

You can get it online here for less than the $39.99 list price (US).


C M J  Rating - 5 out of 5 TRON Light Cycles

AutoCAD Architecture 2008 - AutoCAD for Architects - from Autodesk Press (by Roger Cusson and Kristen Smith with the Instructional Design team at Autodesk)

I took a look as some introductory training in AutoCAD Architecture 2008 for new users. The hands-on lessons cover features, commands, and techniques for creating, editing, and plotting drawings.   The book is laid out nicely, with plenty of high resolution screen shots of exactly what you need to do when you need it.  The exercises are well planned out and the accompanying CD provides the data sets needed.  Exercises can be completed using imperial or metric units.  The printed work in the book are also delivered via CD for an on-screen experience that can be viewed next to AutoCAD Architecture.

You could easily get through this book in a day and it covers most of the topics that a new user would need to know.  It also includes a fully functioning 30-day trial CD.  Don't look for a lot of flashy graphics, just good solid instruction.

You can get it online here for less than fifty bucks (US).


C M J  Rating - 4 out of 5 TRON Light Cycles

Win Friends and Influence People - a summary

Here are a few items from the book.  It is well worth the read.  Some items may seem outdated, but they scale well.


Carnegie cuts straight to the point in most of his writing.  He is direct, simple and yet profound.  Here are some of his points.  The book is old, but never out of date.

  • Never criticize, condemn or complain.
  • Become genuinely interested in other people.
  • Talk in terms of the other person's interests.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Make the other person feel important.
  • Use the persons name whenever possible.
  • Smile - it always helps
  • Call attention to people's errors indirectly.
  • Let the other person save face.
  • Get the other person saying "yes, yes" as soon as possible.
  • Let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers.
  • Begin in a friendly way.
  • Let the other person do a great deal of the talking when they complain
  • Be sympathetic.
  • Respect others’ opinions. Never say, "You're wrong."
  • If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  • Try honestly to see things from the other person's point of view.
  • Frame requests in terms of what others find motivating.


Four out of Five Light Cycles


Introducing and Implementing Autodesk Revit Building
- Lay Christopher Fox and James J. Balding, AIA

I just finished reading a great book about Revit Building by two of the cream of the crop in the Revit arena.  Jim Balding and Chris Fox put together an impressive collection of information, tutorials and things to think about. 

I enjoyed "The Very Basics" chapter where the book begins.  It does not assume that you know what the terms are, or how the tools are used.  It covers the basics quickly but effectively.  Don't skip this chapter (or the Preface).

It quickly marches through a succession of chapters that are tutorial based sprinkled with Author Notes and Tips.  You will go through the complete design and creation of a multi-building, multi-phased project.  And this is not just some cheap square box, this is a contemporary design that pushes beyond the mundane.  All along the way you get real world perspectives, such as filling out the Title Block and generating views of the design.

One area that I enjoyed most was Jim Balding's Appendix A in which he outlines the implementation process.  He takes a high level view that he calls "Pointers, not Prescriptions".  By that he means that there is no one-size-fits-all for every firm.  I agree with his perspective and he then navigates the reader toward areas to consider like Firm size, Project size, Project type and many more.

So overall it is a solid investment for those who are moving to Revit Building.

C M J  Rating - 4.5 out of 5 TRON Light Cycles

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