Monday, January 31, 2011

Why do I argue with B.Eng MIAust's? I should know better.

From my very earliest childhood I knew what architects and engineers did. If
teachers were correct that only qualified persons are employed in jobs, then
clearly the qualification of engineers and architects was and still is
inadequate. Since architects and engineers are educated to reach their
positions, then clearly the education system is also defective, and the
educators themselves less than competent. It is thus stupid to waste time
arguing with people who are narrow minded: and not even aware that they are
part of the problem and not part of the solution.

Organisations like engineers australia (IEAust) are tasked with the
self-regulation of the engineering profession. They do not do a very good
job of assessing technical competence in specific areas of practice and
protecting public health, safety and welfare. Their primary concern is the
use of the trite and silly title "engineer", and restricting its use to
persons with a B.Eng. I have no problems with who they restrict the title
to: it is an irrelevant title and does not have anything to do with
technical competence and the needs of society and industry. So fine, great,
those with a B.Eng are engineers. They may also progress to being capitalist
profiteering professionals CP.Eng, still further trite title, which still
doesn't have anything to do with the needs of industry and society. All such
titles, post nominals and credentials are concerned with the status and
prestige of the individual, not the needs of society, and not properly
assessed technical competence.

In Australia as with many other countries we have a national qualification
frame work, named the Australian Qualification frameweok (AQF), associated
with are national training packages.

AQF : http://www.aqf.edu.au/


Training Packages: http://www.ntis.gov.au/

At present most of the training packages do not extend beyond AQF advanced
diploma, and this is because industry and society does not require higher
levels of education to develop and maintain its technological systems.
Engineer is a profession, it is an invention, just like a TV or a car, it is
not concerned with any job function or task within society or industry: it
is concerned with the status of the individual. Thus both educational
institutions and industry are both hampered in supply of technical
personnel. There is a myth that if the IEAust does not accredit a technical
study programme then cannot practice in industry. That is nonsense: the only
industries which give a damn about what the IEAust thinks are those who
employ a large number of persons who are members of the IEAust. In the main
nobody cares. What industry and society does care about is technical
competence, and it cares about the proper assessment of technical
competence. But we have one organisation in Australia which has a strangle
hold on qualifications: it only promotes engineers. It gives scant attention
to engineering associates and engineering technologists. Why did the IEAust
absorb the institute of engineering associates, then then existence of such
almost disappears? It most definitely was not to build a solid foundation
for the practice and application of engineering science. It has been most
definitely to promote the B.Eng over and above any other educational
background.

For it is not just engineering associates that the IEAust attacks and
insults, it is also scientists and applied scientists. Apparently our
civilisation is dependent on persons with a B.Eng, we have to say that,
because B.Eng is their definition of engineer, and don't want to confuse
that with the publics definition of engineer. Telford was an engineer: not
because he designed and built bridges, but because he operated at the
frontiers of science and technology: he did not have a B.Eng. Neither did
the vast majority of people who made things happen. If we were dependent on
persons with a B.Eng for our civilisation then we would still be stuck up
trees eating bannanas.

The academic study programme of a B.Eng fails to impart the necessary
knowledge required to deal competently with established technologies. For
Telford and Navier bridges were a scientific and technological frontier, in
the modern world, they are not, and failure of bridges either in operation
or during construction is unacceptable: if within the realms of the
established science and technology to avoid such failures. Most recent
failures could have been avoided if the technical competence of those
responsible for design, regulator approval, and construction supervision was
properly asessed. The IEAust is failing to carry out this assessment.

I therefore contend that it is necessary for the Federal government, to
implement a dynamically adaptive register of approved persons. I will
describe this in detail at some point in the future.

In simplest terms, in the first instance anyone routinely operating in a
given area of practice can be registered and become approved persons (AP).
Regulatory authorities only accept documented proposals reviewed and
endorsed by persons (AP's) on the register. If the proposal is severly
defective, then the AP risks being struck from the register. Being struck
from the register doesn't stop the person from practicing in the area of
practice, it just means that they can no longer endorse their own work, they
have to turn to a more suitably qualified person: someone who is registered
as an AP. Thus whilst more challenging work may flow in their direction,
they have a vested interest in seeking the services of more suitably
qualified AP to review and endorse their work than to do so themselves. This
in turn has the potential to keep costs of supply realistic. Simply projects
can be tackled at low cost, using efficient resources: for example drafters
instead of architects, or salespeople instead of drafters. But as the
project gets more complicated, and people attempt to by pass the
complexities of design and simply get a drawing passed by a regulator, the
cost of supply is pushed up because they will have to pay for the services
of a suitably qualified AP. If an unsuitably qualified AP attempts to go
through the regulator, they will be removed from the project, and risk being
removed from the register. Once removed from the project, a suitably
qualified AP will have to be found and their fees paid. The original AP
could be fined, but I generally don't support such penalties. I prefer a
system which reinforces positive behaviour rather than punishes negative:
how to achieve that I haven't quite figured. However as long as people know
their limitations they will remain registered. Those that don't know their
limitations will cease to be registered. After initiation getting on the
register is dependent on being able to complete work with little revision
demanded by an AP. In other words a portfolio of worked endorsed by an AP
and approved by regulator becomes qualification for being on register. The
person has past work as example of what is expected from them, so they have
to stick to that and improve upon if they are to remain registered. So they
can save themselves some time with review and endorsement of routine and
familiar work, by doing themselves, but for more complex work encouraged to
get another to act as AP. Even if the AP is suitably qualified and
experienced it is still beneficial to get another AP to review and endorse
the more complex projects rather than rely on own ability under the
pressures of the project. That is design can go round in many circles, get
an other to look at final proposal to check that didn't miss assessment of
some characterisic in the final cycle can help avoid mistakes and future
problems.

We need quality robust control systems based on the AQF and the needs of
specific industries, not the desires of professions. It is not just in
design and engineering, it is across all areas of society where by
membership of a profession is taking precedence over actual needs of
society. People are wasting time in education and training programmes that
are not necessary and at the same time failing to acquire the knowledge and
training that they do require.

It needs to stop!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mental Block ...

Twitter seems to be slow today. Not sure If I followed some new users or
not, pressing follow didn't seem to change to following. May have changed
may have not. Figured I would leave it and try again some other day.

Having problems finding building users. Probably more important things to
do, than create twitter accounts and tweet anything. Though twitter could be
useful for getting information to and from site, and otherwise setting up
interesting discussion groups. Similarly for engineering and design.

That is the other issue the alternative uses of words. It being the
internet, the majority of references to builder, designer, architect and
engineer refer to website design.

Spent some of the day on LinkIN expressing my view on design for floods,
earthquakes and hurricanes. Some civil engineers just don't seem to
understand risk and uncertainty. Got crazy notion that we can design systems
to be safe, flood proof, earthquake proof, and hurricane proof. All nonsense
of course, not possible. We can only design for a low risk of failure, not
for zero failure. Consequently it is necessary to be prepared to respond to
the failure event.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Australian Flag .. Don't need a new flag, need a new perspective ?

As far as I know the Australian flag is made in Australia, it was not
imposed from outside. However unlike any where else I went to school,
Australia didn't teach me anything about the flag.


So here's my perspective:

The flag contains the tricolour: red, white and blue: representing the three
sisters of the French revolution: liberte, egalite, fraternite. The union
Jack does not represent the English crown, but the union of the kingdoms of
Britain: it comprises of the flags of the patron saints of each kingdom.
Thus representing the values and virtues of such saints.

The union jack is small off into a corner: Britain is relegated to history.
But the historical contribution is significant: it is the land of the Magna
Carta, the land where the king was tried for crimes against the people. Such
sets the scene that no one is above the law, not even the monarch. It is
land of John Stuart Mill and John Locke important contibutors to modern
democracy. It is the origin of the Westminster political system with its
upper and lower houses. It is the land of Adam Smith, and also where Karl
Marx wrote Das Capital whilst observing the industrialisation of Lancashire
and the exploitation of the working classes. It is the land which gave
industry to the world. And since its culture is industrialisation, and such
is copied around the world it has trouble defining its own identity.
Australia took this heritage and built upon it.

The large blue background of the flag: represents the heavens of the
southern hemisphere, and yet also the oceans surrounding an island
continent, as well as the vast open spaces. Vast open spaces, which are not
cluttered with complex industrial systems, nor polluted and contaminated.
This vast open space is a further symbol of freedom. Whilst the southern
cross provide direction and a guiding light in the southern hemisphere.
Australia one of the few privileged nations of the southern hemisphere: a
beacon to others in the south.


Of course we could change the flag:

Say a green background to represent the importance of agriculture. A golden
eagle to represent our freedom and independence. A red bar to represent the
blood split in wars fought in foreign lands, and the blood of the indigenous
people that was spilt. A black bar to acknowledge the importance of the
indigenous people. And a yellow orange bar to respresent the importance of
the mining industry. Only one problem: the flags taken it's the Zambian
flag.

Change the flag if you want:

But there is no point if nobody can relate to the flag, and no one is taught
it origins and history. History is important to a nations status, and people
have fought and died to defend the values that people have attached to the
Australian flag.

A new flag would require getting use to: not just Australians but the rest
of the world. And I don't think marketing guru's can compensate for a lack
of history associated with a new flag. Of course marketing could provide us
with a popular and a cute flag. But would we value and defend it, or would
we just have as many people wanting to change it to something else.

And in a global village, where we are citizens of the world, just how
important is the flag of a nation any case? For that matter how important
are the nations? Personally I think nations and their geographical
boundaries are obsolete and a general hindrance to further human
development.

Friday, January 14, 2011

More Ramblings ...

Heavy traffic on Twitter today. Screen not refreshing, and taking some 15 minutes of so for internet explorer window to respond, but at least it was responding eventually, not just locking up.
 
Centralised systems not beneficial. As I have been saying, security and defence of a nation, state, city, or individual household is dependent on diversity and redundancies.
 
Brisbane (QLD) the power has been shut off, additionally it is likely that most mobile phones owned by persons evacuated have also now discharged, and no power available to recharge. Persons, who you only know via a twitter account or similar, are thus out of contact, and possibly little chance of finding anything out about them.
 
If there was a greater independence from the national power system, and smaller more localised power supplies, such as suburb, street or individual house. Then a lot smaller portion of the city would be shut down. Smaller scale systems are also more suitable for remote villages in developing countries.
 
Can optimise a system either at the large scale or the small scale, but not both at the same time. So that which is optimum for the individual is not optimum for the nation. There is thus a tug of war between individual and nation as each attempts that most beneficial to itself: and if lucky some balancing level of equilibrium is achieved.
 
Now talking to my self instead of writing.
 
So why do some ideas flow better through written words, others through drawings, and still others through speech? What makes me stop typing and start expressing the idea by talking?
 
Our perception of the world is moulded by our senses and also the instruments we use to observe and measure the world. Heizenberg, Mayo.
 
There is a chaos of thought and perception, a chaotic world of abstraction, and there is a chaos of the physical world. They all interact. They form a network of entities and relationships and something greater than the collection of parts, something which is abstract and intangible. This intangible thing doesn't simply emerge after assembling the parts, it can only occur through growth and evolution. (refer walking robot article, and how evolving robots had more stable walk).
 
As I said the tropical rainforest exists because it does. The city exists because it does, likewise it could also be said of businesses and other organisations. Once created they are some what self-sustaining, but it is not entirely feasible to simply assemble the parts and expect a self-sustaining entity to emerge. There is a growth, a wearing in, aging, adaptation and evolution of the parts, at the subassembly level. This can then grow to a higher level, each spurt of growth, resulting in minor changes of form, that permit development to the next stage. The growth has to be nurtured, without which it will not reach the critical stage at which it can reach a state of being self-sustaining.
 
A landscape littered with lifeforms: nations, states, cities, towns, villages, streets, households, families, businesses, organisations etc...
 
And people flow between these entities. (where are they, like the electrons in an atom.)
 
 
Some are geographically constrained and so are not. Those which are not geographically constrained have the better chance of survival in the long term. (static plants versus mobile animals)
 
 
Anycase the whole thing is fluid, and connections between entities are broken and reconnnected many many times over and over again. With all kinds of alternative connections being created. The smaller the individual entity the more adaptable and able it is to form alternative collections.
 
Imagine a churning mass of ping pong balls, each loosely connected by many strings. The strings break and new connections made with other balls, forming entirely new structural form. But that doesn't remain it is broken up again, and yet another new form reached, and so on it goes, until some final stable form ultimately achieved. This could be considered the end of growth, it then proceeds to age, decay and die.
 
I don't know. The global economy needs to change so that people can do what they need to do. We have a mind set where by we are hampered by rules, which we do not have to obey. The laws of the universe cannot be broken, what we perceive to be the laws may not be valid. Rules we make up, do not have to be followed and should not be followed if contrary to our best interests. But best interests of individual or best interests of nation? What should the individual take care of and what should the nation take care of?
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Poem (from the movie Journey amongst women ... I think ... anyone know who wrote it?)

Has time went by
I thought I would die
I did I thought I would
But time went by
I didn't die
I thought I would
I didn't die
But something did
I didn't think
I didn't know
that inside thing
was there to go
but now its gone
I know it died
I thought I would
I didn't die
But something did
and it was I.
 

More time on twitter ...

Really must make a start the accounts.
 
Been taking a look at some of the twitter tools available. Not sure if any of them are any real help. But have become aware of a limitation, that may require some additional tools. Most especially the ability to grab the tweets I have written. Mindless brain drain that is acceptable that it say eventually disappears, conversations, could also ultimately disappear. However some of the links I had posted were finding what I had lost.
 
The other issue is the search facility. Things don't seem to be around for long, not sure how long, may be 24 hours, possibly longer. Then after such time, tweeps that were findable disappear: or is that searchable. So only those tweeps that are most current likely to show up in a search. So tweeps are not a way to have save or provide information in the long term.
 
When not logged in there are about 20 tweeps available to view on the screen. If logged in then can scroll through several more. So can keep pushing tweeps onto the stack until they start dropping off the other end. The stack just became a queue.
 
Anycase the point is that the tweeps are current and response to chatter: where chatter is response to real world events. So when back in the office next week, not going to be paying too much attention to the streaming timeline. I could use netbook to monitor, so that not consuming resources of laptop whilst working.  But paying more attention to work than to twitter, and inflow of messages from SEAint, and also now from LinkedIN groups. LinkedIN groups probably won't get much attention, since have to log in to see the details of a topic. By comparison the topics seem some what technically boring, too much management bias: probably due to basis of it being more of a recruiting site.
 
So there is going to be an increase in the inflow of communications. So needs to be added to things to set some time aside for, and such things are in the main secondary to primary activities of drawing and calculation. However, part of objective is to remove some of the repetition in drawing and calculation by publishing and making more pre-engineered solutions available. Not just static solutions in the form of reports to printout, but also dynamic adaptable solutions for simple common place situations. So mostly need to put effort into building a website. Though the website is not really the important issue,  the pirmary issue is getting together the information that is to be placed on the website. First a critical mass of information needs to be got together, then an initial website introduced: then additional information can be added slowly. As the additional information is added then more attention can be given to proper design of the website itself. The other exercise is to publish more to this blog. Instead of writing notes all over the place: paper and computer, concentrate on publishing the notes to the blog. Also can spend time on sorting the existing information out: and then editing a bit and posting to the blog.
 
The writing therefore is not much of an issue. The major time requirement will be for adapting and modifying drawings for publication, and completing programmes for publication. As for twitter that is for responding, and supposedly cannot connect to website, but website can connect to it. That is avoid answering questions by linking to larger to blog or website. Or given the tools for larger comments, along with images and the likes: linking to blog is okay to answer a question direct to another user. But avoid simply linking to the information and advising available when no question related to. Also can have twitter account point to either blog or website but not both. Though maybe can put one in the commentary.
 
I currently changed twitter to point to blog, rather than website. But Blog doesn't appear to be able to point to anything. Have to check what I can put in the header. Maybe the Blog header can contain an hyperlink. There is also pointing to LinkedIn and facebook. Though I don't really like facebook. Facebook is too celebrity entertainment biased, and LinkedIN to recruitment agency biased. But maybe they will have some value for technical discussions. Not to mention primary aspect of audience are those persons who are not technical, and who do not want to read technical, nor employ technical people. The objective to to get them to either read the appropriate information or go and employ the appropriate people. For the most part don't want them bothering me after they have got into trouble that was otherwise avoidable. The objective is to eliminate the avoidable problems, by getting the right people to do the work in the first place.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Another day spent tweeting, twittering, what ever ...

Yes spent more time write short sentences. Basically using twitter as a notepad to collect divergent and even convergent thoughts together in the one location. The interruption in the train of thought brought about by tweets from others triggers ideas, and refreshes memory of thoughts past gone and which I failed to write down. Or if a did write them down those ideas are lost in a pile of paper: well several piles of paper, and a multitude of computer files.
 
Which is a point, I was going to trace through past computer files, and grab the essays and start posting them to this blog. Got side tracked however, copying files off memory stick back onto hard disk. That took longer than expected about 2 hours (8 GB stick).
 
After finished copying, also got side tracked from making a start on the accounts. This week need to make a start getting back to normal, ready to get back into the office next week.
 
A major task for this break being to start getting rid of the mountain of paper I am buried in. May have to sort some stuff out to photocopy/scan into pdf files. Not so much of  a problem now got a copier with autofeed sheet feeder, though so far on most jobs, spent a great deal of time sorting through and inserting missing pages for paper reports.
 
Which is another issue, to start moving away from paper reports and where possible only produce electronic documents. Not so easy, since typically a lot easier to solve new problems with pencil and paper, and do not have the time to rewrite the solutions up on a computer. Printing to pdf file from software produces smaller files, than scanning handwritten documents. So to keep small and manageable it is better to do as much work as possible on the computer.
 
Anycase potential exists to eliminate large piles of paper. Though do have something of a problem where to put the paperm after it has been computerised. Also most was printed from a computer in the first place, so much doesn't need to be kept on paper. Though reports are built up from various software sources, so do need a copy of the final report as issued. Which so far as been done on paper. But since buried in books and paper, want to get rid of some of this paper.
 
Also increasingly finding more information on the internet, howver books are still easuer to read and use in general As is also a pencil and paper. I just find it easier to pick up a pencil and start writing than to switch computer on. If the computer is on already then not a problem, I will write on the computer. But if start on the computer then I will only write. The benefit of pencil and paper is that it easy to switch from writing, to calculations, to drawing. With computer need different types of software. Sure most software has features to allow writing, drawing and calculating, but they are typically good at one task only, the othe tasks are cumbersome. So pick up AutoCAD tend to stick to drawing, Word stick to writing, and Excel crunching numbers. Though also use Excel extensively working in the VBA editor, controlling other software. Then there is the occasional use of powerpoint or visio when attempting to write, draw and/or chart ideas. But then the output of the work effort gets locked into a specific kind of presentation.
 
So still trying to get into using the computer as dominant means of recording ideas, and avoiding use of pencil and paper. Been considering replacing mouse with a lightpen or digital pen. That such may then allow me to write on paper, but also record on computer at the same time.
 
Most importantly however is the organisation of my ideas, and their divergence but connectivity. I have not really got into using TreePad or Personal Brain, nor CMAPS. So otherwise hoping this year marks another major shift in approach to doing things, and getting things done. Start pulling everything together and build an integrated whole, out of all the stuff written and created thus far. Expect things to start slowly, and then to cascade into place, with speed of operations increasing exponentially. So that by the end of the year will be even faster than ever before: not just the calculations this time but also drawings and other technical documentation. With expanded ability to write custom structural software: for pre-engineered structural building products. For which I hope to have clearly defined the requirements for.
 
All wishingful thinking of course and depends on the onslaught of technical bushfires to fight due to people leaving design until the last minute.
 
 
 
 

Sunday, January 09, 2011

More time spent on Twitter

Spent more time on twitter. Not exactly sure why. Also still not able to use lists. I can create lists, which seems to automatically add myself to the list, but cannot add anyone else to a list. I can also delete the lists. Without lists things are a bit messy, and slow, especially with the timeline and screen refresh, can loose link and have to spend time finding again. Searches are useful, but then they have to be timely.
 
Front page, wall or what ever it is called, has about 20 tweets displayed. So issue is do want to create a static wall or keep updating it. If choose update how, and at what rate. If daily, up date all or only part. Change topics or stick to a topic. Similarly if static wall, what topic to post on it?
 
The other issue when to use twitter, once start back at work? I suppose it is possible to monitor most of the day. Just take a look at random intervals. Leave interaction for the evening.
 
SEAint is still the best for structural discussions. LinkIN seems a bit slow, but construction industry still largely shutdown until end of January, and the activity on SEAint also indicates industry still some what dormant. So when SEAint picks up activity LinkIN may also pick up. So bit early to say if LinkIN to be of any future value for technical discussion the way that SEAint is. LinkIN does provide for some more specialised discussion. As for Facebook, that seems relatively useless, though there are industry associations, magazines, and technical societies on there, it doesn't seem very interactive. That is the organisations simply have a descriptive wall, and otherwise may invite the users to leave comments. Such comments may stimulate interaction. The interface just seems awkward.
 
So at present seems best options are to build my website, use twitter, and this blog. However others can do things better than I can. So no real point expending energy in developing a complex site. The real objective is to direct people to the right technical resources. If I produce realtively unique resources then direct them to my website. But otherwise direct to other websites, say a minimum of 3 to provide alternative viewpoints.
 
As indicated on my website I don't get asked questions people think they have all the answers. When they get in trouble because they don't know the answers then I have to resolve the problems caused. So people are not seeking the information.
 
So the task is to get people to seek before they get a problem. That is need to seek information when they have a proposal for a building, not after they after started to seek development approval and hit a multitude of obstacles, and certainly not after they have started fabrication or construction.
 
Customers normally seek. I want to buy a video recorder, seek out electronics stores which sell, and seek information about the specific products and compare. But they don't seek designers, whether they be architects or engineers, or other kinds of design-scientists. Such services are not typically known to be required until hit into regulation.
 
The regulation is part of the problem. People can submit D.I.Y development applications. Where as they should only be permitted to submit applications endorsed by technically competent persons: or some class of approved person (AP). The owner can produce a D.I.Y application but it has to be reviewed and endorsed by an AP, before it will be accepted for assessment. In essence the AP conducts a preliminary assessment, and ensures technical design content and evidence-of-suitability is provided with in the documentation. If it is not then the AP does not endorse, and advices the applicant to obtain the additional information. Unlike the council there is no time limit on obtaining the additional information, additionally, the AP may provide such information and complete such additional information as required.
 
Such AP's would eliminate owners from going direct to council, and speed up council processing of applications: for a greater proportion of them will be valid, and require a simple check and approval. For simple structures this may be considered an inefficiency, but then carports and verandahs, and houses have some of the most complex structural forms for their roof structures. So being a carport doesn't necessarily make it simple as assumed. For structues which actually are simple, there is still the issue of quality drawings which demonstrate that the building proponent actually has thought about how to construct the proposed structure. In the main most D.I.Y's and many builders do not, and as a result they hit difficulties during construction, problems that could have been and should have been sorted out on the drawing board.
 
One of the objectives is to get more effort put into the drafting side of things.
 
Need to start digging out what I have already written and start posting to this blog.
 
For that is the major issue, to get what I have already written sorted, organised and structured into something meaningful and useful.
 
To then change education of technical people, and also change a variety of regulatory processes, which interfere with an ensure improper design and implementation of such poor design. Thus change the development approval process for example. Don't really have an issue with the legislation, just its administration. There is confusion over who is and is not making an assessment, and of what assessment means. In terms of development approval if the council is making the assessment then they should request less information and get on with the assessment: either accept or reject the proposal. Rejection does not mean the building can never be built, but that the proposal fails to adequate describe a BCA compliant building. This is typical of D.I.Y proposals, therefore placing the AP between the D.I.Y applicant and the council, and the AP can put the effort into getting the proposal to be for a BCA compliant building. Actually saving everyone time, and changing perception of how time is used.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, January 08, 2011

More tweeting ...

Did more tweeting today, and managed to avoid hitting an hourly limit. Though had other problems of a slow system as automatic updates came in. After resolved that issue then went back to tweeting.
 
Due to the vacation not much activity from construction, engineering or technical type enterprises. Result is mainly interacting with environmental and social groups. The nature of my posts may then become alternatively biased towards technical groups when construction industry come back online after end off year shutdowns.
 
On the other hand I am also likely to be in office otherwise occupied. Thus tweeting will become an evening activity, assuming can be bothered setting computer up when get home, and don't otherwise have other problems to look into.
 
But that is part of the objective for this year. Spend less time on project work after office hours. Further tidy up more workbooks and make them more useable by others and publish most likely public domain or using copyleft license like Gnu GPL, or creative commons, or design science license.
 
Want to make sure have fewer projects involving solving problems, and more time on design. I like solving problems, I just don't like bumping into the same problem of having to assess existing construction because someone failed to get development approval. Such projects are a problem because research intensive and low fee, to demonstrate something is barely compliant with code of practice, but none the less acceptable and compliant. Better to design and specify compliant structures than try and prove something built is compliant on paper. Because is the reality, only demonstrating on paper and according to all information provided, taken on good faith, that what we cannot see is as described, and if it is so, then it is adequate. Not good, or robust, but minimally compliant. Not what we would recommend, but otherwise we cannot find reason to force demolition, or large scale disassembly to strengthen.
 
But not everything that owners build can be demonstrated as compliant. Often run out of theories, options and time, and the only choice is to specify strengthening.
 
In rough terms it takes about 5 times longer to assess existing than it does to design and specify new.
 
In design terms. You do not spend $1000 on engineering to save $1000 of concrete. It is better to have the increased resistance of the concrete, than calculations saying not required. Nor do you really want the delay involved proving can use less concrete. Design, therefore tends to stick to tried and tested, not minimum material. Also minimum material doesn't produce minium cost, often better to accept use of more material, to reduce fabrication time and labour costs.
 
Design therefore does not make use of the most complex theories but the most practical mathematical models, which provide reasonable solutions in an acceptable time frame. If more time is available and weight is critical, then more complex theories are put into the design effort. But for typical building projects, this is not desirable.
 
Owners tend to get both beam sizes and connections wrong. Builders tend to be about right with beam sizes, but connections are less than desirable or simply no good. But this is only relative to traditional residential scale structure. Move away from the traditional scale, and builders don't get beam sizes or connections right either.
 
Dominant loading conditions are wind loading lifting building up and pushing building over. These forces are huge compared to people jumping up and down on the structure or pushing against it. So move out of the lowest wind loading class, where traditional gravity loading tends to still control, and buidling experience starts becoming invalid. The intuitive feel for size of members starts becoming flawed, and the numbers become important. Though for those doing the numbers they may have done them several times before already, so they may know already, which says some time with progress on project. That is progress on project is not hindered by production of calculations for regulatory approval. The calculations become a formality not a necessity.
 
This issue in particular I want to look closer into this year. There has to be a better way to provide evidence-of-suitability than keep producing calculations for various projects by different people, but otherwise similar calculations. There is a lot of time, effort, space, and paper wasted on such calculations.
 
 
 

Friday, January 07, 2011

Slow Day ... 7 Jan 02:32AM

Less activity on Twitter today I think. Or at least fewer incoming emails. Also restrained from following, and didn't travel too many paths in search of things to follow. Anycase appeared to reduced activity enough to avoid hitting the hourly limit.
 
A strange concept however that twitter has. Prime reason for opening a Twitter, Facebook and LinkIN accounts is because IEAust has an account and IIE (Aust) is considering opening such accounts. So that a main purpose of twitter is to receive timely information from such organisations. That is to be a follower, not build an audience of followers. But twitter sets limits where by number following is proportional to numbers who follow. So if do not attract followers, then you are stifled in following more organisations.
 
Sure  cannot follow all the tweets organisations send if have many organisations, nor sensible to follow tweets all day long. I am on end of year break, and have been following for several hours. But even so most time is taken up reading the links, not reading the tweets. Tweets can be scrolled and kind of speed read. Each different pass may notice something different and take a closer look. Some tweets are repeated. Some people following better to check their home page or what ever its called. This is because of timing, and their tweets, may be a long way down at the bottom of the stack of tweets, and difficult to access in a long timeline stack: several pages to scroll with slow updating. But not a quick and convenient means of checking people follow, because with following many people, the following list takes too long to generate if it is able to generate at all.
 
Also being upto date or ontime doesn't really matter because retweets make topics current again. So topics could be considered as flowing like a wave, in and out of currency (imagine sine wave perhaps: topic a particle riding on the curve). Movie stars and similar have a million or so followers, a given a potential global fan base, and therefore tweets flowing in 24 hours per day, every instant of time. Then it is unlikely that they can respond personally to each and every fan. But then do fans want a personal response, or engage in conversation. With traditional postal system, may eventually get a signed photo or reply to letter. But then again giving such free to millions of fans would have to be expensive. More efficient to deal with needs of fan clubs, rather than individual fans. In main fans probably just want their stars to know they are there, say liked the show, song, movie, what ever. If they get personal reply, then one of the lucky free. But in the main accept a general thankyou or other response to all the fans.
 
Organisations are similar, most followers not their for dialogue, but one way flow of information from the organisation. But otherwise wish for a more immediate and convenient means of interacting with the organisation than been available in the past. The IEAust as tried several internal attempts at engaging with its members, even provided every member with email address at one point, I think that lasted for less than a year. The problem is didn't really engage with the membership, and still doesn't really. It is too one way communication. Where as technical society needs to be an open forum: where any one can pose a question and provide answers and start a discussion. This is what the structural engineers association international email list server provides (SEAint), and thus produces a community of people who can help one another. The IEAust hasn't really setup to engage its membership, but apparently the "Make It So" campaign last year succefully engaged with the community at large. Though I hazard a guess that will be the first and last time it does. I don't beleive people will keep contributing ideas to see only one developed. Further the word engineer is related to igenious, so why don't they have their own ideas. And put them to the vote. Maybe then can foster further involvement, they have a collection of ideas already, each year they can develop one and place existing back in play for voting and allow others to be added. This will demonstrate that problem is not really technical, but one of politics: what the people want from the available but otherwise limited resources. Time is a limited resource, relative to an individuals lifespan. Of course can always figure out how to tackle more projects with the limited resources.
 
Times takes us back to twitter. Assume spend an hour on twitter, and takes about 10 minutes to read an article linked to, then can only read 6 articles. Assuming 1 tweet per minute then getting 60 per hour, therefore only reading 10% of those at time checking.  but tweets coming in 24 hours / day , 24*60 = 1440 tweets/day, and so only reading 0.42% of all tweets following by your account. Computer speeds typically measured in nanoseconds, so could be receiving a message every nanosecond, but assumed deliberate dely to prevent automated bombardment of site, then assume messages cannot be faster than 1 every second, 60*60*24=86,400 tweets/day. Assume individual can only write one tweet per minute, but even then need some thinking between tweets. So assume 5 minutes per tweet, and tweet for 8 hours per day, that is assuming a fulltime job for some purpose: then can tweet 86 tweets per day. Thus the total inflow would be from 900 individuals tweeting all day. An organisation could have 3 shifts, which would boost the number of tweets sent per day, and decrease the number of entities followed: 288 tweets/day, dropping down to 300 entities. Most users are not going to be tweeting all day everyday, therefore there is potential to monitor more than 900 users {NB this ignores twitters limits}. But still have problem with the window of opportunity, when does the user send their tweets? The information is a particle on a wave, and want that wave to flow through own window of opportunity. The information sent by organisations is thus likely be some kind of repetitive loop, most likely sent at random time intervals than regular. A regular time interval may always be out of phase with potential readers, an irregular time interval may eventually get in phase, at least catch their attention in the time line: which I didn't measure the length of. For could say the tweet has to be discovered with in the timeline without forcing a delay and refresh of the next screenful of tweets.
 
Where was I heading? How many users can practically follow? Not exact mathematical answer, it depends on the characteritics of the individual follower and the tweeter, and relationship between. Small talk is not the same as information, as indicated an article could take 5 minutes to read, it could take half an hour or even and hour. Video especially slows things down, comes in slow stammering: and may have to replay again to get it more clearly. I think the twitter limit was following 2000 users, then propotional limts start to apply to the following and followers. However 2000 seems like a lot of people or as really discussing enterprises. Not sure I know names of 2000 technical enterprises, industry organisations, government bodies and businesses. Though I suppose if started to write them all down it would start to add up, but would I want to follow them? The chances are not? Or if do follow probably only for the duration of monitoring a current issue with a business enterprise, I don't see individuals following businesses all the time. Most businesses do not have a constantly varying product, you buy once and may be every 5 years, possibly 30 years buy a replacement. Business needs are not the same as other kinds of organisations. People monitor useful organisations but not really suppliers and/or makers of physical goods. Organisations may monitor such businesses. People may monitor service providers, services which have regular demand.
 
The other issue is whilst follow a user, don't necessarily want to read everything they tweet. An enterprise may be tweeting about stuff not really interested in, or if interested just find annying. The IEAust newletters in the printed journal are often simpy bleeting about the status and prestege of engineers. Who cares, actually contribute something to society, then may imrpove status. Don't complain engineers did this and that. Engineers may have done a lot, the fact is that you the individual complaining haven't, and you don;t deserve status for the work of others. Real status comes from being an individual not from membership of a group. That is a topic want to isolate, from main stream of technically useful discussion. That is where LinkIN groups are potentially better, than twitter. Twitters benefit is where the timeline of information is important. Its not about timely news, news is typically researched and old by the time it reaches the public. And its not about a conversation as such. It is about timing an opportunity.
 
Without the internet then most organisations are dormant lifeless piles of bricks and mortar. Anything they have to say is buried in newpapers, and specialist journals. Engineers Australia publishes the journal of structural engineering once a year the IStructE publishes The Structural Engineer once a fortnight. There is little scope for discussing something in a journal once a year. Fornigthly much debate on practical day to day structural engineering can take place. On the SEAint listserver discussion is daily, and hourly.
 
The issue is bringing like people from a far together. And mood and priority determines the users choices at any given point in time. So they may not check of the users they are following in any given day, but they will make random checks throughout the year. But main checks will be on those organisations they interact with and which really fuel their interests. Such interaction can change the individuals behaviour and interests, that is a minor interest can come to the fore and become a dominant interest, for no other reason than previously they had no means of interacting with people in that area of interest and therefore nothing to distract them or encourage them into the area of interest.
 
Yikes! Ignoring the time again. Not to mention I have got distracted from real tasks meant to be pursuing during my break from office, if not from actual work. Though I seem to have forgetten what they were. Definitely got to start looking at business accounts on week end: dull stuff. Sure there was something I was going to program, or finish programming and get operational. Got lots of part written programs: work for me, but not anyone else, that is no user interface. Just programs to get a job done. Just pick them up and modify to get aother job done
 
Lost internet connection!
 
 

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Busted Hourly Limit on Twitter twice in one day !

Don't beleive it. I thought it was the world of high speed multichannel computing. The perfect place to wire the neurons of my chaotic multichannel mind into. A cosmos of thoughts and firing on all channels, or at least as many channels as my eyes, and fingers jumping across the computer keyboard will allow. Seems I'm backward I don't have a mobile phone. But what use is one. As far as I know I cannot use AutoCAD on it, nor MultiFrame, possibly use Excel but that sounds painful. Even when in office, not heavy into answering phone, usually want to hit it with a sledgehammer. All the faxes are junk advertising bar one, everyone, bar one now emails rather than fax, and a large number of phone calls are telco's wanting us to change providers. Suppliers have become providers.
 
As for clients well I understand that they have an urgency to get their structure designed. Sorry, not designed but assess their existing construction. The urgency wouldn't exist if they designed and got approval before it was built. Problem is we cannot design in a reasonable timeframe either, because constant interruptions with more and more people who want to push to front of queue with an even greater urgency, to avoid demolition. Where is our actual regulation? What is the point of asking people to apply for development approval after they have built something already?
 
Further more there is something wrong. It seems people do not apply for development approval because they perceive that it takes too long. There are a few who perceive that it is their property any how, and therefore why should they get approval. These tend to be the people who don't get the idea, we really do mean 12 weeks: so don't phone everyday to see where the calculations are. It just delays our ability to get on with anything. Further more these tend to be people who don't want to pay. It is these few people who cause us to put the answering machine on and screen calls, and only talk to regular clients. Furthermore the work is not really valued, just some rubbish to satisfy council, therefore cannot afford to employ anyone to deal with inflow of enquires. {These people also the ones first to complain you didn't comply with regulations and responsible flooding of their property.}
 
But they are right calc's-for-council are rubbish and low value.  The value of engineering lies in design, before materials and labour are wasted on construction. Now calculation effort does not change with the size of a structure. Effort varies with structural form. So the effort to design a 3m beam is the same as a 25m beam. The effort for a carport the same as the effort for a sports stadium, if employ same structural form. That 12m is probably longest span from a single piece of steel, means that structural form gets increasingly complex as the size of structure increases. But within certain size ranges the calculation effort remains the same: thus there is a stepwise increase in effort from one size range to the next.  (so much for my continuous spectrum theory in previous post)
 
Consequently for small scale structures it is preferable that they are pre-engineered and manufactured many times without variation. It therefore should be more economical to purchase a carport or verandah from one of the specialist builders (few if any can design, they rely on consultants after council requested further information: and given 3 months to respond. My response of 12 weeks is a semi-polite way of saying go away.).
 
If something is pre-engineered and manufactured then the cost of engineering can be distributed across the sales of many items. For example $1 billion's for GMH's model commodore most likley is expected to be recovered over 5 years on sales of several thousand. Typical carport and verandah builder appears to sell around 40 to 50 such canopies per month, of all shapes and configuations many potentially outside the scope of the standard calcs-for-council that they hold. The result is that going to one of these specialist pergola/carport builders can result in unwarranted delays. But apparently it is too expensive for them to employ technical personnel on staff. I say technical, because a canopy doesn't require an engineer to design the structure, and the SA regulations do not require. The engineer is only required for the independent technical check to grant the final approval. A 2 year qualified engineering associate with structural design experience should suffice.
 
Now one of the points of going to a specialist canopy supplier, is the expectation that their product is pre-engineered and they have ironed all the problems out. For example strengthening of your house before attaching the canopy to it. You are not expecting problems. Place order, get approval and get it built. It shouldn't take too long from start to finish. This assuming adequate supply of all the resources. The two critical resource shortages are the skilled carpenters/builders and structural designers. This results in delays.
 
But there is another issue: the number of owner-builders or is it the price of the commercial canopies? Many people check the cost of materials and then determine that they can build themselves cheaper than they buy from one of the commercial suppliers. So what is going on? The average person wouldn't consider cost of materials for a car or videorecorder and decide they can make for themselves cheaper. So why do they do so for structures? Not just verandahs, factories, offices, warehouses, health centres. Many business owners choose to be owner builder, and yet they are not qualified for such task.
 
Housing in particular is strange. Builders indicate too complex and therefore expensive to build. So what do the owners do? Find the best builder in the trade, who as the skills to tackle the project? No! They decide to build the complex house themselves. Crazy!
 
Back to the canopies. It seems that the specialist canopy builders (specialist as in they don't typically build houses or other structures), have not developed reputations for competence, quality  service, and reliable supply. They have however developed a reputation for extortionate prices.
 
I am not sure if this is a valid reputation. But for a few I have done the structural calculations for, I have seen the sales price, typically I don't get to see such things. Just costing timber at retail prices, the price of supply is many times that of the material (2 to 5 times). And apparently they cannot afford cost of engineering because only won job by $50, what ever that means. Many of the suppliers don't have offices, workshops or display centres, nor any real staff. They are builders, their office is their: car and mobile phone. All personnel are subcontactor builders. So basically they have low overheads. Then there are those with offices, showrooms and workshops, and sale staff, but no technical staff. Employing trades seems to be a problem for they have a high tendency to quit and set up in competition to grab a greater share of the profit.
 
The purpose of business is to maximise profit not minimise costs. The simplest way to increase profit is to keep increasing unit sales price until the drop in sales volume produces net drop in profit. Supposedly then should have found the intrinsc value of the product. For the most part, the greater portion of this profit is not for personal luxury, but the expansion of the supply capability. If the collective (employees) who contribute to generating such income perceive inequity, they have potential to quit and setup their own business to gain greater share of the percieved profits themselves. Expanding production capacity requires bigger workshops or more workshops distributed to local areas. So way income of small business is distributed is important. But so also is geographical distribution of business. If not reaching a geographical area, then may loose that area to another supplier, at the same time as market in current area dries up. The result is cease to be in business. Any how many parameters to consider and gets complex.
 
The track here was buy or build? And something is wrong with the industry if the choice becomes build. Sure there may be a certain pleasure in building something yourself, but I am not certain that is the dominant reason, especially not for business owners, it may be the case for home owners. As far as I can tell, the prime reasons are high supply prices and low quality service.
 
The price of the manufactured structures is not seen to be the intrinsic value of the product, and owners they can do just aswell as a builder supervising the supply of subcontractors and making themselves. What does the word build mean? From the Builders Work Contractors Act, the focus is supervision of trades, not actually having a trade. Though the focus for the adminstration of licensing is the trade skills, not the skill set defined in the Act. Training for a trade doesn't actually provide the appropriate knowledge base to achieve the AQF competences defined in the act. Hence not surprising that licensed builders are typically seen as charging extortionate fees for their services. They do not have adequate breadth of skill, nor depth of skill in the required areas of practice. Therefore the public does percieve that they can do the job just aswell.
 
The big problem however, is that many of the specialist trade subcontractors are locked into main building contractors. {Crazy concept: all are contractors, only become subbie relative to a given contract}. Hence, owner builders can have significant timing problems getting the trades when they need them, for they are secondary to more regular client of principal builder. Thus greatest opportunity for D.I.Y for owner builder is those trades where no trade license required, but may require a licensed or registered individual to inspect, witness and approve before further progress can be made. Nailing some timbers together to build a canopy is one such possible area.
 
However a freestanding canopy is simpler than an attached canopy. An attached canopy requires a critical assessment of the house that the canopy will be attached to, and it may turn out to be impractical to strengthen the house. This does not mean cannot build a suitable canopy, it just means it requires more structural design to come up with something suitable. For example something with a cantilevered roof structure.
 
The issue is checking out the possibilities. Not deciding want to build it this way, everyone is being unreasonable, and going ahead and building it your way anyway: then expecting someone can proove it is structrually adequate as defined by the buidling code. Those possibilities will typically not be checked out by the pergola builders: for one: most don't know what a real pergola is.
 
Where was I heading??? Materials cost subtracted from commercial price leaves a massive difference. Therefore decide to supply own labour, but need more than one person. Typically two people one to help with material handling. Most of time they are just keeping you company, and compensation is owe them a favour, a good feed at a bar-b-que, so many cartoons of beer, or whatever work out with mates.
 
Such could be considered as saying don't want to pay for training of apprentices. But if get development approval have to pay construction training levy any case. Can also consider cost is own wage rate multiplied by time expect to take. Then re-assess if really is an extortionate cost the commercial enterprise charges. Task not worth your wage rate then lower to what think it is worth: check industrial awards. Check stats are people being paid over award rates in the industry. Is the price really extortionate?
 
Being determined to go ahead anyway. The next issue is timing. You have to get development approval, could take anything from 2 days to 12 weeks: if all is going well and don't need engineering input.
 
The need for engineering input is simple to assess. Is there a national, state or industry association which publishes pre-engineered solutions for what you want to build. For example the timber development association (TDA) publishes a construction guide for carports, pergolas and verandahs. The next step is does what I want to build comply with this guide. For example TDA guide has maximum span of 4.2m, even the commercial builders pay no attention to this, seemingly hoping council will miss the point. Though many of the builders don't even spend the $30 or so it costs for the guide. They have never read it. They just go of past practice, they were building big for past employer so obviously can get approval. May be so, but they don't have the documentation to get such approval. They will also tend to charge the full cost of the caluclations but get them as generic and use on many future projects. The engineers may put project title on to make them project specific, but it has been known for the builders to use liquid paper and remove the house address used as project title. Some times this gets picked up or causes further delay. But it is unknown how many times council does not pick such occurrences. Anyway the point is the builders cannot provide proper design service, rely on consulting engineers, and typically supply poor quality drawings of proposal to the consultants. The relationship between consultants and such builders is strained, and the project is typically placed in a queue and given low priority. Thus introducing further delays to the project.
 
The issue is if the builders think design and engineering is about producing some rubbish documents to keep council happy. If they employed engineering associates on staff then they could design their product, and have pre-engineered solutions prepared before the customer turns up. More to the point such pre-engineered solutions would be advertising medium attracting the customer: not a fancy photograph of what some one else has built. If the customers request is outside the available pre-engineered solutions then the engineering associate can carry out the custom design. But more importantly they will then also be aware of developing needs in the market and can adapt and develop the range of pre-engineered soltions available. The wages of the engineering associate may be an on going operating cost, but they are constantly adding value to the goods and service available.
 
The buyers are not seeing this added value and choosing to build themselves. But they need pre-engineered solutions and few are available. That causes delays. For there are many people and few engineers and even fewer engineering associates providing structural design services. In simplest terms really need to seek design and engineering services some 12 months before start building. For many people this is not an issue, for the 12 months wait to get calculations provides 12 months to save money for materials and development approval fees and engineering fees. I am not saying it takes 12 months to do the calculations, but that cannot be certain of just how many people are seeking such services at the same time. If simple and low demand could get report in as little as 48 hours, if complex a week or so. But if demand is high, then there is a long waiting queue. Much the same as the internet gets clogged up, and just like a traffic jamb, the pipeline through the available service providers backup and long waiting lines result. Except you cannot see the waiting line like you can in the shopping centre or bank. And it is much more difficult to train a structural designer, to provide more service lines.
 
So building yourself may save money. But it may take longer. Sure you can get materials and start building on weekend, and probably get built in 2 days, but getting approval is dependent on availability of engineering, and that is going to generate a long delay if no pre-engineered solutions available.
 
And it should be noted you cannot use a manufacturers pre-engineered tables for your own building. For example you cannot use Lysaght carport tables and buy materials from say Fielders, or worst buy imported steel. For c-sections have no national standard, so not all of Fielders sections can be used as a substitution for Lysaght, for they have different dimensions (such as smaller flanges, the critical dimension): though it maybe well be common practice. Whilst imported materials, may have different strength for example steel yield strength 280MPa versus Australia's typical 450MPa, as well as different dimensions for the section profile, and the quality of the galvanising can also vary.
 
The other issue is fairness. The manufacturers have paid for the design and engineering. They need to recover such costs, and it is unreasonable of council to grant approval to one builder based on another builders technical data. Likewise for the owner builder. So in terms of the approval process need to be committed to a specific manufacturer or approved equivalent. But can only really refer to "approved equivalent" with respect to materials not the over all structure. Then need some one to make the engineering assessment and approve the substitute materials. So basically if use a manufacturers design brochure have to use their materials. This may not be a problem since still only paying for the cost of materials. No plan, no material take-off by the supplier. You draw up the proposal and determine quantity of materials required.
 
And as I said drawings by suppliers are typically poor, consequently their material take-off can also be inaccurate. Some suppliers won't supply what they see as extra. So if buying it is still helpful to get independent workshop quality drawings produced to make sure correct quantity of materials are supplied. And check the contract to be certain of what is being supplied and paid for. Like if they haven't produced accurate drawings, then cost is not based on accurate material count, therefore cost of missing materials is not extra to the contract price. The price is for the building, if it cannot be built then they have failed to supply: they need to provide all materials and with no extra cost. Similar arguments can occur when they come asking for fees for so called additional engineering. Is it truly additional or does contract already cover by wording of contract?
 
Any case assuming owner builder you have to produce the drawings and account for members, all connections and all the brackets and fasteners required. A builder shouldn't have to stop part way through construction and go get extra materials for extra members, nor extra brackets and fasteners for connections. They should have worked the member count accurately and they should have plenty of brackets and fasteners in reserve: just incase they drop and damage some during handling. Though it seems a lot of the canopy builders cannot get the material take-off correct.
 
If the drawings identify all members and describe all connections then the structure can be assessed for adequacy. If not all the members are identified, then structure is probably unstable, and should not be granted approval. No tables of strengths or spans required for such exercise. Similarly checking all members have a suitable connection described does not require any tables of connection resistance. Once the structure is fully constructed on paper, then can move into assessing strength and serviceability. Serviceability primarily concerns stiffness and how far the structure and its elements deflect, stretch or otherwise deform under load. There is no codified requirement for such deflections it is largely a matter of subjective or personal judgement. So typically only checks on structural strength are required, and appropriate deflection limits to avoid instability which will lead to loss of strength.
 
This where the structural designer (engineer, or engineering associate) may or may not be required. It just all depends on how suitable the available pre-engineered solutions are and how igenious the individual is at adapting them to suit their purposes. In general for example the timber framing code AS1684.2 is not suitable for a pitched roof carport or verandah, if want with out the ceiling joists. This will therefore lead to design using the timber structures code AS1720, and change from an exercise taking a few minutes to an exercise taking a few hours. A few minutes of suitable software available. Which is a problem engineers don;t typically design timber, most can be done from the timber framing code. So more software available to AS1684.2 than there is to AS1720, so chances are the calculations will be by hand, unless they have say Excel workbooks available to AS1720. An Excel workbook for timber design is not the same as a workbook for canopy design. Whilst a workbook for canopy design maybe otherwise locked into a specific material. So the specific clients canopy likely to be a time consuming exercise, for the consultant who only deals with canopies on the rare occasion, and much larger structures on a regular basis: eg. multistory buildings. Sorry! Its not the size but complexity that accounts as I indicated earlier. Actually the shapes of some residential canopies makes them more complex than simple industrial buildings. Which is the problem: constructing it may be simple, 2 days work. But proving mathematically that it is stable and strong enough for its intended purpose could take signifcantly longer than 2 days even with computer software. The consultants will use general purpose structural software. The builders if they have software will use specialised software for design of their canopies. Most is relatively simple and the users are not all that capable of putting a full proposal through such software and assessing it fully. That is they may be able to assess individual rectangular chunks of the canopy, but not the interaction between those chunks. Such issue may then cause a delay at council, and then further delays as engineering is sought.
 
Basically being an owner builder is not simple. But going through specialists isn't necessarily going to make it any easier. Even if plan to go through plan drafter and engineer, then going to experience problems, due to demands on time and scarcity of resources, and low importance of residential canopies to consultants. The canopies are low importance because they only turn up in the office occassionally, when there is a problem.
 
If can split the plan into more than one rectangular area, then problems are likely to result.
 
Anycase the starting point is to construct the canopy in as much detail as possible on paper.  Think of the drawing in those terms of building a prototype. The objective is to check if it can be built, and determine what is needed to build it. Not just the materials for construction, but also additional materials and equipment which may be needed to assist with the actual construction process. This is the real activity of design, not crunching numbers for stress and strain. And someone needs to carry out this design.
 
The person building really needs to produce the drawings and think about how they are going to fabricate, handle and place each and every component. If someone else as produced the drawings then the builder really needs to produce additional drawings, staged construction drawings. This they can do by simply tracing over existing drawings with highlighters. However such doesn't check if the dimensions and geometry on the drawing are valid. many changes by the client during design, may result in drawings saying one thing and showing something else. Also there may not be adequate dimensional and geometric information on the approval documents: therefore copy drafting will provide a check. Because if cannot copy the drawing by reading it, cannot build it. Should not scale any dimensions of the drawing, only use dimensions written.
 
Anycase more can be said and more clearly. This is just a rough collection of thoughts, freewriting in a public forum. That is to write 5000 concise words on a topic need to write a draft of 20,000 or so, and refine them. This is part of that draft.
 
The idea is to try and put the design process in a public forum. So that the complex array and chaos of characteristics which need to be assessed to reach a valid and acceptable design can be seen.
 
I also have a general view that: near enough makes a start whilst perfection aborts existence.
 
This is a blog and it forms a timeline. So what I say may get repeated, but its organisation and its context may change. The more orderly stuff will be eventually found on my website, which I will provide at a later date. Though it can be found in earlier blogs.
 
Speaking of early. What I am doing writing at this time? Thought doesn't sleep. So why lie awake thinking when I can write thoughts down? That is the new challenge. Thus far never been able to get writing with a computer. Wake up pick pencil up and write on paper.  Get buried in paper: essays no one has read. Get up switch desktop on, the thoughts have gone before computer starts up. Attempt go back to sleep and brain churning again. Therefore the writing medium cannot introduce a delay. There is also need for continuity of thought. Typically I am always studying to solve problems displaced from real interests And other peoples problems put me on alternative paths of knowledge discovery. Which has its benefits.
 
No innovation was discovered by chance. All were discovered by people looking for solutions, they just weren't consciously looking for the solution when they tripped over it. That is if they weren't looking for a solution then they wouldn't have recognised the completely lateral discovery when they happened upon it.
 
Being displaced from my primary interests means I have divergent views when I get back to them, and also divergent views for that which I do daily. For example I don't perceive building structures from the same perspective as others. I don't actually like buildings, and oppose construction of cities and tying people to one place: something undemocratic about it. Not quite true, I have specific requirements for the design of a city, I am just increasingly in favour of increased mobility. I was born in the space age, I was expecting cities on the ocean floor, the surface of the moon, and space stations beyond Pluto, by now.
 
Just as that small island off the coast of EuroAsia became the stepping stone to the world. So too is the Earth a stepping stone to the universe. I don't expect the species will stay on Earth, but life in space is going to be radically different, and whole different ethics and perspectives. There can be no naval type burials in space, no biomass can be lost from the space ship. The space ship will be a higher form of life, if it looses biomass then it will die. The human occupants will be little more to the space ship than blood cells are to us. Similarly a city is a higher form of life, a plant, lacking mobility and all the disadvantages of a plant, and no benefits of an animal. Nones the less humans are little more than blood cells to the city and many are expendable.
 
There is thus a conflict between the simple rural life, and the benefits that a city can bring. But the ultimate destination is most likely that multistory apartment transposed to room on an ocean going ship and then a space ship. There won't be any vegetated earth to visit, it will have been fried by the dying sun, and we probably need to be far removed from it. But what kind of life will it be?
 
However until we reach the ultimate destination we had better look after the planet we have. Most especially if do not want the only jungle on planet can see if the concrete jungle of the city. What we have is transient and we need to look after it.
 
So writing on a computer in the early hours of the morning is not helping.