Category Archives: Rant

The Voice Inside My Head

There’s a voice inside my head.

It constantly reminds me of how retarded I am. How much mess is going on inside my impulsive and unfocused mind. It reminds me of how many smart real engineers I know. Smart people who know and do actual engineering for a living. They build stuff, or do advances finite element analysis. I wouldn’t be able to build a wood shed even if someone bought all the tools and materials. Says the voice inside my head.

The voice inside my head points out, with surprising accuracy, how much harder my coworkers work. It elaborates passionately about how much real hard labor they lay down each god damn night, while I sit and play around with my ego trip software nerd dream. When I travel to conferences to talk with all the other ego trip software nerd people, my coworkers carry the weight of real projects back at the factory. They pay with blood sweat and tears so that I can drink free beer with the international Charlie Foxtrot of drooling technology freaks who gather in highly lit halls to enjoy pipe dream rants about the future of design. The voice asks me, “what the hell are you doing here? You’re not making the world better. Go do some real engineering and stop embarrassing yourself with that ridiculous Thor Heyerdahl accent. Like the Swedish Chef you go on about oodie boodie schmoodie like there’s no tomorrow”.

Before I get on stage, the voice inside my head gets really excited. It goes on and on about all the shit that can go wrong. All the public humility that awaits me when I produce some stupid impulsive rant sentence that nobody understood, or that someone got offended by. It reminds me how low level my content is, how far it is from real engineering and how ridiculous it is for a guy who failed four times at Laplace and Fourier to be lecturing real engineers in computational design. It’s super ironic, says the voice, that the most unintelligent homo sapiens ever to walk out of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology with a not fake Master’s diploma is lecturing real engineers in advanced application of periodic functions in structural design. It points out, with painful precision, that it’s all copied from smarter people’s work. It suggests the only reason I keep getting invited to speak is they are charmed by my Scandinavian joviality or perhaps they have some sort of foreign speaker’s quota of some sort. The voice inside my head can be quite entertaining actually. Except when I’m about to enter the stage. Then it terrifies me.

Funny thing, my son doesn’t seem to have that voice. He’s my son – it should be genetically inherited, like mine was. No, he just approaches strangers anywhere with all kinds of weird questions and statements. He can stand in front of a whole line of adults and perform any retarded combination of movements and words. He doesn’t seem to mind.

Imagine if I acted like that during a real engineering project meeting, or during any of my professional presentations about serious topics like building information modeling. Or imagine if I brought some elements of my son’s apparent lack of head voice while discussing project delivery requirements or demand specifications with Project Managers and Building Owners. Just the fact that I write Project Manager with capital letters makes me shiver with fear at the thought of not containing myself within the boundaries of expected behavior.

But is this real? “Hell yes!” responds the voice inside my head. I’m not sure.

The people I meet after my presentations always seem very happy, and while I’m sure there are always some who thinks I’m an alpha jackass, I seem to get pretty good reviews too. The people I work with seem to be doing well as far as I can tell. I’m convinced that some are frustrated by the overload of real serious detail design project work, and that some are skeptical about what I do and even my personality. But most seem pleased to see me in the morning, and I get lots of attendees when I arrange internal knowledge development sessions. I also get real vocal positive feedback at some of the design work that I do. And sometimes, when I pull a stupid joke in front of a project manager, she laughs. And then I think I did something good, because John Cleese did a famous presentation on creativity, where he claimed that laughter was one of the most important catalysts in creative work. He should know.

This makes me wonder if others feel the same way. Would it help if I actually told someone who did something really awesome how I felt about it? If I think a person is doing a real good job, or that I’m impressed with the presentation skills of a friend who just came off stage – would the appreciate me helping silence their voice?

Below is a picture of Aaron Maller during his gala dinner software presentation in Dublin a month ago. Aaron get’s pretty nervous before he talks in front of people, just like me. But when he get’s on stage, he’s absolutely amazing, like in Dublin. All software failed and there were (as you can see) at times four or five persons on stage with him trying to fix technical issues while Aaron held the mic. That’s pressure. But with articulation, speed and wit he delivered an epic elevator pitch-like presentation. It was funny and informative, while at the same time maintaining a clear view of where it was going. I wish I had that capability. When I talk it always feels like I have the overview and course of a maggot. (Go away, voice!)

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The voice inside my head is there for a reason. It’s controlling me with fear. I need it. We need fear to stay alive. But not too much. I need to be able to control it with objective information about the world around me.

It would be absolutely hilarious if my boss read this and thought “He is actually doing a pretty bad job and I need to fire his lazy ass”. That’s okay. But I don’t need the voice inside my head telling me that. I need real feedback. From real people. And I’m going give that to others. Starting from today.

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Autodesk University 2014

In exactly one week I leave for Las Vegas and Autodesk University Conference and Exhibition 2014. This will be the fifth time I attend this conference, and the third time in a row. This event will be far more intense than the four previous conferences combined. Here’s a summary of what I will do, and where you can find me, listed according to expected level of stress induced.

Revit as a Tool for Modeling Concrete Reinforcement, Wednesday December 3, 4:30 PM (PST)

Once again I take the stage with my rebar show in Las Vegas. I did the same presentation in 2012 and 2013, in addition to RTCNA 2013 and RTCAUS 2014. I’m very familiar with the content of this curriculum, but this time the circumstances have changed slightly. In short, Autodesk are streaming 13 out of approximately 800 classes and presentations live world wide, and have decided that my little rebar rant is worthy. And it’s totally free. That’s right. Carl Bass, Jeff Kowalski, Amar Hanspal and yours truly, free of charge.

AU Live Stream Schedule

AU Live Stream Schedule

I find this both terrifying, humbling and very, very exiting. Obviously, I don’t know how many people will be watching. Most my friends in the Nordic countries will probably be sleeping, except my mom (I hope!). But the thought of how many design professionals are online in Asia, Oceania and America at that time makes me think this will be the biggest rebar fest of all times.

If you are going to Vegas, you can sign up to attend in person here:

SE6926 – Revit as a Tool for Modeling Concrete Reinforcement

If you want to lie on your couch in Islamabad or Reykjavik, wearing boxers and a stained t-shirt, you can join me here:

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Computational Logic in Structural Design hands-on lab, Tuesday December 2, 1:15 PM (PST)

This is perhaps the session that I’m looking mostly forward to! For one hour and fifteen minutes my friends and I will have a blast with some really beautiful computation in Dynamo. This is part of a lab that I developed with Julien Benoit for RTCEUR in Dublin earlier this year. Sadly Julien won’t be (physically) present in Vegas, but I have convinced Dynamo Grand Master Andreas Dieckmann to cover his absence by helping me out in this lab. It’s like bringing on Messi to cover for Ronaldo.

RTC14-Dublin-013

Expect to refresh trigonometry in SE6925-L

There are right now 6 available seats left, and in case you book one of them, be prepared to automate some really nice structures based on periodic functions and parameter manipulation in Dynamo!

SE6925-L – Computational Logic in Structural Design

Learn visual programming to make awesome

Learn visual programming to make awesome

Dynamo Hackathon, Monday December 1 to 3.

From Monday to Wednesday evening Matt Jezyck and Zach Kron from Autodesk are hosting a Dynamo Hackathon for everyone who wants to hack at Dynamo with others while at AU. Together with Julien and Andreas I have submitted a project that I have been wanting to work on for some time. Ever since I first laid eyes on Harry Mathison’s Image-O-Matic – an addin that produces a set of images based on parameter iterations – I’ve had a dream of building something similar, based on Dynamo.

The ultimate outcome of this work is a set of technologies that can animate anything in Revit; movement, analysis, schedules, analytical data, in addition to parametric iterations. Imagine how you can present your building design if you have, say, 200 different visualized daylight analysis results, based on 200 facade alternatives, all collectively animated in a video or gif loop? You know what I’m thinking? AEC porn. That’s what I’m thinking.

You are more than welcome to join! As far as I know anyone can sign up. In case animation doesn’t quite do it for you, there are a number of other awesome projects to join. Oh did I forget to mention you’ll be doing this together with some of the smartest people in international design technology? Well, you are.

BIM Workshop, Monday December 1, 8:30 am PST.

The same Mr’s Kron and Jezyck are hosting a whole-day BIM Workshop event about visual programming before the Hackathon starts. This is an addition and prelude to the regular conference that starts on Tuesday. It will be a good opportunity to refresh some basics and explore more advanced analytical problems. It will also be a fine way to meet up with the other people who suffer from need of automation at the cost of manual labor. The lazy smart people.

In addition to all this, and all the regular classes, I’m helping out as a lab assistant for Marcello Sgambelluri’s Dynamo for Dummies, participating in the Design Computation Symposium and meeting up with fellow Expert Elites at various social events. I’ll be consuming beer with my good friend John Fout at the CASE Party on Wednesday, where I also look forward to catching up with a host of smart and entertaining people that I have the privilege to know.

I’ve come to realize that there are three reasons why I put myself through all this several times each year. I love finding, learning and developing knowledge of new technologies. I have a passion for teaching what i learn to others. And I’m absolutely addicted to hanging out with people who make me laugh. That’s Autodesk University in a nutshell. That, and much more.

See you there!