Dunno how I never got round to introducing myself earlier, but here goes . .
I'm Merv Ruge, aka Finer Designer. I've spent my entire life in South East Queensland, Australia. (actually, that's not quite true as I've escaped several times to visit friends in New South Wales & Victoria as well as a cpl years in North Queensland that I don't remember) I'm a 4th generation Aussie of Danish descent. (surname rhymes with boogie-woogie) My native language is Strine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strine
I've been in the building trade since 1972. I was first registered as a House Builder in Queensland in 1982 and first licensed as a Building Designer soon after licensing of Building Designers was implemented in the mid-'90'shttp://www.qbcc.qld.gov.au/online-licence-search/disclaimeragreedisagree.aspx
, agree, Search for QBCC licensee, licence = 16779 then "Licensee's Full History"
In the mid-eighties I did an Introduction to Computers course as I could see the need to use emerging technology. It was another 5 years before I actually bought a computer - a 2nd hand NEC APC Powermate II, iirc 16 MHz (with an 80287 math co-processor)
When AU$ was only worth US$0.60 in 1986 I decided to try to cash-in a hobby. I'd found a way to propagate Platycerium Superbum
(Staghorn Fern - not to be confused with Platycerium Bifurcatum
, the Elkhorn Fern) in commercial quantities. They are epiphytic ferns grown from spores. However, by 1988 the Aussie Dollar had risen to buy US$0.88 so the project was no longer viable. Today (2011) it's floating around US$1.10
In 1988 I engaged a designer using DRCauto to prepare plans for a modern iteration of a Colonial Victorian style home with 3660 (12') ceilings. When he was unable to provide a perspective view I then found that a friend from my teenage years, Ian Smith, was also a building designer. He'd been using Autoplan (the fore-runner of Cadsoft APDesign) since it's first release.
1989 saw me become a single dad. Ian gave me the opportunity to reskill as a building designer.
late 1994 I started my own design & documentation business. I purchased an APDesign licence from a builder in Newcastle that had gone bust. New computer system cost me $10k but it was faulty. Nothing like getting thrown in at the deep end to force one to learn to swim! 8 months later the manufacturer finally replaced the motherboard & my problems were over (well, sort of, I just didn't have any clients left) I've built all my desktops since then.
Until mid'96 my experiences with architects hadn't been exactly positive. All those I encountered seemed to work on the premise that "if I can draw it, they can build it" All that changed when I got a call from Darryl Parker Architects. They were planning a 200 unit resort at Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas in Far North Queensland The project architect treated me as an equal. They were using AutoCAD as an electronic drawing board and needed elevations generated in a hurry. A feature of the project was a wrap-over roof (barrell-vault of about 80m radius) truncated down one side in an S-shape and punctuated by 4 staggered hip roofs (with no ridges) along the other side. I no longer have the dwg file (archived to 1.44MB floppy) but have attached a scanned checkplot I found. I modelled the lot in APDesign. It really challenged my knowledge of the programme, especially the significance of the number 32767. (2^15)-1 in a 16bit environment
Late 1996 I was working in-house for Devine Homes when I thought I'd come down with the flu (in the middle of summer). I never really recovered. I have a diagnosis of M.E./CFS http://www.hfme.org/meoverview.htm
Thus began 2 of my biggest battles - against an unknown foe that the medical fraternity still doesn't understand and an insurer that will do anything to avoid it's obligations. (keywords ME/CFS AND Unum for examples of similar behaviour)
I was so ill I put most of my possessions into storage & returned to Bundaberg where my parents cared for me for almost 2 years. Travelling by train to and from Brisbane for specialist appointments, I'd always take my Cadsoft Users Guide. Amazing what one can learn just by reading the manual! - and what some tools could be used for when one thinks "outside the square".
1999 I was contacted by a builder in New Hampshire for a "user review" of APDesign. He bought a copy & sent me a Logitech trackball for my trouble. It's still on my desk & still works! Thus began flashbacks to the imperial system of measurement that I'd grown up with (Australia metricated during the '70's) and my introduction to a whole lot of different construction methods.
In 2005 I decided I'd prefer to expend my limited energy doing something I love rather than fighting for justice. I heard that Cadsoft had opened up the Forum to just about anyone in August 2005. Because of my limited functionality I don't get through a huge range of jobs - which limits my experience - but helping others here makes up for that. (Cerebral hypo-perfusion & "brain fog" still significantly impair my functionality.)
I'm unsure when I bought Envisioneer 2.5, but I was sold on the concept of dynamic dimensions & it's ability to accept input via bluetooth from a Disto Plus.
2007 I started doing most work in Env. Until that time I used Env to develop proposals then exported plans, elevations sections etc & still finished them off in APDesign.
2010 my younger son married so I decided to leave the pollution of the city & move to the Sunshine Coast hinterland in the hope that this will result in an improvement in my health. Being "a bit slow" can be a blessing in disguise. I'm sure that I'm able to think of more viable alternatives than I would if I was able to work full-time.
If you hadn't guessed by now, I'm really just an artist/story teller - translating someone's dream (whether mine or my client's) into words & pictures of what could be . . .
If everything goes to plan, I then author a book of words, pictures & sometimes audio/visuals describing/detailing the process of how we move from dreams to reality.
In essence, the more detailed the documentation, the smoother the process - for all concerned.