Small Office (Solo Practitioner) Network Setup

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    Jason……Now…..WHY would I wish to do that?  The world does NOT revolve around computers….well, maybe in YOUR World – not mine.

    As I mentioned above… really doesn’t matter the METHOD you use to draw or design with….what MATTERS is the “quality” of the design & the graphics.  Even if you know how to use every computer software program known to man – that doesn’t necessarily mean those drawing will be “well done”…or that the “designs” are good or creative ones. 

    That’s fine…..use computer software, but, don’t forget what you’re trying to achieve during the “process”.

    Jason T. Radice

    The sarcasm apparently didn’t translate.


    Yeah……good one, Jason!  LOL.  And, I apologize.  I do appreciate your input here…..and your opinions.  We are pretty much coming from two different “generations” of LAs….with different points of view. 

    I think we can DEFINITELY “learn” from each other.




    P.S. Jason…..Hey, I got to thinking about the LA profession – it’s short term history over the PAST, say, 30+ years.  This is sort of my take on some of what’s been taking place.

    Back in the late 70’s – early 80’s….University LA programs were teaching design courses – where everything drawn had to be “drawn by hand”…no autoCAD then. IF you didn’t know how to “hand draw” back then, you were in deep trouble.

    Then…..autoCAD (and many more computer software programs came along – many, I’ve never even heard of).  So, computer drawing in all University LA programs became the NEW wave of Landscape Architecture….as Architects & Civil Engineers were already using autoCAD, etc.

    But, then, the backlash, to some degree began to pop up with Professional LA firms around the U.S.  LA firm Owners were searching for University LA grads to hire who had “hand drawing skills”…along with the many “computer software program” skills….but, not all that many LA grads had good “hand drawing skills”.

    So….I think (in a number of ways), this “backlash” filtered back to the many U.S. University LA programs…where NOW, University LA professors are once again….teaching their LA students “hand drawing”….and having students produce projects “by hand”.

    Look up JAMES RICHARDS’ here on LAND8…..he has INCREDIBLE “hand sketching – color skills”…and has even published a book about “hand drawing” that’s avail. at  He set up a “hand drawing” course at The University of Texas @ Arlington…and James’ LA firm Portfolio is well worth viewing!!!  James told me that “hand drawing” is being taught in many more University LA programs.

    I’m sure you’re tired of reading me go on and on about “hand sketching”…..but, that really is the CRITICAL step in the “creative design process”.  If you’re going straight to the computer to come up with “creative ideas”…you’ve got it backwards.  Even the TOP LA firms in the World….EDSA, Sasaki, Belt Collins, etc…they begin designing every project….using “hand sketches and hand drawings”…in the early stages of the creative process…BEFORE they ever go near the computer software.  You really have to be able to “move your elbow”….be loose and “think” through the design problem at hand. 

    Computer “software” is a great “production” tool for certain….but, I’m not convinced that it’s a great “creative” tool for LA’s.

    Even fantastic MOVIES….take the recent movie PROMETHEUS – the science fiction movie…..they had artists produce hundreds of “hand drawings” of the space ship, the aliens, the ground vehicles used on the distant plant…..and then, from those “hand sketches”, they went to the “computer software” staff who digitized and computerized those drawings into a FANTASTIC movie.


    Alan Ray, RLA

    I’ll just add this. I’ve been out of school since ’74. I worked for 15+ years where everything was hand drawn.

    In the early 90’s I had to learn cad or I would not be able to do projects with A/E firms in the area…so, old dog, new trick…it was difficult at first but later I caught on and now do a fair job with it.

    Now, I still hand draw all my concept and preliminary drawings.I then go to acad for my const. drawings.

    I like cad for CD’s because it is easy to make changes and you can edit any previous detail to fit your current design project. For that reason I do like cad.

    However, I’ve not seen a cad program yet that matches the feel of hand drawings for prelim and presentations.


    If you have the money, try this 😉

    I checked out the E31 and I would avoid buying that model because of the lack of a dedicated graphics card and it’s an i3. You should at least have an i5 or Xeon processor and I would recommend getting a Quadro card or a high-end gaming card (Quadro cards have specific drivers for Autodesk and Adobe software). So I think you would be better off buying the higher model such as the S30 workstation.

    You’re looking at spending at least a grand for each machine. Sure you can cheap out, but consider how much more effecient your team can be if they don’t have to sit around and wait for the computer to process. If you have the right machine, you will gain several hours in productivity.

    Jim Del Carpio

    Chill man,

    Listen, I’ve been lucky with my Alienware workstation I brought through Dell. I highly recommended, along with a huge Video card for 3d graphic and so forth. I use 3 diferrent cad programs, each one for it’s own best use (2d and 3d and irrigation). As for lenovo, I bought a laptop from them and it’s working fine. Can’t add any recommendation on servers. I also use Dropbox for back drop and I have added a separate external drive to my workstation, Passport 1 tretra drive, fairly inexpensive.

    Best regards,


    Jim Del Carpio

    Hey guys,

    I’m responding to Ray post on the lack of graphic programs that don’t come close to Hand Graphics. I’ve used to great success Vectorworks Landmark program to win over international Clients and I’ve won a  local competition in South Texas with it. Let me add that I went to school in the early to mid 90’s and the prof’s demanded that we only hand draw all of our plans. No exception. However, I do hand draw preliminary concepts by hand, it very personal experience to draw with a pencil and a wad of flimsy paper but that’s it. The graphics program available today just makes it easier and faster to make corrections and changes. Color, pen weights, shade, opacity, you name it, it’s all available in digital formats.   

    Jim Del Carpio

    I agree with ida, I won’t go less than I3 processor, my lenovo laptop is adequate to handle my cad and graphic programs. Furthermore, my workstation is I7 quad. It’s worth every penny of it. Trying to save money by going with a lesser processor and video card is foolish and maddening. Were here to enjoy our Practice not wait on-hold for C.Support in India. 

    Best of Luck,


    Alan Ray, RLA

    I need a new plotter.

    I’ve used a hp designjet 100 for many years and have been very happy with it.

    However, it has been put out to pasture due to old age…..

    Is there a better plotter than the HP T-120 in the $1,000. range?

    I don’t need a high volume printer, just one that is reliable like my old one.

    Any suggestions?

    Jim Del Carpio

    Cannon Plotters are very reasonable.

    Jason T. Radice

    You could try to find a higher-model refurb or used model. I always liked the HP DesignJet 800PS. You can get the carriage up to 42″, the print quality is excellent and it is pretty quick. Never had any major problems with them. You might be able to find one for a grand or so (originally about $8K), and should serve you well for many years. Anything new would be $5g at least other than for the small desktop models.

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    The Designjet 500 is the 24″ wide form. I bought one for a design/build back in 2002 and it is going strong still (not used every day). We had one at a CE firm that did use it every day. It did well for a few years, but they moved on to a laser plotter/scanner. They are not pigs on ink and it is very reasonably priced.

    Jason T. Radice

    The 500 is the 800’s little brother, and is available up to a 42″ width as well. The difference is in the resolution. The 500 goes up to 1200dpi, and the 800 is 2400dpi. I looked at both before I ordered them for the firm I was working for (we had 2 of them), and the 500 was still not the best in terms of droplet size or smoothness of color, which was very important to use as we used solid fills on site plans. Up close, there is no comparison…go with the highest res you can find.

    Checking out the HP site, they offer the DesignJet T520 24″ roll or sheet fed (roll feed is great)- which is 2400dpi,(1200dpi input) for around $1700 brand new. The T120 Alan mentioned is only 1200dpi (600dpi input) . You can also check out the DesignJet 130, which is a 24″ six color, 2400dpi graphics printer if you use it for photos and renderings, and I saw one on Amazon for $1400. It also uses dye inks, which do not fade like pigment based traditional inkjet inks. The 130 is much more of a graphics/advertising printer as it does CMYK simulations and press proofings. It will be more expensive to operate.  I would request a print sample of any of from HP them before purchase to ensure it meets your needs.  

    Andrew Garulay, RLA

    The 500, as you pointed out, is not a good choice if you like very fine lines.


    I am paying per print to use a Xerox laser in a CEs office. It is a good alternative if you have a good enough working relationship to someone who will let you use their equipment.

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