Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to teach yourself CAD

I received e-mails asking how users or potential users can teach themselves to use AutoCAD or one of Autodesk's verticals. Well, I was reminded today by Shaan Hurley's post about the Autodesk Student Community.

If you are a student (meaning you have a student e-mail address from your school) you can sign up to be a member of Autodesk's Student Community. I have been a student for a few years now (I'm working on an Associates Degree in Design Drafting) and a member of the student community almost as long.

There are many benefits to being a member of this group. One is the free software. Yes I said FREE!!! There are a few catches of course. One is that there is a 13 month time limit. Users will receive a special student license number. If it isn't imputed, then it becomes a regular 30 day trial version.

The other "catch" is that the software becomes a "Student Version." That means that each file made will have a watermark inserted on it every time it is printed. This isn't an issue for users that are, well, students. That keeps users from using free software for production purposes.

One other thing to keep in mind is that all objects saved in a student version will be "tagged" as being made in a student version. If you insert any student version object into a file with a "regular" version of AutoCAD, that file will be tagged as being made by a student version. It could corrupt your production files so be careful not to mix them up.

Benefits. There are several. Users get to actually use the software they are going to be using as professionals. It provides a chance to have real experience and thus require less training time once employed. The Community Web Site has tons of tutorials which are very easy to use and follow. There are also tips, newsletters, and forums where students can ask and answer questions. It is also a place where users can network with other student users.

So, if you are a student, check out Autodesk's Student Community. It's a great place to try out software and learn it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

AUGI Article-Units

Check out my latest article for AUGI Hotnews, MEASURING UP. It is an article that discuses units and how to set your AutoCAD files units of measurement.

The article also looks at methods on properly setting up your drawing units.


Design the NEW Top DAUG Logo and win . . .

Design the NEW TOP DAUG Logo and you could win a prize worth over a thousand dollars or more!!!

AUGI is pleased to announce the “Second Annual Top DAUG T-Shirt Design competition”.

Last year’s Top DAUG T-shirt competition was a great success. We had almost 70 submissions. Robert Geiger was chosen by the members as the final winner, and will be enjoying a free trip to Autodesk University this year. Here is your chance to submit your design and win this trip in 2009. Here are the details.

The challenge:

Submit a design to be printed on the front of the AUGI Top DAUG T-shirt. The t-shirt will be distributed at Autodesk University 2008 to all who participate in the AUGI Top DAUG challenge at AU as well as Top DAUG contests held in conjunction with AUGI CAD Camp events in the 2008-09 season.

The qualifications:

  1. Participants must be AUGI members.
  2. Autodesk employees are not eligible to submit a design.
  3. You do not have to attend AU 2008 to submit a design.

The specs:

  1. Designs must be created with an Autodesk software product.
  2. Designs are to be submitted as a DWF (Drawing Web Format) file.
  3. Size of design should not exceed 9" (22.8 cm) x 9" (22.8 cm).
  4. Members may submit more than one design, if desired.
  5. Designs should be submitted in black & white only. Grey tones are acceptable.
  6. Each design needs to include the words “AUGI” and “Top DAUG” (Logos from Top DAUG sponsors Autodesk and HP will be added to the t-shirt sleeves for final printing).

The design deadline:

Designs must be submitted by October 3, 2008, 11:59 AM PDT. Submit your design(s) to

Then what?

  1. Each eligible design will be posted on for voting from October 6 - October 17, 2008.
  2. AUGI members will vote for their top pick.
  3. Members can vote only once.
  4. The design with the most votes will be awarded the Grand Prize.

What you can win:

Besides the fame that goes along with being the creator of the winning design, the grand prize winner and nine other contestants will win these more tangible prizes.

  1. Grand Prize, for the individual whose design is selected by AUGI members’ votes, is a free pass to AU 2009.
  2. Winners in 2nd through 10th place will receive exclusive AUGI merchandise.

The Grand Prize winner will be revealed at the start of the Top DAUG contest on Tuesday night in the AUGI booth. In the event of a tie for the favorite design, AUGI’s Board of Directors will select the grand prize winning design. The top 10 designs will be displayed in the AUGI booth for the duration of Autodesk University 2008.

Send your design (and/or questions and comments) to Don’t delay... the deadline is October 3rd!

Quick Tip-Mtext Upper to Lower Case and Back

Here is an Mtext Quick Tip that I am "borrowing" from Cadalyst's latest Tips and Tools Weekly.

Have you ever typed a note in AutoCAD's Mtext editor only to find out that your caps lock was on (or off depending on what you want to accomplish)? There are a few things you can do to fix it. Right click in the editor and select the CHANGE CASE option. Or, press Ctrl + Shift + U to set the text to Upper Case, OR . . . . press Ctrl + Shift + L to set the test to Lower Case.

Very simple but handy.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Off Topic - Me

When I started this blog I didn't want to talk about my personal life, unless it was to toot my own horn or to pat myself on the back!! I have tried to stay away from that. Today, for at least one post I feel compelled to write about the events in my life from last week. Oh what a week I had!!

It started on Sunday afternoon. Tropical Storm Fay was headed our way. It was a complete unknown at the time so we felt we should start to prepare. Our house has three levels to it and we wanted to get the storm shutters up on the third floor windows. I, my son, and my wife went outside to the garage to get started. Well, everyone made it down the outside stairs except my wife. She missed the very bottom step, rolled her ankle left and fell to the right breaking her left leg in three places. The next day (Monday) she had surgery, inserting two plates and 13 screws to help mend her broken leg bones.

While she was in the hospital, the doctors noticed she had an accelerated heart rate. She has been feeling bad since January when her father passed away from pancreatic cancer (yea, its been a bad year). By the way, her grandmother passed away about two weeks before her father. we thought she was sick from the stress.

Thursday she came home from the Hospital and had scheduled a doctors appointment on Friday to check out her heart rate, etc. Before I left work on Thursday to go take her home, my boss laid me off, as well as seven other employees, leaving only the engineers in the office. The really bad news is that at Heidt & Associates, Inc., your termination day is the last day you covered by health insurance! OUCH!! Perfect timing. My former boss felt bad though, so that helps.

On Friday (our last day of insurance-they gave me an extra day of insurance), my wife saw the doctor and he diagnosed her with Grave's Disease. Now she has a broken leg (that won't heal for at least 12 weeks), can't walk (she broke one leg and twisted the other) or do anything alone, she has Grave's Disease (means she has a hyperactive thyroid and her heart could fail because of it), I have no job and we have no insurance.

That's the bad news. The good news is that all of these issues can and will be resolved. My wife's thyroid can be treated, her leg will heal and i will find a job, eventually. These past events are but a minor bump in the road of life.

Sunday, August 24, 2008



OBJECTIVE: To utilize my drafting skills, extensive CAD knowledge, inspection experience, and writing abilities in the field of engineering, design drafting and technical writing.

SUMMARY: I am intelligent, creative, and a hardworking husband and father of two. I am able to work well with a group, or alone on a project or task. Resourceful, able to visualize clearly using knowledge, personal experience and imagination. Also able to meet deadlines and take on a heavy load. Nearly fifteen years of experience of drafting work using cad systems like I/draft by Intergraph, Microstation and AutoCAD versions ten through 2008. I am also a Beta Tester for Autodesk, CAD Tip Patroller for Cadalyst Magazine, writer for AUGI World Magazine, writer for AUGI Hotnews, AUGI ATP Instructor, and Autodesk University Instructor.

2006-2008 Edison College, (Drafting & Design Program)
1993 Purdue University Calumet, Engineering
1992 Calumet High School
Graduated National Honor Society, Top ten percent of class of 1992
Chosen for “Who’s Who” among American H.S. Students during Senior Year


Senior Engineering Cad Technician: Supervised Engineering CAD Department, Civil and survey drafting & design, details and layout work. Wastewater, water main and road design. Site and road grading. Site planning and development. Record drawing coordination and management. Survey checking, drafting and field work. IT support, developed CAD standards manual for office and assisted in developing Company Wide Standards.

3/01-8/03 ENSPECT, INC.
Structural inspector- primarily for the industrial services (cranes, steel structures), Structural drafting, detailing and layout design.

Application Engineer: Demonstrated/installed plotter/printer software and hardware to customers and troubleshooted problems for clients.

Mechanical Layouts/Details, Structural/Civil Layouts using AutoCAD. Contract work for Union Tank Car Company, Hoogovens Technical Services Inc., and Steel Equipment Specialists, Inc.

Contracted to Union Tank Car Company through the companies listed. Mechanical drafting using I/draft CAD system by Intergraph, and Microstation.

References available upon request

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Some of my Favorite Quotations

I love quotes. I have collected some over the past few years. Here are some of them:

"It was on my fifth birthday that Papa put his hand on my shoulder and said,
'Remember, my son, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of
your arm.'"
- Sam Levenson

The above quote from Sam Levenson is one of my favorite. I try to live by this. I hate depending on others for my well being. If I fail, that's ok, but If I fail because of the actions (or inaction) of others, then that is not ok with me. If you want something or need something in life, it is up to you to see that it is done. You are no bodies responsibility. You are your own responsibility. Depending on others for your well being will leave you wanting.

After the last of 16 mounting screws has been removed from an access cover, it will
be discovered that the wrong access cover has been removed.
- De La Lastra's Law
"Once the game is over, the King and the pawn go back in the same box."
- Italian Proverb

This is another one of my favorites. We are all equal in rights and acountability to our creator. During life, we are not equal in power, abilities, or resources. None of us are equal. I can do things that others can't, there are many things others do that I can not. Therefore we are not all equall in abilities. I do believe that we all should have equal opportunity to use our abilities to the fullest, being limited by nothing that ourselves.

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.
- Bertolt Brecht
Needing someone is like needing a parachute. If they aren't there the first time,
chances are you won't be needing them again.
Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
-Will Rogers
I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it.
- Pablo Picasso

How else are you going to make progress in your life?

Engineering is a great profession. There is the satisfaction of watching a figment of
the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves
to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings homes to men or women.
Then it elevates the standard of living and adds to the comforts of life. This is the
engineer's high privilege.
Herbert Hoover
It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.
Sir Winston Churchill


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Laid Off

Ok, today I was Laid Off due to the company's lack of work. If anyone is hiring please let me know. Here is my resume (it still needs to be updated, so I will post an better resume later on.)

Also, I am the Tip Patroller For Cadalyst Magazine, I help with their implementation of the CAD Tips WIKI, I am a writer for AUGI World Magazine and AUGI Hotnews online magazine. I am going to be an instructor at Autodesk University this year.

I have over 15 years experience as a drafter, detailer, designer, inspector, manager, and more. I can use AutoCAD, CIvil3D, Office, GIS, and more.


OBJECTIVE: To utilize my drafting skills and inspection experience in the field of engineering.

SUMMARY: Intelligent, creative, young and hardworking husband and father of two. Able to work well with a group, or alone on a project or task. Resourceful, able to visualize clearly using knowledge, personal experience and imagination. Also able to meet deadlines and take on a heavy load. Over thirteen years of experience of drafting work using cad systems like I/draft by Intergraph, Microstation and AutoCAD versions ten and higher.


2006-Present Edison College, Fort Myers, FL (Currently enrolled in the Drafting & Design


1993 Purdue University Calumet, Hammond, IN

Currently have two semesters completed, Engineering

1992 Calumet High School, Calumet Township, IN

Graduated National Honor Society, Top ten percent of class of 1992

Chosen for “Who’s Who” among American H.S. Students during Senior Year


8/03-Present HEIDT & ASSOCIATES, INC. Fort Myers, FL

Cad Technician: Civil and survey drafting, details and layout work. Sewer, water main and road design. Site and road grading. Site planning and development. Record drawing coordination and management. Survey checking. IT support, developed CAD standards manual for office and assisted for Company Wide Standards.

3/01-8/03 ENSPECT, INC. Merrillville, IN

Structural inspector primarily for the industrial services (cranes, steel structures) and Structural drafting, detailing and layout.

3/00-1/01 B & H TECHNICAL SERVICES Merrillville, IN

Application Engineer: Demonstrated/installed plotter/printer software and hardware to customers and troubleshooted minor problems for clients.


Mechanical Layouts/Details, Structural/Civil Layouts using AutoCAD. Contract work for Union Tank Car Company, Hoogovens Technical Services Inc., and Steel Equipment Specialists, Inc.

11/93-6/95 MECA ENG. & ESPO ENGINEERING East Chicago, IN

Contracted to Union Tank Car Company through the companies listed. Mechanical drafting using I/draft CAD system by Intergraph, and with Microstation.

References available upon request

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the 16 rules I try to live by

The following "rules for survival" is included with the permission of Bob Parsons ( and is Copyright © 2004-2006 by Bob Parsons. All rights reserved.

Bob Parsons is the founder of Parsons Technology and Go Daddy. These are his 16 rules to live by and to do business by.

Here are the 16 rules I try to live by:

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I believe that not much happens of any significance when we're in our comfort zone. I hear people say, "But I'm concerned about security." My response to that is simple: "Security is for cadavers."

2. Never give up. Almost nothing works the first time it's attempted. Just because what you're doing does not seem to be working, doesn't mean it won't work. It just means that it might not work the way you're doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and you wouldn't have an opportunity.

3. When you're ready to quit, you're closer than you think. There's an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so true. It goes like this: "The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed."

4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what the worst thing could be. Very seldom will the worst consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of "undefined consequences." My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, "Well, Robert, if it doesn't work, they can't eat you."

5. Focus on what you want to have happen. Remember that old saying, "As you think, so shall you be."

6. Take things a day at a time. No matter how difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don't look too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get through anything one day at a time.

7. Always be moving forward. Never stop investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually result in huge advantages.

8. Be quick to decide. Remember what General George S. Patton said: "A good plan violently executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow."

9. Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate. If you want to uncover problems you don't know about, take a few moments and look closely at the areas you haven't examined for a while. I guarantee you problems will be there.

11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you're doing. When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough into space, looks like a peaceful place.

12. Never let anybody push you around. In our society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much right to what you're doing as anyone else, provided that what you're doing is legal.

13. Never expect life to be fair. Life isn't fair. You make your own breaks. You'll be doing good if the only meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a bus (i.e., fare).

14. Solve your own problems. You'll find that by coming up with your own solutions, you'll develop a competitive edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: "You never succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others." There's also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It goes like this: "A wise man keeps his own counsel."

15. Don't take yourself too seriously. Lighten up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

16. There's always a reason to smile. Find it. After all, you're really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: "We're not here for a long time; we're here for a good time."

AU 2008 - Registration Open - Sign Up for my Class

Autodesk University 2008 registration is now open. If you have ever battened or have ever wanted to attend now is the time to sign up. This will probably be the best AU ever, and not just because I will be leading a class there!

If you want to get an overview of the class I will be leading, Creating a CAD Standards Manual, and are to lazy to read, or too busy, follow this link to an audio overview of my class.

About 1/4 of the AU 2008 classes currently have an audio overview. The powers that be are working on providing more of these sound bites to help users know and understand what each session is about.

There are over 600 session to choose from with nearly a dozen different categories, or tracts to available. I suggest going with one of the tracts to maximize your exposure to your particular field. However, it is very possible to get a little bit of everything too. It's up to you.

Monday, August 11, 2008

AUGI and SolidVapor to Part Ways

WOW!! SolidVapor and AUGI have been working together for some time now. I was suprised to hear (read) the news that the two are splitting. As a writer for AUGI World and AUGI Hotnews, I have had the pleasure of working with some of the folks at SolidVapor. I do not know the details of who broke up with whom or why, but I know SolidVapor will be missed.

AUGI will be able to function just fine without them I am sure and I am told that SolidVapor will not leaving right away. The two entities will be working together to make sure there are no loose ends so that nothing slips through the cracks.

Good luck SolidVapor and good luck AUGI.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Quick Tip - Set Your Limits

Here is another Quick-Tip from CAD-a-Blog on using AutoCAD.

If you work with the GRID on set your limits. This will define the area where your grid will be shown. If you want to work in a small area of a drawing, set your limits there to display your grid. It is a better practice to set the limits to cover your entire drawing area and not a small portion.

Another reason to use limits is to help control the area covered inside your file. If limits are set, and LIMIT CHECKING is turned on, then you will not be allowed to select points outside of the limits area. This will help to prevent accidental insertion to points far away from your desired working area.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Quick tip - Annotated text

Here's a quick tip from CAD-a-Blog using AutoCAD's Annotative Text. If you need to use text in drawings to lable something in multiple drawings use Annotative Text. Just set up a text style that is Annotative and have at. It can be set to show up through an x-ref file ant several different scales eliminating the need for multiple entities of text each having to be updated. And if your views are rotated you can turn on the MATCH TEXT ORIENTATION TO LAYOUT setting. That will automatically rotate your text so you can read it!!


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Inventor Plastic Features Technology Preview coming soon

I received a link from Autodesk making an announcement about an announcement. I'm not sure what this is going to be, but if I hear anything I will keep you posted.


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