Thursday, March 19, 2015

Here is AutoCAD 2016; the last perpetual license you will ever get!

Introducing AutoCAD 2016! The latest! The greatest! The last perpetual license of AutoCAD you or anyone else will ever purchase! If there were ever a time to upgrade your AutoCAD license it is now! So what's new? Well there really isn't any one new thing but instead there are a lot of updates to many existing commands. One thing that isn't new is the DWG file type. Yep AutoCAD 2016 will still run on AutoCAD 2013 DWG. Autodesk has also removed the ability to password protect DWG files. It can open and use password protected files but it will not be able to create them. This update brings performance improvements, new ways to create dimensions, a few UI tweaks, a new osnap, additional point cloud tools, updated referencing options, a brand new 3D rendering engine, and a handy system variable monitoring tool.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

I celebrated Pi Day before Pi Day was cool!

I live for Pi Day. I don't know why it has always fascinated me, but it does. I am absolutely in love with Pi Day. I think it's my inner nerd coming out and my love for sweet treats and pizza. I also love the beauty of math. It's a perfect marriage of fun, food, and figures. Best of all it's an opportunity to totally geek out!
This year is being dubbed "Pi Day of the Century" because of the year fitting in rather nicely with the number Pi. Today's date is March 14th, 2015, or put another way 3/14/15. Pi to four digits is 3.1415. Amazing isn't it?
Many people, like myself, are even taking today into the next level. I will make sure to mark the time today to take Pi to the next level, errr, I mean digits! I will also make sure to mark the time and 9:26:53. That's 9:26 (am or pm or both) and 53 seconds because, well, Pi.


Monday, February 16, 2015

14 Questions to ask when interviewing for a CAD position.

Everyone that uses CAD needs a job but how do you know if a potential employer is right for you? It's very difficult to hire the right person and it is equally challenging to find the right employer. As a worker, you are putting your faith and trust in your employer to create work for you, to keep the business running, to create an environment you can work in, and for the sake of your job. If your employer fails you are out of a job. It can be difficult to trust somebody else with your future. Make sure this job is right for you. Here are a few things you can do to help you vet out potential employers during the interview process.

There are several typical job interview questions you should probably ask when seeking any job.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Autodesk Uninstall Tool

Uninstalling AutoCAD, or any Autodesk product, is cumbersome. There are multiple files, folders, applications, and packages that have to be removed to fully uninstall it. It is easy to miss something. Sometimes you even have to mess with the Windows registry to get everything.

Here is a video I created for Autodesk that covers a full uninstall of AutoCAD.
This video covers removing peripherals, material libraries & products. It also looks at repairing products. The video is just under five minutes long.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I use P to get what I want, when I want it, and you can too!

There are many times in AutoCAD when you need to select certain objects, but there just isn't a good way to do it while you are in a command. That is where the power of P can empower you and your selection sets.

If a command requires an object or objects to be selected then you can use the P option to select all objects that were previously selected. P stands for Previous. You can also use the SELECT command to, well, select objects. Once a set of objects has been selected it is saved in AutoCAD's memory until the next set of objects are selected. Here is a use case.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Four Steps to creating flawless drawings

There is more to making design documents (a fancy word for drawings) than just using CAD. CAD is the tool we use today to make our drawings, but it isn't the only part of drawing creation. That other part is the human doing the work. CAD helps of course, but the human tells CAD what to do. The problem with that is that humans make errors all of the time. CAD helps to reduce errors, or at least it can unless the human makes an error.

Here is a method you can use to help reduce the errors (not completely remove, that can't be done) you create in your drawings.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Adobe, Autodesk, and Corel team up in copyright infringement lawsuit

Adobe, Autodesk and Corel have joined forces in a copyright infringement lawsuit against the clothing retailer Forever 21. According to the complaint document that was filed, these three companies assert that Forever 21 used several products from these companies in a way that broke copyright law. The document also asserts that Forever 21 took steps to circumvent

The document says Forever 21 "(a) copied and reproduced certain of the Adobe Products, Autodesk Products, and Corel Products; and (b) circumvented technological measures that effectively control access to the Adobe Products, Autodesk Products, and Corel Products (collectively, the 'Access Control Technology').”

The document also states that Forever 21 also allegedly continued to use the software even after being contacted by Adobe. The software corporations are suing for damages due to the piracy of the software, profits derived by Forever 21's alleged use of the software, other damages, and for lawyer fees.

Forever 21 is a huge retailer that reported around $3.7 billion (USD) in sales in 2013. Forever 21 is also ranked as the 122nd largest private company in the US by Forbes. Is this a case of these three companies going after deep pockets? Why would Adobe, Autodesk and Corel need to do that? It is more of a precedent and for an explanation as to why they need to go to a subscription only licensing model. That type of model makes copyright infringement more difficult to do.

How many of you have ever worked at a company, regardless of size, where software (like AutoCAD, Photoshop, WinZip-all of which are listed in the document) was used illegally? The thought at the time might have been that it doesn't really hurt anyone. Adobe, Autodesk, and Corel would disagree. I would disagree too.

For me there are three really amazing points in this case.

  • The list of programs used. It goes on for multiple pages. One of which is WinZip. Really? there are so many other options for this and Windows has built in tools that can do what WinZip does. It is not 1995.
  • Adobe asked Forever 21 to stop but they didn't. For whatever reason Forever 21 must not have thought Adobe and Autodesk wouldn't file a lawsuit. I guess they were wrong.
  • The lawsuit includes compensation for the loss of revenue from the lack of sales in software but also for Forever 21's profits made by using these products. Remember in 2013 they had over $3 billion in sales! That could be a lot of money.
These three companies make a several products that many industries use every day. It is easy to forget how digital licensing works. When you purchase a license you aren't purchasing the software. You are actually purchasing the right to use the tool under specific circumstances. Just because you have a copy of the software on a CD, thumb drive, or your server doesn;t mean you physically own anything.

The way the software licensing was distributed and controlled has been shown time and time again to not be user-friendly and difficult to understand. A few years ago Adobe made the move to a subscription only licensing model. Autodesk announced their plans to go subscription only earlier this week. Microsoft tried that with Office 2013 but soon made a perpetual license model also available after a lot of outcry from users. Adobe had a similar outcry from their clients but they stood firm. Autodesk is taking a different approach in that they are easing into it. Their transformation will actually take two years until they are fully on subscription only licensing. The first year will incorporate standalone products with year two including design suites.

Software piracy and copyright infringement are two major issues for these three companies that is why they are making the switch to subscription-based licensing. Don't forget too that these companies should see a more consistent stream of cash flow as well. So yes it is about the bottom line for them. But that is what they are all really in the business of, making money. They make software to make money and they have to make as much money as they can to keep their stockholders happy. These types of gigantic lawsuits help to keep other companies from pirating their products. If Adobe, Autodesk, or Corel never filed suit against these types of activities then everyone would steal their software because nobody would fear getting caught. Adobe told Forever 21 they that caught them but Forever 21 continued with their illegal (alleged) use.

So what does this mean for the average CAD user or reader of this blog? Don't use software illegally even if your boss tells you to.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Introducing the CadMouse by 3Dconnexion

3D Mouse maker 3Dconnexion has just introduced their newest product. It's not another 3D mouse. It's a "regular" mouse they are calling the CadMouse.

3Dconnexion says that this is the worlds first mouse designed specifically for CAD professionals.

“We developed the 3Dconnexion CadMouse because CAD users asked us to.” says Antonio Pascucci, VP of products at 3Dconnexion. “We took the time to understand what they needed before developing a combination of smart hardware and software features.” 

“With the introduction of the 3Dconnexion CadMouse, we are excited to be meeting the demands of CAD professionals across a broad range of industries and professions,” Pascucci says. “The icing on the cake is that CadMouse enables a new level of Two-Handed Power for our current customers. In other words, using a CadMouse together with a 3Dconnexion 3D mouse like the SpaceMouse Pro or SpaceNavigator makes it possible to interact with digital content in a way that wasn’t possible before.”

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Autodesk Goes Desktop Subscription Only in 2016!

Autodesk just announced that in 2016 they are making a move to Desktop Subscription. This change takes effect on February 1, 2016.

What does this mean? Next year if you purchase a new license of an Autodesk product you can only get it as a Desktop Subscription. This type of license is a pay-as-you-go model. Essentially you pay each month, each quarter, or once a year. Once you stop paying you no longer have the license. Stop paying and you can't use the software.

What happens to your current licenses? Nothing. they will continue to work just as they always have. All perpetual licenses are still perpetual meaning you can continue to use it as you always have. If you have a Maintenance Subscription License you will still receive your benefits accordingly as long as the subscription remains current. That means you will still be able to pay your yearly subscription fee to continue on as you have been. Nothing will change for you. You just can't get a new Maintenance Subscription after February 1, 2016 because you can't get a perpetual license.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Born for CAD - Coming Soon - What is 3Dconnexion up to?

3Dconnexion released a YouTube video titled "Born for CAD - coming soon" recently and it has me wondering if they are (finally) releasing a mouse meant for CAD work. I know what you are saying, 3Dconnexion has released several CAD mice already. Yes they have but those mice are supplemental 3D based mice. Users still need a "regular" mouse to work with.

Let's take a look at the video:

Well I'm hyped!

I love 3Dconnexion's line of products (I've had/used several) and I am very excited at the idea of them making a "normal" mouse that is designed for CAD use.  Right now I use a gaming mouse (Logitech G700s) for my CAD work and I love it. 3Dconnexion was a subsidiary of Logitech at one time. That was probably why they couldn't produce a CAD mouse before. Now that they are a fully independent company they can produce this type of hardware. I am very excited to see what they can do.

Why do I think it's a mouse? Great question. Well here are some clues that I gleaned from the video:

The video starts off with this text: A NEW VENTURE
This tells me that 3Dconnexion will be presenting something they haven't done before. They have only done 3D mice so it's obviously not a new one of those.

This text says: INTELLIGENT ERGONOMIC DESIGN. What type of input device is always billed as being "ergonomic"? Mice are. Keyboards too but you can clearly see this is not a keyboard. Note (hint: look at the red arrows that I added) the button looking thing with an arrow head. that clearly looks like a side button on a mouse. Also note the ridges (again, look at the red arrow). That looks like a thumb rest are on an "ergonomic mouse". Or am I wrong? I've been wrong many times before and I might be wrong here. But this image screams MOUSE to me.

This text is: SMARTER THAN AVERAGE. So whatever this is (it's a mouse ok?), it will be smart. Smart means programmable. Programmable means mouse. If you look at this image I think we are seeing a scroll wheel or an extra programmable button along with a left and right standard mouse button. It could be a side view of an extra programmable mouse button.

This last image says: BORN FOR CAD. that's exciting because there really isn't a mouse made specifically for the needs of CAD; except for 3D mice. And in this image you can clearly see mouse button edges (I've pointed to them.) (You see them too right?)

I may be totally wrong about this but I strongly feel it is a mouse that was designed for CAD users. this mouse is stylish, ergonomic (because CAD people use mice all day long), smart (programmable), and importantly it is coming to us soon.

How soon is soon? Hopefully it is just weeks and not months. If I hear anything I will let you know.


Monday, February 2, 2015

Google Earth Pro is Now Free - So What do We Get?

If you have ever used Google Earth Images in your presentation, map, site plan, or in any way without using the Pro version you were breaking the law. That data is copyrighted and licensed only to pro users. In the past one Google Earth Pro license would cost you $400 (USD). Google just announced that they will let everyone use Google Earth Pro for free. Download the program, get a Pro key, install and use.

Now that you can legally use this data for free what does the Pro version give you?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How to Send Your AutoCAD Project Files to Anybody, Anywhere, Anytime

Working with AutoCAD and AutoCAD Verticals (Civil3D, Map Mechanical, etc.) has become much more complex than it was when I first started over 20 years ago. We didn’t use reference files and we didn’t have source files like we do in Civil3D. We had one file, in model space (there was no paper space back then) to send. We put it on a 3.5” floppy disk and sent it on its way.  Much has changed since then.

Sending project files these days is a bit more complicated. We have multiple drawing files, xref files, point files, PDF files, data sheets, word documents, spreadsheets, DWF files, fonts, CTB files, Sheet Set data files, and more. How do you get the right files to the right people right now?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Don't Ignore Unreconciled Layers - They are there to Help You

Unreconciled Layers, you know, that pesky notification bubble that you close as soon as you open a DWG file, are very important and can save you a lot of time, effort, and work. Many AutoCAD users simply ignore the notification and move on. I suggest that you stop this practice and start using the notifications to help you out.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Day as a CAD Dork

The past few days have changed for this CAD Dork (CAD Geek or CAD Nerd are also acceptable terms). This past Friday I lost my job. It happens. It’s very annoying but it does. I’ll be fine so don’t worry.

The past two business days have been a bit different but also much of the same. I wake up at 5:15 a.m. (not my choice) to make sure my oldest child gets out of the house and doesn’t miss the bus. If this happens somebody has to provide a ride. I take this time to get myself ready for the day; shower, shave, put on some clothes and gather my things for the day. At 6 I wake my other child to get ready for school. If I have time I take a quick nap because 5:15 a.m. is a crazy time to get up. By 6:50 I’m dressed, walking the dog, getting breakfast, packing my lunch and am (or was) out the door by 7:30.
At work as a Senior Engineering CAD Tech for a civil engineering firm I was responsible for site design, potable water layout, waste water design, drainage design, site layout, as-builts, and any other drafting work. I was also the IT Manager there so if any tech broke I had to make sure it was fixed right away. Lucky for me we had an IT Consultant firm to do the heavy lifting. Once that happened if I couldn’t fix it in a few minutes I was able to delegate the problem. It made me much more billable.
Monday mornings and Fridays were often the most hectic. Monday was a day to do all of the things you put off last week. Friday meant there was a deadline to meet that the project manager promised to the client before consulting anyone else; at least it felt like that the majority of the time.

Some Thoughts to Employers About Training Your Employees

Train them or loose them.

Train them or your production will suffer.

Train them or you will loose even more money.

Train them or your competition will surpass you.

Train them or they will train themselves and leave you.

Stop fussing over training costs. Train your employees. It is the best investment in your company that you will ever make.

Learn how to use AutoCAD Sheet Sets

AutoCAD Sheet Sets is an out-of-the-box project management tool that will enable your users to work together more efficiently and help to manage project data. The Sheet Sets tool is available in AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, and AutoCAD for Mac. It is also available to AutoCAD verticals (like Map, Civil3D, Architecture, etc.) It may look slightly different across these different platforms, but it is there and is very powerful.

Sheet Sets can provide the following:

  • File Management
  • Batch Printing Tools
  • File Archiving
  • Project Data Management
  • File Creation
  • Standardization
  • View Management
  • Project Collaboration
  • Recurring Information
  • Automation

Monday, January 26, 2015

Autodesk to close Subscription Center

Autodesk has announced their plan to close Subscription Center. Subscription Center is a web portal where users can go to manage their Autodesk product licenses, subscriptions and services. This site provides access to download files, tech support, and other services. Autodesk is closing that service on March 13th, 2015.

Fortunately they are replacing it with a new website called Autodesk Account.

Autodesk Account will be a one-stop place where users can track and manage their licenses, subscriptions, products, services, and benefits. Maintenance subscription customers will be affected most by this change but all Autodesk customers will be directed here and will be able to use this service.

Autodesk says the interface and tools in Account will be simple to navigate and use. I found it much easier to navigate than Subscription Center.

Autodesk product users will not have to wait until March to start using Autodesk Account. It is available now and is fully functional.

Autodesk has supplied a video describing this change and the services available through Autodesk Account.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Autodesk Upgrade Pricing Ends January 31

Autodesk officially ends its upgrade pricing plans this month. After January 31, 2015, Autodesk customers will no longer be able to upgrade their licenses of Autodesk products to a newer version. This has been the practice of many Autodesk clients for decades. Company’s would purchase a license from Autodesk and sit on it for several years. When the need arose they would update to the latest version at a discounted price. This price was substantially cheaper than purchasing a brand new license and they only had to spend the money when they absolutely had to. The only other reason spend money was when a company needed an additional license.

Autodesk software isn’t cheap. A single license for one of their products could cost anywhere from $1000 to $7000 easy (US Dollars).  A single perpetual license of AutoCAD could cost around $4000 (estimated pricing) with the upgrade at half the price, depending on when you update and how old your version was. These upgrade prices changed throughout the years with the price slowly increasing as time went on.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

AutoCAD for Mac Shortcuts & Commands

Autodesk has created a keyboard shortcut guide for AutoCAD for Mac 2015. AutoCAD for Mac users will find this guide very useful especially if you often use keyboard commands in your workflow. The guide is free and available at this Autodesk website.

Friday, January 9, 2015

As a Standard, never use the word standard for your standard style names

AutoCAD has many styles. If you use Civil3D (and AutoCAD vertical) you have a plethora of styles. I have come across many instances where companies create a style, be it text, dimension, point label, etc., where they have named it “STANDARD”. It makes sense. You want a standard style to be used by everyone. Which text style should I use? Oh yeah, the one marked STANDARD. It is clear, concise, and easily understood by CAD users of all levels.

There is an issue though. If the naming convention of STANDARD is so simple to use, then many companies will be using it. The problem comes when your files intermingle with theirs. What if you need to insert or reference a third party’s files into yours. Or worse, what if a third party is referencing your files? Assume both companies are using STANDARD for their main text style. Your company uses ROMANS for your standard font. They use SCRIPT. They insert your file into theirs. AutoCAD then recognizes your text style of STANDARD but applies company B’s style settings and all of your text is now script.

Why does this happen? Well, AutoCAD reads a style and uses the style that is already in the file. If two different styles have the same name, it goes with the style it already knows in the open file.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Two universal events that guarantee printer failure.

Any design firm (engineering, architectural, etc.) will tell you that there are two events that, when they occur, will guarantee your printer will fail.  These events are:

1. A hard deadline.
2. The repair tech visited the day before.

You have all experienced these things. It never fails. You could use the printer all week and nothing happens. But when it comes time to print your drawing set for a submittal and there is a hard deadline it will jam, run out of toner, run out of paper, shred your paper, or catch fire. It always happens.  Always.

photo credit: jtyerse via photopin cc  

Many veterans have learned to dread the unsolicited visit of the printer repair tech; not because they smell of old toner, but because of the waft of destruction that typically comes in their wake. You know the drill; they show up to clean out the toner tray, perform a routine cleaning, or to get a counter read. The next day the printer seemingly dies. No reason given; no warning; it simply refuses to work properly. My personal favorite is when the tech comes to repair a broken printer, runs 50 gazillion prints (or your paper) and signs off as if everything was actually ok. Within minutes of them leaving the darn thing is now hiccupping where it was sneezing before.

In all fairness to the repair techs we work the snot out of these devices. We run them super hot and run print after print after print. Nobody would work in a consistent manner under these extreme circumstances. Not without breaking down. But at least now we don’t have to endure the wretched smell of ammonia these days! Oh the memories.


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