Top 20 posts of 2016

According to Jetpack site statistics, these were the most viewed posts on this blog of 2016. Note: these stats began being collected in May when the blog became active again so the list doesn’t cover the entire year.

  • AutoCAD 2012 – Putting things back to “normal”
  • AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal”
  • Disaster in progress – Autodesk’s all-rental plans are failing
  • Why AutoCAD for Mac is a bad idea
  • AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal”
  • What is loaded at AutoCAD startup, and when?
  • Olympic Fencing – Mythbusting the Shin v Heidemann Controversy
  • Autodesk perpetual license owners to get screwed big-time
  • Autodesk desktop app. Worst. Name. Ever. Is the product better than the name?
  • AutoCAD 2010 – Putting things back to “normal”
  • AutoCAD 2013 – Download the trial without Akamai
  • Battle of the … Full post
  • 33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 2

    In this series of posts, I am looking back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10. See post 1 for information about what the ratings mean.

    In part 2, I rate AutoCAD Release 12 to AutoCAD 2002.

  • AutoCAD Release 12 (June 1992): 9 – Big, big changes. A mass of UI and other improvements. Lots of new dialog boxes. The first release that retained its predecessor’s DWG format, which was very handy. DCL gave LISP and C programmers the ability to create dialog box commands. The first usable Windows version (the R11 extension version was a shocker). Came with a Bonus CD full of extra stuff; a big deal in those days of limited connectivity. Autodesk’s upgrade amnesty (upgrade from any earlier release for $500 in the USA) made this extremely strong value for money, too.
    Full post
  • Randall Newton’s survey

    If you’re a small CAD vendor, please consider helping out CAD journalism legend Randall Newton with his homework.

    Randall is doing a university survey project on the marketing communications issues in Small CAD vendors. He has a survey with 5 questions about marketing communications; if you think you can help, please email randall dot newton at gmail dot com and he’ll send you the survey and explain its uses. He needs the responses by 20 January.

    33 years of AutoCAD upgrades rated – part 1

    In this series of posts I will look back on all the AutoCAD upgrades I’ve experienced over the years and rate each of them out of 10.

    This is not a rating of the software in absolute terms, it’s a relative rating of the upgrade. That is, the improvement the software made on its predecessor. AutoCAD 2000i is a much better piece of software than AutoCAD Release 2.5, and given the choice I would rather use the former, no contest. But as an upgrade, 2000i sucked and 2.5 rocked. The biggest improving upgrade is the benchmark and gets 10; the others are rated in comparison. If a release is worse overall than its predecessor, it goes into minus territory.

    In part 1, I rate AutoCAD Version 1.4 to Release 11. This is not quite a full assessment of all AutoCAD upgrades because my AutoCAD experience started with AutoCAD Version 1.4 … Full post

    I snigger at your pronouncements of technological inevitability

    It always amuses me when people proclaim a rising technology as not just promising, but the way of the future that will inevitably take over. Anybody can see that’s the way things are heading, they say. No use fighting it. Don’t question the certainty of the forthcoming tech revolution, you Luddite! It’s a sea change, resistance is futile, get on board now or be swept away on the flood waters of progress.

    What a load of bollocks.

    What really surprises me is when people who are old enough to know better join in with this sort of thing. Those of us who have been around a while have seen many “inevitable” technological revolutions dry up and fizzle out, some more than once. It gets old.

    Remember a few short years ago when touchscreens were going to be part of everybody’s desktop setup as ubiquitous as the mouse? I do, but … Full post

    Video lulz with AutoCAD 360

    Thanks to Hans Lammerts on Twitter for pointing out this amusingly cringeworthy AutoCAD 360 YouTube ad:

    The guy spilling his coffee and falling over reminds me of the people in those infomercials that can never get the simplest things right:

    OK, so the ad’s bad, but how’s the product? I had a look for myself at the browser version of AutoCAD 360, which is the current name for what has been Visual Tau, Project Butterfly and AutoCAD WS in previous iterations dating back before Autodesk’s acquisition of the Israeli technology in 2009.

    It’s a while since I tried it, so I was interested to see the progress that had been made. After all, CAD in the Cloud has been Autodesk’s focus for a long time now, and as this is likely the first product people try out, you’d expect it to be pretty dazzlingly … Full post

    CAD on the Cloud – available anytime, anywhere except when it isn’t

    One of the multiple reasons Autodesk has failed to win over the masses to its Cloudy CAD vision is fear of unreliability. Anything that relies on using somebody else’s computer over the Internet adds potential points of failure to those already there on a standalone desktop system. These additional vulnerabilities include:

    • Your browser or thin client software fails
    • Your modem, cabling or other Internet connectivity hardware fails
    • Your Internet service provider has an outage
    • Malware or DDOS attacks on your domain or service
    • Governmental Internet service interference
    • Internet connectivity infrastructure failure
    • Malware or DDOS attacks on vendor domain or service
    • Cloud vendor infrastructure disaster
    • Cloud-based CAD software down for maintenance

    I voiced my concerns about this in 2011, but technology has moved on since then and surely things are running as smooth as can be these days, right? Most computer users use Cloud services … Full post

    Script for creating AutoCAD Classic workspace

    Edwin Prakaso at the excellent CAD Notes blog has done something that, in hindsight, is blindingly obvious but nevertheless very useful to a multitude of people. He’s written a simple script file that sets up the Classic workspace (or something close to it). It works in any recent AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT. Here’s the blog post:

    AutoCAD Script to Create Classic Workspace Automatically

    Edwin uses Microsoft OneDrive to store the script file, so if your workplace restricts access to Cloud storage you might need to download it at home.

    I’ve added a reference to this script to my post AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal”.

    Huge PDFs? AutoCAD 2017.1.1 could be to blame

    Autodesk has yet again demonstrated why continuous automatic updating is no panacea for avoiding CAD update disruption. On the contrary…

    If you have noticed some of your PDFs exported from AutoCAD getting huge and unwieldy lately, AutoCAD 2017.1.1 could be to blame. Try uninstalling it using Programs and Features > View Installed Updates and see if the problem goes away. It may also be possible to work around this by going into PDF options and turning on Include Hyperlinks. Source: The Swamp.

    Here’s one possible* install history:

    • You install AutoCAD 2017. This defaults to also installing Autodesk desktop app. If this works on your system and you leave it on there doing its thing and consuming your resources, it will attempt to automatically keep your Autodesk software up to date.
    • Autodesk desktop app installed AutoCAD 2017.1. You like this because it has added a couple of nice features. … Full post

    Reset an apparently dead Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4″

    …with this one simple trick!

    I had my Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4″ Android tablet spontaneously die last night, and it refused to respond to any button pressing, cable connecting or threats. Holding down the power button for 10 seconds (or more) did nothing, as did Dr. Google’s top tip of holding down Power, Volume Up and Home for 10 seconds.

    What worked for me was holding down Power, Volume Up and Volume Down for 10 seconds. It restarted without anything being lost and is now back to normal.

    Return of the bullshit – baked beans edition

    In an October 2015 post I’ve only just noticed, snappily titled No More Software Like a Can of Baked Beans: Why Software Subscription Serves It Up Fresh, Autodesk VP Andrew Anagnost bravely attempts to sell Autodesk’s move to all-rental software. This is a rather belated response, but fortunately there is no statute of limitations on skewering spin so let’s get started.

    How does he go? On a positive note, top marks for creative writing! The general theme is a strained and somewhat Californian analogy in which perpetual licenses are like canned goods (bad), and rental is like fresh produce (good). However, it’s presented well and professionally written. Among the highlights are:

    • Perpetual software licenses are like high-fructose corn syrup – no, I’m not making this up. Stop laughing at the back there!
    • This is a change that is simply a better experience for everyone – everyone who … Full post

    Undo, U, Redo, Erase, Oops differences explained

    It’s been a while since I posted any beginners’ tips, so here goes.

    There are several commands in AutoCAD to do with reversing things you’ve done. They are in some cases subtly different and this can confuse newcomers. Here’s what they do:

    • U – reverses the last command you used.
    • Redo – reverses the last U or Undo operation you performed, if that’s the last thing you did.
    • Undo – displays a set of command options that allow greater control over undoing things. (This is rarely used directly by a user, and is more of a programmer’s tool, so I won’t be going into any detail).
    • Erase – removes from the drawing an object or set of objects as selected by the user.
    • Oops – reverses the last Erase command, even if you have done other things in the meantime. (It also reverses erasures performed by the Wblock command, … Full post

    Autodesk’s big Cloud failure

    Back in 2011, Autodesk, some other vendors and many industry pundits were utterly convinced of the inevitable and near-imminent victory of Cloud-based CAD over standalone software. I wasn’t. I wanted to get a feel for how isolated my viewpoint was, so I started a poll and let it run for a while. Here’s how that turned out:
     

    As you can see, this blog’s readers were less than convinced about the inevitability of that Cloudy future. Not so Carl Bass, who had this to say in an April 2012 TechCrunch interview:

    I’d say two to three years from now, every one of our products will be used online. The only way to use … Full post

    AutoCAD 2017.1.1 Update

    Thanks to Jimmy Bergmark, I now know that the controversial subscription-only* AutoCAD 2017.1 Update has itself been updated. Jimmy was brave enough to install and run the execrable Autodesk desktop app and discovered the update update. Rather you than me, Jimmy!

    Here’s the readme. You’ll need to get at it using Autodesk Account.

    I note that a bunch of crashes are fixed by this update update. Perhaps that is related to the magical missing AutoCAD 2017.1 crash information? Who knows?

    The update was apparently released over a month ago on 17 November 2016. Autodesk needs to work out an alternative mechanism to Autodesk desktop app so that those of us who won’t/can’t use it will still be informed when updates become available. If only there were some other method Autodesk could use to communicate … Full post

    AutoCAD 2017 for Mac released, still half-baked

    AutoCAD 2017 for Mac and AutoCAD LT 2017 for Mac have been released. Here’s a video highlighting exciting and innovative new features such as drawing and layout tabs. Despite such stellar advances, it’s safe to say that AutoCAD for Mac remains half-baked, even after all these years. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    According to Autodesk, these are the features missing from AutoCAD 2017 for Mac:

    LAYDEL, LAYMRG, LAYWALK and LAYVPI
    Tool palettes
    New layer notification
    Navigation bar
    ShowMotion
    Ribbon*
    DesignCenter**
    Sheet Set Manager***
    Steering wheel
    Feature finder for help
    Model documentation tools
    Dynamic block lookup parameter creation/editing
    Table style editing
    Multiline style creation
    Digitizer integration
    Geographic location
    Simplified, powerful rendering
    Material creation, editing, and mapping
    Advanced rendering settings
    Camera creation
    Point cloud
    Full post

    Autodesk to pull the plug on 123D

    The reason you should never rely on SaaS for anything important is that, well, you just can’t rely on it. If the software breaks, or the vendor goes under, or decides that line’s not profitable enough, or just loses interest, you’re screwed. More importantly, you’re screwed on a timeframe that’s out of your control, and probably much shorter than you would like. You can’t just go on using the software until you’re ready to move on, like you can with perpetual licenses.

    Thanks for the latest lesson, Autodesk, regarding 123D:

    Over the past few years, millions of people have unlocked their creativity with the Autodesk 123D apps and community. We’ve grown from one desktop tool in 2011 to multiple apps across desktop, web, and mobile.
     
    We’re incredibly proud of these products, and even more proud of what you all have MADE with them. But we … Full post

    Steve’s fencing year 2016

    Some of you may be aware I’m an active veteran fencer. I’ve been a bit quiet over the past month because I’ve been away, attending two major fencing tournaments. I’ll post some video later, but here are my national and international medal results this year:

    Australian Fencing Circuit 1, Melbourne, Australia
    • Veteran Men’s Sabre – Bronze and 50+ Gold
    Asian Masters / Oceania and AFC 3 Veterans, Perth, Australia
    • Asian Masters / Oceania Veteran / AFC3 Veteran Men’s Sabre (50+) – Gold
    • Asian Masters / Oceania Veteran / AFC3 Veteran Men’s Foil (50+) – Bronze
    • Asian Masters / Oceania Veteran Men’s Sabre Teams (Australia A) – Gold
    • Asian Masters / Oceania Veteran Men’s Foil Teams (Australia Green) – Bronze
    Commonwealth Veteran Fencing Championships, Christchurch*, New Zealand

    BricsCAD startup LISP bug fixed

    In my previous post I have a real problem with BricsCAD, I related my then-latest interaction with the Bricsys support system:

    Steve Johnson
    05-12-2016 05:30 UTC

    I don’t know if this is a BricsCAD problem or a DOSLib one, so I am reporting it to both Bricsys and Dale at McNeel. I’m also not sure if this was happening in earlier versions.

    If I load DOSLib during an S::STARTUP call and then use the (dos_msgbox) function later in that call, this fails the first time round because BricsCAD things the function is not defined. Opening a second drawing results in the call working as expected. I’ve chopped down our startup routine so you have an example.

    ; error : no function definition ; expected FUNCTION at [eval]

    Awesome Bricsys Person
    05-12-2016 12:32 UTC

    Hi Steve,

    There was a regression introduced in V17.1.10 that caused … Full post

    Autodesk perpetual license owners to get screwed big-time

    Hidden in amongst a bunch of the usual highly dubious subscription statements from Carl Bass is an announcement that spells doom for Autodesk perpetual license owners. I will resist the temptation to skewer Carl’s spin (for now) because this announcement is much more important:

    Bass also confirmed that the company plans to converge the two existing subscription models — maintenance and product subscriptions — into a single offering over the next two years. “If you look out to fiscal year 2020, we want to be in a place where, first of all, we have a single kind of offering with a single back office and infrastructure to support it, one that will be a combination of product subscriptions as you see them plus a consumption model on top of it. That’s where we see the business heading.

    “Along the way, it’s how do we motivate customers to … Full post