Blogger? Journalist? Whatever!

Roopinder Tara has raised an interesting point about how different CAD vendors treat journalists and bloggers. Ralph Grabowski has responded with a “Who cares“. Now you have more CAD blogger navel gazing to put up with as I have my say on the matter. As a traditional magazine journalist (Cadalyst, 1995 – present) and now as a blogger, I’d like to say I agree with Ralph. The label shouldn’t matter, content should be king. From a reader’s point of view, that is. Where it does matter is from a vendor’s point of view. How to dish out the freebies? Should Autodesk fly every blogger out to San Francisco, put them all up at Nob Hill hotels and shower them all with gifts? Or just the traditional journalists? Or journalists and major bloggers? If so, what’s a major blog and what isn’t? Is is based on how active the blog is, the quality of writing, the number of visitors, how vendor-friendly the articles are, or some other factor? Every vendor’s PR team has to draw the line somewhere. Some invite only traditional journalists while others invite a host of bloggers to their events. It all comes down to how much coverage the PR people want to see and how much they are prepared to invest to make that coverage happen. Their budget, their choice.

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This blog is ugly…

…if you’re using Internet Explorer 7. Thanks to Rick for pointing this out. It looks fine in other browsers, including IE6 and my own preferred browser, Firefox 2. Now I have to try to work around the IE7 bugs (which include splitting and misplacing images) to get the blog looking reasonable for everybody. Sigh. Thanks, Microsoft. Anyway, this means you’ll probably see the layout change around a bit more over the next few days. Do not be alarmed.

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Customer Service 2 – Don McMillan

My last customer service story was about McDonald’s. This one is about Donald Mc., but there the similarity ends. After I returned from Autodesk University 2006, I decided to buy a DVD from the comedian that Autodesk put on before the Blue Man Group, Don McMillan. As you’re reading a CAD blog, you are probably geeky enough to appreciate this man’s funny engineeroid slant on life. The likelihood is actually 93.6%. (Did you know that 74.7% of statistics quoted on the Internet are made up?) I wanted to show my wife this funny guy and re-live some of the moments from his show, so I visited his web site and attempted to order the DVD. Unfortunately, his on-line shopping company would not accept orders from Australia, so I dropped him an email. He asked for a US$ money order, but they’re an expensive pain here. I happened to have some cash left over from my trip, so I sent that to him instead. As soon as I informed him that the money was in the mail, he sent off the DVD (which comes with a bonus CD too). My money (it was actually $1.05 too much because of the US$ denominations I had handy) and his DVD crossed in the mail, arriving at about the same time. We trusted each other, and it worked. I was surprised and delighted to discover that Don had shipped not only the DVD with its bonus CD, but another different bonus CD too! With a hand-written note from Don which was, amusingly, on a Post-It note. The DVD and both CDs were, as expected, very funny. Top service, top product, thank you Don! Artist site: www.technicallyfunny.com

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AutoCAD on Linux – Video

Lots of people get excited at the prospect of AutoCAD running under Linux. I’m not one of those people, but for those of you that are, here’s a video from a Linux enthusiast that shows AutoCAD running in an environment that’s doing all kinds of cool geeky stuff. It’s not mine and it’s from October 2006: YouTube Link Cool if you like that kind of thing, that is. I think the effects would drive me mad after a short period of dorkoid enthusiasm, but of course being Linux it would all be under complete user control. Before you get too excited, I should point out that this is AutoCAD 2000, that is, software from last century. It’s running on Ubuntu Dapper with XGL installed and it required the copying of DLLs around from a Windows installation. It’s not supported (of course), and there’s no way of seeing what the real-world drafting performance and reliability is like. It’s a cool fun exercise for somebody with far more nerdish street cred than myself, but it’s not an environment I would use to earn a living.

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AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 4 – More on the Status Bar and Layouts

Here are a couple more tricks AutoCAD 2009 has up its Status Bar sleeve, this time to do with layouts. You may love the new Quick View Layouts feature or you may find it too slow. You may wish to use it sometimes and at other times use the traditional layout tabs. How do you quickly switch from one to the other? Right click, as shown in this animation. The left clicks are red, the right clicks are blue. As you can see, when the layout tabs are visible, the model space button and most recent layout button are replaced by a traditional PAPER or MODEL label. Something you can’t see in the animation is that when you hover over a layout tab, a preview of that layout is displayed at the cursor, thus:

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Thinking of registering a domain name? Just do it!

If you are thinking of putting yourself or your company out there with your own domain name (e.g. cadnauseam.com), there are many, many sites out there that allow you to enter a domain name and see if it’s available. Don’t use them. Why not? Because some of those sites will then immediately register that domain. You won’t be able to register it until that company decides to release it, which of course it will do if you choose to use that company’s overpriced domain registration services. This particularly unethical practice is known as domain tasting and is now the subject of a class action law suit. It was the case that a domain registration company was legally entitled to hold a domain name for up to 5 days, before releasing it without any cost to itself: the 20c cost was refunded. Now that cost is set to become non-refundable, although there is some doubt as to exactly when this will take effect. When it does, that will put a big dent in this practice at the very least. Even if domain tasting continues for the time being, there is no reason you have to become a victim of it. First, find a company that you trust that will register your domain for a reasonable cost, and which is prepared to give you complete ownership and control of the domain. There is no shortage of low-cost domain registration options out there, but check the fine print. I’m a very satisfied customer of Saratoga Hosting for both domain registration and web hosting services, and in the future I’ll go into more detail about exactly why that is. Having found your trustworthy company, don’t bother with a special search. You could do a WhoIs search or just type your desired URL into your…

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AutoCAD tip – persuade Open to highlight your drawing

In AutoCAD, when you have a drawing open and you go to open another, does Open automatically scroll down and highlight your current drawing? This can be very handy when you’re working your way though a set of drawings. If this isn’t happening for you, here’s how to make it do so. In Explorer, go to Tools > Folder Options > View tab and turn off the toggle for Hide extensions for known file types. (Windows XP shown). This is the first thing many people do when setting up a new Windows system. If you fit into this category, you have probably never seen this problem yourself, but you may still be able to use this knowledge to help others.

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AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 3 – Status Bar Right

Having covered the left side of the status bar, let’s move onto the other side. Some of it is familiar, but much of it is new or modified. Let’s have a look: This animation shows the following: The first icon switches to the model space layout. The next icon switches to a paper space layout, but which one? The one you were in most recently. The third icon gives access to the new Quick View Layout feature. Shaan Hurley has covered this quite extensively, so there is not much point in me going over the same ground. However, I will add that in AutoCAD 2009 Release Candidate at least, it’s not particularly accurately named. Yes, you can View Layouts. No, it’s not Quick. If you’re happy using these first three buttons, you can turn off the layout tabs and save some screen space. The Quick View Drawings feature is similar to the Quick View Layout feature, except it applies to currently open drawings rather than layouts. No, this one isn’t Quick either. Pan. I’m not sure why this is here, as I can pan perfectly adequately with my middle mouse button. Maybe having it down here means it doesn’t always have to be available in the Ribbon? Zoom. See Pan. The Steering Wheel is a new view controlling mechanism that Lynn Allen has covered nicely here. According to Lynn, Autodesk is going to be using this interface in its other products soon. Hopefully, it will actually have some useful purpose in those other products, because I don’t see much point to it in AutoCAD. File under, “We did this because we can”. ShowMotion is a new feature that allows you to use AutoCAD to create animations. This feature is potentially useful to users who need to visually impress clients, and…

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blognauseam.com lives! Plus a web browser tip

I have registered the domain name blognauseam.com because: a) it will stop anybody else grabbing it; and b) it will make it easier for people to remember the URL if they don’t have me bookmarked. No changes are required to your bookmarks or links, I just redirected blognauseam.com to blog.cadnauseam.com and will continue to use blog.cadnauseam.com. That leads me to a web browser tip. I’m sure most of you already know this, but if one or two of you go “Ah! Cool…” then it was worth typing it up. When entering a .com URL, you can save time by just typing the main part of the domain name and hitting Ctrl+Enter. Your browser will then add the http://www. prefix and .com suffix for you. Putting the two parts of this post together, that means you can type blognauseam into your browser, hit Ctrl+Enter and you should end up right here where you started.

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Customer Service 1 – McDonald’s

I have a few customer service stories to share. Most are about bad service, but one is about very good service indeed. This isn’t that story. It’s a rant, but it’s true, and it is offered here for your amusement. A couple of years ago I took my eldest daughter L to a school friend’s party at a local fast food outlet. (It’s McDonald’s Melville, actually. I see no need to protect the guilty). As second daughter E would have been left out, I took her too. They could play on the playground together. L was being fed at the party, but I was looking after E myself. I don’t particularly like feeding them that kind of stuff, but once in a while doesn’t hurt too much. The party was from 11:30 to 1:00. I went to order food for E and myself at about 11:55. There were queues (that’s lines to most of you) and I eventually got to the counter at about 12:05. Bear in mind that I had a four year old girl out of sight in the playground while this was going on, and although there were plenty of school mums I knew out there, it was still uncomfortable not having direct supervision. I wanted to get back out there as soon as I could, preferably with E’s food so she didn’t start getting ratty, as she does when she’s hungry. I ordered E’s chicken nuggets & chips kid’s meal, and my double beef and bacon value meal, without any trimmings. At the same time, a woman who also had a kid at the party ordered some other stuff, including a McOz burger with extra tomato. A couple of minutes later, my tray had some of E’s stuff and my chips sitting on it. After five…

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Autodesk University 2006 Video

I didn’t make this video and it’s old news, but as I contributed some photos and I’m in it, I guess I’m entitled to link to it in my blog now I have one. If nothing else, you can use it to see what I look like (unfortunately). Except I now look different. By the way, I meant everything I said in this video. Autodesk University is an awesome event. Created by Helge Brettschneider, originally posted on Between The Lines by Shaan Hurley. YouTube Link

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Lynn Allen’s Famous Cell Phone Story

Whatever the subject, Autodesk evangelist and fellow Cadalyst writer Lynn Allen always gives a very entertaining and informative presentation. If you attend one and you’re lucky, you might get to hear this now infamous story. This footage was taken at Autodesk University, Las Vegas, November 2006. Sorry the sound’s not the best, you may need to turn it up a bit. YouTube Link

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How can I complain about AutoCAD wasting screen space…

…when this blog layout is wasting so much more of it? OK, I haven’t complained about AutoCAD doing that (not here, anyway). Yet. But I will. First, I need to get my own house in order. So, expect to see this blog change its layout a few times over the next few days as I try to make the best use of your pixels. Do not be disturbed. OK, you can be disturbed if you like, but I won’t care.

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AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 2 – Status Bar Left

Enough of linking to other peoples’ observations about AutoCAD 2009, here are some of mine. There is a lot I don’t like about AutoCAD 2009, and I will be covering that side of things in more detail once I have the shipping product to play with and I’m certain that the bad stuff is still there. This post is about the mostly good stuff that will definitely appear in the finished product. AutoCAD 2009 is all about the user interface, but it’s not all about the Ribbon. There are other interface changes too, and some of them are quite welcome. Let’s have a look at the left side of the Status Bar at the bottom of the screen. The buttons have changed from the traditional text labels to incomprehensible icons, at least until you get the hang of what they all mean. Don’t get too outraged about that, because thankfully Autodesk has allowed you to easily switch back to text labels with a couple of clicks. If you prefer to put the effort into getting used to what is the standard interface, hovering over each icon in turn will reveal a tooltip that deciphers the hieroglyphic for you. What else is new down there? A handy way of controlling running object snaps, for one thing. Right-click on the osnap icon and you are presented with a menu that shows you what running osnaps are on and allows you to turn one of them on or off. It’s unfortunate that the menu then vanishes before giving you the chance to make more changes. It would have been nice to allow multiple changes, perhaps by holding down the Shift key or similar. It would also have been nice to have Clear All and Set All options on that menu. This animation shows…

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AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 1 – Links

AutoCAD 2009 is about a month away, but people with pre-release copies are already allowed to start talking about the product. I intend to do so soon, but for now here are a few mentions I found: http://autodesk.blogs.com/between_the_lines/2008/02/the-2009-produc.html http://lynn.blogs.com/lynn_allens_blog/2008/02/autocad-2009-is.html http://lynn.blogs.com/lynn_allens_blog/2008/02/the-autocad-200.html http://heidihewett.blogs.com/my_weblog/2008/02/the-word-is-out.html http://heidihewett.blogs.com/my_weblog/2008/02/autocad-2009-a.html http://discussion.autodesk.com/thread.jspa?threadID=643193 http://discussion.autodesk.com/thread.jspa?threadID=643871 http://mistressofthedorkness.blogspot.com/2008/02/some-autocad-2009-thoughts.html http://rcd.typepad.com/rcd/2008/02/time-flies-its.html http://rkmcswain.blogspot.com/2008/02/autocad-2009-in-2-minutes.html http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/blog/2008/02/autodesk-worl-1.html http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/blog/2008/02/autocad-2009.html http://www.theswamp.org/index.php?PHPSESSID=31k5jnveooq0qn8ecci6i72o34&topic=21356.0 http://forums.cadalyst.com/showthread.php?t=5808 http://thecadgeek.com/blog/2008/02/13/introduction-to-the-autocad-2009-ribbon/ http://cadit.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/02/autocad-2009–.html How do you get a pre-release copy of AutoCAD? Well, assuming you’re not a pirate, you can join up with the Autodesk MyFeedback program. It’s too late for AutoCAD 2009, but sign up now for 2010…

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