AUGI Special Election – voting opens

The AUGI Special Election voting page is now live, and will be open until 12 July 2009. I encourage all AUGI members to carefully consider the candidates and participate in the electoral process. I do not like some of the restrictions that have been placed on this election, but it is the first real election (i.e. with a choice of candidates) that AUGI has had for several years, so please make it a success by taking part.

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AUGI Salary Survey – last few days

The annual AUGI Salary Survey (ably run by friend and fellow geek/blogger Melanie Perry) is open for your responses until 30 June,  so if you’re planning to fill it in, please get in soon. There are 19 simple questions on one page, and it only takes a couple of minutes. If you have questions about the survey, read the FAQ. In these troubled times, many of you may find the previous years’ results a valuable resource.

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AUGI | AEC EDGE magazine published

More AUGI news, but good news this time. The first edition of the on-line magazine AUGI | AEC EDGE has been published by Extension Media. It is available in high- and low-res PDF format, plus an on-line reader. The first issue has 82 pages of almost entirely Revit articles and is very light on for advertising. That’s good in the short term for readers who prefer editorial content over advertising, but in the long term the advertising ratio will have to ramp up to ensure this publication’s ongoing survival. In the meantime, I commend the advertisers who did contribute to making this publication a reality: Contex, Advanced AEC Solutions, CADzation, Autodesk Catalog, Autodesk Seek / Revit Market and HP (although I may not be so kind to HP in future posts on this blog). I also commend Editor (and AUGI Director) Steve Stafford and his big team of volunteer writers for their efforts.

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AUGI Special Election – Candidates

There are four candidates for two positions on the AUGI Board of Directors. The voting page is now open, although it will not go active until voting commences on 29 June. The candidates are (in alphabetical order): Mark Kiker – Current AUGI President, runs the CADDManager Blog, one of the candidates in the failed election of 2008. Will remain President until end of 2009, regardless of this election result. Kenneth Leary – Prominent contributor on the AUGI Forums (as Augi Doggie), AUGI Training Program Coordinator and AUGI General Survey Manager, runs the autocad power user blog. Marv Muston – Former AUGI President (2004) Dario Passariello – Educator for Autodesk products, developing a web site for AUGI Italy, runs his own site. I encourage you to read their profiles (click on the names above) and examine the PDFs of their answers to a fixed set of questions.  Also, check out the candidates’ responses in the AUGI Board Candidates Discussion forum. If you have anything to say about the candidates, their suitability for the position or their responses to questions, feel free to add your comments here. Such discussion is banned on the AUGI forums, but you won’t find any such censorship here. As long as your comments are not actually libellous, I won’t be modifying or deleting anything. In a comment,  R.K. McSwain raises the spectre of people being banned from the AUGI forums for their comments outside it. Having made one Streisand Effect error of judgement on this issue already, I wouldn’t have thought the BoD would be silly enough to immediately repeat that error by getting even more heavy-handed, but you never know. I’m prepared to wear the risk, but if you’re worried about it, you don’t need to use your real name or AUGI forum name here. Even if you…

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A touch of Tehran taints the AUGI Special Election

Most of you reading this blog are fortunate enough to live in democracies, and can only look on with sympathy at those who are denied the right to choose who represents them. What must it be like to live under regimes where the people are denied basic rights such as a free choice over who governs them? Or under mock-democratic regimes that hold “elections” where the candidates available from which to choose are strictly limited, or where the ruling regime changes the rules of the game to prevent losing its majority, or where the right to comment on the suitability of candidates is removed? Well, I guess we AUGI members now have a slight inkling of what that is like. OK, so that’s over the top. At AUGI, there are no riots in the street, no fires, no guns, no dead protesters. No election fraud, either, and I would hope there never is. An AUGI election is infinitely more trivial than what the Iranian people are struggling with. That said, there are clear failings at AUGI on the democratic side of things. These include: In recent years, the Board of Directors (BoD) using the Affirmation Ballot style of “election” to appoint itself as half of the BoD is replaced each year. In this method, the BoD selects the people it wants on the BoD and allows the members the formality of voting “Yes” or “No” for each candidate. This has been widely seen as preserving an “old boys’ club”, and was practiced right up to the point where it failed at the end of 2008. It failed because members’ interest in this “electoral” process had dwindled to the point where a few dozen disgruntled “No” voters were enough to ensure that none of the BoD’s choices were accepted (including some…

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Hotfix available for Raster Design licensing issue

Thanks to Brian and Rick for pointing out the availability of a hotfix for Raster Design 2010’s standalone/network license incompatibility. As a bonus, it also fixes some Raster Design / Civil 3D stability issues. The hotfix is available here, and as always with patches, fixes, service packs and updates, read the readme first. Note that although this fixes the most common scenario where a network Raster Design needs to work on a standalone AutoCAD, it does not fix the opposite scenario. So if you have a bunch of network licensed AutoCAD variants available to you and you have a standalone license of Raster Design because you’re the only person in the office who needs it, you’re still out of luck. If you’re in such a position, I think you have a very strong case for a no-cost change from standalone to network licensing for Raster Design. If you ask for this and are refused, let me know and I’ll let everyone else know.

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AutoCAD 2010 – Putting things back to “normal”

Easily the most popular post on this blog, in terms of both hits and comments, is AutoCAD 2009 – Putting things back to “normal”. Lots of people seemed to find it useful, so I guess it’s worth doing an updated sequel for the current release. Much of this post is the same as the original, but there are differences. Note: there are updated versions of this post for AutoCAD 2011 and 2012. One thing that’s regularly asked whenever a new AutoCAD release hits the streets is how to make it work like earlier releases. As I stated in my original post, I think you should give any new features a fighting chance before turning them off or ignoring them. The 2010 Ribbon is still a Ribbon, but in my view it’s a better one than in 2009. But it’s entirely your choice. We should be grateful that in AutoCAD 2010 at least (unlike Revit 2010), you do still have that choice. Let’s assume you’ve made the decision to put your environment back to AutoCAD 2008 or earlier; how do you do it? Workspace. In vanilla AutoCAD, you can restore much of the user interface by just switching workspaces. In the bottom right corner, there is a little button that looks like a gearwheel. This is the Workspace control. Click on it and pick the item called AutoCAD Classic. If you’re using a vertical variant of AutoCAD 2010, this workspace may not be available. If so, or if you want finer control over your interface, read on. Pull-down Menus. Enter MENUBAR 1 to turn pull-down menus on. To turn them off again, enter MENUBAR 0. Toolbars. In AutoCAD 2009, you could turn individual toolbars on and off by accessing a menu obtained by right-clicking on the QAT. Autodesk (vindictively?) removed that…

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The 12-month cycle and shipping software with known bugs

In a recent blog post, Deelip Menezes appears to be shocked by the very idea that a particular CAD company (no, not Autodesk) would ship software that contains known bugs. I thought he was joking, because he’s surely aware that practically all software companies with highly complex products release software with known bugs. As Deelip points out, those companies with 12-month cycles are particularly prone to doing this. There is no possible way any company can release something as complex as a CAD application within a fixed 12-month cycle without it containing dozens* of known bugs (because there isn’t time to fix them after discovery) and dozens* of unknown ones (because of insufficient Beta testing time). Reading Deelip’s post and subsequent comments more carefully, it becomes clear that he doesn’t mean what a casual glance might lead you to believe he means. Deelip makes a specific distinction between “bugs” and “known issues”. He states that if a bug is discovered and the software is then adjusted such that it does not abort the software in a badly-behaved way, and this is then documented, then the bug ceases to be a bug and becomes a “known issue”. I disagree. Bugs can cause crashes or not; they can cause “nice” crashes or not; they can be known about prior to release or not; they can be documented internally or not; they can be documented publicly or not. As far as I’m concerned, if the software doesn’t act “as designed” or “as intended”, then that’s a bug. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say, and I concur: A software bug is the common term used to describe an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program that prevents it from behaving as intended (e.g., producing an incorrect or unexpected result). That doesn’t…

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AutoCAD for Linux – another bad idea

I often see calls for Autodesk to support AutoCAD on Linux. Just like AutoCAD for the Mac, while I can sympathise with the users of that OS, I think a native port of AutoCAD for Linux would be a bad idea. Again, I think it would be bad for everybody: Autodesk, AutoCAD for Windows users, and most of all, AutoCAD for Linux users. Why? First of all, for most of the same reasons I gave for the Mac port. Autodesk hasn’t just failed in the past with AutoCAD for the Mac, it has failed with AutoCAD for Unix, too. I remember Autodesk being very enthusiastic about the Sparc port in particular (AIX, too). I know personally of customers who were caught up in that enthusiasm and invested heavily in a Unix environment, only to bitterly regret it a few years later when Autodesk abandoned them. Would this happen again? Probably. Second, the numbers just don’t add up. Current PC OS market share is running something like this: Windows 88% Mac OS 10% Linux 1% While the Windows share is currently falling (thanks, Vista) and the others are steadily rising, there’s a long way to go before Linux has the numbers to make the investment worthwhile. In any case, it is likely that most Mac or Linux users of AutoCAD wouldn’t be new customers, simply existing users using a different OS. Not much of a cash cow, is it? I dislike the Windows monopoly and support the open source movement, so I would love it if Autodesk could just snap its fingers and provide all its software on whatever platforms the users want. Mac? Sure. Linux? Great, why not? The reality is that it’s not that easy. It’s expensive to do and expensive to go on supporting in the long term.…

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Go and snag a free Snagit, quick!

For the next few hours, you can get a free registered version of the screen capture software Snagit from TechSmith. It’s a couple of versions old and not supported on Vista, but nevertheless is well worthwhile. No, the Print Scrn key isn’t the same thing at all; Snagit is much, much more useful than that. Try it for yourself, you can thank me later. To get the freebie, first get a registration key by clicking here and then download your copy of Snagit 7.2.5 from here. Be quick, because this offer closes at 5 PM EST (9 PM GMT/UTC) today, 5 June 2009. Even if you were planning on buying the latest version of Snagit, get this freebie anyway. As a registered user of Snagit, you automatically qualify for upgrade offers. This means you can get the latest Snagit for US$24.95 rather than US$49.95 (depending on location). TechSmith has another screen capture utility, Jing. This is also free, with a more powerful version available at a cost. Which is the best TechSmith screen capture utility? Dunno, I’ve never used Jing. Grab ’em both and see what you think. Source: mCADForums via SolidMentor. Disclosure: at Autodesk University 2006, I was given free copies of Snagit 8.1 and Camtasia Studio 4.0 (thanks Shaan), both of which I still use regularly (i.e. it’s not shelfware). I was also given a TechSmith T-shirt, which I ruined within hours by spilling red wine on it.

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AutoCAD for Mac review in Cadalyst (circa 1989)

A comment from Kal on Between the Lines mentions an AutoCAD Release 10.5 for Mac. My memory of ancient and useless AutoCAD trivia is usually pretty good, but this time things are a bit foggy and I need some help. I definitely remember there being some kind of half-release of AutoCAD for Mac*, but I’m not sure it was an official designation. I do remember a Cadalyst review at the time, possibly by Art Liddle. I would estimate it to be from 1989, give or take a year. The then-new Mac release reviewed was some kind of hybrid between R10 and R11 (I think), with most of the feature set of one release and the DWG format of another. I had thought the product was called R11, but I could be wrong about that and maybe it was 10.5. Is there anybody out there with a complete set of Cadalyst issues that goes back that far? Mine only goes back to mid-1995. If so, can you locate that review? * Two decades ago, with a much smaller and simpler code base that was already non-platform-specific, Autodesk had to cobble together a hybrid release to provide native Mac support. How much harder would that task be today?

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