AutoCAD 2011 for Mac announced

According to Macworld, Autodesk has now made its worst-kept secret, AutoCAD for Mac OS X, official. There are also goodies for those with cute little rectangles: Autodesk also announced that the new Mac version of AutoCAD would be accompanied by the AutoCAD WS mobile application, a new app for iPad, iPhone, and the iPod touch… When? AutoCAD for Mac and the AutoCAD WS mobile application will be available in North America and Europe sometime between August and October. Users can pre-order the app starting Wednesday, September 1. Huh? August is pretty much over. September or October, then.

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AutoCAD 2011 Update 1 recalled

If you click on the link I posted about earlier, you will get this: On August 23, 2010, Autodesk released Update 1 for AutoCAD 2011. Unfortunately, Update 1 introduced an issue when conducting certain operations that may cause AutoCAD to shut down. This issue affects a small number of users. We have removed Update 1 and will reintroduce it in the near future when the issue has been resolved. For customers who have already installed Update 1, the hotfix that resolves this issue has been posted at the following location: AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT Layer Manager Hotfix Please be assured that Autodesk is wholly committed to the quality of AutoCAD, and regrets this error. Having been pretty critical of Autodesk lately, you might expect me to dish out another serve for this. But I won’t. With the best of intentions, this stuff happens. Autodesk has done the right thing in recalling the update and providing a workaround for customers who have already applied it, and a fixed Update 1 should get released soon enough.

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Why we keep upgrading

In a comment in response to a Deelip post yesterday, Brad Holtz pointed to an article he wrote in 1999. It’s interesting to note that while much of the computing world today bears little resemblance to the scene at the end of the last century, this article remains almost completely accurate and relevant. Indeed, it’s so right that you might even be tempted to think, “Duh, isn’t that obvious?” One section that stood out to me had this to say: Many software systems never even get beyond the acceptable stage …. vendors of these systems are continually coming out with new versions, never stopping long enough to fix the problems with the existing systems. It’s fascinating to me that this observation came at the very time that Autodesk was switching from a company that wasn’t exactly like that to one that very much was (and still is today), thanks to the 12-month release cycle.

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More Autodesk deception over LT productivity study

Following on from the AutoCAD 2011 productivity study I critiqued earlier, there is now an LT version. Do the same credibility problems apply to this study too? Yes, and then some. In addition to the drawings and operations being deliberately hand-picked to demonstrate new features, no direct comparison is performed at all between the two releases on the same platforms. Every single quoted “productivity improvement” figure includes, free of charge, three years of hardware and operating system progress and a more upmarket graphics card. If you read business “news” sources that just reprint press releases, such as this Yahoo! Finance one (thanks, Carol Bartz), you won’t see this mentioned. Instead, you will see deceptive statements like these: David S. Cohn, an independent consultant Er, no, in this context he’s not independent, he’s an Autodesk consultant. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. overall productivity gains of 44 percent for users moving from AutoCAD LT 2008 or earlier versions to AutoCAD LT 2011 …as long as you only ever perform certain carefully selected operations and upgrade your hardware and operating system. Like the other study, the 44% figure is totally meaningless and quoting it without qualification is downright deceptive. Most users will be able to get more work done faster by upgrading to AutoCAD LT 2011 This statement is totally unsupported. There is no analysis of what “most users” do with the software, and no attempt to quantify the portion of time such users spend on these hand-picked operations. Neither is there any analysis performed on more common operations to see if the new releases introduced any detriment to productivity in those areas. Improvements to the graphical user interface deliver a 43 percent productivity increase. If that’s true, why do so many users of 2009 to 2011 immediately turn off the new user…

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Autodesk user community survey

Autodesk is running a web survey to try to find out which user communities (including blogs) its customers find valuable. If you are interested in participating, the survey is here. If you want to specify any blogs, you will need to type or paste their names into various “other comments” boxes. As the number of blogs I read far exceeds a reasonable type-in requirement, I couldn’t accurately give an idea of my web habits. So I’m not sure how much can be accurately read into the results. (Source: CAD Panacea). I saw Shaan asking about this kind of thing a while back, but not getting much response. It looks like Autodesk is trying to work out exactly where its customers go these days for support, discussion, networking, training, etc. I can’t speak for other bloggers, but I’d be happy to provide my site statistics on request. Anybody can also get an idea of how much of a “community” a blog is by the number of comments. One point I found strange in the survey was the order of “valuableness” in one of the questions. It went something like: Not at all valuable Not very valuable Valuable Somewhat valuable Very valuable Exceedingly valuable (or whatever) The ordering of “somewhat valuable” and “valuable” was the opposite to what I would have expected. What do you think? Is “somewhat valuable” more valuable than “valuable”, as the survey suggests?

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I got into a fight. Caught on video.

Last weekend, I competed for the first time in a national-level fencing competition, the “Be Active” Western Australian International Fencing Tournament (AFF#3). Most people compete in one or two events within a competition, but I thought I would challenge myself and had a go at all six of the individual events available to me. I set myself what I thought were realistic goals for each event. Here is how I did at chasing those goals: Open Men’s Foil – goal: top 32 – result: 22nd – achieved. Open Men’s Epee – goal: top 32 – result: 42nd – failed. Open Men’s Sabre – goal: top 16 – result: 16th – achieved. Veteran Men’s Foil – goal: top 8 – result: 3rd= – exceeded. Veteran Men’s Epee – goal: top 8 – result: 6th – achieved. Veteran Men’s Sabre – goal: top 4 – result: made the final – exceeded. If you are interested, have 5 minutes to spare, and your access is not blocked at work, you can have a look at me competing in the final of the Veteran Men’s Sabre using this YouTube link. Hopefully, you should find it a pretty entertaining contest, even if you don’t entirely understand what’s going on. If I hit him you will see a red light, if he hits me it’s green, and if both lights go on that means we have both hit each other within 120 milliseconds and the referee decides the point based on right-of-way rules. I have only been fencing sabre for about a year, so I was very happy to reach the final. That I did so is all down to my sabre coach at my club Excalibur, legendary Hungarian master Frank Kocsis. You can see him briefly on the video as he approaches me during the…

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Not answering the question

Here in Australia, we’re in election mode, so I have even more reasons to avoid watching TV. On those occasions when I do watch it, I am often annoyed by what I see. This is not a novel observation, but one of the things that annoys me about many politicians is their habit of sidestepping questions when interviewed. It also annoys me when interviewers fail to follow up these non-answers and let them slide. Depending on the circumstances (e.g. limited timeframe, more important questions to ask, etc.), there may be valid reasons for journalists failing to chase after legitimate answers in a live interview situation. But I would much prefer to see a non-answering interviewee tied down and not allowed to wriggle free. Squirm, baby, squirm! For on-line journalists and bloggers, there are few excuses for letting non-answers go unchallenged. There is virtually unlimited time, opportunity and column space in which things can be chased down. With that in mind, this post is an analysis of the response Callan Carpenter gave to the four specific questions I raised, and three points of dispute raised by others and passed on by me for a response. I have marked each response (or non-response) out of 10. Questions Please clarify in as much detail as possible exactly how you arrive at your figures. Answer: none given. 0/10 A percentage is derived by dividing one number by another; what exactly are you dividing by what to come up with 1.5%? Answer: none given. 0/10 Please explain why your statements appear to contradict Autodesk’s own published figures. Answer: Callan explained that he did not intend to suggest what it seemed he was implying, but didn’t clearly explain exactly what it was that he actually was suggesting. 5/10 How large is Autodesk’s total installed base? Answer:…

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Studying Autodesk’s productivity study

Heidi Hewett just reported the following on her blog, about a productivity study: According to a recent independent study, AutoCAD® 2011 can help you work up to 44% faster with the latest productivity enhancements. I have a couple of problems with that sentence. First, it’s not an independent study. It’s a study conducted by long-time respected CAD figure David Cohn, but it was specified and paid for by Autodesk: This productivity study was performed at the request of Autodesk Inc., which funded this work. That’s not exactly independent then, is it? Second, the study does not state that AutoCAD 2011 is responsible for a 44% improvement. That’s a figure that combines both the effects of AutoCAD 2011 (over AutoCAD 2008), plus the effects of using a newer, faster PC. Just stating that figure wthout such a disclaimer is misleading. Now to the study itself. Let me make it clear that I have no problem with David Cohn, who is respected, experienced and honest. I do not doubt that his study accurately describes his observations of the time taken to perform the chosen operations on the chosen drawings. The problem is that the study is designed to concentrate purely on a set of AutoCAD operations that benefit from the changes of the last three releases. In other words, the dice are very heavily loaded. To David’s credit, he states that very clearly in the study report: Each drawing was chosen based on a number of criteria designed to showcase one or more features of the software that did not exist in AutoCAD 2008 but were added in subsequent releases. While each drawing could certainly be produced using the features and functions available in AutoCAD 2008, the advanced capabilities added in subsequent releases would likely enable a typical user to produce the drawing…

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