Why owning stuff is still important (repost)

This post was originally published on 19 November 2012. What’s happened since then is that Autodesk has indeed ended the sale of perpetual licenses and gone all-rental even though customers remain reluctant.

Autodesk’s cloud push, however, is struggling. Many Autodesk cloud products are dying or dead. Others (mostly free) carry on but many have failed to live up to expectations.  Some paid cloud products (e.g. Fusion 360) are starting to generate some return on Autodesk’s huge investment. However, it’s all years behind schedule. We were supposed to be cloudy CAD users several years ago. It hasn’t happened. How much of that is because of technical blockages, how much is because we have problems trusting the cloud, and how much is because we prefer to own our software licenses? I have no way of telling, but I’m sure the latter factor is somewhere …

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Top 20 posts of 2016

According to Jetpack site statistics, these were the most viewed posts on this blog of 2016. Many of them are from previous years. Note that 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” (April 2011)
  • AutoCAD 2011 – Putting things back to “normal” (March 2010)
  • Disaster in progress – Autodesk’s all-rental plans are failing (June 2016)
  • Why AutoCAD for Mac is a bad idea (May 2009)
  • AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal” (July 2016)
  • What is loaded at AutoCAD startup, and when? (September 2008)
  • Olympic Fencing – Mythbusting the Shin v Heidemann Controversy (August 2012)
  • Autodesk perpetual license owners to get screwed big-time (December 2016)
  • Autodesk desktop app. Worst. Name. Ever. Is the product better than …

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  • 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
    • Men’s Sabre (50+) – Gold
    • Men’s Sabre …

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    Selfie of the day – who is this man?

    I have just returned from a very interesting trip half way around the world. In addition to learning some fascinating stuff about certain things (to be discussed later), I met some interesting people. One of these people can be seen in this photo, which I took with my phone at a party at a trendy location, just like all the cool kids do these days.
    20161020_203442The person who answers all (or most) of these questions correctly (or close to correctly) in the next 72 hours (ish) gets a fun but worthless prize.

    1. Who is this man? (Not the one in the corner, that’s me).
    2. Name the drawing he’s most famous for.
    3. Name the technique he developed to help create this drawing. (It still works today, but now has a much simpler equivalent).
    4. Name the CAD company which used that drawing in its promotional material.
    5. Name the CAD company whose products this man is now promoting.
    6. (Tiebreaker question) Estimate the number of hours he says it took to produce that famous drawing.

    I reserve the right to make up new rules as I go along without telling anyone. Hopefully nobody will care too much. I’ll be putting all comments on this blog into the moderation queue until the end of the contest so nobody can see anybody else’s answers, so don’t panic if your comment doesn’t appear.

    The prize? The right to create a guest posting on this blog with a subject of your choice. As long as it’s probably legal and not too indecent, you can write what you like. Even if it’s “Steve is a poo poo head!”

    I hope I don’t regret this. Good luck!

    Edit: contest is now closed, see here for the winner.

    AutoCAD’s ARRAYCLASSIC command is my fault

    Ever wondered why most keep-the-old-version commands in AutoCAD are called CLASSICxxx but the old version of the ARRAY command is called ARRAYCLASSIC? Why can’t Autodesk be consistent for once? Sorry, that’s actually my fault. Here’s a little history.

    • AutoCAD Version 1.4 (1983) introduced the ARRAY command with Rectangular and Circular options.
    • AutoCAD Version 2.5 (1986) added the Polar option and hid the Circular option (but it’s still there).
    • AutoCAD 2005 introduced a dialog box version of the ARRAY command. The command-line version remained available via the -ARRAY command (with a leading hyphen).
    • AutoCAD 2012 introduced many new array features, including associative, path and 3D arrays. However, the dialog box interface was removed and the old command-line interface was back. There were also a bunch of bugs and limitations with the new regime.
    • I created and published the shareware utility ClassicArray™ to restore a familiar dialog box interface to AutoCAD’s …

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    Microsoft demonstrates why automatic updates are a terrible idea. Listening, Autodesk?

    I like Windows 10. After some investigation and with some trepidation, I have upgraded two Windows 7 computers and one Windows 8 (ugh) computer to Windows 10. In use, I’m generally very happy with it. It boots fast, works well and most of the more ridiculous aspects of the Windows 8 “let’s assume your computer is a phone” interface are gone. The fact that I can scroll windows using my mouse wheel without first clicking on those windows to obtain focus is a real productivity plus. I would be happy to recommend Windows 10 to all Windows 8 users and most Windows 7 users, dependant on individual needs. I would, but I’m not. Microsoft is entirely responsible for that reluctance; read on.

    The one thing I really, really dislike about Windows is the way it pushes updates. With Windows 7 I was always selective about what updates I allowed through …

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    Why owning stuff is still important

    Let’s start with a few questions:

    • Do you own your home or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
    • Do you own your car or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
    • Do you own your TV or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?
    • Do you own your computer or rent it? Given the choice, what would you prefer? Why?

    If you’re like me, you answered the same for most or all of those questions. I own all of the above and rent none of it. I prefer owning all of the above. Why? Three Cs:

    • Continuity. If I own my home, there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll be able to go on living in it as long as I like. There are exceptions (wars, natural disasters, etc.), but ownership is generally much safer than renting if it’s …

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    Dilbert and the Cloud

    I have an Autodesk-related Dilbert story to share. Back in the late 90s, I was visiting Autodesk’s San Rafael offices (at Autodesk’s expense) and had an appointment to see a product manager. There was some confusion when I arrived at Reception, but after a few phone calls I was shown into a meeting room containing the manager and a lot of other Autodesk people. However, the open mouths told me that they were discussing very confidential stuff. They were clearly shocked and horrified that an outsider had been allowed into that particular room at that particular time, even though I had signed an NDA and was due to spend that day giving some important future software a very thorough going-over.

    The manager quickly shuffled me off to his own office and let me know he would be back as soon as the meeting concluded. I waited a while, staring into space. …

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    Australian Fencing Championship 2011

    I have been away in Sydney for a while, attending the Australian Fencing Championships. I fenced in five events with uneven success (I came 52nd out of 70 in the Open Foil, for example), but a few things made me happy. First, I was able to fence for Western Australia in the Team Foil event as captain of the WA ‘B’ team, which put up a decent performance in going down to a strong ACT ‘A’ team. Next, I came 6th in the Veteran Foil; down from last year’s 2nd, but quite respectable given the strength of the field.

    The event I was really concentrating on, the one in which I most wanted to do well, was the Veteran Sabre. I fenced pretty well through the pools and direct elimination bouts and got through to the final. There, I faced an opponent who had beaten everybody else that …

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    Cloud discussions generating interest

    This is one of those self-indulgent posts you probably hate, so feel free to skip it and just read the more interesting stuff.

    Last month, my site statistics went through the roof. Here’s a graph that shows the number of unique visitors and the number of visits per month since I started the blog in February 2008. Page views, hits (a pretty useless statistic) and bandwidth all spiked in a similar fashion.

    I remember being very surprised when over 1,500 people visited my blog in the first month, as I would have been very happy with a few hundred readers. I was astonished when more than 5,000 people visited here on the second month. Last month, there were 30,921 unique visitors who visited 58,342 times, viewing 129,206 pages. I’m sure there are other CAD blogs with many times …

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    Fencing in Canberra – video

    It’s about time I posted about something other than the Cloud, or even CAD.

    Every year, there are four national-level fencing competitions in Australia. As they are almost all held on the other side of the continent, I don’t get to compete in them as often as I’d like. However, a couple of months ago I did have the opportunity to compete in the third of these competitions for 2011, held this year in Canberra.

    This was very special to me because my mother and sister were in the audience and it was the first time either of them had ever seen me fence. It was also special because my sabre coach, Frank Kocsis, flew out to be with me and his other students. Frank has taken only two years to move me from complete sabre novicehood to being competitive at national level, particularly in the veteran (over-40) events.

    This …

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    Will Autodesk have to explain itself to the SEC?

    The observant among you may have noticed that for many years, Autodesk’s free patches, service packs and updates haven’t added any new functionality. Bugs may get fixed, severe performance issues may be addressed, but design errors generally have to wait for the next release (at the earliest), and new features definitely don’t get added.

    The last time new functionality was added to AutoCAD in a free maintenance release was Release 13’s c4 update which shipped on 12 February 1996. (There was a public beta available some months earlier; I picked up a copy at Autodesk University 1995). That free update contained not only a host of bug fixes, but also more useful new features than some later full-price upgrades (e.g. AutoCAD 2000i). In an outbreak of outstanding customer service, a c4 CD was shipped free to all registered users. Maybe Autodesk was trying to recover from disastrously shipping Release 13 prematurely, …

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    Why do you comment here?

    One of the things that most pleases me about this blog is the amount of comments it gets. I’m sure there are several AutoCAD-related blogs that are much more frequently visited than this one, especially the Autodesk ones. However, I’m not aware of another AutoCAD blog with the volume of comments I see here. On average, each post here receives just under 5 comments, and the most popular subject for discusssion is now not far short of the 100 mark.

    I recently went four complete calendar months without making a single post, but comments kept trickling in anyway. When I returned to normal posting, the commenters returned as if I had never been “away”. What’s up with that? I’m curious. Why do you comment here and not so much elsewhere? Or am I mistaken and there’s an AutoCAD blog I’ve forgotten that’s a hotbed of commentary?

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    Fencing at the Commonwealth Championships

    This blog has been a bit quiet over the last couple of weeks, as I have had other things to occupy me. I have recently returned from the Commonwealth Fencing Championships 2010 which were held in Melbourne from 30 September to 5 October. There, I was representing my country in the veteran (over-40) events. Which country? Read on.

    Fencing is one of the few sports to have featured in every modern Olympic Games, but at Commonwealth level it has been held separately from the main Games since 1970. Although not part of the Commonwealth Games currently being held in Delhi, fencing is a Commonwealth-recognised sport and the Commonwealth Fencing Championships is a sanctioned event. It is a fairly large event, with representatives from 15 nations. There were 51 fencers in the England squad alone.

    England Squad

    You may recall me mentioning my participation

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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 …

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    What proportion of Autodesk customers really are on Subscription?

    In my recent interview of Autodesk Subscription VP Callan Carpenter, he made these statements:

    …there is a very small fraction of our revenue that comes from upgrades at this point in time.

    We’re down to very low single digits of customers who upgrade, and of those only half of those upgrade 1 or 2 years back. So we’re talking about approximately 1.5% of our revenue that comes from customers upgrading 1 and 2 versions back.

    …[customers who upgrade] 1 or 2 [releases] back, a very small percentage of our customer base, less than 2% of our customer base that was buying those upgrades.

    Others are calling those numbers into doubt. Deelip Menezes (SYCODE, Print 3D) estimated the numbers of AutoCAD users not on Subscription at 66% (or 43%, depending on which bit of the post you read), by counting the AutoCAD releases used by his customers …

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    The Machine that Won the War

    I just wanted to get on the record that I don’t trust claims based on statistical data without being able to review in detail the methods used to obtain and interpret the data. Even with the best intentions, full integrity and honesty, it is not difficult to come to completely the wrong conclusions based on apparently compelling statistical evidence.

    This isn’t just theory, I’ve seen it happen. Detailed percentages presented at upper governmental levels, based on huge sample sets, giving a totally false impression because of errors and assumptions that occur at various places in the process. The exact same question asked twice in the same survey, giving very different results depending on the section in which the question appeared, providing an unstated context to the question. The devil is in the details, and the details can be extremely subtle.

    I have a “put up or shut up” rule that …

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    What do I think of the Ribbon?

    I’m curious. What do you think I think about the Ribbon, particularly in AutoCAD? Do you think I’m a hater, a lover, indifferent, or what? Now, on what evidence do you base that view? Feel free to quote back to me anything I’ve written on this blog or any other public place to support your opinion. If you can’t find anything that gives you any clues one way or the other, feel free to mention that, too.

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    Incoming link: “Important Revit information”

    One of the things my blog’s WordPress dashboard shows me is a list of incoming links, i.e. who is pointing to this blog. One line intrigued me:

    unknown linked here saying, “318 random votes.. http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/ …”

    Clicking on the link took me to the Autodesk Discussion Groups, but only as far as this message:

    Error: you do not have permission to view the requested forum or category.

    A Google search showed up the link as follows:

    Important Revit information
    Saturday, 3 April 2010 9:23 AM
    318 random votes.. http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/2009/09/09/ribbon-acceptance-in-autocad-and-revit/

    Call me self-obsessed if you like, but I find this curious. If anybody has any more information about it, please let me know.

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