Some thoughts on AutoCAD Exchange

I’ve added a link to Autodesk’s new AutoCAD community site, AutoCAD Exchange. As with most things Autodesk, there are pros and cons. Here are my first impressions.

I think it looks good in a Vista-black kind of way. I know some of you don’t like the black look in software, but I do. The layout looks a bit cluttered and confused at first, but I’m sure visitors will quickly get used to where to find things. The site appears to be designed around 1024-wide resolution. If you have more than this, as most CAD users do, then there are … Full post

Death to robo-responses!

The responses to Carol Bartz’s blog post are an interesting read, and not just because of the astonishing amount of attention being paid to her language. One person pointed out how irritating it was to be “helped” by Yahoo’s dumb automated “support” system:

I have never – repeat, NEVER – had a human response to ANY email or form-submitted help request that I’ve sent to Yahoo!

NEVER!

All my experience of communicating with Yahoo! customer ’support’ is characterised by exchanges such as:

Me: Hi, I need help with Messenger on the Mac

Y!: Thankyou for contacting customer support. Here … Full post

Bartz the blogger

Autodesk’s Executive Chairman of the Board (who has one or two other little jobs, too) has made a Yahoo! blog post in which she promises to kick a donkey, or something.

Yahoo! if of only tangential interest to me; I don’t particularly care if it thrives or if it dies. However, it’s good to see Carol communicating directly in this way, and it’s good to see her emphasise the importance of looking after the customer, placing emphasis on efficiency over innovation for innovation’s sake, and promising to do better at listening. Welcome to the blogsphere, Carol.

A year of nauseam

This is one of those awful self-indulgent blog posts you hate, so just skip it and read the more interesting stuff a bit further down instead.

It is now a year since I started this blog and this is my 200th post. Here are the site statistics for 2008:

Stats 2008

Here they are for 2009:

Stats 2009

I’m sure there are other CAD blogs out there with much more impressive stats than that, particularly the Autodesk ones. I’m pretty happy with the number of visitors I have, though. I’m not sure … Full post

I’m supporting the New Zealand blackout

Thanks to Robin Capper for bringing this to my attention.

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!

http://creativefreedom.org.nz/blackout.html

Disclosure: I’m a software developer, artist (of sorts), copyright owner and part of a company that sells software to allow copyright owners to protect their interests. I’m also the victim of clueless corporations counterproductively interfering with my art. Most of all, I’m a supporter of the fair use of copyrighted materials.

This … Full post

Gravatars – how to get a picture next to your comment

After some recent site maintenance here, you may have noticed that the comments look a bit different, and that some people’s comments have a little picture next to them. This little picture is called a gravatar (globally recognised avatar), and you can have one too. Once you set it up, you will find that it works in all sorts of places, not just this blog.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Visit gravatar.com and pick a sign up link.
  • Provide a valid email address; the same one you provide when adding comments to blogs. I have not received any … Full post
  • Adding Heidi

    Although I want to keep my list of links reasonably compact, it should not have taken until now to add the AutoCAD Insider blog of Autodesk’s Heidi Hewett to the list. Heidi’s idea of going through the AutoCAD alphabet is a great one, and I wish I had thought of it.

    blog nauseam has been light on for AutoCAD tips and information lately. Although that’s going to change for the better soon, there’s plenty of that kind of stuff on Heidi’s blog to keep you amused in the meantime. It’s useful stuff for all AutoCAD users, explained well.

    Oh, … Full post

    blog nauseam Terms of Use

    It seems that not only EULAs but also web sites must have onerous, unconscionable, ridiculously restrictive and utterly unenforceable sets of rules these days. I don’t want to miss out on the fun, so I have added mine to this site. There’s a link at the top of the page that points here:

    http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/terms-of-use/

    Enjoy.

    What a crock!

    Just when I thought it wasn’t possible for my Autodesk discussion group experience to get any worse, it has. Much worse.

    I stated before that in the 15 November update, some Einstein decided it would be fun to copy my private work email address over the top of my public user ID, automatically making it visible to all and sundry in many places. I should note at this point that publishing somebody’s email address without consent is illegal in some locations, including here in Australia. So to the best of my knowledge (not that I’m a lawyer), Autodesk is not … Full post

    Autodesk discussion group maintenance failure

    I must admit that I wasn’t really expecting the November 15 Autodesk discussion group maintenance effort to come up with the goods and make everything all better again. However, it appears that even my lowly expectations were nothing but naive optimism.

    Here are the changes I see:

    • The old messages and Plain Text new messages that had their paragraphs stripped out have had them returned. This is the end of the good news, as far as I can tell. If you only ever like reading positive things, particularly about Autodesk, I suggest you stop reading now.
    • Rich Text messages have … Full post

    Autodesk discussion group maintenance this weekend

    According to a notice on the Autodesk discussion groups, they will be down for maintenance for a while this wekend. The scheduled downtime period (in terms of GMT/UTC) is 7 AM Saturday, 15 November 2008 to 5 AM Sunday, 16 November 2008. Fingers crossed for some big improvements, they are desperately overdue!

    Autodesk discussion groups – signs of life?

    After an extraordinarily long period of total silence about the dreadful state of the appallingly-updated Autodesk discussion groups, it seems that the sleeping monster has raised an eyelid. Although it unfortunately indicates that Autodesk intends to try to patch up the new system rather than throwing it away, there is now a “sticky” post at the top of each forum containing the following text:

    Your continued patience is appreciated as we work to resolve the discussion group issues you have been reporting. We understand the impact these issues have on your productivity, and want to assure you we are … Full post

    The Autodesk discussion groups are awful

    Yes, the Autodesk discussion groups are still awful. In other breaking news, the Pacific Ocean continues to be wet.

    I seldom visit them any more, but I just hopped on to the Autodesk discussion groups to see what progress had been made in fixing the many problems that have been pointed out here, on the groups themselves, in official problem reports, and elsewhere. Little or none, it seems.

    Search? There are still apparently only 188 uses of the word “autocad” in the tens of thousands of posts in the AutoCAD groups, ever. Editor? It not only still vacuums, when I … Full post

    My autodesk.com site survey experience

    I just tried out the new discussion groups to see if anything has been fixed. After entering my password (yet again), instead of placing me back in the discussion groups with my 100-topics-per-page settings, I was transported to the main Autodesk page and given the chance to provide feedback. I was informed that a new browser window would be opened, and then… nothing. I waited a while, but still nothing. Or so it seemed. Actually, the new browser window appeared behind my existing browser window, so I found it eventually. I clicked on it, it opened another, bigger window and … Full post

    Slight improvement in discussion group search

    While almost all of the problems with the Autodesk discussion groups remain, there are some signs of movement in one area at least. The search facility, which until recently refused to find anything from before the update, now finds some earlier posts.

    It would appear that some kind of search index is very slowly being built, but it’s a long way short of being finished. For example, if I do the standard default search for “autocad” in all the AutoCAD groups, there are 83 found in the last 90 days. This seems plausible, but I don’t trust it. Changing the time option … Full post

    The John Walker interview, and other observations

    I have been thoroughly enjoying Kean Walmsley’s interview of Autodesk co-founder John Walker, which he has now finished. Kean’s link to part 4 is currently broken (edit: now fixed) and that broken link has been picked up by others (edit: also fixed in Between The Lines), so here are the correct links: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

    One of the best things about the interview is that it contains some frank criticism of Autodesk (and Microsoft, for that matter). On an Autodesk blog. Think about that. OK, it may be … Full post

    Here’s a couple I didn’t mention earlier

    The Autodesk discussion group editor inserts spaces into URLs longer than a certain size (about 70 characters, it seems). It will insert spaces in one place for the URL that it says is displayed on the screen, in another place for the URL that’s actually invoked when clicked, and sometimes in even more places on the URL that really is displayed on the screen. Sometimes the space appears as a space and sometimes it appears as %20.

    The editor will cunningly allow you to apparently fix up these errors in the places they occur, and then the fun-loving little sprite … Full post

    Discussion group search – partial workaround

    The Autodesk discussion group search facility is still impersonating an industrial suction pump in a puddle. It sucks very hard and produces little useful output. In addition to the problems already mentioned ad nauseam (apparently there have never been any posts made containing the word “AutoCAD”, but 34 have been made in the past 90 days), here’s another one I spotted today: picking on Search Tips will give you a 404 error.

    However bad the discussion groups are, at least the Subscription site is working (for me anyway, I know there are still people with login ID problems) and my … Full post

    How not to do a web update

    If you’re a major company and your various web-based services have evolved over time, you may have a proliferation of user IDs and some other issues to tidy up. You may be tempted to have a major overhaul.

    If you think your reputation among your customers isn’t low enough and you desperately want this update to be an unmitigated disaster, what should you do? If you’re dropping subtle hints about moving towards a Software as a Service model, how can you remind people about the excellent reasons that exist for avoiding dependence on on-line services in general, and on yours in particular? … Full post

    Autodesk discussion group links – feedback and bookmarks

    The Autodesk discussion groups are currently working. They are also still irresponsibly displaying people’s email addresses as visible user names. If you’ve posted to the discussion groups in the past, I suggest you check to see if your email address is out there for the spambots to pick up.

    There is now a feedback form for the discussion group and Community sites, so if you’re having problems you could try that. Hopefully, Autodesk won’t need a thousand feedback reports to work out that it’s running as slow as a wet week, the search is broken and that people’s privacy has been … Full post