Look out for AutoCAD 2010 news

You can expect a lot of AutoCAD 2010 news to start appearing in this and other blogs today and over the next few days. I’m just about to start interviewing some Autodesk people about this and other subjects. Watch this space!

Why do you think Autodesk isn’t listening?

I frequently see people remark that Autodesk doesn’t listen to its customers. I’ve made that remark myself in relation to certain specific items, most recently the botched discussion group update. Of the six Rate Autodesk polls, the Listening to its customers poll shows easily the biggest bias towards the wrong end of the graph.

Now I happen to know that Autodesk goes to some lengths to find out what its customers are thinking (more on that later), but still this feeling of being ignored persists among its customers. Why is this so? Why do so many of you hold this view? I have my own thoughts about this, but right now I’m more interested in yours.

I’d like to see some examples that make you think that Autodesk doesn’t care about your viewpoints, wishes and desires. If you can suggest ways in which Autodesk could do things better, let’s hear them. On the other hand, if you believe that Autodesk is listening, please provide examples that show that to be the case.

I will be asking some Autodesk people the same question very soon, in addition to any questions you pose in my Ask Autodesk a question post (more questions, please!). I will report back on the answers, so it will be interesting to compare your comments with what the Autodesk people have to say.

(Don’t) Ask Autodesk a question

If you had a real live Autodesk development person standing in front of you right now (an AutoCAD Product Manager, for example) and were allowed to ask one question, what would it be?

Please add a comment here with your question. I would ask that you keep your question civil and reasonably concise (one or two sentences), and bear in mind that the development person in front of you isn’t going to have a useful answer to policy questions about pricing, license agreements, customer service and so on. Other than that, anything goes, so let’s have ‘em.

I can’t promise that your question will get answered, but I’ll see what I can do.

Note: comments are now closed, as this post keeps getting mistaken for an ongoing mechanism for asking Autodesk questions.

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, and Heidi, the Boundary command was (kind of) added in Release 12, except it was called Bpoly at the time. It was renamed to Boundary in Release 13. The Bpoly command lives on to this day, doing exactly the same as Boundary.

Handy home hint

If you are turning over food on a hot barbecue plate, it’s not a good idea to use your fingers.

No prizes will be awarded for guessing how I managed to come up with this little gem of wisdom.

Has Carol left the building?

We all know Carol Bartz has taken on the challenge of leading Yahoo!, but does that mean she’s no longer with Autodesk? I would have thought she would have had her hands more than full with her new job, but I haven’t seen any mention of her giving up her Autodesk position as Executive Chairman of the Board. The Autodesk web site still has her listed in that position, so I guess she’s still there. She’s on various other boards and councils too, so maybe she’s sticking around at Autodesk long-term?

Typo of the week

Thanks, Ralph, for this little gem of a typo in the latest upFront.eZine:

IntegrityWare announces tits new Extreme Performance Library

Revolutionary new Apple laptop

Come on Autodesk, why isn’t AutoCAD already running on this little beauty?


Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

I’m not usually a huge fan of The Onion, but I certainly found this one LOLworthy.

Bad Photoshop 4

Pathetic perspective, courtesy of the work experience person doing Clark Rubber‘s brochure images:

Escher would be proud

The same background is used for another table set. The perspective doesn’t match in that one either, but it’s not as bad as this. Maybe it’s just CAD geeks who notice this sort of thing?

One more to come from this brochure, and it’s the worst one of the lot!

Merry Christmas to all our readers

Have a good one, everyone!

If you’re looking for something to amuse you this Christmas Eve, check out the FAIL Blog. A few of the posts look fake, but I went back over 20 pages and found something funny on each one. Thanks to Doug B. for the pointer!

Bad Photoshop 3

More Fotoshop phun courtesy of Clark Rubber:

Legless

We’ll allow the oversized box and balls as an artistic device. But the woman has been cut out (badly) and pasted in with little regard to scale; that water is about 30″ deep. She either has very stumpy legs compared with her skinny top half, or the Autodesk shark is in there and it has given her an amputation at about the calf level. Why is her forearm oddly shaped, and shorter and thinner than that of the girl? And what’s going on down by the ladder?

Come to the dark side

Why is it darker one side of the rail than the other? Why is the edge of the water higher and darker on that side? Why does the ladder cast no shadow? Inquiring minds want to know.

Cadalyst goes bi-monthly

As you may be aware, I’m a Contributing Editor (i.e. writer) for Cadalyst magazine and have been writing the Bug Watch column since 1995.  Back when Cadalyst was thicker, Bug Watch appeared in the printed magazine every month, but it has been exclusively on-line for a few years now. Cadalyst’s owner, Questex, recently announced that Cadalyst will be moving from 12 to 6 issues a year, effective January/February. However, the Cadalyst site already shows the effects of the bi-monthly schedule, with the current issue being November/December.

I wrote Bug Watch columns for both November and December, and they are both listed in the on-line current issue. It’s not yet clear what will be happening with Bug Watch next year, but as soon as I can tell you what’s going on I will do so. Bug Watch has been rather tricky to find for some years now, so I don’t know how many of you still read it or find it useful. I don’t know how many people read printed magazines these days, either. I still buy some magazines myself in other areas of interest, but it’s much less frequent than it used to be.

Minor site changes

I have updated this blog to use WordPress 2.7, and have also taken the opportunity to add a few new features:

  • At the bottom of each page, you will now find a page navigation bar, as the old one-page-at-a-time thing was a bit painful.
  • At the bottom of each post, there is now a Print This Post link, which displays the post in a cleanly printable format with any links shown in full at the bottom of the page.
  • I have added a Stats page and a Stats section in the first sidebar (under the polls).
  • I have moved things from one sidebar to another, because with lots of polls, things were getting a bit lop-sided. In particular, I moved the Recent Comments and Recent Posts sections to the second sidebar.

If there is anything you have seen on other blogs that you would like to see here, please let me know and I’ll look into adding it.

Bad Photoshop 1 & 2

I’ve mentioned before that I love the Photoshop Disasters blog, and I’ve also mentioned that Clark Rubber has provided me with great service.

Here’s the first of a few posts that combine the two. I recently received a Clark Rubber brochure, and from the look of it (and the web site), Clark Rubber is not receiving the same kind of service from its Photoshop people that it provides to its own customers. I could fill this whole blog with disasters from that one brochure, but here are just a couple for a start.

Water cannon defies logic

Putting aside the awful water spray, the cut-and-paste problems, the strange lighting/shadow issues, the unrealistic water edge and the rest of it, how did that picture of the kid in the pool also manage to appear on the water cannon itself (sans pool and with the toy at a different angle)? Eddies in the space-time continuum, perhaps? He probably is.* My head assplode.

Blade Blaster defies geometry

This magic device not only fires oversized lemons, it also emits a strangely unrealistic jet of water of significantly smaller diameter than the inside diameter of the tube. I must have one!

* Joke stolen from Douglas Adams.

AutoCAD 2009 – Do you use the menu bar?

You may have noticed that I’ve added a poll to find out if the AutoCAD 2009 users among you are using the menu bar (i.e. MENUBAR = 1). I’m also interested in hearing your comments about your usage and the reasons behind it.

If your menu bar turned on, why? Do you use it all the time or do you just need it for those less-frequently-used commands that you don’t have handy at your fingertips, on toolbars, palettes or the Ribbon? Do you need it because your own custom routines are on menus, or third-party commands? Does the vertical AutoCAD variant you’re using need it?

If your menu bar is turned off, why? Do you never have any need for the stuff in there? Do you use the Menu Browser instead, sacrificing an occasional extra click for the sake of a permanent strip of screen space?

Let’s have your Autodesk University stories!

I am an unashamed Autodesk University enthusiast. I’m not at AU this year, but if I was I’d be blogging about it like mad. I had all sorts of plans for posting reports, photos, videos, interviews and so on, but circumstances conspired against me and it’s not going to happen this time round.

These days it seems as though everybody has a blog, but I’m sure there must be at least one or two of you who are in the opposite situation to me. That is, you don’t have a blog and you are attending Autodesk University. So if you’re one of those people and you have something of interest to say about your AU2008 experience, let’s hear it.

Did you meet somebody famous, interesting, friendly, or from a faraway place? Did you have a good time at one of the many official and unofficial functions? Did you attend a brilliantly presented session? Did you learn something particularly useful or fascinating? Do you have incriminating photos of people doing embarrassing things? Do tell.

Please add your comments here or email me if you have something that needs special attention, such as a photo or a video.

I’ve posted these before, but here are a some videos from my AU2006 experience:

Lynn Allen’s Famous Cell Phone Story

YouTube Link

Sorry the sound’s not the best, you may need to turn it up a bit.

Shaan Hurley gets blue

YouTube Link

Artist site: Blue Man Group

Autodesk University 2006 Video

This one’s not by me, but I’m in it!

YouTube Link

Created by Helge Brettschneider, originally posted on Between The Lines by Shaan Hurley.

How well cooked is the average major new AutoCAD feature these days?

I’ve now closed the poll that asks this question, and the results show a typical bell-curve shape with the peak clearly on “Half-baked”. There is a slight bias to the bottom end, but not a significant one.

This result doesn’t surprise me, as I’ve seen and heard a lot of user comments to that effect, and I’ve made such comments myself.  I’m not saying that this poll is definitive proof of anything, but it sits pretty well with my perception of what AutoCAD users generally think.

Now I’d like you to consider a related question. If we accept for the sake of argument that the average major new AutoCAD feature is half-baked, is that necessarily a bad thing? There are some valid arguments that can be made for pushing out features before they are complete. I’ll examine the pros and cons from my perspective later, but for now I’d like to hear from you.  What do you think?

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.

Leech marketing by IMSI – Part 2 – A/CAD

The IMSI free CAD product that it is putting up against AutoCAD LT has a very interesting name: A/CAD LT*. Does A/CAD sound familiar to anyone? I vaguely seem to remember some other CAD product with a very similar name. Hmm, let me think, it has a main program file called acad.exe and many other support files called acad.something, it has had its name abbreviated to ACAD by its users for decades… No, sorry, the name somehow eludes me.

I’m not a trademark lawyer (or any other sort), but here’s what I can tell from a quick glance at the USPTO site. It appears that Autodesk had ACAD registered as a trademark in 1986 with a first use in 1983, and that the registration was abandoned in 1987. It was registered again in 1988 and abandoned again in 1992. That may be an unfortunate lapse. I wonder what else may have slipped through the cracks?

Now there is an ACAD logo design registered to a certain ACAD Corporation of California (possibly unrelated), and a trademark application from IMSI, not yet approved. IMSI owns, and is actively using, the acadnow.com domain name. The IMSI advertising materials show the word A/CAD with a little TM after it, which indicates that they are claiming that they own the trademark, but it is not registered. The A/CAD packaging is, to me, rather too close to the style of the AutoCAD packaging. There’s even a Big Red A. Oh, sorry, it’s actually a big white A on a red background. That makes all the difference.

Given Autodesk’s history in using the courts to chase quarry as elusive as an unregisterable file extension that it never actually owned, and having a legal prod at competitors who dare to use orange rectangles in their marketing, what do you think are the chances that Autodesk’s hyperactive legal department is going to let this one slip by without a fight?

IMSI, if you’re going to compete, great. All power to you. But compete, don’t leech; it looks awful. Tacky, tacky, tacky.

While you might get some cheap** publicity (including from me), I’m afraid you miss out on the underdog sympathy factor when it looks like you’re actively trying to get sued. Finally, did you consider what happens when somebody tries to find your A/CAD product using Google? Didn’t think so.

* A/CAD LT Express is the full name of the currently marketed version.
** Excluding legal fees.

Leech marketing by IMSI – Part 1 – AU

A while back, I received an email from IMSI, makers of TurboCAD. The information I gained from that email is now public knowledge thanks to an advertisement in AUGI World and other exposure, so I guess I can let you all in on it. Here it is:

Everyone knows AutoCAD is a fixture in our industry.

But is AutoCAD LT? When is the last time AutoCAD LT has really been pushed?

And how about working with Google SketchUp? Doesn’t seem like Autodesk is too keen on that.

Please join us for a special FIRST LOOK of a new CAD application — that is sure to surprise.

Email for appointment [removed]@imsidesign.com or call 1.415.[removed].

FIRST LOOK slots on Tuesday Dec 2nd through Thursday Dec 4th at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Regards,
Bob Mayer
Chief Operating Officer, IMSI/Design, LLC
Tel: 415-[removed]
Cell: 415-[removed]

P.S. For those that can participate, there will be a business card drawing for a Dell laptop — of course, loaded with our new CAD application. For all others, evaluation copies will be provided.

The date and location may seem strangely familar to those of you planning to attend Autodesk University in a week or so. So an Autodesk competitor is using the biggest Autodesk event of the year to market its wares.

In one way, this idea makes perfect sense. There will be a lot of Autodesk customers at that event, so that’s the place to be if you want to steal some.

In another way, it makes no sense at all. The Autodesk customers at AU are likely to be the most loyal customers there are. They have just invested a decent slab of money in attending a training event, one which is very well run, very enjoyable and generally likely to make them feel good about Autodesk. Yes, some of those customers may be disgruntled about some things, but I would wager that the average Autodesk customer is about as gruntled while attending AU as they are ever likely to be. Also, the average AU attendee has a very full calendar and is going to be struggling to find the time to visit a hotel room or whatever to look at something they can download anyway.

There’s another way in which this kind of thing makes no sense; tagging onto somebody else’s event is not a good look. It’s tacky when Bentley does it, it’s tacky when Autodesk does it, and it’s tacky when IMSI does it. Tacky, tacky, tacky. I’m happy to see competition for Autodesk from anybody; ultimately it can only be a good thing for Autodesk customers. But leech marketing? No thanks.

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