Not another SpacePilot PRO review

This post is not about the new SpacePilot PRO 3D controller from 3Dconnexion (a division of Logitech). This post is about the Internet coverage of the launch of that new device, journalism, blogging, freebies and ethics.

It has long been common practice for companies to give out free stuff to journalists. Free gadgets, free transport and other expenses for attending events, free beer, free lunch… oh, wait, there’s no such thing. As blogging has risen in prominence, that practice has been extended to providing free stuff for bloggers. It was traditional in the past for such freebies (continued…) Full post

Autodesk Assistance Program and the educational watermark

You have probably seen blog posts about the Autodesk Assistance Program (see the FAQ PDF), promoted as a hand-up for the less fortunate who find themselves unemployed as a result of the current financial environment. The Autodesk PR makes it clear that the free software on offer is a 13-month student license. However, the consequences of using such software are not made clear, so I’ll spell it out here.

If you use Autodesk educational software, you are not supposed to use it for commercial purposes. So, if you’ve just lost your position and were hoping to set (continued…) Full post

Guillermo Melantoni’s 3D blog

What a Mesh is another new Autodesk blog, this time from Autodesk 3D guru Guillermo Melantoni. You may remember Guillermo mentioning his forthcoming blog in my A gaggle of geeks video, and now it has arrived. You can also see Guillermo in action in several videos about AutoCAD 2010’s new 3D mesh capabilities on AutoCAD Exchange.

Guillermo is very, very smart, he expertly uses the products he develops (the building on the AutoCAD 2010 packaging was done by him), and it’s great to see him interacting with users in this way.

New Autodesk blog for AutoCAD support

I’ve added a link to Without A Net, a new blog on support issues, technical solutions, fixes, and tips for AutoCAD. It’s run by Tom Stoeckel, global technical lead for AutoCAD product support. In my limited experience, I’ve found Tom to be a fine fellow with his customers’ needs at heart. This blog promises to be a worthwhile addition to the existing AutoCAD support mechanisms, and I commend Autodesk and Tom for introducing it.

More on ODA, Autodesk and click-through agreements

Evan Yares has provided more information on the incident I mentioned in my last post. Here it is:

It was years ago. My guess was that the person who did it was just trying to spider the website pages, for marketing research, and didn’t realize he got all the libraries too.

In any event, I said hey you did this, they said no we didn’t, I produced download logs, they said there was no agreement and even if there was we hereby cancel it, I said if you want to see our libraries I’ll send ’em to you (continued…) Full post

Evan Yares, ODA, Autodesk and click-through agreements

I’ve always found it entertaining when the lawyers of CAD companies do their best to make their clients look like total jerks. The opening shots as presented by Evan Yares in his proposed ODA class-action lawsuit indicate that there is another rich source of recreational reading on its way. I’m sure it’s no fun for the lawyer-paying people involved, though.

You would think that Autodesk would be rubbing its corporate hands together at the prospect of the ODA being distracted like this. Or maybe not, if the bunfight throws up more little gems like this:

Autodesk had at least (continued…) Full post

Buying 24″ monitors – is now the right time?

I’m doing my bit to reduce the impact of the global financial crisis. Yesterday, I went out and bought a couple of new 24″ monitors to replace my perfectly functional pair of 19″ LCDs. It now looks like I’m facing a huge wall of pixels and I don’t quite know where to look, but I felt like that after moving from my old 19″ CRT to the pair of 19″ LCDs, so I’m sure I will get used to it soon enough. The 19″ LCDs haven’t gone to waste, they are now adorning an older PC which was previously attached (continued…) Full post

AutoCAD 2010 – Turning off InfoCenter

I generally avoid the still-awful Autodesk discussion groups these days, but I do hop in from time to time in the vain hope of seeing some improvement. In doing so, I occasionally pick up a gem, and that happened today. I think this one deserves a wider audience, so here it is.

In AutoCAD 2010, you can disable the InfoCenter toolbar by opening the
registry, and going to the following key:


In that key there’s a value with the name “InfoCenterOn”.

Changing that value from 1 to 0 will disable the InfoCenter toolbar.

Source: Tony Tanzillo in (continued…) Full post

Autodesk to more than triple upgrade prices

As reported at, next March will see a major change to the way Autodesk prices its upgrades. All upgrades will cost 50% of the full retail price rather than the much smaller percentage that is currently charged. If you upgrade yearly, that means the cost of doing so will be about 3.35 times greater than it is now. Clearly, Autodesk doesn’t want you doing that, and would much prefer you to be tied into the Subscription program, and is introducing some subtle encouragement to nudge you in the right direction.

Here is the rationale according to an Autodesk (continued…) Full post

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 (continued…) Full post

Bug watch – identify this insect

No, not the Bug Watch, just a bug you can watch. Does anybody know what this insect is? It is the second one of these we’ve found in our home in Western Australia. It’s very active and it smells horrible.

YouTube Link

For those of you who can’t access YouTube, here are some photos of the bug:

Mystery Bug

A higher resolution version of the above picture is available here. This is the bug about to be given its freedom:

Mystery Bug

On release, it buried itself in (continued…) 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!


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 (continued…) Full post

Gaahl’s Tr00 Life Adventures Week 10, and Peter Beste

Time for my own bad Photoshop. Truly, truly awful work here. This is the tenth and last (so far) edition of Gaahl’s Tr00 Life Adventures. Click the thumbnail to see the full size image.

Gaahl Week 10

This one contains a few in-jokes (e.g. “many Norwegian countries”) from the Mike Portnoy forum community that was the original audience, so much of the original amusement will be lost. I am posting this one mainly to complete the set.

The original Gaahl photograph is by Houston documentary photographer Peter (continued…) 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 gaggle of geeks

Time to lighten things up a bit, I think. While attending the AutoCAD 2010 product launch in San Francisco on 5 February 2009, I conducted a series of micro-interviews with a collection of AutoCAD bloggers and Autodesk employees. One geek asks 14 other geeks if they are geeks; nothing too serious here. I hope Shaan enjoys my tabloid journalist editing job right at the end.

YouTube link.

Thanks to all the interviewees:

Heidi Hewett, Autodesk blogger
Lynn Allen, Autodesk blogger
Melanie Perry, blogger
Robin Capper, blogger
Brian Benton, bloggerFull post

Autodesk answers – 4 of 4

The final question is from metis:

Q: why is program size increasing and performance dramatically decreasing as hardware specs dramatically increase? as features “improve” and are added functionality should not be removed, and code should be streamlined.

seriously aren’t there any real programmers out there anymore? this thing isn’t written in java by a bunch of scriptkiddies (although 2009 sure is skinned like it was).

A: We made a number of performance improvements in AutoCAD 2010 over the previous release, and would appreciate hearing from you if you are encountering significant performance slowdowns with this latest release. If so, please (continued…) Full post

Autodesk answers – 3 of 4

The third question, courtesy of Earl Kubaskie, is:

Q: I would ask why there seems to be so little cooperation between the development teams. Vanilla, Map 3D, Civil 3D, each seem to be separate little empires. ACA might be in there, too, but I don’t use it, and thus I don’t apply for the betas.

I would think that closer interaction (and consolidation of beta testing teams) would smooth out the process – and maybe help get Matt his wish re bonus packs.

A: This is an ongoing area of focus for us, and this year we are making further (continued…) Full post

Autodesk answers – 2 of 4

In a comment on the first of these posts, Ralph G raised the possibility that these answers have been edited by marketing people. I have checked with Eric Stover and he assures me these answers come direct from the program managers concerned and are unmassaged by marketers. That ties in with the partial email trail that came with the answers. It also ties in with the impression I have formed recently that Autodesk is starting to open up a bit. That’s a trend I’m happy to encourage.

There’s one thing that clinches the marketing-interference matter for me. Despite (continued…) Full post