Hope for Autodesk FM Desktop orphans

For those of us who have been following Autodesk for decades, it’s a familiar story. Autodesk buys a company or its technology, makes an Autodesk product out of it, and initially promotes it as the best thing since sliced bread. Autodesk subsequently ignores it to death, before finally killing it off and leaving customers in the lurch.

Autodesk FM Desktop suffered this fate, and if you go looking for information about the product on the Autodesk site you’ll find only a few dregs left over from the days when this was a viable product. At least in this case Autodesk has belatedly arranged a path out of the mire for its customers. FM:Systems will be taking over Autodesk’s FM customers, and your Autodesk FM Desktop licenses can be converted to FM:Interact Workplace Management Suite licenses. There is no data transfer mechanism yet (other than a DWF import), but something … Full post

Hope for drcauto LT Toolkit orphans

LT Toolkit from the now-defunct drcauto was an add-on for AutoCAD LT that provided LISP and other capabilities that Autodesk disabled. Autodesk hated this, of course, but the late Gary D’Arcy made sure everything was done legally so it couldn’t be stopped even by Autodesk’s hyperactive legal team.

If you are a user of LT Toolkit and you want to keep using the software now the company has closed down, you may find this information from Evan Yares useful:

I’ve gotten in contact with Leonard Liang, the former key developer at DRCauto. He’s asked me to send any Toolkit Max users to him, and he will help them. His website is www.cadsta.com. His email, at that domain, is “leonardl”.

Source: a comment in this this WorldCAD Access post. If you don’t read comments, you may well have missed this, so I thought it was worth repeating.

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I’m Still Alive

It’s an understatement to say that things have been a little quiet around here lately. I have just returned from some international travels and expect to start ramping thing up again soon.

Thanks to the person who enquired about my wellbeing; I value your concern. I replied, but it bounced.

Ralph Lauren – genuinely dumb or trying to be clever?

One of the blogs I read regularly is Photoshop Disasters, which recently posted a picture of a Ralph Lauren ad. In common with many fashion photos, this showed a skinny model that appeared to have been further skinnified on somebody’s computer to the point that the poor waif was ridiculously deformed. Like this:

LOL - Laugh On Lauren

Nothing out of the ordinary there, then. Under normal circumstances it would have received a few dozen comments and scrolled off the front page in a week or so, because there is no shortage of bad image manipulation out there for the blog to snigger at. The image was reposted at Boing Boing, but it would still have been forgotten in a week.

Except this time, Ralph Lauren prodded its lawyers into action and demanded the image be removed from both sites, issuing a Full post

Vernor wins (for now), customers don’t

Don’t get too excited, because I’m sure Autodesk will appeal, but as reported at Owen Wengerd’s CAD/Court, Vernor has won the right to resell his used copies of AutoCAD. While this is seen by some as a victory for customers, it isn’t. This doesn’t open up a brave new world in which we are allowed to sell the software we buy once we’re finished with it. If it had, I would be rejoicing as loud as anybody, because Autodesk’s ban on software transfers is an unconscionable restriction and deserves to die. But that’s not what this decision means. There are specific and paradoxical circumstances here, which allowed Vernor to win this case despite being morally wrong in my view, but will not benefit legitimate software users.

Vernor won (for now, and in one jurisdiction) because the court found he was not a party to the EULA. … Full post

Does your AutoCAD get its wrods worng?

A problem I’ve seen affecting keyboard users (particularly fast ones) in recent AutoCADs (since 2006) is that the characters entered into the command line are not always the ones you typed. Or rather, they are the ones you typed, just not in the right order. In particular, I’ve seen the first couple of characters get messed up, so you might get ILNE instead of LINE. In addition to the annoyance factor, this is something of a productivity killer.

Has this happened to you? If so, please comment. Any comment is welcome, but it would be great if you could provide the following information:

  • AutoCAD (or vertical) release(s) where you have seen this happen. Also mention any recent releases where you have seen it not happen.
  • Command line status when you have seen this happen (docked, floating, off, all of the above).
  • Dynamic input status when you have seen this happen (on, … Full post
  • Trusting Autodesk? Contemplating a new product

    Last week, in my capacity as a de facto CAD manager for a large public utility company, I was having a chat with an Autodesk Australia person (he’s a nice guy and very honest, by the way). The topic of conversation moved to the new AutoCAD-based vertical, Plant 3D 2010. At that stage, I had not even installed the 30-day trial, but I still raised some of the issues that potentially stood in the way of the company adopting this apparently highly suitable product.

    In a word, it comes down to trust. Each drawing used or issued by this utility is a legal document with a potentially very long life ahead of it. I showed the Autodesk person a drawing issued in 1901. The assets documented by that drawing are still in use today; indeed, many thousands of people daily depend heavily on them. Before we invest our money, time … Full post

    Ribbon acceptance in AutoCAD and Revit

    AutoCAD Ribbon use (and non-use) may have been the hottest topic on this blog to date, but it’s a storm in a teacup compared with what has been going on between Revit users and Autodesk. More on that later, but for now I’d just like to pass on a statement made by Autodesk BIM Design Product Line Manager Anthony A. Hauck on the AUGI forums that:

    Recent data on other Autodesk applications having both the new and “classic” UI show about a 2 : 1 split in favor of the new UI.

    I would be interested to know the full details behind this assertion. Whenever I see a baldly-stated statistic like this, my first thought is “where did it come from?” Without full details of the data and how it was obtained, every statistic like this is suspect at best. It could just as easily be useless or misleading. … Full post

    These messages are brought to you by AutoCAD

    Over the past few releases, and particularly in AutoCAD 2009 and 2010, I have noticed an increase in the number of information notices (bubbles, warnings, task dialogs, Communication Center notices, etc.) being displayed. Shaan Hurley has pointed out that 2010 Update 1 introduces a balloon notification that periodically makes you aware of how much time remains before your subscription expires. Is this a good thing?

    There’s a poll on the right that asks a specific question about the default state of AutoCAD 2009 and 2010, but I’d also like to see some comments on this. What do you think of these messages? Are they useful? Do they get in the way? Do you take any notice of them? Are there too many? Do we need any others? Do you turn them off? Is it easy enough to control them?

    AutoCAD 2010 Update 1

    Update 1, the first of Autodesk’s Updates (formerly Service Packs) for AutoCAD 2010 is now out for AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. Equivalent updates for various verticals will follow soon. The Readme contains information about what was fixed, so I won’t reproduce that here.

    As always, read the readme first and exercise the usual paranoia. However, my experience of the pre-release versions of this Update has been positive.

    AutoCAD virus protection update

    As I mentioned in my last post, I had some reservations about the code provided by Autodesk to deal with suspect acad.vlx and logo.gif files. Based on a suggestion from Jimmy Bergmark, I have written my own, safer version which you can download here: clean_virus_safe.lsp.

    The comments at the top of the clean_virus_safe.lsp file explain what to do with it, but I will reproduce some of the relevant points here.

    • Purpose: Checks for existence of acad.vlx and logo.gif files, which are associated with virus AL/Logo-A, also known as ACAD/Unexplode, ACAD/Agent.A or ACM_UNEXPLODE.B. Written as a safer alternative to Autodesk’s code which deletes suspect files without prior warning. This code renames the files instead.
    • Legal: Provided as-is with no warranty whatsoever, use at own risk. May be distributed freely.
    • Usage: Append the contents of this file into a startup LISP file (e.g. acaddoc.lsp in your search path – … Full post

    Another AutoCAD malware warning

    Shaan Hurley has posted some useful information about another AutoCAD-based virus that is doing the rounds, and I strongly suggest you read it. However, I have some reservations about the solution that is posted there and in the Autodesk knowledgebase.

    The LISP code suggested will delete any files called acad.vlx or logo.gif that are located in the current user’s current AutoCAD search path. There are a couple of problems with that.

    • The search path will change depending on the user, the profile, the startup folder and the drawing folder. That means you can’t just use the code once and expect the problem to go away; the code will need to remain in place permanently to ensure it does not recur. That may not be a huge problem, although it will have a performance penalty (particularly where the search path is long and/or includes network paths) … Full post

    The biggest DWG file I’ve ever seen

    Today, I tried to investigate a DWG file that one of my users couldn’t open. It wouldn’t open for me on an old 1 GB PC. Trying a PC with 4 GB didn’t help, and neither did experimenting with various releases of AutoCAD. Depending on the release, AutoCAD would either try to open the drawing and eventually die with an out of memory error, or would instantly inform me that the drawing was too big to open. I don’t have access to a 64-bit version of AutoCAD (which might possibly be able to open this monster on a PC with more than 4 GB of RAM), so the drawing is effectively useless.

    The drawing is 242 MB (254,145,119 bytes), which I’m pretty sure is the largest drawing I’ve ever encountered. Based on a plot of a previous revision of the the drawing, it should be about 200 to 300 KB, … Full post

    AUGI Special Election – voting opens

    The AUGI Special Election voting page is now live, and will be open until 12 July 2009. I encourage all AUGI members to carefully consider the candidates and participate in the electoral process.

    I do not like some of the restrictions that have been placed on this election, but it is the first real election (i.e. with a choice of candidates) that AUGI has had for several years, so please make it a success by taking part.

    AUGI Salary Survey – last few days

    The annual AUGI Salary Survey (ably run by friend and fellow geek/blogger Melanie Perry) is open for your responses until 30 June,  so if you’re planning to fill it in, please get in soon. There are 19 simple questions on one page, and it only takes a couple of minutes. If you have questions about the survey, read the FAQ.

    In these troubled times, many of you may find the previous years’ results a valuable resource.

    AUGI | AEC EDGE magazine published

    More AUGI news, but good news this time. The first edition of the on-line magazine AUGI | AEC EDGE has been published by Extension Media. It is available in high- and low-res PDF format, plus an on-line reader. The first issue has 82 pages of almost entirely Revit articles and is very light on for advertising. That’s good in the short term for readers who prefer editorial content over advertising, but in the long term the advertising ratio will have to ramp up to ensure this publication’s ongoing survival.

    In the meantime, I commend the advertisers who did contribute to making this publication a reality: Contex, Advanced AEC Solutions, CADzation, Autodesk Catalog, Autodesk Seek / Revit Market and HP (although I may not be so kind to HP in future posts on this blog). I also commend Editor (and AUGI Director) … Full post

    AUGI Special Election – Candidates

    There are four candidates for two positions on the AUGI Board of Directors. The voting page is now open, although it will not go active until voting commences on 29 June. The candidates are (in alphabetical order):

    I encourage you to read their profiles (click on the names above) and examine … Full post

    A touch of Tehran taints the AUGI Special Election

    Most of you reading this blog are fortunate enough to live in democracies, and can only look on with sympathy at those who are denied the right to choose who represents them. What must it be like to live under regimes where the people are denied basic rights such as a free choice over who governs them? Or under mock-democratic regimes that hold “elections” where the candidates available from which to choose are strictly limited, or where the ruling regime changes the rules of the game to prevent losing its majority, or where the right to comment on the suitability of candidates is removed?

    Well, I guess we AUGI members now have a slight inkling of what that is like.

    OK, so that’s over the top. At AUGI, there are no riots in the street, no fires, no guns, no dead protesters. No election fraud, either, and I … Full post

    Hotfix available for Raster Design licensing issue

    Thanks to Brian and Rick for pointing out the availability of a hotfix for Raster Design 2010’s standalone/network license incompatibility. As a bonus, it also fixes some Raster Design / Civil 3D stability issues.

    The hotfix is available here, and as always with patches, fixes, service packs and updates, read the readme first.

    Note that although this fixes the most common scenario where a network Raster Design needs to work on a standalone AutoCAD, it does not fix the opposite scenario. So if you have a bunch of network licensed AutoCAD variants available to you and you have a standalone license of Raster Design because you’re the only person in the office who needs it, you’re still out of luck. If you’re in such a position, I think you have a very strong case for a no-cost change from standalone to network licensing for Raster … Full post