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!

Bad Photoshop 3

More Fotoshop phun courtesy of Clark Rubber:


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:


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 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] or call 1.415.[removed].

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

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.

I haven’t seen AutoCAD 2010…


That means I’m free to speculate about it in public. There have already been a few hints dropped here and there. Stronger 3D, parametric 3D? Does that just mean adding the missing 3rd dimension to dynamic blocks, or more? What else?

If you’re in the right spot at the right time at Autodesk University, you will probably find out a lot more. In the meantime, I’d be interested to hear your speculation about what’s going to be in 2010, and find out what you’d like to be in it. Also, what don’t you want to see?

Please add your comments, but not if it involves breaking a non-disclosure agreement. I’m hoping to hear from people who don’t know what’s in 2010, because I think that would be an interesting exercise, particularly with the benefit of hindsight in a few months’ time.

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 only perpetrating a grossly irresponsible breach of privacy, it’s also breaking the law.

Attempting to fix this myself failed, because of some new introduced bug in the login system. When changing my user ID from my email address to “Steve Johnson”, the screen falsely claimed that the data entered was invalid. I have reported that here, on the newsgroups themselves, and as an official top-priority Subscription support call.

During one of my user ID fix-up attempts, a popup screen asked if I was changing the password (I wasn’t, I was trying to change the user ID) for user “Steve Johnson” or user “my email address”. I tried both in turn, but neither worked. That got me thinking that maybe the update may have created two versions of me; one with the correct name and one with my email address, with the latter being associated with my discussion group messages. So I tried changing the email address one to a name that wasn’t my email address and wasn’t Steve Johnson (SteveJohnson-blognauseam), in the hope that this would at least remove my email address from public view.

I was pleasantly surprised when this change was accepted, but my elation was short-lived. The change process logged me off automatically, and then refused to let me log back on. I can’t log on as SteveJohnson-blognauseam, I can’t log on as Steve Johnson, and I can’t log on as my email address. All attempts are refused as invalid. I can’t log on to chase up my Subscription support call. I can’t log on to erase my email address from the body of a discussion group message, which was automatically infected with my full-text email address when I edited it in an attempt to fix up some of the new formatting issues introduced to the awful editor by the recent changes. Not only that, but after all that, the change of my user ID didn’t “take” in the discussion groups themselves! It was all in vain! Strewth.

I’m stuck in the worst of all worlds. My Subscription access is broken. My email address is still visible. If anyone replies to any of my messages, that email address is likely to be reproduced in plain text in their message, and I’m not going to be able to edit it. I can’t even log on and complain about it on the discussion groups themselves. I don’t have access to my work email account for another 36 hours so I can’t chase up the Subscription people that way, and if they email me with instructions or a request for information I won’t see it. So the chances of this being fixed in a reasonable timeframe (i.e. before the spambots do their harvesting) are slim, to say the least.

Would the dolt or dolts responsible for this SNAFU care to come forward? No, I didn’t think so.

I am struggling to find words that adequately express my displeasure at Autodesk right now. It wouldn’t be quite so abysmal if it wasn’t a repeat of the exact same situation just a few weeks ago, for which I and many others roundly and justly slammed Autodesk at the time.

Autodesk is listening? Yeah, right. In this case, Autodesk is doing a great impersonation of a fence post.

Edit: overnight, my name change to SteveJohnson-blognauseam did actually “take”, so most of the email address instances are gone. Unfortunately, a spambot only needs one instance, and I’m still left with at least one message containing my email address in plain text. I still can’t log on using any of my 3 possible user IDs, so I can’t fix it up myself.

Edit 2: an Autodesk person kindly emailed me (which must have taken significant intestinal fortitude) to inform me they had reset my password, which allowed me to log on and remove what I hope is the only plain text instance of my email address. Other than a few marginal technicalities I described to the Autodesk person, that’s my email address hidden again. Now, what about everybody else in the same boat?

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 had superfluous paragraphs introduced, and other formatting issues. The more you edit a message, the worse it gets. Try switching back and forth between Rich Text and Plain Text a few times, it’s a crock.
  • My email address has been newly exposed to the spambots as my user ID, and I’m not alone. WTF? Totally unforgivable! Heads should have rolled the first time this happened. Doing it again is way, way beyond endurance.
  • The Edit Account page refuses to allow me to make changes, falsely claiming that several fields contain incorrect data. This means I can’t fix the email exposure problem myself, and have to wait for Autodesk to fix it. Never mind, I’ve done a lot of waiting for Autodesk over the past few months, so I’m kind of used to it.

Other than that, the discussion group system looks like the same old pile of garbage that it has been for weeks. For example, Search is still broken. Paste is still arcane. Using the indent or bullet items in Rich Text results in text above the selection being indented too. The question evaluation system (of dubious value in any case) causes threads to start with such nonsense as “This question is not answered. Helpful answers available: 2. Correct answers available: 1.” Er, OK then…

Even the Help page hasn’t been updated to reflect any alleged new fixes or to correct any of the errors I pointed out weeks ago.

All in all, I’d say it’s not exactly a major triumph as a maintenance effort.

Autodesk, please give up trying to maintain this steaming pile of pus. It’s not going to work. If the people at Jive Software can’t help you get their forum software working (and there has been plenty of time in which that could have happened), then bite the bullet and throw it away. Really.

Photoshop disasters blog

I love this blog:

OK, some of the “disasters” are a bit nitpicking, but there are some truly awful image manipulation efforts out there, some associated with very big companies. Look back over the archives, there are some real classics. Lesson to large companies: don’t penny-pinch, it’s not worth it.

I can’t remember any Autodesk marketing image disasters, although some of you may remember being bemused by the relevance of the the short-lived Subscription Cow. The BENTLEY BIN image is pretty funny, though. Does anybody have any other CAD-related examples?

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!

AutoCAD 2009 Subscription Pack 2 – PDF Enhancements

Subscription customers of plain AutoCAD 2009 can log on to the Subscription Center and download Subscription Pack 2. This pack improves PDF output (long overdue and very welcome) and adds the ability to attach PDF files. That’s welcome too, but is of largely academic interest right now because of a total lack of interoperability. Unless you only ever provide your drawing files to people who also have plain AutoCAD 2009 with Subscription Pack 2, they won’t see the PDF underlay. However, round tripping is supported, so when you get the drawing back the PDF underlay will reappear.

Here is a brief summary of the features, taken direct from the download page:

PDF Underlays
Now you can import PDF files, attaching them as PDF underlays. Once you attach a PDF underlay, you can use a variety of tools to snap to lines and objects, control the display of layers, move, scale, rotate, and clip the PDF underlay.

PDF Output
Key improvements have been made for publishing PDF files. File sizes have been reduced, making it easier to share designs. TrueType font support has been added, giving you control over precisely how your fonts are displayed.

This bonus pack is only available in English for AutoCAD® 2009, although, if desired, it can be installed on localized versions of AutoCAD 2009. If installed on a localized version of AutoCAD 2009, all new and related commands display in English only.

As usual, read the readme first, which contains much fuller descriptions of the new features.