Advertising Oops!

I just spotted this image flash up on a banner advertisement on a CAD-related site. At first glance, I thought it was a nasty Autodesk ad promoting Revit (it’s on top, after all) and unkindly suggesting that Bentley software is only fit for disposal.

Bentley Bin

Then I spotted Bentley logos elsewhere on the ad and worked out that it was supposed to say BENTLEY BIM, not BIN. Even if you blow it up, it still looks more like an N than an M.

Bentley Bin

That’s the trouble with trying to fit a meaningful attention-grabbing image into a small space. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work.

Customer Service 3 – On Hold

What’s the longest you’ve waited on hold? I broke my own personal best last week when I rang my bank. I phoned up, went through the menu system, typed in my account number and was advised that there could be “some delays” due to “technical difficulties”. I left the phone on speaker and went about my other business.

I did some actual work, prepared the evening meal ingredients, made sure my kids had showers and music practice, greeted my wife as she returned home, cooked the evening meal, served it, ate it, cleaned up, did some more work, and after all that my phone was still telling me, “We apologise for the continuing delay. We appreciate that your time is important and will ensure that your call is answered as soon as possible.” For the hundredth time.

After two hours, I was ready to give up. I would normally have … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 5 – Floating Toolbars

There are many areas of AutoCAD 2009’s new user interface that pointlessly waste your screen space. Floating toolbars do not. You have probably already noticed that AutoCAD 2009 concentrates on the Ribbon as its primary screen-based user interface, with the default state lacking any toolbars at all. So it’s somewhat ironic that AutoCAD 2009 sports what are easily the best floating toolbars in the history of the product. Ironic but very welcome.

Why are they better? Because they’re smaller. Let’s compare the number of pixels taken up by a typical small group of floating toolbars in different AutoCAD releases. These are the Express toolbars, which I mocked up in Releases 13 and 14 to show the same number of buttons and dividers (the Release 14 Bonus toolbars had more buttons than shown here). This provides for a totally fair comparison of the interface itself.

Floating Toolbar ComparisonFull post

Thanks for the welcome

A belated thank you to Kiwi Robin Capper for his welcome to the CAD blog world. Here’s a snap I took of Robin at Autodesk University 2006:

Robin Capper

Similarly, thanks to Lynn Allen for linking to my post about her famous Cell Phone Story. Here she is, also at AU 2006, presenting me with a signed copy of her excellent book AutoCAD: Professional Tips and Techniques which I won by skillfully (ahem) waving my arms furiously at the right moment during her presentation.

Lynn and Steve

Finally, thanks to Shaan Hurley for welcoming me to the blog fold. Here is one of the more sensible shots I have of him at AU 2006. You really don’t want to see the … Full post

Blogger? Journalist? Whatever!

Roopinder Tara has raised an interesting point about how different CAD vendors treat journalists and bloggers. Ralph Grabowski has responded with a “Who cares“. Now you have more CAD blogger navel gazing to put up with as I have my say on the matter.

As a traditional magazine journalist (Cadalyst, 1995 – present) and now as a blogger, I’d like to say I agree with Ralph. The label shouldn’t matter, content should be king. From a reader’s point of view, that is.

Where it does matter is from a vendor’s point of view. How to dish out the freebies? Should Autodesk fly every blogger out to San Francisco, put them all up at Nob Hill hotels and shower them all with gifts? Or just the traditional journalists? Or journalists and major bloggers? If so, what’s a major blog and what isn’t? Is is based on how active the blog … Full post

This blog is ugly…

…if you’re using Internet Explorer 7. Thanks to Rick for pointing this out. It looks fine in other browsers, including IE6 and my own preferred browser, Firefox 2. Now I have to try to work around the IE7 bugs (which include splitting and misplacing images) to get the blog looking reasonable for everybody. Sigh. Thanks, Microsoft.

Anyway, this means you’ll probably see the layout change around a bit more over the next few days. Do not be alarmed.

Customer Service 2 – Don McMillan

My last customer service story was about McDonald’s. This one is about Donald Mc., but there the similarity ends. After I returned from Autodesk University 2006, I decided to buy a DVD from the comedian that Autodesk put on before the Blue Man Group, Don McMillan. As you’re reading a CAD blog, you are probably geeky enough to appreciate this man’s funny engineeroid slant on life. The likelihood is actually 93.6%. (Did you know that 74.7% of statistics quoted on the Internet are made up?)

I wanted to show my wife this funny guy and re-live some of the moments from his show, so I visited his web site and attempted to order the DVD. Unfortunately, his on-line shopping company would not accept orders from Australia, so I dropped him an email. He asked for a US$ money order, but they’re an expensive pain here. I happened to have some … Full post

AutoCAD on Linux – Video

Lots of people get excited at the prospect of AutoCAD running under Linux. I’m not one of those people, but for those of you that are, here’s a video from a Linux enthusiast that shows AutoCAD running in an environment that’s doing all kinds of cool geeky stuff. It’s not mine and it’s from October 2006:

YouTube Link

Cool if you like that kind of thing, that is. I think the effects would drive me mad after a short period of dorkoid enthusiasm, but of course being Linux it would all be under complete user control.

Before you get too excited, I should point out that this is AutoCAD 2000, that is, software from last century. It’s running on Ubuntu Dapper with XGL installed and it required the copying of DLLs around from a Windows installation. It’s not supported (of course), and there’s no way of seeing what … Full post

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 4 – More on the Status Bar and Layouts

Here are a couple more tricks AutoCAD 2009 has up its Status Bar sleeve, this time to do with layouts.

You may love the new Quick View Layouts feature or you may find it too slow. You may wish to use it sometimes and at other times use the traditional layout tabs. How do you quickly switch from one to the other? Right click, as shown in this animation. The left clicks are red, the right clicks are blue.

As you can see, when the layout tabs are visible, the model space button and most recent layout button are replaced by a traditional PAPER or MODEL label. Something you can’t see in the animation is that when you hover over a layout tab, a preview of that layout is displayed at the cursor, thus:

Thinking of registering a domain name? Just do it!

If you are thinking of putting yourself or your company out there with your own domain name (e.g. cadnauseam.com), there are many, many sites out there that allow you to enter a domain name and see if it’s available. Don’t use them.

Why not? Because some of those sites will then immediately register that domain. You won’t be able to register it until that company decides to release it, which of course it will do if you choose to use that company’s overpriced domain registration services. This particularly unethical practice is known as domain tasting and is now the subject of a class action law suit.

It was the case that a domain registration company was legally entitled to hold a domain name for up to 5 days, before releasing it without any cost to itself: the 20c cost was refunded. Now that cost is set to … Full post

AutoCAD tip – persuade Open to highlight your drawing

In AutoCAD, when you have a drawing open and you go to open another, does Open automatically scroll down and highlight your current drawing?

This can be very handy when you’re working your way though a set of drawings. If this isn’t happening for you, here’s how to make it do so.

In Explorer, go to Tools > Folder Options > View tab and turn off the toggle for Hide extensions for known file types. (Windows XP shown). This is the first thing many people do when setting up a new Windows system. If you fit into this category, you have probably never seen this problem yourself, but you may still be able to use this knowledge to help others.

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 3 – Status Bar Right

Having covered the left side of the status bar, let’s move onto the other side. Some of it is familiar, but much of it is new or modified. Let’s have a look:

This animation shows the following:

  • The first icon switches to the model space layout.
  • The next icon switches to a paper space layout, but which one? The one you were in most recently.
  • The third icon gives access to the new Quick View Layout feature. Shaan Hurley has covered this quite extensively, so there is not much point in me going over the same ground. However, I will add that in AutoCAD 2009 Release Candidate at least, it’s not particularly accurately named. Yes, you can View Layouts. No, it’s not Quick. If you’re happy using these first three buttons, you can … Full post
  • blognauseam.com lives! Plus a web browser tip

    I have registered the domain name blognauseam.com because:

    a) it will stop anybody else grabbing it; and

    b) it will make it easier for people to remember the URL if they don’t have me bookmarked.

    No changes are required to your bookmarks or links, I just redirected blognauseam.com to blog.cadnauseam.com and will continue to use blog.cadnauseam.com.

    That leads me to a web browser tip. I’m sure most of you already know this, but if one or two of you go “Ah! Cool…” then it was worth typing it up. When entering a .com URL, you can save time by just typing the main part of the domain name and hitting Ctrl+Enter. Your browser will then add the http://www. prefix and .com suffix for you.

    Putting the two parts of this post together, that means you can type blognauseam into your browser, hit Ctrl+Enter and you should end up right here … Full post

    Customer Service 1 – McDonald’s

    I have a few customer service stories to share. Most are about bad service, but one is about very good service indeed. This isn’t that story. It’s a rant, but it’s true, and it is offered here for your amusement.

    A couple of years ago I took my eldest daughter L to a school friend’s party at a local fast food outlet. (It’s McDonald’s Melville, actually. I see no need to protect the guilty). As second daughter E would have been left out, I took her too. They could play on the playground together. L was being fed at the party, but I was looking after E myself. I don’t particularly like feeding them that kind of stuff, but once in a while doesn’t hurt too much.

    The party was from 11:30 to 1:00. I went to order food for E and myself at about 11:55. There were queues (that’s … Full post

    Autodesk University 2006 Video

    I didn’t make this video and it’s old news, but as I contributed some photos and I’m in it, I guess I’m entitled to link to it in my blog now I have one. If nothing else, you can use it to see what I look like (unfortunately). Except I now look different.

    By the way, I meant everything I said in this video. Autodesk University is an awesome event.

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

    YouTube Link