I snigger at your pronouncements of technological inevitability

It always amuses me when people proclaim a rising technology as not just promising, but the way of the future that will inevitably take over. Anybody can see that’s the way things are heading, they say. No use fighting it. Don’t question the certainty of the forthcoming tech revolution, you Luddite! It’s a sea change, resistance is futile, get on board now or be swept away on the flood waters of progress.

What a load of bollocks.

What really surprises me is when people who are old enough to know better join in with this sort of thing. Those of us who have been around a while have seen many “inevitable” technological revolutions dry up and fizzle out, some more than once. It gets old.

Remember a few short years ago when touchscreens were going to be part of everybody’s desktop setup as ubiquitous as the mouse? I do, but … Full post

Video lulz with AutoCAD 360

Thanks to Hans Lammerts on Twitter for pointing out this amusingly cringeworthy AutoCAD 360 YouTube ad:

The guy spilling his coffee and falling over reminds me of the people in those infomercials that can never get the simplest things right:

OK, so the ad’s bad, but how’s the product? I had a look for myself at the browser version of AutoCAD 360, which is the current name for what has been Visual Tau, Project Butterfly and AutoCAD WS in previous iterations dating back before Autodesk’s acquisition of the Israeli technology in 2009.

It’s a while since I tried it, so I was interested to see the progress that had been made. After all, CAD in the Cloud has been Autodesk’s focus for a long time now, and as this is likely the first product people try out, you’d expect it to be pretty dazzlingly … Full post

CAD on the Cloud – available anytime, anywhere except when it isn’t

One of the multiple reasons Autodesk has failed to win over the masses to its Cloudy CAD vision is fear of unreliability. Anything that relies on using somebody else’s computer over the Internet adds potential points of failure to those already there on a standalone desktop system. These additional vulnerabilities include:

  • Your browser or thin client software fails
  • Your modem, cabling or other Internet connectivity hardware fails
  • Your Internet service provider has an outage
  • Malware or DDOS attacks on your domain or service
  • Governmental Internet service interference
  • Internet connectivity infrastructure failure
  • Malware or DDOS attacks on vendor domain or service
  • Cloud vendor infrastructure disaster
  • Cloud-based CAD software down for maintenance

I voiced my concerns about this in 2011, but technology has moved on since then and surely things are running as smooth as can be these days, right? Most computer users use Cloud services … Full post

Script for creating AutoCAD Classic workspace

Edwin Prakaso at the excellent CAD Notes blog has done something that, in hindsight, is blindingly obvious but nevertheless very useful to a multitude of people. He’s written a simple script file that sets up the Classic workspace (or something close to it). It works in any recent AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT. Here’s the blog post:

AutoCAD Script to Create Classic Workspace Automatically

Edwin uses Microsoft OneDrive to store the script file, so if your workplace restricts access to Cloud storage you might need to download it at home.

I’ve added a reference to this script to my post AutoCAD 2017 – Putting things back to “normal”.

Huge PDFs? AutoCAD 2017.1.1 could be to blame

Autodesk has yet again demonstrated why continuous automatic updating is no panacea for avoiding CAD update disruption. On the contrary…

If you have noticed some of your PDFs exported from AutoCAD getting huge and unwieldy lately, AutoCAD 2017.1.1 could be to blame. Try uninstalling it using Programs and Features > View Installed Updates and see if the problem goes away. It may also be possible to work around this by going into PDF options and turning on Include Hyperlinks. Source: The Swamp.

Here’s one possible* install history:

  • You install AutoCAD 2017. This defaults to also installing Autodesk desktop app. If this works on your system and you leave it on there doing its thing and consuming your resources, it will attempt to automatically keep your Autodesk software up to date.
  • Autodesk desktop app installed AutoCAD 2017.1. You like this because it has added a couple of nice features. … Full post

Reset an apparently dead Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4″

…with this one simple trick!

I had my Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4″ Android tablet spontaneously die last night, and it refused to respond to any button pressing, cable connecting or threats. Holding down the power button for 10 seconds (or more) did nothing, as did Dr. Google’s top tip of holding down Power, Volume Up and Home for 10 seconds.

What worked for me was holding down Power, Volume Up and Volume Down for 10 seconds. It restarted without anything being lost and is now back to normal.

Return of the bullshit – baked beans edition

In an October 2015 post I’ve only just noticed, snappily titled No More Software Like a Can of Baked Beans: Why Software Subscription Serves It Up Fresh, Autodesk VP Andrew Anagnost bravely attempts to sell Autodesk’s move to all-rental software. This is a rather belated response, but fortunately there is no statute of limitations on skewering spin so let’s get started.

How does he go? On a positive note, top marks for creative writing! The general theme is a strained and somewhat Californian analogy in which perpetual licenses are like canned goods (bad), and rental is like fresh produce (good). However, it’s presented well and professionally written. Among the highlights are:

  • Perpetual software licenses are like high-fructose corn syrup – no, I’m not making this up. Stop laughing at the back there!
  • This is a change that is simply a better experience for everyone – everyone who … Full post

Undo, U, Redo, Erase, Oops differences explained

It’s been a while since I posted any beginners’ tips, so here goes.

There are several commands in AutoCAD to do with reversing things you’ve done. They are in some cases subtly different and this can confuse newcomers. Here’s what they do:

  • U – reverses the last command you used.
  • Redo – reverses the last U or Undo operation you performed, if that’s the last thing you did.
  • Undo – displays a set of command options that allow greater control over undoing things. (This is rarely used directly by a user, and is more of a programmer’s tool, so I won’t be going into any detail).
  • Erase – removes from the drawing an object or set of objects as selected by the user.
  • Oops – reverses the last Erase command, even if you have done other things in the meantime. (It also reverses erasures performed by the Wblock command, … Full post

Autodesk’s big Cloud failure

Back in 2011, Autodesk, some other vendors and many industry pundits were utterly convinced of the inevitable and near-imminent victory of Cloud-based CAD over standalone software. I wasn’t. I wanted to get a feel for how isolated my viewpoint was, so I started a poll and let it run for a while. Here’s how that turned out:

As you can see, this blog’s readers were less than convinced about the inevitability of that Cloudy future. Not so Carl Bass, who had this to say in an April 2012 TechCrunch interview:

I’d say two to three years from now, every one of our products will be used online. The only way to use … Full post

AutoCAD 2017.1.1 Update

Thanks to Jimmy Bergmark, I now know that the controversial subscription-only* AutoCAD 2017.1 Update has itself been updated. Jimmy was brave enough to install and run the execrable Autodesk desktop app and discovered the update update. Rather you than me, Jimmy!

Here’s the readme. You’ll need to get at it using Autodesk Account.

I note that a bunch of crashes are fixed by this update update. Perhaps that is related to the magical missing AutoCAD 2017.1 crash information? Who knows?

The update was apparently released over a month ago on 17 November 2016. Autodesk needs to work out an alternative mechanism to Autodesk desktop app so that those of us who won’t/can’t use it will still be informed when updates become available. If only there were some other method Autodesk could use to communicate … Full post

AutoCAD 2017 for Mac released, still half-baked

AutoCAD 2017 for Mac and AutoCAD LT 2017 for Mac have been released. Here’s a video highlighting exciting and innovative new features such as drawing and layout tabs. Despite such stellar advances, it’s safe to say that AutoCAD for Mac remains half-baked, even after all these years. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

According to Autodesk, these are the features missing from AutoCAD 2017 for Mac:

Tool palettes
New layer notification
Navigation bar
Sheet Set Manager***
Steering wheel
Feature finder for help
Model documentation tools
Dynamic block lookup parameter creation/editing
Table style editing
Multiline style creation
Digitizer integration
Geographic location
Simplified, powerful rendering
Material creation, editing, and mapping
Advanced rendering settings
Camera creation
Point cloud
Full post

Autodesk to pull the plug on 123D

The reason you should never rely on SaaS for anything important is that, well, you just can’t rely on it. If the software breaks, or the vendor goes under, or decides that line’s not profitable enough, or just loses interest, you’re screwed. More importantly, you’re screwed on a timeframe that’s out of your control, and probably much shorter than you would like. You can’t just go on using the software until you’re ready to move on, like you can with perpetual licenses.

Thanks for the latest lesson, Autodesk, regarding 123D:

Over the past few years, millions of people have unlocked their creativity with the Autodesk 123D apps and community. We’ve grown from one desktop tool in 2011 to multiple apps across desktop, web, and mobile.
We’re incredibly proud of these products, and even more proud of what you all have MADE with them. But we … Full post

Steve’s fencing year 2016

Some of you may be aware I’m an active veteran fencer. I’ve been a bit quiet over the past month because I’ve been away, attending two major fencing tournaments. I’ll post some video later, but here are my national and international medal results this year:

Australian Fencing Circuit 1, Melbourne, Australia
  • Veteran Men’s Sabre – Bronze and 50+ Gold
Asian Masters / Oceania and AFC 3 Veterans, Perth, Australia
  • Asian Masters / Oceania Veteran / AFC3 Veteran Men’s Sabre (50+) – Gold
  • Asian Masters / Oceania Veteran / AFC3 Veteran Men’s Foil (50+) – Bronze
  • Asian Masters / Oceania Veteran Men’s Sabre Teams (Australia A) – Gold
  • Asian Masters / Oceania Veteran Men’s Foil Teams (Australia Green) – Bronze
Commonwealth Veteran Fencing Championships, Christchurch*, New Zealand

BricsCAD startup LISP bug fixed

In my previous post I have a real problem with BricsCAD, I related my then-latest interaction with the Bricsys support system:

Steve Johnson
05-12-2016 05:30 UTC

I don’t know if this is a BricsCAD problem or a DOSLib one, so I am reporting it to both Bricsys and Dale at McNeel. I’m also not sure if this was happening in earlier versions.

If I load DOSLib during an S::STARTUP call and then use the (dos_msgbox) function later in that call, this fails the first time round because BricsCAD things the function is not defined. Opening a second drawing results in the call working as expected. I’ve chopped down our startup routine so you have an example.

; error : no function definition ; expected FUNCTION at [eval]

Awesome Bricsys Person
05-12-2016 12:32 UTC

Hi Steve,

There was a regression introduced in V17.1.10 that caused … Full post

Autodesk perpetual license owners to get screwed big-time

Hidden in amongst a bunch of the usual highly dubious subscription statements from Carl Bass is an announcement that spells doom for Autodesk perpetual license owners. I will resist the temptation to skewer Carl’s spin (for now) because this announcement is much more important:

Bass also confirmed that the company plans to converge the two existing subscription models — maintenance and product subscriptions — into a single offering over the next two years. “If you look out to fiscal year 2020, we want to be in a place where, first of all, we have a single kind of offering with a single back office and infrastructure to support it, one that will be a combination of product subscriptions as you see them plus a consumption model on top of it. That’s where we see the business heading.

“Along the way, it’s how do we motivate customers to … Full post

I have a real problem with BricsCAD

To be precise, I have a real problem with writing  about BricsCAD. I’ve written some pretty complimentary things about BricsCAD lately. In the interests of balance, I’ve been intending to write about some of the issues people can expect to deal with when moving from AutoCAD to BricsCAD. Such issues certainly exist. The problem I have with that is that the issues keep going away!

Here’s how it usually goes. I find a problem in BricsCAD. I submit a support request. Within hours, I get a meaningful response from a person who understands the issue. Within days, I’m informed it’s been fixed internally and the fix will be in the next update. Within a week or two, that update is released. I download and install the updated version. It’s basically a full reinstall, but all settings are seamlessly retained and it’s faster and less painful than an AutoCAD Service Pack … Full post

So what’s actually new in BricsCAD V17?

A big problem I have in communicating the improvements to BricsCAD in V17 is that there are such a huge number of them. This isn’t an AutoCAD 201x-style touch-up masquerading as serious progress, this is a real  upgrade. You know, an AutoCAD V12-style upgrade that veteran AutoCAD users will remember from the good old days before Autodesk got bored and distracted. Dozens upon dozens of new features, improvements to existing features, performance improvements and bug fixes. Lots of stuff that’s genuinely useful.

I could write three posts a week on the changes and not be finished by this time next year. So I’m going to be lazy. I’ll pick out a few features for future posts but for the big picture I’ll point you to the official list. This isn’t a marketing document, it’s a technical list of terse descriptions of changes (to the Windows version only – … Full post

Autodesk has some great documentation people

The most heavily commented post on this blog is AutoCAD 2013 – An Autodesk Help writer responds, featuring Dieter Schlaepfer‘s response to posts and comments here about AutoCAD 2013’s Help. I don’t always agree with Dieter but I respect him enormously, and not just because he was brave enough to stick his head above the parapet in a hostile environment. Dieter is a principal technical writer at Autodesk with many years’ experience and is therefore responsible for large amounts of documentation content. You’ve almost certainly read his work.

I’ve been critical of AutoCAD’s Help system since it was broken in 2011, and I make no apologies for that. The Help system sucked then, it sucked even worse in 2013, and it continues to suck badly in 2017. None of that’s Dieter’s fault. It’s the Help engine that’s at fault, or to be more accurate the Help … Full post

BricsCAD V17 – the best AutoCAD upgrade in years?

I’ve been evaluating BricsCAD for a few years now, and have been looking at it pretty seriously as a DWG-based LISP-compatible AutoCAD alternative for a year or so. A couple of weeks ago, I flew to Munich for the Bricsys International Conference (at Bricsys’ expense – see the Legal page for disclosure) where I learned quite a few things I had failed to notice during my own evaluation of V17. As you may have noticed, I can be pretty hard-bitten and cynical about what CAD companies have to say about their products, but I came back impressed.

The conference and the product itself are not free of flaws, but I have to say the progress Bricsys has shown in developing the BricsCAD product is really quite astonishing. The rate at which serious, worthwhile-to-customers improvements have been made to BricsCAD over the last few releases is huge. Some of … Full post