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 to go unmentioned in reports about the products of such companies. I think the first time I saw this kind of thing disclosed was by Ralph Grabowski, and I was impressed. Maybe it’s just the sites I read, but I see more of that kind of disclosure in blogs than I do in the traditional press (whatever that means these days). It seems that 3Dconnexion is distributing its US$499 SpacePilot PRO devices like confetti (particluarly at SolidWorks World), hoping to get as much coverage as it can. It’s working. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with that. If a company wants to let potential customers know about its products, and if those customers read blogs, it makes sense for the company to send samples to bloggers in the hope that they get reviewed. As long as there are no strings attached, I see no ethical problem with that. If a negative review led to a reviewer being taken off the freebies list then I definitely would have a very big problem with that, but I see no evidence of that from 3Dconnexion. Where I do see an ethical issue is when a freebie is received, a review is written, and no disclosure…

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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.

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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]@imsidesign.com or call 1.415.[removed]. FIRST LOOK slots on Tuesday Dec 2nd through Thursday Dec 4th at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Regards, 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…

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Autodesk University buddy offer for existing registrants

There can never be such a thing as too many Autodesk University buddy offer posts, right?* So here’s another one. This time, I won’t mention the year so I can’t get it wrong. AU Program Development Manager Joseph Wurcher has pointed out that existing registrants can also take advantage of the buddy offer. So if you have already registered and you know somebody who would like to go, maybe you can come to some arrangement with them that ends up with AU costing you less than it otherwise would have. You will need to contact the AU team at the right time; the details are all at the bottom of this page. * Yes, that’s irony. Have a look at all the “buddy” posts on Novedge Pulse for yesterday. Great minds think alike? Maybe we just lack originality. I guess most bloggers did the same as me; saw the email with the offer and thought, “That’s worth letting people know about.” Result? Attack of the Clones.

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Autodesk University 2008 two-for-one offer

Although Autodesk University registrations passed 7000 a while ago, the financial crisis is likely to have slowed registrations considerably, so it’s not a huge shock to see Autodesk trying to ramp things up with a special offer. If you’re one of the first hundred registrants on November 5, you can register somebody else for free. If you’re late for that, you can register a second person for US$595. “For a limited time only!” Sorry, no bonus steak knives. Providing special offers is a tricky one. For the people who can take advantage of this offer, it’s great. Those who have already paid up may be annoyed about it, despite their $500 early bird discount. I don’t see how the AU people can fill all the expected places without doing something, though. There’s no pleasing everybody. Autodesk University is a fantastic event and if you can afford it, I encourage you to go. In today’s uncertain climate, the networking opportunities alone will make it worthwhile. No, I’m not receiving anything for this unsolicited promotion, it’s what I really think! Full details are available here. Edit: never mind what Autodesk calls it’s software, it’s not 2009 until next year. Duh!

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Some Autodesk web stuff now coming back on line

Right now, the Autodesk Subscription site is back up, although some people are experiencing problems. As an Aussie, I approve of the new Subscription slogan that starts with “No Worries”, even if it’s not yet accurate. Product Activation is requesting a logon, but I haven’t gone any further than that, so it may or may not be working. The Autodesk Discussion Groups are up and down by the minute. Links that once led directly to categories (e.g. AutoCAD) currently lead to pages with sub-category headings, but no links. The discussion groups themselves, while they’re up, have a new, much more modern look, but are unfortunately vastly less space-efficient than the old ones. My existing password no longer works and I haven’t seen an email about a replacement yet, so I haven’t been allowed to log on yet to see if I still have the option of improving the efficiency of the interface (e.g. by having 100 topics per page, not 15). The Search facility looks unfinished and fails to find stuff I know is there. There are various user-related issues, such as the user name links failing and multiple users with the same name. The Autodesk University site is up, but registration is still disabled. The Autodesk Labs site is up, but contains some links that no longer work. At a glance, the Alias Design, Civil Engineering, Impression and Manufacturing Community sites all appear to be up and running.

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Lots of Autodesk web stuff broken right now

Autodesk is in the middle of a big site overhaul at the moment, with many services unavailable. For example, attempting to log into Subscription Support gives me this: The Subscription Center is currently undergoing maintenance. You will not be able to access the Subscription Center during this time. Support Request is also undergoing maintenance. Currently, you are not be able to submit, view or manage settings for your Support Requests. The Subscription Center and Support Request will become available at the date and time shown in the chart below. Time Zone/Country Date Time GMT Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5.00 am Eastern Time (EST) Tuesday, Spetember 23, 2008 1.00 am Central European Time (CET) Tuesday, September 23, 2008 7.00 am Japan Tuesday, September 23, 2008 2:00 pm Korea Tuesday, September 23, 2008 2:00 pm Singapore Tuesday, September 23, 2008 1.00 pm India – Bangalore Tuesday, September 23, 2008 10.30 am We appreciate your patience while we work to improve Autodesk Subscription. That’s a relatively useful message; some direct links I have bookmarked give me this kind of thing: The server you are trying to access is either busy or experiencing difficulties. Please close the Web browser, open a new browser window, and try logging in again.[05:09:00] This also means your resellers are unable to provide you with license codes until the server is back up again. So if you were going to rely on that, don’t. The various Autodesk blogs seem to be unaffected at the moment, but links on those blogs may not work correctly. For example, signing up to be placed on the AU blogroll from the link at Between The Lines seems to work, but then right at the end gives me the message below, leaving me in the dark about whether I need to repeat the process…

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Autodesk University is moving!

No, I don’t mean it’s a deeply emotional experience, however true that may be for certain CAD geeks (who will remain nameless to protect the dorky). What I mean is that it’s moving in the fourth dimension, and possibly the other three too. This will be no news for several hundred of you, but it might be handy to know for those of us who need to plan things like this well in advance. A couple of months ago, when I was pondering the possibility of speaking at Autodesk University 2008, I registered using the on-line form and was intrigued to see that there was a question that revealed that AU 2009 is planned for late June 2009, rather than the usual November/December timeframe. The location was TBA, rather than Las Vegas. Although anybody could fill in that form and obtain that information, and although I can’t recall any secrecy provisions in the form-filling process, I decided to keep this inside information to myself anyway. That probably makes me a pretty weak investigative journalist, but I can live with that. Anyway, I have since seen it discussed in public, which makes it fair game to reveal here. How does holding AU 2009 in late June work for you? Do you think it will be held in Las Vegas again? Bear in mind that the sheer size of this event limits the number of suitable locations. Where would you like it to be held? In related news for the long-term planners among us, the schedule outline of AU 2008 has been posted here.

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Autodesk University Session Voting

This year, the Autodesk University people are allowing you to vote on the various sessions (classes). Here’s the link: AU 2008: Help Us Select the Sessions If I can sort out a few practical details, I am hoping to attend this year as a speaker. I have submitted four session proposals. These are: Customization and Programming Be unfashionable in style with LISP and DCL – Introduction Be unfashionable in style with LISP and DCL – Intermediate Be unfashionable in style with LISP and DCL – Advanced Business How to make a great CAD blog for next to nothing If you intend attending AU this year, I encourage you to vote for the sessions you would like to see presented.

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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: 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. 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 others.

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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 cash left over from my trip, so I sent that to him instead. As soon as I informed him that the money was in the mail, he sent off the DVD (which comes with a bonus CD too). My money (it was actually $1.05 too much because of the US$ denominations I had handy) and his DVD crossed in the mail, arriving at about the same time. We trusted each other, and it worked. I was surprised and delighted to discover that Don had shipped not only the DVD with its bonus CD, but another different bonus CD too! With a hand-written note from Don which was, amusingly, on a Post-It note. The DVD and both CDs were, as expected, very funny. Top service, top product, thank you Don! Artist site: www.technicallyfunny.com

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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

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Lynn Allen’s Famous Cell Phone Story

Whatever the subject, Autodesk evangelist and fellow Cadalyst writer Lynn Allen always gives a very entertaining and informative presentation. If you attend one and you’re lucky, you might get to hear this now infamous story. This footage was taken at Autodesk University, Las Vegas, November 2006. Sorry the sound’s not the best, you may need to turn it up a bit. YouTube Link

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