AutoCAD 2012 – Massive download bloat

Note: this post is not an April fool’s joke. It may be ridiculous and hard to believe, but unfortunately it’s all true. After I managed to overcome Autodesk’s obstructive download manger and download AutoCAD 2012, it became available on the Subscription site (when that site wasn’t running unusably slowly). Or it became kind-of available. Here’s what is actually available: AutoCAD 2012 Multilingual 32 bit Download File Size: 2,080,558,319 bytes (1,984.2 MB) AutoCAD 2012 English Korean Traditional-Chinese Simplified-Chinese Win 64bit Download File Size: 2,240,915,999 bytes (2,137.1 MB) These file sizes are roughly double those of the AutoCAD 2012 English files I’ve already downloaded from the trial page and installed. The 32-bit English file is 1,144,011,680 bytes, or 55% of the size of what the Subscription site is trying to offer me. Why? Because the Subscription downloads contain three bonus Asian language packs. It has apparently escaped Autodesk’s notice that Australia is an English-speaking country, and that the ability to install a Korean version of AutoCAD 2012 isn’t going to be spectacularly useful here. Duh! There was a a distribution fiasco last year when Autodesk couldn’t make up its mind which AutoCAD 2011 language variant Australian users were supposed to use. This resulted in weeks of delays, uncertainty and disrupted shipments. This year, there’s less uncertainty. Somebody has made a firm decision about what we’re getting, right from the start. What a shame it’s the wrong one, and it makes Autodesk look utterly clueless. Just in case you’re wondering, the AutoCAD 2012 English from the trial page installs and works fine, correctly detecting that I’m in Australia and presenting the correct legal information. The installation also registers and authorises correctly using the serial number provided on the Subscription site. No problems there, then. What, then, is the reason for the massive download bloat? Is it…

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More Autodesk deception over LT productivity study

Following on from the AutoCAD 2011 productivity study I critiqued earlier, there is now an LT version. Do the same credibility problems apply to this study too? Yes, and then some. In addition to the drawings and operations being deliberately hand-picked to demonstrate new features, no direct comparison is performed at all between the two releases on the same platforms. Every single quoted “productivity improvement” figure includes, free of charge, three years of hardware and operating system progress and a more upmarket graphics card. If you read business “news” sources that just reprint press releases, such as this Yahoo! Finance one (thanks, Carol Bartz), you won’t see this mentioned. Instead, you will see deceptive statements like these: David S. Cohn, an independent consultant Er, no, in this context he’s not independent, he’s an Autodesk consultant. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. overall productivity gains of 44 percent for users moving from AutoCAD LT 2008 or earlier versions to AutoCAD LT 2011 …as long as you only ever perform certain carefully selected operations and upgrade your hardware and operating system. Like the other study, the 44% figure is totally meaningless and quoting it without qualification is downright deceptive. Most users will be able to get more work done faster by upgrading to AutoCAD LT 2011 This statement is totally unsupported. There is no analysis of what “most users” do with the software, and no attempt to quantify the portion of time such users spend on these hand-picked operations. Neither is there any analysis performed on more common operations to see if the new releases introduced any detriment to productivity in those areas. Improvements to the graphical user interface deliver a 43 percent productivity increase. If that’s true, why do so many users of 2009 to 2011 immediately turn off the new user…

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Magic vanishing images

In a thread in the Feedback & Questions about the Discussion Groups section of the Autodesk discussion groups, somebody called ACADuser contributed what I thought was a highly amusing bar graph as a test image. Inspired by this, I contributed a couple of test images of my own. A few hours later, the whole thread magically disappeared! It seems a shame that I went to the effort of making those images, and all for nothing. The handful of people who would have seen them on the discussion groups have now missed out on the experience. So I’ve decided to make up for that by posting them here, where thousands of people can look at them instead. Here’s the first one (not that amusing): Here’s the second one. Given the circumstances, it seems somewhat prescient: If ACADuser wants to get in touch, I’ll be quite happy to post his image too.

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Autodesk discussion group changes – user reaction

I will be airing my own views on the Autodesk discussion group changes in a future post. In the meantime, I have collected some reactions from other users. For the record, there has been only a little censorship in this area. Here are some of the comments that made it through unhindered: I’ve given it a fair shake and it’s just as bad as I imagined Goodbye, people. It was nice while it lasted it sucks it doesn’t look like you have any intention to meet the expectations of these people not [as] much traffic as there was before the change.  I hope things improve I’m sure you’ve noticed the sourness many folks are having with this interface What a f’in f-up This is so aggravating that I am resorting to posting questions that may have already been answered vs. trying to find them via the search tool Very annoying We use NNTP because it’s easy and fast, and better very slow, compared to “other” html forums This was hyped as a “state-of-art web experience”. It is clearly not Extremely slow compared to the previous web forum we are screwed with this interface This is like having your high performance vehicle (NNTP) stolen and having to take the bus to get to your destination 4 days later, still sucks Still very slow, cumbersome, difficult to track and navigate, unintuitive It took me literally 30 seconds to get that smiley to insert I really was expecting something better I see too many people who may not be around anymore. In most cases their expertise far outweighs any improvements to the forums Welcome to the new and improved Autodesk forum brought to you by high school students near you You keep using that word [“upgrade”]. I do not think it means what you think it means…

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AutoCAD 2011 online Help changes – a curate’s egg

As announced by Shaan Hurley, Autodesk has made some changes to the AutoCAD 2011 online Help system. Please check it out and see what you think. After a short time with it, here are my experiences using IE6 (yes, I know). As this is a dynamic system and dependent on browser characteristics, Internet connectivity and any changes Autodesk may make between me writing this and you reading it, your mileage will vary. There are some cosmetic changes,  including a fixup of the Autodesk logo in IE6 that was done a couple of weeks ago. Sadly, my pink Comic Sans logo has not been adopted.  As I can’t do a direct side-by-side comparison with the pre-change setup under identical conditions, I can’t make a definitive statement about performance. I can say that it does appear to have improved somewhat. It now takes about 3.5 seconds from hitting F1 to seeing a complete landing screen. Once cached, I’m seeing it in come up in just under 2 seconds. The main change from a usability point of view is that the Search facility now defaults to searching All Books rather than whatever document you happen to have highlighted over on the left sidebar. That’s welcome. Also, the searches generally appear to give better results. For example, a simple search for LINE in the original 2011 online system gave a list of 199 results, of which the actual LINE command was 26th! Now, a search for LINE puts the LINE command third in the list; much better. The results come up faster than before (2.5 seconds in this example), but I have seen widely varying search times reported so I would be interested to hear about your experiences. The way the search results are presented is now significantly different. Instead of a single line for each result, 4 lines…

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AutoCAD 2011 Help system is not popular

My poll on this subject is still running (see right), but so far about 2/3 of respondents rate AutoCAD 2011’s new browser-based Help system as 0, 1 or 2 stars out of 5 (total fail, very poor or poor). Frankly, I’m surprised it’s doing as well as that. Have a look at this discussion group thread to get an idea of the sort of reaction I was expecting it to receive. (Kudos to Autodesk’s moderators for allowing the discussion to continue with relatively little obvious censorship, at least so far). There are many good new things in AutoCAD 2011, but Help isn’t one of them. Even if you like the concept of online help, this implementation of that concept is a failure. Even when used offline, this release’s browser-based Help is manifestly inferior to its CHM-based predecessor. Yet another victim of the 12-month release cycle, this feature is horribly undercooked and should not have been included in the finished product. As an advertisment for Autodesk’s ability to provide efficient cloud-based and/or platform-independent software, it could hardly be worse. I intend to pull Help to shreds in more detail in a later post, but feel free to add your own observations.

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Autodesk Knowledge Base – who thought this was a good idea?

This evening, I needed to know exactly which operating systems were supported by all AutoCAD releases from 2004 to 2011 inclusive. I have a pretty good idea, but I needed to confirm that my mental picture is completely correct. So I hopped over to the Autodesk Knowledge Base and entered “system requirements” in the search engine. Only one of the first 50 results was relevant, and that was for AutoCAD 2011. So I clicked on that. Did I get an easily digestible list of system requirements, including a list of exactly which operating systems were supported by AutoCAD 2011? No, I did not. What I got was this: So I clicked on the pretty picture, hoping to be taken to an easily digestible list of system requirements, including a list of exactly which operating systems were supported. Is that where I was taken? No, it was not. Instead, I was taken to a 16-minute YouTube video. As I was not being blocked by a business firewall at the time, I could watch a few stuttery, blurry marketing images flash past during the few seconds it stayed on my screen. There’s a technical term for this kind of thing. It begins with w and rhymes with bank. But I don’t need to tell you how dumb this is. Anybody who is smart enough to read this blog can work that out. But the people at Autodesk who thought this was a great idea? Really, what on earth were they thinking? What were they smoking? Strewth!

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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: 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 DMCA notice. The DMCA request was spurious, as this is a clear case of fair use of an image for the purposes of criticism. Photoshop Disasters is hosted by Blogspot, which automatically complies with such requests. Boing Boing is not, and instead went on the offensive. They refused to take down the picture, instead reposting it with biting sarcasm. Read it, it’s funny. Ralph Lauren, if you’re reading this, please send me a DMCA notice too. I’m feeling left out. This led to a flurry of comments, reposts and reports all over the Internet, including here. The comments (running at over a hundred an hour right now) are almost universally mocking of Ralph Lauren, its legal team, its models and its image manipulation propensities. The criticism goes way beyond the few snipes at a mangled-body image that would have been the case if Ralph Lauren had done nothing. It has moved on to the fashion designer’s ethical standards and those of the fashion…

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Faster, Stronger, Higher, Bluer, Blooper

I always find it amusing when extensively rehearsed and expensive presentations go wrong, except of course when they are my own. Anyway, presentations don’t get any more extensively rehearsed or expensive than the opening ceremony of the Olympics. So when a technical glitch occurs like Cathy Freeman having to stand around waiting for recalcitrant machinery to start moving, this amuses my sad little mind. It’s funnier for me when the glitch has a computing feel to it, as described in this story of the Olympic BSoD. When XP does this to you, perhaps you could try Li Ning on the Ctrl, Alt and Del keys.

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