What do I think of the Ribbon?

I’m curious. What do you think I think about the Ribbon, particularly in AutoCAD? Do you think I’m a hater, a lover, indifferent, or what? Now, on what evidence do you base that view? Feel free to quote back to me anything I’ve written on this blog or any other public place to support your opinion. If you can’t find anything that gives you any clues one way or the other, feel free to mention that, too.

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Incoming link: “Important Revit information”

One of the things my blog’s WordPress dashboard shows me is a list of incoming links, i.e. who is pointing to this blog. One line intrigued me: unknown linked here saying, “318 random votes.. http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/ …” Clicking on the link took me to the Autodesk Discussion Groups, but only as far as this message: Error: you do not have permission to view the requested forum or category. A Google search showed up the link as follows: Important Revit information Saturday, 3 April 2010 9:23 AM 318 random votes.. http://www.blog.cadnauseam.com/2009/09/09/ribbon-acceptance-in-autocad-and-revit/ Call me self-obsessed if you like, but I find this curious. If anybody has any more information about it, please let me know.

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Some meaningless AutoCAD 2011 numbers

According to David Cohn, at yesterday’s blogger event in San Fransisco prior to the 2011 launch, Autodesk provided the following figures: 76,000 man hours spent on Q/A of the new release 6,000 total code reviews of new release 2,000 commands tested 4,600 Beta customers involved in AutoCAD 2011 1.4M lines of old code were removed Well, that’s all very nice, but those numbers are completely meaningless without context. Autodesk may as well have just published the equivalent numbers for Release 13; I’m sure they would have looked impressive in isolation. Did anybody in the blogger audience ask the obvious question? How do these numbers compare with previous releases? If so, I’d be interested to see the answer. If not, why not? I’d like to think that I would have asked such a question rather than sitting there unquestionably accepting whatever was being presented. I’d like to think that, but I can’t. I’m in no position to throw stones. I had a similar opportunity at the equivalent event last year and failed to take advantage of it. I was operating at a very sub-optimal level for a variety of reasons (some of which were entirely of my own making, so no excuses there). It was a small, fairly informal event at which Autodesk actively and repeatedly encouraged two-way communication. But sitting there absorbing what I was told was pretty much all I did. I even caught myself on video doing this (i.e. very little), so I have absolutely no right to expect anything better from anyone else this year. Still, it would have been nice to have had that question asked. It would be even nicer to have it answered. Otherwise, the numbers will remain meaningless.

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Interesting times

The past few days haven’t been so great for me. Here’s what has happened lately: A family member had an expensive musical instrument case burned when it was placed too close to a stage light. As I was driving home on Monday to escape a major oncoming storm, my car was hit out of the blue by a single golf-ball size hailstone. This caused damage on a styling crease, which will be difficult to repair. As a single dent, it’s probably not worth getting fixed, and will therefore remain to irritate me every time I see it, until the car is sold. Our lovely big Protea tree was blown over and uprooted, and the top half of our lovely flame tree was sheared off and dumped some distance away. The trees took our overhead power cable with them as they died, leaving a live cable end on the wet ground. This was isolated but not fixed the next day, just before parents started dropping off their kids in our street (we live near a primary school). We were left without power for most of two days, during which we had no idea when the power would be restored, and which made meal planning a little tricky. This outage resulted in the spoilage of a fridge-freezer full of food, and left me unable to work from home or prepare some planned future blog posts. My wife bashed her nose and eye this morning when a heavy washing machine lid fell on it. In addition to her own pain and suffering, this will probably come up in a lovely bruise and leave people wondering if I’m a spouse abuser, a form of life for which I have nothing but contempt. All in all, not the best time of it. But I’m OK.…

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My first computer

My first computer was a Dragon 32, which I think I bought in 1982. With a massive 32 kilobytes of RAM and a proper typewriter keyboard, it was quite advanced for a home computer of the time. The Commodore 64 may have had more RAM, but a lot of it was grabbed by its very basic BASIC. I preferred a computer with an ELSE to go with its IF, thanks. Microsoft Extended BASIC for me, not the crummy old BASIC 2.0 of the Commodore. The Commodore 64 was one of the great consumer electronics sales successes of all time. The Dragon, er, wasn’t. It lasted less than two years before the Welsh parent company went under. Inside, it was pretty much a Tandy TRS-80 Color Computer. Outside, it was this: I cut my coding teeth on this beast. The first thing I did with it was to write a parametric 3D bottle design program. I later spent several all-nighters developing what I thought was an awesome space game in BASIC using its limited graphics. I bought a plug-in cartridge that provided me with assembly language facilities. Real nerd stuff. I sold it to a co-worker just before the company collapsed and replaced it with a Sinclair QL, another great commercial success story. I still have that QL (broken), and another one I bought much later as a replacement. I must get it out one day and see if it still works. What was your first computer?

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A year of nauseam

This is one of those awful self-indulgent blog posts you hate, so just skip it and read the more interesting stuff a bit further down instead. It is now a year since I started this blog and this is my 200th post. Here are the site statistics for 2008: Here they are for 2009: I’m sure there are other CAD blogs out there with much more impressive stats than that, particularly the Autodesk ones. I’m pretty happy with the number of visitors I have, though. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I started doing this; maybe a couple of hundred people might be interested, maybe not. I certainly wasn’t expecting 168,000 visits in the first year. I wasn’t even sure I was going to keep it up after the first few weeks. But it seemed to grow in popularity quite quickly so I kept at it. Hopefully, I’ll retain my enthusiasm and keep it going for a while yet. I’d like to thank all of you who find this blog worth reading, and especially all of you who add your comments, whether I agree with them or not. Please continue!

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Interesting times ahead for Cadalyst

As many of you may know, I’ve been writing for Cadalyst since 1995. Yesterday, I read in David Cohn’s summary of the history of Cadalyst that in 1991, Lionel Johnston sold CADalyst to Aster Publishing for $2.2 million. How times have changed! Today, current owner Questex doesn’t think it’s worth keeping alive. I’ve been aware for some months of uncertainty about Cadalyst’s future, and Questex has finally decided that it doesn’t have one. Most of the staff have been laid off, with a tiny skeleton staff keeping things ticking over until the end of the month. As a Contributing Editor (i.e. writer), the financial effect on me is small, but others are less fortunate and have my sympathy. There’s still hope, though. This is the official word from Editor-in-Chief Nancy Spurling Johnson: Questex Media Group has decided to divest itself of Cadalyst, effective the end of February. A few of us are working actively on an employee buyout. We believe in Cadalyst and the CAD market and are positive about the future. There’s a lot to work out in the near term, but we are very, very optimistic that we can make this happen and not only keep Cadalyst moving forward, but make it a more valuable resource than ever for our readers and advertisers. As Questex seems to think the Cadalyst name isn’t worth anything, with a bit of luck the employees won’t have to dig too deep to buy it out, and a long tradition will continue. With the unfortunate demise of AUGI World and uncertainty about any replacement, there’s a hole in the market right now. Sure, it’s a depressed market, but it still has a hole in it and even in a depressed state that market is surely much bigger now than it was in the…

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The Ribbon Man interview – fluff?

Looking at the comments, it seems not everyone is happy with the Matt Stein interview. If so, I’m sorry you feel that way about the piece. In my own defence, I would point out the following: I like to think my work at Cadalyst represents a balanced viewpoint. I pride myself on being fair. Whether Autodesk deserves praise or criticism for something, I provide it. But an interview isn’t really the place to do that. An interview is supposed to be an opportunity for the interviewee to say things, not a platform for the interviewer’s opinions. My job as an interviewer is to extract information, not provide it. In my opinion, the best TV interviewers listen a lot and say very little. Confrontational interviewers can be fun to watch, though. I have many other opportunities, both here and in Bug Watch, to express viewpoints that may conflict with what Matt had to say. Matt doesn’t have a blog or a regular Cadalyst column, he has this one chance to put his point across to Cadalyst readers. I think it’s fair to let Matt make best use of that opportunity and not beat him down with a confrontational style. I think it’s important for readers to understand the thinking behind the user interface changes. You may not agree with Autodesk’s thinking (in fact, I often don’t), but if you know what the thinking is, you can argue against it more convincingly. I don’t want to go into too much detail about this because it involves private correspondence, but getting this interview published at all was an effort and a half. Anyone who wants to get access to an Autodesk employee’s comments for publication has to go through Autodesk’s PR people. While the people I dealt with were pleasant and cooperative, the pace at which things happened…

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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 is, the quality of writing, the number of visitors, how vendor-friendly the articles are, or some other factor? Every vendor’s PR team has to draw the line somewhere. Some invite only traditional journalists while others invite a host of bloggers to their events. It all comes down to how much coverage the PR people want to see and how much they are prepared to invest to make that coverage happen. Their budget, their choice.

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