Bloggers, Bloggers Everywhere

I haven't posted much this week... busy catching up from vacation. But, I've also been _orking on my pet project... details about blogs. I've been throwing every blog link I can find into my Favorites folder, most of them more for the use of people in various industries I come across.
But, some of the names are rather ambiguous, so I've imported the list of 90 (yes, ninety) CAD-Design-Programming related blogs into a spreadsheet and am in the process of listing the industry and programs used of all of the posters.

A minor bit of trivia is that this month has seen the one year anniversary of my own blog. April 12th, 2005 I made my first post as the Mistress of the Dorkness (which, for some reason, seemed like a good idea at the time).

That realization, made me think back slightly further, to when I was still doing a LUG newsletter... in the January 2005 edition, I published my listing of a whopping 26 blogs. My, what the past year has brought, eh?

What is so great about blogs anyway? Well, those who work in the industry can spit out little bite-sized, easily digestible chunks of knowledge for all of the world to see.
I believe I just saw a posting by Roopinder Tara about why blogs are a favorite medium for us?

Personally, back when I was an editor... I really did love the editing part of my work. It was a challenge right up my alley helping the smarter, more technical people get their ideas across in an effective manner... what I didn't like about editing was recruiting authors, and weeding out the self-promoters. blah! That part of the gig just wasn't worth my time.

And... as a writer... I'm not all that good at selling myself... my work, my ideas, my opinions. I don't easily approach an editor and say 'I'm qualified to write for your publication and this is what I'd like to write about'.

I'm pretty anti-social anyway, and selling myself to a prospective publisher is more than a little intimidating.

And so, I blog.

I write what I want to, unedited, unrestrained... and unpaid.

Well, blogging does have it's pluses and minuses. ;)

After I complete my first draft of my listing of blogs, I'll find someplace to host the file and post a link back here.

Have a great weekend!


Well, I'm back from London

Alright... I'm back ~dusts off desk... (except the telephone... those messages can wait a couple more minutes)~

I know, last summer when I went, and the weather was 75%%d and sunny, and my BH assured me it was always like that... wasn't going to last. Our first day there, we took my little one with some friends to some castle grounds for Easter festivities... it rained... his shoes were sooo muddy. You could tell I was the ignorant tourist, as all of the other children were readily equipped with little rubber boots. We went round to the shops soon after and found him some of his own (Thomas the Train, no less).

Suprisingly enough ~proud Mommy moment~ my 2 (he turned three while we were over there) year old was perfectly behaved on the 8 1/2 hour flight from Chicago to London. I was stunned.
Don't get me wrong, he's a good kid, better than most, but, let's face it He's A Toddler!!!

We hung out with many family and friends, and played with kids and fed ducks and saw 2 castles, went to the Natural History and Science Museums, and ate fantastic food (from homemade pizza to Indian, to waaay too many chocolate easter eggs). It was a great holiday for all of us, and I'm so happy we went.

I don't think I have a tip about autocad today. I'm still sort of beat and a little jet-lagged. I woke up 2 hours early today... not terrible, but, not fun either. ;)

Oh, I will do a little rant about something I saw *AGAIN* today in the cafeteria...
So, to the woman I saw today, and the many I've seen in the past, and the many I haven't seen:
You know salad is paid for by weight, so don't stand by the salad bar, digging into your plate for goodness sake... you're *STEALING* so knock it off! If you think it's too expensive, bring your own!

Alright, sorry, just had to get that out. ;)

Happy CADding, and don't forget to donate blood...


DWG Viewer updated for 2007

Logging on from 'sunny' England to bring you the news...

You can now download the newest version from the Autodesk site.


I'm gone for a few days

I'll be leaving for a trip tomorrow morning. I probably won't be signing on to make any posts until I return to _ork.

Remember to keep learning, and giving back to the CAD community!

To piggyback on my post the other day about newsgroup behaviour, I'll add a link from the DWF guy (Scott Sheppard) giving tips on best uses for the Autodesk Discussion Groups.
Be sure to peruse his blog for some updates on new DWF technology and some uses (like dwf underlay or sectioning 3d dwf's).


AUGI Browser Toolbar

The AUGI Connectivity Toolbar is a free search and navigation companion that accompanies you as you surf, providing instant connectivity, searchability, and information from AUGI without interrupting your Web browsing. Now you can sport your affiliation with AUGI wherever you browse.
Main Button and Menu Provides links to AUGI Programs and Channels
Search Combo Box is configurable to search AUGI Site, AUGI Forums, and other User Selected Web Search Engines
Links Directly into Community Channels, Programs, and Forums
MSN Messenger Tools can be Launched Directly from the Toolbar
Industrial Strength PopUp Blocker with User configurable "Whitelist"
Selectable WebForm autofill makes filling out webforms a snap.



Newsgroup Guidelines for Newbies

Newsgroups for N00bs

Okay, maybe not just for newbies, but also for people that just don’t use them frequently… The below tips are just some advice from me to you that will make your newsgroup experience nicer and much more productive.
(I’m writing these guidelines with the assumption that you’re going to be in a quasi-professional newsgroup or forum such as
Autodesk Discussion Groups, AUGI or similar.)

Signing up
Use a free email account (yahoo or hotmail) on groups where your contact information might be shown. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure against a stalker or flamer, but this is also a good precaution for switching employers (one less place you’ll have to update your contact information).

Try for an appropriate user name, if you’re given a choice. Show your individuality, but do it conservatively.
Men: nothing in your name should reference the perceived strength of your libido… Yuck!
Women: obviously casual names are fine, but if you want to be taken slightly more seriously try to avoid anything too cutesy.

For signature lines, this is a place to show your affiliations and a little personality. Some people put a link to their blog and a funny quote. Try to avoid politically offensive statements, or things that are sexually suggestive. The same goes for avatars, if a site allows them.

Know the rules
Some rules are stated, some are implied… get to know the ones that are stated right off the bat, you’ll slowly pick up on implied rules as you go along.

Stated rules:

One of the things that will cause reader irritation, a flame war, etc. faster than anything is advertising!
Do not reply to a question with ‘I can help you, contact me!’ as most of these forums prohibit advertisements.
Yes, networking is a great benefit of newsgroups. Provide good content and users will contact you if they need additional help that they’re willing to pay for.
However, do keep in mind that these are peer to peer support groups, and most people aren’t looking to pay someone to do their job, they just want to know how to do it better themselves.

This may go without saying (basic code of ethics here), but, don’t pose as ‘just another user’ and act like you’re a satisfied customer of your company or product… chances are the others on the website will see right through you and lose all respect for your company. Don’t risk your entire reputation for a little free advertising.

Politics and religion are a no-no. Basically keep this in mind… a statement that is negative about any group (gender, ethnic, religious, political, etc) is a bad idea, don’t post it.
Anything posed as inflammatory is generally prohibited.
(A personal example: on one site, someone made a negative generalization about female programmers… as a result, I flamed the gentleman who made the comment. Said gentleman then went to another forum that I post to, and repeated the comment in an attempt to antagonize me. Of course, as it was blatantly discriminatory, someone deleted it before I had a chance to reply... and that was probably a good thing for me.)
So, really, avoid chasing up people trying to get them riled up, and try to ignore people who are obviously trying to do that to you.

Make a clear subject line (thread title). AUGI has a feature that finds similar threads based on keywords in the subject of the thread, and Autodesk discussion groups have a lot of posts to read through, so titles like ‘Help!’ or ‘it’s broken!’ aren’t a good idea if you want people to pop into a thread and provide an answer.

Post a question only once on a website. This keeps the answers nice and organized and the information all in one place if you’re asked to clarify something.

Implied Rules:

Don’t be demanding. These are peer to peer support groups. Other professionals pop up to these sites during their breaks or spare time to try to help another user out. If a thread’s been dead a week with no answer, go ahead and bump it back up… but, don’t come back an hour later making demands as to why it hasn’t been answered. No one answering questions is getting paid to do it, so don’t complain or you’ll be branded an ingrate, and that will likely affect the answers you’ll get in the future.

Ask your question on the site by posting, don’t just pick someone and contact him or her in private expecting an answer. That’s not the way forums are intended to work. Chances are, you won’t pick the most qualified person this way anyhow. ;)

Add details that might be relevant. Such as your product and version, any installed add-ons, your operating system (and service packs), whether you’re pulling drawings from your hard drive or a network. Step by step instructions on how to reproduce your problem will get faster results than ‘my drawing doesn’t work anymore, how do I fix it?’ It might also be helpful to post a
screenshot so other users can visualize complex problems more easily.


Take care with your words. Some people are bothered by grammar and spelling mistakes. Personally, they don’t bother me in a casual environment such as a peer to peer forum. But, I do find myself feeling really irritated when I see misused or misunderstood statements… such as declaring a mute point or asking for imput (for those that don’t see what I’m saying… that’s supposed to be moot point and input).
(This is akin to the irritation when I get a drawing and someone has included the name of a different health system. I can understand that someone would confuse two hospitals, and I can understand that someone would confuse two similar words, but I do tend to take that contractor less seriously because of a small careless mistake.)
Conversely, while a polite correction isn’t unrealistic, please refrain from hostile flaming of users over a simple spelling mistake.

Post your solution. Sometimes you’ll get a few suggestions on how to fix a particular problem. Help out the community by posting back, which one worked for you! Or, if you found an answer elsewhere, go back to your question and post your solution; guaranteed, someone will do a search and come across it later and be really grateful!

FWIW an FYI: geeks love acronyms… NTTAWWT. Don’t want to keep asking what people mean? IMHO, you need to just keep the link to Acronym Finder handy -

Newsgroups are a Good Thing!

I am the only full-time CAD person in my company, and we all know that things break. Out of necessity, I discovered professional design newsgroups within six months of starting my career, and have been grateful ever since. Sometimes you get the answer you need, sometimes you just get a workaround, other times you get exactly what you required in a fantabulous AHA! moment.

I can assure you that the good outweighs the bad when you adhere to the rules and guidelines.

These tips are just a place to get started, after a while, you can feel more confident to let the atmosphere of the
CAD forum that you choose guide you.

Edit: Here is a nice succinct list of things to keep in mind... http://blogs.squidoo.com/squidblog/?p=276


Here is a non-CAD-specific, but, humorous video about proper forum etiquette. Enjoy.


Autodesk does a little more for FM and Collaboration

Autodesk has recently acquired a product called Constructware, that is a collaboration tool which has been used in Facilities Management (and other fields, I know, but, anything FM-geared from Autodesk, like their recent acquisition of FM Desktop just tickles me pink).

I can't help feeling a bit like the red-headed step child of the AEC industry. Facility managers seem to be viewed as sort of a necessary evil. We're difficult to work with, either too demanding, or too passive. Our contractors can use vertical products to streamline their work, but, in order to work with everyone the facility manager has to stick pretty much with autocad.

I've received drawings done not only by vanilla autocad, but, also by microstation, land desktop, adt, revit, visio, photoshop, and, silliest of all... MS Excel. I currently use Autodesk MAP for it's cleanup tools (and other forgotten reasons that probably had to do with a long-term goal of implementing a mapguide site) that make my life just that little bit easier.

But, it's always a struggle to get usable data from contractors... and then get faced with complaints about no CAD documents during the next renovation.

But, every step that Autodesk takes that makes my job easier is comforting. The teasers at AU2004, the wider assortment of *real* FM classes at AU2005, and the FM:Desktop and Constructware deals.
Take a look at this post in the FM forum on Autodesk Discussion Groups for commentary from some deskers on where Desktop will fit in at Autodesk.

I also see the advent of products such as ABS and Revit Systems as a step in the right direction (discussions: Building Systems for FM, Anyone have clients interested in Revit Systems for FM, Revit for Facilities Management), but, assume it will be a few years down the road. I'm not an asset manager, but, a Facility Manager, and products that design more intelligent building models could only benefit me.

It promises to be an interested journey and I just wonder what Autodesk will come up with next

Oh, and for those who didn't know, Roopinder Tara of Tenlinks fame (a fantastic resource for the busy CADdie trying to keep up to date) has started a weblog, CAD Insider! I dig this post where we learn the varied things that CAD could stand for...