Report from the Gateway AUG Tips and Tricks Meeting

Tuesday, March 20th, another quarterly meeting of the Gateway AUG.

We gathered again for some pizza, tips and tricks, and good nerdy discussions.
We spoke about the new product naming schemes for '2008' Autodesk software and talked about some of the changes in the Autocad-based product line. You've already read about my highlights from this version in a previous post, so I'm going to share the AutoCAD Tips and Tricks (applicable to earlier versions). Some of these tips have already been posted on this site, but, I hope you won't mind reading them again.

dock and 'stack' your palettes and your dashboard in a collapsed state, just right click on the palette or panel title and select the option to 'Dock Left' or 'Dock Right'. You can put as many as you want on one side and still be able to access them.

Prevent Docking, move your palette while holding down the Ctrl key.

Keyboard Navigation
Use Alt-Tab to switch between open files and programs

Use Ctrl-Tab to switch between open AutoCAD files

Use Ctrl-PageUp or PageDwn to cycle between layouts/modelspace (PageDown to move right, PageUp to move left)

Use Ctrl-R to cycle through active viewports

Making a missing toolbar reappear

You know that toolbar is on, you just can't quite find it and suspect it has been drug offscreen.
Command: -toolbar (note the '-' hyphen before the command name)
Toolbar name (or ALL): "toolbar name" (eg. "Properties" <-use quotations around name) Show/Hide/Left/Right/Top/Bottom/Float: : f (to show it in the middle of your screen somewhere) Position <0,0>: 300,300
Rows <1>: 1
and voila'!

OOPS, I undid it again...
OOPS looks for the last entities erased and restores them (without undoing any pans, zooms, other edits done since the erase).

A Clean Background Check

WMFBKGND from AutoCAD Help:
This System Variable controls the background display when objects are inserted in Windows metafile (WMF) format. The objects may be inserted using any of the following methods:
• Output to a Windows metafile using WMFOUT

• Copied to the Clipboard and pasted as a Windows metafile
• Dragged as a Windows metafile Off The background color is transparent.
The foreground color depends on the setting of WMFFOREGND.
The background color is the same as the current background color in the drawing, whether in model space or in a layout.
The foreground color remains unchanged.

urn it up… or sideways
Did you know that you can type “R” when using “Paste” to pre-select the rotation angle of the objects to be pasted?

Leggo my Design Center

Do you know you’ve created a block, but, just can’t remember where you put it?
You can use the Search option in Design Center to locate it.

Say, for example, that you just want to find out where your drawing is being referenced, you can use this method to find where it shows up as an XREF.

Super Freak-y Hatches!

Check out the Express Menu (Express Tools are a separate exe file from AutoCAD, so make sure you’ve installed them!), under Draw and Superhatch!
You can make a hatch from images and blocks, which could be a cool way to apply your company logo to objects in your drawing.

Mind the Gap
HPGAPTOL System Variable sets the allowable distance between objects that are accepted as a hatch boundary. You can find the “Gap tolerance” on the “Advanced” tab of the BHATCH dialog box.
From AutoCAD Help:
Treats a set of objects that almost enclose an area as a closed hatch boundary. The default value, 0, specifies that the objects enclose the area, with no gaps.
Enter a value, in drawing units, from 0 to 5000 to set the maximum size of gaps that can be ignored when the objects serve
as a hatch boundary.

Attached to your method of Xref’ing?

A variable was introduced in r2005 that allows you to set your default XREFTYPE.
Set it to “0” for a default of “Attach” or set it to “1” for a default to “Overlay” your XREF’s.

Take your Drawings to Task

Command entry: TASKBAR
Enter new value for Taskbar <0>:
Enter 1 to display multiple open drawings as separate items on the Windows taskbar

The default setting, 0, displays only the name of the current drawing on the Windows taskbar.

A Layer by any other Name
Would not be according to standard. Don’t forget about the nifty RENAME command, which allows you to easily change the names of blocks, layers, textstyles, etc.

Quick Draw…

f you want to be quick on the draw, don’t forget the QSELECT command… you can pick out many entities from a certain layer, or a certain block, no matter which layer it is on, text or mtext objects, etc to create a selection set for editing and applying properties.

If you're only selecting one object with QSELECT (such as a room number, parcel number, underlay ~dwg, dwf, dgn~), you can then, with that new selection set active zoom in to that object with a simple Z E <>.

We also mentioned the fact that, starting with AutoCAD 2007, the nifty LAYMRG (that's sort for Layer Merge) command was moved from the Express tools menu to core autocad and can now be used with a dialog.

We reviewed the LAYISO/LAYUNISO (layer isolate/layer unisolate) tools (both the legacy on/off behaviour and the newer lock and fade behavior).

We published a DWF with! the publish options set to include layer information.

The attendees all asked great questions that opened up new discussions and demonstrations that were really cool. We had the pleasure of meeting new people and of seeing regulars.

We did have enough swag, so that every attendee was able to leave with a little something. The handouts, food and drink were sponsored by Seiler Instrument, two software packages and some cool toys were donated by www.gatewayaug.com website hosts CADopolis, t-shirts, hats, laptop bags and various tech toys were collected by Mike Perry (Civil/Structural CAD Tech extraordinaire'), handouts and tips/tricks booklets provided by Melanie Perry, President (yours truly).
We also had a chuckle with a user who had won a mini Red Swingline stapler (ala Milton from Office Space) at the last meeting.

Registration for the St. Louis CAD Camp in September is not yet open. The CAD Camp website lists a date of September 18th, so check there for final confirmation of when it is... but! prepare your budget now, because you won't want to miss it.
You can also see a listing on Autodesk's website, and that of local CAD Camp sponsors, Hagerman. According to the Adesk website, the event will be held at St. Louis University in Busch Student Center on North Grand.


Microsoft Event In St. Louis

This product launch event actually took place in late February, and I'm just a big slacker for taking so long to share it with you. (you can find microsoft events here)

This 'tour' of theirs was called Microsoft Across America Launch Event. Registration was free. You could sign up for different 'tracks'. DH chose IT, and I chose Small Business. There were two four-hour demonstrations, but, we only took the morning tracks.
The Small Business track was dedicated to showing tools in the new Office 2007 and how they could improve the day to day office tasks.

It was held at the Adam's Mark Hotel. Lovely.
PARKING WAS A NIGHTMARE. Of course the hotel's parking lot was full, so we were directed to a nearby parking garage... which had THE. MOST. CONVOLUTED. design and the most inadequate signage ever. We finally found a spot and found our way out of this strangely long and twisted building, and walked back a couple of blocks to the hotel. Once inside the Adams Mark, there were clear signs directing us up a couple of levels to where the meetings were taking place.

There were some lovely pastries and fruit out for breakfast, as well as coffee and soda. There was plenty for everyone, despite the warning during registration that it was first come first served, so don't count on being able to get any.

Things were getting started a couple of minutes late, I'm sure because we were NOT the only ones who'd had hassles with the parking, so many of the attendees got there after the designated start time.

There were some vendors with booths scattered around, flanking the registration desk; but, nothing too in-your-face.

Registration was quick and painless, we were given a bag with a t-shirt, product and event flyers, and a small token which we could exchange after class for... a free copy of MS Office. Not demo mode, not 90 days only... but, as long as it resides on that hard drive, it's free to you. (believe it or not, I heard many people whining about the fact that you couldn't reinstall if you wiped your hard drive. boohoo, it's free, be happy for the time you've got it! I will be... I haven't installed yet because I knew I was wiping my pc soon... likely next weekend.)

There were A LOT of people there, a couple hundred per class, with three classes running concurrently. During the four hour class, we broke about 3 times, and they staggered it nicely so there wasn't a huge rush on the restrooms and beverage stations.

So, seeing Windows Vista in action during this MS Office Demonstration, I am impressed by the improved search. I use Windows search A LOT in XP, and while it is MUCH better than 2000, it's still a pain at times. Very, very nice search, previewing, etc.

I've been reading a lot about 'ribbons' over the past few months and had just assumed it to be a marketing buzzword, that, quite frankly, I was tired of hearing. I had no need to tie up my hair.
But, once I saw what they were talking about (basically, context sensitive tabs with commands and options), I thought it was a good thing. Heck, ANYTHING has to be better than those annoying cascading menus in Office 2003.

You can find tips for navigating the ribbon in Access, Excel, Word, Powerpoint and Outlook on this page.

Overall, a decent use of half a day and a decent way to see the new OS and Office Suite. The speaker was really good. There were a couple of glitches, but, he made them work and got a few laughs out of us ('Well, I think NOW would be a good time to demonstrate file recovery!')
Note, if I wanted the presentation powerpoint, we were expecting a link via email, but, I never got one, and evidently others didn't either, so you can download the file here.

The speaker, Greg, did mention a couple of free software applications from Microsoft; which can be upgraded to paying versions, if necessary. One of the programs I was familiar with, as I downloaded it last fall and taught myself the ins and outs, all the while being impressed at the extensive tutorials and help files and forum activities... and that program would be SQL Server Express. He also mentioned Office Accounting Express, which I hadn't heard of. I haven't tried this one out myself, as I really haven't had the time lately, but, I'd like to. Given my background in Accounting, I think it wouldn't hurt to keep myself apprised of related programs (back when I worked as an Account Temp in high school, we didn't use computer programs, everything was handwritten and calculated).


Reminder: Gateway AUG Tips and Tricks Meeting in St. Louis

Just wanted to remind those in the St. Louis/Metro area that there will be an AutoCAD Tips and Tricks meeting on Tuesday the 20th, starting between 6 and 6:30pm.
This is general stuff, not discipline-specific, so hopefully there will be something for everyone.
Seiler Instrument is buying us pizza, drinks and meeting handouts (we like to take those tips and tricks home, don't we?).
We'll also be giving away plenty of door prizes, from toys, to tech, to t-shirts and software. Come on down and try your luck.

The meeting is at
Vatterott Technical College.

We're in the midst of planning our next meeting. It will be a panel discussion on Building Information Modeling, which promises to be pretty stimulating conversation.
Thanks to the efforts of the amazing Rudy Beuc, we already have a date and a location scheduled!

June 19, 6:00 - 8:30 (as always, we start congregating at 6:00, but, might wait until 6:30 to get started, we know how it is getting away from work at that time of day)
the Masonry Institute
1429 S Big Bend
St. Louis MO 63117

As usual, we will provide food and drinks, so come straight from the office if you need to.
Hope to see you there!

And, to all of the Irish (and those that celebrate with u
s), Happy St. Patrick's day...

I leave you with a shot of Ty this morning in his straight-from-Eire gear...


AutoCAD 2008 - Customizing a Dashboard Panel

As I mentioned in my previous comments about AutoCAD 2008, I am enjoying the Dashboard Panels. I have to admit that the only thing I really use Tool Palettes for is block insertions, and while the Dashboard might seem slightly similar... it's really a cool combination of the best in Tool Palettes and Toolbars.

In my work as a Facility Manger, I 'clean up' a lot of drawings, so I'm going to create a Dashboard Panel with my favorite simplification and cleanup tools on it.

So, have your Dashboard open and right-click on an existing panel to get your shortcut menu and select the option 'Customize panel...'
When the CUI opens, you'll probably want to click the little arrow in the lower-right corner to expand the dialog to show all panes.

In the upper-left pane 'Customizations in all CUI files', right-click on 'Dashboard Panels' to create a 'New Panel'. I've named mine 'Cleanup'.

When your 'Cleanup' panel is selected in the left pane, you'll see a preview and the properties of it on the left. You can now start dragging and dropping
commands from the 'Command List' (lower left-hand pane). Remember, you can narrow this list using the drop-down to target specific command groups (such as Edit, Draw and Modify). As this list is alphabetical, you can also navigate by typing a letter, which will move you to the beginning of the list of commands which begin with that letter (if you're taking awhile browsing through, don't forget to hit the 'Apply' button at the bottom every now and again to make sure you don't lose your work).

Not only am I using built-in AutoCAD commands, but, I'm also calling a couple of custom routines (such as Select Similar by Adam Wuellner and Fix Block by Owen Wengerd). There are also a couple of AutoCAD commands that didn't come with button images, so I quickly modified some existing images to use with each of these commands.

After I create and place all of these buttons under my Dashboard Panel, I can rearrange them in the 'Panel Preview' or in the list view on the left, just by dragging and droppi

The panels can come with separators. Anything placed below the separator line will only show up when expanded on the dashboard. So, I'm going
to move the tools I use less often down there.

Speaking of separators, some of the tools on my Row 1 can be generally grouped together by type of command. To break those up a bit, I will right-click between the command names under the Dashboard Panel and click 'Add separator' (just like you would on a toolbar). On the second row, I haven't got them grouped so purposefully, they're just organized in the order in which I most use them.

Since I anticipate using these particular tools quite a lot, I'm going to add them to my AutoCAD Classic workspace. In the CUI, I select the AutoCAD
Classic Workspace and the list shows up in the upper-right panel under the heading 'Workspace Content'. At that point, I can grab my Dashboard Panel and slip it in in the desired order with the other Panels assigned to that workspace. Now, every time I work using the AutoCAD Classic workspace, those tools will be brought up.

Otherwise, I could show that panel by right-clicking on the Dashboard to 'Control Panels'. You'll notice some are checked and some are not... so just check the ones you want to see and uncheck the ones you don't.

You might notice that the Dashboard Panels have icons, where mine doesn't yet. Those are there to help identify the panel for you... but, they're also there as a way to associate Tool Palette Groups with your panel (TIP: you cannot associate a Tool Palette Group until after you have assigned it an icon).

First, we'll assign an icon to our Cleanup Panel (see CUI image posted above). Just click on the Panel in the left panel, don't select any tools or buttons. You will see the Button Image pane over there on the left... simply choose an icon at this point and you've done it (it may seem so obvious that I am telling you how to go about this, but, I thought I should... simply because I couldn't figure it out for the life of me when I was trying it out and had to have it pointed out when I was lost).

Once I assign an icon to my panel, I can right-click on the Dashboard Panel's icon and access 'Tool Palette Group' and pick which tool palette I want to associate with it.

Now, when I'm working and using my 'Cleanup' tools, if I find I am in need of some other tools, I can just click on that icon to bring up the Palette Group of my choice.

Just one of those little timesavers that can save you a few clicks.


International Women's Day - Recognizing Women In Architecture

In my google homepage, I keep a feed from Architecture from About.Com. I see a notation that today is International Women's Day and indicates this page, where we can learn about several interesting and important female architects. If you follow to the 2nd page of that article, you can see a list of organizations for Women Designers.

Here's a snippet from today's feed that I mentioned...

March 8 is International Women's Day... A special time to honor great women and their accomplishments. But hey, shouldn't we be doing that every day? Here are resources for learning more about women in architecture, with links to information about Eileen Gray, Julia Morgan, Susana Torre, and the countless nameless women who helped shaped the vernacular homes of North America.


WID Interview: Beth Powell - CAD Software Applications Specialist

As I mentioned in a previous post, I wanted to inspire women by showing them other successful ladies in the fields of Architecture, Engineering and Design.

I have the pleasure of helping you get to know:

Beth Powell

43 year old CAD Business Owner & CAD Software Applications Specialist (they want me to say Applications Engineer, but I won’t) from Roanoke, VA

Years in your Field: 15

Education: A.S. Business Management & many other credits

Employment Profile: Currently own CAD Fuel Design. This business was started the day after I lost my job as CAD Manager of Jones & Frank Corporation (2001) when new management decided that they didn’t need a CAD Dept. I had been there just a few months shy of 10 years. Some employees that left earlier (including the top salesman and the former president) contacted me the next morning and wanted to know if I would start doing drawings for the company they had formed. I came up with a company name, went to the City and applied for a business license.

I don’t find that I am best suited to work at home. It was the right thing to do at the time and it turned out to be even more beneficial when my fiancĂ© living in Philadelphia fractured vertebrae in 2002. I moved him down here, got a second opinion and discovered he had Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer that affects the bones. After the cancer was at an acceptable level in early 2003, I took a temporary job for six months to catch up on bills. My mortgage company would not accept my income level from the variety of means so I needed a “real job”. I could have marketed myself more and expanded my business, but when I was at home I found it tough to work. I was too easily distracted by other things that needed to be done.

I answered an ad with the local Autodesk reseller that I had never heard of at the time. It seemed like it was too good to be true. I have never had so many interviews and questions and was almost convinced that it was lost. I was offered the job and worked only a week before attending my first AU.

I came back and was faced with learning Architectural Desktop (ADT), Building Systems (ABS), and Revit. I’d never seen any of these products since I had only used AutoCAD & AutoCAD LT all the years at my previous job. I have learned a lot about the vertical products, but my drawback is that I worked and continue to work in the field with AutoCAD.

Tell me about your background, and how you got into your field:

My parents never told me there was anything that I couldn’t do. I don’t think I would be where I am today if they had done what I see so many parents doing. No mention of “Don’t you want to grow up and marry a nice man and raise a family?” “You can grow up and be a secretary, model, stewardess, teacher [insert own field here].” I knew of the women’s movement, but I had no knowledge of there being certain fields ‘intended’ for certain genders and didn’t see any differences in how people were treated or paid until long after I left home.

I began a community college after high school as a journalism major. I didn’t realize that the other colleges where I had applied could have provided me with financial aid. (hindsight now) I moved from Pennsylvania to my home state of Oklahoma and got a job in an accounting office. (They told me it was temporary until a marketing writing job opened up…yeah, right!) I worked during the day and paid for my classes at night. As much as I wanted to be in journalism, because of schedule conflicts, I changed my major to business management and focused on accounting. I had taken it in high school and kept my Dad’s business books for him. My grandmother has her own accounting business (she just turned 90!) and stays busy all year. I thought of it as survival, not happiness.

After 7 years of classes at night, I finally managed to graduate with a 2-year degree. I had a son in all of that and never stopped going to school. I moved to North Carolina due to the economy; worked in an accounting office for 3 years, at a bank for 3 years, held a second job weekends at Target for a couple of years, and did some temp work. In North Carolina I had no trouble landing a job quickly in accounting. There were no pc’s when I was in high school (graduated 1981) and I had used keypunch cards at my first accounting job and in college. I had also had classes in BASIC programming and a few other computer languages that are now extinct. I had taken a class for pleasure my last semester in WordPerfect and loved it.

I found myself working for a small HVAC engineering firm with the task of computerizing their manual bookkeeping. I spent two years doing this and completed the task. I did a lot of troubleshooting and customization of the program and really enjoyed it. Once it was done though, I found myself burned out on accounting. As an additional duty, I would sometimes have to make blueprint copies (oh the ammonia smell) and fold and archive their velum originals. I finally couldn’t take it any longer. I didn’t have another job lined up and didn’t know what I was going to do. By coincidence, they had just made the decision to go to CAD and the systems were arriving as I was exiting.

The Charlotte area was really hot for jobs so I immediately slid right into two temp agencies that fought over me. I worked as a temporary employee doing a lot of receptionist duties while I figured out what to do next. I looked seriously into school to become a teacher or a paralegal. My best friend has her Master’s degree in education and told me flat out that my personality would not put up with the bureaucracy of the public school system. I was very close to entering a paralegal program, but decided that I am too passionate and feared getting too personally involved in whatever I was researching. Charlotte has a lot of great schools and I continued to take classes at University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) and Queens College. Queens was private, but I preferred it. I attended both under the B.S. degree heading of Information Systems. I took 3-6 hours per semester in the evening no matter what. My two favorite classes were in environmental science.

Before Christmas1991, I was asked to return and start a temporary reception position for Jones & Frank Corporation. I began after Christmas and had laryngitis for the first time in my life on my first day. I can still remember one of the managers there asking the office manager if I always sounded like this, since I was answering their phones in this terrible raspy voice! They didn’t really use computers, though the office manager had one that she used only as a word processor. They quickly learned that I could operate a computer and knew WordPerfect well. I was given a computer and began expanding duties there. I really hated the job. The reception area was cold and poorly lit and I had frequent headaches from eye strain. I wanted out of there. I was hired as a full time employee by March of 1992.

Later that year I had been promoted to Administrative Assistant to a new salesman for a new line of oil/water separator products. Between this gentleman and a super salesman there; they really took advantage (not in a bad way) of my abilities to do mail merging, obtain bulk mail permits, and other skills, I learned a lot about marketing that I still retain and use today. These two were just fascinating to watch and be around, even though I typically despise anything to do with selling.

By the end of that year, my employers kept trying to drop hints about me doing CAD work, to get me to head up a new CAD department. I knew nothing about CAD and only ever had a required drafting course in junior high. A manager told me that he’s a pretty good judge (true) of people and skills and he was sure that with the computer skills that I had and my insatiable appetite for learning that I would be a natural. I again pointed out how wrong I thought he was. He wouldn’t leave me alone about it. I asked him whether I’d be able to return to my current position if I didn’t like it and he agreed. I also did a repeat; naming some high dollar amount with 30-90 day increments for more compensation. He didn’t even blink when he accepted.

So, in early 1993 I began private tutoring with a man that was an instructor at the local community college in Charlotte. The new college classes would not be starting for a couple of months and my boss insisted that I get started immediately. He had a new Gateway 486DX with 200MB hard drive, a large monitor, a digitizing tablet, and AutoCAD R11 for DOS already loaded being delivered to my new office. I shopped for furniture and all of a sudden was a CAD operator! One thing about CAD is that no matter what other classes you take, you always are the most influenced by your first instructor. After a couple of Saturdays training, I was expected to start drawing at the office.

I remember the first napkin sketch someone provided me. It was a couple of boxes and some lines and I didn’t know where to begin. I needed dimensions. I couldn’t just draw. My first drawing though also got saved as my template (called a prototype in those days), and I had to get the instructor to come out and fix it.

I started taking the intro class two nights a week. That led to the next class and so on. I had taken all the CAD classes that Central Piedmont had to offer. I had started with the mechanical classes and then did all the classes in the architectural section. Then for fun, I took a hand class in architectural drafting and realized very quickly that if I had entered this field by hand drafting, I would have never made it!

By luck, CPCC opened as one of the first Autodesk Authorized Training Centers. That meant that they had a separate department and special courses for CAD. I latched on, since I was already addicted and had to have more. I took every one they offered. Through the ATC, I learned about CAD Management and began working on CAD Standards, and with the help of one boss a CAD Manual was created that organized every detail we had and 3-ring binders of this were sent out to all 7 branch offices.

Over the years, I hired assistants, trained users at branch office to use AutoCAD LT and implemented the CAD Standards.

The challenge was over, with everything was running smoothly. I had found NAAUG (North American Autodesk User Group – pre-AUGI) when a brochure was included with AutoCAD R11 or R12 software. I joined, paid my dues, received my newsletters and T-shirts and read the tips in the newsletter and in the guilds (email-based system prior to forums) eagerly. I finally began giving back by writing articles for the newsletter, answering questions in the guilds, and teaching my first ATP course.

After my CAD Dept. was cut, I was asked by two BoD members if I would be interested in running for the AUGI BoD. Just like the offers of employment, I didn’t think I was BoD material. I had served on a BoD with a national car club and had served many offices. I knew how volunteer organizations ran, but didn’t see any reason why someone like me would be part of the BoD.

After the elections, I was quite stunned to have won a seat and now there were two women on the AUGI BoD. Unfortunately, respect is something you must earn and I did earn this while on the BoD. It was bad timing with the loss of my job. Then with asking to resign, due to the cancer diagnosis, and being refused, I never felt I gained enough respect or approval to accomplish the things that were truly important to me.

What are you doing these days?

Today, I work during the day with Autodesk customers. The company I work for is a small firm and put the customer’s needs first. We don’t focus purely on what Autodesk tells us we should do, but we “do the right thing” for the customer. That was important in me accepting this position. I thrive on the variety and challenge both. I bounce between products, tech support, training, and installation and implementation.

I tell clients that I am not just a tech specialist, but also a user. I still do drawings in the evenings and weekends as CAD Fuel Design, I drive a car with personalized tags for my own business, and I intend to always be a user. I’ve seen what happens when reseller employees and Autodesk employees are out of the work force too long and lose touch. I will quit before that happens. I read a long list of blogs and newsletters every day and try to share as much as I can about the industry, software, and AUGI. I provide all students and clients with a resource list by product with AUGI at the top of the list and books and blogs that are relevant. I provide old copies of AUGIWorld to students that come to class. I always show all students the AUGI site and how to maneuver in it for forums, ATP, and exchange. I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done except for perhaps my time on the AUGI BOD, but I realize that I walked away from that and learned a lot.

I love taking classes and do regret that there are not better colleges in Roanoke to attend. I have enough credit hours for two degrees and continue to try to find classes to take whether in woodworking, web design, motorcycle riding, or anything that interests me. If you stop learning, you’re dead!

What is the coolest project you've been involved with?

Well, I have drawn the piping plans and details for most of the Flying J truck stops in the country. I may stop doing other projects some day, but until my counterpart with J&F retires, I will continue to do them. It’s not necessarily the coolest, but it’s the one most people recognize.

In the spring of 2002, Elise Moss gave me a lead for an exciting project with Autodesk. It was to work as a contractor to write what we now know as E-Learning modules that you see on the subscription site. I was trained and jumped through every hoop given me.

You got a brief topic such to write about; the software provided gave you options of how to present and mix things up and to make small questions at the end to test the student's knowledge of the subject. It was really a great opportunity which I enjoyed. Unfortunately, after a lot of investments and only a few assignments, the entire project was scrapped and outsourced overseas. Little did they know that I would have been willing to work for 1/4 of what they were paying!

But, I just really enjoy writing training and technical material. I thought about writing a book on Building Systems since that is one product that hasn’t really been covered; or just about anything else (fictional or technical). But advice I have been given by friends that are authors is: don’t do it! Certainly not while continuing to hold down a full-time job.

So, I blog!

Thank you, Beth! I hope you have all enjoyed getting to know her as much as I have. I hope you'll check out her blog and take advantage of the knowledge she shares.

Please, let me know if you or someone you admire, would be willing to participate in spreading the word about all of these inspirational women in our field that we'll be meeting!

FacilitiesNet on FM and BIM

Greg Zimmerman posts on FacilitiesNet about his perceptions of Facility Management's possibilities with BIM (Building Information Modeling). He hopes the new BIM Standard will be the first step in the right direction to help move more people/companies forward to embrace the newer technologies and fully benefit from them.

I'd also recommend looking through some of the FacilitiesNet blog archives... commentary on the boomer generation and tech positions, great technologies being implemented in building design, etc...


FMDesktop Tips and Tricks

Trying to learn a new program, the first thing I'm going to do is keep up with Peer to Peer Discussion Groups!

There has been a lot of activity recently over on the FMDesktop area on the Autodesk Discussion Groups. Check out what others are saying, and add in your questions and/or solutions!

Don't forget about the AUGI forums, there have been some good posts in there as well.

But, my post was actually prompted today by a thread started by Robert Burns over on the FMDugi (that's FM Desktop User's Group International) forums, with some great FM Desktop Tips and Tricks. Read what's posted and add your own!

Read everything else I've posted about FMDesktop!


My Son Just Read His First Sentence!

I found this wonderful website with great games that Ty is loving. Most of it is filling in missing letters from words. Ty does great with sounding out letters! There are some more complicated games every few activities that involve instructions in a sentence. The kids can click on the words and they'll be read out loud or they can just read them themselves.

Well, the first one Ty, clicked through each word... (it was something like, Click on the snake), but, the second one!!! he just READ... no clicking... he just said:

'c-..can... you.. f..i..n...find... the... cahv-ee. cahvee, mommy what's a cahvee?'

I cover up the 'e' with my finger and say 'try another sound for the a'; and he says, 'oh, cave'... and then finds the cave.

But... he just read nearly the whole sentence!!! (and, YES, I took a screenshot! you'd better believe it!)

I was stunned... and proud, of course. ;) That's my boy.

What a guy! He'll be four next month (so far, too young to be embarrassed by my bragging his every little accomplishment to the world).