3DConnexion – The CadMouse Pro Wireless

3DConnexion kindly sent me a CadMouse Pro Wireless to test and blog about, and I can safely say that, yes, it IS the ultimate wireless mouse for CAD professionals as 3DConnexion state on their website. Over decades of CAD use, I have used several brands of mice, and the CadMouse Pro Wireless is my new paradigm, my new standard for all other mice to live up to.

Overall First Impressions

The CadMouse Pro Wireless is a full-size mouse, and it looks big. Sometimes, you’ll buy a mouse on looks and button function. You’ll take it home, and after a few months of sustained CAD use, you think that it just seems too small. This is common with the mice you see specifically marketed ‘for notebooks’ that are designed for use by hobbits, and other small creatures from Middle Earth. Not so with the CadMouse Pro Wireless. Yes, it IS big, but it’s a large full-size mouse that’s fits really well in the hand, cradling the palm beautifully and allowing the thumb to reside nicely in the thumb rest on the side. It is a lovely piece of ergonomic design that has not given me that awful wrist ache/RSI that a lot of other smaller proprietary mice have in the past, making it great for those longer CAD sessions that we have to endure. I have to drive AutoCAD and Revit every day as I create video content for LinkedIn Learning, and it is a smooth operator. I have yet to feel any muscle or tendon pain whilst using it, and it is very comfortable in the hand for daily CAD use.

Ergonomics

I love what 3DConnexion have done with the mouse buttons. You now have THREE mouse buttons, plus your mouse wheel, making a total of FOUR buttons you can use. This may look slightly weird initially at first glance, but, wow, it is incredibly useful.

This new middle mouse button is designed specifically for CAD users. It’s great for CAD application functions, and it can reduce that need for a forceful scroll wheel click, using (according to the 3dConnexion website) almost 60g less force. So, not only does it cut down on forceful clicks, but it also cuts down on that ‘dead finger’ syndrome many professional CAD users can get.

The three main mouse buttons have a concave design, allowing the fingertips to sit nicely on the buttons, positioning them as a natural extension of the hand when using the mouse. It gives a nice natural, organic feel to the mouse, especially when working in AutoCAD. The thumb rest I mentioned is also perfectly positioned to allow you to use the two side buttons, which is great, as they provide you with a zoom in and zoom out function when in AutoCAD too.

Scroll & Zoom Navigation

I used AutoCAD 2020 as my testbed for the CadMouse Pro Wireless, purely because I tend to zoom a lot when working on my DWG files.

AutoCAD 2020 needs a precision mouse for zooming in and out of 2D and 3D environments and a slick mouse wheel/button to scroll through long documents. The mouse wheel is also used to Zoom Extents with many double-clicks on the wheel during a regular workday. It did not disappoint. The mouse wheel is incredibly smooth for rolling up and down, and very responsive for clicking. In fact, I think, the Smart Scroll Wheel 2 on this mouse is the best I have used in over thirty years of AutoCAD use. The smoothness is exceptional.

As with all 3DConnexion products, you need to install the 3DxWare 10 Software. This then gives you the subtle QuickZoom buttons on the side of the mouse, operated by your thumb from the thumb rest. I loved this feature. Simply position the AutoCAD crosshair/cursor anywhere in a drawing and you could zoom in and out effortlessly with one thumb click. A lovely touch and the buttons are remarkably sensitive.

Another superb feature is the Radial Menu. With the 3DxWare 10 software installed, you can click on the Gesture Button located behind the Smart Scroll Wheel 2. Depending on what application you are using, you get a contextual on-screen menu with a simple mouse gesture, thus saving on mouse clicks, and making the user more productive.

The Radial Menu is contextual, so what you see in the image above is for AutoCAD. If you were in Revit or Inventor, it would have a different display, in context with the application being used. This is a feature I really enjoyed, as it is CAD-specific, and you simply don’t get this kind of interface with other proprietary mice.

Durability

As CAD users, we rack up the clicks. Like a long-distance lorry driver racks up miles that take their toll on their truck, our clicks take their toll on our mouse. On average, a CAD user clicks thousands of times during a standard workday, let alone a busy one. The CadMouse Pro Wireless is designed to handle over 50 million clicks to its main buttons, giving it the required longevity, we have learnt to expect from 3DConnexion products.

The CadMouse Pro Wireless has wear-resistant polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) feet that give incredibly smooth, precision movements. This combined with the 3-year warranty and a built-to-last design indicates to me that 3DConnexion want you to have a mouse that is a workhorse and they will happily make sure you are looked after should there be any issues.

Talking of looking after you, another very nice touch from 3DConnexion is the carry case. I have been through many mice in my CAD career. Putting your mouse in a case protects it from the day-to-day travel at the bottom of a laptop bag, thus making sure it still performs when you need it. It also keeps it clean and free from dust and dirt during travel and gives you a good place to store the USB wireless connector. Tailored and tested in the 3DConnexion labs, little touches like this are what 3DConnexion are good at.

Precision & Performance

The CadMouse Pro Wireless has a 7200 DPI optical sensor, and a 1000 Hz adaptive poll rate, making for a very sensitive mouse, perfect for the precision a CAD user needs. Combined with the PTFE feet, the control and sensitivity of the mouse is second to none, making the mouse an organic extension of the user. I found its use effortless in AutoCAD 2020.

The rechargeable lithium polymer battery in the mouse charges quickly, and based on eight hours of use a day, five days a week, it will provide the user with up to three months of use between charges. Charging is easy with the USB cable provided. I am also a great fan of an on/off switch on a rechargeable wireless mouse, and there is one on the underside of the mouse, thus saving valuable charge when not in use.

Triple Connectivity

Many proprietary mice market themselves as wireless. Yes, they are, but they often require a USB universal receiver and have no Bluetooth connectivity, thus taking away a USB port on your computer or notebook. Logitech are a prime culprit. I travel a lot, and use a MacBook Pro 2018 model, with four USB C ports, so a USB universal receiver is useless to me. The CadMouse Pro Wireless, however, is truly wireless as it offers Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity (perfect for my MacBook Pro) as one of its three connectivity options. It also offers a USB universal receiver, plus you can run it from the USB cable provided. I love that when using the USB cable option, it also charges the mouse, plus the cable is insulated in tough fabric sheathing, preventing eventual cable insulation breakage that you see on other proprietary mice all too often.

As I mentioned above, a USB universal receiver is not something I would use, purely due to the mobile nature of my work with my MacBook Pro. However, static PC users can really take advantage of it. You can connect to numerous other 3DConnexion devices; the SpaceMouse Enterprise, the SpaceMouse Pro Wireless, the SpaceMouse Wireless, the CadMouse Wireless, plus of course, the CadMouse Pro Wireless. This gives great flexibility and allows 3DConnexion users to work with more than one 3DConnexion product at any given time.

Cost

In the UK, the CadMouse Pro Wireless ships for free at £99.00 plus VAT. This package includes the CadMouse Pro Wireless, Carry Case, Universal Receiver and a 1.5m USB Cable.

Conclusion

As I mentioned at the start, the CadMouse Pro Wireless is now the new paradigm that I will be using as a benchmark against any other mice I come across for CAD use. I have a feeling that no other mouse will match up to it. It is a great investment if you are a CAD user, not just for its precision, build and materials either. Its ergonomic design gives you the peace of mind you need, knowing that it won’t give you that muscle/tendon/RSI ache you often get when using CAD during everyday work too. It’s not a cheap mouse, but it’s not an expensive one either, if you are serious about your CAD work.

The CadMouse Pro Wireless. The precision ergonomic mouse for CAD professionals, in my humble opinion. You can find it at www.3dconnexion.com.

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DISCLAIMER:

I was provided with a CadMouse Pro Wireless by 3DConnexion, free of charge, as a Not for Resale (NFR) unit, on the premise that I would test the device and publish a blog with my findings.

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Western Digital (WD) & Amazon Prime – A Comedy of Errors (and a saga of customer disappointment)

UPDATE: 2nd July 2019 – Since my blog post, I am pleased to say that a supervisor in Western Digital’s Customer Service department has been in touch about providing a replacement data storage unit to a higher specification that the MyCloud Home device originally purchased, and Amazon have (finally) applied the gift card to my Prime account.

We are moving into that ‘not just CAD’ territory. As per the name of my blog, I don’t just write about CAD, BIM or anything just associated with CAD and BIM.

No, today, I am going to tell you a short story about one of my experiences as a customer and what it has taught me. A word to the wise, you might say. For those of you who know me personally, you know that I don’t suffer fools gladly. Nor do I tolerate bad customer service. So read on, for what is a comedy of errors. Errors, sadly, that I have learnt from.

Nowadays, we all suffer from an overload of data. Photographs, music, streamed movies and downloaded episodes of The Office that we haven’t watched yet. So, where do you store that data? On external hard drives (I now own six of them – all made by WD, I hasten to add), or on a Network Attached Storage (NAS) system, or perhaps, in the cloud, using Dropbox or something similar? Well, I was using the external hard drive method, and thank goodness I did, and you’ll see why when you read on.

Just recently, I purchased a new 2018 MacBook Pro (MBP). You know, one of those sexy ones with the touchbar. My previous MBP was coming up to four years old, and I needed to upgrade to take advantage of the newer processor and graphics card. It was at this point that I started to think about backups and transfer of data from one MacBook to another. I bought a new 2TB WD external hard drive and put most of the transfer/backup data on there, but I also bought (what I thought) was a great solution to all future storage, which was a WD MyCloud Home wi-fi storage unit. 4TB of storage, sitting next to the wi-fi router, connected with one ethernet cable, plus the usual power plug. What this meant was that I then had 4TB of storage that was accessible from not only my laptop, but in a browser, on my iPhone and on my iPad. The storage world was now my lobster wherever I had wi-fi, or so I thought.

I set up the new MBP with no issues and archived all my older CLIENT (make a note of that, CLIENT) data in an archive folder on the WD MyCloud Home. I thought that with the data on the WD MyCloud Home device, it freed up not only MBP hard drive space, but also cleared space on my external hard drives too. It’s a WD device, I thought. It won’t die on me anytime soon, I thought. How totally wrong I was.

I bought the WD MyCloud in February of this year. Fast forward to the first week in May. I was working on a new project and needed some archived client data to re-task into the new project. I jumped in to the WD Discovery app on my MBP, and went to log in to the MyCloud Home device. I got an Offline error, telling me that the device might be rebooting or installing firmware. I went over to the router. No flashing lights, just the usual static white light on the front of the WD MyCloud unit. I did all the usual things. Re-installing software, re-started the router and the device, went on the support pages, and went through all the self-diagnostic processes I could find. Nothing, nada. Offline. Every damn time.

As you all know, I have worked with these pesky computer things for over thirty years. I know my way around tech, and normally, I can get something working again. Not this time. After two hours, I gave in. I had a support warranty with the WD MyCloud, so I called support. After lots of to’ing and fro’ing, I was connected to a lovely chap called Jack at WD Support. A total gentleman. Patient, helpful, and exactly what you should get when you call support. Sadly though, there was nothing he could do, and after another hour of over-the-telephone diagnostics, the WD MyCloud was officially pronounced dead. I enquired about the client data I had lost. Could I get it back? Jack said I could use a specialist company, but there were no guarantees. So, basically, the device had died, along with a shedload of archived client data. WD adhere to GDPR, so when it comes to confidentiality and data protection, I would be fine. Any data on the drive would be wiped (Jack said they scrub the drive three times), but this did not solve my problem. I now had a dead storage device and I had lost client data. What were WD going to do about it? Jack couldn’t help me, but he said someone would be in touch. In the meantime, I shipped back the dead device to WD, and they would ship me a new one under the warranty.

Eventually, someone called James Case from WD Customer Relations got in touch. He suggested some new devices and offered me a pithy 30% discount for my troubles. No apologies for data loss, nothing about the inconvenience caused. At this point, my letter of complaint had been written and had been emailed to both CEO’s of WD, in the UK, and in the USA. It had also been copied to WD Customer Relations. To this date, I have had no response. Nothing. Not even a standard response from Customer Relations at WD.

Here’s where my patience has run extremely thin. WD are a BIG global organisation, and I’m pretty sure many of you own WD devices. I have SIX of their external USB hard drives. They have served me well, over the last ten years or so, and WD have been a name I have learnt to trust and rely on. Not anymore. I had associated the WD brand with reliability and customer service. I now know they don’t have any. Their tech support was exemplary, but their customer relations suck. I lost CLIENT data. OK, it was archived client data, and I still have my current client data on an external hard drive (more my luck than judgement though) but was still MY data that was lost. It was lost due to the failure of a WD device. It wasn’t just some MP3’s or photos from a holiday either. This was data from project work done under NDA for big, global companies. I explained all of this in my letter of complaint. No response. I have run CADFMconsultants for over NINETEEN years. If I treated my clients like that when there was a problem or an issue, I would be out of business. To date, I have STILL heard NOTHING from WD. To say I am disappointed and angry is an understatement.

So, onwards. Here’s where the ‘lovely’ Amazon experience kicks in. I have an Amazon Prime account. It’s where I purchased the WD MyCloud device from. I explained my situation to them, and they said all I had to do was ship them the new replacement WD device when I received it and I would get a refund. To date, I have yet to get that refund. Here’s why.

I purchased the WD MyCloud on my Prime account on a debit card through a business account. Recently, I changed the business account to a new bank product with the same bank. This, in turn, changed my bank account number and debit card number on my Amazon Prime account. So, Amazon tried to refund the money paid for the WD MyCloud device to not only the wrong card, but to a bank account that, quite simply, did not exist anymore. So, here’s the first part of my learning curve. Remove older, expired bank accounts and cards from your Amazon account as soon as you close them down. If you don’t, Amazon will still try to use them, even though you have set a NEW primary account and card.

Here’s where the fun begins. You would have thought Amazon would use the latest, slickest, banking processes known to man, right? They don’t. I have now been through FOUR customer service members of staff. None of them have been able to solve the problem. I have been told to chase down my bank to see of they can find the payment on the closed account. They can, but they need an ARN transaction number from Amazon to find it. I contact Amazon. They cannot find the ARN transaction number and cannot find the refund. I chase this up. I then get told they can wire transfer me the money if I contact ANOTHER Amazon department. Or, I can have an Amazon gift card applied to my account for the value. You can guess what I went for, right? Yep, after nearly FOUR hours in total on the phone, I went for the gift card. Yeah, I know. Amazon will still get my money, but I use Amazon Prime regularly, so it will get used. But here’s the rub. I was told by Amazon it would take 24-48 hours to process my gift card, and three days later, I’m still waiting.

So, what have I learnt from this?

Firstly, from a data standpoint, ALWAYS back up to a physical, reliable device that is HARD WIRED. In my case, it was one of my WD external drives. Luckily, all my current client data is still on one. I had not transferred it to the WD MyCloud device, which I was considering. Had I done that, I would have probably removed it from the external drive and lost ALL my client data when the WD MyCloud device failed. Now THAT’S a scary thought.

Secondly, and this is partially my fault, when using an Amazon account, keep the cards and bank accounts on it up to date. Sure, Amazon customer service and their accounting services have proved to be awful in this case, but I could have partially solved the issue, if I had removed the older details from the account as soon as I had closed down the old bank account. That bit, unfortunately is on me. It still does not excuse Amazon from having inefficient accounting processes where they cannot find an ARN transaction number, which should be there for EVERY financial transaction you have with them.

In conclusion, I am thoroughly disappointed in both WD and Amazon. In today’s global age of commerce, customer relations and customer satisfaction are king. They have failed at both; WD by their total lack of response to my letter, and Amazon, with their awful management and response to my account query and (hopefully) subsequent refund.

With regard to current technology, I can safely say that I won’t be buying any storage devices from WD anytime soon, and I sincerely suggest to all of you that you DON’T buy a WD MyCloud device either. There are many WD unhappy MyCloud Home users on the WD forums and support pages who have all had the same issue as me.

I await (with bated breath) for my Amazon refund, and let’s see if anyone from WD reads my blog, and, heaven forbid, they actually respond.

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One AutoCAD – Has CadJedi Bitten Off More Than He Can Chew? [PART 7]

Things have been a bit quiet from me for a while. I apologise. That thing called life gets in the way, followed by work, followed by replying to emails, followed by……well, you get the picture, right? I promise I will try to be less tardy and if you see me at Autodesk University 2019 (AU2019) in Las Vegas, I’ll buy you a beer if you remind me to make sure I write my annual AU blog! You can keep me to that too!

Talking of AU in Vegas…..

Voting for AU2019 classes is open!

The Autodesk University voting page – https://www.autodesk.com/autodesk-university/conference/las-vegas/call-for-proposals/voting

So, we are now at seven out of ten on my One AutoCAD blog series. Yep, SEVEN. How time flies. It seems like only yesterday that I was stuck in my hotel room at The Palazzo in Vegas on the Sunday morning before AU last year, crashing out my PowerPoint presentations, so that those lovely people in the Speaker Ready Room could have them. Yes, I am notorious for leaving these things to the last minute. Not this year. I have submitted WAY too many proposals and if I get several classes this year, I am going to be on top of them!

So, what has my crazy amount of AU proposals got to do with One AutoCAD you may ask? Well, more than ONE of my class proposals is about One AutoCAD (see what I did there? LOL). On a more serious note though, Autodesk subscription numbers are on the increase, including One AutoCAD, and it really does seem that subscription is the way forward for hero products such as AutoCAD and the One AutoCAD offering.

I have been a bit crazy this year though. I have submitted 1 meetup, and 12 presentation classes and those of you who have been through the AU ‘mill’ before will probably think I am a little insane, submitting so many, but it’s the taking part that counts. If you’re in it, be in it to win it! That said, I may not get a single class, but here’s hoping. If I get some classes at AU, it will be my thirteenth year speaking at AU if that is the case. Unlucky for some, but let’s hope not!

You will find the link below takes you to where you can vote for the classes YOU want to see at AU2019. I sincerely hope some of those will be mine, and if they are, I look forward to seeing you!

https://www.autodesk.com/autodesk-university/conference/las-vegas/call-for-proposals/voting

To find my classes, use the search term “CadJedi” (my old AUGI forums username) once you have clicked on the above link. You will find every class proposal there. There will also be a LinkedIn Learning community meetup like last year (if accepted) so keep an eye out for that too, as there will be lots of assistance in the meetup about how to use your LinkedIn profile to your advantage!

There will be one class you WON’T find if you use the “CadJedi” search though.

A few weeks back I was in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was working as a Subject Matter Expert for Certiport around both AutoCAD and Revit Architecture. In one of the workshops, I was working with a lovely chap called David Butts, whom I have known for many years. He’s a great colleague and friend, and we only normally bump into each other at AU, or events like the one in Utah (getting across the Atlantic Ocean for a swift beer can be quite time-consuming). We were chatting away at a pub quiz night organized by Certiport and came up with a great idea for an AU class; a bunch of both Revit Architecture users and Revit MEP users ‘arguing’ their case for why all Revit models should be managed properly. A gunfight at the AU Corral, you might say, with David and myself being the Wyatt Earp’s of the Corral, reigning in the ‘fighting’ between the Revit users.

So, that class proposal is in there, but you need to search for something else on the voting page.

And here’s where the humour kicks in.

Here’s the deal. I have been likened to a few English comedians/comedic actors by numerous AU attendees. One of these is Simon Pegg (Benji in the Mission Impossible movie franchise, Hot Fuzz, Paul, and yes, Shaun Of The Dead even!). However, my kids (and it seems most of the AU Vegas attendees) always go for another English comedian/actor with the surname Gervais. Yep, you guessed it. Ricky Gervais. We had a feeling his legal team might be in touch if we used his EXACT name (and, probably, the Autodesk legal department), so we have used the alias “Mickey Gervais” for me and David is using his alias, “The Redneck Tech”! This caused a high degree of hilarity at the time (but maybe you had to be there or have a few beers like we had).

So, if you want to see the Revit Showdown at the AU Corral, hosted by English celebrity “Mickey Gervais” and the infamous “Redneck Tech”, please vote for this class too!

Here’s all the classes (in no particular order), so that you can make an informed decision, with the LinkedIn Learning meetup at the end. Simply click on the voting link above, and use the search term shown for each class: –

Class ID: CS317875 – Cert Prep: Autodesk Certified Professional (ACP) – AutoCAD

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: CS317867 – One AutoCAD – There Can Be Only ONE? (there’s actually TEN!)

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: CS317866 – AutoCAD: Take AutoCAD On The Road And Go Mobile!

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: CS317865 – How Do YOU Learn?

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: CS317864 – AutoCAD: Using the AutoCAD web app (or….Yes, AutoCAD, in a browser!)

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: AS317858 – The Definitive AutoCAD Tips & Tricks Class (or….How To Look Cool Using AutoCAD)

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: AS317859 – Annotation Scaling Explained (or…Getting The Measure Of AutoCAD)

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: AS317860 – AutoCAD: Are You Plotting And Publishing Yet?

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: AS317863 – Housekeeping In AutoCAD – Keep Those Drawings Shipshape!

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: CS317869 – CAD Standards – An Essential Element Of The AutoCAD Workflow

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: CS317873 – AutoCAD: Setting Up A Project Drawing Workflow With PlanGrid

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: AS317876 – Cert Prep: Autodesk Certified Professional (ACP) – Revit Architecture

Search: “CadJedi”

Class ID: CS320027 – Architects vs. Engineers – The Revit Showdown at The AU Corral!

Search: “Mickey Gervais” “Redneck Tech”

And the proposed meetup is here: –

Community Meetup ID: CS317856 – Online Learning For All (with LinkedIn Learning)

  • Introducing LinkedIn Learning
  • Working with your LinkedIn profile
  • Choosing the right course for you
  • Adding your accomplishments to your LinkedIn profile
  • Certification Preparation (Cert Prep)
  • Adding your Certification badges

And just so you know, I wanted to get a blog out there that made sure that, firstly, you knew where to find all my classes, but also, secondly (and more importantly), to see how committed I am to make sure I speak at AU. Sure, you might say, it’s all about the recognition and the AU ‘rockstar’ status. Yeah, that is fun, but more importantly for me, it’s the CONNECTION.

Teaching users how to do the cool stuff and seeing their enthusiasm for the subject matter is what drives me. I’ve been using Autodesk products for 31 years this year (showing my age now…LOL) and I sincerely want to give back and pay it forward. For that reason, I am always happy to be an AU Speaker Mentor too, helping AU Speaker newbies craft their first AU classes, and give them ALL the knowledge and expertise I can to make them shine (and not be to as nervous as hell in a classroom of up to 100 AU attendees too)! I also love being an Autodesk Expert Elite, working closely with Autodesk to help the software users and develop programs that make the user experience even better!

AU2019 is shaping up to be a great AU. Don’t forget though, it’s not just a learning event. It is the best Autodesk networking event on the planet. Get out and have some fun! Book to go to the socials like the Blogger Social (if you are a blogger, of course!) and the opening meet and greets. Enjoy the AU Party, and make sure you have LOTS of business cards! Also, get the LinkedIn app on your phone. There’s a great little function in the LinkedIn app that allows you to share your LinkedIn profile. It’s the four little squares (top right) that look like the Windows logo.

Click on it, and you can either show your LinkedIn Code (a QR code) or scan someone elses and it adds them to your LinkedIn connections! Great when you have run out of your AU supply of business cards!

On that note, I must go and order my business cards for AU this year, so have an amazing weekend and I’ll see you in Vegas in November!!

Happy voting!

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One AutoCAD Gets “One” Vision [Part 6]

March 27th was the big day. Another new version of AutoCAD with AutoCAD 2020 and, in my humble opinion, some superb 20/20 vision from Autodesk (see what I did there?). This includes the AutoCAD in your One AutoCAD subscription as well as standalone, SLM and NLM licenses. I gave it the weekend to check out the new stuff so that I could give you a thorough breakdown.

So, you’ll remember my first One AutoCAD blog? Where “there can be only one…” and the Queen theme from the movie Highlander? Here’s another nuance to Queen with their great track “One Vision”, the opening track from the A Kind of Magic album. The album was the soundtrack to the famous movie Highlander, and it was on TV last night, to my amusement.

So, what is new in the dark, sleek AutoCAD 2020?

Read on.

PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENTS

One of the things I always look for in a new version of AutoCAD is better performance. If you are going to upgrade to a new version, it needs to be quicker, not slower, right? This leads me on to the first enhancement in AutoCAD 2020, because we all hate waiting for downloads and watching the install bar percentage, don’t we?

Upon downloading, I noticed a substantial decrease in download time using the Install Now option in the management portal, plus a big decrease in install time too. Now, I have just gone wild and purchased another MacBook Pro 15 (2018) laptop, with the new chipset AND a rapid SSD drive, and the install time was remarkably fast, so faster speeds were to be expected.

However, Autodesk have worked hard to bring down install times, and you will find that with an SSD drive the install time is now about half the time you were used to. Now whilst this is beneficial if you have the latest and greatest drives (SSD, for example), I have not installed it on a regular HDD drive, so I have nothing to compare it to. However, SSD drives do make a great difference on both install and access times.

Autodesk have also worked on network access times in AutoCAD 2020, especially in the areas of XREFs and blocks. Plus, you will find that hatches, tool palettes, fonts, linetypes, template files, standards files and so on, are all quicker, depending on file size and complexity. This is something I always notice in AutoCAD nowadays, especially since I started on AutoCAD back in the MS-DOS days. You youngsters don’t know you’re born, what with Windows and all! Try using a puck and a monochrome CRT monitor!

GRAPHICS CONFIGURATION

Staying with improvements in AutoCAD 2020 on a system level, Autodesk have (again) worked on the graphics quality in AutoCAD 2020. AutoCAD 2019 was improved for 4K and hi-res monitors, and it has been improved upon even more, so that it launches correctly with Direct X drivers; DirectX 9, DirectX11 or no drivers, and with the usual 4K support. Dual monitor setups are also supported.

Upon launching the GRAPHICSCONFIG command, you will see that AutoCAD has three different modes; Basic, Intermediate and Advanced, with Intermediate Mode optimizing your AutoCAD graphics display.


NEW DARK THEME

AutoCAD 2019 had an icon interface change. The ribbon icons were cleaner and more functional.

AutoCAD 2020’s dark theme takes that further by providing a dark, blue/black background where the new icon interface ‘pings’ rather nicely. Not only does this give a dark, sleek look to AutoCAD 2020 but it reduces eye strain too. We all spend too much time in front of our screens (come on, admit it, we do) and this new dark theme takes the edge off. Not only that, but with the new theme, your contextual ribbon tabs highlight nicely with a blue against the dark theme too, making it easier to spot which ribbon tab you are using.

The new dark theme color controls can be found in the AutoCAD Options dialog box.

(GEEK SIDE NOTE: Look at Darth Vader’s costume in Star Wars then look at the AutoCAD dark theme. “Chosen dark side, hasn’t one?” as Yoda would say).

NEW BLOCKS PALETTE

Having been a CAD manager and having worked in Facilities Management (FM) for several years, I have developed a love/hate relationship with AutoCAD blocks. Until now. The usual methods to insert a block in to a drawing is to use the INSERT command, DesignCenter or Tool Palettes. These different options normally give you enough scope to work with, but not anymore. Suddenly, inserting blocks has become SO much easier!

You still have the usual blocks flyout on the Insert command on the ribbon but click on Recent Blocks… or Blocks from Other Drawings… and you will see the new Blocks palette. This (for me) is exactly what the CAD doctor ordered! (You can also just type INSERT to bring up the new Blocks palette too).

Not only does this new palette give great previews of the blocks in the drawing (Current Drawing tab) but you can check out blocks that have been used recently (Recent tab). And even better, you can use the Other Drawing tab to find blocks in other drawings and locations.

You have the regular Insertion Options such as Insertion Point, Rotate, Scale and Explode but you now have a new option called Repeat Placement. This works in the same way as the Copy command, allowing you to insert multiple instances of the same block reference, but it is built in to the Insert command now, thus enhancing your productivity when using blocks.

There are numerous new and revised commands for blocks too. Here’s the list: –

BLOCKSPALETTE – This will open the new Blocks palette.

BLOCKSPALETTECLOSE – This closes the Blocks palette (ya think?) 😊

CLASSICINSERT – Opens the classic Insert dialog box, that we all know and love.

INSERT – This command will now start the BLOCKSPALETTE command except in customised scripts that open the legacy INSERT command for compatibility.

-INSERT – As usual, this will start the command line version of the classic INSERT command.

There are also a few new system variables too. Here’s the list: –

BLOCKMRULIST – This one controls the number of blocks displayed in the Recent tab of the new Blocks palette. Very useful if you need to see more or less blocks.

BLOCKNAVIGATE – This one is VERY useful. It controls the file and blocks that are displayed in the Other Drawing tab of the Blocks palette. It’s great if you are using a central drawing that contains all the blocks you need. Please note though, it takes effect the next time you start AutoCAD 2020.

BLOCKREDEFINEMODE – This variable decides whether that lovely little dialog box pops up asking you if you want to redefine a block after inserting a block from the Blocks palette with the same name as a block inside your drawing.

BLOCKSTATE (Read only) – Whilst only a Read Only variable, this one tells you if the Blocks palette is open or closed. Always useful, because you can lose a palette occasionally on the screen, and this will tell you if the palette is open or not, and if you need to look for it!

PURGE COMMAND REDESIGN

PURGE is an extremely useful command but needed to be used with care because (sometimes) you could find the right information about what needed to be purged from your drawing. The redesign of the PURGE dialog box gives you MUCH more information about what you are purging from the drawing.

Here’s the new PURGE stuff: –

  • The new dialog box gives you LOADS of information about objects that CANNOT be purged, including a count of the number of those objects and their influence on how big your file is, which is great for rationalizing objects that bloat out your DWG files. You can also use the Select Objects button to find and zoom in on those objects too.
  • The Find Non-Purgeable Items button allows you to find information about those items and why they cannot be purged, which seriously helps compared to the older PURGE dialog box.
  • You can now purge out zero-length geometry without losing empty text objects.
  • There are now check boxes in the Named Items Not Used panel. This now allows for categorizing purgeable items, rather than having to purge each individual item.

The new PURGE command is now also available on the ribbon in the new Cleanup panel in the Manage tab.

DWG COMPARE IMPROVEMENTS

DWG Compare is a superb command already and in AutoCAD 2020, Autodesk have integrated it deeper in to the product, giving a much cleaner experience, in my humble opinion. When you activate the command, it now has an in-app toolbar which allows you to maintain concentration on the drawings in hand, and the comparisons now show ‘in’ the drawings with an option to create a separate comparison DWG file.

Current (first) drawing to be compared against
Second drawing to be comapared against first drawing

As usual, there are several new commands for the new DWG Compare too. Here they are: –

COMPARECLOSE – As it says on the tin, this command closes down the DWG Compare toolbar and closes down any comparison you might have in place at the time of closing.

COMPAREEXPORT – This command takes your comparison in to a new DWG file and displays it in the file tabs. It is known as a snapshot drawing and it can be saved out as a new DWG, for use as a project tool to demonstrate differences in drawings, for example.

COMPAREIMPORT – This one (for me) is extremely useful. The command imports objects from the compared file into your current drawing, against which you are making the comparison. What’s great about it, is that ONLY the selected objects that are in the COMPARED file, and NOT in the current file are imported, thus allowing easy selection and sorting.

If you are using some of the One AutoCAD toolsets (Electrical and Mechanical), there are some limitations. Shaan Hurley’s blog on his Between The Lines page mentions these here, just scroll down a bit. Thanks, Shaan!

SAVE TO WEB & MOBILE ENHANCEMENTS

For those of you who attended Autodesk University 2018 (AU 2018) last November, you may have attended my class where I went through how to take AutoCAD mobile. If you didn’t here it is: https://bit.ly/2HOOAO6

I am also teaching this class at AU London 2019 in June, so maybe I’ll see you there!

The link to the AU London 2019 website is here: https://bit.ly/2Vr2qJf

I love that you can now save to the AutoCAD web and mobile apps for easy movement of your designs on to your phone, tablet or browser. In my years in Facilities Management (FM), these tools would have been extremely useful!

So, what is new in Save To Web & Mobile?

When saving out to Web & Mobile, you can now include external reference files (XREFs), if they are attached to your host drawing. In the case below, there aren’t any, but I hope you get the idea!

If the CAD Manager Control Utility is enabled in your AutoCAD installation, you can disable Web & Mobile, to make sure files stay within the organization network and filing structure. This is great for file safety and security.

Save to Web & Mobile is accessible from the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).

CLOUD SERVICES SUPPORT

Following on from Save to Web & Mobile enhancements, you will be very pleased to know that AutoCAD 2020 now supports several cloud-based services for the Save, Save As and Open commands. These are your USUAL save and open commands and are NOT related to the Web & Mobile options. This is your regular Save, Save As and Open commands.

What this means is that you can now save directly to Microsoft OneDrive, Box, Dropbox and Google Drive which, again, allows you to be much more mobile with your AutoCAD designs by utilizing the cloud directly.

You can also add these cloud-based repositories to your Places list in AutoCAD too! You will see the link to my Microsoft OneDrive account in the graphic below.

MEASURE GEOMETRY: QUICK MEASURE

I am LOVING this new command. Measuring in AutoCAD is easy, but now it is even easier and quicker. The Quick Measure option in the MEASUREGEOM command is an absolute pleasure to use.

Quick Measure gives you an on-screen readout of dimensions, distances and angles in your 2D drawings, simply as you move over objects in the drawing. When Quick Measure is switched on it displays this information dynamically as you hover over an object, presenting you with a visual of dimensions, distances and angles, and even displays 90-degree angles as squares so that you know the geometry is exactly ‘square’.

Quick Measure displaying dimensions and the right angled corners of a rectangle
Quick Measure displayed the radius of a circle

SECURITY ENHANCEMENTS

Now, I wasn’t aware of these until I read Shaan Hurley’s Between The Lines blog. With every AutoCAD release, I read Shaan’s blog first (sorry, AutoCAD team!) because he has been around AutoCAD as long as I have (even longer, in fact!) and he always provides an insightful look in to the new version. Cheers, Shaan!

So, according to Shaan, there are numerous security improvements in AutoCAD 2020, and they cannot be talked about directly for reasons of security: –

  • A cyber security in AutoCAD 2020 has been addressed.
  • Four potential exploits in AutoCAD data files have been addressed.
  • AutoCAD dependencies on DLLs have been upgraded or removed.
  • A future vulnerability in a component is being addressed.
  • A potential server vulnerability has been closed with an upgrade.

Now, yes, these all seem very vague, right? Well, let’s face it, in today’s technology world, the last thing Autodesk want to do is announce EXACTLY where these security enhancements are so as to avoid any threats to the enhancements provided. It all makes sense to keep them as vague as possible. Nowadays, cyber criminals and criminal organizations are often looking for ways to hack and steal designs and your intellectual property. This is EXACTLY why it is so important to maintain the latest AutoCAD products and updates. It’s not just about the new features and commands, the back end of AutoCAD is just as important, if not, more important for this reason. As Shaan states in his blog, “Autodesk continues to monitor cyber threats and strives to deliver products that conform to current and anticipated security requirements.” Think about that for a moment, and then think about what YOU would do if your designs were to be hacked or stolen in anyway because you hadn’t put appropriate measures in place, including keeping AutoCAD up to date.

CONCLUSION

So, that’s AutoCAD 2020 covered, and I hope that you have gained the knowledge you need to see how AutoCAD 2020 has evolved with the ‘one vision’ that Autodesk have for the AutoCAD product and its associated cloud and mobile functionality. I would like to thank Shaan Hurley for his annual AutoCAD wisdom, and the Autodesk team, for giving me the all the information I need to keep abreast of all things AutoCAD. Cheers, all!

You can find Shaan Hurley’s AutoCAD 2020 blog here.

And the official AutoCAD blog about AutoCAD 2020 is here.

On a slight self-promotional note (hey, I have to try, right?), you can find my new AutoCAD 2020 courses over on LinkedIn Learning at the links below. Just click on each title to find them.

Learning AutoCAD 2020

AutoCAD 2020: Essential Training

AutoCAD 2020: Interface

AutoCAD 2020: Spaces and Workspaces

AutoCAD 2020: Output

Happy AutoCAD’ing!

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One AutoCAD Goes To California [PART 5]

Some of you already know this, but I am an [in]structor on the LinkedIn Learning website and I create learning content about AutoCAD as an author. Some have also said that I’m a great Geico gecko impersonator too (it’s the accent), but that’s for you to decide.

A couple of times a year, I get to travel to the lovely sleepy Californian town of Carpinteria which is where one of the LinkedIn Learning campuses is based and spend a week in the zen-like calm and silence of a whisper booth. Once in the quiet of the booth, you will find me recording videos on AutoCAD, ready for the masses to learn and imbibe my imparted knowledge to become more rounded, experienced AutoCAD users. Carpinteria is a wonderful place to work, even though the weather was somewhat changeable the week I was there. I can say this, the wind off the sea that week was cold!

The zen-like calm of the whisper booth
Surf’s up on Carpinteria State Beach
Entering the tsunami zone

I also work closely with LinkedIn Learning to develop learning paths, workflows and processes to make the route to learning easier. This is something that One AutoCAD has influenced. One AutoCAD is a ‘toolbox’ with specific ‘toolsets’ for specific needs. If you need to work on an architectural project, you could use the AutoCAD Architecture toolset. If you need to develop electrical drawings, the AutoCAD Electrical toolset could be used. But where does this leave you if you only use the regular vanilla AutoCAD and want to make that step up to a One AutoCAD toolset?

The major benefit of One AutoCAD is that you have a common denominator. That is the DWG file format. That DWG file can be opened in any of the One AutoCAD toolsets and be converted to whatever you need it to be, regardless of discipline.

I have been fortunate to develop online learning courses for several of the One AutoCAD toolsets for LinkedIn Learning, and realise the incredible time savings these toolsets can give the user especially when combined with the appropriate learning materials to gain the knowledge needed to work with them.

In fact, some of this One AutoCAD toolset training material has been recorded at the LinkedIn Learning campus in Carpinteria so you could say that One AutoCAD goes to California regularly!

Here’s a quick overview of some of the One AutoCAD toolsets I have had the pleasure of creating online learning material for: –

1.The Architecture Toolset

Many architects create 2D architectural drawings using regular standard AutoCAD. Imagine the time savings that could be made if those 2D drawings could become project-based 3D models that have the required national standards applied to them? AutoCAD Architecture not only does this, but also provides parametric building elements such as doors and windows that automatically insert in to elements such as walls and roofs. The time savings are substantial, and the presentation of the architectural designs is much more professional in a 3D format, offering 3D isometric views that provide a more realistic, real-world view on the design in hand.

LinkedIn Learning – LINK: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/autocad-architecture-essential-training-2/welcome?u=2125562

2. The Electrical Toolset

Most electrical drawings drawn in regular AutoCAD are 2D, but often the requirement is that information from one drawing needs to be linked to another drawing. The Electrical toolset does exactly this by linking all the drawings in the Project Manager, allowing for electrical schematic and panel components to be linked across drawings by way of a database behind the project. The Electrical toolset also allows you to work with specific recognised electrical standards and manufacturers, by way of intelligent blocks with attributes that tie in with specific manufacturer catalogs. The Electrical toolset also offers parametric PLC creation as well as a PLC I/O utility that develops PLCs from external spreadsheets. External drawings can also be added to electrical projects, as well as projects being copied for repetitive work.

LinkedIn Learning – LINK: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/autocad-electrical-essential-training-3/welcome?u=2125562

3. The Mechanical Toolset

The AutoCAD Mechanical toolset provides incredible functionality that allows you to develop mechanical drawings in parts and add subsequent parts to a mechanical assembly. This can be done, utilising the Mechanical and Structure workspaces in AutoCAD Mechanical, and using the Mechanical Browser, to itemise parts in each assembly, adding hide situations where hidden detail is required. The Mechanical toolset (like other toolsets) offers the ability to work to specific recognised mechanical standards, insert industry recognised parts (bolts, screws, holes etc) and even apply specific analysis to the completed mechanical components; such as bending moment analysis and Finite Element Analysis (FEA).

LinkedIn Learning – LINK: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/autocad-mechanical-essential-training-2/welcome?u=2125562

4. Mobility

The One AutoCAD subscription also offers the ability to take your AutoCAD desktop app with you using both the AutoCAD web app and the AutoCAD mobile app. I had the pleasure of recording the AutoCAD mobile app course at LinkedIn in Carpinteria just before Autodesk University 2018 (AU2018) in Las Vegas last November. I also presented a class on the AutoCAD mobile app at AU2018 too. You can find it here on the AU website.

LinkedIn Learning – LINK: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/autocad-mobile-app-2?u=2125562

AU Website – LINK: https://www.autodesk.com/autodesk-university/class/AutoCAD-Take-Your-AutoCAD-Road-You-and-Go-Mobile-2018

The AutoCAD web app and AutoCAD mobile app give you a huge amount of flexibility by taking your designs with you, either in a browser (web app) or on a mobile device (mobile app). I had the privilege of recording the AutoCAD mobile app course on a 12.7” iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil. I can safely say I wish I had sneaked them home in my suitcase! A superb combination of hardware and software application, that takes your designs to a whole new level. That, combined with the AutoCAD web app, gives you every medium you need to go mobile with AutoCAD!

LinkedIn Learning – LINK: https://www.linkedin.com/learning/autocad-web-app-taking-your-drawings-online/take-your-autocad-drawings-online-in-the-autocad-web-app?u=2125562

Overall, the One AutoCAD subscription gives you flexibility to work in any discipline and go mobile should you need to. The DWG file format gives you seamless compatibility between the toolsets, and there is plenty of online learning out there to allow you to gain the knowledge you need about any of the toolsets too. I create some of it, and yes you may see that as blatant self-promotion (which it is…LOL), but I also want to bring it to your attention. You can learn ANYTHING if you try and why not consider using the One AutoCAD toolset you need and LEARN how to use it effectively for the reasons I have given above. All the One AutoCAD toolsets provide substantial time savings, AND allow you to work to known standards and methodologies in each of the industry disciplines too.

LinkedIn Learning used to be Lynda.com and one of the Lynda catchphrases was “You can learn it”.

You CAN learn it. The only thing holding you back is you. Pick your toolset and go learn it. See what a difference it makes.

Happy learning!

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Guitars and new tech…fascinating stuff!

Guitars are a passion of mine. For those of you who don’t know, I am not only an AutoCAD user, guru, instructor etc, but I am also a published singer/songwriter, endorsed by Hofner Guitars in Germany (note you may need to click on the little Union Jack – top right – to translate the page). Hofner manufacture the distinctive violin bass guitar used by Sir Paul McCartney, who was one of the famous four (The Beatles) back in the 1960’s. I use a Hofner Grand Auditorium acoustic which you will often see in my intro slide in my Autodesk University presentations, and it is my ‘go to’ guitar for all of my songwriting.

The amazing craftspeople that make guitars are known as luthiers, and their artistry and attention to detail is second to none. Quite often you will find that a musician/artist will find a particular luthier they prefer and stick with them throughout their career. In my case, I love what Hofner do for me. If you look towards other more well-known artists such as Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits fame), he often uses guitars made by luthier John Monteleone in Long Island. In fact, Knopfler’s first guitar was a Hofner, if you read this article in GuitarWorld:

https://www.guitarworld.com/gear/mark-knopfler-six-guitars-defined-my-career

As an Autodesk user, I subscribe to the Autodesk blog, Redshift, and I am also an occasional author for them. A recent Redshift article I read fascinated me. Not just for the techie content, but for where tech is taking an artistic slant and being used by reputable luthiers such as Rachel Rosencrantz. Her reputation as a respected luthier is known worldwide and she is now using Autodesk technology to 3D model and 3D print guitar parts as part of her design workflow. Watch the Redshift video to learn more about Rachel and what she does as a luthier. It’s an amazing crossover of a handcrafted artform in to 3D modelling and 3D printing.

Link: https://www.autodesk.com/redshift/rachel-rosenkrantz

Luthier Rachel Rosenkrantz Embraces New Tech to Innovate a Centuries-Old Craft

As Rachel demonstrates in the video, a lot of love, care and attention is put in to the manufacture of any guitar she creates, and the best bit is the hug she receives at the end of the process when the new owner collects their new guitar, as shown in the video.

I found the whole process fascinating, not just because it involves guitars but the article demonstrates how craftsmanship that started centuries ago is now being taken in to a new age with Autodesk technology.

Guitars and new tech…..fascinating stuff, huh?

(PS – you will find my singer/songwriter persona at www.shauncbryant.com)

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One AutoCAD Goes To Vegas [Part 4]

Getting back from AU to an unpacked house and IKEA furniture to assemble is NOT fun. Necessary after a house move the week before I travelled to LinkedIn Learning for a week, followed by the insanity of AU, but most definitely NOT fun.

So, here I am, a month after AU, in the carnage of a semi-unpacked office (and house), writing my usual annual (and VERY late) AU blog. They say that an untidy office is the sign of an intelligent mind. I disagree. It is simply driving me nuts, but I digress.

I can safely say that my twelfth AU (2018) was my best AU so far. For the first time at AU, I felt fully accepted. I’m not sure why, but I did. Previous AU’s for me have always been met with a little trepidation. Will things go well in my classes? Will I have a laptop fry-up like Matt Murphy, or will all be OK? Well, I DID have issues at a technical level, but I overcame them. So, I have now had my AU baptism of fire and I made it through. Thanks to a great tech team at AU who got me through it, and the legendary ladies in the Speaker Ready Room (especially Patricia, who knows exactly why).

(Note to all, classroom internet is always useful for an AutoCAD web app class, but we sorted it and the class was delivered, so thanks to those great AU tech guys. You rock).

Autodesk University (AU) 2018 was my busiest AU ever. I had four classes to prepare for and teach. You just know it’s a bit crazy when you spend the Sunday before AU in your room in the Palazzo, creating FOUR PowerPoint presentations for your classes, right? They were done and submitted on time, I hasten to add!

001 AU class ready to go

As an AU Speaker Mentor, I had two mentees under me as their mentor in the AU Speaker Mentor program. The mentor program is now mandatory for first-time AU speakers and it is organised brilliantly by Matt Murphy, Janice Miller-Kellerman and Adam Sopko. I am honoured to have been part of it for the last two AU’s and it is worth every second of my time that I give to my mentees. They both did well, and I sincerely hope to see them at AU next year too (nice work, Jisell and Will)!

On top of the above AU duties, I had to give an AU Explainer interview, an Expert Elite interview, plus a last-minute AU Speaker interview. Plus, I had organised an industry meetup on behalf of LinkedIn Learning. This was on top of the usual meeting, greeting, networking and running miles (not kidding) to get to meetings, keynotes and classes I wanted to attend! Trust me, my step counter on my Apple watch thought it had been stolen, bearing in mind that my usual working day does involve only one flight of stairs at home.

Let’s start at the beginning though. Every year, I make a two-week pilgrimage to the US of A. You may ask me why two weeks? Well, my first week is normally spent in the delightfully sleepy town of Carpinteria, just south of Santa Barbara in the lovely state of California. Trust me, being British, just being in the Cali climate is a blessing, even in November. My first week of the trip is spent on the LinkedIn Learning campus there, recording AutoCAD online videos for all of you to watch and learn from. This I did (for the AutoCAD mobile app), but there was also some more fun to be had. I had my first real live action to record, along with course intros on a green screen with a teleprompter (Ron Burgundy, eat your heart out). I even had hair and make up along with my own green room!

One of the delightful benefits of this first week in Carpinteria, is that I have Sunday to myself before I start work at the LinkedIn campus on the Monday morning. I get to relax from the long flight and spend a bit of time on Carpinteria State Beach in the tsunami zone. I tend to stick in the earbuds and walk the length of the beach first thing Sunday morning, followed by a bit of time sitting at one of the picnic benches in the glorious Sunday sunshine, enjoying a bit of morning meditation and watching the world go by. This was followed by my usual order of a Hammerhead coffee (large) and a Moon Bowl to go from Lucky Llama. A Moon Bowl is an amazing fruit smoothie topped by granola, agave syrup and sliced strawberry and banana. Brunch in a bowl!

My week at LinkedIn rocked. The staff there are just so nice. Lots of meetings, recording and networking ensued, plus it was great to meet my old and new remote producers; Abby Bok and Nicole Mangona. I also want to thank the amazing live action team (Pamela, Tito and the guys – thank you!) and especially Susan Varnum, my onsite producer for the week!

The week, however, became dark when news of the California fires became apparent. Carpinteria was a victim of the Thomas fire the year before (left hand pic below), but this time the fires hit further south with a vengeance, along the Pacific Coast Highway towards Malibu (right hand pic below). The fires were devastating, and the town Paradise was burnt to the ground, along with many other homes, establishments and property. Lives were lost and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. I love this part of the world and to see so much damage and devastation was heart breaking. The hotels, even in Carpinteria, began to fill up Thursday and Friday and I changed my Saturday morning flight to Vegas from Burbank, instead of LAX, just to be safe. The Amtrak journey to Burbank was surreal. The sky to the horizon early Saturday morning was coloured like a Mad Max film set and you could see the smoke settling everywhere. Luckily, my journey was incident-free and my flight to Vegas unaffected, but my heart went out to those affected by the fires, and the smoke, which got all the way down to San Francisco and the surrounding area.

Arriving in Vegas to the usual slots at the airport on Saturday afternoon before AU gave me some downtime with Sunday being the BIG PowerPoint day! And all PowerPoints were completed on time so that I could meet with some good colleagues and fellow Expert Elite alumni before an early night, the night before the insanity that is AU began.

I had already registered on Sunday, and here’s the BIGGEST bit of Autodesk kudos I must give. Upon entering full registration at The Hub (you know, where you get your AU bag etc), I got my Autodesk Expert Elite ‘goodie’ bag. There were some lovely bits of swag in there, including a delightful blue Expert Elite jacket, but here’s the bit I loved, that made me feel accepted, that made me feel that all the years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears were worthwhile. In the bag was a handwritten ‘thank you’ note from Katinka Sante of Autodesk, who manages the Expert Elite program. That handwritten note and the thought and sentiment behind it made EVERYTHING feel worthwhile. Thank you, Katinka.

015 AU2018 - EE Thank You Katinka

This AU was my busiest yet and the main thrust of my classes was the AutoCAD web app and the AutoCAD mobile app, plus explaining how to utilize the One AutoCAD offering. I even had a class on learning techniques, which I have wanted to present at AU for many years (thanks for that one, AU committee!). So, this year, One AutoCAD and its offerings came to Vegas with me!

My classes were as follows: –

AS196709 – AutoCAD Web: There Can Be Only One

AS196992 – How Do YOU Learn?

AS221084 – AutoCAD: Take Your AutoCAD on the Road with You and Go Mobile

BLD224255 – One AutoCAD: There Can Be Only ONE

All the above classes can be found on the newly revamped AU website at http://au.autodesk.com. Just click on the links and it will go to each class page.

One AutoCAD was a new subscription release in March 2018, when AutoCAD 2019 was released. It opened a whole new ‘toolbox’ of AutoCAD flavours, known as ‘toolsets’. These included applications such as AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD Electrical and AutoCAD Mechanical and many more. What One AutoCAD also gave you was a Premium subscription to the AutoCAD mobile app, allowing for editing, not just reviewing drawings, and full access to the AutoCAD web app as well.

What I wanted to do with my classes was promote mobility with AutoCAD. I mentioned the week before AU, I recorded the AutoCAD mobile app course for LinkedIn Learning. I did this with a rather lovely 12.7-inch Apple iPad Pro with Apple pencil which, in turn, already speaks volumes. The fact that you can take an iPad on the go with you and work on your designs gives you an incredible amount of AutoCAD mobility that you never used to have. And now that your designs can be saved to the Web & Mobile folders in the AutoCAD desktop app, you can take your DWG files with you, wherever you go, even in offline line mode, if there’s no internet signal. This is the big benefit with One AutoCAD. You do only need the ONE subscription. You get all your required desktop toolsets; vanilla AutoCAD, Architecture, Electrical, Mechanical and so on, but you also get the ability your take your designs with you too, via the AutoCAD web and mobile apps.

Being an instructor for LinkedIn Learning, I also love to promote how to learn, and I was very pleased that my How Do YOU Learn? class was accepted at AU. Learning is very individual nowadays with online learning based specifically around your own needs and requirements, and with many apps out there that allow you to store that learning for later reference use. This class takes you through some of the methodologies and interfaces you can use and asks you, “How do YOU learn?”.

AU is a crazy week, with loads of social and networking events too. The pace doesn’t stop in Vegas, I can tell you! I was invited to an amazing Autodesk event by the AutoCAD team which was held at the Paris casino on the Las Vegas strip to celebrate the Eiffel Tower in Paris getting a BIM makeover for the 2024 Olympics. This was visually incredible, and you were invited to wear a VR headset and see the model for real, with location choices and time lapse imaging to see it at any time of day. It was way cool to select the time button, press it down to watch the time-lapse and then see the whole VR environment re-render! I was also able to get some great shots of the Bellagio fountains. You know the ones if you have seen any of the Oceans Eleven movies, from the Frank Sinatra version upwards. Thanks SO much to Alyson and Stacy from the AutoCAD team for the invite. It was a GREAT event! You can read more about the project here in Engineering.com.

I was also able to attend a superb Blogger social this year, thanks to the legend that is Shaan Hurley from Autodesk, with pizza and beverages provided by LinkedIn Learning! It was a great evening, with some VR tech for entertainment and just great company. It was held in a superb suite over at the Mirage casino complex, which had a real eighties vibe, like you would expect a Motley Crue rock video to have been filmed in there. (Welcome to Vegas!) Many thanks to Shaan (and also Linda Sellheim and the LinkedIn Learning team) for organising it all!

Another great thing that AU offered this year was Industry Meetups. I was able to organise one on behalf of LinkedIn Learning which gave us our own meeting room with refreshments (and doughnuts!!!). Attendance was way more than subscribed, which was wonderful, and we met some really great AU attendees and were able to talk some of them through the LinkedIn Learning interface and show them exactly how easy it is to learn!

022 AU2018 - LiL Industry Meetup

All in all, I had an incredibly busy two weeks. It was exhausting and I was drained upon my return, especially with a new house to unpack and that lovely IKEA furniture to assemble, but it was worth EVERY second of the planes, trains and automobiles to get to and from where I needed to be, and I can safely say that I had my best week at LinkedIn and my best AU so far!

Thanks to everyone concerned, especially the AU team (speakers and mentors), the AutoCAD team, the Expert Elite team, my LinkedIn Learning colleagues and the AU tech guys. You all rock.

Here’s to next year!

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