Category Archives: Miscellaneous

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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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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AutoCAD 2019 – There can be only ONE….

For those of you old enough to remember the movie Highlander, when the Quickening starts there can be only one. Apart from the stunning Queen soundtrack, it was a great movie, and Connor MacLeod (actor Christopher Lambert) of the clan MacLeod was THE one, combined with incredible support from famous co-star Sean Connery as Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, who (unfortunately) does lose his head.

As they say in the movie (and the Queen song), it’s a kind of magic……

(For those of you that like a bit of Freddie and the band Queen, here’s the link to the album, A Kind Of Magic – CLICK HERE).

So, here we go, why ONE AutoCAD?

ONE AutoCAD

In the world of the new version of AutoCAD, AutoCAD 2019, we have only ONE too. When you subscribe to AutoCAD 2019, you get ONE subscription, but the many faces of AutoCAD; Architecture, Electrical, Mechanical, MEP, and various other flavors. This not only gives you a specialized AutoCAD by allowing you to work in various disciplines and verticals, but also gives you various workflow improvements too. However, Civil 3D has been omitted from the ONE AutoCAD intentionally, and I am sure Autodesk have their reasons for that.

Design Toolsets

When you log in to your account portal, you will see that it has changed and the view of your subscribed AutoCAD you get now is one (pardon the pun) of many, listing all the products under your main AutoCAD subscription. You will also find that the view of AutoCAD in your Autodesk Desktop App has changed as well.

What’s nice here is that you can select all the AutoCADs to be trialed or you can select individual flavors of AutoCAD to be trialed. This is especially advantageous if you are already a vanilla AutoCAD user and want to test a specific flavor of AutoCAD to see if it fulfills your needs and requirements. For those of you that just want all the flavors, but for one price, it is a great move by Autodesk also.

On your desktop, each flavour of AutoCAD will still have its own individual icon (just to clutter your desktop, I guess…an untidy desktop is a sign of a great mind, right?), plus, there will be no change to the DWG Launcher. You know, that little gizmo in Windows that allows you to open all DWG files using AutoCAD as the preferred application to do so.

Web and Mobile

There have been some great improvements in AutoCAD 2019. One of these is the ability to save your desktop AutoCAD designs directly to AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile. If you go to the Quick Access Toolbar (top left of the desktop AutoCAD application window), you will see the new icons there that not only provide you with the facility to save to web and mobile but also go directly to those saved cloud-based designs and open them directly in the AutoCAD desktop again as well. This is also available in the AutoCAD application menu. These cloud-based files go to A360 Drive in the usual way.

Save to Web and Mobile

So, what’s new with AutoCAD Web and Mobile then? Well, AutoCAD Web is much enhanced to give a highly sophisticated browser-based AutoCAD interface, that is quicker and faster. I won’t bore you with the techie stuff, but suffice to say, you will be using the equivalent AutoCAD executable (EXE) in your browser, the same as you would be on your desktop. This makes for a much-needed boost to what was (sometimes) quite a jerky, laggy web-based application in the past.

You will find AutoCAD Web at web.autocad.com and if you are using the subscription version (it comes with full AutoCAD), you get a great new command panel incorporating some of the more familiar AutoCAD drafting icons, that even have a preview, just like desktop AutoCAD.

AutoCAD Web

What’s also new is the referencing capability of AutoCAD Web. You can add reference drawings (XREFs) at your leisure, and if they are saved in the cloud in the same location as the host drawing, using the save to web and mobile options in your desktop AutoCAD, they will operate in the same way as relative XREFs that you might use locally.

Something I love (yes, love, not just like) is that you now have the native AutoCAD window and crossing selection tools in AutoCAD Web. They work in the same way as your desktop AutoCAD and provide a rounder user experience. We have grown used to these methods of selection, and it is great to see Autodesk taking the desktop user experience tools in to the web-based version. It is by no way perfect yet, but I can see AutoCAD Web getting to a point where your AutoCAD desktop will become fully mobile. The hardware is there now; such as the Apple iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface Pro, that have the grunt under the hood to run AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile well.

What makes AutoCAD Web even more like desktop AutoCAD is that there are even some keyboard shortcuts included as well. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a keyboard shortcut or two? Trust me, as a seasoned AutoCAD user (thirty years this year), I am a big fan of keyboard shortcuts!

Overall, though, I have to say that I am mightily impressed with the new AutoCAD Web. It has been well thought out and gives you a great browser-based AutoCAD experience that relates back to your desktop AutoCAD this time. And with regular updates promised by Autodesk, I can see AutoCAD Web developing at a quick pace to bring you a much slicker experience with AutoCAD Web on the web. Did I say ‘web’ enough there for you?

New Features and Enhancements

Back to the desktop AutoCAD now. Autodesk have added a couple of new features to AutoCAD 2019.

On the new Collaborate tab in the AutoCAD ribbon, you will find the DWG Compare command. This new feature is, quite simply, excellent. I wish I’d had it years ago. You can now compare two separate DWG files and AutoCAD creates a new comparison DWG file, highlighting any differences between the two compared drawings, using colors and revision clouds, providing tools to iterate between each difference and zoom in to each difference automatically.

DWG Compare

Another great new feature on the Collaborate tab is Shared Views. You can upload your designs directly to the web in to the Autodesk Viewer, a cloud-based viewer. You can invite other collaborators to view your design by way of a private URL that can be emailed to the respective team members. Also, in the Autodesk Viewer, there is a Comment feed that allows all invited users to comment on the shared design and link their comments to the design as well.

Shared Views

You may also notice that there are enhanced icons in AutoCAD 2019 that look different too. To bring AutoCAD 2019 in line with the 4K monitors out there, over 5000 icons have been revamped and redesigned in the ribbon, status bar and application menu. They provide a slick, professional look to AutoCAD that looks modern and clean. The cartoony icons now have a tidier, minimalist look that I have to say I prefer.

Enhanced Icons

Conclusions

Autodesk are taking AutoCAD to a new level with this release. Not only are you getting numerous flavors of AutoCAD as one subscription package, but you’re also getting a great web-based offering too, along with some cool new features and enhancements in the desktop application, with cool command icons. And don’t forget, you STILL get seamless DWG compatibility with AutoCAD for Mac too.

Overall, a nice AutoCAD offering from Autodesk, and I love the new AutoCAD Web, but I would still like to see more new features and enhancements in the desktop AutoCAD, especially on the new Collaborate tab. Collaboration is becoming more and more prevalent in this age of email, webmail and the cloud, and I hope to see Autodesk take advantage of that movement to make AutoCAD even more mobile in the future.

Happy AutoCAD’ing!

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PS – As some of you may know, I provide online AutoCAD learning content over at LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com. You’ll find all the new AutoCAD 2019 Essential Training material below: –

LinkedIn Learning – CLICK HERE 

Lynda.com – CLICK HERE

 

Not Just CAD! – January 2018 – 30 Years

So, here we are. Nearly at the end of the first month of another year. Christmas is done and the tree is outside looking a bit sorry for itself (awaiting recycling – save the planet, right?). New Year’s Eve has been and gone and Auld Lang Syne is just another memory.

I know this blog is late and there is reason for that. One is the awful lurghi that has been going around that provided me with a snot-filled Christmas and New Year whether I liked it or not, and two, January for me has been incredibly busy for once. and, hey, I also just wanted to get bedded in to the New Year this time too. I don’t know about everyone else, but it has been a struggle to get started this year. Anyone else felt like that about 2018?

Luckily, 2017 for me (and CADFMconsultants – www.cadfmconsult.co.uk) was a great year. Numerous courses for LinkedIn Learning (using Lynda.com content) were recorded, produced and released with another two trips to the LinkedIn offices in Carpinteria (often referred to as Carp). I was invited by Autodesk to be the AutoCAD expert on the AutoCAD booth at the inaugural Autodesk University London 2017 and I became an Autodesk University Speaker Mentor as well as being invited to become a member of the Autodesk Expert Elite program. Busy, huh?

For those of you that don’t know (and if you don’t, where HAVE you been?), I am an [in]structor for LinkedIn Learning, previously Lynda.com and I now have over fifty online courses in my online training portfolio. You can check them out at www.lynda.com and look me up there, Shaun Bryant. Or if you prefer to use LinkedIn Learning, look me up at https://learning.linkedin.com. My LinkedIn Learning author page is here. Both sites contain ALL my courses for you to learn from.

After reading this post, maybe drop me a line at shaun.bryant@cadfmconsult.co.uk. The first few who do and mention Not Just CAD! – January 2018 in their email subject line might get a nice little LinkedIn voucher that gets them some FREE learning!

So, about 2017….

The inaugural Autodesk University London 2017 was a scorcher in several ways. Firstly, I was made up to be the AutoCAD expert at the event (many thanks Tracy, Tanya and Jacqui!). Secondly, it was held on the HOTTEST two days of June 2017, which at Tobacco Dock in London (the event venue), made for insane temperatures as it is a glass-clad building! The event was a huge success and I was even Lynn Allen’s understudy as she could not attend the event due to illness. It was an honour to stand in for Lynn, Autodesk’s AutoCAD technical evangelist, teaching her two AutoCAD classes to the masses!

As 2017 progressed, there was the usual request for proposals for Autodesk University (AU) 2018, held in the delightful location of Las Vegas (sometimes known as Lost Wages), Nevada.

I was lucky enough to get one of my AutoCAD class proposals accepted and become a lab assistant for one of my good friends, who was also speaking, Paul Munford (CAD Setter Out – https://cadsetterout.com/). I was also asked to be an Autodesk University Speaker Mentor, where I mentored a novice speaker on how to create and submit their AU class presentation and handout, plus advise them on speaker techniques, taking advantage of my expertise and experience of being a veteran AU speaker. My mentee was Dr. Munirajulu from the Chennai area in India (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-munirajulu-m-3901a219). I had a great time imparting expertise and knowledge to him, and considering he had never spoken at AU before, he absolutely rocked his AU class too!

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As usual, towards the end of 2017, everything becomes about AU in Vegas, but I was lucky to get out to the LinkedIn offices in Carp in California the week before AU to record some of my online material. This is normally a relaxed (but busy) week and I was even able to get my five-kilometre walk along Carp State Beach in on the Sunday morning before I started recording in my little whisper booth on the Carp campus for the week. I love travelling to Carp too. I fly in to LAX and then take the Amtrak up the stunning California coastline from LA’s Union Station, which has the most beautiful architecture.

Carp was wonderful as usual, but sadly, due to the Thomas fire in December 2017, a lot of the stunning scenery has been burnt to a crisp and been decimated by the landslides that followed. Some of my LinkedIn colleagues lost their homes and the offices were close to being lost a couple of times too. The picture below gives you a good idea of how close the fires were to the Carp campus! Luckily, things are now moving back to normal, but there is a big clean-up operation and lots of rebuilding to do in the area.

LiL-Thomas Fire-Dec 2017

After my week in Carp, I flew out to Vegas from LAX for AU. I even bumped in to the bass player from an old eighties big-hair rock band called RATT who sat next to me on the plane and we chatted for the whole flight, sharing music anecdotes and war stories. The conversation even got around to which were the best guitar strings to use!

I got in to Vegas on the Saturday before AU, so I was able to chill out until the ‘insanity’ began on the following Monday. Being a seasoned AU attendee (this was my eleventh AU), I know the territory, so I got everything prepped and got ready to work the LinkedIn Learning booth in the AU exhibition hall. Have you ever been to a conference where ten thousand Autodesk geeks are all in the same place? Yep, that’s the ‘insanity’ I mean.

As an AU exhibitor, LinkedIn Learning were offering a 90-day free ‘pass’ for various Autodesk courses, mine included, so check out this link here, as the offer still stands until February 14th, 2018!

https://learning.linkedin.com/blog/whats-new/why-we-are-giving-away-40-autodesk-courses-for-free-for-90-days

AU kicked in and my class went well. Manning the LinkedIn Learning booth was busy, and we had a professional photographer taking portrait shots to enhance your LinkedIn profile!

IMG_0192

At AU, I also assume the role of an AutoCAD Influencer. This normally involves attending the Influencer food and drinks event at AU and getting to see something very cool related to design in AutoCAD. It is Autodesk’s way of saying thank you to all us AutoCAD’ers for all our work with AutoCAD over the years. This time it was not only getting to see the Cirque Du Soleil show, Ka (https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/ka), but also getting to go behind the scenes of the show the following morning! This was geek heaven for me. Not only was Ka an amazing show with incredible effects (including the free-floating stage), but it was ALL designed in AutoCAD too.

It was great to see all the AutoCAD Autodeskers there at the Influencers event, such as Shaan Hurley, Lynn AllenHeidi HewettRob McGuire, Marielle Covington, and Marcus O’Brien. Even longtime AutoCAD team member Jon Page came along. Thank you, AutoCAD team, for what was a wonderful evening watching Ka, followed by an amazing tour behind the scenes!

Finally in 2017, there was the thrill of becoming an Autodesk Expert Elite.

To quote the Autodesk website (https://www.autodesk.com/expert-elite/about) : –

‘The Autodesk Expert Elite program was created to recognize customers around the world who have contributed a significant amount of time, knowledge, and assistance to our customer support community. These people have demonstrated a strong sense of leadership and use an engaging style of collaboration that contributes to a healthy and valuable customer community’

There are over 400 Expert Elites in 53 different countries who use EVERY Autodesk product imaginable and I am thrilled to have joined their ranks. I was able to attend Expert Elite meetings and the Expert Elite Global Summit at AU and sit in the same room as Andrew Anagnost, the new CEO of Autodesk, and listen to what he has to say about the future of Autodesk and its software. As they say, the future is bright.

2018 is my thirtieth year of using AutoCAD (yep, you got that right – thirtieth). I started on AutoCAD 10 for MS-DOS at the tender age of eighteen (showing my age now…LOL) and I have seen AutoCAD go from a clunky, monochrome drafting system to a refined, capable design tool, that allows you in to work in both 2D and 3D and take your designs further, with interfaces that link seamlessly with other Autodesk products, enhancing the entire design workflow for just about every type of design and discipline imaginable.

I am proud to work closely with Autodesk, one of the biggest software providers in the world, and impart my knowledge of AutoCAD (and Revit) as an [in]structor on LinkedIn Learning to users all over the world. My passion is to educate and encourage learning. Learning never stops, and I can safely say that I still find things in AutoCAD that I did not know existed. Workflows that I have never noticed that can make you work smarter and faster. Shortcuts that make you that little bit quicker.

So, to celebrate my 30 years of AutoCAD, I am going to go and learn something new. A new challenge, a new string to my bow for 2018, using my LinkedIn Learning account. I sincerely hope that you will all do the same!

Here’s to a newly learnt skill for all of us in 2018. I hope you all have a great year, and if I bump in to you and any event, class or conference, say hello!

Happy learning!

SCB.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016: Another trip around the sun….

Well, here we are again. Another year flies by, and we are all another year older, and some might say, another year wiser (albeit that might not be the case in some people I know, including me).

2016 has been a great year for me and the company professionally and I have moved forward with AutoCAD content creation bigtime with the lovely people at Lynda.com (which will slowly transition in to LinkedIn Learning). I have written numerous courses for them, both on AutoCAD and some Revit too. You can check them all out at my authors page over on Lynda.com.

Another Autodesk University (AU) has gone by where I had not one, but TWO classes this year! It is always great to teach there, meet up with old friends and colleagues, and make new friends and contacts. As they say, it is the the BIGGEST networking event for Autodesk users on the planet! And if you haven’t seen Las Vegas yet, it is a great opportunity to do so! Also, bear in mind that AU is expanding. Check out the website. There could be an AU near you real soon!

So, it just leaves me one thing to say in 2016.

I have many colleagues, friends and acquaintances all over the globe. I have met these people through my work, my training, my teaching, through Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) and through many other avenues, and I want to wish every single one of you a great New Years Eve and a prosperous 2017 wherever you are.

Remember that we only grow if we learn, we only expand if we meet and work with new people. Make 2017 that year where you grow and expand your horizons.

Wishing you all nothing but the best for the New Year.

SCB

To Arial or not to Arial…..that is the question….

(or how to choose a good font for CAD & BIM)

So, the new role at Farrells is ticking away and, I have to say, I am enjoying the challenge.

One of the discussion points in the project team I am in is what font to use. And, more importantly, should it be company-specific, or project-specific, or something else or something else, and so on, ad nauseum.

So I took it upon myself to search Google with the search criteria, “Best fonts for use in Revit” and I was blown away by the amount of discussion that goes on about this, and how much of a bone of contention fonts in CAD and BIM actually are.

We have the old school aficionados who still love the architectural style fonts. We have the young turks who want to utilise the up-to-date TrueType fonts and we have the “if it works, don’t fix it” crew who think that RomanS (an old AutoCAD SHX shape code font) is the way to go.

So, what EXACTLY is the best way to go with fonts? Which one do you use? Which one do you standardise on? Well, the answer is this. YOU decide. You decide on which one you want. You then have to implement it in to your CAD and BIM installed software. Now, Revit ships with Arial as the default font, and I have to say that, I find Arial perfectly adequate for my needs. The problem with Revit, is that if you do want to change the font, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has to be updated. Your families, hosted families, component families and system families need to be updated.

Then, there is the decision on what TYPE of font to use. Typically, you SHOULD use a TrueType (TT) font. These are the fonts that tend to be in your Windows installation, unless any bespoke TrueType fonts have been created and this is probably the most important decision as Revit supports ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) and most TrueType fonts are ANSI fonts.

So why should you use a TrueType font that is ANSI supported? Easy. All ANSI fonts have a specific Character Map that allows for the use of symbols. How many of you need a copyright symbol on your designs? Did you know that if you hold down Alt+0169, you automatically get the copyright symbol in your current TrueType (ANSI) font? Older style fonts such as RomanS (the old SHX shape code font in AutoCAD) do not support these ANSI symbols, so to get a copyright symbol for RomanS, the quick fix is to draw a circle around a capital C. Crazy, huh? Especially when you can use a TrueType font and have the copyright symbol as part of the Character Map.

So, in conclusion, font choice is in the eye of the beholder, but you MUST make your font decision wisely. Personally, I would always look forward and try to future-proof any of my standard CAD and BIM templates by sticking with regular, well-known, TrueType (ANSI) fonts such as Arial, Calibri and perhaps Verdana. These fonts are well-known but, more importantly, are found just about everywhere on computers, so you will never have a missing bespoke font issue. We all know that AutoCAD substitutes the SIMPLEX.SHX font if it cannot find the font used on a drawing, which can really make a drawing look unattractive, AND, unprofessional.

Stick with well-known TrueType (ANSI) fonts and you won’t go far wrong…..so I WOULD Arial rather than not Arial, as the title suggests….

Steve Stafford’s blog about this is also quite informative, so maybe check it out here: –

http://revitoped.blogspot.co.uk/2005/09/are-you-special-character.html

Happy CADD’ing and BIM’ing!

SCB