AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 10 – Dude, where’s my Dashboard?

Dude, Dashboard’s dead. Defunct. Done. AutoCAD 2009 replaced the Dashboard with the Ribbon. If you type in the DASHBOARD or DASHBOARDCLOSE commands, they are just converted to the RIBBON and RIBBONCLOSE commands, which turn the Ribbon on and off. If you’re a fan of the Dashboard (and I never was), there is good and bad news. The good news is that you can right-click on various parts of the Ribbon, pick Undock and you get a Dashboard-like floating vertical Ribbon that can be resized and configured very easily in terms of turning panels on and off. You can’t do that …

Five Simple Tips for AutoCAD

As my forced change to a different blog theme (thanks IE7) has meant the demise of my random AutoCAD tip feature, you may as well have the tips in a blog post instead. Here are the first five. These are fairly simple tips that apply to all recent releases. You probably know most of them, but just in case… If you need to draw circles, slots or rectangles around multiple text objects, use the Express Tools command TCIRCLE (Express > Text > Enclose Text with Object). When using the TRIM or EXTEND command, you don’t have to select any edges. …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 9 – Docked Toolbars

If AutoCAD 2009’s floating toolbars are the best ever, what about when they’re docked? As a starting point, here is AutoCAD 2008 with the Express Tools toolbars docked. Here is the same thing in AutoCAD 2009. So a few pixels have been shaved off in one direction and added in another. The end result is that they use about 99% of the space used in 2008. Not too bad, but I think it could be better. Here’s my suggestion: That uses about 80% of the space. In addition to shaving off a few more pixels, I think this looks a …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 8 – Vista Startup Times

I’ve now tested startup times of various AutoCAD releases under Vista. Here are the results, alongside the XP results for ease of comparison: Release First Startup Subsequent Startup XP Vista XP Vista 12 8.6 – 8.2 – 13 2.6 1.8 1.3 0.8 14 2.1 – 0.5 – 2002 3.2 2.1 0.6 1.1 2004 – 4.3 – 1.7 2005 – 7.9 – 4.5 2006 14.9 8.7 2.6 4.4 2007 13.8 11.9 3.5 6.6 2008 14.6 10.5 3.6 6.0 2009 28.9 17.3 7.2 13.3 Same caveats as before, plus the following: Some AutoCAD releases were not installed on both XP and Vista …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 7 – Subsequent Startup Time

This table shows both the initial and subsequent startup times for various releases. Most of the qualifications and caveats from my AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 6 – Initial Startup Time post still apply here. Release First Startup Subsequent Startup 12 8.6 8.2 13 2.6 1.3 14 2.1 0.5 2002 3.2 0.6 2006 14.9 2.6 2007 13.8 3.5 2008 14.6 3.6 2009 28.9 7.2 AutoCAD 2009’s subsequent startups are much less slow than its agonising first startup, as to be expected. Windows XP is doing that by caching and reusing recently used parts of memory. Release 12’s old code, …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 6 – First Startup Time

One thing you’ll notice (and dislike) right away with AutoCAD 2009 is that it takes a lot longer to get started. How much longer? About twice as long as recent releases, or about ten times longer than ancient speed demon Release 13. (I bet a 1994 AutoCAD user transported forward in time would be shocked to hear that description being used). Here’s a video that shows what the first startup looks like in a collection of releases from Release 12 to 2009: Now for the qualifications and caveats: Tests performed on a Core2Duo E6600 PC with 4 GB RAM, under …

Advertising Oops!

I just spotted this image flash up on a banner advertisement on a CAD-related site. At first glance, I thought it was a nasty Autodesk ad promoting Revit (it’s on top, after all) and unkindly suggesting that Bentley software is only fit for disposal. Then I spotted Bentley logos elsewhere on the ad and worked out that it was supposed to say BENTLEY BIM, not BIN. Even if you blow it up, it still looks more like an N than an M. That’s the trouble with trying to fit a meaningful attention-grabbing image into a small space. Sometimes, it just …

Customer Service 3 – On Hold

What’s the longest you’ve waited on hold? I broke my own personal best last week when I rang my bank. I phoned up, went through the menu system, typed in my account number and was advised that there could be “some delays” due to “technical difficulties”. I left the phone on speaker and went about my other business. I did some actual work, prepared the evening meal ingredients, made sure my kids had showers and music practice, greeted my wife as she returned home, cooked the evening meal, served it, ate it, cleaned up, did some more work, and after …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 5 – Floating Toolbars

There are many areas of AutoCAD 2009’s new user interface that pointlessly waste your screen space. Floating toolbars do not. You have probably already noticed that AutoCAD 2009 concentrates on the Ribbon as its primary screen-based user interface, with the default state lacking any toolbars at all. So it’s somewhat ironic that AutoCAD 2009 sports what are easily the best floating toolbars in the history of the product. Ironic but very welcome. Why are they better? Because they’re smaller. Let’s compare the number of pixels taken up by a typical small group of floating toolbars in different AutoCAD releases. These …

Thanks for the welcome

A belated thank you to Kiwi Robin Capper for his welcome to the CAD blog world. Here’s a snap I took of Robin at Autodesk University 2006: Similarly, thanks to Lynn Allen for linking to my post about her famous Cell Phone Story. Here she is, also at AU 2006, presenting me with a signed copy of her excellent book AutoCAD: Professional Tips and Techniques which I won by skillfully (ahem) waving my arms furiously at the right moment during her presentation. Finally, thanks to Shaan Hurley for welcoming me to the blog fold. Here is one of the more …

Blogger? Journalist? Whatever!

Roopinder Tara has raised an interesting point about how different CAD vendors treat journalists and bloggers. Ralph Grabowski has responded with a “Who cares“. Now you have more CAD blogger navel gazing to put up with as I have my say on the matter. As a traditional magazine journalist (Cadalyst, 1995 – present) and now as a blogger, I’d like to say I agree with Ralph. The label shouldn’t matter, content should be king. From a reader’s point of view, that is. Where it does matter is from a vendor’s point of view. How to dish out the freebies? Should …

This blog is ugly…

…if you’re using Internet Explorer 7. Thanks to Rick for pointing this out. It looks fine in other browsers, including IE6 and my own preferred browser, Firefox 2. Now I have to try to work around the IE7 bugs (which include splitting and misplacing images) to get the blog looking reasonable for everybody. Sigh. Thanks, Microsoft. Anyway, this means you’ll probably see the layout change around a bit more over the next few days. Do not be alarmed.

Blog comments are now turned on

I’m new at this blog stuff, and I got something wrong in the settings. This meant you were allowed to comment as long as you were a registered user, but as I was the only registered user and there was no way of making yourself into a registered user, commenting was effectively impossible. This is now fixed, so feel free to comment away.

Customer Service 2 – Don McMillan

My last customer service story was about McDonald’s. This one is about Donald Mc., but there the similarity ends. After I returned from Autodesk University 2006, I decided to buy a DVD from the comedian that Autodesk put on before the Blue Man Group, Don McMillan. As you’re reading a CAD blog, you are probably geeky enough to appreciate this man’s funny engineeroid slant on life. The likelihood is actually 93.6%. (Did you know that 74.7% of statistics quoted on the Internet are made up?) I wanted to show my wife this funny guy and re-live some of the moments …

AutoCAD on Linux – Video

Lots of people get excited at the prospect of AutoCAD running under Linux. I’m not one of those people, but for those of you that are, here’s a video from a Linux enthusiast that shows AutoCAD running in an environment that’s doing all kinds of cool geeky stuff. It’s not mine and it’s from October 2006: YouTube Link Cool if you like that kind of thing, that is. I think the effects would drive me mad after a short period of dorkoid enthusiasm, but of course being Linux it would all be under complete user control. Before you get too …

AutoCAD 2009 – The Prequel Part 4 – More on the Status Bar and Layouts

Here are a couple more tricks AutoCAD 2009 has up its Status Bar sleeve, this time to do with layouts. You may love the new Quick View Layouts feature or you may find it too slow. You may wish to use it sometimes and at other times use the traditional layout tabs. How do you quickly switch from one to the other? Right click, as shown in this animation. The left clicks are red, the right clicks are blue. As you can see, when the layout tabs are visible, the model space button and most recent layout button are replaced …

Thinking of registering a domain name? Just do it!

If you are thinking of putting yourself or your company out there with your own domain name (e.g. cadnauseam.com), there are many, many sites out there that allow you to enter a domain name and see if it’s available. Don’t use them. Why not? Because some of those sites will then immediately register that domain. You won’t be able to register it until that company decides to release it, which of course it will do if you choose to use that company’s overpriced domain registration services. This particularly unethical practice is known as domain tasting and is now the subject …