Friday, December 16, 2005

Merry Christmas Trip

I refuse to get involved in or upset over the big battle in the U.S. over whether to say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. I am open-minded and do my best to not hurt my fellow man on purpose, but political correctness has gone too far.

With that said, I will be traveling out of town and out of state to celebrate Christmas with my family in Tulsa, Oklahoma. So you may not see a blog entry next week and you certainly won't see one the following week. Hopefully you'll be busy enough with your family and whatever holiday you may celebrate to not be reading CAD blogs anyhow!

While Hanukkah begins at sunset on December 25th I believe, the first day of winter is marked on December 21st.

There is a fair amount of Celtic tradition wrapped up in the winter months not relating to Christmas at all. As I recall, the Celts marked what we consider to be the beginning of winter by hanging greens to show hope that Spring will come. Celts also used the winter soltice as a time to reflect and rest. We could all use that.

I believe the Irish also have a holiday for St. Stephen's Day. The holiday may not have much relation today to the originating myth about the New Year Robin killing the Old Year Wren. The holiday as I understand it is to honor St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr who was stoned to death after the Crucifixion.

Always being one to make the most of any travel, I have made some contacts of people en route and hope to have time to visit as many people as possible along the way. I also have a habit of doing a check at Roadside America for anything interesting to see along the way. I hope to be able to visit and get a picture in Powell, TN with the airplane gas station. I love old architecture...heck I love almost anything from the past.

I have a CJ5 windshield frame to pick up in Nashville, TN from one of my fellow ecj5 members and with some careful planning and a little luck may be able to arrange a visit with Elise Moss since she'll be in Springfield, MO while I'm in Tulsa.

I would like to fit in on my return trip home a stop near Branson, MO to Taney County where some of my Pinkerton relatives settled and are buried and two still reside in Kirbyville.

Happy New Year 2006!

Friday, December 09, 2005

PDF markup, Blog Survey, & AU 2006

We've received our first real winter weather here in Southwest Virginia. We had a few flakes the afternoon before Thanksgiving and a threat of massive snow this past Monday that missed us and last night some freezing rain. We haven't received as much as other parts of the country, but we normally don't. We're in the mountains, which most people equate with snow, but we don't normally see that much because we are totally surrounded by mountains that act to protect us. I'd be happy for a foot or more of snow myself!

I have mentioned Bluebeam software here previously. I do prefer DWF because of the smaller file size and better resolution, but I tried Bluebeam and do like it for my first pick of .pdf software solutions. I don't often create .pdf files of drawings, but I do use the Bluebeam Stapler (comes with Bluebeam Pushbutton Plus for AutoCAD) to drag all sorts of Word files I've created, whitepapers, and other Autodesk reference material into one bucket that creates one single .pdf file.

Bluebeam has come out with a new product. I've heard about it prior to release. It's called Bluebeam Revu and it has markup capabilities like DWF Composer but for .pdf files. Check it out for yourself and see if it will work for you.

Shaan Hurley's blog, Between the Lines, lists a survey on blogging. I found it rather interesting and would be most interested to see the results. Not in an arrogant way for my own blog results, but to see if the blogs I read most often are the ones other read most often. Take the survey.

On the topic of blogging, an interesting blog about Autodesk related blogs compared to other software.

AU 2005 is over and you may be a little tired of hearing about it already. I am curious if the jump in membership has anything at all to do with the location being on the east coast or if it was simply marketing, economy, or some other factor.

While I hoped it was going to stay on this half of the world for my own reasons, AU 2006 has already been announced as the same week after Thanksgiving (reservations are cheaper then) and back in Las Vegas, but at the Venetian this time.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Lisp and The Beatles

What does Lisp have to do with The Beatles? Well...absolutely nothing. But I just attended a concert and taping for a PBS special that Blue Ridge Public Television is doing on 1964 The Tribute, a Beatles Tribute band that is just fantastic.

My fiance attended the Beatles concert at Shea Stadium in New York on August 15, 1965 and said the sound there was terrible, but has been very impressed with this tribute band the two times we've seen them perfom.

O.K., on to our topic of the week which is LISP. I had someone ask about learning lisp. What is lisp? For the long explanation, check the Wikipedia (online free encyclopedia) description. In short, it is a type of programming often used with AutoCAD and Autodesk products to create routines for productivity. I'm sure there are better descriptions, but in an attempt to keep this simple I'm going to leave it at that.

One of the first pieces of advice I can offer is to first make sure what you want to do is not already possible with AutoCAD and you just may not be aware of it. There are improvements to every release and sadly a large number of users never get training on the new version, never take the time to go through the New Features Workshop that comes with the product, and never try new things. So ask a co-worker, post a question in the AUGI forums or the Autodesk Discussion Groups as the first step to see if what you want to do is a matter of a simple command or trick. Even if what you want to accomplish is not part of the out-of-the-box product, you may get input from someone on how to accomplish the task or someone may send you a routine that has already been created. Which brings us to...

Second, try to find a routine that is already created or at least is close. There are many good sources available.

One of the best, AfraLisp. You can learn everything you need to know from this one stop shop.
Look for sharing of lisp routines at the following.
WAUN - World Autodesk Users Network
AUGI - Autodesk User Group International (free membership)
Autodesk Discussion Groups - There are groups for customization under each product.
CAD Monkey
The Swamp
Moss Designs
Free CADapps
And of course use TenLinks to find a wealth of resources.

There is a previous blog entry listing sites where you can find free routines and products.

This should get you on your way to finding lots of useful routines. You can open any routine in Notepad and learn how it's put together. Lisp, like any type of programming, is picky so if you have a ( in the wrong place or an extra space, it will not work. If you are learning and trying to do some of your own lisp, post it in one of the forums or discussion groups and get some input or help in solving problems you are experiencing.

How do you run a routine? From AutoCAD you can type APPLOAD at the command line. You browse and find your command so it's loaded. You'll need to know what command or shortcut starts the routine. Once it's loaded you can type the "trigger" and start the routine.

There is a lot more that can be written about lisp (as well as The Beatles), but I'll leave it at this for now. Please feel free to post your comments with more tips and note what I may have missed here.

A final note to mention is that next week is December 7, the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Please remember all those that have given their lives from all countries during World War II and those are currently serving our country.