Thursday, December 18, 2008

AutoCAD Options-Files Tab

I find that few people really know the meaning or importance of the Files tab in the Options dialog box in AutoCAD products. This tab is nothing more than a list of items that point to locations. That's it. Nothing more.

The Support Files Search Path, is a list of locations that AutoCAD uses to look for files related to support. What I mean by support is that when AutoCAD starts up or needs to access a file such as a plot style, template, or CUI file for example this is where it looks.

The Support Files Search Path is searched by AutoCAD in the order listed. By default it lists the out of the box support file paths, but you can add your own.

More importantly, you can point to where your templates are stored and define QNEW for your template to use. You can point to where your plot styles are under Printer Support File Path.

I'll go over each of these areas in the next posts.

This is why it's important to first have a location set, preferably on your server, to store your files. If you don't already have this set in place, take this time to set up a folder with subdirectories now.

Set up a few folders to get you started. You may want other folders for standard blocks.

The folder for Customization would be a location to store .cui files or if you have lisp files or other types of customization.

The Plot Styles folder would contain your own plot styles, but you could also copy any out of the box plot styles such as the monochrome plot style here. If you receive plot styles from outside sources that send you drawings and include their plot styles, you would place their plot styles in this directory as well.

Profiles folder would contain the company profile as well as a secure network location for users to export their profile once they have AutoCAD set up the way they want it.

Templates (.dwt files) would go under the Template folder and all users would point to this location.

It's a good idea to store a .dwg file of your titleblock separately so you can easily make changes even if you have your titleblock in your template file.

And of course every situation does well with a Misc. folder for anything that doesn't easily fit in other places. The .cus file for your custom dictionary is a good example of this.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

After AU 08

AU is now over and I'm back and think recovering. I normally always stay until Saturday or Sunday to avoid the rush to the airport, but because of traveling alone and wanting to get back to my husband and save money on extra nights at the hotel I flew out of Las Vegas Friday afternoon.

Friday morning I attended an Education level class that was interesting, but there was a lot of emphasis on a certain set of books that was a little too much like selling to me. It was nice to see things from a different angle though and while the classroom was freezing, I enjoyed the class.

Next year, if you haven't already heard, AU will move to Mandalay Bay. It will still be in Las Vegas and still be the week after Thanksgiving. So make plans now for December 1-4, 2009.

It will be interesting to learn of any advantages of this new location. Will this hotel hold more space for classes? Will the rooms be less expensive? Will Internet access be provided in the rooms with the room charge? What was the main reason for the change? I'm hoping that the AU Blog will provide us with some info later on this. I'm looking forward to different surroundings.

One complaint I always hear, and experience myself, is how freezing cold the rooms are for classes. From some of my AutoCAD MEP work, I'm guessing that the rooms are set for a certain number of people and the temperatures are set for that many warm bodies. Perhaps if there are less warm bodies this makes it too cold? I even had someone tell me the day after my class that they had to leave because it was just too cold. I had a heavy sweater with me in most classes, but at least 2 classes were too cold even with the long-sleeve shirt and sweater.

This year I took the airport shuttle to the hotel when I flew in to Las Vegas. I could've purchased a round trip ticket for a shuttle ride back, but since I knew in advance that AU was offering a shuttle and baggage service on Friday I decided to just use that service.

It was a good idea that I believe has been in place for more than just this year. The two flaws I saw were that there was too much confusion on where to catch that shuttle. I didn't end up using the service because I discovered that I would've needed to carry my full suitcase and loaded backpack all the way across the hotel and conference portion to check my bag and purchase a ticket. For me, it was easier to take my bag down to the desk and let the bell service check it and then catch a shuttle at the front door instead of at the rear of the hotel.

This was a great conference that went really fast. The new AU website is now live with expanded features that we can use all year and not just once a year. It looks fantastic.

I have not been able to view recorded session as of yet or login, but I'm sure there are a few kinks to work out and I've emailed for some assistance. I think this is going to be a huge asset.

Every year I wonder how AU can get any better and then it does!

Friday, December 05, 2008

AU 2008 CAD Standards: How to Get Started

The class I taught this evening was on CAD Standards. That's my biggest soap box topic. My goal was to help those people that have small offices or perhaps even work alone to have some basic standards as far as a template. We talked about saving files on a network such as plot styles, templates, titleblocks, etc. We talked about options and profiles.

I was surprised that with the class being at 5:15 on the last full day of AU that 100 of the 177 people registered showed up and very few left.

One of the big changes this year at AU that is just great for presenters is the new online system for scanning badges and giving evaluations. I realize that the evaluation system will need some tweaking before next year, but I think it's an excellent start.

As a presenter, I was able to log in this evening and see immediately that 100 people had scanned their badges and entered the room. I was also able to see anyone that so far has given their feedback. I received good scores and some good feedback comments.

When we had the paper forms, it would take weeks to get results and there were less likely to be comments perhaps.

Thank you to those dedicated souls who attended. Thank you to the AU team for putting on this event and giving me the opportunity to present again this year.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

AU 2008 Last Full Day of Classes

I knew this event would fly by. It always does and this year was no different. It seems like you just get here and it's time to pack your bags and go back through airport security again.

I attended what I thought was going to be a beta discussion on AutoCAD MEP, but instead it really was just a demo. The room was freezing cold and even with a heavy sweater I was shivering. I had hoped for more. I had also hoped to meet the product manager, but that didn't happen.

I went to my room and loaded up on night time cold medicine and went to bed at 7:00 Wednesday night. I thought about not getting up this morning and sleeping until time for the class I'm teaching, but finally convinced myself that I needed to have some breakfast and attend one of the CAD Standards classes I wanted to hear.

I won't mention the class name or presenter, but it was not even close to what I expected from the description. There were no handouts left when I got there and there were people sitting all around the room on the floor. There were plenty of available chairs, but they were all in the middle of rows in an island of people surrounding them.

A lot of people left throughout the presentation, but I was determined to see it through. The speaker was a very good speaker. I could only hope to reach his level of speaking ability someday. His slides were terrible. They were all black background with white text and everyone was filled with text. There were no images or breaks at all.

What he was talking about was interesting, it just wasn't at all what I came to hear. I sat through the entire presentation and he never 'got there'.

I like to sit in on classes, even if I think I know the material, just because there is always someone with a different outlook and there's often a chance where I look at things differently or learn something new. So don't let your attitudes stand in your way of learning at AU. Whether you're a student or a speaker, allow yourself to hear things you 'think' you know and see what you learn.

I also like to hear how other speakers present. In this case, the speaker was very good at public speaking. That gave me inspiration. His slides were terrible, which made me more appreciate my own approach of less slides with more space and images on each slide. So that was helpful to allow me to see 'what not to do'.

My class isn't until 5:15 this evening and runs until 6:45. That is very late. I'm curious just how many people will actually attend.

So many classes on CAD Standards talk about all sorts of topics, but for those people that work alone or have only a few users in a small office, there is NO information on how to create a template and in effect a CAD Standard. That's what my class this evening is addressing. I'm attempting to fill a gap in information and will not be relying on PowerPoint slides, but instead on walking through AutoCAD and actually changing settings and creating a template file to be the start of a CAD Standard.

With the new evaluation system, there are no doubt some improvements to be made. I have not been able to evaluate the classes I have attended from the comfort of my own laptop, but have had to go to special computers in the registration room to provide my evals. With this extra effort, people aren't as likely to do this but there is an incentive of one free pass to AU next year for each time slot class reviewed.

Speaking of next year, AU for 2009 will be December 1-4 and will not be at the Venetian, but at Mandalay Bay instead. Same city, but at least we will have some different scenery.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

AU 2008-Day Two

Well, I officially have a cold. I feel miserable! I have cold medicine that I'm taking, but I keep sneezing and blowing my nose. I'm sure I made a great impression on the two classes where I worked as a lab assistant.

This morning I attended an Unplugged session that was an opportunity to ask the AUGI Board anything. I tried to behave myself, but time was running out and I rushed some comments and concerns in at the end. There are a lot of changes that I fear may happen in AUGI and I'm a little overprotective of AUGI and always try to help them be the great user group that they are. If they really want to hear from members, they will make the email address more accessible to that members can contact them.

My Unplugged topic was scheduled immediately after the AUGI session. It was voted as one of the top sessions, but no one showed up at all. Oh well. I was there.

I was a lab assistant in a class on using Camtasia to create training videos. That was my first experience as a lab assistant. I think it's important to try all the job duties possible and see what things look like from different perspectives.

I had a back to back class where I was a lab assistant on Project Navigator. The instructor was good, but fast and there were only two of us there as lab assistants and we were constantly hopping to keep people caught up. I need a bonus on that one!

I do think these experiences will help me be a better presenter.

This evening I have a special meeting with the Product Manager of AutoCAD MEP on the beta program. It's at the same time as the AUGI Meeting and Beer Bust so I guess I'll miss my mug for the year.

I'll probably go to bed early with some night time cold medicine. Tomorrow is my class at the end of the day.

AU 2008-First Official Day Review

Two of the places near classes to relax.

I attended 3 classes today. One was good and taught by someone that I already knew and respected in the subject. One was a class by a manufacturer, something new this year. I knew it would be slanted, but since I used the firm's products I didn't mind. It really turned out to be nothing like what I expected, but I sat through it to be polite.

Maybe I'm getting old, but there seems to be a lack of manners among some of the attendees. It's nothing for someone to get up and leave the session and then let the door just slam behind them. Lots of people left the second two sessions that I attended.

The third session started out good and was good content, but one person disrupted the class constantly. We needed a bouncer to toss him out since he obviously didn't have a clue what he was doing.

The presenters did a good job of going over what they were going to cover. This is important so that if it really wasn't what you thought you could leave then. This was an overview of MEP content and was an important topic that I wanted to hear. One person in the class interrupted after almost every bullet point on the slide to ask when something was going to be fixed or changed in the software or to add a wish for an item. Unfortunately the presenters didn't do a good job of shutting him down so he continued and then others in the class thought this was an open discussion and it just got out of hand. I feel badly for the presenters. And of course as an eager student wanting to hear the content of the presentation, I am one of many that lost out because of this.

Tomorrow is probably going to be my longest day yet and I almost feel like I have a cold coming on. That's very typical for Vegas due to the dryness not to mention all the people. I've got that 'feelilng' in my throat. Sure don't want to go through the next two days sick. I have a lot of responsibility.

This evening I attended the blogger social. It's funny how many people I have seen at AU with a blogger 'ribbon' on their badge. We have ribbons that indicate certain properties about us such as blogger, my feedback (beta), subscription, or the discipline. There are a lot of people out there with a blog on a lot of subjects. Not all are updated regularly and I'm certainly guilty of not always updating as often as I like. I am proud that I am one of the veteran bloggers and I have Shaan Hurley to thank for that.

I met R.K. McSwain of CAD Panacea, Steve Bennett of , Lee Ambrosius of HyperPics and a lot of other great things over the years, Kate Morrical of LT Unlimited, Donnie Gladfelter of The CAD Geek Blog I also finally had the honor to meet Roopinder Tara in person of CAD Insider and TenLinks fame.

The Exhibit Hall opened without the inaugural AUGI Beer Bust. It was a little depressing not to have the two coincide. How did this happen?

Monday, December 01, 2008

AU 2008 off to a good start

I arrived at AU late last night. Normally I would have been flying from Roanoke, VA and depending on the airline would have had to go through one of the cities that was having big delays.

When I booked this flight, I had an added choice of American Airlines that I don't have from Roanoke. All the other airlines were going to send me to their hubs further east than Little Rock where I was departing. That seemed really silly to me. Not only does it seem like extra miles, but it's extra time. So, I chose American because their hub is in Dallas and I could fly from Little Rock, AR to Dallas, TX and then from Dallas to Las Vegas. And here I am!

I ended up getting to my room about 12:30-1:00 AM after getting here from the airport and checking in. I was really tired since I'd been up early in the morning and my body clock was still on CST.

In typical fashion, I had some trouble accessing the Internet and had to call support for the modem to be rebooted before I checked my email. What a geek that I couldn't go to bed without doing this. I also needed to email a couple of people and let them know that I made it safely since it was insanely too late to call them.

This morning I went to AU Registration. It's now at the very far end of the conference past where we have meals and everything. Luckily you don't have to go there every day.

I bumped into all sorts of people that I knew constantly on the way to registration and then to the Speaker Ready Room. As soon as I stepped off the elevator I saw Assis Haubert, followed shortly thereafter by Mike Perry, and then CAD Mama herself, Donnia Tabor-Hanson and several Autodesk employees that I have known over the years.

The bags are rather funky this year. I get the idea behind them. They are black with a different color stripe down the middle. They are lots of different designs. Some are solid colors and others (like the one I was given) look like a souvenir from a Blue Man Group concert. I wonder if there will be trading of bags going on during the conference between attendees or if there will end up being one coveted 'style'.

A lot has been done to make things more environmentally friendly at the event from not providing schedules to a cardboard binder for your handouts. I almost threw mine away because I thought it was a cardboard filler for the messenger bag.

I really want to take one of the certification tests, but the times are so limited that there is no way to fit it in.

I'm practicing my presentation this afternoon and helping a client with some questions and then off to the Speaker Social.

I think bedtime will be quite early tonight. Tomorrow is the first of several long and busy days.