CAD Manager's Newsletter (#301)

22 May, 2013 By: Robert Green

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Approach Disruptive Technologies with Caution

Upgrading an operating system or running software from the cloud won't automatically make for better designs — and it might cause trouble.

I love exploring new technology, and you probably do too. If you're like me, you became a CAD manager because learning new software and figuring out how to make it hum was fun and challenging.

But lately, it seems like something's amiss: The new technologies we're being told to adopt are actually making it harder to manage software and users. For that matter, it seems like few of the new tools I have to implement actually help my users create better designs.

Before you call me a Luddite, let me make my case by running through some examples. After each, I will draw a few conclusions from a CAD manager's perspective. Here goes.

Windows 8

After the huge impact of 64-bit Windows 7, which now is almost ubiquitous for modern CAD users, Windows 8 has been a disappointment for me. The touch-sensitive, tile-based interface is snazzy and the new Microsoft Surface and Lenovo ThinkPad tablet computers are easy to travel with and boot in a snap, but at this stage of the game, I see no practical advantage to switching mainstream CAD users to Windows 8.

The most common reaction I've received when putting Windows 8 in front of a user has been, "Where's my desktop environment?" There's no advantage to have an operating system boot up faster if it appears so foreign that the user can't navigate it effectively. Furthermore, CAD applications currently don't run any better on Windows 8 than they do on Windows 7.

Advice: You may have to support Windows 8 on new devices, but stick with 64-bit Windows 7 on existing workstations.Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Clean Machines More Quickly with System Mechanic

Every so often, I find myself having to scrub a computer free of years of garbage, abandoned files, registry errors, and unwanted programs. But rather than reformatting the drive and starting over, I've always used manual cleaning and registry optimization programs.

Until recently, the approach I've used for cleaning machines has been as follows:

  1. Create a Windows restore point (just in case).
  2. Delete any programs that were no longer required.
  3. Run system tools to delete temporary and junk files.
  4. Delete desktop shortcuts.
  5. Delete browser histories/passwords/etc.
  6. Optimize/clean registry.
  7. Reboot.
  8. Defrag the hard drive.

This sequence could take hours, and it frequently required me to provide input for the various utilities I was using. In a change to my usual method, I recently performed a thorough cleanup on an older laptop using iolo technologies' System Mechanic — and I found the experience painless. Because other CAD managers have to perform this task as well, I thought I'd pass along what I found. Read more »

Do you have a cool tip or item for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at If I use your tip in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

Autodesk Releases AutoCAD 2014 Tips and Tricks Booklet
Autodesk has just released Lynn Allen's Tips and Tricks for AutoCAD 2014. The booklet includes advice for using new features inside AutoCAD 2014 and AutoCAD 2013. Users are invited to download the booklet and print it freely.

:: Events

Introduction to ScanStudio HD for New Users
May 23, 2013
11 a.m. PT
At this webinar from NextEngine, attendees can learn how to measure physical objects using NextEngine scanning technology for creation of 3D mesh models. Topics will include using Scan, Align, Trim, and Fuse functions to create a detailed digital model. Read more »

Twenty-One Time-Saving Scanning and Modeling Tips for As-Built MEP Projects
May 29, 2013
1 p.m. ET
In this webinar from Workflow 4.0, a panel of MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) experts will share 21 time-saving ideas and profit-boosting best practices that can reduce as-built MEP project time. Read more »

CAD Americas Training Days
June 4–27, 2013
Various cities, United States
CAD Americas delivers topical, lecture-style training to the Autodesk community in the areas of AutoCAD, Revit, Civil3D, Inventor, CAD management, and other Autodesk products and disciplines. Sessions are intended for mechanical design, construction, BIM, electrical design, and plant design professionals. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

Autodesk Adds Features — and Fees — to AutoCAD 360 Mobile App
New versions of the tool formerly known as AutoCAD WS are offered alongside the popular free version. Read more »

Spider 3D Scanner Targets Small, Intricate Objects
Priced at $20,500, the new model from Artec Group is designed for CAD users in the manufacturing market. Read more »

Smartgeometry Event Pushes Limits of Architectural Design
Professionals and students alike collaborate using advanced computational software and conventional tools. Read more »

Get a Handle on Multifunctional Grips in AutoCAD
AutoCAD 2011 added valuable multifunctional grips to polylines. These handy grips are also available in nonassociative hatch boundaries. In this video tip from Cadalyst and Lynn Allen, you'll see how to get the most out of these nifty grips — and avoid the dreaded PEdit command! Watch the video »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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