MCAD Tech News (#284)

24 Jun, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

Behind the Scenes at the Indy 500

As guests of HP and Gil de Ferran's Dragon Racing Team, two car-loving CAD journalists see first-hand the computer power behind the engine power — not to mention a few celebrities.

By Bill Fane

Editor's note: Although technically he's retired now, Cadalyst contributing editor Bill Fane has hardly slowed down. On any given day you might find him teaching an AutoCAD course in Texas, covering a software launch in Europe, or spending the holidays in Hawaii. However, it was an invitation that he received recently that truly was the opportunity of a lifetime. "Have you ever wanted to be a CAD journalist?" Fane writes. "Read on to see what a tough life it is!"

Dear Diary:

March 1957: I learned to drive this month — on a '56 Jaguar XK-140 roadster. I'm rapidly developing a love of fast cars.

May 1966: I graduated from the University of British Columbia, with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

September 1986: In my job as a doorknob designer for Weiser Lock, I've started using a program called "AutoCAD."

February 1987: I wrote my inaugural "Learning Curve" column for Cadalyst. Hopefully it will be the first of many.

May 17, 2010: The PR firm for Hewlett-Packard (HP) contacted me today. It's not what you know that counts — and it's not who you know, either. Usually it's what you know about who you know, but in this case it was what the PR team knew about me. They were looking for a freelance CAD journalist/computer geek/engineer interested in fast cars. Bingo!

May 27, 2010: I boarded a plane headed for Indianapolis, where I'll be a guest of HP and Gil de Ferran's Dragon Racing Team at the legendary Indy 500 car race!

May 28, 2010: I met up with CAD journalist/computer geek/car nut David Cohn, who is also a guest of HP and de Ferran Dragon Racing. We picked up a rental car and drove to the track offices to get our accreditation and passes, which afforded us general admission to the grounds, access to the media center, and the right to park in the infield about 100 feet from Gasoline Alley — but no grandstand seats. Oh, and we also received "hot" passes; these effectively made us members of the Dragon Racing pit crew, with full access to Dragon's garage and to the racing pits, even on race day. Read more »

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Bill Fane is a Cadalyst contributing editor, a registered professional engineer, and a retired instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.


First Look Review: Dell Precision M6500 Mobile Workstation

System provides stellar performance and expandability for demanding users on the go.

By Ron LaFon

For some time, Dell's Precision line of mobile workstations has met the needs of high-performance users on the go. Now, the company's new Precision M6500 mobile workstation raises the bar even higher with its performance and flexibility. Dell made a splash a few months ago when it launched the model at Autodesk University 2009, calling it "the world's most powerful mobile workstation." We decided to put this model to the test in Cadalyst Labs.

The Precision M6500 is based on the Intel Core i7 quad-core processor. The system we reviewed was built on the Intel i7-920XM processor Extreme Edition, which uses a 45-nm die. The base frequency of the i7-920XM is 2.0 GHz, and the maximum frequency while running in Turbo mode is 3.2 GHz. This processor features 8 MB of Intel Smart Cache and a 64-bit instruction set.

The Dell Precision M6500 has four memory DIMM slots and can accommodate 16 GB of installed RAM, although the review system came with 4.0 GB of 1,333-MHz DDR3 SDRAM. Memory bandwidths available for the system are 1,066, 1,333, and 1,600 MHz. Graphics power was provided by the NVIDIA Quadro FX 3800M, which is one of many available NVIDIA and ATI cards. Several LCD screen options also are available. The review system included a 17" RGB LED LCD panel that has an integrated camera and microphone. Display resolution as high as 1,920 x 1,200 is available with this particular panel. Read more »

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Ron LaFon is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta and a contributing editor for Cadalyst.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


July 25–29, 2010
Los Angeles, California
SIGGRAPH 2010 — the 37th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques — will include a three-day exhibition of products and services from the computer graphics and interactive marketplace. Read more »

GTC 2010
September 20–23, 2010
San Jose, California
NVIDIA's second GPU Technology Conference will include technical sessions, interactive tutorials, technology previews, and industry and academic presentations. Read more »

CIMdata PLM Certificate Program
September 20–24, 2010
Oslo, Norway
This assessment-based certificate program from CIMdata, a product lifecycle management (PLM) consulting and research firm, prepares PLM professionals to address the challenges inherent in PLM implementations. 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


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Follow this documentation plan, and when problems reappear, you'll remember how to solve them. Read more »

CAD Management as Overhead
Not everyone agreed with the advice on how to bill CAD management duties during this economy. A project manager's backlash spurs clarification and further advice. Read more »

CAD Manager's Toolbox: CAD Content from ThomasNet
The Thomas Register has made its way online, and now you can find downloadable CAD data for components you want to integrate in your designs. Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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