Bug Watch: Are Your Drawings Dotty?

10 Apr, 2006 By: Steve Johnson

Dotty dtext in your drawings, some shoddy shortcuts and a palliative to please the paranoid.

Driving You Dotty (2006 to 2006 SP1)
If you're creating text objects with the Dtext command, you can turn on underlining by entering %%U. You can turn off underlining by entering another %%U, or you can just let the underlining run to the end of the text. Try this function using the new AutoCAD 2006 Dtext editor. When prompted for the text, type %%UHELLO and Enter and then another Enter to end the command. AutoCAD will create the first line correctly, but it also will create a dot underneath it. This dot is actually a text item that contains only %%U and nothing else.

That's what happens if you use SHX fonts. Try it using a TrueType font. The dot doesn't appear. That's good, isn't it? No, it's bad. The superfluous %%U text object still is created, it's just invisible. Invisible objects such as this one have a habit of building up as people insert one drawing into another and erase the bits they don't want. Because the objects are invisible, you can't select them, so they don't get erased.

Workaround: Either remember to explicitly end your underlining with %%U or turn off the new editor. You can turn off the editor by setting the DTEXTED system variable to 1. To remove the objects, you can start the Erase command and enter this little LISP snippet:

(ssget "X" '((0 . "TEXT") (1 . "%%U")))

Fix: AutoCAD 2007 does not have this bug.

Taking a Shortcut (2006 to 2007)
Submitted by Mitchell Hirschklau

In the CUI dialog box, try to add a new shortcut key. In Keyboard Shortcuts, right-click on Shortcut Keys and pick New. Does this allow you to create a new shortcut key? No, it does not. Instead, it creates a new Temporary Override key.

Workaround: You can create a new shortcut key by dragging a command from the command list and dropping it into the Shortcut Keys section and then editing it as necessary.

Taking Another Shortcut (2006 to 2006 SP1)
People who define customized shortcut menus in partial CUI files will find that, sooner or later, AutoCAD mangles them. I'm not entirely sure how this bug happens, but it's happening to a few people. One common trigger is hitting the Esc key while the Shortcut menu is visible. Once the menus are messed up, they stick to it. I haven't discovered if AutoCAD 2007 still does this. If this happens to you in 2007, please let me know.

Workaround: None known. You are remembering to make incremental backups of your CUI files, aren't you?

Just Because You're Paranoid . . . (2004 and later)
. . . doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Of course, in today's computing world, a lot of people really are out to get you. They want to bombard you with spam, infect you with viruses, place spyware on your computer, obtain your personal details, shut down your system and generally invade your privacy. They include not just daylight-deficient, dysfunctional teenage nerds in grubby Star Trek T-shirts. It also includes supposedly respectable multinational companies that want to do unspeakable things to your system if you dare to use your computer to listen to one of their music CDs. So a healthy dose of paranoia doesn't hurt.

Today's sensible computer users need a set of firewall, anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware tools just to keep their systems sane. After you have these tools in place, the last thing you want is to face constant decisions about applications that access the Internet without your permission. You would rather be drawing, right?

What does this have to do with AutoCAD? In Bug Watch October 2004, I mentioned that AutoCAD repeatedly attempts to access the Internet even when Communications Center is turned off. Now I know why, so I can explain what's going on and what you can do about it.

AutoCAD isn't directly trying to access the Internet. Windows is because of the way AutoCAD's components are configured. Autodesk isn't trying to invade your privacy or expose you to risks. It's actually trying to reduce those risks.

How? Digital signatures. No, not the digital signatures that you may use to ensure the integrity of your drawing files but rather the digital signatures that Autodesk uses to ensure the integrity of its program components. Since AutoCAD 2004, Autodesk has used VeriSign to sign its program components. When these components are first used, they try to access the VeriSign Web site to validate the signatures. This process includes downloading a Certificate Revocation List and placing it in a cache. When the cache expires, usually a few days later, the components repeat the process. The idea is to ensure that nothing has tampered with the components. Microsoft is strongly encouraging developers to use this method, and Autodesk is just following the party line.

What if, in the light of the above, you still decide that you would really rather not have your applications accessing the Internet uninvited? What if you decide that the best policy is to handle your own paranoia rather than trusting that your applications will do it properly for you? What if you want to reduce your dependency on the continued availability and benign nature of particular online services? What if, given Microsoft's record on Internet security, you decide that trusting Windows to protect you is not the smartest move? What if you just want AutoCAD to start up quicker? Read on.

Workaround: The following steps will prevent Windows from checking to see if the digital signature certificates are still valid. This process will apply to all applications but only for the current user. Pick Start, then Control Panel. Double-click on Internet Options. Select the Advanced tab. In the Security section, turn off the check for publisher's certificate revocation toggle. Pick OK.

If you need to do this workaround from a program, modify this registry key:

WinTrust\Trust Providers\Software Publishing\State

The default value for this key is 0x00023c00, and changing it to 0x00023e00 will turn off certificate checking.

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