Dialog Box March 2005

14 Mar, 2005 By: Cadalyst Staff Cadalyst

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Old School CAD
I read with disbelief Mr. Nemirovsky's suggestion to dust off the old digitizer in preparation for its use as a productive tool. As a firm believer in the modern Heads Up Display process of the current version of CAD, I must disagree. Leave the digitizer where it is, or better yet add it to your Drafting Museum, along with the 5-1/4" floppies.

I never saw the attraction for a digitizer once Toolbars were introduced. You never have to take your attention from the screen to use them. And while the same can be said for the puck buttons, there are only 64 possible combinations (16 times unshifted, shifted, Control, Alt). That adds the need to remember what each button definition is used for.

I find that most folks have little need for that amount of mental baggage, and would rather select from an assortment of visuals provided by the Toolbar Button Icon, and the Tooltip giving a terse account of the button's use.

You can take my dissenting view for what it's worth, $1.98 (inflation hits two cents).

— Donald Reichle, via Internet

ROI = Smoke and Mirrors
It was interesting to read the CAD Manager article "Get Approved" in the electronic edition of Cadalyst, February 05. I have to say that it did make me chuckle.

A little background. Many years ago I was the product development engineer for Dexion (Australia) Pty Ltd, so putting together budgets and capital expenditure authorizations is something I am more than a little familiar with. The problem with most ROI calculations is that nothing is actually saved. It can be equated to smoke and mirrors.

In the example there's a purchase of a modeler that is supposed to yield a saving in labor. It may well mean that operators can complete tasks more quickly, however unless one of two things happen there can be no saving at all.

First, to actually show a savings in labor there must be a reduction in the number of operators being employed, otherwise you end up paying operators to sit around doing nothing. I do know that many managers say that they can be used to carry out other "essential" tasks, however that's not really a justification as without the purchase of the modeler there would not have been a budget allocation for these "essential" tasks to be carried out.

Secondly, there would have to be a sustained increase in the amount of work flowing through the office to keep the operators working given that they now have time on their hands.

Yes, I do know that this is how budgets are framed, but it's also why so many budgets are rejected. When a company spends money, it must see a return. If the budget claims a monetary saving, then a monetary saving must be seen in the accounts. If the payroll does not change, then there can't be any savings.

You can use other justifications such as improved morale or better quality, but chances are that spending large amounts of money are unlikely to be approved using those justifications.

Then again, as new generations come through, who knows what justification will be accepted. Things catch up in the end and people realize that when it is they who are responsible for spending the money, they quickly work out what is justifiable and what is not.

— Ian A. White, CPEng., via Internet

Unhappy with Online Trends
I have subscribed to Cadalyst and Cadence magazine since the early 1990s and I'm unhappy with the shift from print to online content. I understand the cost savings, etc. Personally, I prefer to get everything in print with the option to go online for additional or archived information. The only way to view Bug Watch, Hot Tip Harry, Lynn Allen, the Learning Curve and other areas is online.

I have to spend most of my day in front of the computer doing design work, paper work and answering e-mails. I look forward to the opportunity to get away from my computer, give my eyes and hands a rest and read a magazine during lunch or when taking a break. I also find it productive to catch up on reading my trade magazines when traveling. The switch to online-only content makes this difficult, if not impossible.

I realize that engineers are considered geeky and enamored with technology but there are times where it is nice to get a break from it. I hope you will consider this in your editorial decisions in the future.

— Sheldon Schmidt, via Internet

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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