Dialog Box October 2006

6 Oct, 2006 By: Cadalyst Staff

Readers have their say.

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Troubles with Get the Code!
Editors' note: Numerous Cadalyst Web site visitors have written regarding problems with downloading and using our Get the Code! AutoLISP code and other routines. We're sorry that Cadalyst editors can't provide technical support for individual problems, but here's some general advice:

1. If you're having trouble downloading code, your system or network security settings could be to blame. Some systems are set up to prohibit downloads of the file formats associated with our code downloads (EXE, ZIP, LSP, etc.). A talk with your IT person might be in order.

2. If you've downloaded a routine but are having trouble making it work, our Hot Tip Harry-Help Discussion Forum is designed to provide assistance. You can post your question there and see if Harry or other users have advice. (Forum use is free but requires registration.)

Stamp of Approval
Just wanted to send a quick thank you to author Michael Dakan for his Acrobat Insider for AEC Professionals newsletter, "Stamp Out Waste" (July 2006). The day before it arrived I learned that I needed to add a piece of information to every title block in a 181-drawing set. And I don't have the original CAD files for most of them. After reading about stamps, I realized that this would be the easiest way to add the information. And it's going great. Thanks again for the timely information.

—Will Hurd
Bernardon Haber Holloway Architects PC, Wilmington, Delaware

Hot Keys and LISP
I really find your tips very useful. In fact, I want to start creating my own hot keys and get familiar with LISP. Can you help me?

—Ma. Soledad D. Laxamana
Setiadi Architects LLC, Upper Tumon, Guam

Editors respond:
Cadalyst doesn't currently offer content addressing AutoLISP basics, though we might have something in the works for future publication -- so stay tuned. Bill Kramer, our Hot Tip Harry author, tells us your best bet is probably an AutoLISP book, and there are many. Bill notes that many such books might appear to be out of date, but in fact little has changed in regard to AutoLISP in recent years, so don't let "old" copyright dates deter you in most cases. Check out some of the larger booksellers or just do a Google search, and you'll probably find many options.

Outsourcing Doesn't Add Up
I read the article on outsourcing in the latest CAD Manager's Newsletter and thought I'd comment.

The first thing that needs to be realized that in the main, the companies offering these services in third-world countries operate using pirated software. The numbers simply do not add up. These companies are not using low-end packages. They boast they have the latest, greatest high-end packages. For the rates charged, there is absolutely no way that the software, hardware, accommodation and management can be paid for.

Another aspect that many companies (all over the world) are getting caught on is where operators are allowed to install a second copy on a home computer. A client of mine was recently caught up in this. You see, both copies have to be under the direct control of the license holder. With businesses, the license holder is the business and not the individual employee who uses it.

—Ian A. White
WAI Engineering, Sydney, Australia

No More Outsourcing
Regarding "Outsourcing, Part 3" in the September 15 edition of Robert Green's CAD Manager's Newsletter, if I see anything else on what could destroy my job and industry in this country printed on this Web site, magazine or online, you can remove me from your subscriber lists. Media is a big tool in making this a socially and business-accepted practice. Please take responsibility for your actions. Outsourcing will degrade our profession. Shame on you for presenting this topic to the masses.

—Mary A. Peterman, Applications Specialist, EIS
Permasteelisa CS, Mendota Heights, Minnesota

Robert Green responds:
I would like to just state, in my own self defense, I don't believe that I've been advocating outsourcing. What I've been doing is trying to explain it and show you how to measure it so that you, as CAD manager, can be educated on what your management may be thinking. If anyone feels I'm trying to eliminate their job, please understand that's not what I'm trying to do. I'm simply trying to help you understand the market forces that are in play and how they can affect you.

What I've endeavored to do in my series on outsourcing is to illustrate that outsourcing is not a panacea and not nearly as simple a process as many people think. In fact, if you read my last installment carefully, you'll see I went to great lengths to actually compute the real cost of outsourcing. In that computation you'll also see that labor savings is the smallest and easiest part of the process to compute while the vexing complexities of management, oversight, contracts and business process innovation can be so problematic that they negate the cost benefit of outsourcing entirely.

It's far better to understand how outsourcing really works and what the real costs are so that you can go into the whole process with your eyes open. I feel you're going to have a much better chance of protecting your own job from outsourcing if you really understand how the process works, and that's been my intent all along.

Kudos to CAD Manager's Newsletter
I have been following the CAD Manager's Newsletter for several years now, I always find it to be valuable reading material. Thanks for putting the salary survey together. You have really improved on it. Keep up the good work.

—Michael Viscetto, Design Production Manager
Reality Building Design, Meridian, Idaho

Talking Back to Everyone
I am an engineering technician; I am a professional. I can inspect projects for code and quality; I can design a house or small office building with little supervision. I can guide a project from start to finish, without having the design ownership issues that some architects have for a project. I can talk to clients and smooth out the rough spots when the plans are late because of the engineer. I'm certified in engineering technology and HVAC and hold a two-year degree in electronics. I do not have a PE after my name -- I have found it gets in the way of doing the job and helping clients. Please note that the architects and PEs are the worst-case types and are a small percentage; most engineers are great and most architects are the same.

To: Arthur E. Stewart We, the old dogs of AutoCAD, are the gurus to these whippersnappers, and that means we write their performance reviews. So when you have them by the testicles, make sure they listen.

To: Mitchell Hirschklau, senior draftsperson I have a question, Mitchell. When, or in what language, did the words "Draftsperson/Designer/CAD Operator" come to mean "Information Technology Systems Engineer" Because IT guys get paid a lot more money?

To: Coral C. King, AIA Ditto.

To: Autodesk Most small engineering companies (most of the companies in the United States) are not buying high-end workstations. They are buying mid-priced e-machines with 512MB RAM and 80GB hard drives. The smaller the company, the better the computer. As they grow, they get cheaper. This is the platform your product has to perform on, most likely without adding RAM or a high-end video card. This needs to be your test bed, not a workstation.

—Guy Spotts, Certified Engineering Technician

Nothing New but the Packaging
Having read Mr. Simpson's comments, I can see where he's coming from. What he says is a general perception in the workplace today. I say perception, because the perception is that anyone over 45 can't or won't learn to keep up with current technology in the workplace.

My own experience, however, must be an anomaly. I started using CAD when I was about 46 years old, gradually moving from the drawing board to the computer over a period of three years. When I took a new position with a NASA contractor, I worked full time on AutoCAD 11-2000 and also on 3D programs from simple to Pro/ENGINEER up until I was laid off due to contract cancellations in 2005. I was able to easily learn the ropes of these programs with the aid of a few training classes and a lot of on-the-job training. When finally laid off a couple months before my 64th birthday, I was using Pro/E everyday as well as a variety of other Windows-based programs to do my job.

I am now retired but still work on a home-based business using the tools I used before. They aren't the latest up-to-date versions, but they enable me to keep my fingers moving and be creative in my home-based business.

And I'm not the only one in my former company to experience these things. In fact, what I have found over the years is that most of us older guys have a hell of a lot more common sense than the younger phenoms who have a really short attention span and insist on redesigning the wheel over and over again. Oh, they are great at buzzwords that mean nothing more than changing the name of some of the things I was doing 35 years ago.

To paraphrase Solomon, there really isn't anything new under the sun, just different ways of packaging it.

By the way, the reason I retired is that while trying to find a new job I found that there were no jobs available for people with my experience unless I wanted to work for 60% of my previous pay. So I decided that I would retire, take Social Security and sit back and do what I want to do instead of working for some young pinhead who thinks Pearl Harbor is a Chinese resort.

—Dave Diels
Retired Mechanical Engineer, PE

Dinosaur Rex
I am writing in regard to Scott Simpson's statement in the August 2006 issue. Respectfully, I am very upset with that kind of statement (in any context). Regardless of the age or field of work, there are basically three types of people:

  1. People who work just to make a living. Usually, these people often change jobs and fields of work.
  2. People who work to make a career. These people are after positions and money.
  3. People who work in their chosen field because they like what they are doing. Money and positions are not a goal, but a result of hard work and a never-ending search for new things.

Mr. Simpson, there are dinosaurs in all three categories, not by age but by the way of thinking. Looks like you are Type 2 and some older person is in your way up. After all, there can be only one CAD Manager. (I do not know you and hope I am wrong and there are some other reasons for your statement).

Personally, I like what I am doing, learn new things constantly, and if some older method of working gets in my way, I don't complain. I just find ways around it or use it for my advantage. That is why I can do AutoCAD from release 9 to 2007, including 3D and programming and I'm not a CAD Manager. Maybe I'll get there before I'll go golfing. And if I am, according to you, a dinosaur because I'm 59, then I'm a Dinosaur Rex.

—Leonid Nemirovsky

Brush Up That Benchmark
Are there any plans to update Cadalyst's C2001 benchmarking test to run on AutoCAD 2007 or has it now run to the end of its life? I'd like to be able to continue using this test so I can compare all my previous tests but as the ARX files no longer run I'm unable to do so. If you have no plans to update the software, do you have any suggestions for testing software that I can use in its place?

—Nick Pillinger

Editors respond:
We have a C2006 version of the benchmark available for AutoCAD 2005/2006 (though we don't recommend using 2006 for reasons outlined at that page). We also hope to update the benchmark for AutoCAD 2007 within the next six months or so.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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