Dialog Box September 2006

7 Sep, 2006 By: Cadalyst Staff

Readers have their say.

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Pushed out to Pasture
I am writing in regard to Scott Simpson's statement in the August 2006 issue: "If you're over 45 in this field, you're a dinosaur. Your job now is to do what you can to ensure that the next generation can do the best job possible, even if that means just getting out of the way . . ."

I am retired and over 45 and find this statement insulting. It's telling me that all of us over 45 are standing in the way of progress and should get out of the way. It says to me that we are no longer needed and should be put out to pasture so the next generation (the cream of the crop) can take over. If your magazine feels this way about people like myself, perhaps you need to cancel my Cadalyst subscription and take me off your e-mail list, as I am a 66-year-old retired mechanical designer.

—Arthur E. Stewart

Cadalyst editor-in-chief Sara Ferris responds
As I'm standing perilously close to the 45-year-old divide, I wouldn't say Cadalyst endorses Mr. Simpson's opinions. He represents one extreme view of older workers: the crusty barriers to change who insist that everything done the way it's always been done. At the other end of the spectrum are the wise Yoda figures who will send the entire economy into a tailspin when they pack up their decades of experience and head off to the golf course. In reality, most of us are neither dinosaurs nor indispensable.

Finally, in fairness to Simpson, the full context of his quote was the following, which appears in this Cadalyst article, which reviews the BIM happenings at the 2006 AIA convention:

"Demographics is destiny," Simpson said. "If you're over 45 in this field, you're a dinosaur. Your job now is to do what you can to ensure that the next generation can do the best job possible, even if that means just getting out of the way" -- or helping to provide the tools for the young designers to be successful.

What a Wiener
Please allow me the opportunity to address Scott Simpson's quote found on page 54 of Cadalyst's August issue. To be succinct: What a wiener! I'm sorry that Simpson is ready to crawl in a corner and dry up, but if that works for him, go ahead and get out of my way!

I may not be as fast, but after nearly 20 years in the digital mapping industry, I have more experience and insight. (Like Kathy Bates, I have more insurance, too.) This old coot isn't going to simply step aside and hand over my career to some whippersnapper. I've got too much more I want to do, learn and to teach. You youngsters want my job? Try and take it!

Hey Simpson: Enjoy your retirement, pal -- just be quiet now, ok?

—Jim Pugh, GISP

Above Average?
I must take exception to the description of software (and hardware) being "Like the good children of Lake Wobegon, products reviewed in Cadalyst recently have tended to be above average."

In my experience, these products are more like teenagers: they're mature enough to know better, and still they make foolish and/or shortsighted choices.

I've been a PC user (and AutoCAD user) since 1985. I began using CAD (mainframe based) in 1978. I've actually never been paid to draft by hand. Needless to say, I've been through countless hardware and software upgrades.

The notion that anyone would send out to a customer a product that was incomplete, not fully tested, required assembly and had to be induced by the customer to communicate with all of the components it has to interact with would be hilarious were it not the typical state of affairs in computers and software.

One would think (or hope) that after more than 20 years the hardware would come with a built-in memory chip to allow it to establish (and the user to customize) all possible hardware interactions.

One would think (or hope), as well, that the software by now would be able to communicate and establish a proper handshake with all the hardware as well as peacefully coexist with any other software's already installed.

Plug-and-play software (and hardware) is so far from a reality that it seems a science fiction notion.

In the 1960s, there was maybe one guy in each neighborhood who really understood how to put together a modular stereo system. Forty years later, all of our technology has somehow morphed into modular stereo systems.

Throw in supposedly mature applications whose manufacturers have, for example, decided to modify a 20-year old interface like replacing the MNU with the CUI (so that what you thought you knew how to do, you don't).

I put up with this because they pay me. I put up with it because someone at my firm has to. I put up with it because I'm smart enough to be good at it (and dumb enough to think it matters).

But I'm getting tired. I no longer care very much how fast a system is. I find I have to worry too much about why the new computer won't print to Printer No. 3.

And I'm depressed. Every software (and hardware) upgrade lately seems to follow the following arc:

1. The Actual Install, including the obligatory nasty surprise. For example: "The Autodesk on-line registration Web site will be off-line for upgrade the weekend December 3 and 4, 2005" -- information discovered, of course, at 9:30 A.M. EST December 3 with eight stations installed but unregistered).

2. The AutoCAD configuration by station and the discovery that some -- it varies, of course, by station -- of the plotters and printers can't be printed to. And the discovery that, for some reason, Adobe and the new AutoCAD install aren't getting along!

3. And the Users: the exploration of the new features, the gnashing of teeth over the new features ("I liked the old way!") and the turning off of the new features by said users.

I keep hoping it will get better. I keep hoping that it will finally become a mature technology. I beginning to wonder if I'll be retired before then.

—Mitchell Hirschklau, senior draftsperson

Annual Nightmare
As a CAD manager, I can't keep up with the yearly product releases -- use it myself, make adjustments, try out new things, load it on to each machine, get others up to speed, help them with issues, etc. Complicate this with changes like the MNU to CUI fiasco and it's a nightmare. We own 2007 but are still working on 2004.

—Coral C. King, AIA

Map Misery
To add to comments from other AutoCAD users, I have found AutoCAD Map 2007 to be the worst release since I began using AutoCAD more than ten years ago. This release should have been beta tested for another year or so for the programmers to get all the bugs out and put all the documentation in. This release was nothing more than a means for Autodesk to try to maintain its lead in the market and to make some easy bucks from its customers.

We have had one problem after another since installation, and it still does not operate as well as 2006. I believe Autodesk has forgotten its beginnings and become too fat from owning the market. It has insulated itself from its users by not providing customer support. After working with this release, I can understand why Autodesk wouldn't want a Help Line. Having to rely on the discussion groups doesn't provide adequate support -- it's not timely and does not provide solutions if other users haven't had the same or similar problem.

Each upgrade is requiring more user AutoCAD knowledge and experience to set it up properly and work out the kinks and bugs. It's not the simple, user-friendly program that it once was. Our IT people cannot set up the printers because of the idiosyncrasies of AutoCAD programming. Too much of my engineering time is spent helping other users becoming familiar with the changes, finding the documentation and resolving problems with the upgrade.

I strongly recommend the people at Autodesk spend this next year working out the bugs and developing proper documentation for Release 2007 instead of hitting up customers for more money for a new upgrade. It is time for Autodesk to go back to the quarterly patches, otherwise it's going to lose some more customers.

—Robert Seigworth

Know Your Boundaries
I was reading "The Nether Regions" in hopes of finding a solution to what I am trying to accomplish with AutoLISP. I am a complete beginner with AutoLISP and am not sure whether my question is very simple or very complicated.

I am trying to test whether certain points are enclosed within a polygon/boundary/region, etc. Is there an easy way to test for this? After thinking it over, my idea is to loop through each line forming the shape, creating an inequality for each one, and then test points against each inequality. This seems like a viable solution, but cumbersome. I can't help suspecting there is some function I am unaware of that could save me from generating new code for the purpose. Please let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks!


Bill Fane Responds:
Unfortunately, this isn't quite a trivial problem.

The flaw in your approach is that it would only find points that lie on the ends of the boundary lines.

My first thought would be to run the Bpoly command, feed it the specified point and see if it is able to create the boundary polyline. The only problem with this is that it would return a True for a point falling within any closed area, and not just a specific one.

Have you tried the discussion groups at

Batch Process PDFs
I don't have any experience with LISP, AutoLISP or Visual LISP, but think I need to learn in order to complete a specific task. I am trying to open multiple DWG files located in several folders and plot them to PDF (batch process multiple drawings?).

I am an AutoCAD 2007 user and would like to learn how to write scripts to complete the batch process mentioned above but am not sure where to start. Could you recommend any literature/tutorials that would set me on the right road?

I have read that there are probably LISP routines out there that I may be able to modify to complete this task. It's a tall order, I know, but are you aware of anything out there that I could use?

—Jarrod Cook

Bill Fane responds (from his summer cabin at the lake):
Here are a couple of links to articles that might help:
Play It again and again and again, Sam
Learning to LISP

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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