Monday, December 20, 2004

CAD Mgmt: Tax Advantages

First the disclaimer: I am not a tax professional.
Next the exclaimer: Call your tax professional NOW!
While you're waiting for them to answer the phone, enjoy the muzak and read this...
It may be to your advantage to make major purchases before the end of the year. Did you budget some new software for next year? Are you putting off those upgrades from AutoCAD 2000i until the last minute? Section 179 includes depreciation advantages for off the shelf software purchases and several other expenses during 2004. This means that you could receive an immediate 50% write-off during this tax year (up from 30% last year). See Tax Law Changes for Businesses: "Depreciation and Section 179 Expense" for more information.
Have they answered yet? Leave a message and call your reseller for an updated quote or buy online from Autodesk:

Buy Online from Autodesk

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

5 Excuses for Missing Autodesk University 2004

I didn't make it to Autodesk University 2004. Did you miss it too? Why? Here are some excuses to choose from and some action items to help you get there in 2005:

  1. Is it December already?
    Get a calendar. Treat Autodesk University like a project. Determine the latest date you can get cheap airfare and work backwards from there. Make a plan.

  2. My _______ (insert boss/spouse/kids/pet etc.) wouldn't let me go.
    Tell them now that you want to attend AU in 2005 and you need their help to get there. Communicate to your boss the advantages of the education. Communicate to your spouse the future opportunities. Communicate to your kids the goodies you'll bring back from the show. Feed your pet - they don't care where you go as long as you come back and feed them again. Actually, that may be what your boss/spouse/kids want too. Make a plan.

  3. Too much work to do.
    Really? Were the 4,000 plus people at AU 2004 just a bunch of loafers? Maybe you need to brush up on some time management skills so you can be prepared to take off for a week in 2005. Make a plan.

  4. It's too expensive.
    Reality check. $1295 for conference and lodging for 4 days - that's a bargain hunter's dream. If you think you'll get that objection next year then start "Plan B" right now to save up so you can pay for it yourself. Make a plan.

  5. I didn't plan.
    Ah, there it is. A bit of honesty. Well, learn from your mistake. Put it behind you. Make a plan.

Make plans now to attend Autodesk University 2005 in Orlando!

P.S. Lynn Allen also has some great advice on negotiating with management at Autodesk - Autodesk University 2004. Check it out before the AU 2004 site is removed.

Monday, December 06, 2004

AutoCAD Right-Click-Everywhere

You already know that you must continually educate yourself as a CAD Manager. You read everything you can get your hands on (or your mouse on) so you can stay up-to-date. One other tip to help you stay informed is to "Right-Click-Everywhere." When you are in AutoCAD, right-click something to see what options are available. The right-click menu is context sensitive, so you will see commands that are relevant to what you are doing. Right-click tool palettes. Right-click the command line. Right-click objects.


And for those of you who learned AutoCAD before AutoCAD 2000, AutoCAD 2004 and 2005 have a time sensitive right-click setting so you can right-click for an [Enter] or hold it a fraction of a second longer to get the menu. This is one of my favorite AutoCAD 2004 enhancements. I had too many years of right-click = return (that's what we used to call the [Enter] key) ingrained in my neural pathways. The instructions for setting it up are on the Autodesk web site here: Autodesk - AutoCAD - Time Sensitive Right-click

Friday, December 03, 2004

Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year 2004

Merriam-Webster's list of top ten lookups can be found at Merriam-Webster 's Words of the Year 2004. "Blog" was the most frequently requested term.

All I want for Christmas is...

What does a CAD Manager want for Christmas? How about a 108Mbps wireless network? Maybe the upgrades you budgeted for last year? How about a memory stick - I got one of those for my brother this year - he said he couldn't remember where he put his.

Just imagine that Santa Claus or Oprah Winfrey were going to fill your CAD stocking this year. What would be the best present to help you in your CAD Management career? Leave a comment or send me an email and let me know.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

CAD Isn't...

Sometimes CAD is Computer Aided Design, but often it is still just Computer Aided Drafting. In other words, CAD isn’t always CAD, sometimes it is just CAD.

Years ago you might see a reference to CADD, Computer Aided Drafting and Design. There was no confusion with that acronym. I don’t know why the last “D” was dropped, but I suspect it was because CADD was gaining a reputation as a four letter word.

CAD is a tool for designers to create, modify, and communicate their concepts. CAD isn’t magic. Here are some other things that CAD isn’t:

  • Computer Aided Death
    Go on, it won’t hurt you. See, it likes you.
  • Crummy Automated Drawings
    Okay, sometimes it is, but it depends on the designer and the automation.
  • Coloring And Doodling
    Maybe when we have a generation that masters a stylus or a mouse before they hold a crayon, but not yet.
  • Create, Amend, Deny
    You know you drew it that way. We told you to do it in 3D. We told you to check for interferences. Now they’ll have to “hammer to fit and paint to match” at the site. See Crummy Automated Drawings above and get some training.

Monday, November 22, 2004

You Might be a CAD Manager if...

You might be a CAD Manager if...'ve ever read an entire CAD User's Guide.

You might be a CAD Manager if...'ve ever made corrections to a CAD User's Guide.

You might be a CAD Manager if...'ve ever done a web search for "CAD Standard."

You might be a CAD Manager if...'ve ever done an ebay search for "CAD."

You might be a CAD Manager if... regularly use the word "user" as profanity.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The “Typical” CAD Manager

Does this sound familiar? Andy was a good designer. Eventually he became the lead designer and supervises a core group of other designers. He wishes he had more training as a supervisor. The combination of employee supervision, overseeing the CAD systems, and still doing some production work can be overwhelming. The priorities seem to be production, then employee issues, and then the CAD systems – until something goes wrong. Long hours trying to keep up are common for Andy. Many days Andy is just numb, worn out, exhausted, and wishes he was back in production.

How about this? Gomer is the “IT guy” at his job. He manages the network, the hardware, and the software. He knows a lot about computers, but doesn’t know much about design. On most days Gomer feels like he is making a difference by helping the designers and engineers, but he knows there have to be better ways of doing things. He is trying to learn more about the CAD system on his own time.

Bea doesn’t have a title like “CAD Manager” but she’s been a designer since “before CAD existed” and has already forgotten more than most people will ever know about drafting and design. When management made the decision to “try” CAD, they chose Bea and a few other experienced designers to take the plunge. Actually, they pushed Bea into the deep end by sending her to a couple of weeks of CAD Training before she had ever touched a computer. After flailing around wildly for awhile, she eventually “got it” and actually began to feel like she was being productive again. About that time they sent her to training again for a different (i.e., less expensive) CAD system. She treaded water for awhile again, but used what she had learned with the previous system to get productive again. She’s now on her fourth system, having received less training with each change. The “real” CAD Manager at her company depends on Bea’s experience when making improvements.

Barney is eager to make his mark. He’s been to school. He considers himself a professional. He thinks the CAD Standards at his new job are archaic. He brought along some symbols and programs he has collected over the past couple of years. He had to work around some of the IT policies to use them, and has shared them with some of the other designers. Most days Barney thinks the entire management team couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag.

Opie is the new kid on the block. He’s had CAD training, but doesn’t have much experience. Even without experience he is the “guru” most people go to with CAD questions. He doesn’t get paid any extra for troubleshooting CAD challenges, but he spends more and more time doing it. He does wish he got more recognition (and pay) for the extra work he is doing.

As you can see, “typical” is difficult to define. Some CAD Managers supervise production staff, others don’t. Some CAD Managers are part of the production staff themselves with the additional responsibility of supporting CAD. Other CAD Managers are “super users” in their discipline or company.

How about you? Are you a CAD Manager? Send me an email and tell me about your job responsibilities, official title, and the title of your supervisor. You can also take our “Typical” CAD Manager Survey.

Scott Durkee

Scott Durkee
Thanks for visiting my blog.