Wednesday, December 27, 2006

New Blogger Format

I've been struggling with the new blogger format tonight. The new blogger template tools are very easy to use, but I had a lot of custom coding in my old template, so I've been doing lots of copy/pasting into the new template elements. I know that the TenLinks news feed is not working yet. Please let me know if you have difficulty finding anything else.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Scouting for CAD Managers - part 2

The Boy Scout Motto: “Be Prepared”

When Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting, was asked, “Be prepared for what?” he replied, “Why, for any old thing.” The Boy Scout program provides opportunities for boys to prepare for many types of circumstances. First Aid skills are reinforced throughout the program. Leadership skills are exercised throughout the program as well. The boys are encouraged to try several activities which may lead to skills used in hobbies or vocations.

So what should a CAD Manager “be prepared” for? Why, for any old thing, of course. As I mentioned in my “Two Essential Skills” post, you must learn to negotiate and facilitate.

Be prepared to justify the expense of the upgrades you proposed. Be prepared to explain the benefits of subscription. Be prepared to discuss BIM with your CEO. Be prepared… for any old thing.

Can you always be prepared? No, once again we are talking about an ideal – a direction. You will still get called into a meeting and asked what you know about some technology you haven’t studied. When this happens, go back to the Cub Scout Motto and “Do Your Best” during the meeting. Then go and do the research and send a follow up email or memo to the original meeting attendees and be prepared for a follow up meeting.

“Be Prepared”

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

AutoCAD Poll

UPDATE: A new poll including 2008 has been added here.

What was the first AutoCAD version or release you used?

Results from the old poll:

Monday, September 18, 2006

Scouting for CAD Managers

No, I don't mean that I am searching for CAD Managers. What I mean is that I want to share with you some things I have learned through the Scouting program (Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts) which I continue to use in my professional life.

I am very grateful to my parents who allowed me to participate in scouts when I was a kid. There are great memories of camping and other events from that time of my life. But there are other things that have stuck with me that have become part of who I am. These are the things that encouraged me to allow my boys to be involved in scouting. And these are the things that I have tried to share with employees and coworkers.

The Cub Scout Motto: “Do Your Best”

“Do your best” is a pretty simple motto for boys in first through fifth grade, so I hope you will commit it to memory as well. My parents taught me that same idea and I hope your parents did the same for you. Their expectation wasn’t perfection. They didn’t say “Be the best,” they said “Do your best.” It’s a fairly subjective test of character isn’t it? Only you and God know whether you have done your best, and He’s keeping your secret for now.

“Do your best” is the kind of phrase that gets in your head and stays there. Have a challenge? Do your best. Have questions? Do your best. Have a decision to make? Do your best.

“Do your best” is an ideal that you can’t live up to, but it provides direction. Regardless of our personal desire to succeed, we all must overcome the urge to sit back and watch life happen to everyone else.

I highly recommend that you listen to Earl Nightingale’s “The Strangest Secret” (several times). If Nightingale is correct, and we become what we think about, shouldn’t we not only do our best but think about our best as well? When I was a CAD Manager I developed the desire to become the “CIO” of our company. Not the Chief Information Officer, but the Chief Innovation Officer. A mediocre CAD Manager does not innovate. A CAD Manager who’s motto is “Do Your Best” will innovate. I challenge you to think about being the Chief Innovation Officer at your company.

“Do Your Best”

CAD Mgmt: New Features Workshop(s) Online

UPDATED September 18, 2006

CAD Managers, be sure to make these links available to your designers:

AutoCAD 2007 New Features Workshop
AutoCAD LT 2007 New Features Workshop

Civil 3D 2007 New Features Workshop
Map 3D 2007 New Features Workshop

AutoCAD 2006 New Features Workshop no longer available online
AutoCAD LT 2006 New Features Workshop no longer available online
Architectural Desktop 2006 New Features Workshop

If you find others available, please let me know and I will post them.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Dog "Ate" My CAD

My last post reminded me of a time when a business friend, Ward, and I spent several days in a volley of polysyllabic words that end in “ate”. You know, negotiate, facilitate, innovate, etc. Much to the annoyance of our coworkers (my apologies to Steve and Skip), we would verbally launch these terms back and forth throughout the day: masticate, infuriate, obliterate, retaliate, etc. Sometimes we would build on each other’s latest assault: negotiate, renegotiate, etc. The battle waned, and so did the day. I must admit that my ammunition was running low, and probably my blood sugar was as well, as evidenced in the feeble shot that became my favorite term in the battle: “dinner plate”.

So, what’s the point of this post? Exercise your mind (and don’t forget to stop and take time to eat).

CAD Mgmt Toolbox: Two Essential Skills

Most CAD Managers I know have (or had) very good technical skills. They could draft well, design well, and somewhere along the way they learned to “tech” (i.e., troubleshoot) well. So in the infinite wisdom of the Peter Principle, they were promoted, reassigned, advanced, laterally moved, sworn in, knighted, christened, or duped into the official or unofficial role of “CAD Manager” (see Typical CAD Manager). Now, in addition to the skills which brought them here, they must develop two essential skills not covered in a drafting class or a users’ guide.

Back in 1991, Bob Keefer, AIA and I spent some time observing the “state of CAD.” We presented our observations at the NAAUG Conference that year (anyone remember NAAUG?) We titled our presentation “CADvantage or CADastrophe” and proceeded to describe the advantages and disadvantages of CAD at that time. Tom Conti of Walt Disney Imagineering took the stage and summarized our message as “educate management” and “train users”. Well, that was succinct and pretty accurate. We could have saved everyone a lot of time if he had said that before we got on stage, but then everyone would have missed our obligatory 3D spinning logo .fli on the screen.

Some things don’t change very much. The two essential skills are the same; I just refer to them in different terms today. Have you ever tried to “educate” your manager? You might succeed once or twice, but don’t make a habit of it. Generally your effort to “educate” someone higher in the company org chart will not be well received. Instead, consider the term “negotiate”.

You’ll need negotiation skills for more than your next budget discussion with your boss. You’ll need negotiation skills when purchasing hardware and software. You’ll need negotiation skills when introducing Layer Guideline changes. And you’ll need negotiation skills whenever your attempt to innovate.

Now what about that second essential skill? “Train Users” needs some revision as well. Elsewhere in this blog I have referred to the tendency to use the term “user” as profanity. Drop the term – the “us vs. them” mentality it provokes with those “users” isn’t worth the hassle. Remember, these people are either your “coworkers” or, if you are a consultant, they are your “associates”.

It only takes teaching one class to quickly realize that you aren’t going to “train” everyone. Some adults refuse to be trained and, in my opinion, some adults (brace yourself for a totally politically incorrect statement) can not be trained. Your second essential skill is to “facilitate”. You create an environment where adults can choose to learn. You offer classes, seminars, and documentation to facilitate their education.

So your two new essential skills are “negotiate” and “facilitate”. Where are you going to develop those skills? They aren’t something you can learn in a day. You can’t simply proclaim “I am now a negotiator and facilitator”. These skills are studied and they are practiced. So, as I hope I’ve asked before – what books are you reading and who are you hanging around? The answers to those two questions will assist you in determining your next step in developing these two essential skills.

How I spent my summer vacation

No, not really, but I was recently reprimanded by an old friend for letting my blog gather dust. His gentle reminder was something like (I’m paraphrasing here), “publish or die.” So, I thought I should try to add something.

I apologize for not being more frequent in my posts. Family commitments, changes at work, (constant) changes at Autodesk, Scouting commitments, etc. have all contributed to my procrastination. And let’s not forget that my blog is not a profitable venture. I don’t get paid for it. It isn’t part of my job… whine, whine, whine. If I am tugging at your heart strings, please visit some of the advertisers on the right or drop something in my PayPal tip jar at the bottom of the page.

Okay, enough of the shameless commercialism. As Pooh would say, this blog is “a Useful Pot to put things in.” So, let’s put something in it.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

CAD Mgmt Toolbox: Autodesk Online Store

As I have mentioned before, Autodesk's fiscal year begins in February. Around this time each year you can expect to hear news from Autodesk resellers - territories change, product authorizations change, new offices or mergers are announced, and some resellers are even dropped (remember the reports about long time reseller Robert McNeel & Associates earlier this year?)

If you find yourself re-evaluating your Autodesk reseller(s) now or any other time during the year, don't forget that many Autodesk products and upgrades are available directly from Autodesk through the Autodesk Online Store.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

CAD Mgmt Toolbox: CAD-e-Corner

Be sure to add Ward Romberger's CAD-e-Corner blog to your reading list. I'm glad he's entering the blog world. He has a great knowledge of CAD, a great sense of humor, and was great to work with for several years at Benham. That said, I expect him to have a great blog.

Monday, March 13, 2006

CAD Mgmt: AutoCAD 2007 Information Overload

Try to Google "AutoCAD 2007" and you get over 1,020,000 results (and rising). That's a lot of information for a product that isn't shipping yet. So, using the Durkee Method of Rounding Off, that's about 1,000,000 pages at 5 minutes per page, or 5,000,000 minutes of reading. That's over 10 years of reading. What's a CAD Manager to do? As the old saying goes, "How do you eat an elephant?" "One bite at a time."

As an appetizer, I'll start with a plug for the regular press. I really like the What's New in AutoCAD 2007 article by Sara Ferris of Cadalyst. It was one of the first posts available and has a clear, succinct explanation of new features.

Next, go straight to the elephant by checking out the information from Autodesk. I don't mean the marketing stuff on the site - it isn't even posted there yet, and you'll get more than your share of it soon enough. Go to the Autodesk blogs at At Shaan Hurley's Between the Lines blog you'll find a link to download the AutoCAD 2007 Preview Guide. Print it for some between meal snacks (i.e., offline study time). Shaan also has a growing list of side dishes at AutoCAD 2007 links.

And since we're talking about side dish links, have you subscribed to TenLinks Daily yet? (See CAD Mgmt Toolbox: Links come through there at an almost manageable rate and they have been featuring AutoCAD 2007 articles. Unlike a search engine, the links are categorized, so you don't have keep passing the same green bean casserole to find something you really want to chew on for a while.

From there you can narrow your search based on the new features that interest you most. But a healthy AutoCAD 2007 requires both diet and exercise. Don't spend all of your time digesting - spend some time doing. Beta users have a head start on this, but non-beta subscription users will be exercising soon. Install your software, browse through the New Features Workshop, and start exercising.

Now, what's for dessert?

MARCH 23, 2006 UPDATE:
The Google search of "AutoCAD 2007" now results in only 196,000 hits. Is this a result of Google's recent acquisition of @Last Software, the makers of SketchUp? :)

The Autodesk web site has now been updated to include information on the new 2007 products.

Be sure to check out the online AutoCAD 2007 New Features Workshop and AutoCAD LT 2007 New Features Workshop.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

CAD Mgmt Toolbox: Free Autodesk File Viewers

Here is a quick list of free viewers from Autodesk:

Autodesk DWG TrueView views and prints Autodesk DXF and DWG files

Autodesk Inventor View views and prints Autodesk Inventor assemblies, parts, and drawings

Autodesk DWF Viewer views and prints Autodesk DWF files

And the free convertor:

Autodesk DWG TrueConvert converts between AutoCAD Release 14, 2000 (i.e. 2000, 2000i, and 2002) and 2004, (i.e. 2004, 2005, and 2006) DWG file formats.

CAD Mgmt Toolbox: Autodesk Blogs

In my interview with Shaan Hurley of Autodesk (Interview: Shaan Hurley of Autodesk), Shaan said that other Autodesk blogs were on the way. The latest is from Scott Sheppard.

Here is the new list of Autodesk blogs from

“Between the Lines" AutoCAD Blog
Hosted by Shaan Hurley

"Between the Walls" Architectural Desktop Blog
Hosted by Chris Yanchar

"Between the Poles" Geospatial Blog
Hosted by Geoff Zeiss

"In The Machine" Autodesk Inventor Blog
Hosted by: Amy Bunszel, Pete Lord, Andy Palioca, Jeff Wymer

"Beyond the Paper" Autodesk DWF Blog
Hosted by Scott Sheppard

Lynn Allen's Blog
Hosted by Lynn Allen

AutoCAD Insider
Hosted by Heidi Hewett

March 14, 2006 UPDATE:
"Between the Poles" by Geoff Zeiss was added to the list above (but for some reason it doesn't show up on

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Non-CAD: Happy? Valentine's Day

Why is it that ninety percent of the Valentine's Day cards on the rack make the guy sound like some kind of loser? The next time you look for cards, make a mental note of cards that start like this:
"I know I don't always tell you... but..."
"I may not always show you... but..."
"I don't always pick up my socks... but..."

Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.

I think I'll start a subscription Valentine's Day Card service. Every card will have a nice picture on the front and the inside will say:

I know I'm a jerk the rest of the year,
but it's Valentine's Day,
so here's your card.

Then I'll follow up with a line of birthday cards:

I know I'm a jerk the rest of the year,
but I think your birthday is this month,
so here's your card.

Anyone want to (need to) subscribe?

Have a Happy Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Interview: Shaan Hurley of Autodesk

For those of you who are new to the world of Autodesk, Shaan Hurley is the Technical Marketing Manager for the Autodesk Platform Technologies Division (PTD). But to most of us he is the Autodesk Beta Programs Manager at and one of the most prolific CAD bloggers on the web at Shaan has graciously agreed to answer a few questions for all of you CAD Managers out there.

Scott Durkee (SD): Let’s start with an easy one. I’ve talked to people who have known you several years who each pronounce your name differently. How should we correctly pronounce “Shaan?”
Shaan Hurley (SH): I chalk this up to my mother whom has told me multiple versions of the explanation for the odd spelling of my name. I still suspect it was anesthesia. It is pronounced like Shawn.

SD: Who is eligible to participate in beta testing?
SH: Everyone that is willing to be active and can keep a secret, and wants to help shape the future of Autodesk products is welcome. Customers are selected to become Beta Sites based upon their interest, willingness, and ability to provide timely information. Beta Sites provide product feedback throughout the development process until the final release. Beta Sites are also selected on the basis of past participation and their completed sign up information.

SD: CAD Managers are extremely busy people. How much time should they expect participation in the beta program to require each week?
SH: Time is precious and we are well aware of that and are grateful for any time they can provide to help better the Autodesk products.

SD: What advice would you give a CAD Manager to help justify participation in the beta program?
· You get to preview the product before final product is released.
· You get to interact with the people responsible for the features you use and get a unique perspective of behind the scenes of software development.
· Allows you to take early advantage of productivity enhancements
· Early implementation assistance and ongoing high level support offers head-start on product adoption.
· Getting an advance look at new software.
· The delight in discovering bugs that we didn't catch in our in-house alpha testing.
· Enhancing the software for your own use by suggesting possible improvements.
· Having a sneak peek of new products and emerging technologies
· The pleasure of finding unsuspected bugs
· Making our (i.e., your!) software better as a result of this collaboration program
· Your suggestion may add new dimension to our development process!
· Most important, it's your chance to contribute to the product's design and features!
· We sometimes offer rewards like free products, free all paid trips to Autodesk University, computers, hardware, digital camera, and MP3 players and best of all knowing that you were getting your feedback in and being part of the extended product team

SD: Data integrity, software lock ups, and system crashes are always issues with beta software. What procedures do you recommend for CAD Managers to keep their drawings clean and their computer systems running during the beta feedback process?
SH: Beta version programs and files should not to be used without careful consideration that these are unreleased beta products and are not fully supported and may contain software defects (bugs). The main purpose for posting them is to find the defects and have them reported so that they can be fixed in the final released version. As with any beta software always back up your data and previous files and exercise caution when in a production environment.

SD: And what about after the beta program is over and commercial software is released – what is your recommendation for drawings and computer systems that were involved in the beta program?
SH: This can vary from beta to beta and changes in the software. We try to advise all beta sites in the Beta Readme document as to the status but in beta nothing is ever 100% so please make sure to be cautious and back up.

SD: Non-disclosure during a beta program is critical and taken very seriously. Are beta participants allowed to discuss new features with other beta participants?
SH: Absolutely beta sites can discuss among fellow beta sites the new features and any bugs. We will always announce when the date for a beta is reached and customers can then begin discussing the product publicly.

SD: There seems to be some difference between beta release builds provided to customers, resellers, and developers. Why is that?
SH: The distribution depends on the products, contents, and the goals of a beta. Many betas are aimed at direct discussion and customer feedback while some may be for training or reseller feedback and even more now are a blend.

SD: The My Feedback Portal Sign Up page includes the question “What are your motivations for beta testing or providing feedback?” This is a very subjective question that may have had some unusual answers. Do you recall any humorous responses?
SH: I have seen all kinds of responses to this question. The question is designed to elicit the candidate to say anything. Most are about how they want to be in beta to improve products then there are some that answer with the strange responses like “my boss made me”, “to save the CAD world”, “to see what all the beta fun is all about”, or “I want free software” and more.

SD: Are you still accepting applications for the current AutoCAD beta, and if so, how much longer?
SH: I definitely want new AutoCAD beta customers willing to be active right now (ding ding ding) and the more the better. We are always accepting new candidates and I will be running another worldwide blitz to get more customers from every country. Remember we have other products as well as potential other AutoCAD tools and service packs than right back into early alpha for the next release. There is no quiet time with over 40 products that we run beta through in a year.

SD: In addition to your responsibilities for the Platform Technology Division and the Beta Program, you also find time to write a great blog - over 700 posts? That’s amazing. What does a CAD Manager find when they visit your blog?
SH: I try to keep my blog varied in content to not bore nor be a marketing page. There is no telling what they might find in my 800 posts in 3 years of blogging everything from how to brush your teeth with Altoids when traveling without toothpaste, live blog posts from the Amazon Jungle via GSM modems, to deep discussions on the CPU floating point limitations. I established the blog as a way to communicate tips and tricks and technology discussions as well as inject my warped sense of humor and some photos. The blog writing does not take all that much time as I try to do it after hours and while on planes. The thank you emails from around the world are the ultimate pay for this as this is not really part of my job. I even get recognized in far away places in airports from just the postage stamp sized picture of me on the blog.

SD: A list of blogs by Autodesk employees is available at These include:

“Between the Lines" AutoCAD Blog
Hosted by Shaan Hurley

"Between the Walls" Architectural Desktop Blog
Hosted by Chris Yanchar

"In The Machine" Autodesk Inventor Blog
Hosted by: Amy Bunszel, Pete Lord, Andy Palioca, Jeff Wymer

Lynn Allen's Blog
Hosted by Lynn Allen

AutoCAD Insider
Hosted by Heidi Hewett

SH: More Autodesk Blogs are coming!!!!!!!!

SD: What other online resources would you recommend for CAD Managers?
· Join AUGI at It’s free and has many benefits. Participate in AUGI's wish list process.
· Participate in online discussion groups ( &
· Participate in Local/Regional user groups
· Respond to Communication Center surveys
· Send in those Customer Error Reports when you crash
· Attend events where Autodesk employees are in attendance. We want to get your feedback. Tell us what we are doing right, wrong, what we should continue to do or what we should be doing.

SD: You emphasized the Customer Error Reports. Can you give a couple of examples of how this method of feedback to Autodesk has helped improve the software?
SH: The CER dialog is displayed after you experience an unscheduled exit of the Autodesk application "crash" for many possible reasons. After an AutoCAD crash you enter details in the dialog after it comes up and then it sends technical details of the crash back to Autodesk where it can be analyzed and researched. Autodesk products have the CER functionality built in to get the data sent to us so we can research and solve the issues in the Service Packs and next releases of the product instead of just sending an error report to Microsoft. For example the recently released AutoCAD 2006 SP1 which addressed many CER reported issues. Please be sure to send in the report and add your contact information and any known steps when you see the CER dialog.

SD: Shaan, thank you very much for taking the time to answer a few questions, thank you for the work you do at Autodesk to improve the software we use, and thank you for keeping us informed via your blog. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
SH: Thank you. Being a former CAD Manager myself, I can truly appreciate the topics on your blog and the challenges faced CAD Managers daily. It is my job to speak with AutoCAD users worldwide and make the CAD Managers job much easier.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Autodesk Website Down

Well, there's something you don't see every day. "This Autodesk website is temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance."