Trump the Love
Following the results of the recent US federal election, the mainstream media was filled with outrage from the elite whose candidate failed to earn sufficient electoral votes.
PacketSled ceo Matt Harrigan, for example, threatened to assassinate the president-elect. On Facebook, and on multiple times. Following his outburst of freedom of expression, he resigned from his job and his company reported him to the Secret Service, whose job is to investigate threats against presidents and presidential candidates. PocketSled's software -- which does continuous monitoring, threat detection, and network forensics -- apparently did not detect the threat of the founder's bellowing on a popular network.
Others from Silly-con Valley tweeted their post-election outrage and disgust at what democracy had delivered. Tech firms, with their Constitution-free T&Cs and click-or-screw-off EULAs, aren't familiar with not getting their way.
Most elite and their mainstream media fellow travelers knew that it was Hilary's turn to rule the country. At least, that's what they kept telling each other and the pollsters. Unless, of course, they happened to read the L.A. Times' polls, which used a different polling method to find that His Trumpness would win. (Most polls use randomly selected people with each poll; LA Times used the same people for each poll. The difference in margin of errors is a fascinating topic to peruse.)
One assumes this was the poll Autodesk ceo Carl Bass was following when he tweeted his disgust in late September, well before the poll day of early November. The prophetic tweet was recently retweeted by engineering.com journalist Roopinder Tara as a reminder that Mr Bass got the prediction right, but...
The Mercury News is the newspaper of record for Silicon Valley, and it put words to the thought that perhaps the tech industry needs to understand what a Republican federal government can do for it. Since then, the Apple ceo has met with the president-elect, as has the head of BET, and others.
Mr Trump, a fellow businessman, has, for example "proposed a 10% repatriation tax on profits of U.S. corporate foreign subsidiaries, down from the statutory 35%." (Source.) Autodesk would, it seems, benefit from a Republican president, as it keeps 86% of its cash and investments offshore (as of July 2016).
News from @martynday
Autodesk yesterday announced the future for some of its software at Autodesk University. (I am not at the show, but have been avidly followed Martyn Day's tweets from yesterday. He is the editor of AEC Magazine out of England.)
A year ago, I predicted that Autodesk would cloud-ify Revit. No big secret; this is a natural progression, from Autodesk's point of view. First AutoCAD was served up remotely (aka AutoCAD 360), then Inventor (aka Fusion 360), then a bunch of other programs that support Revit, such as BIM 360. The elephant in the room was Revit itself.
As Martyn tweeted it, "Revit orig[inally] developed as a point solution, collab[oration] was 2nd thought. Database clunks. Quantum has collab at core."
Yesterday Autodesk announced the cloud version of Revit. The core is Quantum, a centralized database that runs on a multitude of servers (aka "the cloud"). In a series of tweets, Martyn described the environment:
Multi-discipline collaboration in parallel. Independent workspaces, no files, common data environment, everything connected.
Adesk Quantum uses IP [intellectual property] from across Adesk portfolio. Will use Fusion tech for steel fabrication, all on the cloud backbone
Fusion and Quantum will talk together like inventor and Revit never have been able to before.
Adesk Quantum is pre-alpha, Adesk working with a few firms now. Ask for timeline for wider access - pushing hard, months not years.
[Autodesk] says Quantum will be compatible with Revit as it is. They will work to make that happen. Web and mobile [are] 1st platforms
If your CAD world goes beyond Autodesk, then this new plan sounds familiar. Nearly a decade ago, Dassault Systemes launched V6 of its CAD software. It now uses Enovia as a central database that stores all CAD and other data. There is no file format, making translation from V6 a nightmare -- probably as Dassault intended it. Expect the same for Quantum-based BIM from Autodesk.
I came across one of my older posts, in which ZWCAD Software Company thanked its staff for the hard work they put in to a ZWCAD conference. Up to 100 employees worked for three months to plan the conference, according to the press release.
Think of the myriad of details involved, such as sourcing name tag holders, choosing menus for meals, booking venue(s), and deciding what to talk about. All along hoping enough people show up to cover the cost, or if the conference is free, to justify the effort.
Photo showing four of the things things that need to be arranged: contracting the video production company, arranging the food for the breaks, collecting material for the hand-out bags, and inviting users and media to attend
Users show up, us media sidle in, and after a day or three, it's over. Look closely and you see the staff trying not to look exhausted by the end. There is not just the looking after of details during the conference, but also a lot of cheerfulness that needs to exuded for that half-week.
With this post, I want to acknowledge the effort event planners put in, with some conference planning beginning six months out. These people work hard on a big project each year, every year!
- - -
The main thing about conferences, just about everyone agrees, is the socializing (others call it networking). Meeting old friends, some of who live a continent away, and making new ones -- some fleeting, others permanent.
Photo showing five programmers, writers, friends (left to right, from Germany, Australia, USA, Canada, and USA) at a pub during a recent conference, who between them have 132 years of CAD experience
Dietmar Rudolph, Steve Johnson, Owen Wengerd, Ralph Grabowski, Randal Newton
HP Z2 Mini G3
HP last week gave about 70 of us media people a preview of its new Z-series workstation. "Z" means computers meant for users of high-end desktop software, like mechanical CAD design and movie editing. This one is called Z2 Mini G3 -- a riff of Apple's Mac Mini.
HP product managers were pretty huffed up about the angular design (see figure 1), which is a problem for me, because I like rectangular black boxes. The more rectangular and featureless the better, and silent -- like my six-year-old Acer desktop; think monolith from 2001, but fatter.
The tiniest Z workstation has angular lines and is 2.3" tall (all images sourced from HP)
Nevertheless, I got their reasoning for the angular air vents: it's hard for a piece of paper to cover them up, suffocating the computer that's jam-packed with components and fans.
Indeed, the two of the largest components inside are fans. See figure 2. Two large ones to move lots of air; but also of large size to move that air quietly. A bigger fan turning more slowly is quieter while moving equivalent amounts of air as faster, smaller fans.
HP made it sound like mounting their new baby on the back of a monitor or on the underside of a desk is a new thing, but VESA mounts have been standard for lots of years now. Look at the back of your monitor; it probably has four holes. That's the VESA mount for ultra-small computers.
HP also made it sound like some other features are brand spanking new advances in the field of workstations, but what they did was adopt laptop technology to a desktop computer. Such as pressing a key (on any brand of USB-connected keyboard) or a mouse to turn on the computer. Another such as: the graphics board is an M model, meaning mobility, meaning laptop. What isn't laptop-y about it at all is its ability to handle six SIX! monitors. See figure 3.
Another laptop issue is how they can walk off the premises. For security, HP offers an optional steel box that encloses the Z2 with a padlock; rotate it by 90 degrees, and the USB ports are blocked, as well. See figure 4.
The steel box in which to lock the mini workstation
When it starts shipping in December, the box will come in a base i3 model for US$700 and then offer the following options:
My advice: get at least an i5 CPU in any computer. Good news: the RAM and hard drive are user-replaceable, unlike the products from a certain company whose name starts with A and ends with -PPLE.
Q: How is the graphics board upgraded?
A: You need to replace the motherboard.
Q: I see no Thunderbolt ports.
A: Thunderbolt is not supported.
Q: What kind of serial port is available?
A: It is a 9-pin serial port that uses an analog signal that cannot be hacked digitally.
Q: Is the M620 graphic for desktop computers or a mobile GPU?
A: It is a new mobile GPU from nVidia.
Q: How does it handle six displays with four ports?
A: Two of the six displays are daisy-chained.
Q: Is 32GB of RAM a hard maximum?
Q: What is the minimum configuration?
A: i3 6200 CPU, 4GB non-ECC RAM, and 500GB hard drive.
Q: How can HJ compete with Apple?
A: We are going after CAD-focused designers, who Apple has abandoned, such as users of AutoCAD, Solidworks, Revit, and ArchiCAD.
Q: How does the power-on work?
A: The remote power-on function is in the BIOS, and works with any USB keyboard on the market. You can click the mouse or press a key on the keyboard. It is initially disabled in the BIOS so that the computer doesn't exhibit unexpected behavior, so you have to go into the BIOS to turn on the features.
Q: How large is the power adapter?
A: There are two power adapters, the same ones as used for some HP laptops. One is 200W for the nVidia graphics and the other 135W for Intel graphics.
Q: Is it difficult to replace the SSD (solid state drive)?
A: The memory is the most tool-free part of the system; you need to just remove one screw to replace the hard drive.
Q: What is the noise level on idle?
A: 29db at full load and 17db at idle.
This is the first time since 2001 I've updated my book on CAD management. Back then, it was known as CAD Managers Guidebook and was published by the Onward Press imprint of Delmar Publishing. Now it's know as Best CAD Practices.
Little in these 15 years has changed in our industry. We still wonder about what to name layers, which dimension styles to use, and how to write a manual that catalog's our firm's standards. During the same time, agencies have tweaked their standards, more standards have entered our world (such as related to BIM?), CAD has spread to mobile devices, and it's normal to run two or more CAD systems and/or operating systems in offices.
To thoroughly update this book, I went through all the standards in the earlier text, updated them, added more international standards, added four brand-new chapters, and changed the word "extranet" to "cloud." There's four entirely new chapters, plus significant new content in the others. Here's the table of contents:
1. The Role of the CAD Manager
2. Naming Drawings and Symbols
3. Layer Names, Colors, and Conventions
4. BIM Standards *New!
5. Fonts and Patterns, Linetypes and Widths
6. Scale Factors and Dimensions
7. Standard Drawings and Templates
8. Writing Your CAD Standards Manual
9. Working with Paper Drawings
10. Outsourcing and the Cloud
11. Running CAD on Mobile Devices * New!
12. The DWG Format, and Its Future
13. Managing the Dual-CAD Office * New!
Appendix A. How to Make Computers Run Faster * New!
It's available now for $27, which you can purchase through PayPal using this link
Should Paypal.me not operate in your country, then please use www.paypal.com and the account of firstname.lastname@example.org. Or mail a cheque (US$ or CDN$ only, please) to upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd., 34486 Donlyn Avenue, Abbotsford BC, V2S 4W7, Canada with your email address.
I will email you the ebook, which is a PDF file about 7.5MB in size. The PDF is formatted for printing on 8.5"x11" paper.
Best CAD Practices
by Ralph Grabowski
4th edition; 270 pages
Published by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.
Proposed emergency office, as envisioned by some, not being my cup of coffee (image source Wired.com)
upFront.eZine @upFronteZine Nov 2: A reader writes: "...The cloud model, which I despise and think will fail soon. Everything is being hacked and all of it is porous."
upFront.eZine @upFronteZine Nov 2: I've said it before, and I'll be saying again: DO NOT upgrade to Windows 10 (unless forced to). It breaks too much software. My #1 job is...
upFront.eZine @upFronteZine Nov 2: ...is to be productive, not follow the whims of someone inside Microsoft, Inc. who knows neither us nor our needs.
Joe Dunne @jdunneCAD Nov 2: @upFronteZine Kind of the whole point of cloud based products isn't it? They don't break. Why should users spend anytime on issues like this?
upFront.eZine @upFronteZine Nov 2: Desktop software doesn't break and runs in perpetuity. Cloud software runs at the whim of the ISP, the vendor, the quality of the intertubes.
al dean @alistardean Nov 2: @jdunneCAD @upFronteZine Case in point. Workstation died recently. New one in 48 hours. Fibre went down. That was a two week fix. Two. Weeks
upFront.eZine @upFronteZine Nov 2: Last time Internet went down for me, it was for five days, last year. Cause: corroded wire terminals along the street.
upFront.eZine @upFronteZine Nov 2: Last time workstation went down for me: 1996. Hard drive died. I follow Google's advice: always leave computer on, to avoid thermal stress.
Joe Dunne @jdunneCAD Nov 2: @alistardean @upFronteZine Al, last time I checked Onshape users to not worry about whether Onshape is going to "work" after OS upgrade.
al dean @alistardean Nov 2: @jdunneCAD @upFronteZine Ha. Yup. Fair. What about browser upgrades? No?
upFront.eZine @upFronteZine Nov 3: Web browser is the OS of software like Onshape. Not all browsers are supported, perhaps not our favorite one.
Joe Dunne @jdunneCAD Nov 3: @alistardean @upFronteZine I see and you went 2 weeks with no email? no Twitter? no communication? come on.
al dean @alistardean Nov 2: @jdunneCAD @upFronteZine Not in the workshop. Cell only.
Joe Dunne @jdunneCAD Nov 3: @alistardean @upFronteZine Use Cell in a pinch, or find a Starbucks :) kidding.. kind of. lots of options.
upFront.eZine @upFronteZine Nov 3: Cell phone only, and my cell plan is not set up for lots of data (100MB per month).
upFront.eZine @upFronteZine Nov 3: Desktop software doesn't require me to relocate to Starbucks (which I don't like) or engage in 'lots of options'. I get to work in my office.
In the last week, a new file format was announced that may be of interest to CAD users.
Pantone File Format
Pantone is the primary North American standard for specifying colors. Kind of like PDF ensures an exact reproduction of a document, Pantone ensures the exact reproduction of specified colors. (Other parts of the world use other color specification standards, such as DIC in Japan.) Using Pantone is easy: you select a color, and then specify the Pantone number. See figure below. Printers and publishers know which exact color to use, making the client happy.
Every color in the Pantone palette is assigned a number
Today, however, computers work with more than just color. There are the real-world modifications to color that effect how it looks, such as surface textures, glossiness, refraction through transparent objects, and reflections. Think about how the same color looks different when used in flat or glossy paint, real or fake leather, the billions of kinds of plastic, flowing fabrics, stained and unstained wood, and metals.
Pantone reacted (a few years late, I would say) by creating a system that records the color given off by the object, and writing a new file format that records the parameters of the color. Their Total Appearance Capture hardware captures the color, while AxF is the compressed file format that records the color for use by other software. It's not a simple process to capture what the eye sees:
The scanner works by flashing different colors of lights at the material at different angles, and then recording the data -- much like a digital camera. See figure below. For example, scan a draped blanket and all the color and texture variations (and even holes) are recoded to the AxF file using RAW format, which can end up consisting of gigabytes of data. (Compression reduces it to megabytes.) Pantone also provides a virtual light booth device, which rotates the original sample while the scanned result rotates synchronously on the monitor.
Guts of the scanner
So far, a few rendering systems work with the new file format, such as from nVidia and Autodesk. Here is the link to the Web page that describes the new products: https://www.xrite.com/categories/Appearance/total-appearance-capture-ecosystem . Pantone's parent X-Rite doesn't give a price ("Request a Quote") but I suspect the hardware is in the tens of thousands of dollars.
(Hat tip to DEVELOP 3D blog for alerting me to this item: https://www.develop3d.com/blog)