Thursday, December 13, 2007

Webcast of AU Design Review Presentation

Autodesk recorded three out of the four presentations that I did at Autodesk University. Those videos will eventually become available on the AU website.

The one class that was not recorded was my class on Autodesk Design Review. This turned out to be a very popular and informative class, all the more so thanks to the presence of several people from Autodesk's Design Review development and marketing teams.

Although Autodesk didn't record my Design Review class, I did. I was able to get Camtasia Studio up and running before the start of the class and worked with one of the on-site AV guys to grab an audio feed (I had forgotten to bring my own wireless microphone to AU). The sound quality leaves a bit to be desired, but those who missed this class or want to view it again can now do so by visiting my my website:

http://www.dscohn.com/speaking/design_review.htm

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Autodesk University - Day Four

As I noted yesterday, this morning all I had left was what turned out to be an excellent 3-hour lab on Revit. Then, with AU officially over, it was finally time to relax.

In what has become something of a tradition, a small group of AU regulars got together for a well deserved post AU lunch.

From left to right: J.C. Malitzke, Tom Conte, J.C.'s wife Susan, Karen Miletsky, Lynn Allen, me, and Lynn's husband Craig.

On Friday night, an even smaller group of us went downtown to the Golden Nugget to see impressionist Rich Little.

And then on Saturday night I took my friends David and Rhonda Shapiro, who live just outside of Las Vegas (and with whom I spent the rest of the weekend) to see Penn & Teller. That's me with Penn Jillette.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Autodesk University - Day Three

I started my day with a 8am lab and then I had one more class to teach this morning, and then I could finally relax a bit and enjoy the rest of the courses for which I had registered. So far, I had attended every class that I had signed up to take. In my opinion, all of the classes at this year's AU were excellent.

Of course, Thursday night is also the night for the headline entertainment at Autodesk University. This year, the entertainment selection had been kept secret until Thursday, when Lynn Allen finally told me that it would be a comedy night.

Lynn served as master of ceremonies. I didn't record the opening act nor the headliner, but I did capture a few minutes of comedy juggler Mad Chad.
video
When the comedy show was over, the band Tainted Love took over, playing cover versions of hits from the 80s.


Matt Murphy let his hair down.


We partied until the very end with Lynn and her husband Craig.


And even after the party officially ended, Shaan Hurley, Lynn, and a few others hung out for a while longer.

AU ends at noon tomorrow. I'll spend the morning taking a 3-hour hands-on Revit lab class.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Autodesk University - Day Two Evening

My Design Review and Rendering classes went well. I also got to attend some great classes, including a class on options and phasing in Revit taught by well-known author Paul Aubin.

But talk about the perfect end to a great day at AU. Proving that you've got to keep your eyes and ears open at all times, I caught word that there would be a special musical guest at the Autodesk Mechanical Solutions Division party, one of severeral parties taking place on Wednesday evening.

After first dropping in on several of the other parties, I made my way to Hall D, the same room that had been used for the main stage presentations earlier in the day. When I arrived, a Pecha Kucha was in progress and attendance was rather sparce, perhaps because the individual speakers were not all that compelling, and it was also difficult to hear them due to the terrible room acoustics. Knowing what was to come, however, we stuck around.

Sure enough, when the final presenter left the stage, the curtains rose to reveal a band. And not just any band: Dave Mason's band.

For those of you who don't recognize that name, Dave Mason is an incredible guitarist who has played with Traffic, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, and others.


A small crowd of probably less than 1,000 people got to enjoy an hour-long concert by this Hall of Fame guitarist and his incredible band. Some friends and I moved up to the very front, where we were able to lounge in comfortable couches, drink free martinis, and just bask in the fantastic music. Of course, we had to get up and dance.

As promised, here is one of several videos I shot during Dave Mason's performance.


I've uploaded several others to YouTube, including:
40000 Headmen
Mr. Fantasy
We Just Disagree

Enjoy.

Autodesk University - Day Two AEC Main Stage

Here we are at Day Two of Autodesk University. This morning's first event for me was the AEC main stage presentation. Jay Baht began the presentation with a discussion of the forces and issues that will drive the creation of the built environment in the coming years: the increase in population movements from rural areas to cities, globalization, regionalization, and scarcity of labor, materials, and energy.

Jay was followed by Phil Bernstein who introduced a team of developers from Autodesk that played the roles of architect, structural engineer, MEP engineer, civil engineer, and so on, to demonstrate the interoperability between Autodesk's various products.



Once again, if you paid close attention, Autodesk dropped several hints about future directions, as well as making several announcements. For example, in addition to prominently showing off recent acquisition Navisworks, Autodesk also announced that it had just acquired Robobat, the structural analysis software developer. I would expect to see Robobat tools eventually find their way into Revit Structure.

The company also announced that hydrology functionality from Hydroflow would soon be available to Civil3D subscription customers.

The team also briefly showed what appears to be a new product called Autodesk Quantity Takeoff. Based on DWF, the program enables estimators to do accurate material takeoffs from Revit BIM models and then apply cost data to develop complete estimates. Autodesk first showed this product two years ago at Autodesk University in Orlando, Florida. At that time, it was just a brief glimpse during the mainstage presentation, and absolutely no mention was made of what the product was. This time around, the product name was clearly visible.

The high point of the morning, however, was a presentation by Bill McDonough, the award winning architect who has been promoting environmentally sensitive design for most of his career. My favorite line from his presentation, "Being less bad is not being good. It's still being bad...just less so."

Now on to a full day of classes. I'm teaching two classes today, one on Autodesk Design Review and one on rendering in AutoCAD, which is actually the first of two parts. I'll teach part two tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Autodesk University - Day One AUGI Meeting

I'm finding it a bit tough to write consistently while here at AU this year because there's simply so much going on that there's very little opportunity for down time. I also occassionally lose my wireless connection while I'm trying to post. But all-in-all, I must say that so far this is the best run AU ever.

This evening was the AUGI General Meeting, followed by the annual Beer Blast, which coincides with the opening of the exhibit hall.


Lynn Allen opened the AUGI General Meeting and introduced the current AUGI president.

As part of the meeting, my CAD Camp Experience video was shown. I'll eventually have that video available online on the CAD Camp website.


Autodesk CEO Carl Bass also showed up to say a few words. The the AUGI Wish List was presented to the various division vice presidents. The number one AutoCAD wish list request this year is the ability to import a PDF file into an AutoCAD drawing. Wish lists were also presented for Inventor, and for the first time wish lists were compiled and presented for Revit and Civil 3D.


The current board was recognized for their outstanding service.


Then we moved on to the exhibit hall for the annual AUGI Beer Blast. Donia Tabor-Hansen hosted a contest in the AUGI booth called Stump the Expert, which had people lined up

In fact, the turn out at the beer blast was incredible. It felt like nearly all of the nearly 10,000 people at AU were there for the event. At times, it was difficult to move. But there were plenty of serving tables and lots of beer and wine. If anyone went away hungry or thirsty, they weren't trying very hard

I spent some time in the Autodesk Labs area looking at some of the new technologies under development. One of the most intriguing was an addition to Design Review that will enable users to print out copies of DWF files, mark them up in the field using a special pen, and then transfer those markups back to the DWF file. I'll try to write more about this once I have a chance to check it out in greater detail.

Of course, back in the AUGI booth, Matt Murphy was on-hand to fulfill his promise to "buy a beer" for any CAD Camp attendee who stopped by. (Of course, the beer at the AUGI Beer Blast is free.)

Autodesk University - Day One Mainstage

It's now Tuesday morning and Autodesk University is in full swing. The first event of the morning was the mainstage presentation. That was after the amazing feat of feeding nearly 10,000 attendees. Food service this year is located on the lower level of the Sands Convention Center, in what was originally designed as a parking garage.

It was somewhat disorienting to walk into Hall D where the opening session was being held. In order to ensure that late arriving attendees didn't end up seated hundreds of yards from the stage, the room was set up in the round, with a bank of screens suspended above the stage and the room ringed with a series of large screens.

The opening general session was introduced by Lynn Allen, who encouraged attendees to talk to each other. This was not the week to be an introvert.


Lynn then introduced Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, who outlined Autodesk's vision for digital prototyping and the important role designers and engineers have in solving problems such as sustainable design.

Carl was followed by Yves Behar, founder of the award-winning San Francisco design firm fuseproject. Yves talked about his approach to design as showed off some of his recent projects.

Following Yves was Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski, who took full advantage of the surrounding screens as he gave attendees a glimpse of some of the new tools, technologies, and concepts that Autodesk is developing.

He was assisted by Jonathan Knowles. Among the new products that were demonstrated were a new product called Mudbox for manipulating design models as if they were clay, new freeform design capabilities in Revit that will enable designers to deform surfaces by pushing and pulling various grips, new 3D capabilities in Autodesk Impression (apparently codenamed Titan), and a new product called Newport that enables users to aggregate content from Revit, Inventor, and other sources to navigate and visualize projects.

Perhaps the most amazing future technology demonstrated was a new product called Metropolis to build digital 3D cities. Knowles was able to navigate through what appeared to be a detailed digital model of downtown Washington, DC in real-time. He was even able to move below grade to look at buried utilities, and made mention of another new product called Autodesk Utility Design.
video
Quite an amazing series of presentations. I can't wait to learn more.

Now I'm off to attend my first class: "Effective Collaboration with the Revit Platform."

Monday, November 26, 2007

Autodesk University - First Night

Here I am, back in Las Vegas for yet another Autodesk University. This is my 15th AU (that's a 1.000 batting average, for those who are keeping track). I've actually been looking forward to AU this year as an opportunity to slow down a bit. With all of the CAD Camp and other travel this fall, this will mark the first time since September 12 that I've gotten to spend more than three consecutive nights in the same bed.

Monday night marked the official start of AU with the annual Speakers' Reception. With more than 600 classes offered at this year's event, there were certainly a number of new faces among the instructors. But of course all of the usual suspects were in attendance as well.

Lynn Allen welcomed everyone to the event and provided a last minute pep talk.

Doesn't she look happy to be here?

Well, tomorrow's events start bright and early with an 8am mainstage presentation. I wonder how they are going to accomodate nearly 10,000 people at breakfast, not to mention fit them all into a single room for the mainstage presentation.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I just flew in from Birmingham...and boy are my arms tired

I must apologize for the lack of blog postings lately. The past few weeks of AUGI CAD Camp travel has taken its toll both mentally and physically. Since my last posting on October 17, we've done additional CAD Camps in Boston (10/23), Detroit (10/25), Portland (11/1), Vancouver, British Columbia (11/6), and Birmingham, Alabama (11/8). Along the way, I came down with a cold that persisted into this week. Nothing like getting sick BEFORE Autodesk University.

Anyway, I am back at home now and trying desperately to get caught up and to finish work on my presentations for AU. I've also been in Everett and Seattle teaching Revit classes at several architectural firms as well as meeting with prospective customers and existing AutoCAD and Revit users. Last night I attended the Puget Sound AutoCAD User Group (PSAUG) meeting in Renton, Washington. Tomorrow I'll be speaking at the Seattle Revit User Group (SEARUG) meeting at lunch and then at the Bellingham AutoCAD User Group (BAUG) meeting after dinner.

And lest I run out of things to keep me busy, I'm also making the final edits to the AUGI video that will be shown at the annual meeting in two weeks at Autodesk University as well as in the AUGI booth at AU.

I hope to see many of you at one or more of these upcoming events. Stay tuned for various updates on the latest AutoCAD news as well as stories of my travels. And remember to also check out the latest information about Revit on my Revit-Up blog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What is it with Me and Airplanes

After having a plane catch fire (see "Houston...We Have A Problem"), other members of the AUGI national team are hesitant to fly on the same plane with me. (Hey, at least the plane was on the ground at the time.) This week's experience just adds fuel to the fire, figuratively speaking.

On Wednesday, I flew from Baltimore to Jacksonville, Florida for the second of this week's CAD Camps. Since Matt Murphy and Travis Jones are Delta Platinum Medallion members whereas I am just a lowly Gold level member, they had priority over me and ended up with first class seats, whereas I had to get by seated one row behind them in the first row/exit row in coach.

As the flight attendant closed the cabin door and went to arm the emergency slide, I noticed that the "Ready" light did not light up. She obviously noticed it too. Not a good thing. After several more attempts to "arm" the door, the pilot came on the intercom to inform us that we'd have to wait for a maintenance technician to come to plane to check it out.

video

Luckily, the repair involved little more than replacing a light bulb. As long as he was there, the technician also made a minor repair to the rubber gasket around the cabin door. We managed to get to Jacksonville just a few minutes late. But the incident once again raises the question, do these things happen to all frequent fliers or just me?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A Quick Trip to the Louvre



My meetings with Autodesk concluded just before 6pm this evening, which afforded Genny and me a chance to visit the Louvre for a few hours, since it is open until 10pm on Wednesday evenings.

We limited our visit to the Denon wing, and even then had to be very selective. We clearly hit the high points tonight, and without the benefit of the audio guide. Finding the Venus de Milo was not difficult. And there are ample signs guiding one to the Mona Lisa.

There are literally hundreds of other Italian Renaissance, French Neoclassicist, and French Romanticist paintings in the Grand Gallery and other galleries on the second floor of this wing, such as Liberty Leading the People, and I plan to go back later this week to spend more time in this area of the museum.
We did have a bit of trouble at first finding Winged Victory. The guide book we were using somehow got us turned in the wrong direction.
After a few hours, we were exhausted. We found a nice little cafe and had a late bite to eat. Now it's back to the hotel. We have to check out of The Grand Hotel Paris in the morning and move to less expensive digs. Then we're off to Versailles for most of the day on Thursday.

Monday, October 1, 2007

First Night in Paris

It's our first night in Paris. We successfully purchased a pair of one-week Paris Metro cards that enable us to ride any metro or bus in Paris for the week. We immediately used our newfound mobility to ride over to the Ecole Millitaire stop where we caught the number 69 bus, which took us past many of the city's most famous sites, including Napolean's Tomb, the Louvre, and Notre Dame.


We then took a metro back to the Eiffel Tower where we spent some time at its base.

Tonight was just a sight seeing jaunt and a chance to learn our way around a bit. We eventually made it back to our hotel and then went out to a nearby restaurant for a late dinner. Now, after calling our daughters back in Bellingham, we're off to bed. My meetings start tomorrow morning.

Yes...This Really Is Paris

It's amazing how much better one feels after a 4-hour nap. Genny needed a few things at the store, so we wandered down the street to a large department store. After making her purchase, we went up to the store's roof-top plaza, which affords some wonderful views of the city. It was tourist heaven, with lots of people asking others to take their photo with the Eifel Tower in the backround. Who could resist?

We're now going out to wander the city at sunset.

Touchdown in Paris

After a long but uneventful flight, we landed early this morning in Paris. It took forever to get our luggage because the conveyor belt at the airport broke down. But amazingly, Delta did indeed open up the luggage compartment on our plane as it was leaving the gate at JFK and put our bags aboard (see my earlier posting).

Autodesk had a car and driver waiting for us when our luggage finally did arrive. Morning rush-hour traffic made it a long drive from the airport into central Paris. We got quite a tour of the Paris suburbs. We didn't get to the hotel until nearly 10am. Our room wasn't ready yet, so we went to the hotel restaurant along with my former co-workers at Cyon Research, Joel Orr, Brad Holtz, and Rachael Taggart, who had also just arrived. By the time we finished breakfast, our room was ready.


We paid a bit more to upgrade our room to the executive level. That got us a much larger room, free Internet, a full breakfast, and drinks in the evening. This will work well since Genny won't be having breakfast with the Autodesk folks in the morning, and our room is now large enough to entertain people in the evening.

We're going to grab a few hours of sleep and then go out for a walk to get situated. More later.

A Day of Firsts

As I write this, I’m sitting on a plane somewhere out over the Atlantic Ocean at 39,000 enroute to Paris. This trip marks a number of firsts. This is my first trip to Paris and indeed my first trip to France. I find that somewhat amazing since I’ve been to other parts of Europe, including England, Finland, Italy, Germany, Russia, and The Netherlands, some multiple times. But travel happens that way, I guess. I’ve been to most of the 50 states in the U.S. multiple times but have still never stepped foot into North Dakota or Alaska.

This is also the first trip to Europe with my wife Genevieve, and indeed the first time she has traveled with me on a “business” trip in more than a decade. The reason for this trip is an Autodesk Mechanical Systems Division (MSD) press event taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris. I find it somewhat amusing that Dassault Systèmes is holding its press event next week in Boston while Autodesk—arguably its biggest competitor—is holding its similar press event in Dassault’s own backyard. But again, this entire trip is somewhat ironic.

This is also the first time we have left our two daughters somewhat home alone. They’ll be staying with friends during the week, but it does seem a bit strange to leave them at home while we leave the country.

We left Bellingham this morning at 6am, which of course meant that our day started just after 4. We had a decent connection in Salt Lake City, and actually got to relax a bit in the Delta Crown Room. But our flight to JFK was late getting in and then sat on the ground for what seemed like forever before we finally got to get off the plane. By the time we got to the gate for our Paris-bound flight, we were among the last passengers to board.

We could see our Salt Lake/JFK plane at the adjacent gate. We could also see my suitcase in the hands of a baggage handler when our Paris flight was pushed back from the gate. Now I will clearly state that our plane did come to a stop and there was some additional activity after initially pushing back, so there is a possibility that my bag was actually loaded onto the our plane at the last minute.

But there is no doubt that it was my bag being carried over by the baggage handler as our plane was pushed back, so stay tuned for a potential saga. That at least would not be a first.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Spur-of-the-Moment in Tulsa

I got a phone call at 4:30pm this afternoon from Heidi Hewett asking if I was planning to attend the AutoCAD User Group meeting here in Tulsa tonight. I'm in Tulsa for tomorrow's CAD Camp. I told here that I didn't even know there was a user group meeting tonight.

But of course I'd attend the meeting. So Heidi drove over to my hotel and picked me up so that I could also join the LUG sponsors for dinner prior to the meeting.

Once at the meeting, Heidi did a presentation on many of the new features in AutoCAD 2008 and then I followed with a shortened version of my talk on the new Tables features in AutoCAD 2008. (A copy of the handout for the full version of this presentation is avaialble on my website.)

Both Heidi's and my talks were well received. We concluded the meeting by raffling off some prizes and encouraging the local AutoCAD users to attend tomorrow's CAD Camp.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

American—The Airline That Never Fails to Disappoint

Another week on the road, and as much as I hate to fly American Airlines, I had little choice this week when it came to booking a multi-city ticket to travel to AUGI CAD Camps in Indianapolis, Indiana and Tulsa, Oklahoma. After leaving my home in Bellingham nearly 30 minutes past my failsafe departure time, I drove madly down I-5 to get to Seatac Airport in time for my 1:40pm American Airlines flight to Chicago, with a connection on to Indianapolis.

I used my frequent flyer privilege to get through the airport security line in record time, bought a pre-wrapped sandwich to eat on the plane, and dashed to the boarding gate, only to discover that the flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem, which supposedly was being repaired. However, after sitting in the boarding gate for nearly an hour, the very nice gate agent announced the flight was being cancelled.

When I went up to the kiosk, she confided that this was the second consecutive day that this flight had been cancelled due to mechanical problems. I suggested that American Airlines needed to purchase some newer equipment, since the airline undoubtedly has some of the oldest planes still in service. She replied that she may have to look for another job, because her current employer was definitely having problems. After my previous experience with AA last spring (see my various postings from last April, in particular "How Do You Spell Incompetent"), I couldn’t disagree with her.

She was able to rebook me on a United Airlines flight leaving two hours later, with a connection that would get me to Indianapolis around 1:30am. That still sounded better than a red-eye, so I accepted her offer. I made my way to the Alaska Airlines Boardroom, which has become a much-used haven for me at Seatac Airport. If you’re a frequent flyer, I highly recommend that you join your favorite airline’s club room.

I booted up my computer and logged onto Kayak.com, my favorite travel site, to see if there were any other flights that might get me to Indianapolis any earlier. It turned out that the American gate agent had indeed found me the best flights.

After a brief stay in the Boardroom, I rode the tram out to the north satellite and got a boarding pass for my United Airlines flight. I tried to purchase a first class upgrade, reasoning that the money would be well spent in exchange for comfort and a decent meal enroute, but the first class cabin was already full. So I resolved myself to the fact that I’d spend the next four hours in a cramped middle seat.

The flight passed quickly thanks to my having brought my own portable DVD player and a selection of movies, since the video system on the United 757 was broken. I was also glad that I had purchased food before boarding the flight, since United’s only food offering was a bag of pretzels.

The only bright spot in the day’s travels was the Embraer 170 aircraft between Chicago and Indianapolis. It was comfortable and roomy compared to the cramped confines of the United 757—a very pleasant surprise.

Now, after the first event of the week, I am off to Tulsa for the next CAD Camp, and back on American Airlines. AA’s commuter airline partner is still using the much smaller (and incredibly cramped) Embraer 145. I have to gate check my small carry-on suitcase and the gate agent is giving me doubtful looks that my computer bag can be compressed enough to fit under the seat in front of me. I already know from past experience that it won’t fit in the miniscule overhead bin. At least the flight is only 35 minutes, followed by a second 90 minute flight in an identical Embraer 145 from St. Louis on to Tulsa.

But then, I don’t expect anything more than this from American Airlines, the airline that never fails to disappoint.

Indianapolis CAD Camp

It's another week of CAD Camps, beginning this week with Indianapolis. The AUGI team seems to be back up to speed now that we're into our second week of events and the attendees in Indianapolis were very receptive.

We had an extra-large contingent from SolidVapor, the company that coordinates all things AUGI, since Indianapolis is their base of operations.

Matt Murphy and Travis Jones actually had to leave town before the end of the event, since they were both doing an AUGI Mechanical event in Montreal on Wednesday. I am assuming that they will be exhausted by the time they get to Tulsa for Thursday's CAD Camp event there. Matt's early departure meant that I got to MC the wrap-up session at the end of the day and give away all of the cool prizes.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

CAD Camps Start Again

The fall CAD Camp season has started. This week found me in St. Louis, Missouri and West Palm Beach, Florida. On Monday, September 17, I flew to St. Louis, arriving in time to attend the Revit Roundtable, the local Revit User Group's meeting, where I presented a version of my BIM-based Collaboration paper. (The handout that accompanies this presentation can be downloaded from my website.)

The next day, I was up bright and early to help with setup. I then delivered four presentations (the handouts can be downloaded from my website):


A complete set of photos from the AUGI CAD Camp in St. Louis is available on my Flickr site.

On Wednesday, it was off to West Palm Beach, Florida. Before we could go to the hotel, however, Matt Murphy and I co-hosted the second in a series of webcasts to help speakers at the upcoming Autodesk University prepare their presentations.

Once we finally made it to the hotel, the entire team plus Assis Haubert Ferreira and Herbert Ortiz, two visitors from Brazil who will be the content managers for the upcoming CAD Camp in Sao Paulo, went out to dinner at City Place in downtown West Palm Beach. We had a wonderful dinner at the Saito Japanese Steak House.


video
After dinner, we went for ice cream at Sloan's, an interesting little shop also in City Place.



Matt obviously enjoyed the ice cream


video
Several of us were taken by a curious little animated toy.

Thursday's CAD Camp went very well. This event, hosted by Imaging Technologies, was a our first event ever in West Palm Beach. I presented the same four talks as in St. Louis, so please refer to the links above for the handouts, or visit my website at http://www.dscohn.com/.
A complete set of photos from the AUGI CAD Camp in West Palm Beach is available on my Flickr site.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

AutoCAD 2008 Service Pack is Now Available

Back in early July, while I was preparing my handouts for the Honolulu AUGI CAD Camp event, I discovered several bugs in AutoCAD 2008 that affected the creation of tables. If the drawing from which you were extracting data contained dynamic blocks, the tables created from that data would not display the proper data within AutoCAD, although the data extracted to an external file, such as an Excel spreadsheet, was correct.

I reported at that time that Autodesk was aware of this problem and would be addressing it in a future service pack. That service pack has now been released, and I am happy to report that SP1 does indeed correct this problem. Tables created from drawings that include dynamic block data are now generated properly.

The service pack is available from Autodesk's website. I encourage all users of AutoCAD 2008 to download the service pack as soon as possible.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Copying Multileader Styles in AutoCAD 2008

I love the new Multileader capability in AutoCAD 2008, but while helping a client today, I discovered a somewhat glaring oversight on the part of Autodesk. Judging from postings on the AUGI forum, many other users have already discovered this problem.

The customer asked how he could copy a multileader style from one drawing to another. I naturally assumed that he could use Design Center to accomplish this. Imagine my surprise therefore when I realized that this capability was not added to Design Center in AutoCAD 2008.

After a bit of searching, I found several threads on the AUGI forum that dealt with this. There are two documented work arounds.

METHOD 1: Drawing Insertion method
  1. Open the drawing into which you want to copy the multileader style.
  2. Use the INSERT command to insert the drawing containing the desired multileader style.
  3. When AutoCAD prompts you to select the insertion point, press ESC to cancel the command.

Note that this method will also add all of the text styles, dimension styles, etc. from the drawing being inserted, which may not be desirable. If that is the case, here's another way to copy a multileader style.

METHOD 2: Tool Palette method

  1. Create a multileader in the drawing in which the desired style exists (using the style you want to copy) and then drag-and-drop that multileader onto a tool palette.
  2. Open the new drawing and then start the MLEADER command using the multileader you placed on the tool palette.

Note that this method will initially insert the exact same multileader as you created in the first drawing, including the text. But you can delete that multileader and then just use the MLEADER command normally to create new multileaders. But this method will definitely add the multileader style to the second drawing (and only the multileader style, not all of the other stuff that comes in if you use Method 1).

I would hope that the ability to copy multileader styles from one drawing to another using Design Center is high on the AUGI AutoCAD wish list. It seems silly that Autodesk neglected to add that in AutoCAD 2008. Hopefully, the company will remedy that situation very soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Young Frankenstein Comes to Life in Seattle


Mel Brooks has said that “Young Frankenstein” was his best film. I tend to agree. And I can now say that Young Frankenstein the Musical is his best show. I got to see it yesterday in Seattle where it is in previews before moving to Broadway in October. A friend suddenly found herself with two extra tickets and invited my daughter Emma and me to go with her and her daughter.

As a huge fan of the original movie, I can state with conviction that the new musical, currently at The Paramount theatre in Seattle through September 1, is everything one could hope for, and more. Like the stage adaptation of “The Producers,” the musical version of “Young Frankenstein” is both a faithful reproduction of the film and a unique musical theatre experience. From the minute the orchestra starts playing the overture—with lightning flashing on the huge curtain painted with an image of Castle Frankenstein—you sense that you’re about to experience something fun and magical.

Act One opens in Transylvania Heights, a village in Transylvania in 1934, with the villagers celebrating the death of the dreaded Dr. Victor von Frankenstein (Frankenstein is Dead/The Happiest Town in Town), led by Fred Applegate as Inspector Kemp (who I last saw as Max Bialystock in the London production of “The Producers”). Things quickly move to a medical school in New York City, where we first meet Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (that’s pronounced “Fronkensteen”), wonderfully played by Roger Bart (he played Bette Midler’s gay friend in the 2004 remake of “The Stepford Wives”). While There is Nothing Like the Brain is a clever number (and the scene faithfully recreates the bit from the movie where Gene Wilder knees the old man in the groin), things really haven’t started moving yet.

Next, we meet Frederick’s socialite fiancée Elizabeth (Megan Mullally), who comes to see him off at Hudson River Pier 57. With last minute passengers boarding the ship (yes, there’s a ship on stage, and Elizabeth utters Madeline Kahn’s great one-liner “Taffeta, darling.”), Elizabeth and the other voyagers sing Please Don’t Touch Me.

But once Frankenstein arrives at the railroad station in Transylvania (“Pardon me boy. Is this the Transylvania station.”), the show jumps into high gear and never downshifts. With Christopher Fitzgerald practically channeling Marty Feldman’s Igor, he and Bart sing Together Again for the First Time. I’d like to say that it’s one of my favorite songs in the show, but then I’d contradict myself by saying that about several others. Suffice it to say that it’s the first one that made me grin from ear to ear, a grin that never went away thereafter.

Next, we meet Inga, the sexy Transylvanian girl who signs on as Frederick’s lab assistant (played stunningly by Sutton Foster). In the first tour de force of staging, the hay wagon really appears to be pulled through the forest by a pair of horses as Inga sings Roll in the Hay. And of course, the scene includes the exchange between Inga, Igor, and Frankenstein: “Werewolf? There. What? There wolf. There, castle.” The arrival at Castle Frankenstein is filled with all of the great lines from the movie —the horses bray every time they hear the name of housekeeper Frau Blucher, Frederick utters the double-entendre “what knockers” while staring at Inga’s breasts, and before retiring for the night, Frau Blucher offers Frederick “a brandy before retiring? Some varm milk perhaps? Ovaltine?”—but it’s the production number Join the Family Business that simply wows the audience. Under Susan Stroman’s incredible direction and choreography and fantastic scenery and lighting design, somehow the castle walls actually dissolve and Frederick finds himself in his grandfather’s laboratory.

Then there’s the recreation of the scene with the hidden entry to the laboratory (“Put…ze candle…back”) and the discovery of Frau Blucher playing weird violin music, leading to another of my favorite numbers. Asked how exactly did she know his grandfather, Frau Blucher (played to perfection by Andrea Martin from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding and SCTV fame) sings He Vas My Boyfriend.

I could keep on going. There’s the famous laboratory scene in which the monster (Shuler Hensley) is brought to life, and plenty more songs just in Act One, which concludes with a real show stopping song and dance number Transylvania Mania.

And things don’t slow down after the intermission either. The monster gets loose. There’s the great scene between the monster and the hermit (played by Fred Applegate, who in this scene looks strikingly similar to Gene Hackman in the movie), including all of those great bits (but missing the line “I was going to make Espresso”).

Frederick and Igor recapture the monster. And then there’s the big second act number Puttin’ On the Ritz. I’d compare this to the dance number in “The Producers” with all of the old women dancing with their walkers. It’s a great expansion on what was just a short scene in the original movie version of “Young Frankenstein” and it works perfectly.

Suffice it to say, I loved the show. I think it’s going to be a huge hit on Broadway. Buy your tickets now, because if I’m correct, they’re soon going to be very hard to come by.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

If This is Wednesday, It Can't Be Tuesday

What would a trip be without at least one more travel story?

I had a bit of an interesting experience flying home from Hawaii. First of all, let me just say that if Northwest Airlines wants to cancel one of my flights in the future, they should cancel the flight HOME from Hawaii at the end of my trip (is there anyone out there that wouldn't want to spend an extra day in Hawaii?), NOT the one on the way TO Hawaii.

My NWA flight back from Honolulu operated on time and was completely full. There were no empty seats, but there were also no extra passengers turned away due to overbooking. I got to see everyone from my vantage point in the very last row (row 47) of the 757-300 OW. We were wheels up around 9:15pm local time on the evening of Tuesday, July 31.

Upon arriving at Seatac Airport at 5:30am on Wednesday, August 1 (keep those dates straight...this is important) I made my way to the Alaska Air Boardroom to sit down and relax during my nearly 2-hour layover.

The NWA agent in Honolulu had been unable to give me a boarding pass for my Horizon Air flight back to Bellingham because the Honolulu/Seattle and Seattle/Bellingham legs had been purchased as separate tickets. So I asked the woman at the Boardroom counter if she could print one for me. After several minutes of typing away at her computer, she finally informed me that she could not find a reservation for me on this morning's Horizon Air flight. She called a second agent over to help, but she ended up just as puzzled as the first.

Then we finally all looked at the dates on the ticket. My travel agent had purchased a ticket from Honolulu to Seattle on July 31 AND a ticket from Seattle to Bellingham on July 31. Unfortunately, the flight from Honolulu didn't actually arrive in Seattle until August 1. So my flight from Seattle to Bellingham had been for yesterday.

I had to walk over to the Horizon Airlines service counter to talk with an agent there before I could finally get things straightened out. Luckily, the fare basis for my ticket was such that Horizon was able to make the change without charging me an additional fee. Of course, the printer at the Horizon Air service counter was broken, so I had to ask the woman back at the Alaska Airlines Boardroom to print my boarding pass when I got back there.

One final note. If you travel much at all, I encourage you to join the club room at your airline of choice. Yes, I know it costs several hundred dollars per year, but it's been well worth it. Had it not been for the wonderful woman at the Alaska Airlines Boardroom in Seattle, I never would have gotten to Hawaii on Friday night when my original NWA flight was cancelled. And there have been plenty of other times this year when the agents at the club room have handled all manner of travel problems with incredible efficiency. And even if you don't ever need them to go to bat for you, the club rooms are a haven of peace in the madness of the modern airport, not to mention the free food, newspapers, internet connection, and even a free bar at the Delta club rooms (which I get to use in most airports when there is no Alaska room). Anyway, just a thought.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And Now...The Main Event

It's Tuesday, which means I finally have to fulfill the reason I'm in Hawaii...the second annual Honolulu AUGI CAD Camp. The event was sponsored by SPEC Systems Corp. Former AUGI President Yoshi Honda was the content manager and did an excellent job organizing the day's events.

The team in Hawaii had a few instructors that haven't been regular participants on the mainland. My old friend dave espinosa-aguilar, always one of the top instructors at Autodesk University, flew in from eastern Washington and taught three classes.

Local Felicia Provencal, also a long-time AU instructor, also taught three classes, as did I.

Other instructors included Autodesk regulars Heidi Hewett and Todd Hunter as well as locals Daven Homamoto, Veronica Lamb, and Jamie Casile.

A crowd of nearly 240 attended, making the Honolulu CAD Camp one of the most well attended CAD Camp events yet.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Keeping the Day on Par

This is a short one...and no photos.

Before I left, I said that I wanted to do three things while in Hawaii: I wanted to go diving (something I didn't get a chance to do back in February), I wanted to spend more time on the water (another thing we didn't get a chance to do on our previous trip), and I wanted to play some golf.

So...Saturday we did our dive (see Yes...I'm Here on Business, below), Sunday went kayaking and cliff diving (see No Resting on Sunday, below), and today we played golf.

We played at the Navy & Marine golf course near Hickham AFB. Our foursome consisted of my son, myself, my son's roommate's father Bill (a retired USAF and NWA pilot), and his Australian friend Mic (also a retired pilot). The previous evening, at a barbeque at Bill's house, we were all dancing around the issue of whether any of us was actually a decent golfer. I for one am decidely not. I'm a 30 handicap on a good day and have not played much this year. But some how, I managed to par the first two holes, got another par on the eighth hole, and was only one or two over on the other holes on the front 9. It must be the relaxed atmosphere of Hawaii. I was putting like the ball had its own GPS guidance system.

I kind of blew up on the 10th and 11th holes, so my final score of 106 was definitely in line with my 30 handicap. But what a nice feeling. As they say, it's rounds like this that keep you coming back.

And by the way, one of the perks of the military is definitely their golf courses. How else could you play a round of golf in Hawaii for $20 each?

After golf and a nice lunch at the golf course's restaurant (joined by two other pilots from my son's squadron who drove over from the nearby base), we went back to Bruce's house and took a nap. Later this evening, Bruce will drive me into Waikiki to the hotel where I speak tomorrow. Yes, after three days of nonstop fun, I finally have to go to work.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

No Resting on Sunday

Sunday in Hawaii dawned beautiful, like every other day in Hawaii. After a relaxed breakfast, we rented some kayaks at the nearby Marine base and paddled over to the Mukulua Islands, two small islands about a mile off Lanakai Beach. It took us about 30 minutes to cross, paddling against the current.

Once there, Bruce, Jill, and I climbed around to the ocean side of the island. Bruce had shown us these islands when we were in Hawaii visiting in February, and I had heard the story (and seen the damage) from when Bruce and his friend Phong had attempted this same trip last winter. At that time, a wave washed Phong onto the rocks, resulting in a trip to the hospital and a number of stitches.

Happily, our trip was totally uneventful, although Bruce had not told me that the goal was to climb around onto the back side where there was a protected inlet and some very high cliffs, perfect for cliff diving.

It was a bit intimidating the first time, but quite fun after that.

After several solo jumps and dives, Bruce and his friend Jill jumped together. Of course, none of us attempted to jump from the higher cliffs around to the south of the inlet.



After spending an hour or so on the island, we paddled back to Lanakai Beach, a much shorter crossing thanks to the current.

Some of the homes along Lanakai Beach are quite spectacular. Jill rents a small apartment behind one of these homes.

After returning the kayaks, Bruce and I had dinner at the home of Shannon's parents. Shannon is the pilot with whom Bruce shares a house. She's currently at Instructor Pilot training.

Tomorrow morning, we're playing golf with Shannon's dad and a friend of his visiting from Australia.