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, 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.

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

Matt obviously enjoyed the ice cream

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
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.