from Civil to Inventor

The Autodesk enthusiast exile

Not just another Space Pilot Review

subnav101a3D Connexion released the newest creation in their line 3D navigation tools, the Space Pilot Pro.  I have always been fascinated by 3D Connexion’s tools, as they clearly are unique items.  However I kept them at a distance because of a few factors: Price, Uneasiness, and Dependency. 

If I can’t have it, I usually won’t go play with it.  This keeps my marriage in tact as well.

Price  – I believe that at least 50% of the users out there know something about these devices, and know they are fairly expensive.  Well, this is partially true.  If you get in at sale time, you can pickup a notebook model for 80 USD.  I don’t think there are any buttons, just view mobility.  That’s still a nice item for 80 bucks.  The new deluxe model comes in at 500 USD.  That’s pricey.

Uneasiness – Mostly my innate lack of desire to change something that works; namely the way I have been doing it.   The 3 button mouse and an ALT key covers a lot of ground.  I watched some field experts navigate quite well with a 3 button mouse, and there was no lack of speed.  Which brings us to the last item.

Dependency – Ever since Vibrant Graphics dumped us old people, I have been very jaded about dependency on non-OEM functionality.  I still wrote C++/C# code, but usually this was to cover things that were reasonably impossible with other methods.  No odd command aliases, no large menu configurations, mostly out of the box.  This way I would never be bent over the way I was in 2000, when I had to relearn the interface.


These 3D mice have always been super-popular at AU. So I decided to do a few 3D Connexion promotions for the upcoming Tekni Creative Inventor training, and the powers that be agreed to pay for the mice.  I however was not one of the lucky ones that will get said mice.

The curiosity was killing me.  While I’d like to try it in Inventor, my question is how will it work in Civil?

So my associates introduced me to some people at 3D Connexion, and Walt and Company, and they kindly agreed to let me play with one of the new toys.  During the last discussion, they asked what I intended to do with it, and I told them I intended to review the product in different environments, and then publish the results.  A few days later a new Space Pilot Pro ended up on my door step.  Like a kid in a candy shop.

The Box

SNC00002 I told my boys, “That’s Daddy’s, get away!” I threw in the universally understood word: “Mine!”.  They reluctantly backed off.  I told my youngest, “It’s not food, go away”. 

What came in the box was a folder from the company, containing some fact sheets, Company Rep contact info, the driver CD, and the Space Pilot Pro….and a note that said basically “If you need any assistance, please call.” 

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January 8, 2010 Posted by | AutoCAD Civil 3D, Autodesk, Autodesk University, Inventor | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civil 3D – How do you use Civil?

Autodesk products have a long history of broad uses, form common to the really odd.  I first noted this when I began programming many years ago.  However as I began to concentrate on Civil 3D more and less on programming, this nuance faded from my consciousness a bit.  (I see it more on the Inventor side as I do more training and support).

The differing uses became quite evident during numerous meetings at AU this past December.  I met many people from different industries, and ran into situations with uses that varied significantly.

That said, I’d like to invite everyone to post how they use Civil 3D.  Just drop us a quick line about what you do and how you use the software.

  • What industry you work in?
  • In what daily capacity do you use Civil 3D?
  • What major portion of Civil do you use?
  • What major portion of civil do you not use?
  • What is your most and least favorite part of civil?
  • What is the wierdest, strangest, and off the wall thing Civil 3D has performed for you?

I will post the results in my next AUGI World Column.  I’d like to detail a wide cross section of uses, so get everyone you know to post their thoughts.

Here is your chance to get your name out there. I’ll credit those who participated and their company in the article.  I think this will turn out really great if we can get some participation.

January 6, 2010 Posted by | AutoCAD Civil 3D, Autodesk University, industry | , , , , , | 14 Comments

Autodesk University 2009 – Tuesday

SNC00121 It’s the first day of classes, and we are all ready.  There are about 8000 attendees, and they descend on the South Convention Center for Breakfast. 


This year it’s muffins and coffee. ummm…yeah…  We’ll push through this section with a few brief comments.  First BRING BACK BREAKFAST!

The muffins were delicious, as most muffins are, although I have no idea what they were since they were labeled “assorted muffins”.  Since this is not a culinary convention, we should not be expected to know what type muffin is which.  I suspect those with basic food allergies were perplexed.  We were told the first day to “go upstairs, they still have food up there”.  You can figure out how well that went over.

Classes – Showcase

I headed off to my first class, which was ID104-2L Showcase Your Design by Stephen Gabriel.  This was a great class.  Not too difficult.  I like high level classes, but I am new to showcase, so the level was just right.  I had waned to meet Thomas Fitzgerald, one of the lab assistants, but I had other responsibilities, and figured I’d meet up with him later.

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December 7, 2009 Posted by | Autodesk University | , | Leave a comment

Autodesk University 2009 – Monday

I’m sure there was a lot going on, but I just could not seem to get into the groove until later in the evening.

AUGI Meeting

I had a little time to kill in the morning so I stopped off at the AUGI meeting.  There was some discussion about local user groups, volunteer action, and leadership.  An interesting study on interactive boundaries was brought up, and made me interested in seeing where the discussion was heading. However, I had to leave prior to the end, so I can’t say much more about it.


A nice hour+ with Usability

I then got down to a usability meeting with Ananth Uggirala, Carlos Olguin, and Erin Bradner (who was somewhere behind the scenes), who I always miss meeting.  We ran through scenarios, answered questions and played with things as directed.  It’s all hush hush, but I can say that each time I meet these folks I always go in with the premise that there won’t be anything too interesting, and leave with a bit more hope for the future.  They always surprise me. Ananth took a little extra time to discuss some interesting things about usability and development, and that helped me get over the fact that I missed the opportunity to meet with Elena Fadeeva’s study.

Blogger Social

I got there on time, but it seems that the early birds had already got things started downstairs at the Border Grill.  We all tried to get around and meet new people, discuss some business and some not so business topics.  The beer was cold and waitresses brought tapas about to munch on.  The stuffed date things were awesome.


Shaan Hurley took the mic and gave introductions and a welcome thank you to the crowd.  He then explained that his head would not be shaved until THURSDAY!

I got to thank Joseph Wurcher in person, and did not pass up photo ops with Lynn Allen and Karen Brewer, but we got kicked out before I could get the Civil Diva to take one with me.

SNC00115 SNC00116

AEC Mixer

We moved over to the AEC Mixer, that had obviously been going on for awhile.  The groups were quite dispersed, and seemed awkward, which I figure is because we got there so late.  Our group continued discussions from before, and tried to find some food and beer to go with it.  Ok, I tried to find food and beer while my friends made some pretty impressive BIM arguments.  Then we got kicked out of there too.


Free Beer over

I said good night and headed in.  The lower limit poker games were over, so I figured enough was enough.  The day wasn’t as productive as I would have liked, but I got to meet some pretty cool folks, and got pictures with lovely ladies.  Not a bad night after all.

December 2, 2009 Posted by | Autodesk University | , , , , , | Leave a comment

AU 2009 – Twitter Channel

If you are going to AU, or just interested on keeping up with things, follow the Autodesk University twitter feed at AU_Online.

This year they are planning various things for the AU twits, including some fun things.  If you suddenly see 20% of the population run in the direction of the vender expo area, it’s probably AU twitter, and someone announced a ‘blue light special’. 

Log into your Autodesk University profile, and in the edits select the twitter setup button. 
Be sure to include the tag #AU2009 it in your tweets.

Community AU Twitter scan

If you don’t have a profile (and don’t want to set it up), you can still watch all the AU tweets using a tag scan.  I could see all AU_Online tweets, but not the rest of the community. Here I am using twhirl to illustrate.  It took me awhile to figure it out. 

Just go to search, and swap over to tweetscan, then scan for #AU2009.  The list will come up.


Then check the Add to home and Notify boxes.


Now on your home box, you’ll see them, even if you don’t follow the author.  Pretty sweet.


I still have not figured out what to do with Facebook, but twitter has become part of my daily life.  I’m looking forward to how it will shake out this December.

Now, if I can just figure out how to get this functionality on my WM6 phone…

November 3, 2009 Posted by | Autodesk University | , , | Leave a comment

Autodesk University – LinkedIn

Are you going to AU this year? Stop by the LinkedIn AU group and tell us what you have planned, and what you are looking forward to. 

Come join he discussion and help me figure out who is going where and when ( and where I am supposed to be next). 

Autodesk University LinkedIn Group

October 29, 2009 Posted by | Autodesk University | , , , | Leave a comment

…the journey to the Mothership

Welcome.  ようこそ。

au09 badge

AU 2010!  Yeah, well I’m back and already looking forward to next year.

Tekni is still giving away promotions for the new 2011 courseware.  Register before 12/31 deadline to get a chance to win.

Don’t forget the supportive folks at Autodesk University, Autodesk Certifications,, BIM on the Rocks, and Tekni.

If you want to see something, please post to the Civil3D or Inventor product pages.  I will continue do my best. みんあさんがんばれ。

January 30, 2009 Posted by | AutoCAD Civil 3D, Autodesk, Autodesk University, Inventor | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Autodesk University Reasons #6

I have written a lot about Autodesk University recently.  I can write volumes more about it, but I been reminded to cut it short. There is no doubt I love the experience, as I know all of you will too. 

I have fought a good fight to try and get there, and even this late in the game, I would jump at the chance and work out the disaster there if I got the chance to go.

The thing that begins to plague me now is all the new professional relationships I had hoped to solidify this December.  I will have to continue working on them, and hope for a great 2009.

I would like to remind everyone about my Reasons on Instructors…Seriously read it again, and go to check out those instructors.  Last year was incredible.

With that said, it is time to deliver the final point in our series

#6 the most important reason to attend

‘Cause I Wanna Go!!!

Have a great Thanksgiving, and a wonderful AU 2009.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | Autodesk University | Leave a comment

Autodesk University Reasons #5

Alright, now for the next installment.

Did you ever go on TDY or assignment that was boring.  The most exciting thing is when the hotel’s lounge puts out hot wings at happy hour?  No one wants to go see anything, and they are all personality challenged.  After class, the best food you can hope for is Denny’s. 

I’m not too sure that you will feel the same at AU.

#5 Amenities

I ate well.  Oh dear Lord, I ate well.  There is a buffet there with Bacon, sausage, eggs, bacon, a lot of different fruit, cereal, Coffee, bacon, muffins, Milk, different juices, bacon, and more stuff that I can’t remember.  I would get up early just so I had plenty of time for breakfast.  That’s just 1 meal.  There’s Breakfast, mid morning snack, Lunch, another snack I think, Supper, and midnight meal (not included in the package, that’s where you sober up at….).

There are wireless areas to catch up on your email and blogging.

There is a hall dedicated to hundreds of industry retail and support companies with toys and gadgets and FREE STUFF!!  Someone PLEASE get me an Autodesk shirt for my collection!!!! XL.

There are events every night like the AUGI Beer bust, bands, Casino night….

…and the TAO Civil community “What was Autodesk Thinking with an open Bar” 2006 All night festival.  Didn’t anyone tell management that the Civil guys all came in from a construction site somewhere.  The bartenders looked like deer in the headlights.  The scene reminds me of a pack of hungry coyotes…., It was savage.  The poor SOB serving shots on the outside balcony once asked, “Hey, who ordered these Shooters?”  It looked like Denzel Washington tried to walk through Opra’s audience.  I may never forget that night.  I wound up roaming the hallway near my room at 06:00 hrs with a heiney bottle still in my hand. I got my balance to see what time it was.  “Hey, the chow hall just opened”. Here we go again.

The food at the events is awesome too.  There’s no hotdogs or cold pizza.  It is roast beef, Rolls, Rice, veggies, Fish, Pork medallions.  There is no shortage of food or beer.  The Beer… it’s Heineken, Fosters, Corona, Bud and it’s buddies, Lowenbrau, St. Pauli Girl, Michelob, and wines too.  Maybe even Dos Equis too  ….I think I’m going to cry…

We once had Blue man group ….that was too fun!

One night there is nothing planned….we call it meet the natives night…well that is what we call every night.  Basically you get a bit of time to relax with some new friends and talk about AU.

There are the most amazing restaurants, every show you ever wanted too see, and THERE ARE CASINOS.  In 2006 there was this…….Ok, uh 2007 we all went to….ummmm, let’s just say I like Blackjack, beer, fun, and I have a cabbie friend on my cell phone speed dial to get me out of trouble. 

Oh, and don’t miss the AU Community Breakfasts.  The food is spectacular, and you get to meet a lot more people, and see some interesting things about your career field.

This sounds like a bunch of rediculous fun during an expensive educational TDY, and yes it is.  We all study real hard, literally running for one class to another.  It is exhausting and really stressful. So we play hard together, and develop professional relationships that otherwise couldn’t be made.  There is nothing else like it.

check back in for the last installment of my trip down memory lane…..”The Best Reason”

November 9, 2008 Posted by | Autodesk University | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Autodesk University Reasons #4

In the past week we have seen some new possibilities of hope for getting to AU.  The Free pass! If you were not one of the people blacklisted by James Wedding for bugging him about the results, then you may not know who won.  Don’t worry, it isn’t you. Me either.

The there is the Buddy Pass offered by Autodesk to fill those hotels.  If you know anyone who needs a chance to go, maybe you’ll help them out and sign them up as a Buddy for Free!!

Why go through all this? Here is another reason:

#4 Instructors

The community is filled with people who love to learn new things about the industry, and are just dying to tell you about it, and answer questions that you probably have.  After the classes, most instructors take questions.  Usually there are 20 or so people waiting after class to ask the instructor something about the examples shown during the session.  (These are usually the people who are trying to get the most out of their AU visit)  Everyone listens to each remark, and then occasionally start pairing off with interest about the information related.  This leads to networking.  Hey, I’ve heard about that recently….where did I see that?  When an issue occurs of a problem can’t be solved quickly, the instructors note the issues and get back in touch with the individuals, and continue to help them simply because they attended the class, and asked for help.

The Instructors selected usually have a fair amount of real world experience with the topic being related.  They have been there before, and have decided to bring you solutions to problems that they know you need.  You can ask your manager or IT person a question any time, but you are going to hear the same process you have already heard before.  There are hundreds of  instructor’s at AU, spread across the industry, who have solved similar problems, using a variety of methods.  The only way you are going to get an understand of the processes and solutions that are possible, is to go sit in class.

They want to help.  They have spent a lot of time preparing a class to deliver, and want you to come away with a smile on your face.  They know you need answers, and want to be the person delivering them. 

Ok, Let’s drop some names.  These are not the only people that were good, but ones that I can say really bent over backward to ensure not only my AU experience was useful, but that problems I had after I returned home were dealt with as well.  Dana Probert, Dan Banach, Barbara Bowen, Nancy Tremblay, Matt Murphy, Rickard Lindgren, Angel Espinoza, and Kevin Schneider just to name a few.

Given the opportunity, these people will work hard to satisfy your needs and to really make you feel that the solutions you seek are possible, and more useful than you had expected.  Give them the chance, and be sure to thank them when you do.

Check back next time for the next installment, ‘amenities’!!!

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Autodesk, Autodesk University | , , , | Leave a comment